How I Created This Cinematic Scene in Photoshop

In this video walkthrough, I will show you all the steps it took to create this gritty cinematic scene in Photoshop. I did start out with another concept in mind but this is sometimes what happens when you create: You start with one idea and it evolves into something else.

In the video, you will not only hear the thoughts running through my head as I edited the image, but also see the piece come together at the same time. The video starts off with what is in my opinion the worst part of the job: Cutting out. This is because I use the pen tool for my cut-outs and it is very boring. But it does give the best results, so this is a perfect case of suffering for the art. Once all the cutouts are done, it is then like building a jigsaw. Trying to fit everything into a pleasing composition.

As the tutorial moves along you will see me bring in a model, and explain how I went through multiple model stock to find something I was happy with. I like strong movie-style poses, but I also like the in-between poses. The ones where you capture them post-event, or pre-event. I think those poses have more storytelling power to them. And I feel the look and emotion on this model told us more than your standard movie pose. Once I have all pieces in place it is basically down to color and tone matching and then on to styling.

This video walkthrough is great for people of all levels who want to see how a composite like this is pieced together. When I was learning I found it of great benefit to watch other artists' processes and workflow, taking what I needed and applying it to my own. And that is what you should be doing all the time, learning and then putting that into action. You need to do both together.

Clinton Lofthouse's picture

Clinton Lofthouse is an Advertising/Entertainment photographer, creative artworker and Photoshop expert from the U.K. Specializing in composite and photomanipulation imagery.
When he is not chained to his desktop PC editing, Clinton likes to put on Synthwave music, wear Aviator sunglasses and pretend to be in an 80s movie.

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Cinematic: 1 : of, relating to, suggestive of, or suitable for motion pictures or the filming of motion pictures cinematic principles and techniques cinematic special effects. 2 : filmed and presented as a motion picture cinematic fantasies a cinematic adaptation of a novel.

The key word being? Motion picture... Motion.

Sorry for the following rant, but I didn't spend 5 years suffering studying cinema theory for this... Lol.

This new millennial, iphone, influencer, drone shooter, LUT seller idea of what cinematic means is an insult to everyone who works their ass off to actually make cinema, and the past ones that have. There's nothing cinematic about a photo, you need at least 24 of them or 13 in the old days to start getting there. Go read some Walter Benjamin, Deleuze, Agamben to learn what cinematic is.

Cinematic is an adjective that is used when a CINEMA film uses mostly motion to convey a concept and/or narrative instead of dialogue and exposition. As an example you can say the first twenty minutes of wall-e are cinematic, as are all the films before sound capture was invented. Hence the word "cinema" from cinematographe in french and the Greek "kinema" which means movement.

Try to think of this image as a still from a motion picture. Therefore there is no problem using the 'cinematic' term. If I am watching a film and I pause it to go make a cup of tea; does what I am seeing on the screen suddenly cease to be cinematic?

Also, why on earth would how someone else describes their own image offend you so much as your comment seems to suggest it does?

It's just over processed looking. 🤷 Like a video game.

Thanks, but I'll stick to my old fashion "Let the shot and art do the work" approach.

If you know what you're doing, you shouldn't need to rely so heavily on editing.

Okay, so we can establish that his image is not to your tastes. Many people enjoy creating their art using a computer as opposed to a camera. It's their choice. Should he stop doing that?

What are you, his mother? You gonna go through and white knight every post where people say it isn't their thing?

Calm down mate. I provided a counterpoint to yours and asked a reasonable question. Nothing to do with white-knighting.

Your comment suggests anyone who uses a computer to edit an image like this does not have the ability to create it all in camera.

A lot of people simply don't have the resources to go out and create an image like this but still want to have a go at it. Or else maybe some people prefer and enjoy the challenge of retouching to this standard. Obviously there could be many reasons as to why someone chooses a computer to edit this way.