Photoshop 201
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PRO Banished Mermaid
Difficulty: Advanced , Length: 3:30 Hr
• Create a Background
• Add Texture to Painting
• Building a Concept
• Adding Light Sources
• Advanced Coloring
• Matching Light and Color

Anything you can imagine you can create. From building a background made of many different photos to creating a mermaid, this 3:30 hour advanced Photoshop Tutorial has it all.

Bonus included action specially designed to make compositing your images together easily!

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PRO Tutorial: Banished Mermaid
PRO Texture: Stone and Concrete

Making of The Mermaid

The background plates for this image were taken on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago during Hurricane Sandy. The waves were so intense that I was almost knocked down several times just trying to capture them. Not to mention that this was at 5:30 in the morning and that I had to cross a police barrier just to get the opportunity. It was freezing, and I was completely soaked after just minutes but it made for an amazing and one of a kind background.

The Mermaid was photographed in our Chicago studio, using strobes to match the lighting from the background. We set black seamless paper on the floor to mimic the shine of the ground, and set up a giant 86″ paabolic reflector behind the subject.

Once hair and makeup were done it was time for our mermaid to get into the scene. Because there was no wave in the studio, we set up a v-flat as a barrier, and I stood where the wave was and splashed water onto our mermaid. Her legs were bound so as not no separate and she was propping herself on an apple box to mimic the rock. It was an amazing photo shoot and an amazing day.

Afterwords we photographed several fish including salmon, trout, and a beta. The beta won out for the best tail, and with a bit of Photoshop everything came together to create what you see here.

Bonus: Included Compositing Action!

Creating a Mermaid Tail

A mermaid is hardly anything without a spectacular tail. In this advanced photoshop tutorial we spend over an hour going through every detail on how to create an amazing tail. Learning these skills will allow you to create anything you can think of. We don’t focus on just one technique, rather the skills necessary to achieve these effects.

Getting a human to blend into a fish is no easy task, and you are going to be along for every step of the way. Including the original sketching and painting of form through coloring and adding scales and texture. Follow along and bring this mermaid to life.

A Body of Scales

Sometimes subtlety is the best way to tell a story, and we wanted the skin of our mermaid to be covered in a light layer of scales. Not enough to distract you from the overall image, but enough to give the person who looks close a visual feast.

We create scales to add to the body, fins on her arms, gills on her neck and ribcage, and even webbing between limbs.

Amazing Hair

Learn how to merge several photos together into one image to create the perfect head of hair. In this case we wanted it to be wild and whipped from the waves, but you could use these same techniques on a glamour portrait.

Adding a Light Source

To make the background much more stunning we add a giant light source. This can be very hard to do because light effects everything it touches. Once you add your light source, you then have to color and light everything else in the image. You also have to make sure that all the lighting works with the image, and that light decays at the same rate throughout the image.

We go over our exclusive techniques for checking to see if your light is behaving in the right way, as well as provide a free bonus action to compare!

Coloring the Background

This landscape is intense! To keep it from being too distracting we colored it in a monotone that would bring out detail in the mermaid.

Follow along as we go through every detail on how to color and dodge and burn a background to bring it to the fullest potential.

Adding Details

It would be nice if birds just happened to fly by exactly when and where you wanted them to, but more often than not you have to take care of those details on your own. We go over adding great details such as birds, sand and gravel, light shimmers and more!

The Perfect Color Cast

There are many things to take into consideration when creating a composite, and one of the biggest is how light and color interact with one another. In this tutorial we show you what to look out for when creating your composite and how to make sure everything fits.

In this case we brought the reflection of color from the tail onto the water underneath. Taking care of these details can make the difference between a good and great image.

Final Image

Bringing everything together to create this stunning image is a lot of fun and an amazing learning experience. No where else in the world will you be able to learn these skills and techniques to bring your ideas to life!

  • Eddie Sebastian

    OH wow… I remember being in Chicago on one of the coldest on record , where you could walk under the waves on that pathway, cause they were frozen
    . So cold they shutdown the city…. This is a great looking Pro, Aaron… fantastic work as always, BrO!

  • Dianna McDonald

    So fantastic!

  • Cassie

    HELP! When I download the file I am unable to extract the tutorial images- It says failed. Any way to get the images again?

  • Naved Ahmed

    fantastic JOB !!

  • Aaron Nace

    Please email us here, we will get you a new copy, thanks!

  • Sushil Sharma

    Brilliant Stuff

  • Sushil Sharma

    love the tutorial

  • Amanda Johnson

    Holy cow 3:30 hours! That’s longer than lord of the rings lol. I know what I’ll be doing all day today! Thanks Aaron for these awesome tutorials :)

  • Karina Boissonnier

    My winrar also says it fails and that it’s unable to extract but i got everything and there wasnt any problem :O

    PS. I watched the tutorial it’s AWESOME ! Thank you Aaron !

  • Alfonso Bonvini

    Just bought it~! Very happy to have managed so till the sale was up!

  • Jacqueline Dover

    This was my first Phlearn Pro tutorial and… I loved it! Aaron, thanks for keeping it entertaining but even more than that, thank you for sharing your charmingly obsessive attention to detail! I thoroughly enjoyed watching your process. :) This kind of video is so beneficial to those of us who work alone and wonder whether we’re paying too much or too little attention to various aspects of our work. It was cheering to see that yes, it really does take this long, it’s not just me, and I also realized I need to pay a lot more attention to light and brushwork. Your “check” action is Brilliant! I’m just getting into compositing beyond merging exposures and I know my work is going to be so much better just for having that tool in my workflow. Thanks!

  • Anjani Millet Photography

    Aaron, don’t you ever get tired of being so dang awesome? And that promo has some badass music to it. Tick another of your bodacious accomplishments off the bucket list. And mine, too – I was – seriously – just about to hire a professional mermaid. Ha! Ha to that! Thanks, Aaron! – Anjani Millet

  • Luc-Andre Paquette

    When it takes longer to fake a photo than to shoot it on location is it still Photography or Image Manipulation?

  • niverik2k

    yes, because it takes a split second to take a picture. Just the act of developing film takes longer to do than to push the trigger to take a picture.

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