Create a Dark Grim Reaper Scene for Halloween in Photoshop

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In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a dark grim reaper scene. We’ll be using different manipulation techniques to blend many stock images together into a cohesive scene, doing advanced masking, adjusting colors, working with groups, creating lighting effects and much more.


Final Image

Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Resources


Step 1

Create a new document with a size of 1100×1000 px and fill it with any color you like (feel free to use any size as you want). Open sky 1 stock. Use Move Tool (V) to drag it into our white canvas then use Cmd/Ctrl+T to rotate and resize it :

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 2

Move sky 2 stock into our document, transform it using Cmd/Ctrl+T to get the look below and change the mode of this layer to Soft Light 100%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Click the second button at the bottom of Layers Palette to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to erase the top left of this image. You can see how I did it on the mask and the result on the following images:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 3

Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N to make a new layer. Use a soft brush with color #66686a to paint on the edges of the image to darken these areas. I changed the mode of this layer to Multiply 50%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 4

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with color #bbbfc7 to brighten some parts of the sky. Set the mode to Soft Light 100%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 5

Move the landscape stock into your image and change the mode to Soft Light 100%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Use a layer mask to remove hard edges and blend the landscape with the background:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 6

To create some depth we’ll blur the landscape. On the landscape layer, go to Filter-Blur-Gassian Blur and fill radius with 5 px:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 7

Extract the model and position him in the center of your image. You may notice that I don’t include all of the scythe:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 8

Use a layer mask with a brush about 30-40% to blend the bottom of the model with the background:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 9

I want to give the model a little retouch. Make a new layer with Clipping Mask, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Take the Dodge and Burn Tools with Midtones Range and Exposure about 20-25% to darken the scythe and brighten the hood. Also I used this tool to refine the details on the clothes of the model. You can see how I applied this tool with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 10

In this step we’ll add light to the model. Make a new layer with Clipping Mask. Hold Cmd/Ctrl while clicking on the thumbnail of the model layer to load its selection:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Go to Edit-Stroke and pick color #ced1d1 with brush size of 18 px:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Apply Gassian Blur of 20 px:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

I used a layer mask to reduce the light intensity:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 11

On a new layer and I used this brush again with opacity and flow about 50 -55% to paint over the shoulder and right arm to make them brighter:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 12

Create another new layer and repeat step 10 but choose brush size of 5 px and apply Gassian Blur of 3 px:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Use a layer mask to erase or reduce light intensity to create a more natural look:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Do the same with a new layer but lower the brush size to 3 px to create a stronger highlight:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

I named 4 these layers from “light 1″ to “light 4″:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 13

In this step we’ll add some cloudy effects to the image. Open the cloud stock. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to make a selection around the cloud part and set the feather for it to 30:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate this selection. Move this part into your main document and transform it using Cmd/Ctrl+T:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Use a layer mask to blend the hard edges with the rest:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Copy a smaller part of the clouds and place it at the right edge of the image, and mask it to get the result shown below:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 14

To edit all clouds layers together, select all these layers then hit Cmd/Ctrl +G to create a group. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. I named these layers “clouds 1″ and “clouds 2″. On clouds 2 layer, choose Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the saturation of the clouds:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Because the mode of this group changed from Pass Through to Normal, these adjustment layers only affect the layers within this group (clouds ones).

To get a subtle effect, I lowered the opacity of this group to 50%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 15

In this step we’ll create a black face for the reaper. Make a new layer above all other layers. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to make a selection of the model’s face and fill it with color #171313:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Use a layer mask to blend this “face”:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 16

Make a new layer with Clipping Mask and the same settings as in step 9. Use Dodge and Burn to create some details on the face:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 17

Cut out crow 1 and place him above the hand of the reaper:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 18

I used a Curves layer (Clipping Mask) to darken the crow a little, then use a soft black brush (on Curves layer mask) to remove the dark effect on the right of the crow as it’s the part illuminated by the background:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 19

Use the same techniques as in step 10 to add light to the crow, choose brush stroke 3 px and apply a Gaussian Blur of 10 px. Erase part of crow’s claws:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 20

Make a new layer using settings as in step 9. Use the Burn Tool to darken the claws more:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 21

I want to add more light to the crow, so double click crow layer, choose Blending Options:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 22

Isolate crow 2 and position him at the top left of your picture:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

I used a Brightness/Contrast layer to change the contrast of the crow a little:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 23

Apply Inner Shadow effect to add light to this crow:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 24

Extract crow 3 and move him to the bottom left of the image:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 2 px for this crow to add depth to your picture:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 25

I used Curves to brighten this crow a bit. Then use a soft black brush with opacity about 30-40% to erase the wings, tail (on Curves layer mask):

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 26

Place crow 4 at the top right of the pic. Duplicate it and transform him, move him to the bottom right, apply a Gaussian Blur of 2 px:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 27

Use Inner Shadow effect for the crow on the top:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 28

Group the crow layers (crow 4) as we did with the clouds. I used a Brightness/Contrast layer within this group to add a light effect to them, and use a soft brush to blur this effect on the crow at the bottom (erase on Brightness/Contrast layer mask):

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 29

Create some adjustment layers on the top to change the color of the whole picture (Gradient Map and Curves):

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

This is the result:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 30

Open the fire stock. Isolate the fire from the background (no need to be precise):

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Take a fire part and place it on the right hand of the reaper, change the mode to Screen 100%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Use a layer mask to remove hard edges:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Duplicate it twice and position them as the screenshot below shows. I also named them as 1, 2, 3:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 31

Group the fire layers and remember to change the group mode to Screen 100% (it’s very important to keep the effect the same as before grouping). On 2 layer, go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Hue/Saturation:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 32

Isolate the smoke and move it onto the reaper’s head, change the mode to Screen 100%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Use a layer mask to remove or blur unwanted parts:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Duplicate this layer four times, transform and move them around the head, shoulder and arm, use a layer mask if needed:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 33

Cut out the skull and place it on top of the scythe:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Make a new layer under the skull. Use a soft black brush with opacity and flow 30-40% to paint under the skull to make a shadow for it:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 34

I use two Curves layers to add color and change the brightness of the skull so it fits with the rest:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

On the second Curves layer mask, erase the left side of the skull to create a nice contrast:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 35

Add light to the skull with the same techniques as in step 10 but with a brush size of 12 px, color #36aff4 and apply a Gaussian Blur of 14 px. Also use a layer mask to erase the left as this part should be darker than the rest:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Repeat this technique on a new layer, but lower the brush size to 6 px and Gaussian Blur 3,5 px:


Step 36

Make a new layer on the top. Use a soft brush with color #fe0a0a to add a spot inside a skull eye. Duplicate it and transform it to fit the position of another eye:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

I named these layers “eye 1″, “eye 2″.


Step 37

Make two new layers under the eye ones. Use the same brush color to paint around the skull, the shoulder, the hood that are absorbed in red light from the skull eyes. I changed the first layer mode to Color 100% and the second to Color 100%:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 38

Now we need to change the color of the fire/smoke nearest to the red light to help the effect look realistic. Double click 3 layer in the fires group, choose Blending Options:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Do the same with the smoke layer on the left shoulder:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 39

On a new layer on the top, use a brush with color #fe0a0a to paint a spot on the eyes of the crows to get an evil look:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

On another new layer use the same brush to add a spot inside the black face to gain the creepy effect. Then use a layer mask to erase the eyes a little as a part of them is covered by the hood:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

Step 40

Final step: I used a Levels layer on the top to increase the contrast of the whole picture:

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop

And We’re Done!

I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial.

 Create A Dark Grim Reaper Scene in Photoshop
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5 Responses

  1. Felicia says:

    This is incredible! I don’t know if I could ever do it, but I would sure like to try it! Thanks.

  2. ifrozen says:

    nice tutorial. thank you Jenny Le.Saw ur name and i thinking that you’re vietnamese? because i’m vietnamese

  3. Doc Sam says:

    Master Piece .. I Like it :O

  4. Ari says:

    oh its really nice.
    I LOVE U

  5. Wade says:

    Master tutorial ! AWESOME! Thank you for sharing this!