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.
Import the light brush and on a new layer create some white light rays. Add a layer mask and hide everything above the surface of the water. Change the blending mode to Overlay.
Open the image “Earth”. Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to make a round selection of the earth. Copy paste in our scene and plate the earth in the middle. Use a layer mask to partially hide the portion of the earth that goes underwater by using a black brush at 50% opacity in the layer mask.
Import the bubbles brush and create some light bubbles around the earth and near the fish and the shark. Select the standard chalk brush and paint some subtle roots on the bottom of the earth.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and clip it to the earth layer. Use the settings shown below to change the hue and luminosity of the earth.
Import the splash brush. On a new layer create some white splashes as shown below. Also draw a subtle white loose line around the earth where it enters the water.
Open the image “Dry Tree”. Copy and paste the tree in our document. Place the tree on the top of the earth. Create a new layer and change the blending mode to multiply. Put this layer below the tree layer in the layer palette and lower the opacity to 30%. With a soft black brush paint some shadows.
Open the file “Vines”. As you can see there are multiply vines in the zip file. Extract them somewhere on your computer and choose two you like. Place them as shown below above the tree.
Open the image “Owl”. Select the owl and copy/paste in our scene. Place the owl above one of the vines.
Open the image “Island”. Place the island as shown below. Add a layer mask and partially hide the underwater portion of the island (paint with a 50% black brush in the layer mask). On a new layer paint some loose lines around island where it enters the water.
Open the image “Small Tree”. Select the tree and copy paste in our scene. Put the tree above the island.
Open the image “Deer”. Select the deer and copy paste in our scene. Put the deer above the surface of the earth near the tree. On a new layer below the deer layer paint some shadow.
Create a new Curves Adjustment Layer and use the settings shown below to increase the contrast. Clip this layer to the deer layer.
Open the image “Girl”. Use the Pen Tool (P) to make selection of the girl and copy paste her in our scene. Place her on the surface of the earth as shown below.
Create a new Curves Adjustment Layer and clip it to the girl layer. Use the settings shown below to increase the lightness.
Open the image “Boat”. Select the boat and copy paste in our scene. Place the boat near the earth. Add a layer mask and subtly hide the bottom of the boat to make it look as it is submerged in the water.
On a new layer draw some white lines around the boat where it enters the water. With the standard chalk brush tool at 100% opacity and 1px width draw a rope connecting the boat to the earth.
Open the image “Dolphin”. Select the dolphin and copy paste in our scene. Use a layer mask to partially hide the tail as it enters the water.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and drag the curve up to lighten. Clip it to the dolphin layer.
Create another Curves Adjustment Layer and use the settings shown below to change the color to a nice blue. Clip this layer to the dolphin layer.
Create a new layer and use a splash brush to create some splashes where the dolphin exits the water.
Open the image “Dove”. Select the dove and copy paste in our scene. Place the dove on the left of our scene. Import the FX brush and create some white sparkles in the trail of the dove as it is flying.
Open the file “Special Effect”. Extract the effects somewhere on your computer. Choose one you like and open it in Photoshop. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Change the blending mode to Screen and place this effect near the dove.
Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Color Dodge. Choose the standard round soft brush and lower the opacity to 20%. Paint over the areas indicated below to increase the focus and the contrast of the scene.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and use the settings shown below to increase the overall contrast of the scene.
Open the image “Bokeh”. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Change the blending mode to Screen and lower the Fill to 38%. Hide this effect in the underwater portion of the scene by painting in the layer mask with black.
Open the image “Flare”. As you can see there are multiply flares in the zip file. Select one you like and open it in Photoshop .Copy paste all in our scene and place it near the dove. Change the blending mode to Screen. Add a layer mask and hide the hard edges by using a black round soft brush in the layer mask.
Create a new layer from all the visible layers (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E) and change the blending mode to Soft Light. Apply a 20px Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur). As you can see we achieve a very dreamy effect.
Create a new layer from all the visible layers again but this time apply a sharpen effect (Filter > Unsharp Mask with 60% Amount, 1pixels Radius and 0 Threshold.
Finally add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map) with the settings shown below. Change the blending mode to Soft Light.