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Members Area Tutorial: Photoshop a Medieval Dream Scene

Members Area Tutorial: Photoshop a Medieval Dream Scene

In this tutorial I will be showing you how to Photoshop a dark, medieval dream scene. You’ll use various images, brushes and textures to create a photo manipulation of a dark and powerful medieval warrior. We will be covering some really handy techniques in order to build up to a highly detailed and vicious design.

Final Image

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

Photoshop dream

Step 1

Let’s start by opening our image of the suit of armor that we are going to cutout from the background. The first thing we want to do once the images opens is make a copy of it by pressing Command/Ctrl + J.

Apply a Layer Mask to the duplicated layer by clicking the icon highlighted below:

Step 2

Once you have applied your mask, turn the visibility of the original layer off. For this part you will probably want to use a combination of the Pen and Brush Tools, but let’s start with the Pen Tool (P) and I will show you why.

To begin we will click to make a point and then continue to trace around the helmet and the armor to make a selection.

After tracing around the top portion of the armor with the Pen Tool (P), hold down the Control Key and click anywhere along your newly created path and you should see this dropdown menu appear:

Choose ‘Make Selection’ as indicated in the image above, and then you will see marching ants around your armor. From here, as long as you have black as your foreground color, you can press Alt/Option + Delete on your keyboard to fill your selection with black and watch the background disappear!

While this technique works great for the majority of the image, I have used a hard brush to go around the fur. You may want to soften the edge of your brush a bit to make the fur softer. You can easily control the hardness of your brush by using the left and right bracket keys while your Brush Tool (B) is active.

After switching back and forth between the Pen Tool (P) and the Brush Tool (B) you can quickly silhouette your image until you have something like this:

Step 3

Using the technique we used in the previous step, open up an image of your skull. For this the Pen Tool (P) is my weapon of choice only because most of the shape of the skull is made up of hard edges that are fairly easy to trace. You will probably find that the Brush Tool (B) works best when dealing with erratic, random shapes and fine details.

Same as before, once you have your path closed, hold down the Control Key and choose ‘Make Selection’ before filling a Layer Mask with black. The shortcut for that once again is Alt/Option + Delete.

You should now have a nice clean cutout of your armor image and your skull. Be sure to save both of these images since we will be bringing them into a new document to begin compositing.

Step 4

Next we are going to make a new document by pressing Command/Ctrl + N or going to File and choosing ‘New…’ and set up a document that is 11” x 17” and 300 dpi as shown below:

Once you have set up your document, double click on the ‘Background’ layer to unlock it – you can name it anything you’d like.

We are now going to take our suit of armor image and drag it into your new file. Depending on the size and resolution of your image you may need to scale it up which you can do simply by pressing Command/Ctrl + T to initiate a Free Transform. From here, click and drag outwards from any of the four corners of the images bounding box while holding down the Shift Key.

Another nice shortcut you can use is to hold down the Alt/Option Key at the same time as the Shift Key and your image will rescale up or down from the center.

Step 5

Switch to your Paint Bucket Tool (G) and select a mid-gray color such as #595959 as shown here:

Once you have filled your background with gray you can switch over to your Gradient Tool (G). To easily toggle back and forth between the Paint Bucket and Gradient Tools, hold down the Shift Key and then press the shortcut key, in this case it would be ‘G’ on your keyboard.

Use the settings shown in the image above so that you have a Radial Gradient that fades from solid white to transparent.

Click in the center of your image and drag outwards to create a large white gradient behind the suit of armor image. You should have something like this:

Step 6

From here, open the ‘texture 297’ image from the resources folder and bring it into the document. Place the texture underneath the suit of armor layer and scale it up so that the brightest part of the texture is centered as shown here:

Next, change the Blending Mode of the texture layer to Overlay.

Step 7

Open up the image of the skull that we silhouetted earlier and click on the Layer Mask Thumbnail while holding down the Control Key. The Layer Mask Thumbnail is highlighted in the image below:

When the dropdown menu appears, choose ‘Apply Mask’ to merge the two together.

Step 8

Now that we have applied the Layer Mask to the image of the skull, bring this layer into your working document and place it at the top of your Layers Palette.

Use a Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) to resize the skull and position it over the head/helmet on the suit of armor.

That’s the end of the preview!

About the Author:

Eric is a Graphic Designer, specializing in Print and Web Design. He's a graduate of the New England Institute of Art in Boston and has over 4 years of professional and freelance work experience. He lives in Brooklyn, New York working as a Graphic Designer and he has been featured in Advanced Photoshop Magazine, The Art of Fashion Art Exhibit and Artists In The Station Art Exhibit. Visit Eric's portfolio at

Leave a comment


  1. Eric Vasquez says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this tutorial Tom! It’s great to be able to contribute to the site after a hiatus and I hope that people will get something from it!

    • Tom says:

      It’s great to have you back Eric! I know that our members will learn a lot from your tutorial, I really love some of the techniques you’re using here.

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