Learn basic photomanipulation techniques to make any dream scene become reality
Start by creating a new document, at 300x230mm, 300dpi. Create a new layer and begin by using a soft brush with varying colours to experument, creating a very rough colour sketch of a sky and earth.
Bring in an image of a desert and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+J). On the copy, go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Align the original and the copy so that they are mirror images of each other. Now merge them together (Cmd/Ctrl+E).
To blend an image with a white background, set the blend mode to Darken, leaving only the colour. For this to work, the colours behind the tree must be close to white.
Place a texture on top of the desert, then add a layer mask to the texture so as to cover the bottom of the desert. Go to Layer>New Adjustments Layer>Hue/Saturation to lower the saturation.
To break the desert’s symmetry, add another desert image and apply a Hard Light blend mode. Desaturate the desert image and mask away the sky.
Place some desert dunes on the horizon and desaturate to build mountains. Find dead trees, mask them with the Quick Selection tool, then lower their opacities and place far in the background.
Find an image of Jupiter. Place it into your picture and set the blend mode to Screen to get rid of the black in the image and blend it with the composition.
Clouds can be selected using the Colour Range method. Click on the clouds and leave the Invert box unchecked . You can change the blend mode to Screen or Lighten to see the various results.
Place the nebula above the tree and set it to Lighten. Use a Curves layer to blend this with the backdrop. Opt/Alt-click between the Curves and the nebula to link them. In Elements, use Levels.
Place a galaxy on the top-right area of the piece and set it to Screen. Mask away the rough edges using the brush, then add a Levels adjustment layer to blend the galaxy with the background.
The precious two steps show explicit cases of blending, so follow this general rule to blend the rest: set the blend mode to Lighten or Screen, play around with Levels and Curves and mask away the edges with a soft brush.
We’ve added birds by cutting them out of pictures and placing them into the picture, and even added some blurred leaves into the picture. To finish, go to Image>Apply Image and then apply: Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen. You can also shade areas with the Brush tool to create more contrast. In Elements, go to Enhance>Auto Sharpen.