Create a landscape with ruins in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to create a breathtaking landscape with ruins shrouded in magical rays of light. You will also learn how to add city ruins to the landscape of snowy mountains, including the technique of adding light rays and creating a marching army.

Final result

Baseline materials

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop. Set the following dimensions for the document 2337x 1315 px, click OK. The aspect ratio of this picture is 16: 9, to create a sense of the effect of motion pictures.

Download the stock image with the background at the link at the beginning of this tutorial, and then move this image with the background to our working paper. Name this layer “BACKGROUND”.

hint: Renaming layers is a good habit and useful action, since when creating more complex works with multiple layers, it will help you save time when searching for the right layers for additional correction.

Step 2

Download the stock image ‘Ruins’ from the link at the beginning of this tutorial, and then move this image with the ruins to our working paper. Name this layer “RUINS ON THE REAR BACKGROUND”. Place the ruin layer on top of all layers (if you don’t see the layers palette, then press the F7 key or go Window – Layers (Window> Layers) to activate the layers palette).

Press the keys (Ctrl + T) to activate the tool. Free Transformation (Free Transform Tool) to scale the ruins according to the size of the document (see the screenshot below for an example). When scaling, hold down the key (Ctrl) to keep the proportions. Next, press (Enter) to apply the changes.

Remove the background on the image with the ruins. There are many different ways to remove the background, you can do this with (for example, Lasso (Lasso Tool (L), Pen (Pen Tool (P), Brush (Brush Tool (B)). Use the tool with which you are comfortable to work.

Step 3

To make the ruins look more realistic, they need to be slightly darkened. Shading is very easy, just add a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) on top of all layers. Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create a new fill or adjustment layers) through the button in the bottom toolbar.

In the menu that appears, select the option Curves (Curves), and then set the curve as shown in the screenshot below.

Convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask for a layer with ruins, so the adjustment layer will affect only the underlying layer (on the layer “RUINS BACKGROUND”), and not on the whole image. To do this, right-click on the layer with the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and just select the option Create clipping mask (Create Clipping Mask).

Step 4

Download a stock image ‘Ruins 2’ from the link at the beginning of this tutorial, and then move this image with the ruins to our working paper. Name this layer “RUINS IN LEFT”. Place the ruin layer on top of all layers. Next, remove the extra areas of the background.

There are a couple of steps that must be performed to appropriately combine the city ruins. Let’s start with light shades. Make sure you are on the “RUINS IN LEFT PART” layer (just click on this layer in the layers palette). And then we go Image – Correction – Choose a color … (Image> Adjustments> Match Color …). Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below, and then click OK.

The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 5

In this step, we will add two more adjustment layers to add blue shades to the ruins and make them less saturated. Let’s start with the light correction.

Add a new adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) on top of all layers. Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask for the “RUINS IN LEFT PART” layer. To reduce saturation of the left ruin, add a new adjustment layer. Vibration (Vibrance), placing on top of all layers. Set the value Vibrations (Vibrance) at -10. Also convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask.

Translator’s Notes: Those who have an earlier version of Photoshop, instead of a correction layer Vibration (Vibrance), you can use an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and try reducing the saturation value.

In the screenshot below you can compare the ruins before and after the correction.

Step 6

On the final image you can see the tower located on the ruins on the left side of the composition. In this step, we will add an image of the tower.

Download the stock image ‘Tower’ from the link at the beginning of this tutorial, and then move this image with the tower to our working paper. Name this layer “TOWER”. Place the tower layer on top of all layers. Next, remove the extra areas of the background.

To give the tower a 3D look, add a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) on top of all layers. And then apply the curve that is shown in the screenshot below.

Convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask for the “TOWER” layer so that the correction applies only to the layer with the turret.

We need to darken only certain parts of the tower, and not the whole tower. To do this, select the tool Fill (Paint Bucket Tool (G) and with this tool, fill the layer mask of the adjustment layer with black.

Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Choose a soft round brush, about 20px brush diameter, 50% brush opacity. With this brush, paint the opposite side of the tower away from the sun. In the screenshot below, you can see where to paint with a brush. highlighted in red.

Step 7

In order to properly combine the image of the tower with the whole composition, we need to add shades of blue to the image of the tower. Add a new adjustment layer Map Gradient(Gradient Map) on top of all layers. Apply the settings shown in the screenshot below.

Apply the following color shades:

1. # 171E26
2. # 25303B
3. # CABBA6
4. #FFFFFF

Convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask so that the correction is applied only to the layer with the turret, and not to the entire image.

To additionally add shades of blue, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance(Color Balance) on top of all other layers. Apply the settings shown in the screenshot below. Also convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask.

At the moment, the result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 8

In this step, we will create interesting lighting effects on the ruins that we added in the previous steps. Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves), set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Choose a tool Fill (Paint Bucket Tool (G). Fill the layer mask of the adjustment layer with black color to hide the correction layer correction. Next, select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Use the same brush as in the previous step, the only thing is to lower the opacity of the brush to 20%. Make sure that the layer mask is active (just click on it) and then start painting with a white brush over the areas where the sun’s rays are directed. The staining areas are shown in the screenshot below. I highlighted these areas in red.

Step 9

Download the stock image ‘Ruins 3’ from the link at the beginning of this lesson, and then move this image with the ruins to our working paper. Name this layer “RUINS IN THE RIGHT PART”. Place the ruin layer on top of all layers. Apply the transform to scale the image with the ruins to fit the size of the document. Next, remove the extra areas of the background.

To match the color shades of the image with the whole picture, let’s go Image – Correction – Choose a color … (Image> Adjustments> Match Color …). Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below, and then click OK.

Step 10

In order to appropriately combine the ruins with the entire composition, we need to darken the wounds a little, and also add shades of blue.

Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers. Apply the curve that is shown in the screenshot below. Transform this adjustment layer into a clipping mask to a layer with ruins.

Add a new adjustment layer Gradient Map (Gradient Map) on top of all layers to add shades of blue. Apply the settings listed below.

Apply the following color shades:

1. # 171E26
2. # 25303B
3. # CABBA6
4. #FFFFFF

Convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask for the ruin layer on the right side of the scene so that the correction applies only to the ruin layer, not the entire image.

After this step, the result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 11

In this step, we will create interesting lighting effects on the ruins located on the right side of the scene. Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves), set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Choose a tool Fill (Paint Bucket Tool (G). Fill the layer mask of the adjustment layer with black color to hide the correction layer correction. Next, select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Use the same brush that you used earlier. Paint it with a white brush over the areas where the sun’s rays are directed. The staining areas are shown in the screenshot below. I highlighted these areas in red.

Step 12

The main elements of our composition have already been posted. Now let’s focus on creating interesting lighting effects, as well as work on enhancing the atmosphere.

In this step, we will create a slight reddish fog effect on the horizon. Create a new layer on top of all the other layers, name this layer “BLUE”. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), set a soft round brush, lower the brush opacity to about 15%. Brush color – set a light orange tint (I used # efd0bd) and with this brush, paint it as shown in the screenshot below.

Haze should not be visible on the ruins in the foreground. To fix this, add a layer mask to the haze layer. Select a brush. Set the brush opacity to 60%, the color of the brush is black. Using this brush, paint over the ruins in the foreground to hide the haze effect there. For the best combination with the entire composition, change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), and also reduce the opacity of the layer to 60%.

The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 13

Download the Sunburst brushes from the link at the beginning of this tutorial, install them into Photoshop. Create a new layer on top of all layers, name this layer “BEAM OF LIGHT”. Select one of the brushes that you just installed. Set the brush opacity to 60%, color and brush – set a light yellow shade.

Hint: Avoid using pure shades of black and white in your photo manipulations. In most cases, shades look coarse and unrealistic. Instead, try using shades of yellow, blue.

Now, just draw the sun’s rays. Be careful not to overdo it to get the most realistic result. Notice the saturation of the light in the screenshot below, which you should draw.

In the screenshot you can see too much light on the ruins on the left side of the scene. To make the light look more realistic, add a layer mask to the Sunburst layer and using a soft black brush, paint over the ruins on the left side of the scene to hide the sun rays there. The result should be as in the screenshot below:

Step 14

To create a more dramatic scene, we need to slightly increase the contrast. To do this, add a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers. Set the curve as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 15

Let’s add lighting effects to make our picture look more exciting. Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers. Set the curve as shown in the screenshot below.

Choose a tool Fill (Paint Bucket Tool (G). Fill the layer mask of the adjustment layer with black color to hide the correction layer correction. Next, select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Install a soft round brush, brush size approximately 20 px, brush opacity 20%. Paint with white brush over the areas where the rays of the sun are directed. Paint areas are shown in the screenshot below. I also highlighted these areas with red color.

You may have noticed that I painted not only the areas with ruins, but also the areas of the valleys in order to enhance the effect of smoke. The result should be as in the screenshot below:

Step 16

Next, we add shades of purple to our picture to create the color scheme that can be seen in nature just before dawn. Add a new adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) on top of all other layers. Apply the settings shown in the screenshot below.

In the screenshot below, you can compare how the image looks before and after this step.

Step 17

Fog is a great element when creating pictures, if you want to create a mysterious and magical atmosphere. In this step we will add fog.

Download the Mist brushes from the link at the beginning of this tutorial (the brushes I used are paid, but you can use any other brushes or the ones you are used to working with) without hesitation and then install them into Photoshop.

Create a new layer on top of all other layers, name this layer “MIST”. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), select one of the Fog brushes you just installed, set the brush opacity to 40%. Set the light blue tint of the brush and gently paint over the mountains.

Step 18

The left side of the image is too light at the moment. We will fix this with a correction layer. Curves (Curves), create a correction layer curves on top of all other layers. Set the curve as shown in the screenshot below. Fill the layer mask of the adjustment layer with black.

Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Set a large soft brush of white color, brush opacity 40%. Paint over the areas where you want to darken. Pay attention to the areas in the screenshot below, where to paint with a brush.

Step 19

Download the Birds brushes from the link at the beginning of this tutorial, install them in Photoshop.

Create a new layer on top of all other layers, name this layer “BIRDS”. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), select one of the brushes of the Birds that you just installed, set a dark brown color for the brush. Next, draw the birds anywhere you want. Do not overdo it, the main thing is to achieve the most realistic picture.

Step 20

To add depth, we darken the edges of our picture to create a gentle vignette effect. Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers. Set the curve as shown in the screenshot below.

To hide the correction for this adjustment layer, select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), set a big soft round brush, 70% opacity, brush color is black. Make sure you are on the layer mask of the adjustment layer (just click on it) and using the customized brush, paint over the horizon. The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 21

If you look closely, then in the final image, you will see people at the bottom of the composition. In this step we will draw people. People are easier to draw if you have a Wacom tablet, but with a little practice and patience and you can also achieve great results with a computer mouse.

Create a new layer on top of all other layers, name this layer “PEOPLE”. Next, select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B). Set a soft round brush, brush size 5 px, brush opacity 100%. For a brush set a dark blue color. Now draw people the same way you painted them when you were small — nothing complicated, the trunk, the head , arms, legs. See screenshot below.

Next, we will add the details. Let’s draw the torches that people hold in their hands. It is very simple. Just draw a few orange dots around them.

Step 22

In my opinion, the right side of the composition is too bright and does not look well balanced. We will fix this in this step.

Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers. Set the curve as shown in the screenshot below.

Fill the layer mask of the adjustment layer with black to hide the correction. Choose a tool Brush ( Brush Tool (B). Set a large soft white brush with an opacity of 60%. Paint over the area that was highlighted with a red circle at the beginning of this step to darken it.

The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 23

We have almost completed the lesson! There are still a couple of strokes. To enhance the atmosphere, we need to darken the image a little more and reduce the saturation a little. Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers. Set the curve as shown in the screenshot below.

To reduce saturation, add a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) on top of all other layers. Set the value Saturation (Saturation) at -15.

And we finished the lesson! Congratulations! I hope that you have learned something new today and that this lesson will help you create your picture!

Final result

Posted by: Jarka Hrncarkova

Link to the PSD file of the lesson

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