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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Winter
Design

How to Create a Winter Rural Photo Manipulation Scene With Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a winter rural scene. 

First we'll build the base scene using a sky image and two landscape images. After that we'll add the trees, fence and wagon and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. 

Later we'll paint the snow and mist, and we'll also import the crows. We'll use several adjustment layers and enhance the depth of the whole scene using a Gaussian Blur filter to complete the final effect. 

Tutorial Assets

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

1. How to Build the Base Scene

Step 1

Create a new 2000 x 1333 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

new file

Step 2

Open the sky image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V).

add sky

Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to flip the sky to fit the light source. We're aiming to add the light from right to left (as you'll see in the next steps).

flip sky

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and reduce the Saturation value to -16:

sky hue saturation

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the sky a little. On the Curves layer mask, select a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to erase the effect on the right edge.

sky curves
sky curves masking

Step 5

Open the landscape 1 image. Place this image over the canvas and flip it horizontally to fit the light source.

add landscape 1

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to remove the trees on the horizon and reveal the sky.

landscape 1 masking

Step 6

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set it as a Clipping Mask. Bring the Saturation value down to -52:

landscape 1 hue saturation

Step 7

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings.

landscape 1 color balance

Step 8

Use a Curves adjustment layer to increase the lightness and lighten the hard shadow of the ground a bit.

landscape 1 curves

Step 9

Import the landscape 2 image in our main document. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate the landscape to match the horizon's perspective with the existing one.

add landscape 2

Step 10

Use a layer mask to remove its sky and blend the landscape with the existing one. Lower the brush's opacity when brushing over the ground to keep the details of the landscape 2 image.

landscape 2 masking
landscape 2 masking result

Step 11

The second landscape has some unwanted details such as traces and trees. Make a new layer (set as Clipping Mask) and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove the indicated details.

clone areas
cloning result

Step 12

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the color of the landscape 2 image with the first one. Alter the Midtones settings.

landscape 2 color balance

Step 13

Make a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light for landscape 2. Paint along the horizon's area so it will not be too bright.

landscape 2 curves
landscape 2 curves result

2. How to Add the Trees

Step 1

Open the tree images. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the trees and mountain and place them on the horizon. Place this layer under the landscape ones.

add trees

Use a layer mask to blend this part with the existing background. You can lower the brush opacity while painting over the trees and mountain so they appear to fade into the sky.

trees masking

Step 2

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the mountain a little. Decrease the Saturation to -15:

trees hue saturation

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten this area. Use a soft black brush to paint over the upper and left sections to make them blend well with the sky.

trees curves
trees curves masking

3. How to Add the Fences

Step 1

Open the fence image. Cut out the fence using the Polygonal Lasso Tool and place it on the left of the landscape. You must be quite patient to remove all of the background, but it will be helpful for the next steps. Use Control-T to change the perspective of the fence to fit the landscape and create depth of field.

add left fence

Step 2

Duplicate this layer and flip it horizontally. Change its perspective using Control-T.

add right fence

Step 3

To make a shadow for the right fence, hold Control and click the fence thumbnail layer to load its selection.

right fence selection

Fill this selection with a similar color of the ground's shadow (#8096b7). Flip it vertically and use Control-T to change its form.

fill shadow

Lower the Opacity to 60% and apply a Gaussian Blur of 1.5 px (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).

right fence shadow gaussian blur

Step 4

The shadow does not really match the fence, especially the bars. To fix it, go to Edit > Puppet Warp and add points for the bottom of the bars. Drag the points to fit the bottom of the bars.

right fence shadow puppet warp
puppet warp result

Step 5

Make a shadow for the left fence using the same technique, but choose a darker color as it will be in the darker area (#6980a4), so it would be more visible.

left fence shadow

Step 6

Select the fence layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode to Normal 100%. Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the fences. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the right of the left fence and the left of the right fence, the parts which are exposed under the light.

fences curves
fences curves 1 masking
fences curves 1 masking result

Step 7

Make a new layer above the right fence layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray.

DB new layer

Select the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range and Exposure about 20-25% to brighten the left and darken the right of the right fence. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.

DB normal mode
DB overlay mode

4. How to Import the Wagon

Step 1

Isolate the wagon from the background and place it in the middle section between the fences.

add wagon

Step 2

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -82:

wagon hue saturation

Step 3

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

wagon color balance

Step 4

The wagon looks too dark, so create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten it. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the details hidden from the light and add some necessary shadows on the wagon.

wagon curves
wagon curves masking

Step 5

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to increase the light on the wagon and the goods inside it.

wagon DB

Step 6

Make a shadow for the wagon as we did with the fences.

wagon shadow 1

Step 7

Create a new layer and use a medium-soft brush with the color #8096b7 to paint shadow for the falling tongue of the wagon and strengthen the shadow under its body. Change this layer mode to Multiply 60%.

wagon shadow 2

5. How to Paint the Snow

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the layers and activate the snow brushes. Change the foreground to #e8edf7 and select the one numbered 2000 to make spots on the picture.

paint snow using brush

Use a layer mask to reduce the snow's intensity.

snow masking
snow masking result

Step 2

Create a new layer and select a small hard brush with the same color. Use this brush to spot randomly over the scene to make plenty of big snowflakes. Apply masking on some snowflakes to make them fade into the background—it helps to increase the realism and the depth of field.

paint more snow

6. How to Add the Crows

Step 1

Isolate the crow 1 and add it above one bar of the right fence towards the wagon.

add crow 1

Step 2

Make its shadow on the ground in the same way as we did with the other elements.

crow 1 shadow

Step 3

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

crow 1 color balance

Step 4

Add a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the lower left of the crow, which should not be too bright.

crow 1 curves

Step 5

Import other crows in the sky area. To make them blend better with the background, lower the opacity of the left one to 40%, the right to 30%, and the middle to 20%.

add more crows

7. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #c7d0de and Opacity about 20-25% to paint some mist on the trees and bushes. Use a layer mask if needed to fix any parts that are overdone. You can see the scene before and after adding the mist.

paint mist
mist result

Step 2

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -36:

whole scene hue saturation

Step 3

Add a Color Fill layer and pick the color #3b1001. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

color fill layer

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the scene, especially on the left. Paint on the right to reveal the light there.

whole scene curves 1

Step 5

Make another Curves adjustment layer to increase the scene's contrast. Apply masking to the following areas:

whole scene curves 2

Step 6

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer and increase the Vibrance value to 38:

vibrance layer

Step 7

This step is optional: Hit Control-Shift-Alt-E to merge all the current layers into a new one and convert it to a Smart Object. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to this layer.

whole scene gaussian blur

On this filter mask, use a soft black brush to erase the blur effect on the midground where the wagon and crow are located. Leave the effect visible on the foreground and background to make the midground stand out more.

whole scene gaussian blur masking

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 result
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