In this tutorial we will create a colorful photo manipulation of the planet earth. You will learn how to composite different images in order to achieve a pleasant final effect. We will be using layer masks, smart objects and adjustment layers but I will provide a short explanation before using them so you should be alright. Let’s begin.
What you’ll be creating
Planet Earth is beautiful and we should live in harmony with our surrounding nature. This is how I see us living in peace and serenity in complete harmony with the life around us. You will need Photoshop CS3 or newer in order to follow this tutorial.
- Sky- monika-es-stock
- Sea – shudder-stock
- Underwater1 – evilhateyouallstock
- Cloud Brush – JavierZhx
- Nebula – pixabay
- Shark – Roys-Art
- Fish – darkadathea
- Snow – emilyemilybeth
- Light Brush – redheadstock
- Earth – Wikipedia
- Bubbles Brush – millertimemsu
- Splash Brush – FrostBo
- Dry Tree – gd08
- Vines – zememz
- Owl – LG-Design
- Island – MindSqueeze
- Deer – LG-Design
- Girl – skyleafstock
- Dolphin – wolverine041269
- Boat – JinxMim
- Dove – MariaMurphyArt
- Flare – Darkozz
- Fx Brush – KeepWaiting
- Special Effect – Tamilia
- Bokeh – winterbright
- Small Tree – MoonglowLilly
Create a new document 2000×1406 pixels (Ctrl + N). Open the image “Sky” and select all by pressing Ctrl + A. Press Ctrl + C to copy and go back to our document. Press Ctrl + V to paste. Transform the pasted layer into a smart object (right-click the layer and from the drop down menu choose “Convert To Smart Object”) and press Ctrl +T to enter Free Transform and position this layer as shown below.
Smart objects allow us to resize and apply filters to layers without permanent lose of pixel data. From now on convert all pasted layers to smart objects.
Open the image “Sea”. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the surface of the sea. Copy paste this into our scene and place the water surface as shown below.
Create a new Curves Adjustment Layer ( Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) and clip it to the “surface” layer. Drag the curve up to lighten.
If you Alt-click between two layers in the layers palette the upper layer will be clipped to the lower layer – this means that the upper layer will only be visible through the lower layer pixels. In our case the Curves Adjustment Layer will only affect the surface layer.
Open the image “Underwater1”. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the underwater portion and copy paste in our scene. Place this layer as shown below.
Add a layer mask to the “underwater” layer (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Select the Gradient Tool (G) and press D to set the colors to black and white. Click on the layer mask to select it and use the gradient tool to fill the upper portion with black (hold Shift to keep the gradient vertical).
In a layer mask black hides and white reveals the corresponding layer. By using the gradient tool in the layer mask we create a nice seamless transition for our underwater layer.
Group all the layers that we created until now and name the group “Water Template” (select the layers by holding shift and clicking on each layer – press Ctrl + G to group them). Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to create a new layer from all the visible layers. Enter Free Transform by pressing Ctrl + T and right click on the image. From the drop down menu choose “Warp” and curve the water as shown below.
Now let’s make the sky more interesting. Create a couple of new layers (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and select the standard round soft brush. Lower the opacity to 30% and click once on the first layer with white as foreground color to create some light in the center. Choose a light yellow (#fff57e) and click again on the second layer to add a bit of color.
Import the cloud brush (double click on the .abr file) and on a new layer create some white clouds.
Open the image Nebula. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Place the nebula above the water over the sky and change the blending mode to Soft Light. Add a layer mask and use a black round soft brush to mask the hard edges.
Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Soft Light. Paint with a deep blue(#07437c) over the underwater section of our scene to change the hue.
Let’s add some elements to make the underwater more interesting. Create a new layer and with the round soft brush at 30% Opacity paint some loose lines where the surface of the sea connects to the underwater.
Open the image “Shark”. Copy all and paste the shark into our scene. Lower the opacity to 20% and place the shark as shown below. Create a couple of new layers and paint a little bit of redness around shark’s mouth (use the round soft brush and whatever shade of red you like).
Open the image “Fish”. As you can see there are a variety of fish in this image. Copy and paste in our scene some of those fish and lower the opacity to 20-30%.
Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) and use the settings shown below. Paint with black over the sky area in the layer mask to limit the effect of the layer to the lower portion of the scene.
Create a new layer and change the blending mode to multiply. Use the round soft brush at 20% opacity to paint some darkness on the bottom of the scene.
Open the image “Snow”. Copy/paste all in our scene and change the blending mode of the layer to Screen. This will make all the blackness disappear thus leaving debris (underwater) and stars (sky).
Use a light round soft brush at 20% opacity to paint some subtle waves on the water surface. Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and drag the curve up to lighten. Fill the layer mask with black ( click on it than press D to set default colors and Alt + Backspace to fill the mask with black) and paint with white over the water surface to reveal the effect there.