In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a snowy atmosphere with an aura effect. In addition, you’ll also learn how to color-correct using adjustment layers, and add movement using the Radial Blur filter.

Software : Photoshop Cs6

Difficulty : Advanced

Completion Time: 30 minutes

Step One

  • First, extract and position your main elements.

In this tutorial, I chose this image of a young couple in a winter embrace. There are multiple ways to extract a photo but personally, I prefer using the pen tool.

Tip:When cutting out the feet to be placed on the snow, make sure they’re a little more sunk in rather than standing right on top so it looks more natural. (unless of course, they’re elves from LOTR)

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Step Two

Next, we’re going to add a shadow to the couple.

  • Duplicate the couple’s image and add a “Color Overlay” layer style.
  • Set color to #11204f and right click > Rasterize Layer Style.
  • Rename the layer as “Shadow” and move it behind the couple’s image.

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  • Using the Move and Transform tools, pull the shadow layer down so it appears almost upside, but slightly squashed.

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  • Click on Transform Control then right click > Perspective.
  • Grab the bottom, “Transform Control” and pull it to the right to slant the shadow.

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  • Next, drag the Opacity down to 70%.
  • Blur the end of the shadow furthest from the couple. You can do this with any of the blur filters. I used the “Tilt-Shift” filter that is only available in Photoshop CS6 and CC. Other than that, Gaussian Blur would be another good option as well.
  • Take note that you only want to blur the ends, not the feet.

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Step Three

Now, we’re going to add some lighting to the couple to match the forest.

  • First, we’ll do the shading. Since the couple is being lit from behind, the side facing us will be darker.
  • Create a new layer and attach it to the couple. Set it to “Soft Light”.
  • With a soft round brush set to Black and about 30% opacity, start painting the couple but be careful to stay away from the edges.

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  • Create a new layer below that layer and set it to “Soft Light” as well.
  • With the same brush, only this time set to white, paint around the edges of the couple.

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Step Four

Now, we’re going to add an aura effect around the couple.

  • To start, create a new layer above the couple and set it to “Screen”.
  • With varying brush sizes using a flow of 16%, paint a neon green color in a shape similar to what you see below:

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  • Create a new layer above that layer and do the same thing, only this time with a hot pink color.

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  • And do it one more time with a light blue color.

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  • Select and merge those three layers together and set them back to “Screen”.
  • Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and vertically (using up and down movement), blur the layer until it looks smooth and rename the layer “Aura”.

Note: You may want to enlarge and shape it a bit as well.

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  • Create a new layer above your aura layer, and set it to “Overlay”.
  • Now, do like you did before with the pink, green and blue shades, only this time with the color white to make the aura seem brighter and more solid.

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  • Do it one more time with thinner lines, like you see below.

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Step 5

Now, we’re going to add snow.

  • Find an image of falling snow similar to the one below: (Image ID: 18268074)

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  • Set the layer mode to “Screen”.
  • Next, go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set it to “Radial” and “Best”.
  • The amount is up to you depending on the size of your image, so just trial and error until the image is to your satisfaction.

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  • When you’re done, duplicate the snow image and enlarge it.
  • Then apply a Gaussian Blur till you have something like this:

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  • Set it to “Screen”
  • Finally, duplicate the original snow layer and shrink it.
  • Combine a bunch of duplicated layers together until you have something like this:

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  • Merge these layers together and place them directly above your background layer at the bottom.
  • Set it to “Screen”. This should be your final result:

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Step 6

Now, we’re going to do some color correcting using adjustment layers.

  • Above all your other layers, create a “Color Balance” adjustment layer and set it to Red -38, Green, -14, and Blue +15.

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  • Create a new layer above that and set it to “Screen”.
  • With a very large soft round brush, paint a hot pink color on the upper part of the sky near the light source and set the layer opacity to 29%.

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  • Above that, create a “Color Lookup” adjustment layer, and set it to “Abstract” “Sienna-Blue”.

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  • Finally, below your aura layers but above the layer of the couple, create a “Brightness and Contrast” adjustment layer and set it to Brightness -10 and Contrast +31.

Note: You may want to lower the opacity of your snow layers.

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Step 7

Next, we want to add some colored light from the aura to the snow below the couple, and also on the couple themselves.

  • Attach a new layer to the couple, and set it to “Screen”.
  • Set a medium soft round brush with a mixture of the same colors you used for the aura paint on the couple.

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  • Create a new layer above the couple layer, but do not attach, set it to “Overlay”.
  • Again, with the same brush and the same blue, pink and green color, paint in some light below the couple on the snow.

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And you’re done!