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How to create a fantasy photo edit WITHOUT Photoshop

Updated on June 11, 2013
This is the starting photo, you'll notice that my hair is pulled back, so i can add a different hairstyle to the portrait.
This is the starting photo, you'll notice that my hair is pulled back, so i can add a different hairstyle to the portrait. | Source

Starting the edit

This is my starting photo, using myself as a model. I've pulled back my hair so that i can add replacement features later. There has been no retouching on this photo.

Start edit on funtasticface.com.

funtastic face edit start (eyes)
funtastic face edit start (eyes) | Source

editing the facial features

To start, i recommend the site funtasticface.com, which is free, and allows you to add replacement mouths, eyes, hairs, ears and props to your existing photo. You can resize, rotate, and color any of the items to your liking. Since this is going to be an elf, i wanted big, starry eyes. Here, i am placing them and matching their size to my own.

Placing hair

Here i have placed a new hairstyle, still using funtasticface.
Here i have placed a new hairstyle, still using funtasticface. | Source

More facial features

Here i have placed my eyes, mouth, and hair. Using the slider at the bottom on the site, i was able to adjust opacity, color, darkness and tint. This site is extremely simple to use, and actually quite fun. There are a lot of interesting hairs and some great props to inspire you.

Elves need ears

Ear placement
Ear placement | Source

Ears!

Here i've placed my elvish ears, after the hair, as i want one to be visible. Using funtasticface, i was able to make it more or less pointed, change the height and length, and also the color.

On to Ribbet

Now you're ready to head to Ribbet, which is also free, although you have to pay for premium effects. It's very inexpensive, so i recommend it.
Now you're ready to head to Ribbet, which is also free, although you have to pay for premium effects. It's very inexpensive, so i recommend it.

Ribbet

Now i have saved the photo and hopped over to Ribbet, another free editing site. I airbrushed the photo and used wrinkle remover to achieve a flawless finish. I added blush, eye bright, mascara, and airbrush, which are all under the 'touchup' tab at the top of the page.

Moving over to picmonkey

The elvish headdress that i found in stock photos on Google.
The elvish headdress that i found in stock photos on Google.

Picmonkey

Another great site is picmonkey, which is the easiest site by far, and one i absolutely love. I looked through stock images on Google to find an elvish headpiece. Using the overlay feature on the site, you can add any image to your existing one, and use a very simple erase tool to get rid of parts of the image you don't want to use. You can also resize the overlay and rotate it to get the effect you want.

placing the overlay

headpiece
headpiece

Overlay finish

Here, i have used picmonkey to add a headpiece overlay and i erased the background from the image and placed it where i wanted it. You may need to practice this step if it's unfamiliar to you, but i promise you, the site is very user friendly.

Overlay combining

Here i have taken a screenshot, showing you where to click after adding any overlays.
Here i have taken a screenshot, showing you where to click after adding any overlays.

Marrying your overlays

Here i have taken a screenshot, and outlined in yellow the button you click on picmonkey to combine your overlays. This 'marries' the overlay to the photo, making it possible for any effects you add later to be applied to all aspects of the picture.

Orton

Adding the Orton effect

Since i wanted the finished portrait to look dreamy, i added the Orton effect on picmonkey, which added a light infused glow. Now we're ready to head to another software program to install a suitable background.

Backgrounds

The stock background image i used
The stock background image i used

Backgrounds

Here is the background image i chose on Google. I thought it was suitably elvish. Feel free to use any image that strikes your fancy. There are great free stock images available online for you to choose from, such as shutterstock.

Smart photo editor

Using composites
Using composites

Smart photo editor

In order to put down an underlay, or background, i chose to use Smart Photo Editor,which has a million effects and is a free download. Using the composite features takes some practice, but i've taken a screenshot of what the menu looks like in the editor.

Starting the composite

Compositing

Using Smart Photo Editor, i simply outlined my subject, with a simple paint and drag feature. Don't worry too much about making the outline perfect, you can fix that later. When the tiny paint can appears, left click on it and the area outside the subject will be automatically filled in with your chosen background.

composites and masking

Composites and masking

Still using Smart Photo Editor, i have finished my composite and added a 'magic' effect. If any of the background bleeds onto your subject, simply use the handy 'remove from area' tool to erase it, as well as any other effects you don't want on your subject.

Smart Photo Editor

Finishing with Smart Photo Editor

Here is the cleaned up portrait, with a few other effects added, such as 'dreamy' under the 'mood' tab, which lets you look for effects that match with the mood of your photo. There are tons to choose from, and any that you don't like can be instantly removed with the click of a button.

Back to Picmonkey!

Back to Picmonkey!

After saving the photo in Smart Photo Editor, i've taken it back to picmonkey, to add some finishing touches, such as some light effects, which are really beautiful, and will give your photo that extra touch of magic. They are all easy to use, and the site allows you to undo any actions that you don't like. Just look around and experiment until you find the effects you like.

Completed edit

Finished edit

Here is the finished edit, after i added some light radiance and bokeh, as well as some final airbrushing. Keep in mind that by using sites such as picmonkey, you can create fairies, demons, zombies, vampires, elves, and many other fantasy creatures. It is well worth the 4.99 price tag to give you hours of creative enjoyment without the expense and sometimes headache of software like photoshop. I hope this tutorial has helped you see how truly easy creating fantasy portraits can be. Experiment, try different free (or almost free) sites, and above all, have fun!

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