In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a winter landscape using a variety of photo-manipulation techniques. You'll learn how to combine different stock images together into a cohesive scene using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. You'll also learn how to paint the snow, make the sunlight, create lighting effects, take care of the details and more.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. Add the Landscape
Create a new 1500 x 1000 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:
Open the winter 1 image. Drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V):
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Reduce the Saturation value to - 93:
Browse the winter 2 image and add it to the main canvas with the help of the Move Tool and the Free Transform Tool (Control-T).
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 left side and make only the foreground, right mountain and trees in this image visible and blended with the background. Take care of the trees to make them blend naturally with the existing ones.
Use a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken these areas:
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to - 85:
2. Add the Trees
Open the trees image. Cut out the trees using the Magic Wand Tool (W).
Place it on the left side of the canvas:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to make the trees
appear behind the existing trees; remember to make them blurrier
and hazier. It helps to increase the depth of the scene.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation value to -85:
Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the trees, and also increase the haze on them:
3. Make Some Mist
Make a new layer on top of the layers. Use a soft brush with the color
#a6a7aa with the Opacity about 30% to paint some mist on the edges of
the top left and right and near the middle section:
Change this layer mode to Multiply 100%:
4. Add the Mountain
Isolate the mountain from the background using the Magic Wand Tool and add it to the top left of the scene:
Use a layer mask to make the mountain appear behind the trees and fade out into the mist:
There is an unwanted detail on the mountain. Make a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove the indicated detail:
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:
Select the Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to darken some details on the mountain. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to maximum (-100):
5. Add the House
Place the house image in the middle of the ground:
Add a mask to this layer and make only the house and the lower area visible using a medium-soft black brush:
We aim to make the main light source from the top center. Create a
new layer with the same settings as in step 3 of the previous
section. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow of
some details of the house, especially the lower right:
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the house. Bring the Saturation value down to - 84:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the house:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reveal the lightness on
the parts in the light area:
6. Paint the Snow
The first step in this stage is to add some bokeh. Make a new layer and select a hard white brush. Press F5 to change the settings for this brush:
Use this brush to paint some random bokeh over the picture:
Lower the opacity of this layer to 80% and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 4 px:
Add a mask to this layer and make the effect more subtle and faded using a soft black brush:
Create a new layer and decrease the brush size. Change the settings of this brush as shown below:
Paint some random bits of snow over the picture with different sizes and forms. Feel free to experiment and test your fingers; it was really fun!
Use a layer mask to reduce the snow intensity and opacity to create the view from far to near, and remember to make the snowflakes in the mist area more faded than the others.
Paint some bigger snowflakes in the edges of the scene using the same brush:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px:
7. The Basic Adjustment
Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick the color
#270902. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.
On this layer mask, select a soft black brush with the opacity from 20 to 50% to erase the foreground and the sky to reduce the effect there. Here are the results on the mask and on the picture:
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness:
Select the mask of this layer and use a soft black brush to make the light visible in the middle section only:
Create another Curves adjustment layer to darken the scene, especially the sides:
Use this layer mask to keep the light coming from the top center and the shadow occurring on the sides.
8. Make the Shadows
We've defined the main light, and now it's time to make the house shadow. Create a new layer under the house one. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the house only:
Fill this selection (Shift-F5) with black and flip it vertically by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Move the shadow under the house and use Control-T to make it fit the main light direction:
Lower the opacity of this layer to 40% and apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px to this shadow:
Add a mask to this layer and reduce the opacity of the shadow part of the roof:
Create a new layer and use a medium-hard black brush to paint shadows
for the other elements in the light area: the snow pile, frozen string
(not sure what it is), and the trees. You should vary the brush opacity to get a
more natural result.
9. Add the Light
Make a new layer on top of the layers. Use a soft brush with the color
#3a1b06 to paint on the top center of the sky. Change the mode of this
layer to Linear Dodge 100%:
Create a new layer and paint on the top center with the color
make the highlight. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%:
Paint with the color
#e7e4e6 on a separate layer to make the light
reflection on the edges of the mountains, house, snow pile, the roof,
trees (the middle ones behind the house and the big one in the left) and
the ground. Set this layer mode to Overlay 100%:
10. The Final Adjustment
Create a Selective Color adjustment layer and change the White settings. The aim is to add more saturation to the reflected light on the ground:
Use a soft black brush to erase the effect on the upper half:
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and contrast of some elements and add more details to the ground, the roof, and the trees.
Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the final effect:
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!