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Create an Epic Beach Disaster Scene

Create an Epic Beach Disaster Scene

Final Image

Here is a preview of the image that we are going to be creating:

Step 1

Start by creating a document (1000X800px).

Paste in your beach photo, positioning it in the lower half of your canvas:

Step 2

Now create a hue/saturation adjustment layer and after this a color balance adjustment layer.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -25
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: 0 / 0 / -12
Midtones: 0 / 0 / -12
Shadows: 0 / 0 / 0

Step 3

Now paste in your photo of the sea onto a new layer. Call this layer ‘sea fill’. Position your photo so that the sea takes up the top half of your canvas:

Now apply a layer mask to this layer and use a large, soft black paintbrush to mask off the bottom of your photo. This should make your sea image blend into your main beach image much more seamlessly:

Now apply a hue saturation and then color balance adjustment layer over your ‘sea fill’ layer. Be sure to apply a clipping mask to each adjustment layer so that your adjustments only effect your sea layer.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -100
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -9 / -6 / -5
Midtones: -46 / +1 / +16
Shadows: -12 / +4 / +15

Step 4

Now paste in your wave photo.

As with the last step we’re going to mask off the bottom of this photo so that it blends better into your overall composition.

Right now the wave is far too luminous, so it’s time to apply some more adjustment layers! Remember to apply a clipping mask to each adjustment layer.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -100
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -46 / -1 / +19
Midtones: -19 / +12 / +9
Shadows: -8 / -1 / -1

Step 5

Our wave is looking much better, but it doesn’t have all that much depth, and appears a little flat as a result.

In order to give more curve to the wave, we need to apply some shadows to it’s base, and some more highlights to the top of the wave.

Create a new layer called ‘wave shadows’. Use a large, soft black paintbrush at around 40% opacity to paint some shadows across the bottom of your wave:

Now change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to around 45%. This should create a subtle darkening at the base of your wave:

Now continue to apply more shadow layers, as well as some highlight layers to your wave.

There is no real hard and fast way to do this, but just experiment with opacities and layer blend modes. I usually combine ‘normal’ and ‘overlay’ layers to build up a nice lighting effect:

Step 6

Now that our background is complete it’s time to begin building our epic sand structure.

Start by pasting in the ‘castle foundation’ image found in the resources for this tutorial.

Now apply a layer mask and use a soft black paintbrush to mask the edges and top of this structure off, until it blends smoothly into your main beach background:

Apply a color balance adjustment layer (being sure to apply a clipping mask to this adjustment layer):

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlight: -4 / -6 / -6
Midtones: 0 / 0 / -45
Shadows: -4 / -9 / -1

Step 7

Open up your ‘castle’ photo from the resources for this tutorial.

Extract it from it’s original background and paste it into your main document.


Now apply a layer mask and use a small, soft black paintbrush to carefully mask the base of your castle into the sand foundation upon which it sits.

If you notice, the perspective of our castle feels a little off in relation to the rest of the image. To fix this, go to edit>transform>perspective. Use your perspective tool to make the top of your castle a little wider, and the bottom a little narrower:

Step 8

Now we want to make the castle appear to be made out of sand.

Start by applying a pattern overlay to your castle layer.

Select the custom pattern ‘washed out watercolor paper’ and set the pattern overlay to 50% opacity, set at ‘multiply’ blend mode. This provides a great base texture that already makes the castle look more sandy:

Now apply a hue/saturation then color balance adjustment layer, in order to give the castle a really sandy tone:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -100
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: +16 / +4 / -13
Midtones: +9 / +1 / -23
Shadows: +18 / +8 / -36

Step 9

Now paste in the image of the boy running, positioning it so that he fits nicely at the bottom right of your wave:

Now apply a layer mask and use a soft black paintbrush to mask off most of the background from your running boy image, leaving just the boy and the primary splash of water. Luckily the colors actually look ok, as the lighter color of the water splash look fairly natural against the bottom of the main wave:

Step 10

Now paste in the image of the running girl, positioning her at the bottom right corner of your canvas. Note that I’ve flipped her horizontally, as this allows for her light-source to match that of the rest of the image.

Her skin tone looks largely fine, but her bathing suit is too bright and distracting.

You can see it’s made of two colors (bright green and bright purple).

To fix individual areas of this photo, we’re going to use adjustment layers, but also masking. Start by selecting around the purple part of her bathing suit using the lasso tool.

Then with this selection in place create a hue/saturation adjustment layer. Your active selection will mean that on this adjustment layer, all areas apart from your purple bathing suit area will be masked off, so your adjustments will only effect this selected area. The adjustment layer will also automatically be given a clipping mask. Pretty neat huh?

Now simply go ahead and input the values below:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: +100
Saturation: -75
Lightness: 0

Step 11

Now apply this same technique to the green part of her bathing suit, but reduce the saturation to -90, leaving the hue at 0.

After you’ve done this apply a levels adjustment layer, remembering to apply a clipping mask.

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

9 / 1.07 / 216

Step 12

Now paste in the image of a bucket to the left of your sand castle:

Apply a layer mask and use a soft black paintbrush to mask off the background areas of this image, leaving just the bucket and the imprint it’s left upon the sand:

Step 13

Now apply a layer called ‘dodge/burn’. Go to edit>fill and fill your canvas with 50% gray.

Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’. This hides the 50% gray fill and allows you to use a black paintbrush to paint in the shadows for your image, and a white paintbrush for the highlights. Below you can see the layer at ‘normal’ blend mode, and then ‘overlay’ blend mode. Note how I’ve erased some parts of the gray fill due to some mistakes I’d made with my shadowing:

Step 14

Finally apply a gradient map adjustment layer just to bring everything together nicely.

I chose one of the default gradient map adjustment layers (purple to orange), and set it at 10% opacity.

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome.

Download Source File for this Tutorial


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About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment

6 Comments:

  1. wyeko says:

    Hello
    Nice tutorial but i tried to use few more quick tricks on final image to create more drastic effect.
    I added 3 textures, cloud image, 2 gradinet maps, curves, photo filter and a couple of black/white brushed layers with overlay blending.
    Hope you like it.
    http://i.imgur.com/lQmAK.jpg

  2. PSDDude says:

    interesting idea but kind of scary :) I like the tutorial, it is very easy to follow, thanks

  3. nice!! i like how you did it really cool.

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