This tutorial will show you how to compose an image using 3D and painted elements. These techniques include setting the global light of your manipulation and adding shadow and color adjustments.
Preview of Final Results
Apocalyptic Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial
To complete the tutorial you can use my own resources which are exactly the same as in the preview manipulation but in lower resolution, or find similar stock over the internet. The link for the low resolution images is here.
Step 1 – Preparing the Background
Create a new document in Photoshop. The size depends on the resources you want to use. If you use the resources provided above, use 900 px x 540 px. Otherwise any size that fits your stock images will work. Select the Gradient Tool (G), then select Linear Gradient (see picture below).
Select the Gradient Tool (G), then select Linear Gradient (see picture below).
Fill the background layer with this gradient. You should get something like this:
Step 2 – Adding the Sky
Open the picture of sky and drag it into your manipulation. Name the layer SKY and place it above the BACKGROUND. Add a vector mask to this layer. The Add Vector mask button can be found on the bottom part of your palette layers (if you don’t see this palette just press F7).
Side Note: Using a vector mask instead of erasing parts of the image is much better because you can always change what you’ve done. When you erase parts with the Eraser Tool (E) they are erased for good, but with the vector mask you just hide the unwanted parts of the image and make them appear again whenever you want.
Add a vector mask to the SKY, by selecting the Brush Tool (B) in black and start to paint over the areas which will make them disappear. You can change the diameter of the brush and opacity to get a more natural result. Do this until the sky is nicely blended. If you want to reverse some steps, choose a white color and paint over the areas you want to re-appear.
Step 3 – Adding the Ground
Create the ground of the picture. Add new layer on the top of your layers and name it GROUND TEXTURE. Download these brushes and add them to Photoshop. If you don’t know how to install brushes you can refer to this tutorial.
Select the Brush Tool (B) and select one of the brushes you installed. Pick a dark brown color (a bit darker then the gradient brown) and paint some texture on the GROUND TEXTURE layer. See below for an example:
Download the picture of the ground (if you use resources from my blog use Ground 1) and drag it into the manipulation. Name the layer GROUND 1 and place it on the top of your layers. Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Soft Light.
For this image you could use the Normal Blending Mode but the Soft Light creates a nice painted look. You can see a comparison below:
Add a vector mask to GROUND 1 and blend the image. After this step your picture should be similar to the one below.
Step 4 – Adding Details to the Foreground
The ground in the foreground looks a bit flat and uninteresting. It would look better with more details. To do this, download Ground 2 from the blog mentioned previously (or use your own resources) and drag it into the manipulation. Name the layer FOREGROUND DETAILS and put it on the top of your layers. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light again and add a vector mask. Select the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round brush. Pick a black color and blend this layer.
Step 5 – Adding Skyscrapers
Download or paint the skyscrapers. If you want to download them, download them from the link provided earlier and drag them into the manipulation and blend them as you did it in the previous steps. If you want to paint them by yourself you can use custom Photoshop brushes.
Step 6 – Creating the Path
Connect the background and foreground to make your picture look more unified. Connect them by creating a path from the city to the foreground. To do this, add a new layer on top of your layers and name it PATH. Select the Gradient Tool (G). Choose #808080 grey and fill the layer with this solid color. Change the Blending Mode to Overlay.
Select the Brush Tool (B), and choose some of the texture brushes that you installed earlier. Pick a light grey color and paint the curve in the area where the path should lead. Then pick a darker grey color and paint around the borders of the path. See a comparison of the two blending modes in the image below. The background path should be lighter because things in the distance tend to be lighter.
Step 7 – Adding the Elephant
Download the picture of elephant and cut out the background, then drag it into the manipulation. Press Ctrl + T and resize it to the proper size. Name the layer ELEPHANT and place it on top of the layers.
As you can see, the elephant looks saturated, too bright, and has strong shadows. Because the stock photo was taken under heavy sunlight, there is a large contrast between light and shadow. To make the light less visible, create new layer and select the Gradient Tool (G) and fill the layer with solid #808080 grey color. Set the Blending Mode to Overlay and create a Clipping Mask from this layer. To do this, right click on the layer in the Layers Palette and choose the option Create Clipping Mask. This way the layer affects only the layer below (ELEPHANT).
Select the Brush Tool (B), and choose a soft round brush. Pick a black color and paint over the highlights.
The bottom part of its legs is still lighter then the rest of the body. To fix this, add a new layer on the top and create a Clipping Mask from it. Select the Brush Tool (B) and choose a soft round brush. Lower the opacity to about 15% and pick a darker color of elephant. Now paint over the parts of the legs that are lighter. You can see how the layer should look below. I used a black color underneath so you can see it better.
The elephant should also be darker. Add new adjustment layer Levels (click on the button Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer is next to the button Create Vector Mask). Set the Input Levels on 0; 0,57; 255, and press OK. Create a clipping mask.
Now desaturate the elephant a little. Add a new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation and set the Saturation value to -40. Press OK and create a clipping mask. Increase the contrast in colors of the elephant by adding a new adjustment layer with a Gradient Map and select Black, White Gradient. Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Luminosity and create a clipping mask from the layer.