They Dug Too Deep


In the era of Google Maps, we are all getting used to seeing aerial or satellite photography. In this tutorial, we will explain how to turn a generic satellite image of a city into a terrible disaster scene. In the process, you will learn how to clear an area and then how to create massive mine shaft. Finally, we will show how to insert massive insects causing destruction throughout our scene. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

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

Step 1- Planning, quick sketch

OK let's kick off by opening this great aerial of a section of a city, so we can start planning what to do.

To start painting simply sample some light beige from the plate as shown here.

Now let's select my favorite brush 23 (chalky) and make it about 83px

Now let's start planning on where to setup the hole, at about this position, don't worry about the look or detail in this we are just sketching.

Now let's enable my also favorite setting in the brush palette, transfer with pen pressure. Remember this one because we will be using it all through the tut.

Let's start dribbling on the outer shape of this massive mine.

Let's sample on some dark color from the plate shadows.

And changing between the light and dark colors that we have sampled start suggesting the mine hole going down as well as the shape and how we are going to merge and blend it into the streets. And that is it! Not very difficult, once you are satisfied with your planning, let's move on to the next step.

Step 2 - Construct the mine base

OK now that we have the planning and sketch in place let's start building up the real thing, for that we will use this image quite a bit, so go ahead and open it up.

Copy and pate the whole image on to a new layer on top and then make a new layer on top of that.

Select the image layer as shown.

Now let's carefully select the pieces that will help us build the mine walls. Let's start with the section below.

Copy and paste that section, and move it to the area shown here.

Now access the scale command.

And just scale it a bit as shown here.

We also need to distort it a bit so right click on the section while the scale handles are still available and select distort from the menu.

Distort the piece a bit as shown here.

Now let's grab another big piece as shown here.

And also copy and paste it to a new layer. Then drag it into position.

Let's hide the other layer for now so we can see shat we are doing.

Pick up one more piece from the image as shown here.

And also copy and paste that one, plus drag it to the area shown here.

This one we will also scale and adjust it a bit.

Scale it from top as shown here.

OK we have enough sections for now so let's make a layer mask for this last piece.

And back to the 23 brush.

Of course with the brush tool and with black we will paint on the mask to hide what we don't need.

Carefully paint in as shown here, so that we have only what we need of this layer.

From the looks of it we will need another section for the right of the excavation, so select the piece from the original image shown here.

Drag it on tho this position.

Let's access the distort command.

And with the handles distort it a bit as shown here.

Create a layer mask for this other piece.

And with the same brush and settings paint in the mask with black to hide what we don't need of this section.

Now once again let's pick another piece from the original canyon image.

Copy and paste it on to a new layer and drag it to the area shown here.

And also use the distort command and modify the section as shown here to fit the edge.

Then again make a layer mask for it so we can mask off what we don't need.

Same brush, mask of as shown here.

We need a flat section so let's repeat the process selecting this section here and copy paste it to a new layer.

Then drag it to the section shown here.

Now we will use this flat section several times as shown here so with the selection tool enabled, just hold down the option key, to make duplicates and drag them into position.

Let's arrange the layers in this way, the first big piece on top and all the latest duplicates below.

Now select all those duplicated layers as shown

Right click on them and select merge layers.

Now on the first big piece we started with let's also make a layer mask.

And once again with the same brush and black, to mask off what we don't need, let's mask off as shown here.

Now select the merged duplicates layer shown here.

And this time select the clone tool.

We will continue with the same brush tip we have been using for masking, to clone out some of the obvious repeating patterns of the duplicates. Selecting the source from a generic flat area to eliminate edges.

Just keep cloning until the obvious edges are all gone, be sure to avoid creating new patterns, bay carefully changing your cloning source if needed.

Great! Once you are done with that, let's select all the images we used for this process.

And drag them to the little folder icon to create a group, you can also just click on the icon; I just like dragging stuff.

Let's name this new group.

Also let's duplicate the group.

Let's hide the original group, and merge the duplicate, in this way we have a safe set of layers we can go back to in case we mess up.

And back to the cloning tool to work on our newly merged group layer.

Keep the same brush, enable transfer again with pen pressure, and clone as shown here to blend everything together.

OK once you are satisfied with the look of things, create a layer mask.

Make the same brush a bit smaller if needed

Let's mask off the section shown here, to remove the river.

Let's make a duplicate layer as shown here and drag it below the other.

Set it at the center, so it fits in the masked section, and flip it over and scale it down so it doesn't look the same.

Make another duplicate, drag it below the other two and again scale it down a bit.

Use all of the handles as shown here so you get something that fits all the way down as shown here.

Create yet one more duplicate and also drag it all the way below.

This one scale it way down and also flip it, again to have variation.

OK now for this section all the way to the bottom let's make a levels layer.

Make a clipping mask for it so it only affects the bottom layer.

Adjust the levels as shown here.

This step darkens the section so it corresponds to the depth it is on.

Let's repeat this for the next section as shown here, another levels layer clipped to it.

Of course a bit less deep means a bit less dark so adjust the levels as shown here.

And once again the same thing for the next level up.

Adjust the levels as shown here.

Let's now go into the mask for this last levels layer.

Grab the brush tool and select black to paint in the mask.

Select this brush tip and make it at about 35px

Enable transfer and pen pressure so we can softly mask off the influence of that last levels layer as shown here.

As you can see we now have a gradual darkening going down the hole, that we can still adjust as needed. And that is it for this step we have successfully started and merged several pieces of an original image to build up our mine pit.

Step 3 - Detailing the Mine pit, stage 1

Now we will begin the process of detailing the hole here, which involves a bit of time in painting and cloning detail in so it blends and sits well in our base image. OK so let's go ahead and create a new layer on top.

Select the brush tool

Select the 23px brush once again and make it about 4px

Sample some light color from the base hole.

Now what we want to do now its paint in some kind of road/path that goes down into the mine. So start painting in trying to follow the features of the terrain

Continue with the road in kind of a spiral way down.

Once finished add also these roads outside the pit as shown.

Once you are happy with the base for those roads add a levels layer clipped to the road layer.

Adjust the levels as shown here. This will darken the whole layer but we only want to darken it in the correct section.

So let's fill the mask for the levels layer with black so it's all masked off

Then let's select our big soft brush.

And instead of masking of, now we mask in with white where we want the roads to be darker.

Now we will introduce another image to help us add stuff to the mine pit.

We will copy that image on to a new layer, and before doing anything else we will make a duplicate of it.

Let's hide the first one and make a layer mask for the second.

Now back to the brush tool and the black color.

We will also go back to the 23 brush yet make it 132px.

Let's mask off as shown here.

Make a levels layer for this and add a clipping mask.

Adjust the levels as shown here, which will bring the new image closer to the rest of the image.

Let's also add a hue sat layer.

Diminish the saturation a bit as shown.

And why not let's also add a color balance layer.

And adjust the color as shown here.

Let's work on the mask a bit more.

Mask off the center as shown here.

Back to the clone tool.

And let's use the 23 once again yet let's make it smaller.

Make sure that in the top settings bar, you have current layer selected.

Now our objective here is to remove these cranes as they are too big for the size of our pit.

So use adjacent sections as shown here to block out the crane, keep in mind you need some details to align.

Continue around removing all the cranes and installations so nothing messes with our scale.

OK once you have everything cloned out, go back to the duplicate we did a bit back enable the layer and drag it all the way to the top.

Now we need to scale it a bit as shown.

Now select the lasso tool.

Select and cut one of the cranes, which now have a good scale.

Select another one of the cranes.

Copy it and place it as shown here.

Also let's use the installation shown here, so cut it out also.

This one place it about in this section.

OK now create a layer mask for this.

Make the brush about 7px or smaller if needed.

And of course with black let's mask off hat we don't need off the cranes as shown below.

Work until you have all three installations free of any borders.

Now let's do some adjustments so the blend to the image. Start with a levels layer and clip it so it doesn't affect the rest.

Then adjust the settings as shown below.

We will also need a hue saturation layer.

And just desaturated a bit as shown.

There I think now they blend nicely.

Select the layer with the adjustment layers included.

Right click on them and duplicate the layers.

Let's use the duplicated cranes to add more of them in the pit, just placing them in different sections.

Use the lasso tool to select individual sections.

Make a selection of the crane as shown here.

And before doing anything else select the three layers as shown here, and merge them.

Now that we have everything merge we can continue with the placement as shown below.

Next up, elect one of the cranes as shown.

And use the distort command to make it different.

Just use the handles to make it slightly smaller or change the perspective, just change a bit so it doesn't look like a duplicated crane.

OK now let's also change the placement of this section here.

Drag it all the way to the other side of the pit.

Select all the layers we have for the mine pit, and make a group of them.

Let's rename it phase 1

Duplicate the group, hide the original and merge the copy

Now that we have our new merged layer, let's make a mask for it.

And once again back to the 23 brush, and make it about 91px in size.

And of course select black to mask off what we don't want.

Mask off around as shown here.

Now make the brush very small at about 5 px.

And mask off some variations going in as shown here,

Continue masking on the other side as shown here, and that is it one more step completed on the creation and blending of the mine pit.

Step 4 - Some quick adjustment layers on the base

Now we will also add some adjustments to the base image to make it more dry, and apocalyptic. Let's start with some levels.

Create a clipping mask for it and adjust the levels as shown below.

Let's add to the equation a hue saturation layer, an adjust as shown below.

And then add a color balance layer, then proceed adjusting the balance as shown below.

Finally let's go to the phase 1 layer and add a color balance layer clipped to it.

Now just adjust the balance as shown here.

Now change the tone to highlights, and adjust once again as shown below.

That is it for this quick step we have completed a fast yet important part of bringing all our elements together.

Step 5 - Detailing the mine pit stage 2

We will now continue adding detail to the mine, and will start with the cloning tool. In this and many other steps in this tut are heavy painting action I suggest you watch the included videos while you read, to get a feel of what is going on behind the brush strokes.

OK so in a new layer on top let's start with this section here, which we need to cover completely, by cloning from near by as shown.

If you use matching sections as source you will have much less issues at the end.

Next we need to apply the mask so we can work on the outside of the pit.

Use the source to continue adding detail that matches outside of what we have now.

Now it is very important to control the pressure of the brush tip as we add detail so it ends up more natural.

Make the brush as small as needed to go in and add the tiny detail needed.

For example let's work on the sections indicated here, and add detail as shown below, following what we have so far yet adding more blending details.

Continue adding all around as indicated here following the roads and merging it with the streets.

OK as said before this step it's not as brief as is seems, you have to spend a good amount of time adding the detail, yet all that action its on the video. For now as soon as you are finished adding the detail let's grab all the three layers corresponding to the pit and merge them together.

We will now add a bit of blur to it, so go ahead and find Gaussian blur on the filter menu.

Set it at .3 and click OK. This brings our sharper detail on the pit, close to what we have on the rest of the image.

OK let's continue with our cloning efforts in the section shown here.

Sample from the other side of the pit, where is shown below.

And add detail as shown here, that makes it in some way feel larger that what the original was.

Continue breaking up sections with the darker sample as shown here. Also add any detail that you might want, this is a creative step where you should experiment, try and get your artistic eye working. Remember to take a look at the videos.

Step 6 - More adjustments to the mine pit

OK let's adjust some color and blending a bit more, first merge the cloning details with the base pit on a single layer, and then add a levels layer, clipped to it.

Adjust the levels as shown here.

This makes the whole mine darker, yet we only want to darken the central section.

So as we have done before let's fill the layer mask with black so everything from the levels layer it's masked off.

And now with a soft brush and white we will mask in where we need the levels layer to affect.

So with it make the central section of the mine dark as shown here, if you need to change the size of the brush do so as needed.

Great results so far, nice darkening effect going down the pit.

Let's add a color balance layer to further match our elements.

Adjust the yellow slider as shown here.

Great! now add a hue saturation layer.

Reduce the saturation as indicated here.

Now after that we need to readjust the color balance a bit as shown here.

And there we go one step closer to detailing and blending our work, and its looking quite good.

Step 7 - Let the bugs out.

Now to introduce the bugs on to our scene we will use this brilliant image, so go ahead and open it up.

We can use the magic wand tool in this case since the white background enables us to get a nice extraction quickly.

Setup the tolerance of the tool at about 32

Click on the white background to select it, and to add to the selection just hold shift.

We will end up with all the back selected as shown here.

Then go to the select menu and invert the selection.

Copy and paste it on to a new layer, so we have all the bugs cutout from the back.

Create a new layer below the bugs as shown here.

Select a nice bright blue such as this.

Use the fill tool and fill that layer so we get a good back to detail our bugs edge.

Select this bug and copy paste it on to our main document.

We can see that some stuff was left behind by the magic wand tool.

So since the magic wand gave us such nice results here we will use it again to get rid of this pieces.

Simply click on those sections needed and hit delete.

OK now for whatever is left and to detail the edges we will go back to our brush tool.

Select the brilliant 23 chalk brush

Make a layer mask for it.

We will start with a 6px brush tip yet feel free to make it smaller if you need.

And now just go to the section where there are some leftovers like this one here and mask off as shown below.

Check all of the bugs' edge and do the same until you have a clean border.

For the outside edge you can quickly make a selection of all the empty space with the magic wand

Once you have the selection, right click on it and select refine edge

Then on the dialog first make sure you have overlay selected as shown here.

And then adjust the rest of the settings as indicated below, this will soften and detail the overall edge for you.

Then simply click the mask icon and you will get an exact mask off the edge.

And there we have our big bug with clean detailed edges.

Apply the layer mask if everything is correct and make a new empty layer clipped to the bugs layer as shown here.

In my brushes file find this brush below.

Then on the brush palette enable shape dynamics.

Next up sample a dark color from the bug itself.

And start painting some random detail as shown below.

As you can see this brilliant brush makes this work easy, now sample some lighter color, again from the bug.

And just add some lighter stuff to some areas as indicated here.

Once you are happy with what you have, select the eraser.

Use the same brush.

On the brush palette enable transfer with pen pressure.

We have to get rid of obvious repeating patterns and marks.

So erase until everything seems random and natural.

Now we have a nice looking detail starting to build on.

Let's go back to the brush tool with a dark color.

Make the brush small at about 15 px, yet go smaller if needed.

In the section indicated here, start painting some more detail and striations as shown below.

We will now add a color balance layer to our bug, so create one and make sure its on top and clipped to the other two.

Now select the highlights, and adjust the settings as shown here.

And then select the shadows and adjust those settings as shown below.

Perfect! now add a hue saturation layer below the color balance.

Then reduce the saturation as shown here.

Great, now we have already taken some steps to match the bug shading to our scene.

Next, go to the layer where we painted all the detail and double click on it.

The layer style dialog will pop up. So enable bevel and emboss and adjust all the settings as shown here.

You can see this gives us quickly and easily added detail and depth to this layer.

OK we are doing good, now let's go back to the brush tool.

Once again select the 23 brush.

Enable transfer and pen pressure for it.

Now let's go to the hue saturation layer mask.

And just softly mask off as indicated to let some color back in.

Let's now grab all the bug layers and make a group out of them, and then name the group as shown below.

Now duplicate the group.

Hide the original so we have it for safe keeping and then access the scale command.

Scale the group copy way down and position it as shown here.

Great!, now open the bug copy folder and select the levels layer.

Then adjust the levels as shown here.

Select the color balance layer and also adjust a bit as shown below

OK that looks much better, and that is why we work on adjustment layers until we are sure of a final result, as we go on with the scene and change things we can go back to our layers and adjust further.

And now we can merge the bug group

Now I want to change the position of the bug a bit so it better fits the action taking place, so go ahead and access the puppet warp tool.

If you are familiar with this tool you know you immediately get this kind of grid over your selected layer.

And each time you click on the grid you will get and anchor point that serves as a modification and anchoring position at the same time. Drop anchor points as indicated here.

Now here you can see what we are going for so try and follow the indications below to change the position of the bug.

OK now hit enter to apply the changes and enable the puppet warp tool once again

Drop these three points on the mesh.

And move their position as shown here.

Also add some to the leg here, and move them as shown below.

Once we have the position set, we will shave a bit more of the edges by accessing the defringe command and applying a value of 1.

If you zoom in real close you can see what defringe quickly shaves of the edge.

Then let's add a levels layer to our bug, and make a clipping mask for it.

Adjust the levels as shown here.

This darkens the overall image of the bug.

So again let's use the levels layer mask to mask off where we don't want the bug to be dark, so select the brush tool, with black as color.

Once again select the 23 brush tip

And simply mask off as shown here.

Now let's add an empty layer clipped between the levels and the bug layer.

Select the brush tool again

The same brilliant brush tip at about 4px.

Sample a dark color from the bug.

And let's paint even more tiny detail to the shell as shown here.

Let's add another empty layer, and set its mode to overlay

Keep the tiny brush yet now use white for the color.

With this we will add some highlights as shown below.

Great!, once you are done with the highlights, add another levels layer to the top of the stack.

Then simply adjust the levels as shown here.

And once more grab the brush with black to paint in the mask.

This time grab a soft round brush, and make it at about 53px.

Then simply brush off the top as shown here, and you are done with this very long step that merges and blends our bug on the scene.

Step 8 - Smoke and Fire

OK on to the next step, we will ad some fires and smoke to our scene, to start suggesting some destruction caused by our nice bugs. Go ahead and load this image on to Photoshop.

Make a quick selection of it with the lasso tool and copy paste it on to a new layer on top our piece.

Next go to the channels tab and select the red channel.

Right click on it and hit duplicate channel.

Select the red channel copy.

And then on the image menu access the levels command.

Adjust the levels as shown below

This gives us a contrasted area that defines the fire.

Then select this brush and make it about 87px in size.

Select black as your color.

And simply paint black everything that its outside of the main fire.

And now put your mouse cursor in the thumbnail and do a command+click on it to get an easy detailed selection for the fire.

You can see that doing this detects the white as a selection.

Go back to the layers tab to see the RGB image, and then simply click on the layer mask icon to get a mask for the fire.

Now make a duplicate out of the fire layer, and hide the original.

Perfect, now just scale the duplicate way down as shown here.

Then position it on one of the bugs' legs.

Zoom in way closer and scale a bit more as shown here.

Once we have it scaled down we can apply the layer mask.

OK now we will modify the fire appearance a bit, so go to the blur tool, click and hold on it so you can select the smudge tool.

Choose a soft round brush such as this one and make it very small, at about 2px.

Then just drag with the smudge tool a bit as shown here, so the fire is more like an explosion.

Now select the move tool, and press alt while you drag to make a duplicate of the fire layer.

Now go to the edit menu and select warp from the transform sub-menu.

Distort the mesh a bit so the fire looks slightly different.

You can see it doesn't do much, yet at an image size it now looks different than the other fire.

If needed or as an alternative you can even use the distort command.

Drag one of the edges as shown here to modify even further the appearance and perspective of the fire.

OK now on to some smoke, find this image and load it on to PS.

Make a quick lasso selection of the smoke.

Copy and paste it to our image on a new layer and make a mask for it.

Find this brush here on my brush file.

Then with black quickly mask off around it as shown here.

Then go to the scale command and scale the smoke as shown below.

Create a color balance layer, and clip it to the smoke, and then adjust the balance for the mid tones as shown here.

Then add also a levels layer and adjust it as shown below.

Now let's flip the smoke the other way.

Perfect I like the new addition to our image.

Now back to the brush tool with black as color.

Make a mask for the smoke layer

This time go with the soft round brush at about 34 px size.

Now softly erase the bottom of the smoke as shown here.

Great, now create a new layer on top.

Select the gradient tool.

Select the round gradient icon and click on the gradient preview to select one.

Choose from my gradients the one shown here and then double click on the further right square to change the color at that point.

On the color dialog select top left for full white.

Set the layer mode to screen.

Then drag some small circular gradients as indicated below

And now back to our bug layer, create a new clipped layer as shown here and make its mode overlay.

Select the brush tool once again and click on the foreground color icon to select one.

Select a bright almost white yellow as shown here.

And for the tip choose this soft round tip and make it about 15 px.

Now simply paint in some light affecting the bug from the explosions.

And there we have it we have setup some tiny explosions and some smoke for them, which brings us to the end of this step.

Step 9 - One more Bug

OK as you can see here I added one of the other bugs, yet the whole process its exactly the same as the first one, so we will use the valuable space in this step to go through integrating this second bug on to the scene.

First of all below the bug layer let's create a new empty layer.

Select the clone tool.

Select the clone source from the area in the red circle below.

And with a small brush start cloning to define a path of destruction the bug left behind.

Just quickly dribble the idea of it, as you can see we have much work to do to detail this.

So make the brush even smaller and detail those paths a bit more.

Let's switch to the brush tool and select a light beige from the plate.

Again with our trusted 23 chalk brush with a size of 2px, let's add some more detail to the path as shown here.

Let's now change for a sample of a darker color.

Make the brush 1px and define some damage to the freeway as shown here.

OK now switch back to the lighter color beige we had previously.

Make the brush now 2 px

And add detail as indicated here that merges the previous work with the ground and integrates the mess with its surroundings.

Great! now let's create a new layer, let's call it smoke.

Open up the color picker and choose this light medium gray.

Then find this brilliant cloud brush and make it about 30px

Now have fun painting some smokes that come from the surroundings of the destruction path.

Now increase the brush size as shown here.

And add a bit of smoke to the top as indicated below.

Click on the tool bar as shown here to switch to the darker sample we had.

Add some darker detail as shown.

Let's now do a bit of color balance on these smokes.

And adjust the mid tones as indicated here, to add some yellow.

Looking quite nice so far.

Let's go to the second bug layer, that ended up being renamed to an adjustment layer; and select it.

Since this bug is further back we need to match it to the plate, applying just a bit more blur.

A 0.3 radius will be enough.

OK great it is looking good so far, just a couple of more adjustments here and we are done.

To be safe let's go back to the adjustment layers and a add a color balance, right here below the levels layers.

Let's adjust the mid tones as shown here, which gives a bit more warm tone to the bug.

Now select the top levels layer to modify a bit.

Let's make the adjustments shown here.

OK, and now just to touch up the mask in this levels layer let's select the brush and black as the color.

Select also a soft round brush such as this one and at about 40px.

Then just brush off a bit of the top as shown here to make it lighter on this section. And well that is it for this step we have two bugs and a nice scene to finalize on the next step..

Step 10 - Finalizing the image.

OK its time to put the final touch on to our scene so its ready to show, or to animate, or to print or whatever. Let's make a new layer all the way to the top as shown.

With the rectangular selection tool define a big rectangle as shown here in red.

Then inverse the selection

Select black as the color and choose the fill tool.

Then fill in the frame created by the selection.

Let's now go to the filter menu and select motion blur.

Setup the values for it as shown here.

Now double click on the layer and enable stroke for it. Then setup the values as shown here, and finally click on the color.

Just select this light blue color here.

Set the layer opacity at about 65%

And this is what we have after those steps.

OK cool now on to a new layer, and again all the way to the top.

Now load up the tech line brushes provided by Nextviewdesigns over at DA; the download will take you to the page, so be sure to thank them. OK select the one shown here.

This time its much better to use the mouse, because you might have to click a couple of times in the same place to quickly increase the "stroke" of the brush.

Now let's choose this other tip here, and experiment with the rest, this is a very creative process so let the artistic flow run and stamp some nice lines that you like.

After stamping several times this is what I came up with. If you want to follow exactly what I did be sure to watch the video for this step.

OK now make a new levels layer on top.

And adjust the levels as shown below.

Now pick this dark blue in the color picker.

Make a new layer and fill it with it.

Set this new layer mode to overlay

And reduce the opacity to about 60%

Next up create a layer mask for this layer as shown.

Before we can continue load my brushes again to replace the tech lines brushes.

Grab the soft round brush shown here and make it quite big at about 1600px

Select black as your foreground color.

And mask off the central part of the image so the center its lighter than the rest, and that is it we have finalized our last step in this tutorial and have a sweet image to show for it. And finally once again be sure to accompany each step with the videos provided, watching the action in a process that has so many brush strokes its best to get the idea of what is happening.

Final Image

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