Improving My Cosplay Photoshop

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Anime Wallpaper
Ever wonder how my older works look like? The wings, shatters and feathers never changed. Disclaimer : this is a fanart, I wish I remember who the artist was…

So it has been a really long time since I started my journey with Photoshop in the 1990s . Thinking back, it was kind of weird. I never see myself as a “creative”, and I adopted Photoshop out of pure curiosity. It just so happens that Photoshop became stuck with me until now. Not that I am complaining, Photoshop is a piece of gem that I picked up and never regretted.

In those days, Photoshop was simple. Yes, so simple that a child can spend hours drawing stick figures with it. That was my “Photoshop genesis”. As time passes, Photoshop grew a little more powerful, and so did a child’s mind. I had the opportunity to make myself many “customized anime wallpapers” with Photoshop. (I still have some of those on Minitokyo for the sake of nostalgia)

Things never got “serious” until I adopted Photography in the 2000s. Growing up in the concrete jungle, I love the nature; Something which a modernized city is sorely missing. I took several landscape photos and made various fantasy landscapes with a measly 3 megapixels – It was fun.


To date, I have tried to put those Photoshop skills into my cosplay photography. I had some success, but most “true masters” were able to point out my mistakes. The backgrounds were nice (thanks to years of wallpapers and fantasy landscape), but the character blending, concept, perception and overall is still missing out an arm… and a leg.

Thus, this is a challenge to improve myself. To create even more epic cosplay photos and to perfect the craft. I pick on one of my recent works and this is what it lacked. A special thanks to the cosplay photographers community here in Singapore to point out my mistakes. A quick shout to :

  • Blending of Homura to the background still quirky (They don’t quite gel together)
  • Photoshopped hair is off
  • Shadows cast are wrong
  • Light sources to be considered
  • Depth of field to be considered
  • Could use a little more dramatic lighting effects

So my immediate challenges are :

  • How to blend a character to the background more realistically
  • How to blend hair properly
  • Take more physics into consideration, if the hair is flying, so should the clothing
  • Consider light sources and more dramatic light effects
  • Cast shadows more realistically
  • Consider depth of field – if the front elements are blurred, the rear elements should be in focus
  • Consider shutter speed – moving objects should have motion blur

That’s way too many to conquer in a short time. But for now, I guess I should concentrate on hair and light sources.


What better ways than to learn by hands-on? So now onto the challenge.

Step 1 – Grab random photos off my favorite free stock photo sites, let inspiration flow by itself.

  • Stock 1 : This lady caught my attention, a little “power up” should make this a fine image.
  • Stock 2 : This sky reeks of epic.

Step 2 – A simple concept.

Step 3 – Working that hair, background and cleaning up.

Step 4 – Eagle-eyed pixel peekers can still make out the shopped hair, but things are looking pretty good at this point. Now to address the lighting effects.

  • The ledge and feet should be darker due to the direction of the sun.
  • Slightly warmer tones on the warrior.
  • Color cast from the sun.

Step 5 – Almost there… now for some exposure control. Assuming that the strobe to the left of the model is overpowering the setting sun, the sword on the left should appear more as a silhouette. Plus, adding a little more environment effect will spice up the entire image.

Step 6 – I feel naked without feathers.

Step 7 – A tad bit more exposure and contrast control, color grading. Done.

Heck, pretty cool? I know this could use more work, but for now, I am satisfied with what I have learnt. Wait for me world, epic cosplay shall reign someday.

P.S. I have made the above image freely available on Pixabay.

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2 thoughts on “Improving My Cosplay Photoshop

  1. Many teens will refer to this tutorial before they go to big conventions. This is why Photoshop is a valuable piece of software.

    1. W.S. Toh

      Aye, Photoshop makes good photos even better. I am always glad to share my learning journey.

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