In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a colorful fantasy scene using a range of photo manipulation techniques.
First we'll create a lake scene from two sky images using a custom Displacement Map. Then we'll add the boat, roses and dove, and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. We'll enhance the light, color and contrast of the scene with a soft yellow brush and several adjustment layers.
Then we'll finish it up by creating a dreamy and twinkling effect using a light texture. During this tutorial you'll learn how to work with groups, create depth of field and more.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. Create the Lake
The first step is to create a Displacement Map to use in creating an artificial water surface. Create a new 2000 x 1000 px document in Photoshop and fill it with white color. Hit Control-J to duplicate the background layer and convert it to a Smart Object. On this layer, go to Layer > Noise > Add Noise:
Press D to set the foreground/background color to default (black and white). Go to Filter > Sketch > Bas Relief:
Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur to create an effect like ripples:
Duplicate this layer and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to change its perspective as shown below:
Use the Crop Tool (C) to select the middle section of this image and delete the unnecessary areas:
Save this file as a PSD and name it "ripple_ texture" or whatever you want.
Create a new 2000 x 1288 px document with the settings below:
Open the sky 1 image. Select the sky part only using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M):
Drag this selected part into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V), and place it onto the upper half. Name this layer "sky".
Duplicate this layer and set it under the first one. Flip it vertically by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Move it downward to cover the white canvas. Name this layer "lake".
To make a ripple effect for the lake, go to Filter > Distort > Displace and browse the ripple file we created in step 1. Change the settings of the Displace filter to get the result of your taste. Here is mine:
To soften the ripple, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and change the Angle and Distance values:
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to the sky layer. Use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to soften the line between the sky and lake:
To make some depth for the lake, create a new layer and use a soft brush
with the color
#e6af73 and the Opacity about 30–50% to paint around the
horizon line. Change this layer mode to Multiply 100%:
To create more depth, make a new layer and paint along the horizon area
with a soft brush and the color
#a99580. Set this layer mode to Multiply
Open the sky 2 image. Select the sky only using the Rectangular Marquee Tool:
Place this sky part onto the top of our main image and cover the existing one. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%, using a layer mask to erase the part that overlaps the lake, and reduce its opacity to make it blend better with the existing sky:
To reduce the noise of sky 2, go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches and change the Radius to 3 px:
Duplicate this layer and flip it vertically. Place it onto the existing lake to make the reflection of this sky on the lake surface.
Apply a Displace filter with the settings changed below (because sky
2 has a different texture from sky 1, you should change the
settings to get a suitable result).
Apply a Motion Blur filter with Angle set to 0 and Distance set to 15:
There is an unwanted detail on the sky 2 image. To remove it, make a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to delete this indicated detail:
2. Add the Boat
Isolate the boat from the background, and place it in the middle of the lake. Flip it horizontally by selecting Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Use Control-T to change its perspective a bit as shown below:
Duplicate the boat layer and move it under the first boat. Make the boat reflection using the Displace and Motion Blur filters.
Add a mask to the boat reflection layer, and use a soft black brush to reduce the opacity of the top part to make it fade into the water:
Select the whole boat and its reflection layers, and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and decrease the lightness:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the front of the boat and its reflection as they're illuminated by the background light.
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to add more vibrant red and yellow to the boat and the reflection:
Make a new layer above the boat one and set it as a Clipping Mask. Use a
soft brush with the color
#f1bb52 to paint on the highest part of the
boat to add some highlights there:
3. The Basic Color and Light
Create a Curves adjustment layer on top of the layers and reduce the lightness.
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase around the middle and leave the dark effect only visible at the sides and corners of the image. This step is to add a vignette effect to the scene:
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer, and increase the Red and Blue values of Midtones:
4. Add the Roses
Open the roses image. Cut the roses out of the background using the Magic Wand Tool (W).
Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select a part of the upper roses and place it onto the boat:
Add a mask to this layer, and use a hard black brush to remove some of the roses to make them look as if they're lying inside the boat.
Select a part of the upper roses to add to the left of the existing ones, and use Control-T to make it a bit smaller:
Take a part of the lower branches and an upper rose to place at the lower part of the boat:
To make a reflection for all the roses on the boat, select all the rose layers. Right click and choose Duplicate Layers, and then merge all of them by choosing Merge Layers. Flip this layer vertically and move it under the boat part:
Lower the Opacity of this layer to 90%. Apply the Displace and Motion Blur filters to this layer:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to blend the reflection with the water:
Select a rose branch from the original image and place it in the foreground of the lake:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to make the lower part of the rose sink a bit into the water:
Name this layer "big rose".
Make a reflection for the rose using the Displace and Motion Blur filters, and lower this layer Opacity to 80%.
Use a layer mask to make the reflection fade into the water:
Make a group for all the rose layers including the big rose one. Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and bring the Red value of Midtones up to +79:
Use a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to remove the light on the rose at the foreground and the roses on the back of the boat:
Make another Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the front of the roses on the boat and the big rose:
Make a new layer above the big rose one (set as Clipping Mask), change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:
Activate the Dodge Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 20–25% to paint on the upper of the leaves and the petals to bring more light to these details. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:
Create a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken this rose more. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the upper of the rose to maintain the lightness there:
5. Add the Dove
Isolate the dove from the background and place him onto the boat bow:
Make the dove reflection as we did with the other elements:
Make a group for the dove and the reflection layers. Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the highlight on the dove. Use a soft black brush on this layer mask to reduce this adjustment layer effect on the reflection.
6. Enhance the Light, Color and Contrast
Make a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the middle section to keep the lightness there:
Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light a bit:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the sides of the scene to make the light focused on the middle.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to change the whole scene color:
Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color
#b0975c to paint
on the middle section to add more vibrant light to this area.
Change this layer mode to Hard Light 100%:
After changing the light and color we'll use two Curves adjustment layers to enhance the contrast of the whole scene. The first one is to darken the scene much more. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with a very low Opacity (about 10–15%) to reduce this adjustment layer effect on the boat and dove:
To increase the vibrant light of the middle, use another Curves adjustment layer:
Erase the sides of the scene, the boat and the bird using a soft black brush on this Curves layer mask:
7. Add the Light Texture
Open the light texture pack. Choose the "starry 4" image and place it over the working document.
Change this layer mode to Screen 100%:
Duplicate this layer and apply a Motion Blur filter to it to create a twinkle effect for the glowing dots:
Add a mask to this layer, and use a soft black brush to reduce the light effect of these dots to get a subtler looking result:
Return to the first light layer and apply a Displace filter to it:
Make a group for these light layers and change the mode to Screen 100%. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the light color a little:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce this adjustment layer effect on the glowing dots on the lake surface:
Add a mask to this light group and use a soft black brush to reduce the red light on the top of the sky, the dove and the back of the boat to create a subtler effect:
Congratulations, You're Done!
I hope that you've learned something new from my tutorial. Feel free to share your outcomes, suggestions and feedback in the comment box below. Enjoy photoshopping!
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