How I created a post apocalyptic female warrior

Jul 15, 2017

Clinton lofthouse

Clinton Lofthouse is a Photographer, Retoucher and Digital Artist based in the United Kingdom, who specialises in creative retouching and composites. Proud 80’s baby, reader of graphic novels and movie geek! Find my work on My website or follow me on Facebook or My page

How I created a post apocalyptic female warrior

Jul 15, 2017

Clinton lofthouse

Clinton Lofthouse is a Photographer, Retoucher and Digital Artist based in the United Kingdom, who specialises in creative retouching and composites. Proud 80’s baby, reader of graphic novels and movie geek! Find my work on My website or follow me on Facebook or My page

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Now and again its good to go back and look through your old images. One of my most popular images is one called Warriors come out to play. My techniques and style have changed in the following years after this, but I always get people asking for a breakdown, so here it is.

Here is the image straight out of the camera. The location was an old abandoned brickworks near my house. I arranged to shoot with the model there, who styled herself, and did a great job! I already knew how I wanted the final image to look, which is always good be for setting up.

First off I needed to get rid of the background outside the window so with the pen tool I created a selection and masked out the background.

My next task was to add in the background, but first, let me quickly tell you how I created that. I found a great stock image on Deviant art where the horizon lines would match up. I then with a smoke brush painted on smoke as if it was coming from fires in the buildings. I then picked a fractal brush and erased part of the buildings to look like they were destroyed.

Back to the main image. I took the background image of the city and placed it under my main image in the layers palette. Because the window area is masked out, you can see the city through the window.

To make the image blend better I added light flare over the top of both images. I did this on a blank layer on a linear dodge blend mode, by painting in white with a brush.

Next, it’s time for a little toning. I wanted the image to be moody and full of contrast. So with a curves adjustment, I pull down the blacks and pull up the lights a tiny bit.

The image is looking pretty good now but I wanted to desaturate it a little. I did this by creating a black and white adjustment layer and lowered the opacity to around 20%.

One of my favorite colour grading tricks is to add some blues in the shadows. I do this by creating a selective colour adjustment layer, switching it to blacks and pulling in the blues a little. It can really help add a nice touch to the colour grading of an image.

Time for more light flare. Again I did this by painting in the light with a white brush on a linear dodge blend mode. Light flares can really blend an image together.

As we get close to the end its time to add detail and sharpening. I used Topaz Clarity and detail for this. Find settings that are good for you and with a layer mask, selectively paint in them in.

Looking at the image I wanted to add to the grungy, apocalyptic feel, so I added a bleach bypass with Nik software’s plug in. I reduced the opacity of the layer to about 30%.

And finally with a little cropping, and some sharpening in Lightroom we have the final image!!!

I hope that gave a little insight into how I created this image. Like I say this image is a few years old, so my techniques and tricks have evolved a little since then. Have a great week!

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Clinton lofthouse

Clinton lofthouse

Clinton Lofthouse is a Photographer, Retoucher and Digital Artist based in the United Kingdom, who specialises in creative retouching and composites. Proud 80’s baby, reader of graphic novels and movie geek! Find my work on My website or follow me on Facebook or My page

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4 responses to “How I created a post apocalyptic female warrior”

  1. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    The post-processing just gets too dark and loses the model and room detail after that first paste in of the burning city. The cultural significance seems to be that of a beautiful well-nourished female with a pro baseball bat deluding herself about surviving radioactive nuclear fallout. I wish you both technical and cultural progress.

    1. Clinton lofthouse Avatar
      Clinton lofthouse

      Post processing is subjective so meh I’m cool with it, your tastes will be different than mine. There is no cultural significance to be had from this image, this was not the goal to show how someone would look in reality after a nuclear fall out because this is a fantasy image, and should be looked at as so. But again everyone is always welcome to scour the internet and find the negatives in everything they see and promote that negativity. Such a fulfilling way to live life……oh wait :)

  2. TheInconvenientRuth Avatar
    TheInconvenientRuth

    My main gripe is with the smoke. it looks too “grain”y. And backlit like that, it should have loads more blown out areas and light shafts coming through. it just doesn’t look real at all.

    1. Clinton lofthouse Avatar
      Clinton lofthouse

      Like I said, this image is old. I created this image 2 years after picking a camera up for the first time. Also, realism doesn’t always work on an art basis when creating an image. How something looks in real life might not work as an image especially if it’s a fantasy image and not truly grounded in reality. But hey people are always welcome to find the negatives in every situation :)