How to create a fantasy photomanipulation in Photoshop

How to create a fantasy photomanipulation in Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to combine some stock images in Photoshop to create a fantasy photomanipulation. We will play in particular with colors, mask and adjustment layers.

Fantasy is one of my favourite topic in graphic design. We can create a world in 2500×3500 pixels. This tutorial, for example, was initially created with the intention of teaching how to create outstanding landscapes with adjustment layers. Then I accidentally came accross the image of a nice kid, and I decided to turn all the tutorial into a surreal land with a castle and a flying horse. Hope you enjoy it!

Preview of the final result:

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Step 1

Open the landscape image in Photoshop

Step 2

Duplicate the layer and switch the layer blend mode to overlay with opacity 40%. Then merge the 2 layers in a new layer (shift+alt+ctrl+E). Now I want to enhance the details of the image, so I need the high-pass filter. With the last created layer selected, go to Filter>Other>High Pass… and choose a radius of 3 px. Set this layer to overlay.

Step 3

Paste in the image of the castle. Softly erase around the castle to remove the background. You don’t need to be too much accurate.

Step 4

Create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation) and set the saturation to -100. Now we have a grayscale image. Remember that, from now on, this layer has to remain at the top of all the other layers, so that all the images we will insert will be in grayscale (the adjustment layer affects all the layers below).

Notice that the blu around the castle’s edges has disappeared. Now it’s a soft gray perfectly merged with the background.

Step 5

At this point I decided the castle has to be wrapped by clouds. So with the clouds brushes start painting to create a more mystic scene. Use more than one layer and, once you’ve finished, group all the layers (order is important while working on complex projects).

Step 6

Open the image of the kid. We have to extract it. Use the pen tool for this purpose. Don’t be too much accurate around the hair, we will fix them later. Copy and paste the kid in our document. Place it behind the castle and flip him horizontal (Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal).

Step 7

Zoom on the kid’s head. Select the smudge tool and set 1px for the brush settings, darken for mode and 70% for strength. Now start painting as if you’d like to paint kid’s hair. Look at the screenshot for a reference.

Step 8

It’s time to add more details. Paste in the moon image and set the layer to screen.

Step 9

Insert the birds. I used a free vector that can be downloaded from the freebies section of the GoMedia Arsenal.

Step 10

Extract Pegasus using the pen tool, paste it into the document and resize it (ctrl+T)

Step 11

Duplicate Pegasus layer and move it below. Now I want to give a sense of movement, so I apply the motion blur filter (Filter>Blur>Motion Blur). Settings are shown in the screenshot:

Step 12

Create a new layer above the Pegasus’ one. Ctrl+click on Pegasus layer to select its pixels, set black as foreground color and click alt+delete to fill the selection with black.

Step 13

Press ctrl+D to deselect. Now with the erase tool start eliminating parts of Pegasus silhouette (use a brush with hardness 0%) so that some details will appear.

Step 14

Create a new layer. Set black and white as foregound and background colors. Go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Switch the layer blend mode to screen (black will disappear). Reduce the opacity to around 25% and remove unwanted parts with the erase tool.

Step 15

At this point I want to show you how I organized my layers. As discussed in a previous step, order helps you to have more control on the creative process.

Step 16

Lets start adding colors. At the top of all the layers create a gradient map (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map). I chose a gradient from a dark purple (#65066e) to a lighter one (#e6d1e7). Set the layer to overlay with opacity 50%.

Step 17

Create a curves adjustment layer to make everything darker.

Step 18

Paste in the old paper texture. Duplicate it, and hide the duplicated layer for the moment. With the crop tool select the area of the paper texture and press enter.

Step 19

With the pen tool select the 2 visible pages of the book. Press ctrl+enter to activate the selection. Now click on the “add layer mask button” below the layer’s window. Titled this layer “paper1″.

Step 20

Make visible the other paper layer, title it “paper 2″ and select it. Ctrl+click on the mask of the paper1 layer and press alt+add layer mask button. Lets analize the last 2 layers created: paper 1 are the 2 pages visible, while paper2 is the contour (the 2 pages are masked).

Step 21

Select the paper1 layer and set the blending mode to overlay with opacity 70%.

Step 22

Select the paper2 layer. Press ctrl+U to open the saturation window and set saturation to -50. Now go to Image>Adjustment>Brightness/Contrast and set brightness to -20. Finished! And this is the result:

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Sebastiano

Howdy! I'm a self taught graphic designer who loves to create amazing stuff using every kind of media. I'm currently living and working in Italy.

60 Comments

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  1. Very good tutorial, i have also retweeted it. and congrats on your new superb website.

    My Last Tutorial : Create 12 Web 2.0 Text Effects Using Layer Styles http://bit.ly/8rSZLw

  2. This is Lovely .. Thanks for sharing

  3. This is cool effect!!
    I love this post
    Thanks for posting

    BY
    Tutoreffic

  4. Camille

    I get stuck in step 20, when i ctrl+click on the mask of the paper1 it opens its options (eg disable layer, delete layer mask etc.) and deselect paper2.
    Then when i press alt+ add layer mask, it doesn’t do anything…
    i m on a mac, so does it change anything? is there another way to do it?
    It’s so frustrating!

    • Hi Camille!
      On your mac you have to click with cmd+left click on the mask and you should see the selection active.

  5. John

    GREAT TUTORIAL!!!

    Lots of great techniques thank you :)

  6. cant uderstand step 2 lol

  7. Lily

    Great tutorial, thank you! It was really clear and easy to follow.

  8. you did amazing work on image, thank you very much for your excellent step by step instruction, I have tried same effects on my project and got appreciated by client..God Bless..have a prosperous career.

  9. R4wT

    Thanx a lot, great tutorial!

  10. bobkasdu

    thanks 4 the tutorial

  11. cikky

    i like it….u are so cool…
    i want to be a graphic design too..
    but i must learn, try, and always try…..
    hope it can will be true….i hope so….

    thx fo d tutorials n brushes….^o^

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