photoshop creative

Design a sci-fi composite

Posted in:
Magazine, by The Photoshop Creative Team
July 27, 2011

Learn some useful techniques for creating scenes using different photos

Never feel as though you are limited by what you can create – with Photoshop and some photos you can do anything. Issue 77 looked at how a collection of images could be transformed into a sci-fi landscape. Here’s an excerpt from the tutorial.


For many years mankind has pondered the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms. Is it our desire to connect with distant cultures, or a burning curiosity to know if we truly are alone? Until we discover a way of finding the answer, all we can do is wonder if our planet is the only one that harbours life, though it seems unlikely considering how many millions of planets occupy the vastness of the universe.

In this project we will let our imagination run wild and create a sci-fi landscape using a few source photos taken from our own planet and, of course, some Photoshop trickery. We shall begin by applying various blending modes and masks to create a convincing alien sky. Then we’ll discover how to apply a variety of techniques to accurately isolate subjects from their backgrounds and assemble a barren, Earth-like terrain complete with alien architecture. Even though we are creating an imaginary landscape on a distant planet, it is still important to adhere to the rules of how light and shadow behaves in our world to create an engaging image. In order to achieve this we will make extensive use of adjustment layers.