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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation
Design

How to Create a Winter Landscape Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a winter landscape using a variety of photo-manipulation techniques. You'll learn how to combine different stock images together into a cohesive scene using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. You'll also learn how to paint the snow, make the sunlight, create lighting effects, take care of the details and more.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. Add the Landscape

Step 1

Create a new 1500 x 1000 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:

new file

Step 2

Open the winter 1 image. Drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V):

add winter 1

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Reduce the Saturation value to - 93:

winter 1 hue saturation

Step 4

Browse the winter 2 image and add it to the main canvas with the help of the Move Tool and the Free Transform Tool (Control-T).

add winter 2

Step 5

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to erase the left side and make only the foreground, right mountain and trees in this image visible and blended with the background. Take care of the trees to make them blend naturally with the existing ones.

winter 2 masking

Step 6

Use a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken these areas:

winter 2 curves

Step 7

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to - 85:

winter 2 hue saturation

2. Add the Trees

Step 1

Open the trees image. Cut out the trees using the Magic Wand Tool (W).

isolate trees

Place it on the left side of the canvas:

add trees

Step 2

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to make the trees appear behind the existing trees; remember to make them blurrier and hazier. It helps to increase the depth of the scene.

trees masking

Step 3

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation value to -85:

trees hue saturation

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the trees, and also increase the haze on them:

trees curves

3. Make Some Mist

Make a new layer on top of the layers. Use a soft brush with the color #a6a7aa with the Opacity about 30% to paint some mist on the edges of the top left and right and near the middle section:

add mist

Change this layer mode to Multiply 100%:

mist multiply mode

4. Add the Mountain

Step 1

Isolate the mountain from the background using the Magic Wand Tool and add it to the top left of the scene:

add mountain

Use a layer mask to make the mountain appear behind the trees and fade out into the mist:

mountain masking

Step 2

There is an unwanted detail on the mountain. Make a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove the indicated detail:

mountain clone

Step 3

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

burn tool new layer

Select the Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to darken some details on the mountain. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

burn result

Step 4

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to maximum (-100):

mountain hue saturation

5. Add the House

Step 1

Place the house image in the middle of the ground:

add house

Add a mask to this layer and make only the house and the lower area visible using a medium-soft black brush:

house masking

Step 2

We aim to make the main light source from the top center. Create a new layer with the same settings as in step 3 of the previous section. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow of some details of the house, especially the lower right:

house dodge and burn

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the house. Bring the Saturation value down to - 84:

house hue saturation

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the house:

house curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reveal the lightness on the parts in the light area:

house curves masking

6. Paint the Snow

Step 1

The first step in this stage is to add some bokeh. Make a new layer and select a hard white brush. Press F5 to change the settings for this brush:

bokeh settings 1
bokeh settings 2
bokeh settings 3

Use this brush to paint some random bokeh over the picture:

paint bokeh

Step 2

Lower the opacity of this layer to 80% and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 4 px:

bokeh gaussian blur

Step 3

Add a mask to this layer and make the effect more subtle and faded using a soft black brush:

bokeh masking

Step 4

Create a new layer and decrease the brush size. Change the settings of this brush as shown below:

snow settings 1
snow settings 2
snow settings 3

Paint some random bits of snow over the picture with different sizes and forms. Feel free to experiment and test your fingers; it was really fun!

snow painting

Step 5

Use a layer mask to reduce the snow intensity and opacity to create the view from far to near, and remember to make the snowflakes in the mist area more faded than the others.

snow masking

Step 6

Paint some bigger snowflakes in the edges of the scene using the same brush:

bigger snow bits

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px:

big snow bits gaussian blur

7. The Basic Adjustment

Step 1

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick the color #270902. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

new fill layer

On this layer mask, select a soft black brush with the opacity from 20 to 50% to  erase the foreground and the sky to reduce the effect there. Here are the results on the mask and on the picture:

fill layer masking
fill layer result

Step 2

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:

color balance

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness:

whole scene curves 1

Select the mask of this layer and use a soft black brush to make the light visible in the middle section only:

whole scene curves 1 masking

Step 4

Create another Curves adjustment layer to darken the scene, especially the sides:

whole scene curves 2

Use this layer mask to keep the light coming from the top center and the shadow occurring on the sides.

whole scene curves 2 masking

8. Make the Shadows

Step 1

We've defined the main light, and now it's time to make the house shadow. Create a new layer under the house one. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the house only:

select house

Fill this selection (Shift-F5) with black and flip it vertically by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Move the shadow under the house and use Control-T to make it fit the main light direction:

shadow transform

Lower the opacity of this layer to 40% and apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px to this shadow:

shadow gaussian blur

Step 2

Add a mask to this layer and reduce the opacity of the shadow part of the roof:

shadow masking

Step 3

Create a new layer and use a medium-hard black brush to paint shadows for the other elements in the light area: the snow pile, frozen string (not sure what it is), and the trees. You should vary the brush opacity to get a more natural result.

other shadows

9. Add the Light

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the layers. Use a soft brush with the color #3a1b06 to paint on the top center of the sky. Change the mode of this layer to Linear Dodge 100%:

light 1

Step 2

Create a new layer and paint on the top center with the color #fff6ed to make the highlight. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%:

light 2

Step 3

Paint with the color #e7e4e6 on a separate layer to make the light reflection on the edges of the mountains, house, snow pile, the roof, trees (the middle ones behind the house and the big one in the left) and the ground. Set this layer mode to Overlay 100%:

light reflection

10. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Selective Color adjustment layer and change the White settings. The aim is to add more saturation to the reflected light on the ground:

selective color

Use a soft black brush to erase the effect on the upper half:

selective color masking

Step 2

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and contrast of some elements and add more details to the ground, the roof, and the trees.

details dodge and burn
dodge and burn result

Step 3

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the final effect:

vibrance

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've learned something useful for your future projects. Feel free to leave your comments in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!

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