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Create An Epic Fantasy Based Ancient Battleground

Create An Epic Fantasy Based Ancient Battleground

At PSDFAN we love helping you to create fantasy outcomes. In today’s detailed tutorial you’ll learn how to photo manipulate a fantasy battleground. You’ll work with cool lighting effects, some serious blending, and matte painting techniques.

Have you ever played a fantasy game or watched a fantasy movie where you see these sprawling epic scenes? You’ve probably asked yourself “Can I create something that awesome?”.

Well it’s time to find out!

What You’ll Be Creating:

In today’s lesson you’ll be creating this epic fantasy battleground, complete with stunning light effects, custom weather, and some cool matte painting techniques.

Here’s a look at the outcome you’ll be able to produce by the end of this lesson:

Here’s a look at the images we’ll be combining to create our masterpiece.

Ready to begin? Great, let’s get started!

Step 1

Open Photoshop and create a new file. Go to File -> New and input the following attributes.

Leave the background transparent.

Step 2

We will try to create the sky first. Open the Main Sky stock and select the whole picture by using Ctrl + A , copy, paste and resize it to fit with the canvas.

We will desaturate and increase some contrast with these following adjustment layers.
Don’t forget to check the box “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask” so these adjustment will only be applied to the Main Sky layer.

- Hue/Saturation
Saturation : -68
Lightness : -17

Curves

And we should get sky that looks like this

Step 3

Open the Left Sky stock photo and select the following part :

Paste the selected part into the canvas, right click on it and choose Transform -> Flip Horizontal to flip the image :

Apply Layer Mask using a big soft brush :

Apply these following adjustment layers :

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -72
Contrast : -31

Hue/Saturation
Saturation : -75
Lightness : -10

And we will have the left part of the sky like this :

Step 4

Open the Right Sky stock photo, use Ctrl + A to select the whole image :

Place it like this on the canvas, set the Blend Mode to Screen :

Apply these following adjustment layers and mask the edges of the photo:

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -91
Contrast : -27

Hue/Saturation
Saturation : -100
Lightness : -14

And we’re basically done with the sky! I recommend you to select all the sky layers and group it by holding Ctrl and select all the layers and use Ctrl + G to group. This should help you manage the layers easier.

Step 5

Now we will create the ground by opening the Main Ground photo and select the following part:

Paste the selected part into the canvas and place it above all Sky layers.

Ctrl + T to turn on Transform tool, right click and select Warp and bend the image like this :

And here’s what we will get :

Step 6

Use Shift + Ctrl + U to quickly desaturate the image, we will use this option a lot in this tutorial.

Apply Brightness/Contrast :
Brightness : 16
Contrast : 39

We will have our main ground like this :

Step 7

Open the Debris 1 photo and select the following part :

Place it like this :

Use Transform and choose Distort, bend the image down :

Desaturate this part with Shift + Ctrl + U to have it like this :

Apply layer mask around the edge of the image :

Step 8

Apply the following adjustment layers:

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -52
Contrast : -50

Level

The debris field will be blended nicely into the ground:

Create a new layer, grab a black soft brush with small size and paint on the debris field like this:

Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Soft Light, Opacity 64% – Fill 38%

Step 9

Open the Cracked Ground Texture image and select the following part:

Place and use the Distort in Transform tool to blend the image:

Desaturate the image (Shift + Ctrl + U), set the blend mode to Overlay

Apply layer mask :

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -105
Contrast : -50

And we’re done with the cracked ground for later use :

Step 10

Open the Debris 2 photo and select the following part:

Place the selected part here and Desaturate it.

Open the Brush tool, select the Assorted Brush (basic brush set that available in Photoshop). We will combine the basic soft brush with the following brush to layer mask the Debris.

Carefully mask the image, try switching the brush above and the basic soft brush.

The debris will be blended well with the image thanks to the layer mask.

Step 11

Apply these following adjustment layers
Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -87
Contrast : -10

Curves

Create new layer and paint black soft brush on the debris to create shadow effect

Change the blend mode to Soft Light with 60% Opacity.

Step 12

We almost finish working with the ground! Open the Additional Ground Texture photo and select the following part :

Place and desaturate the image :

Apply layer mask using soft brush with low opacity (around 30%)

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -40
Contrast : -30

And we’re done with the ground!

Step 13

Open the Right Mountain image and select the following part using the Quick Selection Tool :

Place and rotate it like this :

Apply a Layer Mask :

Curves

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -18
Contrast : -19

The mountain should now look like this :

Step 14

Open the Left Mountain photo and select the mountain :

Place this mountain behind the Right Mountain layer.

Apply Layer Mask :

Apply these adjustment layers
Level

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -12
Contrast : -1

Step 15

Create a new layer (remember to choose Create Clipping Mask by right-clicking on the layer and choose it), paint some black on top of the mountain :

Change the blend mode to Soft Light, 70% Opacity.

Create new layer and paint more black color like this :

Reduce the Opacity to 45% and Fill to 43%.

Step 16

Open the Statue Afar stock photo and extract the left statue, you can use Pen Tool or Quick Selection Tool to do this

Resize and place it on the mountain, remember to Desaturate.

Apply Layer Mask

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -63
Contrast : -20

It should look like this :

Duplicate the statue, flip it horizontally and place it opposite to the original statue :

Step 17

Open the Giant Head Statue stock photo, paste it into the canvas, place then desaturate it.

Apply adjustment layers :
Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -16
Contrast : 37

Curves

Level

Step 18

Now we will use a very interesting technique to adjust the highlight and shadow of an image. Start with a new layer (with Create Clipping Mask on the giant head statue), Ctrl + A to select, right click and choose Fill, choose the option 50% Grey and click OK.

Change the blend mode to Overlay

We will use Dodge Tool to highlight and Burn Tool to darken the image. Set the Strength of both tool at 10%.

Notice the dark part is where I used Burn Tool and the white part is where Dodge Tool is applied. This step will take a while to get into it but will be extremely helpful if you want to highlight or darken images without damaging it, thanks to the 50% grey layer we just created.

And here is the result :

Step 19

We will create shadow for the statue head by duplicate the statue layer and fill it with Black.

Use Distort to bend the shadow like this :

Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur, Radius 1,5px

Apply Layer Mask on the shadow layer with low opacity soft brush like this

We will have a very subtle shadow!

Step 20

Open the Ancient Ruin photo and extract the tower :

Place it behind the giant statue head, desaturate it.

Apply some adjustment layers to the tower
Curves

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -13
Contrast : -30

Step 21

Create new layer and paint some black on the tower like this

Change the blend mode to Soft Light, Opacity 100% – Fill 80%

Create another layer and paint more black
Reduce the Opacity to 35% and Fill to 80%

Step 22

Open the Horseman Statue, paste it into the canvas, desaturate then resize it like this :

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -9
Contrast : -17

Curves 1

Curves 2

Step 23

We will adjust the shadow & highlight of the Horseman Statue using the same method we did with the Giant Head Statue layer.

The same goes with the shadow :

Apply Layer Mask on the shadow :

Here’s what we have got so far :

Step 24

Open the Broken Arm stock photo and extract the arm :

Place the arm here

Create a shadow layer for it like we just did with Giant Head Statue and Horseman Statue

Layer Mask on shadow layer

This is the result

Step 25

Apply these 2 adjustment layers for the arm

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -8
Contrast : -73

Curves

This is what we will get

Step 26

Open the Sword Pack stock and extract this sword :

Place the sword near the broken hand

Apply these adjustment layers over it:

Hue/Saturation
Saturation : -61
Lightness : -10

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -2
Contrast : -45

Level

Step 27

Create the shadow layer for the sword

Apply Layer Mask

Duplicate the sword, flip it horizontally and place it like this

Step 28

Open the St.Angelo Statue stock and extract the statue

Desaturate and place it here

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -70
Contrast : -13

Curves

Apply Layer Mask :

Step 29

Create a shadow layer for the St.Angelo statue

Apply Layer Mask

Drop the shadow layer’s Opacity to 50% and Fill to 80%

Here’s what we have got so far

Step 30

Open the Stone Archway stock and extract the archway

Place it near the two statues afar and desaturate it.

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -52
Contrast : 38

Curves

Step 31

Apply Layer Mask on the gate

To this point we have finished putting all objects into our composition, the result so far :

Step 32

Time for some rainy effect! Open the Rainy Brush and select this brush

Create a new layer on top of all layers and start painting the brush all over the canvas like this

After finished, go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur with Angle 76, Distance 35 px

The motion blur will make the rain look more natural

Apply Layer Mask to the rain layer

You can see the rain’s opacity has gradually reduced!

Step 33

We will create some fog effects by create a new layer, grab the Lasso Tool and select the following part

Remember to set the Foreground Color as White and Background Color as Black.
Go to Filter -> Render -> Cloud

Apply Layer Mask to the cloud

Change the Blend Mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 40% will give the following result : a nice subtle fog effect on the ground!

Step 34

We need some more fog effect on the mountain, just use the same way we just did in this step with some slightly changes

Change the blend mode to Multiply, Opacity 30% and Fill 65%

Step 35

We will create some rainning impact effect on the object by grabbing the brush in the Assorted Brush we used to layer mask the ground earlier in this tutorial.

Start painting on the edge of all the objects on the ground
Set the Blend Mode of the brush to Overlay

The result after we have added raining impact effect

Step 36

We will add some extra effect for the fog by create a new layer, fill it with Black.
Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and apply the following attributes

We will have a layer full of noise.

Resize the layer, use Perspective in Transform Tool to bend the layer down.

Step 37

Change the Blend Mode to Screen then apply layer mask like this

Level

You can see the fog effect has been increased subtly with the help of the noise layer.

Step 38

That’s all with the rain and fog, now we proceed to color tuning stage.

Apply these following adjustment layers on top of all layers

Color Balance

Curves

Create a new layer and paint some black color

Change the blend mode to Soft Light with Opacity 70%

Step 39

Create one more layer and paint some more black!

Change the blend mode to Soft Light with Opacity 20%
Apply these following adjustment layers

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -8
Contrast : 20

Selective Color

Gradient Map

Change the blend mode of the Gradient Map layer to Overlay, Opacity 60% – Fill 60%

Step 40

Open the Lens Flare stock, extract this specific lens flare

Place the lens flare right in the middle of St.Angelo statue

Apply layer mask to the lens flare
Change the blend mode to Linear Dodge with Fill 75%

Brightness/Contrast
Brightness : -2
Contrast : -43

We will have a nice lightning effect thanks to the Lens Flare!

Step 41

We will go back to the sky, create a new layer on top of all sky layer (or group if you have grouped all of them into one), paint some black al over the sky except the lens flare area.

Paint the following color on the lens flare area

Change the blend mode of the black color layer to Soft Light with 70% Opacity
Change the blend mode of the blue colors layer to Soft Light with 75% Fill

Create one more layer and paint this area with color #3969bb

Change the blend mode to Color with 30% Opacity and 45% Fill

Step 42

Go back to these main layers and apply some effects in Blending Option.
All used the color #92bad8

Tower

Giant Head Statue

Horseman Statue

Broken Arm

St.Angelo Statue

We will have a subtle blue effect on the edge of the parts that affected by the blue light.

Step 43

We are almost done! Before proceed please save your current Photoshop file and then Flatten Image.
Duplicate the layer and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur

Layer mask on the dupliated layer with blur effect

The result :

Step 44

Next I will introduce a great way to sharpen the image without damaging it. Flatten the image again, duplicate the layer and go to Filter -> Other -> High Pass

Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’.

Apply Layer Mask on the St.Angelo part of the layer

As you can see the whole image has been gradually sharpened but the quality doesn’t reduce!

Step 45

This is the final step! Open the Snow Texture and paste it into the canvas

Change the blend mode to Lighten.

Apply Layer Mask

Congratulations, You’re All Done!

Awesome job making it this far! You should be proud of what you’ve created. Show it off to your friends and colleagues and get some feedback.

You can also comment here with your version, or any questions you had about the techniques used. We love to see what you guys create and we’re always here to give helpful feedback and tips to help you to improve.

Get deeper insight into the workflow and techniques used in this tutorial. Access the source files for this tutorial:

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About the Author:

I've been a self-taught Photoshop user since 2010 from Haiphong, Viet Nam. I love all kind of designing but photo manipulation is my main aspect. Catch me up at: http://atknebula.deviantart.com/

Leave a comment

15 Comments:

  1. Nick Zara says:

    Wow man it takes a lot of patience to do this type of graphic design

  2. nikly says:

    nice.
    how to do this?
    concept design or automatic design?
    can u tell me about photo manipulation processor

  3. John says:

    Great tutorial Tom, really complex and well explained!

  4. ayyan says:

    really awesome tut, thanks for your effort.

    • Tom Ross says:

      Thanks ayyan, I’m really glad you enjoyed this tutorial. I hope you’ll attempt to recreate the outcome, then post it here and I’ll give you some personal feedback.

  5. Bob says:

    Hey! Do you have the psd file for this! I don’t really want to pay to see it!

  6. This is amazing, I am gonna do this creative effort as soon as I can.

  7. Buoy denom says:

    Nice work…….rily look professional…… Dude could u pls place a tutorial on how to creat brushes….

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