This tutorial shows you how to combine different stock photos to create calm landscape manipulation. You will learn different techniques of blending, changing lights and shadows and color adjustments. Let’s get started!
Preview of Final Results
Serene Fantasy Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial
- Background, sky and swan – Pelleron-Art
- Left Mountain – Salsola Stock
- Right Mountain – creativewa on sxc.hu
- Right Rock – irenegirl on sxc.hu
- Left Rock – mdnt on sxc.hu
- Mist Brushes – Pelleron
- Light Rays Brushes – Pelleron
Step 1 – Removing the Sky from the Background
Open the background picture in Photoshop. Right click on the layer and select the option Layer from background.
First thing you need to do with the picture is to remove the uninteresting sky to be able to add the more dramatic one. You can easily do that with Channels.
If you don’t have the palette Channels visible go to Window > Channels and it will appear. On this palette you can see four different layers – RGB, Red, Green and Blue.
Right click on the Blue channel and select the option Duplicate Channel… Make visible only this duplicated Channel.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels or press Ctrl + L on your keyboard. Set the Input Levels on 128; 1,00; 232 and press OK. You should get something like on the following picture.
You want to make the picture only black and white without any shade of grey. Things you’ve done before leads to creating the mask for the sky. White color shows part of the picture which will be selected and black part stays unselected. If you let some grey colors in the picture they will be selected e.g. with 50% opacity.
To make the whole ground black grab the Brush Tool (B), pick black color and simply paint over the grey areas of the water.
On the horizon there are some buildings which shouldn’t be in the final picture. Carefully paint over them with white brush. You should get something like on the picture below. On the following picture you can see how the channel should looks like.
Once you’re finished make visible all channels except the one named “Blue Copy”. Go to Select > Load Selection and set the window which appear as on the picture below. Press OK.
It activates the mask based on the Blue copy Channel.
The sky is selected and you want to hide it. First you need to invert the selection. Do that by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I on your keyboard or go to Select > Invert. Then click on the button Add layer mask which can be found in the bottom part of Layers palette.
Thanks to it the sky disappears and you’re able to add another, more dramatic. Below you can see how the picture looks without the sky.
Step 2 – Removing the Cottage
There are fragments of the cottage in the left part of the picture and it doesn’t look nice.
To remove it grab the Brush Tool (B), select one of the round brushes and set the Hardness on 100%. Set the Master Diameter on 5 pixels. Higher the opacity of the brush on 100% too and pick black color.
Click on the layer mask, zoom in and paint over the cottage to make it invisible.
Step 3 – Adding the Sky and Mountains
This will be very quick step. Open the picture of sky and drag it into the manipulation. Name the layer SKY and place it under the BACKGROUND. Press Ctrl + T and resize it on proper size. Once you’re satisfied with the size press OK.
Open the picture of the right mountain, cut out the background and drag it into the manipulation. Place the layer under the BACKGROUND and name it e.g. RIGHT MOUNTAIN. Resize it on proper size.
Then do the same with left mountain.
Step 4 – Adjusting the Right Mountain
Right now the mountains doesn’t fit to the picture. The right mountain should have lower contrast, the left should be lighter and less saturated.
First let’s adjust the right mountains. Add new adjustment layer Levels above the RIGHT MOUNTAIN. You can find the button Create new fill or adjustment layer in the bottom part of the Layers palette.
Set the Input Levels of the adjustment layer on 0; 1,28; 255.
Right click on the adjustment layer and select the option Create Clipping Mask. This way the adjustment layer adjusts only one layer below – RIGHT MOUNTAIN and not the whole picture.
Step 5 – Adjusting Left Mountain
Let’s adjust the left mountain.
First lower the saturation. Add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation above the layer LEFT MOUNTAIN. Select Cyan color and set the Saturation on -65. Create clipping mask from this adjustment layer.
Mountains should be lighter because they are in distance. Add new adjustment layer Levels above the Hue/Saturation layer and set the Input Levels on 0; 1,49; 255. Create clipping mask from it.
Below it is shown how the image looks so far.
Step 6 – Bottom Part of Mountains
There is missing part of the left mountain. You’ll add it in this step.
Click on the LEFT MOUNTAIN layer and grab the Lasso Tool (L). Select the bottom part of it. Press Ctrl + C to copy the selection and then paste it above the LEFT MOUNTAIN and its adjustment layers.
Name the new layer e.g. BOTTOM MOUNTAIN.
It should be lighter to fit the rest of the image. To do that add new adjustment layer Levels above the BOTTOM MOUNTAIN and set the Input Levels on 0; 1,49; 255. Create clipping mask from it to adjust only one layer below not the whole image.
Below you can see how the adjustment affects the layer BOTTOM MOUNTAIN.
Step 7 – Adding Mist
As I mentioned in my previous tutorials I really like using mist because it creates nice fantasy atmosphere in your pictures. You’ll add it in this step.
Create a new layer under the layer BACKGROUND and name it MIST. Install the mist brushes you’ve downloaded in the beginning of the tutorial. If you don’t know how to install brushes you can take a look at this tutorial.
Select one of the brushes you’ve just installed. Hold Alt on your keyboard which activates the Eyedropper Tool and pick some light color from sky or mountain. Then paint mist arround the mountain.
On the following picture you can see how your picture should look so far.
Step 8 – Adjusting the River
If you try to create an impression of space or perspective you need to keep in mind that objects which are closer to the viewer are darker and objects in the distance are lighter. In your manipulation there is no difference in lightness between distant and close objects so far. You’ll fix it quickly in this step.