In this tutorial we’re going to create a dark and fiery apocalyptic scene with a tower and a creature which is something of a mythical dragon.The style of the composition is a matte one; that is, the colour here is flat and like that of a painting.

Step 1

We start off by opening a picture of the clock tower in Photoshop, that I downloaded for free at Select the selection tool of your choice to make a selection around the tower and right click the selection. Choose the option of Layer via Copy to extract a copy of the tower from its previous white background. A new layer with the copy of the layer would be created.

Step 2

Also select the white areas of the tower (in between the pillars) with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and delete them. Also in between the legs of the statue and other minute areas of the white background of the tower should deleted when zooming in on the tower.

Step 3

Drag any beautiful stormy sky picture of your choice into Photoshop. We’ll edit the sky picture in its on window.

Step 4

Go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation and add the parameters below. I did not intend to make image entirely in black and white or purely monochrome. There was a slight tint of colour left on the image.

The result here.

Step 5

Drag the sky image into you main workspace containing the tower. Place “sky” layer underneath the “tower” layer. Do not fit the image of the sky perfectly within the workspace. Leave some margin of the sky image outside the workspace. I have a reason for this and will be revealed later.

Step 6

Create a blank layer just below the “sky” layer and on the menubar, go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Still on the menu, head to Image>Adjustments>Brightness to brighten the ‘clouds’ mildly. Reduce the “sky” layer’s opacity reduced to a about 80% and merge it (Ctrl+E) with the clouds layer.

Step 7

Selecting the merged “sky” layer, go to Image>Adjustments>Photo Filter and select Warming Filter (85) and increase its Density to 85%.

What you’ll get as a result is a red-like fiery dawn.

Step 8

Well now add more vibrancy to the skies. Go to Filter>Render>Lighting effects and select the Light type as Omni and adjust other Properties as shown below:

Now the red dawn skies appear appear ‘ignited,’ if you’ll accord me to poetic license to say so.

Step 9

Clicking on the “Tower” layer, go to Image>Adjustments>Photo Filter. Increase the Density of the Filter by 55%.

Now the colour of tower is reasonably blended with that of sky background. I deliberately did not want to make the tower too reddish or orangish in a bid to match it the sky colour.

Step 10

We’ll now make highlights around the tower with the Dodge Tool(O). Start by lightening the edges the tower (top statue inclusive), the pillars, the clocks, the decor and the roof below the tower.

Step 11

Create a new Adjustment Layer for Curves (Ctrl+M) or click on the forth icon from the right that’s just below the Layers Pallete.

The result gives the image a lot more tone and density.

Step 12

As mentioned earlier about not resizing the sky picture to fit perfectly with the current workspace, we can now manipulate the sky image for the purpose of giving it a spherical outlook. Go to Edit>Transform>Warp.

Step 13

Download the statue of the Chinese dragon below from, to be precised. Here, I used the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) to select the dragon’s head. If you do have another mythical creature that its mythology revolves around fire, please use it. I would have preferred the Phoenix but I didn’t have enough time to find the perfect stock image of a bird in flight.

When the selection made, right click and choose Layer via copy. Drag the new copy of the dragon’s head to the main image.

Step 14

Position the dragon’s head by the tower and resize it by using the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T). Note that I did not intend this to be a proper dragon in the actual sense of the word, but a fiery creature that bears its semblance. So we’ll be sticking with this ‘dragon thing. Blur the edges of the dragon’s head with the Blur Tool.

Step 15

To blend colour the image of the ‘dragon thing,’ go to Image>Adjustments>Color Balance and adjust the Color Levels.

More red have been added to the dragon’s head.

Step 16

Use the Dodge Tool to highlight most part of the left-side of the dragon and burn the remaining right part of the dragon with the Burn Tool.

Step 17

Again with the Dodge Tool, lightening up the eyes with the brush pressure concentrated a potion of the eyes.

Step 18

Pick a Soft Round Brush and at the Brushes Palette, select Shape Dynamics. For the Brush control, select Fade size as 37 and increase the Minimum Diameter by 17%.

Step 19

With your Brush’s Blend Mode set at SoftLight and opacity at 67%. Paint a trails of light emanating from both dragon’s eyes.

Step 20

Still with the Brush Tool selected, on the Brushes Palette,set Jitter to 20%, Fade size to 75. Also select Scattering and set it to 75% and Count to 4. Paint a trail of fire.



Next, change the brush colour to #fbf7d6 and paint sparingly over the previous brush stroke.


Change the brush colour to #f8ed94.

Step 21

We’ll now roughen up the trail of fire a bit. Go to Filter>Distort>Ocean Ripple and set the Ripple Size to 12 and its Magnitude to 9.

The result:

Step 22

We’ll now create a smoky breath for the dragon in a new layer. You can download a set of smoke brushes from here

Step 23

After the first application of the Smoke Brush is made, press Ctrl+T and then right click and select Flip Horizontal and then rotate.

Step 24

Apply the brush left of the mouth of the dragon and around the edges of the fire trail.

Step 25

In a new layer “mist,” select a Soft Round Brush with a #f5f4eb colour and Opacity reduced to 50%. Paint around the base of the tower.

Step 26

With the Burn Tool selected, burn slightly the outermost edges of the sky.

Step 27

With a Soft Round Brushed selected, apply in the mouth of our creature.

C’est finish!

By David Ella Ella