Create a Black Swan Inspired Movie Poster

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On CreativeFan awhile back, we published a series of Inspirational, Dark and Moody Black Swan Movie Posters, which all were notable for using a variety of design techniques that we’ve covered here, including photomanipulation, texture overlay, and digital painting of makeup.

In this tutorial, we’ll look at how to create a Black Swan inspired movie poster.  You’ll see how to manipulate some stock images into a seamless design, add in elements for depth of field, and finish it all off.

If you’re interested in more Photoshop design tutorials, check out these tutorials:

Hope you find this tutorial informative!

Tools used:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Stock images
  • Wacom Tablet

Final Image Preview:

Step 1: Background creation and main stock implementation

Alright so to start off we need to create our new document. I went with (as always) a 2000*3000 canvas. However having said that, if you are using a smaller stock image than me or don’t like working on higher resolution canvas you can use a smaller size. Once you have created your new document we need to create the background. This will be a basic grey to semi grey (almost white) gradient.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Next we need to create a sort of white… aura that will later be behind our figure. To do this grab a large soft brush with an opacity of about 45%. Once you have your brush just go ahead and paint a nice elliptical area in the center of the canvas on a new layer, adjust the opacity if need be. Now we can create another new layer and switch our color over to black, once that is done we can paint over one side of the canvas in the black. Set the newly created black layer to softlight again, vary your opacity if you think its too much.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now its time to grab our base stock, my female stock is from Stockexpert, however they no longer host/sell stock images so I no longer have a link. You should be able to find similar stock images at Shutterstock, Istock, Fotolia or Deviantart if you look hard enough! Once you have your stock female you want to go ahead and isolate her out using the pen tool. Once that is done free transform the stock image down so it fits nicely in the new canvas.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Step 2: Over painting

Now its time to start over painting our stock image. We will not be adding in some new dramatic details, but rather adding more contrast, highlights and adjustments. So for tutorial’s sake lets take a look at my figure as she is now one last time.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Next let’s set up our brush, we want something small (this is relative to canvas size) and soft with a low opacity (I used 50% again).

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

To start off we will attack the gloves. As of now the gloves are kind of… blue. Which is fine, but I want them to be black. So create a new layer and paint over all of the gloves, set this layer to color. Then duplicate the layer and set it to softlight at about 50%.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Next up, while on the soft light layer we just created, we can add some highlights to the gloves. This can be done with the same brush just swap your color over to white and paint over the highlights. This will make them bolder in appearance.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now lets go down to the stomach, which on my image is kind of dull and grey. So to fix this lets create a new layer and grab a skin tone from the stomach that we like, then using our brush we just simply paint over the grayer sections of the stomach, for me this is the right hand side (her left).

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Once the stomach has been cleaned up its time to do a quick overhaul of our shadows/highlights and help bring them more to life. To do this create a new overlay layer and switch back to your black and white colors. Paint over all of the highlighted sections with white and the shadows/darker side with black. Remember that we are using a low opacity brush, so you can go back over sections or do a little white and a little black on a section if need be.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now that we have done our ‘overhaul’ its time to focus in on the eyes of our figure.  Specifically we want to create a sort of… sunken in malnourished appearance. To do this we can start off by painting (with black) around the surrounding area of the eye. Then slowly feathering it out lightly, this is to say that the part of the eye socket closest to the eye should be the darkest and it fades away or feathers as it goes outward. You may want to drop your brush opacity down even more when doing this.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

I also went ahead and painted over my eye brows to make them darker as well.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Step 3: Swans

Now its time to add in our swans, or rather our feather tentacle things that will later encompass our figure. To do this we can use a stock image of a black swan located at Fotolia http://us.fotolia.com/id/3976641 . Once you have the stock image go ahead and crop out one of the swans for isolation. Once its been cropped out just isolate it out using the pen tool just like you would any other stock image.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Once it is isolated go ahead and pen tool out the head as well, we will not need this section.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now grab the top right hand side of our swan and feather out one end with a large soft eraser.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Once you have done that grab a large sized section of the feathers and feather out its hard edge, once this edge has been feathered out with a large soft eraser all you need to do is free transform it down and place it over the previously feathered section, please note that you probably will not be able to do a symmetrical transformation.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Our newly completed swan tentacle!

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now its time to burn it, if you are familiar with our past tutorials you will recognize the poorly drawn light/shadow diagram seen below. So basically (on my canvas) the light is coming from my left, so we need to burn the right hand side. Now if we want to dodge (I don’t suggest it) the blue line represents where this can be done. However as I have said, I would not suggest that you use the blue line as a reference point to how far your burn should ‘feather out’. For the burning I used the same brush we have been using as my burn brush and had it set to burn mid tones at 15%.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now just drop it over your stock and erase away a section coming off the figure, this way it appears as if it is coming from behind.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Next we can duplicate this layer, free transform it (squish it and make it skinnier) and then drop it completely behind the female layer. Once that is done apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of about 7px.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

You can repeat this on the opposing side if you like.

Now its time to create yet another tentacle. This time a tentacle that’s a tiny bit thinner. So to do this I took the original isolated swan neck segment and liquefied it. By using the liquefy tool along with the forward warp tool (a brush in the liqufy tool) I pushed the neck into a thin line. Once it became a thin line I push on either side to create an S shape. For those of you familiar with our past tutorials this will seem very familiar to how we created our stilts in the previous surreal tutorials.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Once that is done we can duplicate the new thin line and feather out the ends of both. Why feather out the ends of both layers? Well so we can merge them into one big’o loop!

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now that our large thin loop has been created we can merge the two layers together and drop them into our canvas. Place this above your female and erase away the section that leaves the figure as well as the section that goes over the arm. This way it appears as if it is coming from behind and going under her arm. Once that is done create a new layer and use our good old trusty brush to paint a nice simple shadow.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now we need to continue this thin line. I mean it does not just disappear under her arm right?! So to do this we will once again grab our hoop section, this time grab a small section of it located towards the end of one of the longer sections (not the hoop). Then just drop it in over your figure, have it coming up her belly, behind the first tentacle and the arm. Once that is done just draw out another shadow!

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Finally I added in one last tentacle beneath her, this time just another duplicated hoop layer un-blurred.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

As of now our canvas looks something like the below image.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Step 4: Feathers

Now we can add in the last little bit to our piece, that is of course, the feathers. The stock image of feathers can be found here on SXC http://www.sxc.hu/pic/l/w/wo/wonsak/690554_60916502.jpg

Just drop your stock images into a new canvas and proceed to marquee out each one (one at a time) and create a brush out of it. Don’t know how to create a brush? Its easy, just make a selection around a feather and go to your edit tab > define brush preset>OK and your done!

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Once your brushes have been created its time to grab a feather and get to work! So choose one of the many feathers and set your brush settings up as mine are in the below screenshot.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now create a new layer above everything else and randomly throw down some black feathers. Once you have done this go ahead and apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of about 3 or 4 px.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now create another new layer and start adding in the feathers that will not be blurred.

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Black Swan Movie Poster Tutorial

Now we can add in the final DOF feather. To do this create a new layer and drop in one feather at full size. Once you have done this go ahead and free transform it to about 200% and then apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of about 5 or 6.

And now we are done! I finished off my piece by adding in some feathers in a circular pattern under all the layers but this is not necessary.  My final image looks like the below screen shot.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial and it has helped you understand a few concepts or at least showed you some techniques you did not know. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Or if you have any tut suggestions please drop a comment, we are always looking for new concepts!

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