Photo Manipulation – Creating a Fantasy Scene
Hi again, so today I’m going to demonstrate a number of techniques used to create the image below. This is not a complete walkthrough to create exactly the same image, but you’ll hopefully pick up some useful tips. It is a composition of 4 different photographs. As is normal with Photoshop, there are numerous ways to achieve the same task, so the techniques below are just 1 possible way of going about creating this scene. A scaled down PSD file for this tutorial which covers steps 1 – 7 can be found at the bottom.
The original images used were: (click on an image get the full res version)
Step 1 – preparing the background with the patch tool.
Open up the mossy wall image into photoshop and resize the image to 1176x 1756, then unlock the layer by double clicking on it in the layer panel (the padlock will then disappear). You’ll notice a number of artifacts on the image which gives away the size of what we’re looking at. So we’re going to remove those, using the patch tool (hotkey J). So click on the patch tool and draw around each artifact that stands out, and then once you’ve created a selection drag with the mouse from inside the selection to a similar area. Photoshop will then make a neat job of patching the new area to its surroundings. Next create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, de-saturate the image and colorize it with a pale dark green/yellow.
Step 2 – Lets add some pipes
Open up the pipes image, and paste it in directly under the hue/saturation adjustment layer. Transform it to a smaller size and position it to where you like it best. With this layer add a layer mask. With a brush (hotkey b) and with the layer mask selected, start to paint out the background of the pipes image. Start with a big relatively hard black brush with high opacity to get rid of most of the background, then use an increasingly smaller brush when you get closer to the pipes themselves. Some shortcuts of use here. ’[' ']‘ keys to make the brush size bigger or smaller. X to switch between foreground and background colours (black and white for the layer mask). The numeric keypad to change opacity levels, and shift+ [ or ] to change hardness of the brush. Layer masks are non destructive, so if you accidentally brush out part of your image, switch from black to white and start painting, this will reintroduce part of your image.
Once you’ve got rid of the background, duplicate the pipes (hotkey ctrl+j) around the image to produce an effect similar to this:
Step 3 – Burn baby Burn
Select all the pipe layers and merge them together into 1 layer (hotkey ctrl/cmd+e ). Then duplicate this pipe collection layer. Set the layer blending mode to overlay on the top pipe layer and on the bottom pipe layer set the layer opacity to 50%. This will create quite a nice grunge pipe effect.
Next we want to create some shadows.
Create a new layer above the moss and below the pipes. With black as the foreground colour, use a brush set to color burn with low opacity(5%), 0% hardness and a large size to paint shadows under the pipes and inbetween them. If you make a mistake, and go too dark, use the eraser with a low opacity to undo any excessive shadows. You should end up with something like this:
Step 4: Lets make a cave
Next we’re going to create a cave and add a cute little door and window to the scene. Again in the shadow burn layer, use a brush with higher opacity to create a cave like shadow near the top of the image. I’ve created the cave above one of the naturals cracks in the moss layer just above the pipes. Next open up the cottage door and window image and paste it in a new layer above the pipes, scale this image so that it fits in the newly created cave hole. Then add a layer mask and start blending this photo in with the rest of the image. The cottage image is slightly brighter than the rest of the image. So create a new brightness/contrast adjustment layer above the cottage layer and darken the entire image. Then hold down ctrl + alt and click with the left mouse button on the line between these two layers in the layer palette, the new dark effect will now only apply to the cottage layer. You can see this in the layer palette with the adjustment layer being slightly indented from the other layers.
You’ll end up with something like this:
Step 5: Working with Colour
Turn off the top hue saturation layer, and you’ll notice that the cottage layer is a different colour to everything else. So create a new hue/saturuation layer immediately above the cottage layer and play around with its settings until the difference between layers is less obvious.
The bricks of the cottage are a bit too blue. So create a new layer between the adjustment layers and with a soft brush set to color with 5% opacity and a light orange/yellow colour start to paint over the bricks to warm them up a bit. Next, let’s change the door colour. Use the pen tool to draw around the door. (make sure the paths icon is clicked and not shape on the menu at the top). Once you have the path, right mouse button on it and select make selection. Then press ctrl+shift+i to invert the selection. Finally create a new color balance adjustment layer with that selection and tweak the settings to get a nice red effect for the door. Use a layer mask on this layer to bring back the colour of the overlapping leaves over the door. You should end up with something akin to this:
Step 6: Lets get ready for a goblin
Get rid of the window frame. Make sure the cottage layer is selected. Use the Pen tool with paths mode selected to draw around the window. Once done, right mouse button on the path and select make selection. Then press ctrl+shift+i to invert the selection and press delete to remove the unwanted window frame
Turn on the top hue/saturation layer again. Open up the goblin image and paste it into your composition in a layer right below the top hue/saturation layer. Resize the layer so he fits in the window. Next use a layer mask to again mask out his background so he looks like he’s peering out of the window. Then create a new layer above the goblin, and use the same burn techniques as in step 3 to burn shadows into the image on and around the goblin. You should have something like this:
Step 7: Painting in Colour
We’re nearing the end now, so let’s add some colour back into the image. With the layer mask for the top hue/saturation layer, start to paint black to bring colour back into the image, to achieve something like this:
Step 8: Big effects for little work
Ok, now it’s time to add some atmosphere. I strongly suggest you create a snapshot (in history) to temporarily save your work at this point. Select all the layers and press ctrl+e to merge them all together. Duplicate this new layer (ctrl+j) and use a gaussian blur filter of 4. Set this new blurry layer to a blending style of overlay and an opacity of around 25%. This technique is useful for enhancing the colours of your scene. Select these two layers again and press ctrl+e to merge them together.
Now with this 1 layer, go to filter > render > lighting effects. Using a spotlight style light, tinker with the properties to emulate a light coming from the top which fades to darkness near the bottom of the pipes. You should get a result something like this:
And that’s pretty much it. As with anything with Photoshop, you can get some really good effects if you’re prepared to spend time over the look to get it just how you want.