The Process of Creating the “Ascending Spirit” Digital Art in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the process of I used to create this “Ascending Spirit” Photo Manipulation in Photoshop. Along the way, you will practice a number of photo manipulation techniques such as image adjustment, layer blending, texturing, as well as some brush painting skills.

The PSD file of this tutorial is available to buy on PSD Vault Shop, or via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

This is an intermediate level tutorial so some steps can be tricky, but why not have a try!

Note: The Photoshop tutorial is done in CS6 – therefore some screenshot may have slighting different layout as in the earlier version. Some brushes are exclusive to Photoshop CS6.

Here is a preview of the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)


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OK Let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:


Model – by mjranum-stock


Important: If you have any trouble with apply the colour effect in Step 5, please check out this video tutorial:

Step 1

Create a new document sized 800px * 1132px with black background. Load the Rock image into Photoshop and select a piece of the rock, copy and paste to our document:

1 paste

Use a soft eraser to remove/fade the following parts of the rock texture:

1 erase

Add the following image adjustment layer on top of the rock texture:

Black and White

1 bw


1 lvs

and here is the effect so far:

1 effect  

Step 2

Load the model image into Photoshop.  Cut out the model and paste it onto our document. I would like to extend the hair a little down to the left side, so I use the clone stamp tool to clone some of the hair, as shown below:

2 source

2 clone

and here is the clone effect:

2 hair

Use a soft eraser, remove the bottom part of the model as shown below:

2 erase

Add the following image adjustment layers as clipping masks to the model layer:

Black and White

2 bw

On the black and white adjustment layer, erase the following parts to reveal the layer below:

2 bw mask 


2 lvs


2 curves

Layer mask on the curves adjustment layer:

2 curves mask

and here is the effect so far:

2 effect

Step 3

Now we can add the fire texture to the image. Load the fire image into Photoshop and select the fire:

3 sel

Copy and paste the selection onto the left arm of the model:

3 paste

Hit Ctrl + U and apply the following Hue/Saturation settings as shown below:

3 hue

Then change the layer blending mode to “Screen”:

3 screen

Set this fire layer as a clipping mask to the model layer (put it above all previous adjustment layers):

3 clipping mask

and you will have the following effect:

3 effect

Step 4

We will be adding more fire textures onto our image. Repeat the above step and paste another fire texture onto our document, grab the liquify tool:

4 liq

And use the liquify tool to warp the fire texture as shown below:

4 liq effect

Then resize this warped fire layer to a small strip, and attach it to the right arm, as shown below:

4 resize

Copy and paste more fire texture and add it to the right side of the image, use the Warp option from the free transform tool to adjust its shape:

4 warp

We can add some more fire particles onto the image, by selecting the smaller bits from the fire stock image:

4 effect

You can also use the blur tool to blur some of the fire particle to add some motion:

4 blur

4 blur effect

and here is the effect so far:

4 particle

Step 5

We can now add some cloud effect down the bottom of the model, either with a cloud brush, or cloud filter:

5 cloud

Use a soft white brush, paint some highlight dots above the cloud:

5 dot light

Use the perspective option to adjust the highlight if necessary:

5 persp

We can also add some fire patterns over the background as shown below, with a hard, red colour brush:

5 fire

Make sure you set this layer blending mode to “Vivid Light”:

5 vivid light

and here is the effect so far:

5 effect

Step 6

Ok we’re almost done! We will be adding some final touches to the image in this step.

If you have Photoshop CS6, you can flatten the image, duplicate the background layer and apply the Oil Paint filter to the duplicated layer:

6 oil paint

The Oil Paint Settings:

6 oil set

This will add some paint effect to the image, but we don’t want the image to look like paining. So apply the following layer mask to the oil paint layer:

6 oil mask

and here is the effect so far:

6 effect

I further added some colour with the colour balance adjustment tool, and here is my final result: (click to enlarge)


That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy going through it and find it useful. Drop me a comment below if you have any question.

Till next time, have a great 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.

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