Design a Dark and Crimson Forest Scene in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the processes I used to transform an average forest Photo into a Dark and Crimson Forest Scene, inspired by the Japanese Survival Horror Playstation game “Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly”.

We will explore various layer blending options, an interesting way of rendering light and various image adjustment options.

Here is a preview of the the final result:

Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Download this image off the net and use it as a starting point of this tutorial.

Load the image into Photoshop and duplicate the background layer. Set the blending option of the duplicated layer to “Hard Light”.

Step 2

Duplicate the background layer again and put this duplicated layer on top of the one in the previous step.

Hit Ctrl + U to bring the Hue and Saturation Image adjustment tool, apply the following settings:

Change the layer blending option to “Soft Light” and keep all other blending options unchanged.

Here is the effect so far:

Step 3

Create a new Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer (see below for detailed path)

Apply the following Hue and Saturation Settings:

The effect so far will look like this:

Step 4

This is an optional step. Personally I feel the image is a bit saturated and feel a bit hard. So i decided to add some softness to the image and desaturate it a bit.

To desaturate the image, duplicate the “Background Copy 2” layer, hit Ctrl + Alt + Shift + B to bring up the Black and White image adjustment tool, apply the following settings:

Still on this layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply the following settings:

Here is the image so far:

Step 5

Now we can add some butterflies on the image. Create a new layer called “Butterfly” and load the “Special Effect Brushes” brush preset (see image below for details):

Paint some butterfly on the image as shown below (be aware that your result may look slightly different to mine because the brush dynamics).

Hint: User the Eraser Tool with 50% opacity and flow to erase some parts of the butterfly to create some depth. You may also hit Ctrl + T to bring up the free transformation Tool to adjust the shape of the butterfly a bit.

After painting the butterflies, set the layer blending option of this layer to “Color Dodge”:

Step 6

We can add some extra lighting effect to image. To do this, create a new layer called “lighting”, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to make a selection. Fill the selection with black colour:

Maintain the current selection, go to Filter > Render > Fiber and apply the following setting:

Hit Crtl + T to bring up Free Transformation Tool, rotate the selection as shown below:

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and apply the following settings:

After rendering motion blur, change the layer blending option of this layer to “Overlay” and you will have the following image:

Ok let’s it for this tutorial~ You may add some more lighting effect, adjust the colour balance, or test applying some more texture onto it! Always remember not to limit your creativity!

Here is my final image for this tutorial:

If you have any question, simply drop me a line!

Thank you very much and have a nice day!


  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

  • Show Comments

  • Lucas


  • Daniel

    My god, very very good tutorial… keep going with this stuff man:) I really like it

  • Sumithra Wijayantha Thilakarathna


  • sukhi

    Its an exellent tutorial i loved it thanks….
    as i was reading it I found a Mistake in ur writings under step 6 u said go to filter > render > motion Blur At render it should be blur

  • James

    Thanks Lucas, Daniel and Sumithra~ Glad that you guys enjoy it!

  • James

    Hi sukhi, good point! I will correct it right now! thanks very much!



  • James

    No problem EMMANUEL~

  • Jen

    For some reason i cantget the Black and White image adjustment tool to come up. Is thre another way to get it up?

  • Hi Jen, you may have an earlier version of Photoshop which doesn’t have the black and white adjustment tool. You can get around this by desaturating the image first, then use curve tool to adjust the contrast.
    Hope this helps :)

  • Interesting article. I found some more information here

  • nikhil

    This what I need
    many many thanks

  • sulafa – kuwait

    u r the best
    its very good tutorial

  • Your wide range of skills is evident in all your different tutorials. I’m sure your tuts have helped a lot of people. Your creativity and imagination is inspiring. Excellent work!

  • Really Simple and Easy!
    I liked it :)

  • FilthyInsomniac

    i was just wondering I’m running Photoshop7.0 and the black and white tool does not come up and neither does the fiber option are these associated with newer PS?

  • James

    @FilthyInsomniac: yes, those options are linked to the newer version. WIth the black and white, you might be able to get around it by using Channel mixer “with monochrome” option enabled.

  • MudiW

    VERY good tutorial, can you please please provide the psd or mail me the psd of your final result?


  • I like your tutorials..

  • taryarL

    ့i’m a big fan of fatal frame (ps2)
    i love this one most :)

  • how beautiful! where did you get the original photo? do you have a resource of photos like these?

  • ali

    Another awesome tutorial!
    Tutorial = Awesome;

  • manuel

    hey james! nice tutorial! one question though what did you do to make your final image look nice? (what i mean is the tree trunk, what did you do to for it to pop out?) i followed your step in this tutorial, and i want for the tree trunk to pop out as well just as your final image. any tips? thanks!!!

  • arianstarr

    Enjoyed this! I have a few photos of my own in mind that I want to try this on. Thanks!

  • mark

    the motion blur does not look the same when I do it

  • eleonora tonoli

    beautiful! :)  I have’nt the butterfly brush , and I put in  the image a running  horse 

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