© Article and photography by William Manning
Software: Adobe Photoshop CC, Mystical Suite by Auto FX, Flood by Flaming Pear, Nik Color Efex Pro 4, Alien Skin Eye Candy 7
I have always been fascinated by weather and often find myself looking for subjects and opportunities that lend themselves to adverse weather conditions. Imagine an electrifying lightening storm over head, standing beside that much trusted tripod with mounted camera waiting out that next bright flash accompanied by heart stopping thunder. Not so fast, I’m not that crazy. I prefer imagining all this behind my computer creating this scene with existing photos.
The above illustration was created from two photos from previous assignments using Adobe Photoshop CC, Auto FX Mystical Suite, Flood by Flaming Pear, and Nik Color Efex Pro 4. This is a fairly simple illustration that most people with basic photoshop knowledge can accomplish in a couple hours. Although, each plug-in was important in creating this illustration, I would like to point out the Auto FX Mystical Suite software. Mystical Suite comes with three very different but powerful software programs, Mystical Lighting and Ambiance, Mystical Focus and Mystical Tint, Tone and Color. Auto FX software doesn’t have the same popularity as a few of the other mainstream plug-ins (Nik and Topaz to name a couple) but it is equally powerful, dependable, fun and one I use a lot. I like the Auto FX collection because it is different. It offers special effects the other programs don’t have and a few of the effects it does share, it does a pretty good job. You will likely find some effects awesome and will use often and others that don’t appeal to your style but this is true of most plug-ins. I recommend giving this software a try, and as a say often, it’s another tool that makes creating pictures fun.
I have outlined a step by step tutorial below and invite you to experiment and have fun creating. Select any photo from your library and follow along by experimenting with each step. Don’t worry about the results on this tutorial, simply experiment and see the possibilities.
Step by Step Process to that Stormy Evening on Horseback
Step 1. Open photo(s) in Adobe Photoshop. The cloud photo will be used as the background layer for my illustration. You may
choose to use one or multiple photos. My second photo is a cutout of a horseman. I made the cutout using the Pen tool in Adobe Photoshop.
Step 2. After my cutout is complete, I moved it onto my background layer. Simply hold the shift key down and drag the cutout layer onto the background layer. Once my cutout is in place I resized the horse by going under Edit – Transform – Scale, and drag any corner to resize to the desired size. For my illustration I had to reverse the direction of the horse. This can be done by going under Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal.
Step 3. I had to change the horseman into a silhouette. Bring the Levels dialogue box up, command shift or go to Image pull down menu to Adjustment – Levels. Bring sliders over to right side of scale and you create your silhouette.
Step 4. Reduce the amount of grass in foreground. Select the eraser tool from the tool box and erase until you get the desired amount of ground. I tapered mine on both ends and left only a sliver of grass beneath the horse.
Alien Skin – Eye Candy 7
Step 5. Place horseman in desired position and add lightening bolts to the background layer. Once your horseman is in place switch to the background layer and duplicate. Once the background layer is duplicated open the layer in Alien Skin. Go to the Filters pull down menu and go to Alien Skin – Eye
Candy 7. Once Eye Candy is open select the Lightening filter. Create desired lightening bolts. It seems to me I have to save and reopen for each lightening bolt, Eye Candy will not let me create multiple lightening bolts.
Step 6. Flatten layers. Once layers are flattened you should have only one layer. Duplicate background layer. Once duplicated open it up in Flaming Pear and select the Flood Filter. Move sliders until you get the desired effect. Experiment with perspective, waviness, complexity and size.
Auto FX – Mystical Suite
Step 7. Duplicate flood layer and open new layer in Auto FX. Go to the Filter pull down menu and select Auto FX – Mystical Suite. Once the photo opens in Mystical Suite choose Lighting and Ambiance and choose rain. Once the window opens you have many choices as to the rain effect.
You also have the option of changing the direction on the rain fall, the opacity and density.
Step 8. When it rains over a lake, pond, puddle, etc… rings and water splashes are created from the falling rain. This element is missing in our illustration but the good folks at Auto FX have created a preset of this effect. Therefore, re-open the photo back into Mystical Suite and add the ring and/or splash effect. This effect can be be found under the Select Rain tab and browse through all the effects until you find the proper effect.
Nik Color Efex Pro
Step 9. This could be called “complete”, but I wanted a softer look. To create this softness I open my photo in Nik Color Efex Pro. Before doing this, make sure you duplicate the layer just in case things don’t work out. Go to the Filter pull down menu, select Nik Collection then go to Color Efex Pro.
You could choose fog, or several other effects that give you some great results but I chose Glamour Glow and added a slight blue cast to the glow to give me my final results.
Complete: Horseback in a Storm is now complete. The photo at the top of this page is the finished illustration. I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Let me know thoughts and pass on the Photovian website to your friends.