Lewis Joss Magician - Walkthrough

You might remember this image of Lewis Joss (Magician). He contacted me for a photo-shoot to promote his business. We created some really cool shots, one of those is this one. After posting this image on Facebook, we received lots of messages asking how this was created. So I decided to walk you through this image.

* I used a Wacom tablet and Photoshop CC 2015 (Creative Cloud)

This here is the out of camera shot. Most of my work is shot against a grey background. 

My first step is to work on the skin; getting rid of spots, blemishes etc. To do this I created an empty layer and used the healing brush tool to get rid of spots, blemishes etc. (With the healing brush tool you sample from a clean area by pressing ALT.  Then brush over the blemishes, spots to get rid of them) You can use other healing tools but I prefer this one.

Once I cleaned up the image I created the background. For this background I made use of the Render filter (clouds).I created a new layer and went to Filter - Render - Clouds. This filled my canvas with a cloud effect that didn't look great. In the next step I used my rectangular marquee tool to make a small selection of the clouds. I then inverted that selection and hit delete. Only my small selection was now visible, the other clouds disappeared. All I had to do now and to use the free transform tool to size my clouds to fill the canvas. And there we had a nice cloud/ mist effect. 

As I was shooting on grey it was very easy to change the background. Check out the video on my tutorial page to see how I changed the background as I didn't want the clouds/mist covering my model. 

In this step I added some contrast by creating a black & white adjustment layer set to soft light. (Make sure to change the opacity until you have the effect you're after). I also created a vignette to bring the focus more to the face and the card. There are many different ways to add a vignette. One way to do this is to go to the camera raw filter and add a vignette in camera raw.

In the image you can clearly see that there are light coming in from the back/side. This allowed me to add a spotlight effect. I created an empty layer and used a white soft brush to add a dot of light in the middle of my canvas. I then used the transform tool to size and place this "light" I just created.

My favourite technique is dodge and burn. There are many different ways to apply dodge and burn. In this case I created a new layer and filled it with 50% grey set to  blend mode Soft light for skin and Overlay for anything else. I then used my dodge and burn tool (set to mid-tones with an exposure of about 20%) to enhance shadows and highlights. And here's a little tip -  by holding ALT whilst using the burn tool for example you will switch to the dodge tool with the exact same settings! Cool hey :)

I also add a bit more light ( see previous image to see how it's done)

In the next step I added some colour to our image. In this example I used a gradient fill layer set to Soft Light. I always use to 5th gradient in the list (Purple to Orange) and then tweak the colours to match the mood I'm after. Don't ask me why because I don't have a clue!

Once I was happy with the colour I decided to boost the contrast a bit more by using the technique explained in previous image.

We now have an image that looks pretty cool already. One thing I didn't like was the very white card... So I changed it :) Again there are different techniques and ways of doing this. I just used an old paper texture and set the blend mode to Multiply and masked it over the card as you will see in the next image.

I now had an image I was happy with and I believe I even saved it like that! I do this a lot. After a few hours I returned to the image and had a play with curves. Don't forget you can adjust different channels in the curves adjustment layers. That's what I did here... just messing around until I got something I liked.

Looking at this image we can see a cross processing effect which we can easily achieve by playing with the blue channel in our curve adjustment layer. I added some blues to the shadows and yellow to the highlight, finished it off by changing the exposure until I was happy with the look. I also lifted up the shadows a bit to give it a slightly faded look. 

So this was a little walkthrough on how I created this image of Lewis Joss. There are many different ways to create similar effects in Photoshop. In this walkthrough I mentioned the techniques I use in my workflow. This doesn't mean that these techniques are the best ones and the other are wrong. This is just personal.

A few things you can take away from this walkthrough is the importance of blend modes. A lot of people don't understand how powerful blend modes are until you start experimenting with them. Ow... and don't be afraid to have a play in Photoshop... you never know what comes out of it!

A big thank you to Lewis Joss (Magician) for allowing me to use this picture to show you all how I created this image. If anyone is interested I might do a Full Video Tutorial on this image. If you're interested - leave me a comment below.(You might have to register to my website)

If you found this walkthrough helpful, please share this so other people can enjoy it as well :) This is the first walkthrough I done so far but if if the response is great I might just do one per project I do. What do you think?

Anyways... that's it for me today. Have a great day/evening :)

  • Lewis Joss

    on July 12, 2015

    This is epic. It's certainly great to see how it all works ;) You have talent.

  • Digistevephotography

    on July 11, 2015

    Thank you Sue & Timothy! Much appreciated!

  • Sue Branch Mehearg

    on July 11, 2015

    thank you, would love to see other projects you have made :-)

  • Timothy McBroome

    on July 11, 2015

    Hell yea! Now that is how some art is made. Thank you for sharing your workflow in detail.

  • Digistevephotography

    on July 10, 2015

    Thank you!

  • Wayne Myers

    on July 10, 2015

    Cheers Steve. Great insight

  • Digistevephotography

    on July 10, 2015

    Thank you Kenny!

  • Kenny Partington

    on July 10, 2015

    fantastic tutorial Steve. Clear, to the point, great visuals, perfectly explained and with great narrative that engages the reader into wanting to read further. The mark of a great educator. And I should know, though our friendship you have learned me so many many things and given me greater confidence in my journey learning the arcane art of photoshop