Mind Blowing Valentine‘s Day Photo Manipulation Tutorial


Valentine’s day is just round the corner and it’s the perfect time to show your loved for your loved ones. Make you partner feel special by gifting them picture of you together with some sweet manipulation effects in it.

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a sweet romantic manipulation in Photoshop using a few stock images. You will also see how to effectively use Adjustment Layers to create the mood you’re looking for.

If you like this article, you might be interested in some of our other articles on 350 Photoshop Tutorials, Enhance Photos , Create A Realistic Video iPod Nano, and How To Correct Banding.

  • Program: Adobe Photoshop CS5
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Time: 2 hours

Final Result

final result photo manipulation

Stock images used

  1. Background by elenadudina
  2. Couple by deathbutterfly-stock
  3. Lens flare by PSD Box
  4. Butterflies by madetobeunique
  5. Leaf by LuisSolis
  6. Bird by madetobeunique
  7. Ladybug by riceonmonday

Step 1

Create a new Photoshop document with dimensions: width 2100px and height 1500px. Now open the background stock image, paste it over your canvas and flip it horizontally and place it as shown in the image.

Step 2

Open the stock image with the couple and extract the boy and the girl from the background. I used the Pen Tool (P) to draw a Path around them and then I turned that path into a selection and deleted the background.

You can use other extraction methods if you want but the Pen Tool is my favorite because of its accuracy.

Now copy the extracted couple and paste it on a new layer over your canvas.

Step 3

Now let’s fix the hair of the boy and the girl. For that I used the Color Range selection method. So, select the layer of the couple and go to Select >Color Range. Sample the color like shown in the image and set the Fuzziness to about 70% and click Ok when done.

A new selection is created which you can now mask. So with the selection active, click the Layer Mask icon on the bottom of the layers palette. If the layer mask is inverted, select it and press Ctrl+I to invert it again. Now you can manually refine the mask using the Brush Tool (B).

Step 4

Let’s start adding the first light effects. Open one lens flare from the Optical Lens Flare pack and place it behind the couple on a new layer to simulate the sun. Use a Screen blend mode to get rid of the black background and use the Hue/Saturation adjustment to change the color of the flare to yellow if you picked a flare with a different color.

The second type of light effects was made using layer styles. Add Inner Shadow with the settings shown in image 4b using color#BD8739. This will create a type of light which in photography is known as rim light and it helps to separate the subject from the background. Also add some Outer Glow using the same color.

Step 5

Create a new clipping mask layer for the couple layer and select the Spot Healing Brush Tool (J), activate Sample All Layers and remove all the spots on the couple’s skin by using single strokes.


Step 6

Now you can start making some contrast adjustments. You should always use adjustment layers for that. Create a Levels adjustment levels as clipping ask for the couple layer. Darken the mid-tones as shown in the image.

Step 7

Depending on how you placed the image on the canvas, you might have to fix the boy’s jeans. I used the Clone Stamp Tool (S) for that.

Step 8

Open the leaf stock image extract it from the background using the Quick Selection Tool or the Magic Wand Tool (W). Place the leaf on your canvas and duplicate it a few times. Then use the Free Transform (Edit Free Transform or use CTRL+T) to Distort the leafs. Also make them different sizes and rotate them so that they don’t look the same. You can use multiple stock images if you want.

Step 9

Add more details to the scene. Open the butterflies stock image, take a few of them and place them randomly on your canvas. Be careful with the proportions. They should not be too big nor too small. I also wanted to have a couple of ladybugs which I placed over the couple’s bodies and a bird sitting on the boy’s shoulder.

You can make the ladybugs and the bird look more realistic if you paint some shadows under. So, I created a new layer underneath them and I used a small soft brush with Opacity at 30% and I painted some soft shadows.

Step 10

I wanted to stimulate a ray of sun passing throughout the couple’s heads so I got a big soft brush (about 450px in diameter) and with the color #9C713E and Opacity of 100% I made a big soft dot. Then I changed the blend mode of the layer to Screen.

Then I used another optical flare stock (Optical-6 from the pack) and I placed it on the same spot where I painted the glow of light. The blend mode used was, once again, Screen. I also used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change its color from blue to yellow.

Step 11

Ready to make the last adjustments. Select the top most layer on your canvas and press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Shift+Command+Option+E for Mac users) to create a stamp of all visible layers (I don’t think you can create it from the menus).

Once you have the stamp created on a new layer, go to Image>Adjustments>Variations and click following this order: More Cyan>More Blue>More Cyan and then click OK. That will “make the image colder”. Drop the Opacity of the layer to 35%.

Step 12

Use adjustment layers to create two final color adjustments. First, add a Color Balance adjustment layer and set the settings as shown in the image.

Now add a Vibrance adjustment layer (or Hue/Saturation if you have an older PS version) and increase the vibrance/saturation.

Final result



  1. Sorry, it’s really nice (and sweet) but the final output looks fake, it looks like photos are just cut and pasted there all together. Maybe learn how to properly use photo filter techniques, and learn how to make images blend in all together naturally, making it realistic. But nice effort making this by the way, really helps total Photoshop noobs who just started.

    Don’t use the word “Mind-blowing” on the title though, because it’s very misleading. It’s not even close to the word “great” yet. Also don’t get me wrong dude, I’m not a hater. I’m just trying to help you out, but in a straight forward/frank way that’s all.

    • Hey Reymar I don’t take you as a hater here but as someone talking his mind out. I’d love to know whether you went through the tut and whether you tried it out yourself. I followed the whole tut and I disagree with saying “…the final output looks fake”, I don’t think so.

  2. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to offer one thing again and help others like you aided me.

  3. This is totally mind blowing! I love it. I actually went through it thrice before I perfected a good manipulation for my own photo. Its also a nice idea for a valentines gift. Kudos Andrei

  4. I just came back to am very very much thankful to Andrei, you made my day, I just had the snap I edited following this tut dropped to my fiancée and she loved it.

  5. Overall, this is really a good tutorial. But, I found something missing. Professional artists know different ways on how to cut out pictures especially if you are talking about the strands of the hair. In this tutorial, I found no technique on how to have a clear cut out of the couple. I think you must enhance this part.

  6. i am new to this site but frankly speaking i just loved the editing !! nd the cuts are so sharp and clear with so good effects that all together it looks appealing !!

  7. Well done tutorial. It helps to have as many screen shots as possible, I’m still a beginner and get lost easily. This one shouldn’t be too hard though.


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