photoshop creative

Create a fantasy landscape

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Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 14, 2015

Discover the power of Photoshop’s masks and adjustment layers!


1. Where’s the castle?


Open an image of a horizon, and place a castle on top. Resize and position the castle to the right of the image. Rasterize the layer by Ctrl/right-clicking on the layer, and select the left part of the hill and trees, before copying. Paste and then flip horizontal. Resize and position the layer over to the left, Ctrl/right-click on the layer and select Merge Down. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All, select a large, soft, white brush and paint over the sky to reveal the layer below.

2. More green tones and houses


Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Go to Layer>Create Clipping Mask. Select Yellows from the drop-down menu and put a value of +20 for Hue. This will improve the green tone in the trees. Next, place some houses, mask the edge and use the same clipping Hue/Saturation layer, only with -15 for the Yellows.

3. Insert the waterfall and blend it


Place a waterfall stock image into the picture. Resize, position and mask the excess, before adding a Levels layer, and clipping it to the layer. Set the midtone level to 0.56, the shadow output level to 7 and the highlights output to 217. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Again, go to Layer>Create Clipping Mask. Set the Hue to +6 and the Saturation to -21.

4. Add more images


Go to File>Place and insert another waterfall. Resize, position and mask to blend and create another Levels clipping mask, with midtone levels set to 0.75. Place a third waterfall over the lower-right. Add a layer mask mask just as before and again, use a Levels layer with clipping mask to blend.

5. More elements


Place another waterfall, mask the layer again, use the same adjustment techniques to blend the picture. Add a foreground subject – we’ve gone for a subject on a rock so that it blends into the picture nicely – and create more clipped adjustments to get the blend perfect.

6. Background birds


Place some birds into the image choose an image of black birds against a white background. Resize and position. Change the blend mode to Multiply, hit Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+U to desaturate and then add a Levels clipping mask with highlight input level set to 80.

7. Fill in detail area


Select the Clone Stamp tool and go back to the layers to clone out any problem areas like the waterfalls any any trees that look too big. You may need to rasterize the layers by Ctrl/right-clicking on them and choosing Rasterize Layer. You can also refine your layer masks.

8. Create mist


Select the Brush tool and open the Brush panel. Select a brush that looks similar to fog or mist. Increase the Spacing, Size Jitter and Opacity Jitter to about 50%. Turn off any Colour Dynamics. Choose white as the Foreground colour and set the brush Opacity to 10%. Create a new Soft Light, 50% opaque layer and start brushing lightly.

9. Add a vignette


Create a new layer again and name this layer Vignette. In the mode box select Soft Light and tick the box to fill the layer with 50% Grey. Go to Filter>Lens Correction. Click the custom tab and enter a vignette amount of -100 and a midpoint of 0. Click OK.

10. Final edits


Finish off by adding a lens flare, by creating a new black layer set to Screen. Create a New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/Contrast and set the Contrast to 30.

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