Unleash colour adjustment layers and masks to create an incredible surreal composition!
Go to File>New. Name it Fish-Island and set the Width to 460mm, Height to 310mm, Resolution to 300, and then click OK. Now go to View>New Guide. Set the Orientation to Horizontal, Position to 125mm and click OK.
Add an image of a sea floor. Grab the middle-top handle and drag it down to squeeze the image under the guide line, then hit Return/Enter. The tones of the image need to be improved. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Input levels to 15, 0.90, 254.
Place a cliff. In the Options Bar, set the Width to 10% and Height to 20%. Drag the image to the bottom left and hit Return/Enter. Now grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the cliff. Then create a layer mask. Go to Layer> Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.
Grab a soft brush (B). Start painting over the mask to hide the cliff base. Aim to create a jagged surface and also hide the area above the guide line. Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 3 pixels and click OK.
Go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’, change the blend mode to Color and click OK. In the Color Picker window, set colour to #109670 and click OK. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/Contrast. Set Brightness to -50, Contrast to 0 and clip the layers.
Hold Shift and select the Cliff layers and the colour adjustments layers. Now press Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group. Click Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate it, then go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Place a landscape image. Resize it and place it above the guide line.
Place a rock. Go to Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object. Now go to Select>Color Range. Check Localized Color Cluster, set Fuzziness to 20, Range to 70%, check Invert and select the plus eyedropper. Position the eyedropper pointer over the sky and click all around to select the colours. Now create a layer mask.
Grab a soft brush (B) and enhance the mask. Hide half of the rock and then apply the mask (Layer>Layer Mask> Apply). Open the Free Transform tool (Cmd/ Ctrl+T), resize the image and place it over the cliff. Now go to Layer>Matting>Remove White Matte. Duplicate the image (Cmd/ Ctrl+J) and place it on the other side.
Place the fish and rasterize the layer (Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object). Let’s fix the colour cast. Go to Image>Adjustments>Match Color. Check Neutralize and click OK. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the fish. Create a layer mask and refine it. Hide the area above the guide line.
Go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’, change blend mode to Color, Opacity: 40% and click OK. In the Color Picker, set colour: #109670 and click OK. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Inputs to 0, 0.90, 255 and clip the layers.
Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name it Shadows/ Highlights. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’, blend mode: Overlay, check ‘Fill with Overlay-neutral color’ and click OK. Grab the Burn tool (O) to paint the shadows on the fish. Use the Dodge tool (O) to add the highlights.
Place a rock texture. Click Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G to create a clipping mask. Now hit Cmd/Ctrl+U. Check Colorize, then set Hue: 145, Saturation: 20, Lightness: 0 and click OK. Add a layer mask and use a soft brush to blend the images.
Place an island. Now go to Select>Color Range. Check Localized Color Cluster, set Fuzziness to 20, Range: 70%, check Invert and select the plus eyedropper. Click all around the sky to select the colours. Now create a layer mask. Resize and place it on top of the fish.
Grab the Brush tool, hit F5, click on the Brushes Presets. Click in the top-right corner, choose Load Brushes, and load some water brushes. Play with different brushes to add waves and waterfalls. To create the water line, use a wave brush and apply the Gaussian Blur.
Paint the aquatic plants using brushes. Add the fishes, the pelicans and the ship. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Lookup. Click OK and choose Load Device Link Profile>Smokey to enhance the colours.