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:


Become a Premium Member and get unlimited access to source files and premium resources for only 7$/month. Click here to learn more.

Support Material:

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:


Become a Premium Member and get unlimited access to source files and premium resources for only 7$/month. Click here to learn more.

Related Posts

high quality vectors

2500+ premium design resources for only $7!

We do the best to provide high-quality products that you can use in your commercial projects.
You bet!

take a tour

Team WeGraphics

WeGraphics is a creative studio specialized in creating graphic design resources. We do our best to provide high-quality products that our subscribers can use in their commercial projects.


(+add yours)
  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

  2. This is Lovely .. Thanks for sharing

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


  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


    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^

  12. My brother suggested I would possibly like this blog.

    He was totally right. This publish actually made my day.
    You cann’t believe simply how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  13. Definitely believe that that you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be at the web
    the simplest factor to consider of. I say to you, I definitely get irked even
    as other people consider concerns that they plainly don’t understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest as well as defined out the whole thing with no need side effect , folks could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

  14. The best way to become healthier and fitter, not just slimmer.

    Keep a picture of the woman’s diet, report the researchers in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The diet dieting myths and facts is the water. The third error: Eggs and milk are very beneficial to people suffering from diabetes are told that they need to put that into our bread?

  15. I have read so many posts about the blogger lovers except this piece of writing
    is genuinely a good article, keep it up.

    • For me, choosing a mdeical specialty is easy. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work as a Dermatologist Tech prior to moving to Alaska. What an amazing field! No two cases are the same and more than one type of procedure can be performed in a day. Working for a dermatologist provides the benefits of both a private office setting and hours along with the experience of surgeries and unique treatments. Cyst removals and cancer treatments became the most interesting procedures to me and I can not wait to get back into the field!There are not many positions or specialties I would turn down when it comes to the mdeical field. If I had to pick one, however, it would have to be gynecology. Why would this be the field I turn down? I am honestly not sure. I must be lacking the gene the would cause me to be interested in the subject! For whatever reason I would choose to work anywhere else before choosing gynecology. Specialty clinics are like sushi I guess. How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?!

  16. I like to disseminate knowledge that will I have accrued with the yr
    to help enhance team performance.

  17. Whats up! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you could have here on this post.

    I will be coming back to your weblog for extra soon.

  18. My brother recommmended I might like this website.
    He wass entirely right. This post actually maade my day.

    You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information!

  19. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to
    say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  20. Fantastic tutorial, thank you

  21. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

Leave your comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© Copyright 2015 - All rights reserved. Design and code by WeGraphics Team