Create a mysterious collage in Photoshop

Create a mysterious floating cube in an abandoned valley. This suggestive image can be created with the help of various stock images and several Photoshop brushes – and I will show you how to do it. You will learn the technique of creating a 3D cube from textures, we will work on light and shadows and apply color correction.

Final result

Source materials:

STEP 1 – Create a New Document

Let’s create a new document, let’s go Menu – File – New (Menu> File> New), and apply the following settings in the appropriate fields:
Set (Presets): Customized (Custom)
Width (Width): 1920 px
Height(Height): 1040 px
Resolution(Resolution): 300 px / inch
Color mode(Color Mode): RGB Color; 8 bit
Content background(Background Contents): Transparent(Transparent)

STEP 2 – Create Rear background – sky

In this step, we will create the sky for our composition. To get started, open the Thunderstorm image in the valley. Once the stock image has opened, select the tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee tool), by pressing the M key and further, select a part of the sky. See screenshot below:

Once you have highlighted the sky, select the tool. Move (Move tool (V), left-click on the selected area and pressing the selected area with the left button, move the selected image to our document. Note that the image with the sky exceeds the size of our document, so when you move the selected sky area to our document will need to scale down the sky.

Move and position the selected image with the sky, as shown in the screenshot below:

So, we have placed the sky, then rename this layer to “sky”.

To rename a layer, simply double-click on the text: “layer 1” (the text box is located next to the layer thumbnail) to make the text box active. Once it becomes active, you can rename the layer. See screenshot below:

Next, select the tool Transformation (Transform tool (Ctrl + T) and scale the image as shown in the screenshot below:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Next, let’s darken the sky; To do this, make sure that the “sky” layer is active, and then create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N. This action requires that the new layer be automatically created over the active layer. So, when the dialog box appears when you create a new layer, name the layer “darkened sky”. See screenshot below:

So, once you have created a new layer, select the tool. Brush (Brush tool (B), but before we begin, make sure the brushes are set to default. Standard Photoshop brushes are shown by default in the screenshot below, if you have other brushes installed, then follow the instructions in the screenshot below:

Right-click on the document, the layer and brush should be active, and then click the icon that is highlighted in yellow:

When the context menu appears, select the option Restore brushes (Reset Brushes).

Now that you have restored the brushes, apply the following values ​​to the brush:
The size brushes(Brush size): 1000px
Rigidity(Hardness): 0%
Opacity(Opacity): 15%
Pressure(Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: 00011b

Note #: 00011b means the number of the color tint of the brush. In order to change the color of the brush, just follow the instructions in the screenshot below:

As soon as the window appears Color palette (Color Picker), apply the following values:

So, we set the color of the brush to dark blue, let’s apply the brush!

Result:

Step 3 – Create a Background – Desert

In this step, we will complete the creation of the background, by adding abandoned land. To get started, open the image lab building. Once the image has opened, select the tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and create a selection as shown in the screenshot below:

Once you have created the selection, select the tool. Move (Move tool (V) and move the selected image to our document. Arrange as shown in the screenshot below:

Rename this layer to “valley”. Next, select the tool Transformation (Transform tool (Ctrl + Shift + T) and scale the image as shown in the screenshot below:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Next, we need to combine the abandoned valley with the light part of the sky. To do this, create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) and name this layer “brightening”.

Next, right-click on the new layer and select the option Create clipping mask (Create Clipping Mask), so the brush effect will be applied only to the “bleaching” layer.

Select a brush and apply the following values:
Brush size (Brush size): 300px
Rigidity(Hardness): 0%
Opacity(Opacity): 15%
Pressure(Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: ffffff

So let’s apply a brush:

Result:

Next, we will add more light to the horizon so that it looks more dramatic. Before you start, create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N and name this layer “Horizon Fix 1”.

Select a brush and apply the following values:
The size brushes(Brush size): 500px
Rigidity(Hardness): 0%
Opacity(Opacity): 15%
Pressure(Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: fffdc5

Now let’s apply a brush:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Next, create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N and name this layer “Horizon Fix 2”. Select a brush and apply the following values:
Brush size (Brush size): 1000px
Rigidity (Hardness): 0%
Opacity (Opacity): 15%
Pressure(Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: fffff3

So let’s strengthen the horizon a second time:

Result:

Next, let’s darken the ground so that the light looks more dramatic and spectacular. Create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N, name this layer “earth darkening”.

Select a brush and apply the following values:
The size brushes(Brush size): 600px
Rigidity(Hardness): 0%
Opacity(Opacity): 25%
Pressure(Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: 000000

So let’s apply a brush:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Once you’ve finished, select all the layers we created and press Ctrl + G to group them. Once you have created a new group, rename it to “Background”.

Step 4 – Create a Mysterious Cube

Now we will create a floating cube. For starters, open the White Cube 1 image. We need to separate the cube from the background, for this we need the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).

Once this tool has become active, create a selection around the cube:

Next, select the tool Move (Move tool (V) and move the cube to our document. Rename this layer to “cube”. Make sure that the cube layer is on top of the “Background” group.

Arrange as in the screenshot below:

Next, select the tool Transformation (Transform tool (Ctrl + T) and scale the cube, as shown in the screenshot below:

Result:

Step 5 – Create a Texture for the Mysterious Cuba

In this step, we will apply the texture to the cube to make it look more realistic. The previous step will serve as an example for the transformation of the texture that we apply to the cube.

To get started, open the texture of “Concrete Wall 3”. So, we will not use the entire texture image; instead, we simply cut out a part of the texture that applies to each side of the cube. Choose a tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and create a selection in the region, as shown in the screenshot below:

Once you have created the selection, select the tool. Move (Move tool (V)) and move the selected texture image onto our document, as shown in the screenshot below:

Next, rename the layer to “side 1”.

So, it’s time to apply distortion to this layer. To apply distortion. Choose a tool Transformation (Transform tool (Ctrl + T), right-click on the document to display the context menu. As soon as the context menu window appears, select the option Distortion (Distort).

Follow the instructions for the “side 1” distortion, as shown in the screenshots below:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Next, we need to darken this layer to combine with the sunset. Before you start, create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N, name this layer “darken side 1”. Right click on this layer and then select the option Create clipping mask (Create Clipping Mask) to emphasize the brush only on this layer.

Once you have created a clipping mask, activate the brush tool, and then apply the following values ​​to the brush:
Brush size (Brush size): 150px
Rigidity (Hardness): 0%
Opacity (Opacity): 15%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: 0f0600

Note: We will apply a dark brown shade to the brush instead of black, however, the shades of the shadow will match the shades of the image.

So let’s darken the texture:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Now, we will create a texture for the top right side of the cube. Once again open the texture of “Concrete Wall 3”. Choose a tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and create a selection in the region, as shown in the screenshot below:

Activate the tool Move (Move tool (V) and move the selected image to our document. Rename this layer to “side 2” and place “darken side 1” over the layer.

Position the texture as shown in the screenshot below:

Next, select the tool Transformation (Transform tool (Ctrl + T), right-click on the documents and select the option Distortion (Distort) and accept the distortion, as shown in the screenshot below:

Result:

Now, we will darken the “side 2”, so create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N, name this layer “darken the side 2”. Once you have created a new layer, apply a clipping mask to the new layer.

Select a brush and apply the following values:
The size brushes(Brush size): 150px
Rigidity(Hardness): 0%
Opacity(Opacity): 15%
Pressure(Flow): 100%
Colour(Color) #: 0f0600

Let’s apply a brush!

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Next, we will create a texture for the upper left side. Choose a tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee tool (M), re-open the texture of “Concrete Wall 3”, and then create a selection in the region, as shown in the screenshot below:

So select the tool Move (Move tool (V) and move the selected image of the texture to our document. Rename this layer to “side 3”. Position the texture as shown in the screenshot below:

Choose a tool Transformation (Transform tool (Ctrl + T) and select the option Rotate 90 counterclockwise (Rotate 90 CCW) in the context menu.

Result:

Next, apply the distortion, as shown in the screenshot below:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Now, let’s darken this side of the cube to combine with the light part of the image, create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N, name this layer “darken side 3”, and then create a clipping mask for this layer.

Select a brush and apply the following values:
Brush size (Brush size): 150px
Rigidity (Hardness): 0%
Opacity (Opacity): 15%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
Colour (Color) #: 0f0600

So, let’s apply the brush:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Note: To make distortion easier to apply, you can turn off the visibility of the cube itself. You will be easier to apply the distortion, but there will be no guidelines. Layer visibility can also be enabled:

Now, select all the layers you created in Step 4 and group them with Ctrl + G, name the group “Cube”.

Step 6 – Add Traveler

In this step, we will add a girl who looks at the cube fascinated. For starters, open the “Girls” image. We need to separate the girl from the background and create a selection around her, for this we use the tool Magnetic Lasso (Magnetic Lasso Tool).

Once you have chosen the magnetic lasso, create a selection around the girl.

Choose a tool Move (Move tool (V)) and move the selected image of the girl to our document. Once you have the girl checked, name the layer “girl.” Position the image of the girl, as shown in the screenshot below:

Now, we need to scale down the girl, therefore, select the transformation tool and scale down, as shown in the screenshot below:

Next, once again activate the transformation tool, right-click on the document and select the option Flip horizontally (Flip Horizontal) in the context menu.

Result:

Now, let’s select the move tool and move the image of the girl to a new location, which is located slightly below the cube. See screenshot below:

Next, let’s adjust the brightness / contrast of our girl. To do this, first select the layer with the girl, and then go Image – Correction – Brightness / Contrast (Image> Adjustments> Brightness / Contrast):

As soon as the settings window appears, apply the following values:
Brightness (Brightness): 22
Contrast (Contrast): -12
Use former (Use Legacy): Tick (Check)

Result:

Next, let’s adjust the light of the image, for this, select the layer with the girl, and then go Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation (Image> Adjustments> Hue / Saturation).

As soon as the settings window appears, apply the following values:
Edit(Edit): Everything(Master)
Color tone (Hue): 0
Saturation (Saturation): 0
Brightness (Lightness): -30

Result:

Next, we need to create a smooth transition between the image of the girl and the rest of the image, for this we need Eraser (Eraser tool (E).

Once you have chosen a tool Eraser (Eraser tool (E), apply the following values:
The size brushes(Brush size): 200px
Opacity(Opacity): 100%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
Scale (Zoom level): 400%

To change the scale, just go Window – Navigator (window – Navigator) and scale up to 400%

So apply the eraser:

Result:

Step 7 – Add Shadow to the Girl

In this step, we will add a shadow to the girl. To do this, select the layer with the girl and duplicate it by pressing the Ctrl + J keys. Once you have created a duplicate of the layer, select the transformation tool, then right-click on the document and select the option Flip Vertically (Flip Vertical).

Result:

Activate the move tool and move it down a bit to make it look like it’s a reflection of a girl:

Now, select the transform tool, right-click on the document and select the option Distortion (Distort). Next, apply the distortion, as shown in the screenshot below:

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Now, we transform the image into a real shadow, first we go Image – Correction – Brightness / Contrast (Image> Adjustments> Brightness / Contrast) and apply the following values:
Brightness (Brightness): -100
Contrast (Contrast): -100
Use former (Use Legacy): Tick (Check)

Result:

Next, we apply the blur to the shadow so that it looks believable. To do this, select the layer with the shadow, and then go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). So, when the settings window appears, apply the following values:
Radius (Radius): 1.0 px

Result:

Now, we will reduce the opacity of the shadow layer. Reduce the layer opacity to 70%.

Next, select all the layers that you created in Step 6 and group them with Ctrl + G, name the group “Girl”.

Step 8 Enhance the General Image View.

Now, let’s strengthen the overall look and feel of the image. First, let’s create a new adjustment layer. Colour (Solid Color), to do this, click the button on the bottom toolbar Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer).

As soon as the context menu appears, select the option Colour (Solid Color):

Once you have selected the option Colour (Solid Color), a window will appear Color palette (Color Picker). So apply the following color cast:
#: 00022c

Click OK, and then change the blending mode and opacity of this layer to the following values, which are listed below.

Note: blending mode can be changed in the top panel in the layers palette. The layer opacity window is located nearby.

Blend mode (Blending mode): An exception (Exclusion)
Opacity(Opacity): 50%

Make sure that this layer is located on top of the “girl” group. Next, let’s create a new adjustment layer. Color balance (Color Balance), to do this, click the button in the bottom toolbar Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer).

When the settings window appears, apply the following values:
Levels (Color Levels): +17, -12, -10
Tonal balance (Tone Balance): Mid tones (Midtones)
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Check)

Next, let’s create another adjustment layer. Levels (Levels), to do this, click the button in the bottom toolbar Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer).

As soon as the settings window opens, apply the following values:
Channel (Channel): Red (Red)
Input values (Input Levels): 15, 1.00, 255
Output values (Output Levels): 0, 255
Channel (Channel): Blue (Blue)
Input values (Input Levels): 15, 1.00, 255
Output values (Output Levels): 0, 255

Next, let’s apply another adjustment layer. Photo filter (Photo Filter), to do this, click the button in the bottom toolbar Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer).

As soon as the settings window opens, apply the following values:
Filter(Filter): Violet
Density(Density): 25%
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Check)

Next, let’s create a new adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast), to do this, click the button in the bottom toolbar Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer).

As soon as the settings window opens, apply the following values:
Brightness (Brightness): -10
Contrast (Contrast): 10
Use former (Use Legacy): Do not check (Uncheck)

Next, let’s create another adjustment layer. Color balance (Color Balance) and as soon as the settings window opens, apply the following values:
Levels(Color Levels): 0, -15, 0
Tonal balance (Tone Balance): Mid tones (Midtones)
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Check)

Now let’s create an adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map), to do this, click the button in the bottom toolbar Create a new adjustment or fill layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer).

Now, when the Gradient Map Settings window appears, follow the instructions on the screenshot below:

You will notice that your image has turned black and white, so change the blending mode and layer opacity to the following values:
Mode overlay(Blending mode): Glow(Luminosity)
Opacity(Opacity): 60%

The result should be as in the screenshot:

Final result

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