How to Create a Giant Panda Photo Manipulation in Affinity Photo

Post pobrano z: How to Create a Giant Panda Photo Manipulation in Affinity Photo

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

One of the best places to gain inspiration is from TV and movies. In today’s tutorial, the image I will be walking you through was highly influenced by anime, more specifically Studio Ghibli movies such as Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro.

We will be using adjustment layers to get a vivid but calming color grade, and you’ll also learn how to extract fur and how to create a bright, colorful haze.

Let’s get started! 

What You’ll Need

You will need the following resources in order to complete this project:

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Enhance a Landscape Photo

To start everything off, we will be placing in our landscape base image. When it comes to landscape stock images, it’s often the case that the original image itself is already breathtaking and only needs a few small enhancements!

Be careful of overprocessing images!

Step 1

Create a New Document. 

Document Settings

  • Size: 4468 x 2742 px
  • DPI: 300

Step 2

Place and position the landscape so that it’s slightly tilted. 

place background

Step 3

Create a new Pixel Layer.

Set the layer mode to Color. 

With a very large, soft, round Paint Brush, paint a light blur across the sky. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Color: Light Blue #A0D8F9
add color

Step 4

Create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer above all current layers. 

Brightness/Contrast Settings

  • Brightness: 18%
  • Contrast: -20%

Group three of the background layers into a new group named „Background”.

add contrast

2. How to Add Small Details to Increase Atmosphere

Next up, we will be adding a few small details. While these details might not seem significant, it’s things like this that add atmosphere to your piece! Never skimp on the detail!

Step 1

Create a new Pixel Layer. Set the Opacity to 70%. 

With a very small, hard, round Paint Brush, paint birds in the far-off sky. Paint black birds where there is white sky and white birds where there is blue. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Width: 3 to 5 px
  • Flow: 75%
  • Hardness: 100%
  • Force Pressure: On
  • Stabilizer: Checked
  • Length: 10 to 15
  • Color: Black and White
paint birds

How to Draw a Bird

When drawing a bird that’s so far off in the distance, there isn’t really much point in sweating the details. I like to just draw two messy lines and a dot. Once you draw one or two, you can copy and paste them all over in various sizes. 

There are also premade „flying bird silhouette” brushes you can find all over the web. Remember, Adobe Photoshop brushes are compatible with Affinity Photo!

Step 2

Create a new Pixel Layer. 

With a small, hard, round Paint Brush, paint small bits of leaves, debris, and dots in the wind to give the image a sense of movement. Use various shades of green. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Width: 3 to 10 px
  • Flow: 100%
  • Hardness: 80%
  • Color: Bright Green #CDE943, Green #B3CF5D, and Dark Green #6F9B0D

Group all of the leaf and bird layers together into a new group named „Details”.

paint wind

3. How to Extract and Create Stylistic Fur

There are several different ways to extract fur, and while some techniques work better than others, it really depends on the overall style you are going for. The technique we will be using today works best on stylistic pieces, as opposed to hyper-realistic pieces. 

Step 1

Place and position our giant panda onto the right side of the canvas. 

place panda

Step 2

Using the Selection Brush Tool, make a rough selection around the panda. 

Hit Control-Shift-I to invert and reverse the selection if needed. Depending on how you did the selection, you may not have to. 

Hit the Refine button located to the right of the selection toolbar. 

Refine Settings

refine edge settings

Run the Refine Edge Brush across the edge of the panda’s fur. 

Step 3

Hit Apply and then add a Layer Mask to the panda to mask out the selected area. With a semi-soft round brush, mask out any leftover background. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 50%
extract panda

Step 4

Use the Clone Brush Tool to clean up all of the grass and straw on the panda’s black fur. 

Clone Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 50%
clean panda

Step 5

Nest a new Pixel Layer into the giant panda. 

Use a large, soft, round Paint Brush to paint white around the edges of the panda, filling in the hair.

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Color: White
fill in fur

Step 6

Nest another new Pixel Layer into the giant panda. 

Use a medium, soft, round Paint Brush to paint white on the highlights of the panda to intensify them. 

To build up more intense light, you can paint on multiple different layers—I use two. You can also lower the layer’s Opacity if the highlight is too strong. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Flow: 30%
  • Color: White
add highlight

Step 7

Nest another new Pixel Layer into the giant panda. 

Use a small, round Paint Brush to paint harsh white highlights on the edges of the wood that our panda is lying on. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Width: 3 to 5 px
  • Flow: 100%
  • Hardness: 100%
  • Force Pressure: On
  • Stabilizer: Checked
  • Length: 10 to 15
  • Color: White
add highlight

Step 8

Create and nest a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into our panda. 

Brightness/Contrast Settings

  • Brightness: -2%
  • Contrast: 4%

Group all of the panda layers together into a group named „Panda”.

add contrast

4. How to Place a Subject on Top of the Fur

Next, we will be adding a little girl to our panda’s back! When placing a subject onto a new surface, you have to keep in mind both the shape and texture of that area. For instance, when sitting on fur, there would be strands of hair rubbing up against the subject’s legs and lower body.  

Keeping things like this in mind will help keep your subject from looking as if they are floating!

Step 1

Place and size the little girl onto the panda’s back. 

Extract the subject using your preferred method. I suggest either the Pen Tool or the Selection Brush Tool. 

You will have to create a new edge, as part of the subject’s back is cut off in the original stock image! 

Use a very small, hard, round Paint Brush to mask out fur-like shapes on the bottom of the little girl’s body. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Width: 2-5 px
  • Hardness: 100%
  • Force Pressure: On
  • Stabilizer: Checked
  • Length: 10 to 15
  • Color: Black
place girl

Step 2

Create and nest a Selective Color adjustment layer into our subject. Set the layer mode to Color. 

Selective Color Settings

  • Color: Yellows
  • Cyan: 100%
  • Magenta: -100%
  • Yellow: 100%

Mask out everything but the little girl’s t-shirt, to really make the color of her shirt pop.

color t-shirt

Step 3

Create and nest a new Pixel Layer into the „girl” layer. Bring the Opacity to 42% and the layer mode to Multiply. 

Using a medium, soft, round Paint Brush, apply dark brown shadows on the lower portion of the little girl, focusing on where her body and the panda meet. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Flow: 20%
  • Color: Dark Brown #351706
paint shadows

Step 4

Repeat step 3, only this time paint small hair-like shadows similar to the hair strokes you painted in step 1.

paint shadows

Step 5

Create and nest a new Pixel Layer within the panda layer. Set the Opacity to 70%.

With a large, soft, round Paint Brush, paint a white haze of light onto the little girl’s head and back. 

paint haze

Step 6

Create and nest a new Pixel Layer within the panda layer. Set the Opacity to 35%.

With a medium, soft, round Paint Brush, paint the soft white highlights of the subject’s hair and neck. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Flow: 20%
paint light

Step 7

Create and nest a new Pixel Layer within the panda layer. Set the Opacity to 75%.

Using a small, hard, round Paint Brush, paint white highlights onto the body of the subject. You can go onto the hair a bit, but focus on the body first. 

Pant Brush Settings

  • Width: 2-5 px
  • Hardness: 100%
  • Flow: 70%
  • Force Pressure: On
  • Stabilizer: Checked
  • Length: 10 to 15
  • Color: White
paint body highlight

Step 8

With the same brush as above, paint hair-strand highlights on the front of the subject’s head, and paint softer hair strands and highlights towards the back.

Use the Eraser Brush Tool to get rid of any harsh edges.  

paint hair

Step 9

Create and nest a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into the panda. 

Brightness/Contrast Settings

  • Brightness: -26%
  • Contrast: -10%

Mask out the front portion of the subject using a large, soft, black Paint Brush to create a shadow on the back of the little girl. 

add shadow

Step 10 

Create and nest a second Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into the panda. 

Brightness/Contrast Settings

  • Brightness: 5%
  • Contrast: 20%

Group all of the subject layers together into their own group, naming it „Little Girl”.

add contrast

Step 11

Next, we will be adding some basic shadows under our subject. 

Create a new Pixel Layer below the „Little Girl” group. Set the layer to Soft Light. 

Using a medium, semi-soft, round Paint Brush, apply dark brown underneath the subject to create a subtle shadow. Try not to make it too blob-like or soft; shadows have shape! 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Flow: 20%
  • Color: Dark Brown #351706
add shadow

Step 12

Repeat step 11 to further darken and intensify the shadow. 

intensify shadow

Step 13

Repeat step 11 one more time, only this time set the layer to Normal at 33% Opacity. Remember to give shape and structure to the shadows! 

Group all of the shadow layers into a group and name the group „Shadow”.

intensify shadow

5. How to Add Color and Atmosphere

Next, we will be adding more light and color to our sky using a few simple layers set to screen. I always like to save this part for the end, when I know all my other main elements are completed and won’t be moved around too drastically! 

First, let’s add some greenery to the platform that our subjects are sitting on, and then we will move on to adding some atmospheric haze. 

Step 1

Duplicate the landscape stock layer we used for our background. Bring the duplicate above all previous layers. Set the duplicate landscape to Lighten. 

Enlarge the duplicate significantly, placing it so there is a substantial amount of leaves and green in the bottom-right corner of our canvas. 

add grass

Step 2

Add a Layer Mask to the duplicate landscape layer. Mask out everything but the lower right-hand corner. 

mask grass

Step 3

Create a new Pixel Layer above all previous layers. Set the layer to Screen, and 60% Opacity.  

Paint a mixture of light blue, green, yellow and orange to create a rainbow-like haze on the top half of the canvas. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Hardness: 0%
  • Flow: 50%
  • Color:  Blue #5CBBFF, Green #4AFF55, Yellow #F8FF2C, and Orange #fFB809

Below is my layer at 100% Opacity set to Normal just so you can better see how and where I painted. 

add light

Step 4

Create a new Pixel Layer above all previous layers. Set the layer to Screen, and 60% Opacity.  

Using the same brush as above, paint more light blue over the back of the little girl, bringing the light slightly down onto the panda’s back. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Flow: 20%
  • Color: Light Blue #5CBBFF
add sky light

Step 5

Repeat step 5, but this time use a vivid green over the bottom half of the canvas. 

Paint Brush Settings

  • Color: Vivid Green #F3FF0A

Group all four layers you just created into a group named „Atmosphere”. 

add green light

6. How to Create a Vivid Calm Color Grade

Finally, to bring all of our elements together and give everything one final uniform look, we will be applying a vivid but calming color grade effect. I love saving this step for last as it really gives everything one last nudge of color and contrast!

We will be using a total of five layer adjustments, ordered from last to first.

Step 1

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer above all current layers.

Color Balance Settings

  • Red: 21%
  • Blue: 34%
create color balance

Step 2

Create a Curves adjustment layer above the „Color Balance” layer. 

Curves Settings

create curves
curves results

Step 3

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer above the „Curves” layer. 

Gradient Map Settings

  • Color: Black to White
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Layer Mode: Soft Light
create gradient map

Step 4

Create a Split Toning adjustment layer above the „Gradient Map” layer. 

Split Toning Settings

split toning  settings
split toning results

Step 5

Create a Selective Color adjustment layer above the „Split Toning” layer. 

Selective Color Settings

  • Layer Mode: Color

Color: Greens

  • Cyan: 33%
  • Magenta: 82%
  • Yellow: 43%

Color: Cyans

  • Cyan: 100%
  • Magenta: 78%
  • Yellow: -100%

Group all five adjustment layers together into a group and name it „Color Grade”.

selective color settings

We’ve Done It!

Paying attention to the small details—like how fur rubs up against the skin, or how small leaves and seeds are often found floating in the background of animated films—allows you to incorporate them in your work and bring life and atmosphere to your piece! 

As with everything, the more you practice, the better you become—not only at seeing these details, but also at creating them yourself!

So, as always, keep experimenting with different techniques, and don’t forget to post your version below, along with any questions, comments, or critiques!

final result

Want to learn more? I recommend the following tutorials: