Have you ever wanted to create those stark and dramatic landscapes? In this tutorial you’ll learn how to combine different stock photos and lighting styles to create dramatic, movie like photo manipulation. Let’s get started!
Preview of Final Results
Step 1 – Preparing the Document
Open Photoshop and create a new document (File > New…). Set its dimensions on 3500 x 2300px. Press OK. Download the stock photo of rocks listed in the beginning of the tutorial under Tutorial Resources and drag it into your new document. Name this new layer ROCKS and place it on the top of all layers. Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontally to have the same direction as on the preview picture.
Step 2 – Adjusting the Rocks
Let’s focus on colors of the layer ROCKS you’ve added in previous step. In this photo manipulation you want to create strong dramatic atmosphere and I believe you can achieve it better with photos with less saturated colors. Add new adjustment layer Vibrance on the top of all layers. (You can find the button Add new fill or adjustment layer on the bottom part of your layers palette.)
Set the value Vibrance on – 30 and change its Blending Mode on Color. By choosing this blending mode the adjustment change only color and not lightness of your image.
To lower saturation of cyan tones even more add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation and set the value Saturation of Cyan tones on -70. By this adjustment you’ll create stronger feel of “before the storm” weather.
After this step your photo manipulation should look like on the following image.
Step 3 – Adding Waves
Download stock photo of waves listed in the beginning of the tutorial and drag it into your photo manipulation. Name this new layer WAVES and place it on the top of all layers. Go to Edit > Free Transform (or press Ctrl + T on your keyboard) and resize waves on proper size. After you’re done press Enter to apply the changes. You should get something similar to the picture below.
Add layer mask to WAVES. You can find the button Add layer mask on the bottom part of the palette Layers (next to the button Add new fill or adjustment layer you’ve used in previous step).
Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush, set its Size on 500px and Opacity on 100%.
Pick black color. Make sure the layer mask of WAVES is active (Just click on it). Start painting over the areas of waves you want to hide.
If you’re not sure where you should paint take a look at the picture below. I highlighted these areas with red color.
After this step your photo manipulation should be similar to the one shown below.
Step 4 – Blending Waves
As you can see the photo of waves you’ve added in previous step is bluer and darker than the rest of the image. You’ll fix it in this step. Let’s start with lightening. Add new adjustment layer Curves on the top of all layers and set it as shown below.
You want to adjust only WAVES and not the rest of the image. To achieve that click on the button This adjustment clips to the layer. I’ve circled the button in the image above. To lower the saturation of WAVES add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation on the top of all layers and set the value Saturation on -45. Create clipping mask from this adjustment layer too!
On the following picture you can compare how each adjustment affects WAVES.
Step 5 – Adding Sky
Download photo of sky listed in the beginning of the tutorial and drag it into your photo manipulation. Place it on the top of all layers and name it SKY. Same as with WAVES add new layer mask to SKY. Grab the Brush Tool (B), use the same settings as before and blend the sky with the rest of the image. Paint on the layer mask over the areas you want to hide. On the following image these parts are highlighted with red color.
Step 6 – Blending the Sky
In this step you’ll adjust brightness and saturation of SKY to fit better to the rest of the image. Add new adjustment layer Curves on the top of all layers and set it as shown below. Create clipping mask from it to adjust only SKY and not the rest of the image. With this shape of curve you lower contrast of your image and make it bit brighter.
To add gentle blue tone to SKY add new adjustment layer Color Balance on the top of all layers and set it as shown below. Create clipping mask from this adjustment layer too!
On the following image you can see how your photo manipulation and layer order should look like so far.
Step 7 – Creating More Depth
Right now your photo manipulation looks bit flat, isn’t it? In this step you’ll create more depth by creating more interesting lights and shadows. To do that add new empty layer on the top of all layers and name it LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G), pick mid grey color (#808080) and fill this new layer with it. To blend it properly with the rest of the image change its Blending Mode from Normal to Overlay.