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Members Area Tutorial: How to Create A Serene Lake Scene Photo Manipulation

Members Area Tutorial: How to Create A Serene Lake Scene Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial our resident photo manipulation expert Jenny Le will show you how to create a serene lake scene.

You’ll learn a variety of manipulation techniques, such as blending, adjusting color, retouching, using brush as well as detailing to achieve a realistic outcome.

Beyond this, you’ll learn some practical techniques such as using the displacement filter to create an artificial water surface and how to combine adjustment layers and complex, layered masking to produce some beautiful results.

Let’s get started!

Final Image

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

Step 1

Open sky stock. Use Crop Tool (C) to take the sky part only. If you use your own image, remember to choose the one with horizon.

Step 2

On background layer (sky), use Retangular Marquee Tool to make a selection on sky part:

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate this selection then move it to the left to hide the top of castle. Click the second button at the bottom of Layer Pallete to add layer mask to this one. Use soft black brush to remove hard edge and blend this selection with sky:

I name this layer as “remove castle”.

Step 3

Make a new layer with Clipping Mask for this layer. I found something I don’t like after previous step so I use Clone Tool (S) to fix it:

Go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves to darken this part a little:

Step 4

Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Option+Shift+E to merge all visible layers (background, remove castle, clone and Curves). I rename this layer as “Sky”. Choose Image-Canvas Size , extend the bottom (I double the height):

Duplicate sky layer. I rename the upper layer “sky”, under layer “lake”. On lake layer, choose Edit-Transform-Flip Vertical then move it under sky layer.

Step 5

Make a new layer under the lake one. Choose Edit-Fill with a light cyan color picked from the top of sky (#a7acaf). This layer will be a base of the water. Then add layer mask to the lake one. On layer mask, hit G to active Gradient Tool. Choose Linear Gradient Tool with default colors (black and white):

Drag a line from the top to bottom of the lake to make sky reflection faded into the water:

On lake layer, choose Filter-Blur-Motion Blur:

Step 6

Now we’ll make a ripple texture that will be using to make reflection. Press Cmd/Ctrl+N to create a new document with 2000×1000 px and fill it with white. It’s better to work on the large size (depends on your document) as it will be cropped later. On background layer, go to Filter-Noise-Add Noise:

Make sure that foreground and background are set to black and white (so texture will be easier to see). Choose Filter-Sketch-Bas Relief:

Filter-Blur-Motion Blur to smooth the lines:

Duplicate this background layer then use Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform it:

Then use Crop Tool to get a result below:

Save this file as a PSD and name it “ripple-texture” or whatever you want.

Step 7

Come back to our lake file. We’ll use Displace filter to make reflection. Hold Cmd/Ctrl while clicking lake thumbnail layer to load its selection (it’s very important, if you don’t choose, the result will look different).

Go to Filter-Distort-Displace with settings like in screenshot below (if you want to ripple more your lake, increase the values) then browse the ripple-texture file:

That’s the end of the preview!

About the Author:

Thank you for reading this tutorial, I hope that you enjoyed it. If you want to view my other arts and tutorials you can look at my Deviantart page or follow me on Facebook.

Leave a comment


  1. Mireille D says:

    Thank you for this wonderful very informative tutorial! And the technique of trimming the tree I did not know.
    I managed as best I could with the not always obvious translation.
    Here is my work:

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