The following image was one of my very first tries in really creating something new from some existing images. I have come a long way since, but this one might be good to show an actual workflow.
This space isn't really big enough to explain in detail, but I'll try giving you a bit of an insight - This image is composed from more than 100 single layers,
The first two images show the initial images I started with. Both have been taken in Trentham, on the same day in early 2017. The first one was a simple portrait idea, the second one a location shot to show my models on the day.
I thought, why not combining them? - Resulting in the third image, and a first clean-up in image 4.
Then I thought, something is missing, started browsing the web, and found a 2 dimensional (right hand side) wing on a free download page - Atm I'm learning to make my own 3 d digital props, but I'm not that far yet.
So I had one wing, mirrored it on another layer to get a left wing.
Each of those wings needed to be converted into 3 d layers within Photoshop, to change position and adjust perspective, and masking around the model - For this the 3 d layers need to be converted in smart objects. The result is image 5.
The claws at the end of the wings didn't look right to me, so I created some of my own, one layer each to be adjusted individually, makes 8 additional layers on image 6.
I wanted to add some diffused, foggy background lighting, which you see in image 7.
The matching shadows are added in image 8.
In image 9 I added some additional lighting and sun rays, to get a little more foggy feel to the image.
The final image, # 10, is mainly cleaned up around the edges of the model, some motion added to the wings, some more fog added as well as final adjustments to general lighting, shadows depth of field, general clean-up and straightening the whole thing.
As you see, Photoshop isn't just a tool to add some filters across a whole image, like most phone apps do. It's about layers, combining those, applying filters to parts of layers, grouping such layers, merging and re-filter the result... The list, and the possibilities are endless. There are countless ways just to darken or brighten one single image. Pretty much all those techniques come from the darkroom of the old days. The only difference in digital editing is the speed, sometimes... This image, from shooting to the final version, took me way more than 20 hours, excluding the actual shooting.
Thank you Lia, for the shooting!