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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Drawing

Create A Natural Composition with Light Shining Through a Rustic Fence


Replicating the beauty of nature has always captured the interest of many. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create a sunlit sky, an old rusty fence with a few winding vines with spring flowers, and the dramatic light that's shining through.

Final Image Preview

Before we get started, let's take a look at the image we'll be creating. Click the screenshot below to view the full-size image. As always, the layered Photoshop file is available via our Psdtuts+ Plus membership.

Final Click

Step 1

Prior to starting to work on the image itself we need to make a wood pattern that we'll later use to make the fence. To do this, open a new document at 800 pixels by 800 pixels in size. Then set the background color to a light brown (I chose #de9650) and the foreground color to a darker brown (711f03). Then go to Filters > Render > Clouds to create the clouds, which is the basis of the wood pattern.

Step 2

Go to Filters > Blur > Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 90 and the Distance to 250.

Step 3

Then go to Filters > Artistic > Dry Brush. Set the Brush size to 10, Brush Detail to 5, Texture to 3, and you're done with the pattern design! Now you just need to make it into a pattern by going to Edit > Define Pattern.

Step 4

Next, we'll work on the sky. Open a new document. The dimensions are up to you, but making the image large would make the work easier. I chose the size to be 2000 pixels by 1200 pixels. Change the foreground color to a sky blue (2762c3) and the background color to white. Create a new "Sky" layer and apply the Cloud Filter by going to Filters > Render > Clouds.

Step 5

We need to make the sky look more like a real sky, so go to Edit > Transform > Perspective. Move the top corners of the sky out until you get the appearance of the sky being above your head, at a width approximately 595%. Once you've done that, move the layer up slightly to create the horizon line that should be about a third of the way from the bottom of the image.

Step 6

Now to create the sunset we need to apply a Gradient Overlay on the "Clouds" layer as well as give it an Inner Glow. For the Gradient Overlay I chose the Foreground to Transparent gradient and changed the colors to light pink (#ff64e4) at the Foreground end and to deep pink (#a5138b) at the Transparent end.

The style is Linear, the Angle is 90 degrees, and the Scale is 100%. Also, the Opacity should be 90%. For the Inner Glow set the blend mode to Multiply, the Size to 250, and the color to hot pink (#ff00e4).

Step 7

To make the setting sun create a new layer (make sure that it is on top of the "Sky" layer). Then fill it with the same color blue you used for the "Sky" layer and apply the Lens Flare Filter by going to Filters > Render > Lens Flare. Set the Brightness to 150 and the Lens to 105mm Prime. Change the layer’s Blend Mode to Screen.

Step 8

Erase some of the scattered light that the Lens Flare effect produces with an Eraser Brush set at the size of 300 and Opacity of 34%.

Step 9

We'll work on the grass area next. Create a new layer. Then using the Paint Brush Tool, and one of the two grass brushes provided by Photoshop, draw grass on the horizon line. To make sure that the grass is not all one color, I used a dark green (#154502) as a foreground color and a light green (#2b7a01) as a background color. The result should be something like the second image below.

Step 10

The next step is to make the fence. Using the Shape Tool, draw a rectangle. This will be the base of the fence. Now draw a triangle on top of it to make it look more like a fence.

Step 11

Merge the two shapes together by right-clicking on the name of one of them in the Layers Window and selecting Select Similar Layers. Then when the two are selected go over to Layers > Merge Layers. Now that you’ve got one done duplicate the layer enough to fill the entire image across. When you’re done placing each board an equal distance apart, merge them into one layer.

Step 12

To make the fence more realistic some changes are in order. Here you will be using the wood texture that we have created earlier. Use the settings shown below.

Step 13

Now we need to make the two parallel pieces of wood that hold the fence up. To do this, draw two rectangles with the Shape Tool. They should be long enough to run across the entire length of the fence.

Step 14

Then we need to copy the Layer Style of the Fence and paste it onto the layer that you have just created. In the Layers Window right-click on the Layer Effects of your Fence layer. Select Copy Layer Style and go over to the new layer, right-click on its name, and select Paste Layer Style. Now move the new layer behind the fence.


Step 15

Next we need to make the nails. Using the Shape Tool, draw two small circles on a new layer.

Step 16

Once you’ve placed them exactly where you want the nails to be, merge the layers, and duplicate until you have enough nails for the whole fence. Put them all where you want them to be and merge them into one layer using the Select Similar Layers technique that we have used earlier on.

Step 17

This is an old fence, and the nails will be a little rusty. So we need to change the Style of the layer. Follow the images below.

Step 18

Our fence is old, so it would look better if there was more dirt on it. So using a brush draw in dirt, dust, and stains. I've used the brush that had an Opacity of 8%. Do not add too much, but just enough to make it look more realistic.

To make the painting easier, using the Magic Wand tool on the palette select (by simply clicking there) the blank space around the fence on the Fence Layer. Then go to Select > Inverse. Then without Deselecting anything, click on the "Dirt" Layer, and paint without the fear of coloring outside the lines.

Step 19

To make it yet more realistic go to Filter > Noise, and then Add a Noise Amount of 2.5 %, make the Distribution set as Uniform, and put a check mark on Monochromatic.

Step 20

Next we'll be placing more grass. In a two dimensional world the third dimension may be demonstrated by drawing the objects that are further away smaller. We'll use this rule while drawing the grass. This will be done on three different layers. Create the first one for "Short Grass" and fill it with grass using the brushes of 112 pixels and 134 pixels in size.

The second layer "Medium Grass" should be drawn with the 160 pixels and 180 pixels brushes. And the third and final layer "Tall Grass" should be drawn with the 230 pixels and 250 pixels brushes.

Step 21

To add still more dimension to the grass layers, on both the "Short Grass" and "Tall Grass" layers, go to Layer Style and add a Drop Shadow. Do not add a Drop Shadow on the "Medium Grass" layer because the image might then look too choppy.

Step 22

You might have spots of white between the grass. To fix that we'll add a "Ground" layer. Make a new layer and color it dark brown (#2b1502) covering the entire bottom part of the image where the ground should be. Then move the layer behind all the grass layers. You can see the result in the second image below.

Step 23

The last major part of the image is the light and how it shines through the fence. To create the first part of it you'll need to duplicate the "fence" layer. On that duplicated layer disable all the effects and add a Color Overlay of solid black.

Step 24

This new layer will be the shadow that is cast by the fence. Make another copy of that new layer, as we'll need to use it in a later step, but to make it easier you can Hide it for now. Now select one of the black fence layers and apply Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical.

Step 25

Then move the shadow to the base of the fence and go to Edit > Transform > Perspective. Stretch the shadow until it looks like it’s laying on the ground. Remember where you placed the light source because that will determine where the light will be falling in a straight line and where it will be coming in at an angle.

Step 26

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 3.5 pixels to the layer by going to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Opacity of the layer that is now the shadow on the ground to 30%. Make the other black fence layer visible now. Also, set the Opacity of the layer to 30%. Use the Gaussian Blur of 3.5 pixels on this shadow as well.

Step 27

Now the shadows might be overlapping in some places. I've used both the Eraser Tool and the Smudge Tool to fix that. You also may want to erase part of the shadow that is on the fence itself.

Step 28

Using the Pen Tool, draw in the rays of light coming through the fence. After drawing each one, right-click and select Fill Path. After it has been filled, right-click again, and select Delete Path. Each ray should be drawn on it's own layer. This is because we'll need to apply a Motion Blur to each one separately. The easiest way to get the path of the rays correct is to try to match them to the rays that are on the grass.

Step 29

Now apply Motion Blur by going to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur to each ray individually. You need to almost match the angle of the ray. This is because some blurring would be good.

Step 30

The style of the rays should be as follows.

Step 31

The rays are done and now some touch-ups are in order. There should not be a place where the light is overly bright. We also need to erase some of the blur so the rays look more like they are coming through the fence.

Step 32

There is not an old forgotten fence without vines and of course flowers on it. To draw the vines we need to get a suitable Brush. Also, set the color to the same one that you've used to make the grass. Now select the Pen Tool from the palette and start drawing vines around the fence. When you are done drawing one of them, right-click with the Pen Tool, and select Stroke Path. In the window that will pop up select Brush and check Simulate Pressure

Step 33

To make the vines look like they are growing around the fence erase some parts of them. Finally, change the layer styles of the vines to match the ones below.

Step 34

Add leaves using the Shape Tool to draw them. Then go to Edit > Transform > Rotate to rotate them so they would fit on the vine. The leaves should have the same layer style as the vines; so right-click, copy the layer style from the vines, and paste it onto the leaves layer.

Step 35

I've also added flowers, using the Shape Tool again.


Finally, here is the finished image! You can view a larger version here as well.

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