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Create a Surreal, Floating Landscape With a Fantasy Twist

Floating landscapes always make for fun Photoshop work. However, often with floating landscape compositions, the floating landscape is the extent of the image, and it lacks any real story. Over at our members community, members are buzzing with ideas and inspiration. We teach people that it’s more important to develop creative direction than it is to master every complex tool in Photoshop. The crucial thing is for your images to tell a story, and to mean something to the viewer.

Today’s tutorial builds on the darker aspects of the famous Alice in Wonderland franchise. The Mad Hatter was always a pivotal figure, and in this composition he is shown as ultimate key-holder to a bizarre, fantasy world.

Asides from the eerie floating landscape, you’ll be mastering how to create some very cool 3D style lettering. You’ll also learn some great tricks along the way such as how to extract complex images, how to blend your scene effectively, and how to tie everything together using perspective guides.

So if you’re ready, it’s time to take a tumble down the rabbit hole, and take your designs to the next level!

What You’ll Be Creating:

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

In this step we are going to create a landscape using multiple images.

1) Import the image of the dry grass landscape on to the working canvas and place it as shown.

2) Now import another landscape image and place it above the previous landscape and mask the bottom edge of the image using a soft black paintbrush to blend it seamlessly with the first landscape.

3) To make the sky look more dramatic add a grey cloudy sky on the top of the working canvas as shown.

4) Now by using a layer mask erase the bottom end of the image as shown to blend it perfectly with the sky.

5) Create a Curves adjustment layer to the grey sky layer and set the RGB curves as shown.

Step 2

In this step we are going to use the Refine Edges to cut the image of the model along with her props without loosing any details.

1) Select a rough mask around the model and open Refine Edges. Then set the Smooth and Contrast levels to 4, and then increase the Refine Radius Tool size to 88 and gaze around the model to see the magic of the software. Then set the Output to New Layer and hit ok to get the perfectly cut image in a new layer.

2) Now import the image of the model on to the working canvas and place it as shown.

3) Mask the bottom end of the model image in the shape of the dry grass to create an illusion of model standing the grass. Use clipping mask in the erasing process will help you in making work easier if any changes are required in future. To give the illusion of grass blades being in front of the model, use a very thin brush when masking.

4) Create a new layer on the top of the layers palette and paint dark vignette effect along the sides of the scene as shown.

Step 3

Perspective is the key to get a natural depth while placing elements in the scene. In this scene we will need a two point perspective to align our elements in the scene.

- Using the line tool draw the two point perspective lines as shown.

Step 4

In this step we will be adding few mysterious doors floating in the air with a ladder connecting the ground.

1) This is a fantasy scene and hence we want the shape of doors to be uniquely shaped to fit with the theme of the scene. Cut the image of the door from the stock image and then by using the Move Tool (V) select the image and right click on it to select the Warp option. Then transform the shape of the door as shown.

2) Now import the image of the door on to the canvas and place it as shown following the prospective guidelines.

3) Naturally when an object is seen from a distance it tends to loose it contrast in color and blends with the environment, and it tends to merge with environmental color as it goes further. Hence by using the Exposure adjustment layer set the Offset value to +0.0288.

4) Now by using the ladder brush paint the ladder to the as shown connecting the ground.

5) Similarly add few more doors to the scene as shown following the perspective guidelines.

Step 5

In this step we are going to create a floating barn in the scene.

1) Cut the image of the barn from the stock image using the Pen Tool (P). Then import it onto the working canvas and place it as shown.

2) Using the Clone Stamp Tool (S) fill and complete the front section of the barn as shown following the perspective lines.

Step 6

In this step we are going to color correct the whole scene using the adjustment layers.

1) Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer on the top of the layers palette and set the Saturation level to -50.

2) To enhance the shadows in the scene, create an Exposure adjustment layer and set the Gamma Correction level to 0.80.

3) Now create a Curves adjustment layer and set the RGB curves as shown.

4) Now increase the Brightness of the image to 20 by using the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.

Step 7

In this step we will be replacing the snow-covered roof of the barn with a normal roof to match with the environment of the scene.

1) Cut the roof from the stock image and place it on the barn in the scene as shown, then transform it to fit perfectly with the prospective of the barn.

2) Now select the barn layer and erase the excess snow seen above the replaced roof.

3) Similarly replace the other side of the roof as shown.

Step 8

In this step we are going to create the ground base stuck to the base of the barn after the barn’s separation from the ground.

1) Cut the dark volcanic soil from the stock image and place it at the bottom of the barn as shown.

2) Now darken the soil by setting the Gamma Correction level to 0.68.

3) Ripping process is never smooth. Hence we can’t have a perfect border at the bottom. Using a layer mask to erase the bottom of the barn in random to create the wood chipped effect.

Step 9

In this step we are going to advanced cutting technique to cut the dead tree image with every detail.

1) With the dead tree image selected go to Channels palette and select Blue layer. Then go to Image>Calculations and choose Blue in the Channel dropdown lists. This will create a ‘Alpha 1′ layer in the Channels palette.

2) With the Alpha1 layer selected go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and set the levels as shown.

3) Now move to the layers palette and go to Select>Load Selection and select Alpha1 from the Channel dropdown list, this will create a perfect mask around the dead tree.

4) Make sure the dead tree image is selected and delete the BG in the image.

Step 10

In this step we are going to create roots hanging from the base of the barn.

1) Cut a branch in random from the dead tree and place it at the bottom of the barn as shown.

2) Now cut another dead branch and place it beside the previously placed root.

3) Similarly add few more roots hanging from the base of the barn as shown.

Step 11

In this step we are going to create a crater beneath the barn, which is supposed to be formed by the separation of the barn from the ground.

1) Cut the volcanic soil image from the stock image and place it beneath the barn as shown. Then erase the sides of the soil image as shown using the soft eraser tool.

2) Now create a layer-clipping mask to the crater layer and erase the front end of the crater in the form of the dry grass to give it more natural look.

Step 12

In this step we will be creating debris falling from the base of the barn.

1) Create a new layer and draw random shapes using the lasso tool for the debris. The by using the stamp tool select the texture of the volcanic soil and fill the debris with the texture.

2) With the debris layer selected go to Filters>Blur>Motion Blur and set the Angle to -90 and Distance to 14px.

Step 13

In this step we will be creating birds flying around in the scene.

1) Create a new layer placed under the doors folder in layers palette. Then by using the birds’ brush paint the birds above the model as shown.

2) Create an Exposure adjustment layer to the birds layer and set the Offset value to +0.0575.

3) With the birds layer selected add a Gaussian blur of radius 2.6px.

4) Similarly add few more birds flying around in the scene as shown.

Step 14

In this step we are going to add dead branches closer to the scene to create a natural depth to the scene.

1) Import few dead branches from the dead tree image and place them on the working canvas as shown.

2) Now add a Gaussian blur of Radius 9.7px to the branches to create the Depth Of Field to the scene.

Step 15

In this step we are going to create a custom shaped title font.

1) Draw the shape of the title frame as shown in a new layer.

2) Using the Alice in Wonderland font type W and transform it to fit in the frame as shown.

3) Similarly follow the same procedure for every alphabet.

Step 16

In this step we are going to create a 3D effect to the title, using Layer blending options.

1) Select the W layer and open the layer blending options. Then select the Bevel Emboss option and set the Technique to Chisel Hard, Size = 21

2) Now select the Contour option and set the Range to 30%

3) Then select the texture option and select Laid Horizontal texture from pattern. With this step completed we get a perfect 3D font that matches perfectly with our theme.

4) Now copy the Layer Style of the W layer and paste it to the entire title.

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.

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'm a freelance graphics designer and the Founder of Zillionarts and ZillionArts Workshop. Here we ought to provide the best training on Digital Painting and Visual Effects host by the experienced pros from the Hollywood and Gaming Industry. I work constantly to explore more possibilities and techniques to bring my imaginary worlds to live. You can follow me on Deviantart.

Leave a comment

5 Comments:

  1. Mattias says:

    Really cool picture, thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Carlos says:

    Hope I can do something like your sample in the very near future..its awesome

    • Tom Ross says:

      You can! With a little creative direction many of our community (even new Photoshop users) are creating works like this. Just follow along and you may be surprised what you’re capable of creating.

  3. manas says:

    cools and awesome picture also the details mentioned with tools , is really nice

  4. Sketch says:

    Very Nice tutorial… but not so much for beginners. I wish you would explain the technique u used in extracting the girl a little broader. I mean the refine edge technique, It was too summarized. Thanx for a wonderful tutorial.

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