Use Photoshop to revel in the bright lights and the buzz of a cityscape
Choose an appropriate cityscape scene and drag it into the canvas. Don’t try to photomontage an entire city; you are unlikely to find enough photos of buildings taken from exactly the right angle to make this convincing.
Start by removing the sky in the existing scene by using the Polygonal Lasso tool (L). Hit Backspace to delete. There’s no need to cut out every single aerial and chimney, as a lot of it will be lost in the pixels, so just keep whatever you feel is appropriate.
You could use a photo for the sky or you can paint your own sunset by using a Soft Round brush (B) and orangey-red hues. Use a cloud brush from the supplied resources on a medium opacity setting to create areas of cloud in a very light grey colour.
The new sky will determine what needs to be adjusted in the existing scene in terms of colour. We’ve created a sunset so the existing scene will need to be warmer. Go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation and increas Hue to +180 for an orange tint.
To exaggerate the perspective, the buildings in the distance need to be softened. Select the buildings with the Polygonal Lasso and very gently delete them by using the Eraser (E) on a low Opacity setting (10% or less). The further away the buildings, the softer they should appear.
The closest buildings need to be strengthened and darkened to make them stand out. Select them with the Polygonal Lasso and boost the brightness and contrast settings.
Give a cinematic atmosphere by creating a large burst of sunlight using a large Soft Round brush on a new layer. Obscure some of the buildings to intensify the feeling of brightness. Lower the Opacity of the layer to 90% or less.
In preparation for the lights we are going to put into the scene, we need to darken the areas that are far away from the sun burst. Select these areas with the Polygonal Lasso and in Brightness/Contrast, use -50 and 17 respectively.
To indicate that the sun is bathing the buildings with a warm light, add some light orange highlights onto some of the facades of the buildings by using a Soft Brush with a low Opacity setting.
Create boundaries over the windows with the Polygonal Lasso. Fill this with vibrant, zesty colours to indicate light. Each colour should be on a separate layer. Double-click the layer to apply an Outer Glow, changing the colour where necessary.
Subtle detail will help bring a sense of reality. To create the aircraft warning lights and the streetlights, use a sparkle brush – you can find them online – to create a light burst. Double-click on the layer to apply an Outer Glow.
Use a Soft, Round brush to create an orange haze on top of the roads. Change the blend mode of the layer to Vivid Light. Lower the Opacity of the layer to 45% to help blend it into the roads.
On a new layer, create the light trails adding, thin boundaries with the Polygonal Lasso and fill them with a light orange colour. Blur the light streaks with a Motion Blur and then change the blend mode of the layer to Linear Light.
Create a boundary on the side of the buildings and fill it with the Gradient tool (G). With the boundaries still selected, fill it with another Gradient Fill in a different colour to create a chromatic effect.
Use a small brush to create the lights in the window of the background buildings. Double-click the layer to apply an Outer Glow. Change the blend mode of the layer to Linear Light.
Cut out bird images using a Magic Wand (W). Lower the Opacity of the layers to fade the birds into the sky. Finally, zoom out to make sure that the colours and composition of the image are balanced.