Create a Christmas Wonder Collage in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a fabulous landscape with a Christmas tree, a crescent, a frozen fountain, and other elements such as winter Christmas lights, icicles, stars, and a snowy texture.

Final image

In this lesson, you can find useful tips and materials that can help you create a landscape without digital drawing skills. This lesson is written for users who know the basic tools and settings of Photoshop. It does not contain a very detailed description of the actions, such as “how to create a correction layer”, “how to separate elements from the background” and some others because of the large number of steps. You can use the training material to create your own pictures with a different story.

Below is an animation of all the steps described in the lesson.

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with a size of 2600 x 2900 px and Resolution (Resolution) 72 pixels / in.

Apply an overlay parameter to the first background layer. OverlayGradient (Gradient overlay), specify Style (Style): Radial (Radial). Unlock this layer first.

Step 2

Insert an image of the sky above the background gradient.

Apply the transformation Warp (Deformation) to the image of the sky through the menu Edit> Transform> Wrap (Edit> Transform> Warp). You can choose an option Arc (Arch) from the transformation presets (noted in the screenshot), and then correct the form in the Custom (Customized), adjusting levers.

Step 3

Add adjustment layer Gradient map (Gradient map) to the sky. You can find all adjustment layers at the bottom of the layers palette. Right-click on the adjustment layer and select Create Clipping Mask (Create Clipping Mask) to apply changes only to the sky layer.

Add a mask to the sky layer and fill the bottom with a black and white gradient to make a smooth transition from the sky to the background layer.

For layer Gradient map (Gradient map) use colors similar to the background gradient.

Step 4

Paste texture Stars above the sky.

Apply a blend mode to the star layer. Screen (Screen).

Step 5

Above the Star layer, paste the image Crescent.

Make the crescent layer invisible for now. Then select the whole document Select> All (Select> All) and copy the selection Edit> Copy Special> Copy Merged (Edit> Copy Special> Copy Combined Data).

Paste the merged layer over the crescent. We do this to apply the background color to the crescent image.

Make the crescent layer visible.

Make a clipping mask from the combined background for the layer. Crescent, apply overlay mode to it Color (Chromaticity) with Opacity (Opacity) 70%.

Step 6

Insert image Snow wall, erase the background area above the snowy peaks. You can use simple Eraser tool (Eraser) or select the area above the peaks with any convenient selection tool and delete it.

Create a new layer and draw higher vertices using simple hard Brush tool (Brush). You can also make a selection using Polygonal Lasso Tool (Rectangular Lasso) and fill the selected area with a solid color. These elements should not have a perfect shape and smooth edges.

Load a selection for the created peak shape (Ctrl + click on the layer thumbnail), and then add a new blank layer.

Take a dark blue brush and create shadows inside the selection. Just add a ragged silhouette to the edges of the rocks.

Step 7

Create a new layer on top of all created layers. We will use it to create a snow texture for new rock shapes.

Insert the original image of the snow wall into this layer, select the original shape of this layer, and then invert Select> Inverse (Select> Invert) and fill the entire empty area with ContentAware (Given the content) through the menu Edit > Fill > Content-Aware (Edit> Fill> based on content). You should have an image covered in a snowy texture.

Then load the selection for the created rock shapes. (Ctrl + Click a layer of rock).

Add a layer mask to the snow texture layer.

Erase the upper center of the original layer with a snow wall that is located below the rocks.

Step 8

There are two ways to add shadows to the tops of the rocks. You can simply place the shadow layer created earlier above the shapes of the snow rocks and change the blending mode for this layer Multiply (Multiplication) with Opacity (Opacity) 30-40%. The shadow layer should be blue / dirty blue.

Another way is you can load the selection for the shadow layer created earlier and adjust the levels for the selected area on the rocks. Load the selection, make the layer with the snow rocks active, go to the menu Image> Adjustments> Levels (Image> Correction> Levels). Move the center (gray) and left (black) markers slightly to the right.

Step 9

Insert the image of the fountain.

Apply correction Black and white (Black and white) to this image through the menu Image >Adjustments > Blackandwhite (Image> Correction> Black and White).

Apply filter SurfaceBlur (Blur over the surface) through menu Filter > Blur > SurfaceBlur (Filter> Blur> Blur over the surface).

Apply filter Paint daubs (Oil painting) through the menu Filter>Gallary (Filter> Filter Gallery)

Use these settings for image correction.

Step 10

Add a layer mask to the fountain layer. Erase some parts of the image to make the transition between a snowy background and a stone wall. You can use a soft ragged brush of brushes. Assorted (Different) set in Photoshop (texture 3, texture 6).

You can see the erased areas in the image below, they are marked in red.

Step 11

Let’s add a snowy texture to a stone fountain. We need to add some adjustment layers and clipping masks.

To get started, go to the channel palette.

Duplicate Red (Red channel), change the correction Levels (Levels) for duplicate channel. Make it more contrast. You can find the level settings in the image below. Go back to the normal RGB channel, we will use the copied red channel a little later.

Download the texture file (Texture 1) and place it over the image of the fountain as a clipping mask. All clipping masks have a small arrow to the left of the icon.

Download selection for duplicate channel. Ctrl + click on the layer icon. Invert selection Select > Inverse (Selection> Invert).

Add a layer mask to the texture layer.

Specify blend mode Darken (Darker) with Opacity (Opacity) 50%. We used these channel and layer mask manipulations to apply mostly textures to the dark / shadow areas of the fountain. Later we will add another texture in the bright areas of the image.

Using different texture intensities for dark and light areas can help create a more realistic effect.

Add an adjustment layer as a clipping mask. GradientMap (Gradient Map).

Step 12

The next step is not needed, but if you want to add more sharpness to the snow texture, you can load a selection for the entire image. Select> All (Select> All) and then copy the selection as a merged object Edit> Copy Merged (Editing> Copy merged data).

Paste it above the layer. GradientMap (Gradient Map), go to menu Filter> Other> High Pass (Filter> Other> Color Contrast).

Apply blending mode to this layer. Overlay (Overlap) with Opacity (Opacity) 80%.

Step 13

Paste another texture (Texture 2). Apply blend mode Screen (Screen) c Opacity (Opacity) 80% to it.

You can see the white texture covering some shaded / deep areas of the fountain. It looks flat and unrealistic.

To fix this, go back to the palette channels and load the selection for the copied red channel. Go back to the texture layer and apply a layer mask. Do not invert the selection this time. Dark / shaded areas of the texture will be masked.

Step 14

Add adjustment layer GradientMap (Gradient Map) on top of all created layers. Apply Opacity (Opacity) 60% for this layer.

For gradient, use the following colors:

To apply this gradient layer only to the fountain and the snow wall area, load the selection for both objects. Ctrl + click on the Snow Wall layer, Ctrl + Shift + click on the fountain layer.

Add a mask to the layer GradientMap (Gradient Map) with active selection. You should get a layer mask with white rocks and a black background.

Step 15

You can add more snow texture to the tops of the rocks. Insert the original image of the snow wall, make it black and white through the menu Image> Adjustments> Black and White (Image> Adjustments> Black and White) and then increase the contrast Image> Adjustments> Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels), move the black and gray markers slightly to the right and the white marker to the left), add noise Filter> Noise> Add Nois (Filter> Noise> Add Noise) (16-20).

Add a layer mask to the texture image, fill it with black, and then paint some areas of the rock tops with a white brush.

Step 16

There are three different icicle textures. Here is an example of how to use them.

Insert an image of an icicle. You can correct its shape, if necessary, using Warp (Deformation) and Free transformation (Free Transformation).

Duplicate the layer with the icicle.

Change settings Levels (Levels) through the menu Image> Adjustments> Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels) for the duplicated layer.

In addition, add a duplicate filter. Sharpen (Sharpness).

Specify blend mode Screen (Screen) for the duplicated layer. You can experiment with opacity to get a more natural result.

For the layer with the lower icicles, apply the blending mode Screen (Screen) and lower Opacity (opacity).

Repeat the same steps for other icicles.

In the example below, you can see how I grouped the layers with the icicles and added masks to the groups in order to erase some icicles or to make some of them shorter. You can do this with a simple round black brush.

Step 17

Insert the image of the clouds.

To add some additional shades to the composition, add Gradient map (Gradient Map), which will cover the entire composition.

Play with opacity to find the best amount of hue intensity.

Adjust levels for this layer using an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels).

Step 18

Insert the image of the Christmas tree.

Insert the image of a sleeping hare. Erase part of the right ear to hide it behind the crescent.

To create a hare shadow on a crescent, duplicate the hare layer and place it above the crescent adjustment layers, make a clipping mask from this layer. You need to convert this layer to a clipping mask to apply the shadow only to the shape of a crescent.

Add a layer style Drop shadow (Shadow) to the duplicated layer with the hare.

Use a deep blue tint to adjust the shadow.

Step 19

Create a contour with PenTool (Feather) for future Christmas lights. You can create one outline, and then copy and paste it several times, and then adjust the size and shape of each outline.

I added a white layer below the contours to make them visible.

Take a brush and adjust it as shown in the screenshot below.

Circle the brush. Take any tool associated with the contour, right-click on each contour and select Stroke subpath (Circle sub-contour).

Check the box Simulate pressure (Imitate push)

Here is the result of applying the brush. Do not delete contours. We need them to add light bulbs.

Step 20

Download the Christmas Lights brush or use similar settings for your own brush.

Circle again, but with a new brush on the new layer.

Step 21

Let’s add shine to the lights.

Create a new layer, fill it with any color (apply Fill (Fill) = 0%), add a layer style GradientOverlay (Gradient overlay). I used a rainbow gradient style Light spectrum (Spectra).

Choose a soft round brush.

Add a mask to the rainbow gradient layer. Fill the mask with black.

Then click on several lights with a white soft brush in mask mode to create a soft glow effect.

Step 22

I would like to correct the colors of the composition again. Select all image Select> All (Select> All). Copy merged (Copy the combined data). Paste the merged layer above all created layers.

Go to menu Filter > LensesCorrection (Filter> Distortion Correction).

Add a corner vignette to the illustration.

Step 23

If you want to add pastel / vintage colors, duplicate the previous layer and apply a correction to it. Auto color (Automatic color correction)

Specify an overlay mode for this layer. Color (Chromaticity). Play with opacity to find the best hue intensity.

And here is the result!

You can add a snowfall animation to the image. There are many lessons that teach how to create snow animation in Photoshop. I used this lesson:

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