In this tutorial I'll show you how to create an apocalypse scene with a dark angel. You'll learn how to create a decay/destruction scene by combining several stock images, make dark wings, create a sublime sword, adjust color, enhance the light/shadow, and more.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Build the Background
Create a new 1500 x 1333 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:
Open the sky image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V) and place it in the upper half.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and reduce the Saturation value to -62:
Make a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness.
Open the background image. Isolate the landscape with the dead trees only using the Magic Wand Tool (W) and place it in the lower half of the canvas.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -95.
The trees look too obvious, so duplicate the sky layer and move it on top of the other layers. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50% and move it downward a bit.
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 erase the top and leave the misty effect visible on the bottom half, covering the trees on the right.
2. How to Make the Decayed Ground
Cut out the scrap 1 from the background and add it to the lower half of the image.
Duplicate this layer and move it a bit to the right.
Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to erase the lower area and leave the top middle visible only. The aim is to create a proper standing location for the angel in the next stages.
To make a shadow for one of the iron sticks on the ground, create a new
layer above the scrap layers. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select
that stick and fill it with black (no need to be so precise).
Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate it toward the right side (to fit the light source—the bright area in the sky) and lower its Opacity to 40%.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 2 px to soften the shadow.
Select all the scrap layers and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode to Normal 100%. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -86.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the lower part of the ground. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the upper part where it should be brighter.
Open the scrap 2 image. Use the Lasso Tool to select the scrap only and place it over the ground. Use a layer mask to blend it with the existing scrap area.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -87:
Use a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. Now it looks completely blended with the existing ground.
Open the rubble 1 and 2 images. Drag the areas of rubble into the ground area using the Move Tool. Place one on the left and another on the right, remembering to position their bright side towards the light source.
Add a mask to each of these layers and use a soft black brush to soften their edges.
Make a group for the rubble layers and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate them.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the rubble. On this layer
mask, use a soft black brush with the Opacity about 30-35% to reduce the
effect on the left piece of rubble as it's in the higher position and towards
3. How to Create the Ruined Buildings
Open the building images. Use the Move Tool to place building 1 on
the left side of the ground and building 2 on the right. Use
Control-T to make them lean.
Use a layer mask to blend the buildings with the decayed ground.
Make a group for the building layers and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Change the Saturation value to -69:
Isolate scrap 3 from the background and add it to the right building.
Use a layer mask to remove the part outside the building and leave it visible mostly on the upper section.
Duplicate this layer and move it to the left. Flip it horizontally by
choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal, and make it smaller
Use a layer mask to blend the scrap with the building.
Create a group for the scrap layers and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to match the lightness of the scrap with the buildings.
4. How to Add the Model
Cut out the model from the background and place her in the top middle of the ground.
The bottom of the model does not really fit the ground. To fix this, go to Edit > Puppet Warp and add points to the bottom to drag the foot and the tail of the dress upward a little.
Make a shadow for the model the same way as you did with the iron stick.
Make a new layer and use a hard brush with the color
#be9b6a, the size about 2-3 px to paint more hair for the model.
Make a group for the model and the hair ones. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -78:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the bright side (right) of the model. This step is to brighten the left and reduce the contrast on both sides.
5. How to Import the Wings
Cut out the right wing from the eagle image and place it on the right side of the model. Use Control-T with Warp mode to bend the wing, especially dragging down the bottom feathers to give it a dark feel. Place this layer under the model's group.
Duplicate this layer and move it to the left after flipping it horizontally. Use Control-T to make it shorter and a bit higher to fit the model's perspective.
Make a group for the wing layers and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Bring the Saturation value down to -83:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the contrast of the wings. Paint on the upper areas to keep them brighter than the lower ones.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to brighten the upper part to fit the
light source. Paint on the lower part so it will not be affected by this adjustment layer.
6. How to Make the Sublime Sword
Cut out the sword with a curvy blade and add it to the darker arm of the model. Use Control-T to fix its perspective a bit. Use a layer mask to erase a part of the grip to make it look as if it's in the model's hand.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Saturation values:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness.
Make a new layer, and load the sword's selection by holding Control and
clicking its thumbnail layer. Fill this selection with the color
Use a layer mask to soften the edges and change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.
Double click this layer, and choose Outer Glow. Pick the color of glow to
#fd83df. Name this layer "light 1".
Make a new layer under the light 1 one. Load the sword's selection again
and expand the selection by going to Select > Modify > Expand.
Set Expand By to 1 and then fill the selection with the color
#c2f1f2. Activate Control-T with Warp mode to bend the sword a bit. Use a layer mask to make the effect visible very subtly on the
lower part of the blade.
Apply the Outer Glow effect and set the color of the glow to
Create a new layer under these two light layers. Use a soft brush with
#fd83df and the Opacity and Flow about 10% to paint a subtle pink
glow around the middle of the sword. You can use a layer mask if there
are any overdone details.
Make a new layer and change the mode to Soft Light 100%. Use a soft
brush with the color
#c2f1f2 to paint a more glowing effect for the sword.
7. How to Make the Final Adjustments
Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the
#00601b. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:
Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness a bit. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the ground, the left building, and the long feathers of the wings.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to reduce the lightness considerably. Paint on the bright area of the sky and the front of some details on the top of the ground and the buildings to make some light reflections on there.
In this step we'll add light to the area around the sword. Make a new
layer and use a medium-hard brush with the color
#d6bcd6 to paint on the
lower dark area of the model, the left wing, and the front of some
sticks and other details. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.
On a new layer, use a lighter brush (
#ffeaff) to paint highlight for the
indicated details in the previous step. Use a layer mask if there are any overdone details.
Create a Selective Color adjustment layer and change the Cyans and Magentas values.
Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings. On this layer mask, paint around the sword area so it will not become so blue.
Use 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!