Create a scene of a ruined city in Photoshop

In this lesson, I will show you how to create a destroyed city. You will learn how to add broken and damaged items using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes.

Also, with the help of my simple tips, you can make the scene dirty, adjust the light and contrast, and create a dark atmosphere. In this lesson you will learn how to work with groups, layers and pay attention to details.

1. Add the environment

Step 1

Create a new document with a size of 2200 x 1500 pixels with the following settings:

Step 2

Open the image of the city. Drag this image onto a white canvas using the tool. Move (Move Tool) (V).

Step 3

Open the image “Sky 1”. Use the tool Move (Move Tool) to drag the image into our work and using Free transformation (Free Transform Tool) (Control-T key combination), rotate it slightly:

Add a layer mask to the image “Sky 1” by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the layers panel – Add layer mask (Add Layer Mask). Using a black soft round brush, erase part of the image to make a smooth transition between the sky and the city, while leaving a foggy effect on the top of the buildings. It should work as shown below:

Step 4

Use adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), apply it as Clipping mask (Clipping Mask) and slightly reduce the saturation of the sky. Go to menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation) and set the value Saturation (Saturation) at -42:

Step 5

Go back to the city layer and add a layer mask to it. Take the “Grunge” brush and go to setting by pressing F5. Set the values ​​as shown below.

This brush will need to erase those parts of buildings, painting on a layer mask that you want to destroy. This is mainly on the top and sides of the buildings.

Step 6
There are a few details on the windows that need to be removed. Create a new layer (set it as Clipping mask (Clipping Mask)) and using the tool Stamp (Clone Tool) (S), delete these parts.

Step 7

Create a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N), change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay) with 100% opacity and fill with 50% gray:

Choose a tool Dimmer (Burn Tool) (O), set range Mid tones (Midtones), Exposure (Exposure) about 15-20%, and darken the building at the edges on the left (from the viewer), and also give it a polluted effect. You can see how I did it in the normal blend mode on the image below, as well as the finished result already with the blend mode Overlap (Overlay):

Step 8

Create an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) (apply it as a clipping mask) and set the value Saturation (Saturation) -45:

Step 9

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) and lower the brightness slightly.

On the layer mask of the Curves adjustment layer, remove the blackout effect on the sides and bottom of the buildings using a soft and also hard brush.

2. Add Destruction

Step 1

Open the image “Stones and scrap”. Select the desired part, as shown in the image below, using the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool) (W).

Place the selected image on the top of the building, which is in the middle, and use Free Transform (Control-T) to rotate it slightly. Place this layer under the city layer.

Step 2

Duplicate this layer several times and also use Free Transform (Control-T) to resize if necessary. Then place these layers on other parts of the buildings where you previously used the “Grunge” brush to create the effect of destruction. At the same time, change the angle of inclination, you can also reflect horizontally to avoid a uniform look.

Step 3

Use adjustment layer Curves (Curves) (apply it as Clipping mask (Clipping Mask)) and lighten the parts of the stones on the highest building to match the contrast of the fog.

Step 4

Select all the layers with stones and press the key combination Control-G to create a group. Change the blending mode to Skip (Pass Through) (default mode) on Usual (Normal) 100%. Create an adjustment layer in the group Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and change Saturation (Saturation) at -73.

Step 5

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) and increase the brightness.

On the Curve layer mask, wipe off with a soft black brush.

effect from the bottom of the stones, since the top should look lighter than the bottom.

Step 6

Create another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and increase the fog effect.

On the Curves layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the hazy effect on the bottom of the stones, as well as on the tallest building.

3. Add iron structures

Step 1

Starting from this step, we will make buildings more destroyed, add new elements and place them between the sky layer and the city.

Open the Iron Frame image. Use the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool) to select the iron structure on the ceiling and place it in the upper part of the left building. Rotate this part using Free Transform (Control-T).

Add a layer mask and using a soft black brush, erase part of the image to combine the iron construction with the stones.

Step 2

Duplicate this layer several times. Align one part with the first layer, and move the remaining iron structures to other parts of the buildings. Use the same layer mask to hide unnecessary parts of the structure. Use Free Transform (Control-T) to rotate the iron structures in different directions, as well as to change the angle of inclination, if necessary.

Step 3

Select layers with iron constructions and press the key combination Ctrl + G to create a group. Create an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and change the value Saturation (Saturation) at -88 to mute the red color of the designs.

Step 4

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to increase the fog effect for iron constructions.

4. Add ruins and broken windows

Step 1

Open the image “Destroyed building 1”. Select a part of this image with the tool. Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool) (L).

Place the selection in the upper part of the left building and rotate it using the Control-T key combination to match the perspective of this building.

Step 2

Create an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) (apply it as Clipping mask (Clipping Mask)) and reduce the value Saturation (Saturation) to -89.

Step 3

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) (apply it as a Clipping Mask) and increase the brightness.

On a layer mask using a black brush, erase the effect of the adjustment layer on the side and bottom.

Step 4

Open the image “Destroyed building 2”. Select the desired part with the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool) and place in the upper part of the left building (under the layer of the Destroyed building 1).

Add a layer mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to erase part of the image to merge it with the facade of the building.

Step 5

Duplicate this layer several times and place them on the facade of buildings, if necessary, use Free Transform (Control-T). Add a layer mask to each layer and erase the different parts on them so that all the damage looks different.

Step 6

Select another part of the “Destroyed building 2” image, place it at the edge of the tallest building and rotate it using the Free Transform (Control-T).

Step 7

Select another part from the “Destroyed building 2” image and place it over the first part. Add a layer mask and erase unnecessary details using a soft black brush.

Step 8

Continue to use the other parts of the images with destruction and place them along the buildings. Use the same method that we did before to combine them with the facade of buildings and with other destroyed parts.

Step 9

Create a group for these four layers and change the blending mode to Usual (Normal) 100%. Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to reduce their contrast.

Step 10

Create another group for all layers taken from the “Destroyed Building 2” image, including the groups we did in the previous steps. Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) inside this group to darken the destroyed areas. On the Curves layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the effect from those parts that turned out too dark.

Step 11

Return to the “Destroyed Building 2” image. Highlight the protruding iron reinforcement and place it above the top of the middle building.

Combine iron fittings with the image of stones using a layer mask.

Duplicate this layer and reduce the size. Place it on the other side of the building.

Step 12

Create a group for these two layers. Use adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and change Saturation (Saturation) at -100 to completely remove the blue tint.

Step 13

Open the broken windows image. Select two of them using the selection tool. Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool) (M).

Place them in the facade of the rear building and use Free Transform (Control-T) to change perspective.

Step 14

Continue adding broken windows to other buildings. Here’s how I did it:

Step 15

Create a group for layers with broken windows. Apply adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and reduce Saturation (Saturation) to -80:

Step 16

Use adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to increase the brightness.

On a layer mask using a soft black brush, reduce the effect of the Curves layer on those parts of the windows that turned out too bright.

Step 17

Create another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to darken the windows.

On the layer mask of the Curves layer, reduce the effect on those parts of the windows that turned out too dark and contrasting.

5. Add holes

Step 1

Open the “Hole 1” image. Drag it to the facade of the left building with the tool Move (Move Tool).

Using a layer mask, erase images around the edges, for a soft transition to blend the hole with the facade of the building.

Step 2

Duplicate this layer and increase its size. Place it under the layer with the first hole and also on the layer mask, erase the unwanted part of the image to get a soft transition at the edges.

Step 3

Duplicate this layer again and place it on the building in the middle using Free Transform (Control-T), rotate the image.

Step 4

Create a group for layers with holes. Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and change the value Saturation (Saturation) at -87.

Step 5

Use adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to reduce the brightness. On the Curves layer mask using a soft black brush, erase the blackouts on the holes that are located on the left building, as they turned out to be too dark.

Step 6

Place the “Hole 2” image on the left façade of the building and use a layer mask to create a smooth transition at the edges.

Step 7

Duplicate this layer four times and place the resulting layers on other buildings. Use Free Transform (Control-T) to resize them so that the holes do not look the same.

Step 8

Group all layers with holes. Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and change Saturation (Saturation) at -100.

Step 9

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to darken images with holes.

Step 10

The holes that are on the tallest building turned out to be dark and have too much contrast compared to the facade, so create a separate group for them. Use an adjustment layer for this group. Curves (Curves) to increase the effect of the nebula.

Step 11

Open and drag the “Hole 3” image to the top of the left building and change its size and perspective using the Free Transform (Control-T). Use a layer mask to soften the edges.

Step 12

Duplicate this layer and place it on the building in the middle above another hole.

Step 13

Create a group for layers with holes and use an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to discolor them.

Step 14

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to darken the holes. On a layer mask using a soft black brush, erase the effect of darkening from those parts that turned out too dark.

6. Create a basic atmosphere.

Step 1

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of the other layers, including the sky, and decrease the brightness.

On the Curves layer mask with a soft black brush, opacity (Opacity) from 10% to 50%, reduce the dark contrast in the lower part of the city and on one side of the buildings so that the lighting on the buildings corresponds to the direction of light from the sky (from the upper right corner to the left).

Step 2

Add another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and again reduce the brightness. It is necessary for the sky to erase the unnecessary part of the effect, use the layer mask.

Step 3

Open the image “Sky 2” and drag it into our work with the tool Move (Move Tool). We are going to use it to create fog.

Add a layer mask to the layer with the sky and using a soft black brush, erase the sky area on top of the buildings, but leave it partially visible below. Try not to overdo it so that the fog does not look unnatural. We need only a slight effect!

7. Final adjustment

Step 1

Create an adjustment layer Gradient map (Gradient Map) and select colors # 2e4657 and # 30c7ff. Change the blending mode to Soft light (Soft Light) 100%.

Step 2

Create an adjustment layer Color balance (Color Balance) and change the settings Mid tones (Midtones) and Sveta (Highlights) to correct the color of our image.

Step 3

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) and increase the brightness. On the Curves layer mask using a soft black brush, erase the effect at the bottom of the image to get the contrast and atmosphere we need for the entire image.

Step 4

Final detail correction: create a new layer and use a soft brush, color # bbc9bb, paint it on the edge on the right side of the image, next to the tallest building, to darken this part. Set this blending mode to Multiplication (Multiply) 100%.

Congratulations, that’s it!

This is the result you should get from this lesson. I hope you enjoyed it and learned a few new tricks. If you have any questions or ideas, feel free to leave them below in the comments.

Lesson author: Jenny Le

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