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How to Create a Disney “Frozen” Fantasy Photo


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My oldest daughter Adeline has been obsessed with the movie “Frozen” since she first saw it in January. She has even insisted on giving the whole family “Frozen” character names- she’s Anna, I’m Elsa, my husband is Kristoff, and her baby sister is Olaf (and trust me, we best not answer to anything else if she’s around!). So, it seemed fitting to make her dreams come true this Halloween and create a scene straight out of Arendelle. Her joy and excitement upon seeing the final product made it all worth it! Since I know there are plenty of Frozen-obsessed little boys and girls (and parents!) out there this season, I thought I’d offer a tutorial so you can create your own Frozen fantasy photo!

Here is the pre-Photoshop image:

Frozen-Before-MCP-Guest-Blog1 How to Create a Disney "Frozen" Fantasy Photo Free Actions Guest Bloggers Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

The image above was shot about 45 minutes before sunset at a shaded walking trail, so it was fairly dark and required me to bump my ISO to 2500. I wanted to get as much background compression as possible while maintaining a sharp focus, so I set my aperture to f/4.0 (my rule of thumb being, aperture should be approximately equivalent to the number of subjects in the photo). As for shutter speed, I never go below 1/200 with human subjects, and tend to start there, as was the case for this shot. Because I wanted to be in the photo (a rarity for us photographers!), I brought my tripod and my mom along to press the shutter when everything was set up. But you can simply use your camera’s timer function and dash into the picture if you do not have a designated shutter pusher.

Now to create a Frozen fantasyland!

I brought the above image, which contains no edits except a WB adjustment in ACR, into Photoshop CS6. Here is a detailed list of my edits in Photoshop:

  1. For this particular image, I had a very specific look in mind, and it included background symmetry. Since I had that nice lush tree at camera left, I opted tomirror that side of the background so that the right side would match it. To do this, I duplicated my background layer: Layer > Duplicate Layer. I then went to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.  Then added a layer mask (which can be achieved by clicking the layer mask icon at the bottom of your layers palette, which looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle of it). The only problem is, our image is still flipped the wrong way, and we want to hide most of it and only reveal that tree on the right hand side to mirror the left on our original image. To do this, we need to invert the layer, which we can do by clicking Command-i (Mac) or Control-i (Windows). Now, your original image should be displayed, and you can simply select a white paint brush and paint (or “mask in”) the parts you want revealed to mirror your background (make sure your layer mask is selected!).
  2. Now that we have a nice mirrored background (if desired), we need to turn those greens blue for a “Frozen” feel! To do this, I added a Selective Color layer: Layer > Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. Then I tweaked the sliders in the yellow and neutral channels to achieve the blue, but how you tweak will depend on your SOOC image, your eye, and your vision! For this one, my tweaks were as follows: Yellows: cyan +100; magenta -19; yellow -4; black +100; Neutrals: cyan +27; magenta -22; yellow -100; black +9. But then of course I turned all of us blue too, so I had to add a layer mask and invert the layer, as explained in the previous step. Then I simply painted the selective color all over the background, turning everything blue but us!
  3. I then wanted to brighten us and the middle of the image up, so I used MCP FREE Touch of Light & Touch of Darkness action on the center of the image using a large, round, soft brush. For this particular image I wanted a lot of brightening so I left it at 76% opacity.
  4. Then I added a classic black vignette to darken up the periphery of the image. For my vignette, I add a radial gradient fill layer: Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient. For this one, my angle was 90 degrees, and my scale was 150%. Then I simply took a large, soft, round brush and masked off any vignette on us/the middle of the image.
  5. To really give my image some punch and polish, I used actions from MCP Newborn Necessities: Eyes Wide Open, Crying for Contrast, and Blushing for Lips & Cheeks.
  6. I wanted a pop of light at the top, so I added a white radial gradient to the top by creating a new Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color (white). I then selected my gradient tool and dragged it from just above the center of the top edge of the image to just above our heads, which gives a nice round little pop of light at the top.
  7. We’re almost done, but no Frozen fantasy image would be complete without snow! For all of those lucky people that have the MCP Four Seasons action set or even just the Winter Whirlwind actions (it’s in there too), there are snow actions in it to give you fabulous flakes in a flash! I used a snow overlay made by a photographer friend (Carly Bee Photography) – set to Screen mode.  No matter how you get the snow, it definitely can add a magical quality.
  8. We are almost finished! But before any image is fit for sharing on the web, we need to sharpen it and save for web, and MCP has you covered with their Free Facebook Fix action set. I simply resized and sharpened for web, and voila! Here is my finished result:

Frozen-After-MCP-Guest-Blog How to Create a Disney "Frozen" Fantasy Photo Free Actions Guest Bloggers Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

And there you have it! I have two very happy little girls and a memory to cherish forever! I hope that this tutorial helps you to create your own Frozen fantasy photo this Halloween.

Jessica Roberts is a natural light photographer specializing in portrait photography, serving Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. You can view more of her work on her website Sweet Adeline Photography and follow her on her Facebook page.


No Comments

  1. Kelly on November 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Oh my goodnesss– This has to be the sweetest family pic — My 4 yr old loves Frozen— Is there anyway I can send you one pic of my little girl in her Elsa outfit– out in the woods. Could you possibly edit like the above picture- I’ll can pay you for your time for one image — I really would love to use this pic for our Holiday card– If I get the picture to you by Mon or Tues — would you be willing to do it!!! Since I don’t have photoshop–ThanksKelly

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