How to Create an Awesome Fiery Grim Reaper by Combining Images

We will create an intense and grim death manipulation using blending modes and other techniques. The tutorial it is easy to follow and can be completed even by complete beginners. Be aware of my use of blending modes in order to quickly achieve spectacular effects and skip complicated selection.

What you’ll be creating

In this tutorial we will create a an intense fire manipulation. You will need Photoshop CS4 or newer in order to follow this tutorial.

final-results

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Open the file “Road”. Select all (Ctrl + A). Press Ctrl + C to copy. Go back to our scene and press Ctrl + V to paste. Place the sky as I did in the image below by using the free transform (Ctrl + T).

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Step 2

Open the file “Death”. Make a selection of the death figure. You can use either the Quick Selection Tool or the Pen Tool and press Ctrl + J to put it on a new layer. Ctrl + A to select all, Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste it into our document. Convert the pasted layer into a Smart Object so we can do countless resizes without losing any image information (right click the layer and from the drop down menu choose “Convert To Smart Object”). Use Free Transform to place the death figure as shown below.

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Step 3

Create a new layer (Ctrl + N) and clip it to the layer below by Alt-clicking between the two. Now the contents of the upper layer will be only visible through the lower layer pixels. Change the blending mode to Overlay. With a white soft brush paint some light coming from the right of the scene on the death figure.

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Step 4

Create a new layer. Select the Clone Tool. Clone away the white pixels on the face of the death figure.

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Step 5

Open the file “Texture”. Select all, copy and paste into our scene. Convert to smart object. Use Free Transform to position the texture as shown below.

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Step 6

Create a layer mask for the texture layer by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Now select black as foreground color by pressing D. Click on the layer mask and press Ctrl + Backspace to fill it with black and thus hide the texture. Now with a white soft brush at 100% Opacity paint so that you will reveal the texture over the scythe wood.

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Step 7

Change the blending mode of the texture to Multiply. This will hide all the white parts and leave use with the black cracks.

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Step 8

Create a new layer and select a dark orange(#882a00) as foreground color. With the chalk brush at 80% Opacity and 2px size paint some redness into the cracks. Name this layer “Cracks Light”.

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Step 9

Duplicate the “Cracks Light” layer by pressing Ctrl + D. Double click the layer to enter advanced blending mode. Use the settings below to add some glow.

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Step 10

Open the file “Fire1”. Select all, copy and paste into our scene. Convert the imported layer into a smart object. Use Free Transform to position the fire as shown below.

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Step 11

Change the blending mode of the fire to Screen. Now only the fire will be visible.

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Step 12

Duplicate the fire layer and move it a bit to the left.

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Step 13

Group the fire layers together (Ctrl-click on each and press Ctrl + G). Import the fire brush . Add a layer mask and with a black brush hide the sharp corners by painting with a soft black brush and one of the fire brushes in the layer mask.

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Step 14

Open the file “Fire2”. Select all, copy and paste into our scene. Convert the newly imported layer into a smart object. Use Free Transform to place the fire as shown below.

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Step 15

Change the blending mode of the fire layer to Screen.

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Step 16

Add a layer mask to the fire layer. Mask away the hard edges.

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Step 17

Duplicate the “Fire2” layer in order to increase the sparkling effect.

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Step 18

Duplicate the “Fire2” layer again. Use free transform to place is it as indicated below.

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Step 19

Group all the three “Fire2” layers and name the group “Sparks”. You can add a layer mask to further hide the unwanted parts of the fire and sparks.

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Step 20

Duplicate the “Fire1” layer and place it as shown below. Change the blending mode to screen.

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Step 21

Add a layer mask and use the fire brushes and the soft round brush to mask the hard edges.

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Step 22

Duplicate the fire layer we masked at step 21 and move a bit lower to cover the entire wooden portion of the scythe.

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Step 23

Duplicate the fire layer again but this time move up the wooden portion of the scythe to further increase the brightness of the flames.

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Step 24

Group these fire layers from step 21-23 and add a layer mask to the group to further hide unwanted parts.

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Step 25

Unrar/Unzip somewhere on your computer the effects archive. Copy and paste one of the effects into our scene and position it as shown below.

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Step 26

Change the blending mode of the special effect to Color Dodge. Add a layer mask and mask the lower portion.

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Step 27

Choose another effect from the effects folder and place it as shown below.

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Step 28

Change the blending mode of the effect to Screen.

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Step 29

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and clip it to the effect you just placed. Drag the hue slider all the way to the left.

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Step 30

Import the lightning brushes. Create a new layer and create a lightning with white color. Place the lightning as shown below. It is barely visible because there is so much light there.

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Step 31

Double click the lightning layer to enter advanced blending mode. Use the settings shown below.

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Step 32

Create two more layers and on each create a different lightning. Double click to enter advanced blending mode for each and use the same settings as we used in step 31.

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Step 33

Group the lightning layers together. Add a layer mask to the group and mask the unwanted parts.

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Step 34

Create a new layer and import the smoke brush. Create a smoke on the hand of the death figure using a smoke brush with white color – use a layer mask to hide hard edges.

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Step 35

Add some more smoke on different layers in the areas indicated below. If the smoke is too strong lower the opacity of the layer. Group the smoke layers together.

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Step 36

Open the file “Glitter”. Copy and paste the image into our scene and don’t forget to transform it into a smart object. Place it as I did below.

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Step 37

Change the blending mode of the “Glitter” layer to Color Dodge. Add a layer mask and hide the glitter/sparks until you have something like the image below.

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Step 38

Duplicate the “Glitter” layer and place it on the wooden part of the scythe. If needed further hide unwanted parts in the layer mask.

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Step 39

Open the file “Texture”. Copy and paste into our scene and convert to smart object.

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Step 40

Change the blending mode of the “Texture” layer to Multiply. Add a layer mask and hide the texture outside the death figure body.

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Step 41

Create new layer and with the chalk brush paint some orange color (#8c1a12) into the cracks.

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Step 42

Double click the painted layer you just created and use the settings shown below.

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Step 43

Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. With a soft brush at 10% Opacity paint with white over the cracks in order to make them brighter.

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Step 44

Create another layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. Choose # 5e0600 as foreground color and with the same soft round brush at 20% Opacity paint over the cracks again in order to make them look hot.

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Step 45

Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Color Dodge. Choose # ff1100 as foreground color and paint again over the cracks with the soft brush to add a powerful glow.

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Step 46

Group all the crack layers together (the texture and the following painted layers). Duplicate the group and move it over the head of the death figure. Resize it a bit. Add a layer mask to show the cracks only on the head area.

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Step 47

Group all the groups and layers that we created until now related to the death figure.

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Step 48

Create a new layer (or two) and import the bird brush. Create two groups of black birds in the scene.

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Step 49

Open the file “Cross”. Copy and the paste the cross into our scene. Convert it to smart object and position it as shown below.

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Step 50

Create a Curves Adjustment layer and clip it to the cross layer. Drag the curve down to darken. Group the Curves and the cross layer together and name the group “Cross”.

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Step 51

Duplicate the “Cross” group and using the free transform resize and place it as shown below.

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Step 52

Open the file “House”. Make a selection of the house. Copy and paste the house in our scene. Convert the house to smart object and place as shown below. Lower the opacity to 60%.

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Step 53

Create a new layer and using a yellow color (#f5dd16) and paint some light on the indicated window of the house. Group the house and the light layer together.

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Step 54

Create a new layer and using the smoke brush create some smoke over the house and the crosses.

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Step 55

With the flame brushes you imported earlier and a dark orange color (#b45c24) paint some flames in the areas indicated below.

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Step 56

Open the file “Dead Tree”. Copy and paste the tree into our scene and convert it to a smart object. Place it all the way to the left side of the scene so only a few branches are visible.

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Step 57

Create a Curves Adjustment layer and clip it to the tree layer. Drag the curve down as shown below in order to darken the tree.

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Step 58

Open the “Skeleton1” file. Copy and paste the skeleton into the scene and convert it to a smart object. Resize is as shown below.

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Step 59

Create a Curves Adjustment layer and clip it to the skeleton. Drag the curve down as I did in the image below.

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Step 60

Create a new layer and with the chalk brush paint the rope that hangs from the skeleton neck.

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Step 61

Open the “Skeleton2” file. Copy and paste the skeleton into the scene. Convert it to a smart object and place it as shown below.

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Step 62

Create a Curves Adjustment layer and clip it to the skeleton layer. Drag the curve down as indicated in the image below.

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Step 63

Let’s add some additional lightning into the scene. Create two new layers and on each of them create a white lightning using the lightning brushes.

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Step 64

Unzip the optic flare effects somewhere on your folder and open the effect “026.png”. Copy and paste the effect into the scene. Resize as shown below.

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Step 65

Change the blending mode to Screen and add a layer mask to the flare layer. Mask away the hard edges.

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Step 66

Time for some final effects. Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer and change the blend mode to Soft Light. Lower the fill to 44%. Use the settings shown below.

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Step 67

Create a new layer and set the blending mode to Overlay. With a white soft brush at 10% paint over the scythe in order to emphasize it.

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Step 68

Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Color Dodge. With a white soft brush at 50% Opacity paint over the folds in the death figure cloth and on the silhouette of house and crosses.

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Step 69

Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and use the settings below in order to boost the intensity of the scene and add a bit of redness.

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Step 70

Create a new layer from all the layers by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E. Change the blending mode of the created layer to Overlay. Apply a strong Gaussian Blur effect (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).

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Download the PSD

Final Results

final-results[1]

Tutorial by Adrian Scheff

profileAnd we are at the end of the tutorial. As you can see blending modes play a very important role in achieving a succesful photo manipulation so you will be wise to get a good grasp on them. Thank you for reading this tutorial!

– Adrian Scheff

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