You’re a mythical knight who wanders into a creepy looking garden. You’re lost and weary. Suddenly, Medusa emerges. She gazes upon you, instantly turning you into stone. This is how your fate was sealed…
Let’s start of by opening this image.
We’re only going to need the head, so make a selection around it and duplicate it (Ctrl +J). Remove any bits of the finger obstructing the head by Clone Stamping it with a soft stamp tool (0%~25%).
Remove the iris by stamping it away.
Now carefully mask the head off its white background and desaturate it.
Here’s where the head breaks off from the torso. We’ll need some texture for this one. Create a new layer and roughly draw out the shape of a rock.
Drag this image into your workspace.
Invert it (Ctrl + I) and adjust the levels a little.
Desaturate it, then rotate and transform as you see fit.
Clip it to the rock layer shape you drew, or simply mask the shape out.
Darken the area slightly by dragging Curves. Merge the rocks with the head (Ctrl+E).
Next up, ready the texture and place it above the head layer. Set its blend mode to ‘Multiply’.
Clip it to the head layer, or mask it out.
Create a new layer with an ‘Overlay’ blend mode and tick the check box as below.
Just as with the dodge and burn functions, use a white brush to increase highlights on certain areas of the face, and a black brush to increase the shadows. I would suggest using a soft brush (0%~50%) to draw those lines with more relaxed strokes (a tablet really helps here). The image below shows the highlight/shadow layer in normal mode. Merge or group the head layer (the latter being preferable as it allows further changes to the head). We’re done with the head for now.
Import this picture.
Mask the background, head and neck away.
Select the area above the knee with a feathered selection of 50 and desaturate it.
Desaturate the hand further. To avoid affecting the grass, select and make changes only to the Reds in the hue/saturation window.
Create the rock texture and shadows/highlights on the neck with similar steps as used in the head layer. Again, group or merge those layers together.
Prepare a background.
Import the body layer first. Open the Hue/Saturation window for this layer and tweak the color of the grass, then erase more of the bits at the bottom.
Now import the head, transform and place it in front of the body layer, just touching the edges of our new workspace.
Sharpen the head slightly by using Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask (merge the head layers first if you’ve yet to do so).
Next, we’re going to add some moss to our stone figures. Reset your palette (D). Create a new layer and go to Filter > Clouds > Render Clouds.
Then, go to Filter > Clouds > Difference Clouds.
Alter its levels (Ctrl+L), leaving only patches of white.
Add some noise to the clouds. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and add around 10% of noise.
Extend the length of the noise by applying the Wind Filter. Go to Filter > Stylize > Wind. Select ‘Stagger’, and ‘From the Left’ (doesn’t really matter).
Mask or clip it to the head layer.
Rotate the noise so that it runs vertically. Also, transform the noise to make it a little bigger.
Apply the 2 adjustments as below to boost color and brightness.
Change its Blend Mode to ‘Overlay’. Alt+click on the blending slider points to separate them and drag them to the settings displayed below.
Repeat these steps for the moss on the body layer.
Once done, add more noise to the moss on the body to make it look more crisp.
We’re going to have to add some grass to strengthen the impression that the head is resting on the ground. Let’s extract the grass from this image.
Copy out just a small section.
Focus your attention on the Channels window now. To view it, go to Windows > Channel. Duplicate the green channel and adjust its Levels to achieve the best contrast ratio.
Use a black and a white brush to mask/reveal the areas we’re going to use.
Ctrl+click on a thumbnail of the Green channel to obtain a selection. Mask off the excessive areas of grass with this selection.
Change the Brightness and the Hue/Saturation of the grass to match that of the background.
Transform and lengthen the grass.
At this point, I don’t really like the oversaturated color on both sets of grass.
Let’s fix this with some adjustments.
Cob webs are a useful addition to the scene. Desaturate this image and place it over the body.
Set the blend mode as ‘Screen’ and opacity at 60%.
Mask or erase the areas where the effects look overdone.
Add a little fog to the image by rendering clouds, changing its levels, applying Gaussian Blur, and lastly setting its blend mode to ‘Screen’.
Add a butterfly along with its shadow to the forehead of the stone figure.
We’re almost done. All we need now is to enhance the overall look and feel.
Select the background layer and tweak its contrast.
We might need to adjust the brightness on certain parts of the background. Add a Curves adjustment layer above the background image. Brighten the areas we want, as shown below.
We will now have this.
Next, we’re adding in light strobes that look like flickering fireflies. Create a new layer and bring it to the top (Ctrl+Shift+]). Then go to Blending Options and add in these settings.
Using a white brush, draw light strobes in whichever manner you like: large or small, scattered or gathered.
We’re done! I further increased the contrast and also changed the butterfly’s color for my final result.
I also attempted a more vivid version of this image. It didn’t turn out too bad as well 🙂
Hope you found this tutorial to be fun and interesting. And next time, try not to trespass into Medusa’s private property!