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Create An Incredible Holy Cow Effect

For today’s walk-through, we’re going to show you how to make a cow fly in just a couple of quick and simple steps. Read on to find out…

First off, prepare these set of images:

Cow: 7251032 © Eric Isselée

Horn: 6976361 © Olga Lipatova

Wings: 7611829 © Irina Tischenko

Plains: 7541820 © Ivonne Wierink

Feather: 1504841 © Ana De Sousa

Road Sign: 366908 © ondagoarts

Let’s begin…

Step 1

Separate the legs, the tails, and the head from the body.

Step 2

Reposition them and and create bends at the legs. We can copy part of the leg out, and transform it. Slowly mask out the connecting areas to look seamless.

Step 3

Enlarge the head a little, and liquify the body.

Step 4

Further liquify the head. Pull out 2 stubs so that it can fit the horn.

Step 5

Extract horn from source image and place the horns on the head. Fit it nicely in the stubs.

Step 6

Since we will be shining lights from above, increasing shadows adds realism. Draw black shades on the body just under the legs.

Step 7

Duplicate another layer. Set the top layer as ‘Multiply’ and the other as ‘Overlay’. Play around with the opacity for both to achieve a desirable shadow tone.

Step 8

Draw more shades of black on the cow.

Step 9

Similar to the steps above, duplicate another layer and change their blend mode respectively.

Step 10

The hind right leg looks a little too bright, so we will add more shade to it.

Step 11

Further add shadow and highlights, by creating a new ‘Overlay’ layer (Filled with Overlay neutral color). Use white brush to add highlights and black brush to add shadows.

We will have something like this:

Step 12

The black edge on the tip of the right ear just won’t do, so we will further add white lines there, resembling highlights.

Step 13

Extract wings from the dove. We’ll only be using one side of the wing, duplicate and flip so that it resembles a pair.

Step 14

Copy part of the right wing to fill up the gap.

Step 15

Combine the cow and the pair of wings. The wings should be place underneath the cow layer.

Step 16

Use the healing brush to join the connecting area.

Step 17

Import background into your canvas, and place the winged cow accordingly.

Step 18

Change the contrast and color of the background according to these settings.

Step 19

Create an elliptical shape using the selection tool, feather it and fill it with black.

Step 20

Again, duplicate this layer, one with ‘Overlay’ blend mode and ‘Multiply’ for the other.

Step 21

Duplicate these 2 layers, and transform it into a bigger shape.

Step 22

Draw a ring on top of the cow’s head and apply these settings.

Step 23

Flatten the ‘halo’ layer (Create an empty layer and merge it with the layer with blending option). Set it as ‘Screen’ blend mode. Duplicate this layer to strenghten the opacity and glow of this halo.

Step 24

We shall progress to creating a light ray effect. Add a curves adjustment layer and mask off accordingly. Drag the curves to darken the surrounding.

Step 25

Duplicate this adjustment layer and invert its layer mask. Drag the curves upwards.

Here’s the result:

Step 26

Create a new layer, fill it with black, and render lens flare. Apply a little Gaussian blur to it.

Step 27

Set blend mode for lens flare layer as ‘Screen’.

Step 28

We can further add intensity to the source of light ray, by drawing streaks of lights using white brush, setting it at ‘Overlay’ blend mode.

Step 29

Next up, we will add in some feathers. Open the feather image and desaturate it.

Step 30

Do a quick mask by dragging the blend if sliders, and flatten the layer.

Step 31

Resize and make a selection around the feather, and define it as a brush.

Step 32

We can use different brush setting to create a natural flow of feathers, or we can place them manually.

Step 33

Add in more feathers and combine them into one layer.

Step 34

Apply an outer glow to add some color to the feathers.

Step 35

Duplicate another layer and invert this layer of feathers.

Step 36

Place the inverted layer above and set blend mode as ‘Overlay’.

Step 37

Create a new alpha channel (Alpha 1) similar to below.

Step 38

Apply lens blur to both of the feather layers, based on this channel.

Step 39

Add in more feathers with different opacity and blurness to add a sense of depth.

Step 40

Import the road sign.

Step 41

Extend the pole of the sign, simply by copying and extending it from existing parts.

Step 42

Transform it from its original perspective to a flatter one.

Step 43

Reduce the size of the cow symbol,

Step 44

so that we have space for a halo sign.

Step 45

Transform and tilt the sign abit.

Step 46

Increased its contrast and saturation by a little:

Step 47

We can then combine the background and sign layer, and apply lens blur using the same channel ‘Alpha 1’.


Final Piece

In the final piece, I’ve further added some glows, and sharpened the whole image a little.

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