Create a scene with waterfalls in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to create a surreal scene with mountain waterfalls in Photoshop. I will show you how to combine several different images to create a magical landscape. You will learn how to create stunning light effects, how to combine images of mountains in a single composition, as well as how to create a fascinating atmosphere of waterfalls. My tips will help you when working with combining the original images of the mountains. So what are we waiting for? Just press the ‘Read more’ button and immerse yourself in the beauty of the mountain waterfalls.

Stages of the lesson

First, we will create our main scene, including mountains, waterfalls and the sky. Next, we will correct each fragment of the scene using corrective layers. We will also add source images to our scene, such as waterfalls, eagles, using the technique of combining. After that, we will add the image of the model and will combine it with the help of light and shadows and adjustment layers. In the end, we will work on the lighting effects and finally, we will carry out a final correction using corrective layers. I want to draw your attention to the fact that I used Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 to complete this lesson, but you can use Photoshop CS3 or higher.

  • Download the archive with materials for the lesson
  • Alternative link to download the archive

Translator’s Note: Some images are missing from the source site. In the archive you will find an alternative version of free materials for the lesson.

The final result:

Step 1

First create a new document, to do this, go File – New (File> New), and then set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below, or you can set your working paper size.

Step 2

Add the original image with a steep cliff to our working paper, for this we go File – Post embedded / Post (File> Place Embedded or Place). Place this image in the lower right corner of our scene.

Step 3

Now place the original image with Mountains 1. Place the layer with the mountains below the layer with a steep cliff.

Step 4

To the layer with a steep cliff, add a layer mask (to add a layer mask, go Layer- Layer Mask – Show All (Layer> Layer Mask> Reveall All)). Choose a tool Brush (Brush tool (B)), set Opacity (opacity) brushes by about 30%. Further, using a soft round black brush, hide the areas that are highlighted in red in the screenshot below to combine the break with the image of the mountains 1.

Result.

Step 5

You probably noticed that the upper platform of the waterfall was also hidden while working with the layer mask. Therefore, we need to add a new platform for the waterfall, so that it can be seen that the waterfall is falling off a cliff. To achieve this, add the original Waterfall 1 image to our scene by positioning the waterfall layer below the steep cliff layer, as shown in the screenshot below. This image with a waterfall is perfect for our scene, because the image has the same falling waterfall, and we can combine this waterfall with the image of a steep waterfall cliff.

To the waterfall layer 1, add a layer mask and then hide the entire image except for the top (top) using the same brush we used in the previous step. You can see the result after adding a fragment of waterfall 1 in the screenshot below.

Step 6

You may have noticed that the left part of the working paper is still empty. Therefore, let’s add more landscape images to our scene. Open the original image of Mountain 2. Add this image to our working paper, placing it below the layer with mountains 1. I will temporarily disable the visibility of the other layers so that you can clearly see how I positioned the original image of Mountain 2.

Result with all layers.

Step 7

Add a layer mask to the layer with mountains 1 and using a soft black brush, hide the parts of the image of mountains 1 that are highlighted in red in the screenshot below.

You can see the result in the screenshot below. Do not worry if the image looks coarse after processing on a layer mask, we will combine it in the following steps. I saved some parts, because I will fill them with the original images of the waterfalls. If you do not want to leave these areas, then delete them also on the layer mask, and in the future you can simply use again the image of Mountain 1, placing it below those areas that you decide to fill.

Step 8

Open the original Waterfall 2 image. Add this image to our working paper, position the waterfall layer below the mountain 1 layer, but above the mountain 2 layer. Use the scaling tool Transformation (transform (CTRL + T)), so that we have a waterfall fit. You probably noticed that I placed this layer with a waterfall below the layer with mountains 1, so I hid the areas that were roughly processed on the layer mask of the layer with mountains 1. Since both images are ideally suited to each other, then we can safely add any fragment from the image of a waterfall or mountains 1. This will simplify the process of combining.

Add a layer mask to the Waterfall 2 layer and use a soft round black brush to hide the part of the image that is highlighted in red in the screenshot below to combine with the entire scene.

Result.

Step 9

Now I need to add separate fragments of the image of Mountain 1 over the image of Waterfall 2. To do this, duplicate the layer with mountains 1 (CTRL + J). Move the duplicate layer slightly to the left, as shown in the screenshot below.

Hide the entire image on a duplicate of the layer with mountains 1 on the layer mask of the layer except for the upper part above the waterfall 2. In the screenshot below you can see where I saved parts of the image above the waterfall 2.

Step 10

As you can see, I saved some fragments on the image of a waterfall 2 (hard edges are visible), and now, to combine this image, we use the same image with a waterfall 2. Therefore, once again open the original image of Waterfall 2, move this image on our working paper (placing it on top of the layer with the first layer with a waterfall) and this time apply the transformation as shown in the screenshot below, since we only need fragments with bushes in this image. Also name the transformed layer ‘Addition to Waterfall 2’.

In the screenshot below you can see how I positioned the image after transformation.

Hide the entire image on the ‘Addition to Waterfall 2’ layer using a layer mask with the exception of the selection (See screenshot below) to align it with the ‘Waterfall 2’ layer.

Result after mask correction. Now you can see how well we combined all the original images.

Step 11

Now let’s add the sky to our scene. Go to the layer with mountains 2, and then add a layer mask to this layer. Using a soft round black brush, hide the selection on the image with the mountains 2.

I mentioned earlier that the lesson will have hints that will help you to combine the image of the mountains with other images without rough transitions. The whole trick that you already learned in this lesson is in working with a mask, in this case, we are talking about correcting the mask on the layer with mountains 1, but did you notice that I also hid the edges of the image with mountains 2 with a brush with low opacity (opacity), approximately 10% – 20%. Thus, I can combine the image with mountains 2 with the sky without creating any hard edges, otherwise, the transitions at the edges of the image of the mountains will look hard, and we do not want this. I did the same with the layer with mountains 1. If you are still not very good at working with the mask, then besides the mask you can also use the tool Blur (Blur tool) to soften the edges. Using this technique, you can combine any image of the mountains with any other image or image of the sky, as I did.

Step 12

So, we have hidden the sky on the mask of the layer with mountains 2, and now let’s add the original image with the sky to our working paper. Open the original image with the sky, and then add this image to our scene. Position the sky layer below the mountain layer, and let’s see if any hard edges of the mountains are visible.

As you can see, the edges of both images with mountains are well aligned with the sky using this simple technique.

In the screenshot below, you can see how my layers are located in the layers palette.

Step 13

We created our main scene, now it’s time to correct the color using adjustment layers. Let’s start with the bottom layer – with the sky layer. Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to the layer with the sky, for this we go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer> New Adjustments Layer> Curves).

Result after adding red, green and blue tones.

Step 14

Add an adjustment layer to the sky layer Color Balance (Color Balance) and change the settings only for Medium tones (midtones). The settings are shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 15

Next, reduce the sky brightness using the adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast).

Result.

Step 16

Go to the layer of Mountain 2 to hide the extra details in the image by cloning. To do this, create a new layer on top of the layer with mountains 2, name this layer ‘cloning’ and then convert this layer into a clipping mask to the layer from Mountain 2 (hold down the ‘alt’ key and click between the layer ‘cloning’ and the layer ‘Mountain 2 ‘to convert a layer to a clipping mask). Now select the tool Stamp (clone stamp tool), to do this, press the key (S). Hide the extra details that are highlighted in the red circle in the screenshot below (use different cloning sources for the best results).

Result after cloning.

Step 17

Add a correction layer to the ’Mountains 2’ layer Curves (Curves) to reduce the brightness and add some warm yellow tones. Convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask, to do this, click the icon that is highlighted in red. Set the curves as shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 18

Next, to the ‘Mountains 2’ layer, add adjustment layers Selective color correction (Selective color) and Color Balance (Color Balance) to add warm yellow tones to the image. Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 19

Now go to the ‘Waterfall 2’ layer, and then add the adjustment layers shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 20

Go to the ‘Addition to Waterfall 2’ layer, and then add an adjustment layer Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) to reduce image brightness.

Step 21

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the correction layer in the areas that are highlighted in the screenshot below. Hiding the correction in the selected area, we can thereby darken other parts of the waterfall that are less illuminated by the light source (we plan to create a light source above the image of the waterfall 2).

The result after the correction of the correction layer, you can see in the screenshot below. You probably noticed that we also saved the light areas in the image where the light falls.

Step 22

Now we combine the color with the whole scene. Add adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance) to the “Waterfall 2 Supplement” layer.

Step 23

Add adjustment layer Selective color correction (Selective Color) to the “Addition to Waterfall 2” layer to match the color of the entire scene.

Result at the moment lesson.

Step 24

Go to the ‘Mountains 1’ layer. Add adjustment layer Selective color correction (Selective color) to this layer. Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 25

Now go to the ‘Duplicate Mountain 1’ layer, and then add an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce saturation.

Step 26

Also add an adjustment layer. Selective color correction (Selective color).

Step 27

The time has come for color breakage correction. Go to the steep-layer using the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves), slightly increase the brightness of the image. Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Step 28

Add another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves), but only this time reduce the brightness.

Step 29

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Curves (Curves) to hide the blackout effect of the curves in the specified area and save the lighting. Due to this correction, we also darkened areas where much less light falls.

Result.

Step 30

Next, to the layer with a steep cliff, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) to match the color of the cliff image to the entire scene.

Result.

Step 31

Let’s add another source image to our scene. Place the image of Waterfall 3 on our working paper.

Step 32

To the ‘waterfall 3’ layer, add a layer mask and use a soft round black brush to hide the hard edges of the image on the layer mask.

Step 33

Now to the waterfall layer 3, add an adjustment layer. Selective color correction (Selective color). Apply the settings shown in the screenshot below.

Result at the moment lesson.

Step 34

Place the original Waterfall 4 image on our working paper.

Step 35

Using a layer mask, hide the hard edges on the Falls image 4.

Change the blending mode for the Waterfall 4 layer to Soft light (soft light). The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 36

Reduce saturation of the image with a waterfall 4 using an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation).

Result at the moment lesson.

Step 37

Add the original Eagle image to our working paper. Arrange the eagle as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 38

To the eagle layer, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to brighten the top of the image. Since the light source will be located above the image of the eagle, this means that the upper part of the image of the eagle should be lighter.

Step 39

Now add an adjustment layer to the eagle layer Color Balance (Color Balance) to slightly enhance the color tone.

Step 40

Open the original model image. Separate the model image from the background using the selection tool. Move the selected model image to our working paper, placing it on a steep cliff.

Step 41

Add a shadow to the model. To do this, create a new layer (CRTL + ALT + SHIFT + N) below the model layer. Choose a tool Brush (brush tool (B)), in the control panel of this tool, set Opacity (opacity) and Pressure (flow) by about 30%. Draw the shadows using a soft round black brush, where the model’s legs touch the stone surface of the cliff, where the arrows in the screenshot below point to.

Step 42

Create another new layer below the model layer. Add the shadows where the arrows in the screenshot below point to (use the same brush with the same settings from the previous step).

The overall result, including the shadow of the model.

Step 43

We have completed work on the shadow of the model, now it’s time to correct the model using corrective layers. So let’s first slightly reduce the saturation of the image of the model using the adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation).

Step 44

Next, add a adjustment layer to the model layer. Curves (Curves) to enhance the yellow tones. You can see what I used Blue channel (Blue channel) to add yellow tones to the model image.

Step 45

Add another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to the layer with the model to enhance the brightness.

Step 46

Finally, add a correction layer to the model layer. Color Balance (Color Balance).

Step 47

If you zoom in on the model, you can see that the blue tones are still present in the model image. I decided to make a color correction, because we have already chosen orange as the main color for our scene. We need to hide the blue tones, to do this, create a new layer, set the foreground color to # c69042. Choose a tool Brush (brush tool (B)), and then using a soft opacity brush of about 30%, paint over the model by adding light colors. Do not forget that this step is designed for those who still have blue tones on the model’s dress, if there are no blue tones, then you can skip this step.

Step 48

We have completed work with the elements of the scene, but still there are light effects. Starting from this step, we will add lighting effects to our scene. Create a new layer, name this layer “Light 1’ ”. Change the foreground color to # 7a5d34, and then select the Brush tool. Install opacity (opacity) brushes by about 30%. Now start painting the mountains.

Change the blending mode to Soft light (soft light) and then reduce Opacity (opacity) layer to 68%. The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 49

Create another layer, name this layer “Light 2’ ”. The brush color is the same, draw a large spot (brush size is approximately 2300 px, soft brush with opacity 100%) in the upper left corner of our scene.

Change the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge), and also reduce Opacity (opacity) up to 51% (the degree of opacity will depend on you, depending on how much light you want to add). In the screenshot below you can see what kind of lighting we have added to the scene.

Step 50

Create another layer, name this layer ‘Light 3’. Using the same brush settings that you used in the previous step, draw a spot in the upper right corner (use a soft brush). So we add light to the mountains on the right side of the scene.

Change the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge), and also reduce Opacity (opacity) up to 63%. In the screenshot below, you can see the result, so we added a light to the upper right side of the scene.

Step 51

Create another layer, name this layer “Light 4’ ”. Next, add lighting effects to the middle part of the mountains (mountains that are located on the right side of the scene), using the same brush settings that you used in Step 48.

Change the blending mode to Lightening basics (Color Dodge).

Step 52

Duplicate the ‘Light 4’ layer, and then reduce Opacity (opacity) for duplicate layer up to 58%.

Step 53

Create the last new layer, name this layer “Light 5’ ”. Add lighting effects as shown in the screenshot below.

Change the blending mode for this layer to Chromaticity (Color) and then reduce Opacity (opacity) for a layer to 53%. So, we have completed work with light effects, thanks to which we got very good results. In further steps we will strengthen them.

Step 54

Create a new layer, name this layer ‘Birds’. Using the Birds brush, draw a flock of birds, as shown in the screenshot below (I used the 2500 px Birds brush, but you can use any brush at your discretion).

Step 55

Download a set of optical highlights, select highlights # 26. Move the selected highlight to our working paper. Position the flare as shown in the screenshot below. We use an optical highlight as a light source.

Step 56

Change the blending mode for the layer with the optical flare to Lightening (Screen). The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 57

You probably noticed a bright point on the image of the model, which is circled in red and which I decided to fix. So, to the layer with the optical flare, add a layer mask and with the help of a soft black brush hide the extra areas of the image.

Result after mask correction. I also hid parts of the optical flare over the image of the eagle.

Step 58

To the layer with the optical flare, add adjustment layers Levels (Levels) and Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Due to the adjustment layer Levels (Levels), we will get rid of the hard edges on the image with the optical flare, and due to the correction layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), we will change the highlight color to yellow instead of blue.

So we created a beautiful light source.

Step 59

We have completed the creation of the scene, and we are nearing the end of the lesson. Now it’s time to correct the whole scene with corrective layers. So add a correction layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) on top of all other layers. Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 60

Next, add an adjustment layer. Selective color correction (Selective color). Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Result.

Step 61

Add adjustment layer Gradient map (Gradient Map) to lighten the entire scene.

Change the blending mode for the adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) on Lightening basics (Color Dodge), and also reduce Opacity (opacity) adjustment layer up to 37%. The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 62

Add adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance). Set the settings that are shown in the screenshot below.

Reduce the opacity of the adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) up to 62%. The result is in the screenshot below.

Step 63

Finally, add an adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast).

Result.

Switch to the adjustment layer mask Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) and using a soft black brush to hide the effect of this adjustment layer on top of the selected area, in particular, on top of the top of the scene.

Thank you for being with me during the lesson. I hope that this lesson was not difficult for you.

The final result:

Download the lesson in PSD format

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