Photoshop Tutorial: Create an Attractive Oriental Geisha Scene

Learn how to create an oriental concept focusing a geisha character. You'll need Photoshop CS5 or higher to follow this tutorial.

Stock Images:
Sky, thanks to Chi King.
Stairs, thanks to dharma communications.
Geisha, thanks to lu_lu.
Shoes, thanks to Raul Garcia Piñero.
Birds, thanks to mrvital.

End result:
Create an Attractive Oriental Geisha Scene Final Image

avatar Akassa

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Author earned: $40
Practice tutorial

Step 1

Open the source links I've placed above and create a concept, you'll need to select most sources, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) for whole image copies. As for the sky I've used it as it is, the ground I selected only the stairs leaving the forest behind, the geisha model and the shoes from the second geisha. To select specific areas you the Pen Tool (P) on Paths for a more precise crop. Leave the birds for later, they're very easy to select and add.

Don't worry about the shoes (not fitting), we'll work them in the next step. Just make an initial sketch.

Due to the low resolution of most picture, I've decided to make a not so high image as well with a 1000x1500 pixel size.

Step 2

To blend the new shoes with the dress I decided to enlarge the right part of her dress and to duplicate the front foot, replacing the back one with this format. This way we can place the model in a stair level more properly and it looks real all the same.

First, select the curvy part of the dress with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to create a new layer with the same data (1), then use the Warp Tool (Edit>Transform) to enlarge and adjust this new piece (2). It will look distorted and completely different from the rest of the texture, don't worry, we can easily fix that. Grab the main dress texture with the same tool in a new layer and attach it to the new piece (3).

Check the image below, the number I've added correspond to the steps there.

Step 3

Select the front foot with (P) and duplicate it (1). Then replace this new layer behind the original foot, erase the back one with the Eraser Tool first. Reduce the size of the back foot a little to create depth using Scale Tool (Edit>Transform) (2). Merge the feet to get both in a single layer.

Now, to match the dress a little I've applied a filter to reduce color (3). Apply a Vibrance Filter (Layer>New Adjustment Layer) with -18 on both fields, Vibrance & Saturation. Finally, I've added a little shadow on the shoes (from the dress). Duplicate the model's layer and fill it with black, select her shape first - click on the layer + ctrl + click on it again. Then use a little Gaussian Blur, around 5 and change the layer's opacity to 65% (4). Don't forget to attach both, the filter and this layer, to the shoes one.

Step 4

The different backgrounds present in the image above was because I've changed the model into the second stair level from the bottom.

I added a back cloth, as most Geisha's use. From the same source as the shoes. Select the back cloth and place it behind our model (1). I decided to keep the original format, just used the Warp Tool to adjust a little and erased the most bottom part (2). The pattern is competently different but I've decided to do the same technique as in Step 2. Copy the original dress texture and replace the undesired one by attachment. The texture I've selected was the middle one with light yellow and random lines, it's marked on the image below (3).

After this I've added a little shadow on this new cloth, just brush with true black following the dress edges, apply blue on it not too much, then leave it on normal with an opacity of around 20%.

Step 5

Proceeding with the changes I stated before: I've enlarged the sky and rotated the stairs to the right a little, to give a more straight look.

Initiating the blending mode:

Sky - Add a Levels Adjustment Layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer) with the setting referred below (1). Apply a Gradient (G) in a new layer with Black and White (black should be on the top and white towards the center of the image). Change the blending mode to Soft Light and the opacity to 55%. Using a very light reddish (2) draw a line around the stairs, to establish a blending zone between the sky and the stairs (we'll work a lot on this part in the next steps). This should be done in a new layer with a normal brush size around 100px and the layer's mode to Soft Light at 100% opacity.

Step 6

We'll pretty much apply the same techniques to the stairs now.

Duplicate the Levels Layer that you did for the sky and attach it to the stairs. With the same light red do the same on the top borders, where the stairs meet the sky, trying to blend in, all around. I've created two distinct layers: one with a more thick brush like I've done for the sky before, blending mode on Soft Light and 45% opacity and another with a more disperse range, on Normal blending mode and 50% opacity.

Apply some depth using the Blur Tool, with a brush size of 70 and strength of 50% on the farthest sight of the stairs. Then apply it on the medium levels with a strength of 25%.
Apply Gaussian Blur to the sky layer, an amount of 12.

This is what we had at the start and what we have now with a few changes.

Step 7

We'll ignore the model for awhile, the main concern is, now, to blend well the two background pieces.

I don't feel well with the yellowish tons on the bottom of the sky line, so let's turn it a little more pinkish with a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer (Layer>Adjustment Layer>Photo Filter) with a pale purple, 5f104a. Clean the filter layer on the top, select the mask first. We do not wish to lose those purple, pink, yellow and red tons with the Eraser Tool (E) . The density should be at 100%.

The left corner of the sky line, behind the umbrella is very dark compared to the rest of the line, so I've added 3 layers with a reddish touch (the same light red stated before - fbd2d0. Brush around 70px, on Normal Blending mode and 30% opacity; the same with a vertical intense range at 50% and on Normal too; a thick and thin spot close to the edge on Soft Light and 55% .

Step 8

The stairs seem too pinkish and greenish compared to the ambient.

Create a new Photo Filter as the one we made before using the pale purple. Set it to 80% density and do not clean anything this time, it should apply to the whole stairs layer.

In a new layer draw a line around the edges with around 130px and use Gaussian Blur on it around 20p . The opacity should be at 45% and the blending mode on Normal .

Step 9

Do the same procedure on the very edges at the center. I'll mark the zones (in red) I've added a little more intensity. Check the image below. Most likely to make the edges blend in with the start of the sky.

Then with a brush of 50px using true black, I've underlined the bottom of every stair level, including the cliff zones at the left. The blending mode is Soft Light with an opacity of 25%.

Step 10

Also I've added a little shadow spots on the sky in the top, on the darkest areas, Soft Light on 20% Opacity. I decided to get the sky Photo Filter fully on, since the sky seems a bit off now, you can just repaint the mask and it's done :)

As you can see there's a clearly distinction now:

Step 11

I wanted to give this piece a fantasy style so this is far from being done... i do this progressively, it has a better chance to have a better result.

The very center of the image needs a strong light and the edges of both, the sky and the stairs need to blend even more. You can start by doing a fast blurring of the stairs edge, suing the Blur Tool at 50% strength and 80p size. A new layer with a less intense brush should go around the stairs first levels and on the left mountain.

Honestly, I did a mix with colors all around, you can do the same thing as long as you pick very light pinks and reds. In a new layer with a brush of around 150px brush in the very center and the edges area above the sky and ground layers, normal mode and at 40% opacity. This time go a bit further into the sky zone reaching all the dark zones on that zone, not on the top of the sky. I did some more layers on parts that were darker there, we want an uniform look. On this area, the top, make a new layer and brush it all with e8bac8, a very light pink, set it to color at 17% opacity.

Feel free to make as many layers as you wish, sometimes i do little things separated, sometimes all together but the result ends the same.

Step 12

Back to the stairs:

Merge the layer with all it's attachments. Now let's add a more dynamic coloring and shading.
Pick 2-3 colors, I got a light-medium pink (c081bc), a light-medium purple (a088ba) and a mist between red and pink medium color (eeb0bf). And painted the respective zones as you can see in the image below (1), using a soft brush, zero hardness, with a 100px size on a new layer. Then change it to blending mode Color with an opacity of 30% (2).

Step 13

I've added another soft Photo Filter to the stairs. Used a pale purple (541c45), the density is 50% and the filter's opacity is 40% on normal mode.

For the shades i started by applying a Levels Adjustment Layer, check the settings on the image below. Then I've erased undesired areas, with the Eraser Tool, such as the top parts where the stairs meet the sky and the very center where the luminosity is strong, check the mask form to have a clear idea.

Step 14

In the first level (from the bottom), brush all that area, in a new layer, with a true black soft brush. Change it's blending mode to Soft Light and the opacity to 35%. Now duplicate this layer and change the mode to Normal and opacity to 10%.
On the second layer I've only added a small shadow from up-down on a 15% Soft Light, opacity 15% layer. It fades away when the last level starts.
Finally, I've darkened the left mountain rocky area. Same method, avoid the lighten parts, try to create a shadow effect - Soft Light and opacity at 40% on this one.

Step 15

Let's start working on the model now.

Apply a Levels Layer at 100% opacity and a Photo Filter using a pale purple again (540a40) with a density of 90% and an opacity of 100%.

Details below.

Step 16

As you can state the shoes have no shadows and she is against the light, so that place should have plenty of shadows.

I've made many layers for this part, it's up to you to do differently. Use a zero hardness brush around 15-40px in true black, it will depend on the zone. Also you'll need the Eraser Tool to clean mistakes.

I started by making a large shadow on most of the closest shoe, on normal blending mode at 20% opacity (1). Then a thicker around the left side edge, normal as well and 30% (2). Then built a thin shadow under her foot on the shoe (3). Same details as the last. Brushed the heel area a little on 25% (4). Added a first shadow on the other foot right near the st/art of the other (the light comes from up-behind) (4).

It's not totally plain anymore.

Step 17

Intensifying even more the shadows on the shoes:

Applied a large and thick layer diagonally on the closest shoe, with an opacity of 35%, normal (1). Duplicated this layer and added Gaussian Blur at 5p, set the opacity to 8% (2). Brushed the whole foot besides the very top and set it to 7% (3). Around the left edge another layer to make it darker, 20% (4). Finally, on the other foot I've added 2 layers, one with a more extensive shadow, 40%, encompassing nearly the whole area and another as the first we made there, way thicker at 25% (5).

Step 18

Doing a little of make-up:

Eyes and Mouth: Select a true soft brush at a size of 10px with a very soft pink(f6dce4) and do three paints, one in each eye and one in the middle of the lips. Then change the blending mode to Overlay and the opacity to 60% (1).

Eyes: In another layer, with a true black brush at 2px paint the lower part of the eyes, creating an eye liner look. Leave it on Normal blending mode and change the opacity to 40% (2). Then in another new layer select a pink-reddish color such as b83356 and paint the upper part of the eyes, change the blending mode to Overlay at 50% (3).

Face: As you can see the upper part of the face is lacking white, so let's fix that. Create a new layer again and brush it with true white - Normal mode at 20% opacity (4).

Step 19

Back to the body, I'll start adding a lot of lights and shadows all over.

In her hand color, it looks too dark compared to the white mask on her face so I've added more white. With a brush size of around 15px and true white paint her arms and hand part, then change the mode to Soft Light and let it be at 100% (1).

With a larger brush, at 80px, paint with true black the left side of the umbrella, from the hair to the left. Reduce the opacity to 25%at Overlay (2). Do the same method but starting a little lower than the center and change the mode to Soft Light, opacity to 40% (3). You'll have a most likely darken side. Now starting in the very center of the umbrella(around the girl's neck) create an illusion of shadow from her body, it can go to her hair just not to her skin,we'll work on this part later on. Always in a new layer, brush in true black that area, could be with a large brush of around 100px, change the opacity to 50%on Soft Light (4).

In her lower hair part around the neck, draw a thin black line (in the umbrella) then apply a little blur and change the opacity to 20% on Normal (5).

Step 20

Now I'll add a very large shadow in the whole body, covering the left part. Use a true black brush with a size of around 120px and brush the zone showed below in a new layer. Change it's blending mode to Soft Light and the opacity to 20%.

Step 21

The back cloth is completely on darkness, no light goes there, so let's dark it.

True black once again, brush the whole back cloth and a little of the dress on 75% opacity Normal mode (1). Then in another layer paint a line around the edge between the clothe and the dress with a great degree of blur,use the Blur Tool to do so. Normal mode as well at 40% opacity (2).

Step 22

The lower dress and the feet need a little more shadowing.

In a new layer make another large brushing, using true black, going from the middle of the body (from the black part of the dress) to the closest foot. Opacity at 30% on Normal mode (1).

Now make a thicker painting from the edge of the body on the left, you may want to make a line around it then use Gaussian Blur to make it blend better. Same blending mode on 65% opacity (2).

I brushed her left face a little with black, on Soft Light at 12% to create a greater depth (3).

Step 23

Moving on to the lights.

Start by enchanting the light on her face and shoulder/arm on the right. Instead of true white I decided to use a very light pinkish color such as f9dee7.

With a brush sized 55px paint those zones, change the blending mode to Soft Light at 55%opacity (1). Using a large brush around 80px brush the right side of the umbrella with a light pink as well, set the mode to Overlay at 20%.(2). In the very center of the umbrella, just around her right face, it seems too dark so let's make a small brush there, change the mode to Overlay as well at 25% (3).

Step 24

I've added a large light, using a light pink as usual, in the right part of her body, in a semi circle shape. Change it to Soft Light at 80%opacity.

Step 25

Select her body shape (ctrl+click on the model's layer) and in a new layer create a stroke of this shape (Edit>Stroke) pick the same pinkish color and set a 6px on center, Normal mode and 100% opacity (1). Now change the layer to Overlay at 100%. Repeat the same process but this time apply a bigger stroke around 8-10x. Blur it using Gaussian blur around 10p and set it to Normal at 80% (2).

Now you're going to erase the light strokes on both layers on the left side of her dress (where the shadows are), don't clean anything on the umbrella, just on the shoes and right side.

Step 26

Back on her face, I've added a greater shadow on her left side and ear zone, Normal mode at 40% opacity (1). Added a very little shadow on her nose, in the left part, use around 2px sized brush to do this - Normal at 10% (2). Also darkened the accessories in her head on the left part - Normal at 20% (3).

Step 27

And this is what we have after adding some shadows and lights to the model... a small comparison so you can be tunned on:

Step 28

Using a light salmon color such as f2d5d1, brush all her right zone from the back foot to the center of the umbrella, in a medium limit shape, don't make it too large on the body but cover all the right side of the umbrella, adding a fading effect in it's middle using the Eraser Tool at around 20% opacity. Set this layer to Soft Light at 100% (1).

Do the same procedure again but this time from her knee up. Soft mode at 30% opacity (2).

Step 29

Before proceeding with the model,let's increase the shadows in the stairs.

Brush the first two levels of the stairs with true black, then set the layer to Soft Light at 40%, you can clean the top (start) of each level if you brush there (1).

In a new layer and using a small brush, paint the rocks at the start of the first three levels and the mountain in the left. Change this layer to Soft Light at 60% opacity (2).

Step 30

If you watch closely the model has a reddish touch, rather than pinkish. Let's fix this to make the model match the background more properly.

I've added a Photo Filter using a medium purple (660c45) at 80% density. No changes on the layer itself, so it's on Normal and at 100% opacity.

Step 31

I'll intensify the lights on the edge of her body with the sky.

Use a brush sized around 150px with a very light salmon color (eecbd5) and paint the umbrella and arm zone, going around her belly as well. Leave it on Normal mode at 65% (1).

In a new layer brush only the very right edge of the umbrella, trying to make it blend with the sky - Normal on 45% (2).

Step 32

I know you think the shoes are done but... they need more work. We'll be making her shadow soon so we need to blend the shoes even more, the closest shoe should be really dark.

True black will be our friendly color for this method. Using a small brush around 25px, I've painted most of the first shoe, coming from the lower dresses edge. Set it to 70% opacity on Normal. Looks very dark but don't worry once we make the shadows in the ground it will fit (1).

Now, only on this same shoe, brush it all over except the very top of it - Normal,4 5% (2).

Make another layer and darken the wood part of her shoe - Normal at 35% (3).

Step 33

You should have a big pile of attachment layer to the model, you can now merge it all.

We'll enchant the model. I started by adding a Levels Adjustment Layer, you can find the settings below) and changed the layer to 30% opacity.

I found that the lower part of the dress was still too reddish so I've applied a Photo Filter to the area. Apply a normal Photo Filter with a medium purple (7a2d77) at 55% density and change the opacity to 75%. Then select the mask and clean it from her belly up.

Finally, I've added a Vibrance Adjustment Layer - 0 vibrance and 16 Saturation.

Step 34

As you can see in the left part of the umbrella, barely no light comes in when the background is extremely light.

In a new layer using a very light salmon such as efc4cf, brush that area from the back clothe to the center of the umbrella (only the edges). Set it to 25% opacity on Normal mode (1).

Then to boost the colors, I've added a layer with multi colors on the umbrella, matching the sky colors. For example, in the top there's many purples, so I picked a light purple and painted in the edge there. On the left I used a more reddish and on the right a more pinkish color. Then set this layer to Overlay at 35% (2).

Step 35

We'll make the shoes perfectly fit now, let's build the shadow. As you can see the light comes from behind, strongly from her right. That's how the shadow should be directed.

To do this duplicate the model, select her shape and fill it with black. How? Once you have her selected (the shape) go on Edit>Fill. Then you add a little Gaussian Blur around 5px. Flip the image, vertically and adjust to the model (1). Once you have it placed, starting on her feet, reduce the opacity to 90% and you'll need to move it's direction to the left, right now it's a shadow as if the light came exclusively from behind. To do this I've used the Warp Tool (Edit>Transform), you can use it several times don't worry (2).

You may add a little fade on the shadow by softening the farthest part around 5% opacity on the Eraser Tool.

Step 36

In the space where the shadow meets her feet it's clearly bright when it should be darker... so I've painted a thin line under her shoes with a brush of 5px, on Normal mode and 75% opacity (1). Then I've made a bigger cloud by drawing a bigger spot (around 10-15px) and blurred it out, same mode but the opacity changes to 60% (2).

Step 37

Before we go to the final retouches, I added a medium light in the model's chest area, coming from the umbrella. Use a very light pink as usual, set it to Normal at 20% opacity.

Step 38

Merge everything now. Just right click on any layer and click on "Merge Visible".

In here I decided to take vector colors, doing it manually... as in picking different tones to "paint the image". For the left side of the sky I picked a light purple , d9b4e4, and set the layer to Color on 27%. As you can see in the image below, I didn't brush only the sky i went a little for the umbrella as well,to blend in (1).

For the right side of the sky I've picked a medium pink , ca5e78, on Color mode at 25% (2).

For the stairs I've used the last color to paint some places around, I didn't paint it all but I wanted that tone to be predominant. The layer is on Color at 15% (3).

Step 39

Using this same technique, I've made another layer to boost color dynamic. I used three main colors so it's hard to explain how I've done it by words, I'll post the coloring in the image below. Once you're done with that you set the first layer to Overlay at 15% (1) and the second to Color at 10% (2).

The main colors I've selected were: a medium pink, dd5699, a medium salmon, da5a84, and a medium purple, a15c92.

Step 40

Duplicate the main layer, apply Gaussian Blur around 10px and set it to Overlay at 30%.

Step 41

I added another set of adjustment layers...

A Vibrance Layer to the sky, clean all the rest in it's mask with the eraser. Set the vibrance and saturation to +12 each on 35% opacity.

I added a Exposure adjustment layer as well, check the details below.

And a Curves to the hard shadows on the stairs, meaning the lower bottom and the left side -same thing erase the upper part in it's mask. It's opacity should be at 50%.

Step 42

I'll add more lights to the background and to the model.

Use a very light red such as ffe0e1. Fill the right side of the umbrella going for her shoulder, arm and belly. On the back brush the umbrella's edge (in the left) going for the back cloth. Set this layer to Normal at 10% opacity (1).

On a new layer make a small brush in the very edge of the right side of the umbrella, making it blend with the sky - Normal at 17% (2).

I've boosted the lights in the stairs, using a large brush around 150 px i brushed the middle zone (brightest) and the left part, where the light enters the mountain. Change the mode to Soft Light at 20% (3).

Step 43

Using a pale dark red (520517), I've brushed some areas on the stairs most likely the ones to the left side of the model and on the extreme right. Blending mode as Color and opacity on 20%.

With this same color, go over the top of the umbrella where it is really purplish and brush there, set the layer to Color at 40%.

Keep using this dark red. Now in the sky, brush the darkest areas in it's very top. Change the blending to Soft Light at 20%. On the right side, brush that cloud and set the layer to Color at 25%.

With a very light red, f5cacf, I made even more lights. Do a medium brush in her right face and set it to Overlay at 40%.

As we did before, do a large brush in the center of the image, use this same light red and brush the lightest areas of the image. Soft Light at 35%.

To give a darker look I added another Levels layer, this time featuring the sky and the darkest areas of the stairs, leaving out the model and the bright areas. Settings below.

Step 44

I already added the birds on the last image, but don't worry, I'll explain how to do it now. It's so easy that i even forgot about it!

Open the birds source and apply a Levels layer, then make it extreme, just so the blue turns nearly white and the birds become plain black. This way it's very easy to select them with the Quick Wand Tool (W). When you select them, make sure to pick the birds layer to copy them. Now place and adjust in our scene. I removed the original shape and made my own,mainly using the Clone Stamp Tool (S). Once you're done with your shape, to blend just add some color of the sky, preferable the ones that the birds are on. Leave this blending layer on normal with a lower opacity. You're done :P

I added more coloring dynamics,check the image below to know where. Colors are:true pink, c04e9a, light pink, bd76ab and a hybrid pink, bc759f. Set this layer to Color at 25%.

Step 45

Brush the center light zone with a light red, fbd5dc, with a large size, going from the sky to the model and to the stairs. Soft Light at 25%. Using the same color brush the bright sky horizon behind the model. Overlay at 20%.

I've lightened the geisha's shadow on the right part, using a small brush and the same color, set it to Soft Light at 15%.

Add small shadows, with true black, to the extremes of the stairs, on both sides. Soft Light on 20%.

Add a harder shadow on the model's face, at the left. Soft Light at 30%.

Step 46

We're nearly done!

To increase the detail level of the model's face and the sky overall, I've done this:

Duplicated the image and applied High Pass (Filter>Other). Changed this layer to Overlay at40%and erased most of the bottom part, the stairs do not need more detail in my opinion.

Finally, I've added a Curves Layer, excluding the model, most likely. Set it to 80%.

Step 47

And this is what we had initially and what we have now:)

I hope this tutorial was helpful to you.

Step 48

Final Result:

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avatar George55
George55 says:

Wow! Your turorial is very informative, and the SBS are easy to follow. Thanks for sharing. Good luck!

(5 years and 1670 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

its so beautiful.. ^_^ i like that one

(5 years and 1645 days ago)
avatar rusvelt2000

Great tutorial Akassa! I learned a lot by reading it, and I used your technique for a couple of jobs! Glad to give it a high vote.

(5 years and 1629 days ago)
no avatar
ghie says:

its awesome!!! it really easy to understand and follow too

(5 years and 1388 days ago)
no avatar
nasrin4g says:

Always great tutorial, please keep your post continue.

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(5 years and 465 days ago)
avatar still26
still26 says:

I just joined this site. I am a tech retard but am willing to learn. Thank you for this detailed information (which caused me to faint off my chair)....I'm so happy to be here. Thank you again.

(5 years and 35 days ago)

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