Part 2 of our incredible floating island tutorial…
First, merge the layers that make up the island. Create two duplicates of this layer and name on Shadow and one Highlight. Open Image>Adjustments>Brightness & Contrast, lowering the brightness by -37 and the contrast by -46. This may differ depending on personal preference, though.
Place the Highlights layer on top of the Shadow layer in the Layers palette. On the Highlight layer, set the Brightness to 25 and the Contrast to 34. Use the Eraser tool set to 20% Opacity and erase areas of the Highlight layer near the middle as well as the undersides of the island to reveal the shadow layer underneath.
Using a black brush, paint over the edges and crevices of the rocks to further accentuate the shadows and texture of the island. Zoom in for final detailing.
To create a backlit effect for extra drama, add a highlight around the island on the portions that sit directly in front of the sun. First Cmd/Ctrl-click the Island layer’s thumbnail on the Layers palette to create a selection around it. On a new layer above the Highlight layer, use the Brush tool (cool #ccb489) to paint around the top edge of the selection then set this layer’s blend mode to Overlay.
With the island shape still selected, create a new layer for your colour cast. Using the Eyedropper tool, select a tan colour from the clouds surrounding the sun. Paint the left quarter and the right edge then select a purple tone from the background mountains and paint over the right half. Set this layer’s blend mode to Soft Light.
Use the same techniques to create a couple of smaller islands, lowering the contrast on the ones that are further away. Copy the island onto a new layer then, using the Eyedropper, select a purple tone from the canyons and fill (50% Opacity). Merge this layer and adjust the Brightness to match the background.
Create a new layer at the top of the stack and fill it entirely with a light brown colour, for example #9c745e. Set this layer’s blend mode to Overlay. This will lessen the blue tone in the image and add a old-world appearance over the image for a dynamic style.
On another new layer we will add a colour layer. Fill this with an orange tone (we used #fcae3f) and set the blend mode to Colour. Set the layer’s Opacity to 30% as this will create an overall stronger orange cast over the image, making it look like it is in daytime in our fantasy cloud land.
Create another layer select the Gradient tool. Add points on the gradient bar by selecting the spot where you would like a new colour. Place your lightest colour to the left (midpoint of the gradient) and add reds and oranges. Apply the gradient with the sun as the centre point.
Create a final layer and select a soft brush with the colour set to a dark purple. Paint over the edges and corners. Set this layer’s blend mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 40%. Feel free to add birds, planets and anything else you like. With the mood established, anything you include in your image now will just be a bonus!