Advertisement
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation
Design

How to Create a Fantasy Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

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

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a fantasy pathway scene. First we'll build the background from grassy ground and a forest. Later we'll add the tree, gate, small forest and pathway. After that we'll add the child and grass, and we'll make the basic light and color. Finally we'll add the light texture and make some lighting effects. 

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Build the Background

Step 1

Create a new 1800 x 1357 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:

new file

Step 2

Open the ground image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the grass area only and move it to the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Place it in the lower half of the canvas:

select ground
add ground

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 30 px:

ground gaussian blur

Select the filter mask and use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to erase the blur effect in the foreground:

ground gaussian blur masking

Step 4

Go to Layer > New Adjustment layer > Hue Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Change the Master Saturation, Reds and Yellows values:

ground hue saturation
ground hue saturation result

Step 5

Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reveal some light on the background:

ground curves
ground curves masking

Step 6

Drag the forest image into our main document and place it in the upper half:

add forest

Use a layer mask to make a smooth transition between the ground and the forest:

forest masking

Step 7

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 12 px to the forest. Use a soft black brush on the filter mask to reduce the effect along the transition between the ground and forest. Here are the results on the filter mask and on the picture:

forest gaussian blur
forest gausssian blur masking
forest blur masking result

Step 8

In this step we'll make shadows for the trees in the forest. We aim to make the main light source come from the middle of the forest so the shadows of the trees must be more visible. Create a new layer and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the big tree on the right (no need to be so precise) and fill it (Shift-F5) with black .

tree shadow 1

Flip it vertically (Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical) and move it under the tree. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to distort the shadow to fit the light direction:

tree shadow trasform

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 15 px to this shadow:

shadow gaussian blur

Step 9

Use the same method to make shadow for the other trees:

make other shadows

Step 10

Create a Curves adjustment layer on top of the layers and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to make the light effect visible only in the middle of the background:

add forest light 1

Step 11

Create a new layer and change its mode to Soft Light 100%. Use a soft white brush to paint more light for the middle of the forest.

add forest light 2

2. Add the Tree

Step 1

Isolate the tree and add it to the midground. Use Control-T to decrease the length a bit.

add tree

Use a layer mask to remove the hard edges and blend the tree with the ground:

tree masking

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px and erase the blur effect on the filter mask, leaving it visible only on the tree contour to fit the softness of the background:

tree gaussian blur

Step 3

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

DB new file

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 10-15% to brighten the tree contour and darken the middle a bit to fit the light and shadow of the background. You can see how I did it with normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

DB result

Step 4

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -62:

tree hue saturation

Step 5

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

tree color balance

Step 6

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the tree. Paint on the tree contour to reveal the lightness there:

tree curves

Step 7

Create a new layer and use a soft white brush with a low opacity (about 15-20%) to paint along the tree contour to make some hazy light on there.

tree light

3. Add the Gate and Small Forest

Step 1

Open the gate image. Remove the part inside the gate and add it to the bottom of the tree:

add gate

Use a layer mask to blend the gate with the tree.

gate masking

Step 2

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

gate color balance

Step 3

Make a Curves adjustment layer and change the lightness of the gate to fit the tree. Erase the lower parts as shown in the screenshot below because we aim to add another light source there:

gate curves

Step 4

Duplicate the forest layer and make it much smaller. Set this layer under the gate layer and above the tree ones.

add small forest

Use a layer mask to remove the forest part outside the gate.

small forest masking

Step 5

Make a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light and haze of this small forest:

small forest curves

4. Add the Pathway

Step 1

Select the pathway from the original image and place it in the foreground. Use Control-T with Warp mode to bend the pathway a bit.

add pathway

Step 2

Remove the edges of the pathway using a layer mask:

pathway masking

Step 3

Duplicate this layer twice and resize them down. Arrange them inside the gate and the small forest. The further away they are, the smaller they should be.

add more pathway parts

Step 4

Select all the pathway layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change the group mode to Normal 100%. Create a new layer and use the Clone Tool (S) to remove the unwanted plant shown on a step of the pathway.

pathway clone

Step 5

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the pathway color with the scene:

pathway color balance

Step 6

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the pathway as it looks too bright compared with the background at the moment. Paint on the top of the pathway (the part inside the gate and small forest) in order not to change its lightness.

pathway curves 1

Step 7

Add another Curves adjustment layer to increase the hazy light of the pathway top. Erase the rest to make it still dark.

pathway curves 2

5. Add the Child

Step 1

Cut out the child and place her onto the step on which we removed the unwanted plant.

add child

Step 2

Make a new layer under the child one and use a medium-soft black brush with a low opacity (20%) to paint a shadow for her. The child is far from the two light sources so the shadow should be very light and soft.

child shadow

Step 3

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -38:

child hue saturation

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the child. Paint on the parts which are towards the light (the front) and keep the others dark.

child curves

6. Add the Grass

Step 1

Open the grass images pack. As the images have a transparent background, simply move them into our main document and arrange them on both sides of the lower foreground:

add grass

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to each of these grass layers.

grass gaussian blur

Step 3

Make a group for these grass layers and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change their color:

grass hue saturation

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the grass a bit. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.

grass curves

7. Make the Basic Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Color Fill layer on top of the layers and pick the color #160101. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%:

color fill exclusion mode

Step 2

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones and Highlights settings:

color balance
color balance result

Step 3

Add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer and change the values of the Red channel:

channel mixer

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer and change the color a bit with the Blue channel:

whole scene curves 1

Step 5

Use another Curves adjustment layer and increase the light in the middle. Paint on the rest of the scene:

whole scene curves 2

Step 6

Continue changing the color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer:

whole scene hue saturation

Step 7

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer with the same purpose. Pick the color #01ec96:

whole scene photo filter

Step 8

Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the whole effect. Reduce the saturation on the tree and the pathway on its layer mask to make them less blue.

vibrance

8. Add the Light

Step 1

Open the light texture image pack. Choose "starry 4" image to add it to the canvas, and change the mode to Screen 100%:

add light texture

Use a layer mask and erase the effect on the tree, making it appear more subtle.

light texture masking

Step 2

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the light color from red to pink:

light texture hue saturation

Step 3

We're going to change the color of the small forest to make it look like another world. Use the Lasso Tool to select the small forest area with the Feather Radius = 30. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Channel Mixer:

small forest color

Step 4

Make a new layer and use a medium-hard brush with the color #ffadc4 to paint the pink/purple light reflection from the small forest on the gate and the steps of the pathway which are located inside this forest.

lighting effect

Step 5

Use a Curves adjustment layer to change the light and contrast of the whole scene, darkening the edges and leaving the light in the middle.

whole scene curves 3
whole scene curves 3 masking

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've learned something useful for your future projects. Feel free to leave your comments in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!

final result
Advertisement
Advertisement
Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.