I’ve been planning this tutorial for a few weeks, ever since I took the last of my “leaf” images.


I saved all the different photos that I took for that image and decided that I would just use the same base photos to do another image, this time explaining how I did it. The same method applies to all the other leaf photos I’ve done, but if you have any specific questions please feel free to ask. Hopefully I can explain myself in a clear enough way!

Step 1:

Your photo! Here is the base image that I’m using (without the leaf for now). This image in itself is composed of 9 different photos stitched together to give a bigger canvas to work with. You don’t need to do that if you’re trying this out, but I did since I like lots of space. Aside from adding the images all together, this is straight out of the camera.

Step 2:
Adding the leaf. In theory you could use almost any thing leaf-like for this kind of image, like a piece of paper or fabric or even a feather…anything that is flat and would be able to disperse. I had a few different leaves to choose from, but I went with this one and just pasted it on as a new layer. It’s important to have your leaf or paper on top of the base image as a new layer, don’t merge anything until the last step!

Step 3:
This is where the fun part begins! For this image, I’m using a butterfly brush but for the other ones, I used bird brushes and leaf brushes. This is the creative part where you can choose what silhouette you want to use in your leaf. You could have a tree, a balloon, a cityscape…it’s up to you! You can easily find brushes of almost anything (try DeviantArt).

The first part of doing this step is to pick the brush that you want to use and then choose the clone stamp tool.    Select a sample of the leaf ( pressing alt and clicking on the part of the leaf you want to sample) then you point to part of the image you’d like to see that butterfly shape appear and just click your mouse. You should get a butterfly with a leaf texture. Now, using the eraser tool select the same butterfly brush and click the mouse once on the leaf to erase a clear butterfly shape. 


Repeat this step using a variety of brushes and sizes. For this image, I did the cloning first and then went back and deleted the sections of the leaf. You can do as many or as little as you want. I always make sure that, using the eraser tool and the brush that I’m using, I erase the edge of the leaf,  leaving little details like parts of wings. I also use the blur tool on low opacity just to soften the edges a bit.

(this is before erasing the butterflies from the leaf)

Step 4:
It looks pretty good even at this point but it needs a little bit of extra pop to give it the impression that the butterflies are actually coming alive and leaving the leaf (ha!) I looked through my brush collection and found  this brush set (from deviant art) that is a set of paint splatter brushes. I tried it on a little bit of the leaf and it looked neat. I used the same technique as the butterfly step. Using the clone stamp tool, I used these splatter brushes (on a small size) and cloned the leaf texture near the edge of the leaf to make it appear that the leaf was breaking apart. You could use smaller butterfly brushes or other brushes if you like, I just thought that this worked pretty well.




Step 5:

The hard part is over, now you can tweak it to your liking! All I did for this after the brushwork was increase the contrast and brightness a bit.


I hope that made sense, if you decide to try this out I would love it if you leave me a comment or message so that I can see!