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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Fantasy

How to Create a Fantasy Snail Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 8 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a fantasy snail carrying a house. 

First, we'll build the basic scene using two moss images. Later, we'll import the snail and make its ivy shell. After that, we'll add the window, door, mushrooms, chimney, smoke and lamp and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. 

We'll use a bokeh image to increase the dreamy effect for the scene, and we'll make several adjustment layers to enhance the final effect.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Build the Basic Scene

Step 1

Create a new 1500 x 1100 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

new filenew filenew file

Step 2

Open the foreground image. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the foreground area and add it to the lower half of the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Activate the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) and rotate it to make it lie horizontally.

add foregroundadd foregroundadd foreground

Step 3

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 soften the edges, making them fade into the white background.

foreground maskingforeground maskingforeground masking

Step 4

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 8 px:

foreground gaussian blurforeground gaussian blurforeground gaussian blur

On this Filter Mask, use a soft black brush to erase the blur effect in the middle and make it visible only in the foreground.

foreground gaussian blur maskingforeground gaussian blur maskingforeground gaussian blur masking

Step 5

Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Bring the Hue value down to -17:

foreground hue saturationforeground hue saturationforeground hue saturation

Step 6

Open the background image. Drag this image into the main canvas using the Move Tool (V) and place it behind the foreground. Set this layer under the foreground one.

add backgroundadd backgroundadd background

Step 7

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 12 px to this layer. The pixel radius should be bigger than the one applied to the foreground. It's to make it separate from the foreground and increase the depth of field.

background gaussian bluebackground gaussian bluebackground gaussian blue

Step 8

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Yellow value of the Midtones to -32. It's to fit the foreground color.

background color balancebackground color balancebackground color balance

Step 9

Use a Curves adjustment layer to make the background brighter.

background curvesbackground curvesbackground curves

2. Add the Snail

Step 1

Cut out the snail from the white background using the Magic Wand Tool (W) and then place it in the middle of the foreground (non-blurred area).

add snailadd snailadd snail

Add a mask to the snail layer and use a medium-soft black brush with a small size (3-4 px) to trim the bottom of the snail to blend it with the mossy ground.

snail maskingsnail maskingsnail masking

Step 2

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

snail color balancesnail color balancesnail color balance

Step 3

The main light source comes from left to right so the hind part of the snail should be darker. Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the front and non-shaded areas of the snail.

snail curves 1snail curves 1snail curves 1
snail curves 1 maskingsnail curves 1 maskingsnail curves 1 masking

Step 4

Use another Curves adjustment layer to give more light to the front of the snail. Paint on the shaded area so it's not affected by this adjustment layer.

snail curves 2snail curves 2snail curves 2
snail curves 2 maskingsnail curves 2 maskingsnail curves 2 masking

3. Add the Ivy

Step 1

Open the house image. Use the Lasso Tool to select an ivy area in the front and add it to the shell of the snail.

add iviesadd iviesadd ivies

To remove the unwanted wall remaining on this part, select the Brush Tool (B) from the drop-down menu, and choose Reset Brushes to set all the brushes to default. Choose the Spatter 24 pixels brush to trim the unwanted details and make jagged edges.

ivies maskingivies maskingivies masking

Step 2

Add other ivy parts to cover the shell using the same method.

add more iviesadd more iviesadd more ivies

Step 3

Select all the ivy layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode from Pass Through to Normal 100%. Create a Curves adjustment layer within this group to brighten the upper part of the ivy shell. Use a soft black brush to erase the light on the lower shaded area.

ivies curves 1ivies curves 1ivies curves 1

Step 4

Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shade on the lower area. Paint on the upper part to reveal the lightness there.

ivies curves 2ivies curves 2ivies curves 2

Step 5

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the ivy's color with the rest.

ivies color balanceivies color balanceivies color balance

4. Add the Window

Step 1

Open the window image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the window only and place it in the upper left of the ivy shell. Use Control-T with the Warp mode to bend the window to fit the perspective of the shell.

add windowadd windowadd window

Step 2

Add a mask to this layer and use the Spatter 24 px brush to make the ivy cover the window edges.

window maskingwindow maskingwindow masking

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -49:

window hue saturationwindow hue saturationwindow hue saturation

Step 4

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Yellow value of the Midtones to -46:

window color balancewindow color balancewindow color balance

Step 5

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the window a little:

window curveswindow curveswindow curves

5. Add the Door

Step 1

Open the door image and take the door area to add to the lower right of the shell.

add dooradd dooradd door

Use a layer mask with the Spatter 24 px brush to blend the door with the existing ivy.

door maskingdoor maskingdoor masking

Step 2

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Reds value:

door hue saturationdoor hue saturationdoor hue saturation

Step 3

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and adjust the Midtones settings:

door color balancedoor color balancedoor color balance

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast of the door.

door curvesdoor curvesdoor curves

6. Add the Mushrooms

Step 1

Isolate the mushroom 1 from the background and place it in the right corner of the scene, behind the snail.

add mushroom 1add mushroom 1add mushroom 1

Use a layer mask to blend its bottom with the mossy ground.

mushroom 1 maskingmushroom 1 maskingmushroom 1 masking

Step 2

Create a new layer under the mushroom 1 image. Use a medium-soft black brush and the opacity about 50% to paint a thin shadow for the mushroom (as the light falls from left to right).

mushroom 1 shadowmushroom 1 shadowmushroom 1 shadow

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Master settings:

mushroom 1 hue saturationmushroom 1 hue saturationmushroom 1 hue saturation

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to shade the right side of the mushroom a bit. Paint on the left and the front of the mushroom so they're not affected by this adjustment layer.

mushroom 1 curves 1mushroom 1 curves 1mushroom 1 curves 1

Step 5

Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light on the front of the mushroom. Apply brushing on the left and lower right of the mushroom so they're not brighter after this step.

mushroom 1 curves 2mushroom 1 curves 2mushroom 1 curves 2

Step 6

Add the mushrooms 2 image to the left corner of the scene and blend the mushrooms with the ground using a layer mask.

add mushrooms 2add mushrooms 2add mushrooms 2

Step 7

Make shadow for the mushrooms 2 as we did with the mushroom 1.

mushrooms 2 shadowmushrooms 2 shadowmushrooms 2 shadow

Step 8

Make a group for the mushrooms 2 and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the mushrooms' color a little.

mushrooms 2 hue saturationmushrooms 2 hue saturationmushrooms 2 hue saturation

Step 9

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer for the same purpose.

mushrooms 2 color balancemushrooms 2 color balancemushrooms 2 color balance

Step 10

Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the mushrooms brighter. Paint on the lower areas of the mushrooms so they're still in shadow.

mushrooms 2 curvesmushrooms 2 curvesmushrooms 2 curves

7. Add the Chimney and Smoke

Step 1

Cut out the chimney from the original image and place it onto the top middle of the ivy shell.

add chimneyadd chimneyadd chimney

Step 2

Make shadow for the chimney as we did with the previous elements.

chimney shadowchimney shadowchimney shadow

Step 3

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to give some vibrant red/yellow to the chimney.

chimney color balancechimney color balancechimney color balance

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the chimney. Paint on the back of the chimney to increase the shadow there.

chimney curveschimney curveschimney curves

Step 5

Select the smoke area from the original image and place it above the chimney. Rotate it to fit the direction of the chimney.

add smokeadd smokeadd smoke

Change this layer mode to Screen 100% and use a layer mask to hide the hard edges of the smoke.

smoke maskingsmoke maskingsmoke masking

Step 6

Add a Hue/Saturation layer to desaturate the remaining blue on the smoke.

smoke hue saturationsmoke hue saturationsmoke hue saturation

Step 7

Use a Levels adjustment layer to change the visibility of the smoke, making the bottom more visible and the top less.

smoke levelssmoke levelssmoke levels

8. Add the Lamp

Step 1

Cut out the lamps from the original background and select the right one to add to the lower back of the shell.

add lampadd lampadd lamp

Use a layer mask to make the hook hidden inside the ivy.

lamp maskinglamp maskinglamp masking

Step 2

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the lamp.

lamp curveslamp curveslamp curves

Step 3

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

lamp color balancelamp color balancelamp color balance

Step 4

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #2a1b01 to paint on the lamp and the ivy around it. Change this layer mode to Linear Dodge 100%.

light 1light 1light 1

Step 5

Use a brighter color (#fbd796) to paint more light for the lamp. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.

light 2light 2light 2

9. Add the Bokeh

Step 1

Import the bokeh image to the main document and change the mode to Screen 100%.

add bokehadd bokehadd bokeh

Use a layer mask to reduce the visibility of the bokeh. Also erase the effect on the snail and the mushrooms:

bokeh maskingbokeh maskingbokeh masking

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to this effect, making it appear more subtle.

bokeh  gaussian blurbokeh  gaussian blurbokeh  gaussian blur

10. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer on top of the layers and change the Midtones settings.

whole scene color balancewhole scene color balancewhole scene color balance

Step 2

Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors #512114 and #f6fbcb. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

whole scene gradient mapwhole scene gradient mapwhole scene gradient map

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!

final resultfinal resultfinal result
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