photoshop creative

How I Made: The Hill

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How I Made, by Mark White
June 12, 2017

We asked Jack Usephot about the inspiration behind such a personal and spiritual piece of art

1. Adding the road

The fundamental element to start this composition was the country road. I started putting this asset on the empty canvas and erasing what I didn’t want in the final image. Keep in mind to always work in a non-destructive way, using brushes to erase masks and Smart Objects to preserve the original assets.

2. Working on the sides

I then composed the sides of the image. On the left side, I added a fence that worked perfectly there. On the right side, I placed some huts, keeping the original perspective, because they worked well like that. I made some lighting adjustments to make sure they would work well in the composition.

3. Placing the cottage

Next, I found and cut out the small hill and the cottage. The cottage is one of the most significant elements of the composition. It was therefore important to find a good place to put it. I used the rule of thirds in order to make sure the cottage was well placed.

4. Introducing the mountains

I wanted to add a mountainous valley or some tall hills, and found the perfect background for this composition. I loved the density of the mountains, and the morning feel was perfect for the mood I wanted to evoke. The mountains and the sky in the background are not a composition; it’s a single image.

5. Blending the trees

I found some tree images and cut them out using just channels. After that, I used some adjustment layers in order to get the trees integrated as much as possible into the composition. One of them was Hue/Saturation to decrease the light and saturation of the trees.

6. Creating depth

I built up the foreground using bushes, leaves and rocks. These elements have an important function in the image. I blurred and darkened some to give the image more depth and guide the viewer’s eyes directly to the main point of the scene, and what’s happening in the middle plane.

7. Building atmosphere

A composition like this demands a lot of retouching and photomanipulation. In this screenshot you can see how I retouched the grass, giving it more realism and filling the erased grass with another one. Every element needed to build the atmosphere. Most of the time you can do this with adjustment layers like Color Balance, Hue/Saturation, Brightness/Contrast or Curves.

8. Making final touches

I made some overall colour adjustments to get the exact atmosphere I wanted, so I used Color Balance, Photo Filter (which I no longer use, because I now prefer to play with the tones in Color Balance), and Curves to give more contrast and make sure the elements were linked with each other. I also used a brush to paint some haze around the hills.

  • Amazing, I liked the way you did it.

  • Amanda Alexander

    I love this image! I find making all the elements look like they belong together is the hardest part..was the sun coming from the left one of the images or did you add a filter or action? Do you only use original images in your compositions or some stock photos? Thanks

  • suruha

    ‘Tis a beautiful piece! Thank you for showing us a little of the how-to!