Create a fantastic mountain landscape in Photoshop

In this tutorial, we will create a fantasy collage called “Land of the Eagle”.

We will start the lesson with a sketch of the idea, and then combine a few photos for its implementation. In the process, you will see how to use adjustment layers, masks and brushes, how to change the color and atmosphere of the picture to get beautiful results. In addition, we will work with groups, create lighting, pay attention to details and much more.

Final result:

Lesson resources:

1. Sketch of the idea and search for sources

Step 1

We start with a rough outline of the final picture. It is better to use a graphics tablet. But if it is not, then you can do with pen and paper. The idea is to create a beautiful landscape with elements of the Middle Ages, immersed in fog and illuminated by the light of the sun. First, it is better to make a black and white sketch, and then add a color.

As you can see, the light source is in the upper right corner. It is better to determine it in advance, at the initial stage.

Step 2

Finding source images is always an easy task. It is very important to find the right perspective, lighting and shadows. We will use the following photos to compose the scene:

2. Basic landscape

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop (Ctrl + N) 2200×2200 pixels in size. Fill it with white.

Step 2

Open a photo of a mountain landscape in Photoshop. Tool Move (Move Tool) (V) transfer it to the main document. Convert a layer to a smart object via the context menu.

Step 3

Create an adjustment layer Selective color correction (Selective Color) and change Yellow (Yellows) colors.

Step 4

Insert the first photo of the sky in our document and place it in the corner.

Add a mask and a soft brush to hide the edges to leave the clouds away in the background.

3. Mountains and rocks

Step 1

Open the photo of the mountains and instrument Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool) (M) Highlight area with mountains.

Transfer the selected part of the image to our document.

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft brush to connect the new mountains with the base photo. The mountains that we added should be farther from the viewer, so they are less visible. Reduce the opacity of the brush and make them less bright. This will help create the depth of field.

Step 2

For the distant mountains create an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation). It is needed to reduce the color saturation of the mountains and match the tone with the other elements of the scene.

Step 3

Open the photo of the rock. Tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool) (L) select it and transfer it to our document. Position the rock in the corner and turn it a bit in mode. Free transform (Ctrl + T). It is on this rock that the main character of our scene will stand.

Step 4

On the rock there is a shadow we do not need. Now we will remove it. Highlight the bright part of the cliff tool Lasso (Lasso Tool) (L). Create a new layer with clipping mask. (Ctrl + Alt + G) for the rock.

Copy selection (Ctrl + C) and paste it on a new layer (Ctrl + V).

Using a mask, wipe off the edges.

Step 5

Reduce the saturation of the color of the rock and remove the blue tint using the adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation).

Step 6

Add warm tones with an adjustment layer. Color balance (Color Balance):

Step 7

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves), to darken the rock.

On the mask of the adjustment layer, remove the shadow from the front of the cliff, as it should be lit.

Step 8

Create a new layer with clipping mask in mode. Overlap (Overlay) and fill with 50% gray.

Tools Clarifier (Dodge Tool) (O) and Dimmer (Burn Tool) (O) add shadows and light to the rock. In the settings, select the range Mid Tones (Midtones) and reduce Exposure up to 20-30%.

4. fog

Step 1

Insert the second image of the sky in our document and place under a layer of rock.

Add a mask and with a soft brush, leave a light mist from the dark clouds.

Step 2

Create a correction layer for fog Color balance (Color Balance):

Step 3

Create a mist correction layer Curves (Curves). On the mask paint over the area above the trees.

Thanks to the fog in the foreground, we visually increased the distance between the rock and the background.

5. Knight on horse

Step 1

Open the picture of the knight. On it the knight is depicted in a fighting pose, and we need a calm person admiring the beautiful view of the mountains. Finding the right photo was difficult, so the author decided to combine several photos for our scene.

Tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool) (L) Highlight the knight and the back of the horse. Copy the selection to a separate layer. (Ctrl + J). Create a new layer between the knight and the background layer. Fill it with color # 918989.

Step 2

Open the picture of the horse. With the same tool, select it and transfer it to the main document. Place a new horse layer under the knight’s layer and reduce it.

Step 3

For the lower layer of the horse, create an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation).

Step 4

Create another adjustment layer – Curves (Curves).

Step 5

For the horse, create a new layer with a 50% gray fill. Set it to overlay mode. Soft light (Soft Light). Tools Clarifier (Dodge Tool) (O) and Dimmer (Burn Tool) (O) add shadows and light to the horse’s head.

Step 6

Create a new layer and select a soft brush with the color # e6e6e6. Draw a shadow under the horse’s head. Set the blending mode Soft light (Soft Light).

Step 7

Go back to the knight’s layer. Go to menu Editing> Puppet Warp (Edit> Puppet Warp). Add anchor points and place the knight’s hand on his thigh. This hand should hold the bridle, and not be raised up.

Step 8

Create a new layer for the knight with 50% gray. Set the blending mode Overlap (Overlay). Add shadows and light to the knight’s hand.

Step 9

Create a new layer. Choose a tool Stamp (Clone Stamp Tool) (S) and on the top bar, select Sample from all layers (Sample All Layers). Cover the gap between the sleeve and the cloak, which was formed after the deformation.

Step 11

Open the photo of the horse with the bridle. Select it with a tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool) (L) and transfer to the main document. Activate warp mode (Edit> Transform> Warp) (Edit> Transform> Warp) and change the shape of the bridle.

Add a mask and a hard brush to erase the extra parts of the bridle.

Step 12

Change bridle color with adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation).

Step 13

Shade the bridle with a correction layer. Curves (Curves). On the mask with a soft brush, erase the shading in those places that were already dark.

Step 14

Create two new layers at the top. Draw the missing part of the bridle with the color # 3f1d20 and # a1403c.

Step 15

Create a new layer and use a hard brush with a size of 2-5 pixels using the color # f8f8f4 to draw a mane.

Step 16

Create a new layer and color # decab7 to paint the tail.

Add color # f8f8f4 to the tail.

Step 17

Create a new layer under the bridle and a soft brush, draw a shadow from it on the head.

Turn off the photo layer and the background layer. Select the topmost layer and click Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E, to reduce all visible layers.

6. Transfer Knight to the main document

Step 1

Transfer the knight to the main document and put it on the rock.

Create a correction layer for the knight. Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation).

Step 2

Create a correction layer for the knight. Color balance (Color Balance):

Step 3

The next adjustment layer is Curves (Curves). You only need to darken your back, so paint the front part on the mask.

Step 4

Create a 50% gray fill for the knight, set the layer mode to Overlap (Overlay) and improve the shadows and light.

Step 5

Create a new layer under the knight and a soft brush with 40% opacity to draw a shadow under the horse’s legs.

Name the layer “shadow 1”.

Step 6

We have already determined where our main light source will be. Now you need to create a shadow of a knight and a horse on a rock. Create a new layer under the “shadow 1” layer. Then select the knight’s layer (while holding Ctrl, click on the layer thumbnail).

Fill the selection with black and flip it over. (Edit> Transform> Flip Vertical) (Edit> Transform> Flip Vertical).

Tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool) (L) select the back foot, right-click on the canvas and select Cut to new layer (Layer via Cut).

Transform each layer of a shadow into a smart object and change its shape and size.

Reduce the opacity of the shadow layers to 50%. For each, apply a filter Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) with a value of 4 pixels.

Add a mask to the shadow layer from the back leg. Use a soft brush to erase the dark area that appeared as a result of overlaying layers.

Use the mask to loosen the saturation of the distant part of the shadow.

7. Castle

Step 1

Open the photo of the castle. Tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool) (W) select it and transfer it to the main document.

Add a mask to the castle and use a soft brush to erase the bottom edge to connect the castle with the mountain.

Step 2

Dim the lock with an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves). On the mask with a soft brush paint over the upper part of the castle, as it should be lighter.

Step 3

Reduce the saturation of the color of the castle with an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation):

Step 4

To match the castle color of the rock, you need to add a fill layer. Colour (Solid Color): # bec2c5. Reduce the layer opacity to 60%.

8. Eagles

Step 1

Open the photo of the eagle in Photoshop. Select it with a tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool) (W) and transfer to the main document. Turn the eagle the other way (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal) (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal).

Create a copy of the eagle, enlarge it and position it at the bottom so that only the wing remains visible.

Step 2

Apply filter to eagle wing Gaussian Blur.

Step 3

Layers with eagles put in a group (Ctrl + G). Set the group to normal overlay mode. Inside create a correction layer Hue / Saturation (Hue /Saturation), to remove the blue tint.

Step 4

Create an adjustment layer inside the group Color balance (Color Balance). On the mask, erase the yellow tint from the bottom of the wing in the foreground.

Step 5

Create an adjustment layer inside the group Curves (Curves). On the mask, remove the brightness from the bottom of the eagle.

Step 6

Create a 50% gray layer for the eagle, set the blending mode Overlap (Overlay). Add shadows and light to the bird.

Step 7

Insert another eagle in our document and place it in the background.

Step 8

Brighten the eagle with a correction layer. Curves (Curves).

Step 9

Add a blue color to the eagle, but remove it from the edges of the wings.

9. Basic color correction

Step 1

At the very top, create a correction layer. Gradient Map (Gradient Map): # 0f264b – # d3ce97. Set the blending mode Soft light (Soft Light).

Step 2

Create an adjustment layer Color balance (Color Balance):

Step 3

Create a fill layer Colour (Solid Color): # 2e2001. The blend mode is Exclusion.

Step 4

Darken the entire scene with an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves).

On the mask with a soft brush, reduce the contrast at the top of the scene, mainly on the mountains, trees and eagles.

10. Sunlight

Step 1

Create a new layer and paint a large blot with color # 2c1602. Set the blending mode Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge).

Create a new layer and color the mountains, trees, part of the castle and the birds with the same color.

Step 2

Color # dccdc0 paint over the edges of the mountains, a knight and a horse. Then add light to the castle, the trees and the rock on the left. Set the blending mode Overlap (Overlay).

Step 3

Paint the sun rays with the color # fdf3ea using special brushes.

Change perspective to mode Distortion (Edit> Transform> Distortion) (Edit> Transform> Distort).

Add a mask and use a soft brush to erase excess areas of sunlight, namely from mountains, birds and rocks in the foreground.

Soften the sun’s rays with a filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur).

11. Final Correction

Step 1

Create an adjustment layer Gradient Map (Gradient Map): # db9d68 – # 2c1602. Set the blending mode Soft light (Soft Light).

On the mask, loosen the brown color on the edges of the canvas.

Step 2

Create an adjustment layer Channel mixing (Channel Mixer).

Set the blending mode Soft light (Soft Light) and reduce the opacity to 50%. Use a soft brush to remove the effect from the sun and sky.

Step 3

Create an adjustment layer Selective color correction (Selective Color):

Step 4

Create an adjustment layer Vibration (Vibrance):

Step 5

Create another adjustment layer Selective color correction (Selective Color):

Step 6

Create an adjustment layer Photo Filter (Photo Filter): # 01e9ec.

Step 7

Create another adjustment layer Vibration (Vibrance):

On the mask, remove the effect where the color has become too saturated.

Final result:

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