In this tutorial we will create a celestial fantasy scene, full of color and intensity. I’ll teach you a couple of masking tricks and some compositiong techniques. Let’s begin!
You will create an intense and colorful scene. You will need Photoshop CS3 or in order to follow this tutorial.
- Rainbow – magikfeller
- Background – magikfeller
- Fantasy Lighting Brush Kit – KeepWaiting
- Cloud Brush – Ryoku15
- Sun Brush – Andrei-Oprinca
- Island – MindSqueeZe
- Chains – BrokenWing3dStock
- Book – montague
- Grass – FoxStox
- Grass Brush – s1088
- Lion – tristin-stock
- Small Deer – ISOStock
- Deer – LG-Design
- Birds – LG-Design
- Tree – gd08
- Dude – SenshiStock
- Vines – LilipilySpirit
- Snow Texture – emilyemilybeth
- Glam – winterbright
- Moon Brush – ischarm-stock
- Nebula – freeimages.com
Open the image “Background”. This will be our base on which we will build our scene. Double click on the background layer and press ok to convert it to a regular layer. Right click on the layer and from the drop down menu choose “Convert To Smart Object”.
Import all the brushes from the resource section (you can import brushes by either double clicking on the .abr file or going to Edit > Preset > Preset Manager and clicking on the load brush button). Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and using one of the cloud brushes create a cloud in the middle of the scene.
Create a new layer and choose the standard soft round brush. Increase the size to 400px and with white as foreground color click once over the cloud to create a glow effect. Lower the opacity of the layer to 76%.
Choose one of the imported sun brushes and create a new layer. Create a white small sun over the cloud. Lower the opacity of this sun layer to 43%.
Choose a glam brush from the imported fantasy light brushes (Small Glam) and a couple of new layers create some particle/glam effect around the edges of our scene. Change the blending mode of the layers to Linear Dodge and lower the opacity if the effect is too strong.
Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and increase the hue slider to +38. Click on the layer mask and fill it with black (press D to choose default colors and Ctrl + Backspace to fill with the background color). Select the standard round soft brush and increase the size to 300px. With white as foreground color and the layer mask selected (the layer mask is the black and white thumbnail next to layer thumbnail in the layer palette) click once in the middle of the scene over the cloud to reveal the effect there.
Open the image “Island”. Select all by pressing Ctrl + A and copy by pressing Ctrl + C. Go back to our scene and press Ctrl + V to paste. Press Ctrl + T to enter Free Transform and position the island as shown below.
Add a layer mask to the island layer ( Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Use the standard chalk brush in the layer mask to hide the bottom of the island ( in a layer mask black hides everything and white reveals so paint with black in the layer mask over the areas you want hidden).
Open the file “Chains”. Select a set of chains you like and copy/paste them into our scene (click on one of the layers you like, Ctrl + A to select all, Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste back in our document). Right click the pasted chain layer and choose from the drop down menu “Convert To Smart Object”. Do this for all the imported layers (smart objects allow us to preserve pixel information after countless resizes and transforms). Use layer masks to hide the upper portions of the chains.
Open the file “Book”. Use the Pen Tool to make a selection of the book (P for Pen Tool) and after you’re done press Ctrl + Enter to convert the path into a selection. Copy/paste the book in our scene and place it on top of the island. Don’t forget to convert it to a smart object.
Create a new layer and place it below the book layer. Use the standard round soft brush to paint with black a shadow. Change the layer blending mode to Multiply.
Create a new Curves Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) and use the settings shown below to increase the darkness and the contrast. Once you’re done with the curve settings hold the Alt key and click once between the curves and the book layer – this will clip the curves layer to the book. Clipping a layer to another means that the upper layer will be visible only through the bottom layer pixels – in our case the effects of the curves layer will be restricted only to the book layer below.
Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer ( Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) and lower the saturation to -68. Now clip this layer to the curves layer we created at step 12. This will in effect restrict the saturation effect only to the book layer (because it is the bottom most layer).
Create another Curves Adjustment Layer and clip it to the book layer. Use the settings shown below to lighten the book and further increase the contrast.
Create another Curves Adjustment Layer and drag the curve upwards a bit in order to further lighten the book. As you can see I am using a multitude of curves layer instead of a single one and the reason behind this is that I like to have flexibility when it comes to effects. If I would decide in the future that I don’t like a single effect applied to the book I could delete the corresponding clipped adjustment layer.
Open the image “Grass” and using the Rectangular Marquee Tool select the grass. Copy/paste in our scene and convert the grass layer into a smart object. Position and resize the grass (use the Free Transform to do that – Ctrl + T) over the right page of the book.
Use the pen tool to create a path around the upper pages of the book. Press Ctrl + Enter to convert the path into a selection. Add a layer mask to the grass layer (Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All) and press D to set the colors to default – you will notice that the grass disappears. Click once on the layer mask to make it active and press Alt + Backspace to fill the selection with white and thus revealing the grass only through the upper pages of the book.
Press Ctrl + D to deselect everything and select one of the grass brushes you imported. Click on the grass layer mask to make it active and paint with white near the edges of the pages. This will remove the hard lines of our layer mask and give the impression that the grass is sprouting from the page.
Repeat steps 16 to 18 for the left page of the book.
Create a new layer (or a couple) and paint some black vertical lines exactly in the middle of the book with the standard round soft brush. Lower the opacity of the layer(s) to 60-70% and change the blending mode to Multiply.
Let’s add some shading and volume to our book. Create a new layer ad change the blending mode to Overlay. Select the standard soft round brush and lower the opacity to 10%. Paint with white and black over the areas indicated below (painting with white will make that region bump up and painting with black will make that region bump down).
Now that we’re done with the book it’s time to add the actors to our little scene. Let’s start with the king of the animals – the lion. Open the file “Lion” and use the Magic Wand Tool or the Pen Tool to make a selection of the lion. Copy/paste the lion in our scene and place him as shown below. I am placing the lion near the edges of the book and not in the middle because by doing so I will increase the 3d effect – it will look like the lion pops out of the book.
Add a layer mask to the lion layer. Select a grass brush and paint with black on the bottom edges of the lion to make it look like it’s sitting in the grass. Do this for every other object or character that we are going to place on the book. This is a very useful trick that you can use when you place an object on a grass photo – simply use a grass brush to paint with black in the layer mask and you will achieve a nice blending effect.
Create a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer and change the blending mode to Soft Light. Clip this layer to the lion layer. By doing this we will increase the contrast of the lion and darken it a little.
Create a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and use the settings shown below to further increase the contrast and increase the intensity. Clip this layer to the lion layer. Group the lion and the clipped layers (hold the Ctrl key and click on each layer to select them – once you’re done press Ctrl + G to group) to keep the layer palette tidy.
Open the image “Small Deer”. Use the Pen Tool to make a selection of the deer. Copy/paste the deer into our scene and position it like shown below. Use the trick you learned from step 23 to blend the deer with the grass.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer with the settings shown below and clip it to the small deer layer. This will change the hue of the deer to one more closely to our scene.
Now create a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer with the settings shown below and clip it to the small deer layer.
The small deer looks fake without a shadow. Let’ create one. First make a new layer and place it below the small deer layer. Change the blending mode of this layer to Multiply and lower the opacity to 48%. With the round soft brush paint with black a shadow like shown below.
Now let’s add a bigger deer (or elk, not really sure what it is). Open the file “Deer” and copy/paste the deer into our scene. Place it as shown below and use the trick from step 23 to blend the deer’s hooves with the grass. Paint some shadow on a layer set to Multiply and place the layer below the deer layer.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and clip them to the deer layer. Use the settings shown below to both color correct the deer and increase the color intensity.
Open the file “Birds”. Copy/paste the birds in our document and place them above the book. Don’t forget to convert the layer to a smart object.
Open the file “Tree” and perform a copy/paste into our scene. Place the tree in front of the lion and use the trick from step 23 to blend the tree with the grass. Paint a shadow on a new layer placed below the tree layer.
Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it to the tree layer. Change the hue slider to +21 to make the hue of the tree greener.
Open the file “Dude” and use the Pen Tool to make a selection of the guy. Copy paste in our scene and place the guy at the edge of the book. Paint some shadow on a new layer below the guy layer.
Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. Clip this layer to the guy layer and select the standard round soft brush. Lower the opacity to 20% and paint subtly some bright spots on the areas indicated below to give our guy a little volume.
The red hair is a little bit distracting so I think it would be a good idea to change it to black. Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, clip it to the guy layer and fill the layer mask with black (Click on the layer mask, press D and press Ctrl + Backspace). Lower the saturation to -78 and with a round soft brush paint over the guy’s hair to reveal the effect there.
This is supposed to be a biblical scene of sorts and the guy sitting on the book should be an Adam of sorts. Let’s create some vines and place them on the guy’s crotch to emulate the famous leaf covering Adam’s manhood. Open the file “Vines” and copy/paste in our scene. Place the vines as shown below and add a layer mask to hide the unwanted leaves.
Add a drop shadow effect to the vines (right click the vines layer and choose Blending Options).
Duplicate the vines layer (Ctrl + J) and rotate it a little. Turn off the drop shadow effect (click on the eye next to “Effects”) and place this over the existing vine to create a bit more variety.
Now that we are done placing our main elements let’s ad some nice FX and miscellaneous items.
Create a new layer and create a white cloud above the book using one of the cloud brushes.
Open the file “Rainbow” and copy/paste the rainbow in our scene. Change the blending mode to Linear Dodge and use a layer mask to hide the hard edges. Lower the Opacity to 44%.
Create a new layer and fill it with black (Shift + F5). Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare and choose 105 mm Prime. Chang the layer blending mode to screen and use a layer mask to hide the very bright effects.
Open the file “Snow Texture” and copy all (Ctrl + A and Ctrl + C). Paste into our scene and change the blending mode to Screen. Lower the Opacity to 17% and use a layer mask to hide most of the middle snowflakes.
Open the file “Glam”. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Change the blending mode to Soft Light and lower the opacity to 47%. Use a layer mask again to hide most of the middle layer.
Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to create a long and fairly thin rectangle. Fill the selection with white and rotate it as shown below. Deselect everything (Ctrl + D) and apply a 2px Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).
Change the blending mode of the white rectangle layer to Soft Light and lower the opacity to 11%. Duplicate this layer a couple of times (Ctrl + J) and move each duplicate in a slightly different position to the right or to the left.
Create a new layer and choose the standard round soft brush. Lower the size to 2px and opacity to 30%. Paint some white outlines in the places indicated below. Double click the layer and add an outer glow effect.
Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. With the standard round soft brush at 30% opacity an 400px size click once or twice in the middle of the scene. By doing this we will put the focus on the middle of the scene.
Choose again the round soft brush and set the color to a muddy yellow (#a7b01d). Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. Paint over the areas indicated below with 20% opacity to add some color variation to our scene.
Open the file “Nebula”. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge and lower the opacity to 60%. Use a layer mask to hide the middle portion.
Use one of the imported moon brushes to create a white moon near the tree. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and use the settings shown below. This will increase the overall contrast and darken the scene.
Create a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and increase the contrast slider to 24.
Create a new layer from all the visible layers (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E) and apply a sharpen effect (Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask).
Create again a new layer from all the visible layers but this time apply a 15px Gaussian Blur. Change the blending mode to Soft Light and lower the opacity to 53%. Add a layer mask and hide the bottom part of the effect.
As you can see bluring and changing the blending mode to Soft Light or Overlay creates a very mellow glow effect that it is perfect for this celestial scene.
Download the PSD
Tutorial by Johan Sandu
Thank you for following this tutorial. I hope you had a good time and learned some useful Photoshop tips and techniques.
– Johan Sandu