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Photo Manipulate an Artistic Cloudscape Scene

Photo Manipulate an Artistic Cloudscape Scene

Final Image

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

Step 1

Create a new document (1000X600px).

Paste in the ‘clouds’ photo from the resources section for this tutorial.

Position your cloud image to match the image below:

Apply a levels and color balance adjustment layer.

NOTE: For this tutorial unless otherwise stated always apply a clipping mask to all of your adjustment layers. This ensures that your adjustments will only effect the underlying layer, rather than your entire canvas.

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

6 / 0.70 / 255

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -15 / -6 / +6
Midtones: -9 / 0 / +6
Shadows: -11 / +2 / +2

Step 2

Paste in your mountain range image from the resources section for this tutorial. Call this layer ‘mountains’. Position your image like below:

Apply a layer mask, and use a large, soft black paintbrush to mask off the sky area of your mountain range image. The aim is to make it look as if your cloudy sky image and mountain range image are one cohesive scene:

Now apply a levels and color balance adjustment layer to your mountain image:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

25 / 0.91 / 238

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -11 / 0 / +6
Midtones: -6 / +1 / +4
Shadows: -12 / 0 / -2

Step 3

Create a new layer called ‘raylight’.

Download the FanExtra raylight brush set from the resources section for this tutorial. Apply one of the raylight brushes using a white brush, creating beams of light shooting past your mountain range:

Reduce your raylight layer’s opacity to 40% to make the effect more subtle:

Step 4

Download the moon photo from the resources section for this tutorial.

Extract it from it’s background and paste it into the top right part of your composition.

The bottom right of our moon is looking a little too light for the composition. To fix this, option+click on your moon layer. This will select your moon shape. With your selection active create a new layer called ‘moon shadow’. Use a black paintbrush to brush along the bottom edge of your moon:

Reduce this layer’s opacity to 70% and then change the layer blend mode to ‘overlay’:

Apply a color balance adjustment layer to your moon layer.

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -13 / +4 / +16
Midtones: -23 / +9 / +19
Shadows: -23 / -13 / +9

Step 5

Create a new layer called ‘raylight moon’. Ensure that this layer is positioned behind your moon layer.

Apply several of your FanExtra raylight brushes, using a white brush. Try to give the impression of light spreading out from the moon.

Reduce this layer’s opacity to 70% and change it’s blend mode to ‘overlay’.

To make the effect slightly more intense, duplicate your ‘moon raylight’ layer.

Change the blend mode of this duplicate layer from ‘overlay’ to ‘normal’ and reduce it’s opacity to 30%:

Step 6

Paste your ‘man on cliff edge’ image into the right of your canvas:

Apply a layer mask to this layer, and then carefully mask off the sky background using a black paintbrush. Use a smaller paintbrush for the precise edges:

Apply a hue/saturation, color balance and levels adjustment layer:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -95
Lightness: 0

NOTE: When you create an adjustment layer it already has a mask. With our hue/saturation adjustment layer we want to desaturate our cliff, but keep our man saturated. To achieve this, simply use a black paintbrush and the mask associated with your hue/saturation adjustment layer to mask off your adjustments (just over your man).

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -28 / +4 / +21
Midtones: -19 / +6 / +25
Shadows: -9 / +9 / +16

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

3 / 1.07 / 233

Step 7

Time to construct our escalator to the moon!

Start by pasting in your image of the escalator and resizing/position it to fit between your land mass and moon. Cut out the main background from this image, but leave some of the floor at the bottom of the escalator.

Apply a layer mask to your escalator layer and then use a soft, medium sized black paintbrush to mask the floor area into the grassy cliff top:

Apply a hue/saturation and color balance adjustment layer to your escalator layer:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -60
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -26 / -1 / +19
Midtones: -35 / -1 / +29
Shadows: -22 / +4 / +13

Step 8

We want to apply some lighting to our escalator area.

Start by option+clicking on the escalator layer to select your escalator shape. With your selection still active create a new layer called ‘escalator lighting’. Use a soft black paintbrush to brush over the top of your escalator, giving it shadow.

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’.

Create a new layer called ‘escalator light rays’.

Using one of your ‘raylight’ brushes brush white over the top of your escalator steps, giving the impression that light is beaming down:

Step 9

Open up your ‘rope ladder’ image from the resources section for this tutorial.

Extract the ladder from it’s background using your magic wand tool. Then paste the ladder over the side of your cliff:

Duplicate your rope ladder layer and move the duplicate beneath the original. Fill this layer with black (the easiest most non-destructive way to do this is to apply a color overlay blending option):

Reduce this layer’s opacity to 40% to make the shadow more subtle and realistic:

Return to your original ladder layer and apply a levels adjustment layer:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

128 / 0.23 / 255


Step 10

Open up one of your woman holding onto balloons images.

Cut out the woman/balloons from their background and paste it into your original document. Position the woman just overlapping your moon:

Apply a hue/saturation and color balance adjustment layer:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -45
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -9 / 0 / +16
Midtones: -38 / 0 / +29
Shadows: -21 / 0 / +2

Finally, apply some of your ‘raylight’ brushes over the top of your woman/balloons, using a low opacity white paintbrush:

Step 11

Add a second woman, floating near the edge of your cliff area.

Use the same techniques as step 11 (adjustment layers + raylight brush) to blend your woman:

Step 12

Paste in your final, third woman. She should be larger and positioned in the left of your canvas, floating towards your escalator/cliff area.

Extract her from her background using your preferred extraction method (I used masking).

Apply a brightness/contrast, color balance and then hue/saturation adjustment layer:

Brightness/contrast Adjustment Layer Settings:

Brightness: 100
Contrast: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -18 / 0 / +8
Midtones: -35 / -6 / +11
Shadows: -13 / +11 / +5

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -85
Lightness: 0

Step 13

As demonstrated earlier in this tutorial, adjustment layers automatically have masks attached to them. Our adjustments so far look good, apart from they have caused our balloon to become too bright and desaturated.

To fix this, select the masks on your brightness/contrast and hue/saturation adjustment layers and use a soft black paintbrush to mask off these areas of your adjustments, revealing the brighter pink balloons:

Step 14

Create a new layer called ‘woman white lights’. We’re going to start lighting our largest woman holding balloons!

Using a soft white paintbrush create several brush glow marks over areas of your woman that you wish to highlight:

Change your lighting layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 30%:

Step 15

Option+click on your woman layer to select her.

Then create a new layer above your white lighting layer’s called ‘blue light cast’. You want to give your woman a subtle blue light that is being cast by the surrounding blue landscape:

With your selection in place paint over most of your woman using a blue sampled from the sky backdrop (4173a0).

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 15%.

Then duplicate this layer. Change the duplicate layer’s blend mode back to ‘normal’, keeping the opacity at 15%:

Step 16

Create a new top layer called ‘light ray woman’.

Apply one of your raylight brushes using a white brush. Give the impression of her floating towards the moon:

Change your raylight’s layer to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 35%.

Then duplicate this layer. Keep the opacity at 35% but change the duplicate’s blend mode back to ‘normal’:

Step 17

Download the FanExtra cloud brush from the resources for this tutorial.

Create a new layer called ‘clouds’. Apply several of the brushes over your canvas, giving a more foggy atmosphere to your piece. Be sure to use a white paintbrush.

Apply a layer mask to your clouds layer, and mask off any areas that you feel are too intense:

Step 18

We want to give more cohesive lighting to our piece, so it’s time to add a dodge/burn layer.

At PSD.FanExtra we always like to use non-destructive techniques where possible. To create your non-destructive dodge/burn layer create a new layer called ‘dodge/burn’. Go to edit>fill and fill your canvas with 50% gray.

Switch this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ to hide the 50% gray. Then use a soft black paintbrush (around 10% opacity) to burn your image, and a soft white paintbrush to dodge it.

Try to identify where light from your moon/sky would illuminate other areas of your composition, and where shadows may be more intense.

The images below show your dodge/burn layer at ‘normal’ blend mode and then ‘overlay’ blend mode:

Step 19

Create a new layer called ‘vignette’. Use a large, soft, low opacity black paintbrush to paint around the corners/edges of your canvas:

Step 20

Download the grungy texture from the resources for this tutorial and paste/position it over your canvas.

Go to image>adjustments>desaturate to grayscale the texture. Then go to filter>sharpen>sharpen more to bring out the details:

Change your texture layer’s blend mode to ‘multiply’ and reduce it’s opacity to 30%:

Step 21

Finally, apply a gradient map adjustment layer.

Gradient Map Adjustment Layer Settings:

Gradient: default blue/red/yellow gradient provided with Photoshop settings
Layer Opacity: 2%
Layer Blend Mode: Normal

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.

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