In this tutorial I'll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a mountainous landscape with flying dragons.
First we'll build the misty background using three stock images. After that we'll import the rocks and clone over them using the rock texture. Later we'll add the towers and dragons and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, dodge/burn, and brushes. We'll also create a misty atmosphere using the sky image. Finally we'll make several adjustment layers to complete the final effect.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Build the Misty Background
Create a new 2000 x 798 px document in Adobe Photoshop with the given settings:
Open the sky image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V).
Import the misty mountains image 1 and add it to the left of the canvas.
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 remove the hard edges of the image.
Duplicate this layer and move it to the right edge of the canvas. Use a layer mask with a soft black brush to blend it with the first layer.
Select the mountain layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode to Normal 100%. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and decrease the lightness.
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -82:
Add the mountains 2 image and lower the Opacity to 30%:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to remove the sky of this mountain image and make it blend more smoothly with the existing background.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Change the Saturation value to -85:
a Curves adjustment layer to darken the mountains a bit. These
mountains are nearer to the foreground so they should be hazier than the
ones farther away.
2. How to Add the Rocks
Open the rocks 1 image and isolate the rocks from the background. Add two rocks to the left side and another to the middle. We're aiming to create the light in the top middle, so arrange the rocks to fit this source.
Create a new layer above the small rock on the left (behind the big rock). Load the selection of the big rock on the left by clicking its thumbnail layer while holding Control:
Press Control-C to copy the rock selection and then select the clipped
layer above the small rock one. Hit Control-V to paste the selection
into it. Now the small rock has similar textures to the big rock. Use a
layer mask with a lowered opacity brush to paint over the top so it appears slightly different from the original.
Create a Color Fill layer for the small rock and pick the color
Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50%. We're aiming to make this rock in the
mist area so it should be less visible.
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill it with 50% gray.
Select the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to paint more details and enhance the light/shadow of the rock. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.
Create a Curves adjustment layer above the middle rock to darken it,
especially the right. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to
erase the left where it gets light from the sky.
Make a group for all the rock layers. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation value to minimum (-100).
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Add a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to lower the effect of this adjustment layer on the bright details of the rocks, especially the big rock and the middle one.
Open the rock 2 image. Select the bigger rock on the left and place it on the right side of our main canvas.
Add the texture of the rock 1 to the rock 2 using the same techniques as in step 2. Flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal:
Create a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S) to fill the missing
areas of the rock 2 using the existing texture. Try to clone the
bright details over the front of the rock to fit the light source.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment and bring the Saturation value down to -78:
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones values:
Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the rock. Paint on the bright details on the top of the rock to keep their lightness.
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 shadow on the rock.
3. How to Import the Towers
Open the towers 1 image. Cut out the towers and place them above the big
rock on the left. You can duplicate and resize the towers and place them at different distances and positions.
Add a mask to each of these layers and use a soft black brush to blend their bottom with the top of the rock.
Make a group for these towers and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate them.
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the hidden side of the towers (the left). Paint on the right to keep their lightness.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light on the right of the tower. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.
Place the tower 2 above the middle rock after isolating it from the background and blend its bottom with the rock using a layer mask.
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -81:
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. Paint on the left side, which is exposed under the light.
Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to enhance the details, especially the light/shadow of the tower.
Use a Color Fill layer and pick the color
#4b4c4c. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 40% to give it a hazy effect.
4. How to Add the Dragons
Cut out the dragons from the background and add the dragon 1 to the top left and the second to the top of the right rock. Make the first much bigger and the second much smaller.
Select the wing of the dragon 1 using the Lasso Tool (L) and place it in the lower part of the space between the middle and the right rocks.
To create some depth for the scene, on the dragon 1 layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 8 px:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 12 px to the dragon's wing as it's nearer the foreground than the dragon 1.
Create a new layer above the dragon 2 layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the details on this dragon.
Make a group for the dragons and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the dragons' color.
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones values:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the dragons. Paint on the outer details to keep them still bright.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light on the outer details. Paint on the rest to keep them still in shade.
5. How to Create the Mist
Duplicate the sky layer and move it on top of the layers. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to reduce its size and place it between the middle and the left rocks.
Use a layer mask to reduce the mist intensity and clear the hard edges.
Duplicate the sky layer several times and move the copies around the space between the rocks. Apply a layer mask to each of these layers. Don't overdo it as it would look unnatural.
Make a group for the sky layers and use a Curves adjustment layer to decrease the visibility of the mist, making it appear more subtle.
6. How to Make the Final Adjustments
Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the color
Make another Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness a bit. Paint on the lower edges and sides to make the light visible only on the top middle.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to change the color and contrast of the whole scene.
Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.
Congratulations, You're Done!
I hope that you've enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!