Master the selection tools to create paths and masks, then use adjustment layers to finish off your eye-catching composition
Open a background and find a sandcastle to place. You may wish to add a new sky to the image. Go to File>Place to add images.
Let’s adjust the sand castle tones to match with the sand tones. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. On the Levels dialog box check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask and hit OK. Set the input levels to 0, 1.10, 220.
Insert a ship into the image. Resize the image, move to the top left and hit Return/Enter. Select the Brush tool (B) and then hit F5. Click Brush Presets and open the pop-up menu located on the top-right corner. Load a splash brush into your presets.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+ N), name it Splashes and hit OK. Set the Foreground colour to white. Grab the Brush tool (B), choose the splash brushes and paint over the layer. Use Free Transform (T) to adjust the size and thickness, and add more layers if needed.
Go to File>Place Embedded and locate the ‘Dog.jpg’ image. Now go to Select>Color Range. In the Color Range dialog box, check Localized Color Clusters, set Fuziness to 20 and Range to 60%. Grab the Add to Sample eye dropper, select the sky, check Invert and Hit OK.
With the dog selected, create a layer mask. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection. Grab the Brush tool (B). Paint with black to hide unwanted spots and paint with white to enhance the mask. Open the Free Transform tool (T), scale the image and hit Return/Enter.
Place a child into the image. Grab the Pen tool (P) and create a path around the child. To create a curved path, add an anchor point, hold down the mouse button and push outwards to adjust the direction lines. In the Tool Option bar, click Selection and then click OK.
Go to Select>Refine Edge. Change the View to On Layer (L). Check Smart Radius, Radius: 2px, Adjust Edge Smooth: 2, check Decontaminate Colors, Amount: 80%. Grab the Refine Edge tool (E), set Size: 20 and paint around the hair to bring some details back. Now hit OK.
Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. In the New Layer dialog box, check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask and hit OK. Set the Saturation to -25 and Lightness to +5.
Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+N). Name it Shadows/Highlights. Check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, change Mode to Overlay, check Fill with 50% Gray and hit OK. Grab the Dodge/ Burn tool and start adding highlights and shadows over the arms, face and legs.
Start inserting pictures into the project. Resize, rotate and distribute each image over the background. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, set Saturation: -18 and Lightness: +11. Now add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. Set Brightness: -9 and Contrast: -36.
Go to File>Place, and find bucket and ball images. Place them on the top of the layer stack. Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to around 10 pixels, then hit OK. This will help to create a sense of depth to the whole image.
Create a new layer, name it Flare and fill with black. Go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Set Brightness: 150%, Lens Type: 50-300mm and hit OK. Apply a 45px Gaussian Blur. Drag it and place in the top-left corner. Now go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Lookup and choose the Device Link: Smokey.