Creating a Fantasy ‘Nightscape’ in Photoshop

October 6, 2010 • By

In this tutorial, we’ll be creating a dark composition that would be chiefly enhanced by Adjustment Layers and for other effects in the image, the use of Smart Object/Filters we also be highlighted.

Step 1

We’ll start by creating a new document with the size of 800 px x 800 px and a resolution of 140 pixel/inch. The photo below is one I shot myself (it seems a little under exposed) but you can find lots of free pictures of the dawn with a floating stretch of clouds.

Step 2

Drag the picture into Photoshop and resize it (well, this of course depends on the image you’ve decided to use) to fit our working window.

Step 3

The Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), was used to select and delete the base of the picture.

Step 4

Duplicate the ‘sky’ layer and go to Filter>Extract to extract the clouds from the background. In the Extract Filter window, select the Edge Highlighter brush(B) and make the outlines as shown below:

Step 5

Follow up with the use of the Fill Tool (G) and fill the inner areas of highlights.

The extracted clouds:

Step 6

This picture of the moon can be downloaded from www.sxc.hu.

Step 7

Use your selection tool of choice to extract the moon from the black background. In this case, the Magic Wand Tool (W), was used here. Also use a soft Eraser brush with an opacity of 50% to soften the sharp edges of the moon.

Step 8

Press Ctrl+L for the levels Dialog box and lighten up the moon by just
dragging the white slider on the right.

The result:

Step 9

In another layer over the moon, paint with a black Soft Round brush around areas mainly where the craters are. Change the layers Blend mode to overlay. Merge this layer with the moon.

Step 10

Increase the brightness of the clouds with the Levels command making the adjustments below. Also place the ‘clouds’ layer on top of the ‘moon’ layer.

The clouds highlighted:

Step 11

This picture of a beach can be downloaded from www.sxc.hu by Chemtec. Resize the picture to suit the size main document and also have it placed over the ‘sky’ layer.

Step 12

Erase the blue skies from the beach.

Step 13

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and make a selection around the rocks.*Note that the selection at the base of the rocks shouldnt be very straight. It should follow closely the alignment of the rocks.

Step 14

Right-click the selection and choose Layer Via Copy to copy the rocks to a new layer.

Step 15

Adjusting the hue of the rocks, press Ctrl+U for the Hue/Saturation Dialog box.

Step 16

Also darken the rocks just a bit with the Curves command (Ctrl+M). Then merge the ‘rocks’ layer with the ‘sky’ layer pressing Ctrl+E.

Step 17

Merge the moon, clouds, sky layers into one. Duplicate the newly merged ‘sky’ layer and press Ctrl+T to enter the Free Transform mode. Select Rotate 180 degrees and then, Flip Horizontal.

Step 18

Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur to blur the intended reflection of the sky.

The result below:

Step 19

Use the Free Transform Tool to scale the ‘sky copy’ and the Distort Tool to spread the image for a flatter look.

Converting the ‘sky copy’ to a Smart Object, provides a non-destructive way to edit an image without really altering the image itself but yet, attaining the desired effects set out. In our case we’ll be using Filters – thus, Smart Filters. This will enable us adjust or rearrange the Filter effects.

Step 20

Convert the ‘sky copy’ to a Smart Object right-clicking the layer and selecting this option. Now go to Filter>Distort>Ocean Ripple and set the Ripple Size to13 and its Magnitude to 14.

Step 21

Below the ‘sky copy’ layer is a sub-layer with the Ocean Ripple effect. Double-click on the little arrows its right to bring up the Blending Options. Reduce the Opacity of the Filter to 30%.

If you’re not satisfied with the result, you can always go back to the Filter itself to make the necessary adjustments.

Step 22

We’ll now add another Smart Filter which is the Bas Relief Filter. Go to Filter>Sketch>Bas Relief and adjust its values as shown below:

Step 23

As is in Step21, bring up the Blending Options of the Bas Relief Filter and set its Opacity to15%.

The final result with the Smart Filters below:

The final result with the Smart Filters:

Step 24

Over all other layers, add both a Color Balance and Curves Adjustment Layers (click on the third icon from the left below the Layers Palette). These are the parameters below:

The result:

Step 25

In a new layer, use a black soft round brush to paint around the edges of the image and some portion of the clouds. Also use the Smudge Tool to smear the paint work.

Step 26

Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Blur Radius to about 82 pixels.

The blur result below:

Step 27

We’ll now add light from what would be something of a distant star. Set the foreground colour to #deeff5
and select the Ellipse Tool (U) and draw a thin line.

Step 28

Draw a second flat ellipse with a colour: #609ae8.

Step 29

Blur both ellipses with a Gaussian Blur with the Radius of 0.4 and 12 pixels respectively. Use the Blur Tool to fade both ends of the first ellipse as well.

Step 30

Merge both layers of the ellipses (Ctrl+E) and use the Eraser Tool with an opacity of about 5% to fade the light ray only at it edges. Create a new layer and place a white Soft Round brush over the line and follow up with a slightly larger, but light bluish color. Also use the Free Transform Tool to narrow the glow.

Step 31

Merge the glow with the line and increase its brightness just a little with the Levels command (Ctrl+L). Name the layer ‘ray.’

Step 32

Duplicate the ‘ray’ layer, flip it with the Free Transform Tool and set the
layer’s Blend mode to Overlay and its Opacity to 75%.

Step 33

Above all other layers, create a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer with the parameters below:

This is our final image! A dreamy night scape.

By David Ella Ella