Photoshop Tutorial: How To Create The Magical Metamorphoses Of A Butterfly

Have you thought of the process that it takes for a butterfly's transformation, or metamorphoses, from a single, humble, little caterpillar, into a beautiful, colorful, butterfly. In this tutorial I will show you the steps to transform a simple pic of a dandelion, into a magical scene of the metamorphoses of a butterfly.

Thanks to Victoria Bernal for the pic of the butterfly, to Jenik, for the pic of the leaves, and to Joel abroad for the pic of the foliage, used in the background of this image. All of them, artists from Flickr.

Sources used:
1: Source 1
2: Source 2
3: Source 3

We'll also use the following tools:
* Dodge / Burn
* Transform
* Liquify/Warp
* Hue / Saturation
* Smudge
* Layer Blending Mode
* Eraser

End result:
How To Create The Magical Metamorphoses Of A Butterfly Final Image

avatar George55

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Practice tutorial


Step 1

Open a New Document 850 X 1250 px.
Leave the fill for the background any color, black or white is fine.
Leave layer's name, "Background".

Now, make a gradient fill, for this layer. Use the following colors:

Color # 576b24 (Foreground) Top.
Color # 433b24 (Background) Bottom.

Make a vertical line, dragging a vertical line from top to bottom as shown in image.

Step 2

Use the preset FUZZBALL brush, and make some "at random" strokes as I show you in the image. To start doing it, use the following colors:

Black # 000000.
Ochre # 8c6f35.

Size Brush: 360 px.
Hard brush.
Opacity: 100%.

Do not open a new layer, make the strokes on top of layer "Background".

Step 3

Use the same preset FUZZBALL, to make more strokes, this time you will use the following colors:

Bright Green # a2aa31.
Light Orange # 70461d.
Darker Brown # 512bob.

Follow same directions given in image...(As you did before).

Step 4

We'll add some texture to our "Background".

Filter - Texture - Texturizer - Canvas.

Scaling: 100%.
Relief: 4.
Light: Top.

Step 5

We'll darken the background.

Image - Adjustments - Curves.

Output: 50.
Input: 70.

Step 6

Use the Smudge Tool (R) together with a Spatter Brush, to smudge around the background, the idea of smudging is to blend the colors and get some interesting texture.

Spatter Brush: 150 px.
Strenght of: 70%.

It will be up to you, how to do the blending, I am showing you in the image how I started.

Step 7

I wanted to darken the left side of my background, so, I added more black FUZZBALL strokes.

Step 8

After the background is all blended and looking good. I used the Burn Tool (O), to burn some areas. Give a look at the image.

Step 9

Now that the background is smudged, and darkened. Just name this layer, "Background". We'll add more details later.

Step 10

This is the image of the dandelion, used for a contest, here at Pxleyes. Here is the link to the original image, that you can download for this tutorial. (Thanks Alan2641 for the pic)

or you can simply do the following:

Click over the image with the right side of your mouse.

Save Image As.

Save the image in your favorite folder, probably where you have all the pics you use for your art works, and where you can find it easily.

Step 11

Name this layer, "Dandelion". This will be your image to start working, making the changes as you will notice in the following steps.

Step 12

For this step, we'll take out the black color, to separate the dandelion and leave it by itself.

Use the Wand Tool (W), click over the black area. With black selected, hit backspace or delete, to delete this selection. The dandelion will be separeated. Use the Eraser Tool (E), to erase the stem of the flower.

Step 13

With the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) , make an elliptical selection of the top of the flower. With selection made, click backspace or delete, to delete selection.

Step 14

You'll have something like this, after deleting the selection.

Step 15

Make a copy of layer, "Dandelion" , do not name layer, just go to Edit - Transform - Flip Vertical , to flip the new layer.
Look at the image.

Step 16

Place the two layes together. Merge down the copy of layer, "Dandelion" , and name new layer, "Cocoon" . This will be the cocoon where butterflies hibernate, before they are born.

Step 17

Use the Eraser Tool (E) , to smooth the edges of the "Cocoon". You do not have to be precise, as we'll warp, and liquify it.

Step 18

Use the Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) , and make a shape like this. Pull the bottom middle handle down, and the sides middle handle to the center of the cocoon. Try to get a shape as I show you in the image.

Step 19

Filter - Liquify -Warp (Shift + Ctrl + X ) .

I used a 300 px , to liquify, warp the cocoon.

Try to get a shape like this.

Step 20

Use the Burn Tool (O), and a 100px soft brush, to darken some areas inside the coccon.

Use the Smudge Tool (R), and a 5 to 9 px soft brush, with strength of 70%, to draw some hair like lines outside the cocoon area, mostly over the edges.

Step 21

This is the image of the butterfly we will use in our work this time. The image belongs to Victoria Bernal from Flickr, which I thank, for let me use it in this tutorial.
here is the link to download this beautiful pic:

Or: Click with the right side of your mouse over the image.
Save Image As.
Save it in a place or folder, where you can have easy access to it.

Step 22

Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) , to make a selection of the butterfly. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the selection. Name new layer, "Butterfly" .

Step 23

After the edges of the butterfly are clean, use the Transform Tool (Ctrl + T, ) to position the butterfly as shown in image.

Use the Dodge Tool (O) , to dodge some areas of the butterfly. The idea is to change the color, just a little, to give a kind or orange - red color. Do not dodge to much, or the dodged areas won't look good.

Step 24

With the butterfly dodged, the color will change a little.

Image - Adjustments - Hue/Saturation .

Hue: + 20 .
Saturation : + 25 .
Lightness: 0 .

This will give the butterfly the color we want.

Step 25

Place layer, "Butterfly", on top of layer, "Cocoon" .

Use the Eraser Tool (E), a soft 100px brush with Opacity of 40% , to erase parts of the wings of the butterfly, by doing this, the erased areas will look as if the butterfly is inside the cocoon.

Step 26

Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) , to make a selection of the right side of the cocoon. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + T) the selection. Name this new layer, "Cocoon Slice" , fig 1.

Use Filter - Liquify - Warp , to warp or liquify this selection. Fig 2.

Step 27

Place this layer, "Cocoon Slice" , on top of layer, "Butterfly" .

Step 28

We'll open the pic of the leaves. I thank Jenik from Flickr, for this pic, that I will use for this tutorial.

Here is the link to download this pic of the leaves:

Or: Click with the right side of the mouse over the image.
Save Image As.
Save this image in a place where you can have easy access to it.

Step 29

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), make a selection of the leaves. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the selection, name new layer, "Leaves".
I will define and smooth the edges using the Eraser Tool (E) in next step.

The idea of using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), is to select the areas you want, and then copy and paste it in a new layer, but, the other option is to use the Eraser Tool (E), and erase the edges close to the leaves and branch, or you can even mask, make a selection of your mask, and delete it. I went for the Polygonal Lasso Tool, as it seems to be easier.

Step 30

The edges of the leaves were cleaned using the Eraser Tool (E) , and a soft brush.

To change the color of the leaves do the following:

Image - Adjustments - Hue/Saturation.

Hue + 60.
Saturation + 45.
Lightness: -30.

Step 31

Select the lower little branch. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the selection, do not name this new layer, just place it as shown in image. Use the Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) , to move it as I did.

Step 32

This is the pic we will use for the background too. I thank Joel Abroad from Flickr, for his pic to be used in this tutorial.

Here is the link to download the pic of the foliage:

The original pic, was transformed from horizontal to vertical for this tutorial.

If you do not want to go through the process of transforming the image, just
do the same you did before to download the pic and saving it in your files.

Step 33

Name this new layer, "Foliage".

As you can see, the picture of the foliage has a lot of light, and what we want is something darker and blurry, to bring the main image to the front.

To do this, do the following:

Place layer, "Foliage" on top of layer, "Background".

Set the Blending Mode layer, to soft Light, and use the Burn Tool (O), to darken some areas in the foliage. Put a little more emphasis on the bottom, it has to be darker. Blur all the image.... Use the Blur Tool (R).

Step 34

Place layer, "Leaves" over layer, "Foliage".

As you can see, there is more contrast now, with the changes we made, it brings the leaves to the foreground, and the image looks much better. We are getting there. Be patient.

You can now give some highlights to the foliage, behind the leaves, to do this, use the Dodge Tool (O). Soft Brush, and Exposure of 30%.

Step 35

Place layer, "Cocoon" and "Butterfly" together, with layer, "Cocoon Slice" on top of layer, "Butterfly". I won't suggest to merge layers down, just be sure that your layers are in the right place, and they will work fine. Some times you want to make changes to the image, and it is easier if the layers are active.

You can draw more hair like lines outside the cocoon, as shown in image.

At the end, connect the top area of the cocoon to the little branch using the smudge tool, in this way, it will look, as if it is all together.

Step 36

We finally arrived to the end of this tutorial. I hope it helped you to understand some of the ideas provided for you. I appreciate your patience in following me through all the steps, it is very appreciative, and fullfiling, when some one, can learn from the ideas of others. That is what we have here in pxleyes, a community of creative minds, willing to help, and teach others, what has been given to us.

Enjoy your time at your Photoshop works, and follow us one tutorial at the time. Ask me,or some one close to you who knows the tricks and excitement of working with a program like Photoshop, to help you with questions. I will be happy to help you.

Thanks again, and good luck in your journey through Art.

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no avatar
[banned] says:

This is just mind blowing!

(5 years and 61 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

tooooooooooooo gud man... heads off to you.. very well explained

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and creativity...

(5 years and 60 days ago)
no avatar
Draco says:


(5 years and 57 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

Amazing!!, very well explained tutorial

(5 years and 55 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

Wow. Great work and really good tut.

(5 years and 53 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

wow! big kudos

(5 years and 49 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Very, very good creativity.

(5 years and 41 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

you are a

(5 years and 32 days ago)
no avatar
arifkhan says:

when i will create this type of tutorial........ can u train me

(5 years and 17 days ago)
avatar Mario
Mario [banned] says:

Nice and good explained !

(5 years and 11 days ago)
avatar rusvelt2000

Great tutorial George.

(5 years and 10 days ago)
no avatar
yash says:

It is indeed nice work and very well explained.. Learnt some nice tips..
Thanks for sharing it

(5 years and 3 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Many thanks - I have a long way to go in using layers, but am gradually gaining confidence

(4 years and 362 days ago)
avatar Chrys Rizzo

Wow, fantastic one. I'm not very familiar with photoshop tools and you tutorial clear my mind a lot. Tks for helping us learn. Regards!

(4 years and 134 days ago)
avatar George55
George55 says:

Thank you Chrys!

(4 years and 70 days ago)

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