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Photo Manipulate a Mysterious Ghost Ship in Photoshop

Photo Manipulate a Mysterious Ghost Ship in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial we will learn how to create an emotional dark fantasy photo manipulation featuring a ghost ship with a mysterious figure By following this tutorial, we will have fun while learning how to compose our own ghost ship by combining various stock image through photomanipulation techniques like blending, lightning and using custom brushes.

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Step 1

Firstly, create a new document (Ctrl+N) with size of 1772 pxl wide and 2100 pxl high.

Open the boat image on the document and activate the pen tool in the tool panel. With the tool, extraxt the boat from its bacground by clicking on the boat to create the first anchor point. Keep on tracing the boat by clicking the edges of the boat to create the other anchor points until the path is closed meaning that the last anchor meets the first one. When the path is closed, right click on the path to bring up the path command option box. Choose make path selection to change the path into a selection. Hit Shift+Ctlr+I to inverse the selection and then hit Del to clean the background.

Step 2

Hit Ctrl+T to activate the free transform tool. When it is activated, the selected layer image will be in a square with some transforming points around the square.

When the free transform tool is activated, right click on the document to bring up the free transform option box. We will alter the shape of the boat used as reference to create the ghost ship. Firstly, click, hold and drag the lowest right cornered point to the direction where needed to transform the boat perspectively (marked in red). Then, select distort in the option box and start alter the shape of the boat by click the other point, hold and drag to the direction where needed ( marked in blue). Do this perspective and distort transforming to the other points to find the disired shape.

Next, proceed to warp the boat to find the best result.

Step 3

Open the web stock image and cut out the image. Cut out the web part of the image and place the cut out above the ship. Reduce the opacity of it so we are able to see through the image below it. This will make us easier to know where the web image falls.

Activate the free transform tool again and choose perspective to alter the shape. Click one of the transforming point, hold and drag down (shown in blue arrow). Procceed to warp the web to cover the side of the ship.

Keep on warping until we find the best shape:

Step 4

Open the wall stock image and cut out the iron pole of the image. Flip the cut out and place it above the web layer.

With free transform tool activate, warp the cut out so it cover the ship:

Step 5

Open the tower image and cut out some part of it.

Place the cut out on the upper part of the ship. Warp the cut out as needed:

Here is the result I created:

Step 6

Next, open the ruin image and cut out some part of the ruin:

Activate the free transform tool again and alter the shape of the cut out:

Duplicate (Ctrl+J) the cut out and try to create the other shape by transforming the cut out and merging them.

Step 7

Go to select the web layer and give it a layer mask. Take the brush tool and choose one of the spatter brush. With the brush, mask some part of the web by stroking black color on it.

Then, place the ruin shape behind the web layer:

Procceed to add another ruin in front of the shape. Give this shape a layer mask and mask where needed:

Step 8

In this step, we will complete the ship by creating more shape and adding some elements on the shape. Open the grave yard image. Cut out some part of the tower:

I have created some shapes from the cut out of the ruin. To enhance the look of the shape, place the cut out to the shape. Duplicate the cut out as many as needed. Place the duplicates on the shape. Mask the edges of the duplicates to make them well blended:

Finally, add the shape to the ship. Place the shape layer behind all the other layers.

Here is the ship will look like after adding more ruin:

Step 9

Now cut out the iron pole of the wall stock image and place the pole on the left side of the ship:

Step 10

In this step we will add some ropes to the ship. Create a new layer (Shift+Ctrl+N) and activate the pen tool again. On this new layer, click the tool on the farer pole and then click again on the closer pole, hold and drag to the direction in red arrow. This will curve the path. Make sure to set the brush to hard round brush with size of 2-3 pxl and the foreground color to dark brown. Finally, right click on the path to bring up the path command option box. Choose stroke path and use brush as the tool of stroking.

With the same step, add more ropes to the ship:

Step 11

In this step, we will add more poles to the ship by painting them. Activate the brush tool and choose a hard round brush. Set the setting of the brush in the brush preset box as the followings:

With the dark brown color, stroke the brush to paint a pole:

Add more smaller poles:

Step 12

With the same setting of the brush, paint the other poles in front of the ship

Activate the dodge and burn tool. Apply the dodge tool on the poles to give them some highlight and switch to burn tool to give them some shading. Make sure to use one of the spatter brush to apply the tools:

Step 13

Create a new layer and take the brush tool. Make sure that the moss brushes have been installed. On this new layer, paint some mosses on the ship. Use dark color to paint them:

Proceed to paint more mosses to the parts of the ship where needed. Here is the one I created:

Step 14

Finally, open the lamp image and cut out the lamp with pen tool. Add the lamp to the left and right poles in the ship.

Here is the ship I have created:

Step 15

In this steps on we will create the main canvas for scene. Start by creating a new document of 1024 pxl wide and 1108 pxl high.

Activate gradient tool and set the foreground color to #9eaabb and the background to #0a0a0b. Fill the document with linear gradient:

Step 16

Then, we will add cloud texture to the scene. Open the cloud image in the document. Scale its size and rotate in the posisition as shown in the screenshot:

Duplicate the cloud and place the duplicate above the original one on the right side of it. Mask the left edge of the duplicate. Use a very soft round brush to mask it.

Select the cloud layers and hit Ctrl+E to merge them in to a single layer.

Step 17

Then, go to filter > blur > surface blur to soften the cloud a bit:

Step 18

Set the blending of the cloud layer to multiply at 100% opacity. Duplicate the cloud layer four timas. Set the first dulicate to multiply at 100% opacity, the second one to multiply at 80%, the third one to overlay at 45% and the last one to color dodge at 100% opacity. This is the result should look like:

Step 19

Create a new layer below the cloud and fill (Shift+F5) this new layer with soft blue color. Set this layer to overlay at 100%:

Create a layer mask to this blue layer and mask some part of this layer as highlightened in red in the screenshot:

step 20

Open the water texture to the scene:

Set the water layer to overlay and mask parts highlightened in red:

Step 21

In this step we will give an adjustment layer below the water layer. Go to layer new adjustment layers > hue/saturation:

Set this adjustment layer to normal blending at 20% opacity. Then, mask some parts highlightened in red:

Step 22

Open the ship to the main document:

Give this ship layer some adjustment layers. Firstly, go to layer again > new adjustment layer > vibrance. Make sure to check the Use Previous Layer To Create Clipping Mask to give this adjustment layer a mask:

hen give another adjustment layer: color balance with a clipping mask.

More adjustment layer: curves with a clipping mask.

Step 23

Create a new layer again and give this layer a clipping mask. Take a very soft round brush set to 10-20 opacity and, with white color, paint some highlight on the ship. Proceed to paint some shadow as well on the lower parts of the ship.

Create another new layer with a clipping mask and fill this layer with black. Set this layer to color dodge and paint more white color to some parts of the ship to make the highlight stronger.

Step 24

Open the moon image and cut out the moon. Scale the size of the moon and place it on the upper left part of the ship. Set it to screen at 100% opacity:

Select the moon image again, scale its size and place it where needed. Set it to screen blending at 52% opacity and mask the moon and some unneeded parts of the rays:

Step 25

Create again a new layer below the ship layer. Take a very soft round brush set to 10-20% opacity. On this layer, paint soft white color and then set this layer’s blending to overlay:

Step 26

In this step, we will add some light rays to the scene. Create a new layer above the ship group layer. Take pen tool and make selection as the one in the screenshot. Activate gradient tool, choose linear gradient anf fill the selection with white to transparent gradient:

Set this ray layer to normal at 25% opacity. Next, create another new layer below the ray layer and paint soft white color on this layer:

Finally, duplicate the ray layer some times as needed and place the duplicates above the original layer.

Step 27

Again, create another new layer. Take the ghost brush in the brush preset. On this layer, paint the ghost with with color. Next, duplicate the ghost layer and set this dulplicate to overlay blending at 100% opacity. Select the original ghost layer and reduce this layer opacity to just 20%.

Step 28

In this step we will give the scene some new adjustment layers. First two adjustment layer are vibrance and color balance as shown in the screenshoot. Set the vibrance layer to normal at 85% opacity.

Next, give the scene another adjustment layer: curves. Mask some part of this curves layer in the red marked part as shown in the screenshot:

Step 29

Here is the result so far after adding more light rays:

Step 30

Finally, hit Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to stamp all visible layer to create a single layer. Convert this layer to smart object and the go to filter > other > high pass. Then, set the smart filter blending option to multiply at 40% opacity.

Select the filter mask thumbnail and mask the filter on the area marked in red. Use a very soft round brush to do this purpose.

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.

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About the Author:

I am a self-taught photoshop hobbyist from Bali, Indonesia. Photo manipulation is something I am keen on most and a music lover as well. Meet me here

Leave a comment


  1. Gleb says:

    Mistake in Step 22.

    AFTER “More adjustment layer: curves with a clipping mask.” you set wrong screenshot.

  2. 17ps8 says:

    some links are broken

  3. Eric Vasquez says:

    I really like the idea of doing a ghost ship as well! There are a couple of things that are kind of distracting me in the finished piece though. Respectfully, I feel like the clouds should have more perspective – they should recede into the horizon more as opposed to looking sort of flat. The moon also looks a bit too sharp and should perhaps be blurred more and some of the beams of light going across the ship don’t look very believable. I think this could be fixed by fading it out or softening the lines a little more. Overall, great concept, just little tweaks like that may help add much more realism to the piece in my opinion.

  4. Eric Vasquez says:

    Gleb – that is definitely a possibility! I wouldn’t mind creating a version of this at all.

  5. Gleb says:

    “Wall” in Resources section is not available anymore. Do you have another link on this image?

  6. Gleb says:

    And where is the boat photo?

  7. Eric Vasquez says:

    Gleb – Would you happen to have some examples of tutorials or designs that you have created for inspiration? Would love to check out some of your work!

    • Gleb says:

      No! I’m in the beginning of getting into this industry. And got a lot of work to do. I hope you will see my designs, but not today.

  8. Dek Wid says:

    well, it seems the author of the wall image deleted the image. And here is the link for the boat

    I am really sorry about this. I found the wall image once at

    >Gleb, if you need the image, I send you. This is not my own image, it is someone’s used to be uploaded at

  9. Eric Vasquez says:

    Hey guys – I wanted to share my interpretation of the pirate/ghost ship with you. It’s a slightly different approach as I didn’t want to copy the original image, but I wanted to create a scene with depth and perspective that is both dynamic and fun. I may put a step-by-step tutorial together for this one if it’s something you guys would be interested in seeing:

    • Tom says:

      ^ Love this :) . Awesome work Eric. I’d love to see a tutorial for this piece, it’s always great to see varying outcomes on a single concept.

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