The Steps of a Photo retouching assignment

I got a call today from my friend Jessie at Whithner, with colleges getting ramped up, they need a little help with some photo retouching. Below I have the 6 basic steps I went through to accomplish the final artwork which will be an acrylic print about 30" x 40".

I did not use any filters with this project. Its all layer work, and hand rendered masks.

I hand drew with a wacom tablet the area that needed to be isolated.

I duplicated the bottom layer...added color variations.

 I duplicated the layer again, blurred it by eye and darkened the whole image.

I then used the mask to create a feathered area of warm, unblurred main area.

I duplicated the layer one more time, trimmed out the original isolated area...the end result is an etherial glow around the players.

Some final tweaking and some edge and deliver. I cant wait to se them installed at Johns Hopkins University!