Use filters, adjustment layers and Smart Objects to create a scene
Create a new document set to 230x310mm. At this moment work in RGB, but to see how the image will look as CMYK, activate the Proof Color tool (Cmd/Ctrl+Y). Add a background – we used this resource: http://shutr.bz/2bJJrGf – duplicate the layer, use the High Pass filter (Filter>Other>High Pass) set to 3px and change the blend mode to Overlay.
Place an underwater image – we used http://shutr.bz/2bwVetH – as shown here. During the creation it’s usual to change the size or the perspective of the image, so to have more control and to keep the original photo information, convert the layer into a Smart Object.
Now add some detail by placing more intrigue in the middle of the image (http://shutr.bz/2bOlZaA), then change the blend mode to Screen. Don’t overexpose the highlights in the scene – make a mask and erase the unnecessary parts.
Add more fish (http://shutr.bz/2byjUk9). To blend the image with the background, make a mask and use the Gradient tool set to Foreground to Transparent, 40% Opacity. Smoothly erase the top of the image. Also use Hue/Saturation (0, -50, 0) and Levels (26, 1.00, 255) adjustment layers.
Let’s make a few colour adjustments to the image you’ve just placed. Create a new layer and paint it blue (#00d7ff), then change the blend mode to Color at 30% Opacity. Duplicate the layer and use the High Pass filter, just as you did in the first step.
With the Pen tool, draw out a curved triangle and paint it with the colour #697773. Place it in the bottom-right corner of the scene (as shown above), change the blend mode to Multiply and use the Gaussian Blur filter set to 160px. Repeat to create the shadow for the bottom-left corner.
Add the http://shutr.bz/2bOlZaA photo again, change the blend mode to Screen and place it in the left side of the scene, as shown above. Use a Color Balance adjustment layer set to -40, 0, 0.
Add the photo http://shutr.bz/2bSx8GN and place it on the right side of the scene, as above. Change the Opacity to 70% and to blend the image with the background, make a mask and use the Brush tool to erase everything but the rocky wall effect.
Flip the wall image horizontally and place it on the left side of the scene. Apply a Levels adjustment, press Cmd/Ctrl+Alt and click in the wall layer to link it. Then set the adjustments to 19, 1.00, 230.
Now add the explorer to the scene – the astronaut (http://shutr.bz/2bSx4qu). To make the edges of the photo look softer, apply a feather. Activate the astronaut layer selection, use the Feather command (Shift+F6) set to 2px, then invert the selection and press delete three times.
Cut out only the shadows of the astronaut image. Change the blend mode to Multiply and place it in the scene. Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, link it with the photo and set to 0, -100, 0. Now link a Levels adjustment layer above this one, set to 0, 1.00, 124.
Link a Levels adjustment layer (8, 1.00, 185) and a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (0, -26, 0). Duplicate the astronaut layer, paint it with #074d76, and change the blend mode to Color at 20% Opacity. Finally, duplicate the astronaut layer, apply the High Pass filter set to 3px and change the blend mode to Soft Light.
Now use the yellow fish from http://shutr.bz/2byjUk9 and place it in front of the astronaut. To give the impression that the fish are moving, duplicate the layer and use the Motion Blur filter set to 13px and an Angle of 0. Make a mask to erase the excess areas.
To give more depth to the scene, add a few colourful fishes from the photo http://shutr.bz/2cb5F51 and place them in front of the astronaut, as shown here. To blend the fishes with the scene, use the Feather command set to 1px.
Add http://shutr.bz/2cnWKOR. To erase the background and leave just the bubbles, change the blend mode to Screen. Make a group folder and place the image inside. To enhance the effect, duplicate the layer and finally duplicate the layer group and place to the right of the astronaut.
Let’s use the Brush tool to make a water highlight effect. Choose the white colour, go to the Brush panel, pick Brush Presets and choose the ‘Round Brushes with Size’ option. Select the brush 300, draw the highlights as shown here, then change the Opacity to 80%.
Use the Photo Filter adjustment with Color: #00ccec and Density: 25%. Then apply Brightness/Contrast set to 42, 40 and Hue/Saturation set to 0, +26, 0. Make a layer group, put the adjustment layers inside and mask to erase the parts where original colours were damaged.
Let’s enhance the shadows from the top to give the impression that the light is coming only from the centre of the image. With the Pen tool, draw a shadow and fill with #13495d. To help make the shape, use the Warp tool.
Duplicate all the layers and merge. Make a square with the Rectangular Marquee tool, as shown above. Use the Feather command set to 400px, invert the selection, press delete three times and change the blend mode to Multiply.
Duplicate all the layers again and merge. Transform the layer into a Smart Filter, then go to the Distort gallery and choose the Glass filter with the following settings – Distortion: 9, Smoothness: 15 and Scaling: 200.