Create a surreal pirate castle in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a fantasy composition: a scene with a pirate castle in a picturesque fantastic landscape in Photoshop. You will also learn how to create rocky mountains, using photos of mountains and stones, combine the castle ruins to create a pirate castle in a fantastic landscape with a warm, bright backlight. Throughout the lesson, you will learn the methods that are very important for creating the best photocomposition.

What will we create?

In this lesson, we will create a fantasy scene with a pirate house in a fantastic landscape with dramatic warm and bright backlighting. To create this photocomposition we will use standard techniques. Throughout all steps in this lesson we will apply masking, use a brush, some filters, color correction. You will need Adobe Photoshop CS3 or a newer version; don’t forget about a cup of coffee and maybe a pack of cigarettes. Ready?

Step 1

In the first steps we will create several destroyed castles standing on a rocky mountain. First we need an image with a crack. We will use it as a rocky mountain.

We need to cut a crack. For this purpose, take on the toolbar PenTool (Pen). Using this tool, cut a rim circled in red, as shown in the image below.

Here is how the cut part looks now.

Step 2

After the crack is cut, let’s start creating a rocky mountain with the ruins standing on it. Let’s do it on a new canvas. Press Ctrl + N to create a new document. Set the canvas size as in the image below.

Next, select and copy (Ctrl + C) the cut out, and then paste (Ctrl + V) on the new canvas. Mirror the crack horizontally or resize it if necessary. To do this, go to the menu Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal /Scale (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontally / Zoom).

To create a second crack, duplicate (Ctrl + J) the first. Go back to the menu Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontally) to flip the second crack back to its original position. Using tool Move Tool (Move) (V) move it up, positioning behind the first crack.

Similarly, add a third crack behind the second.

Finally, add a fourth smaller crack and place it between the first and second.

Step 3

Add ruins to the rock. Cut out the ruins.

Resize the ruins as needed and place them behind the second crack.

Duplicate the first ruins and place a duplicate at the bottom on the left side behind the first crack.

Step 4

Now select the first ruins and add a layer mask to them via the menu Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal All (Layer> Layer Mask> Select All). Take Brush tool (Brush) (B) and in the brush panel (F5) select the brush Chalk (Chalk) 17 px. Brush black color in those areas that you want to hide. Red color highlights areas to hide.

Next, we need to hide some areas of the fourth crack, which covers the first ruins. To do this, add a mask to the fourth crack. Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal All (Layer> Layer Mask> Select All) and mask where required, as shown in the screenshot.

But the problem is that we have the same looking ruins.

Step 5

Do not worry, we will fix this pair of ruins of the “twins”. Add a mask to the second ruin. Mask some parts of this layer. We performed the masking in this way in the previous step 4. The area where the masking should be performed is marked in red.

Step 6

The second ruins now look flat. Add a little shadow to these ruins. Create a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N) behind the layer with the second ruins. On this new layer, draw a dark shadow behind the ruins, as shown by the red arrows in the screenshot.

Step 7

Now let’s add a ladder to the scene. Open the tower image with a ladder. The further steps we will take are similar to the previous steps. Cut the tower, resize it and place the tower in front of the first crack.

Add a layer with a tower mask. Hide unwanted areas.

Duplicate the tower several times. Place duplicates where necessary.

Step 8

At this stage we will change the shape of the first ruins. To do this, duplicate (Ctrl + J) the image of the first ruins. Increase the duplicate size slightly compared to the original image of the ruins. Place this duplicate before the first crack.

Add this duplicate mask. Mask the parts you want to hide, as shown in red.

Step 9

Next, change the shape of the third crack. Select the layer and add a mask to it. Mask the areas shown in red in the screenshot.

Step 10

Repeating the previous step, add another object to the left top of the mountain.

Step 11

More objects.

Repeating similar steps by trial and error, finally, we got the result. In the following steps, this part will be used as the main object on the main canvas. We still have a long, long way ahead … a cup of coffee, please :)

Step 12

Now we will create the main document. Create a new document (Ctrl + N).

Step 13

To begin, we will create a background for the image. To do this, open the image with the misty sea in a new document. Take the tool Rectangular marquee tool (Rectangular selection area) (M) in the toolbar. Highlight the top of the image. Duplicate (Ctrl + J) the selection by creating a new layer in the document.

We will use this new layer to create a foggy texture for the background image. Choose a tool Free transform (Free Transformation) (Ctrl + T). Using this tool, hold down the mouse button and drag the upper middle point of the transformation up and the lower middle point down to cover the white background.

Duplicate the layer and set the duplicate blend mode. Multiply (Multiplication) with Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

Step 14

Next, place the original image. Misty sea above the two foggy layers in the layers panel.

Mask the top of this layer to hide it. We just use the image of the water texture.

Select all background layers and press (Ctrl + G) to group them into a folder. Name this folder Background.

Step 15

Open image Mountain. Cut the mountain from the image.

Place the cut area in the main document. We will use the mountain as the base of the rocky mountains with the ruins created earlier.

So that the layer with the pirate castle blends well with the mountain behind it, mask it at the bottom.

Cut again some part of the image. Mountain. To cover the left bottom of the pirate house, place the cut area there.

Disguise the cut area so that it fits well with the pirate house. Finally, select all the layers with the pirate house and press Ctrl + G to group them. Name this group let’s say Pirate house.

Step 16

Add a cloud texture to the background. Open the folder Background and add the cloud image to the folder. Resize the image to fit and place it in a place where the bright cloud will be behind the bottom right of the pirate house.

Mask unnecessary part of the image. We will use the bright part of the cloud as the main cloud texture.

Set the layer with clouds overlay mode Normal (Normal) with Opacity (Opacity) 40%.

Duplicate (Ctrl + J) the cloud layer. Flip it horizontally and place a duplicate on the left side behind the building.

Step 17

At this stage, we will add more textures to the background. We will use the image space. Open the image in the document. Place it above the cloud layer in the group. Background.

Set blending mode for this layer. SoftLight (Soft light) with Opacity (Opacity) approximately 87%.

Then apply a surface blur filter to it via the menu. Filter> Blur> Surface Blur (Filter> Blur> Blur over the surface).

Enter your settings here.

Step 18

Now create two new adjustment layers above the folder. Background. Go to menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast) and Gradient Map (Gradient map).

Select layer Gradient Map (Gradient map) and add a mask to it. Very soft round brush Hardness (Hardness) 0% low Opacity (Opacity) 15%, hide some areas indicated in red.

Step 19

Next, we need to adjust the colors for the pirate house layer to match the background color. Open group Pirate house and select a layer. Create a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N) with a clipping mask above the layer with the pirate house. On this layer, draw a soft shadow in black around the bottom of the building and in some other places.

Then add a new adjustment layer with a clipping mask to the pirate house layer. To do this, go to the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast).

Mask some areas around the building as indicated in red. If you feel that the value of the new adjustment layer is too large, you can slightly lower the opacity of this layer. To make the result as in the screenshot below, select the blending mode for this layer. Normal (Normal) c Opacity (Opacity) 87%:

Add a new adjustment layer: Hue/Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Set layer blending mode Normal (Normal) c Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

And add another adjustment layer with clipping mask. Gradient Map (Gradient map). Set blending mode for this layer. SoftLight (Soft Light) c Opacity (Opacity) 40%.

Step 20

Let’s start creating the horizon line for the scene. Create a new layer below the group again. Pirate house. Take a very soft round brush with Opacity (Opacity) about 20%. On this new layer, draw an orange horizon. color (# fe9703). Set blending mode for this layer. Color dodge (Lightening the basics). To make the line more thin, you can add a little Gaussian blur (Gaussian blur).

Again, create a new layer above the horizon layer and on this layer, walk in a subtle orange to add more color to the scene. Duplicate the new layer and experiment with the blend mode to get the best result. As shown in the screenshot below, we use HardLight (Hard light) and Linier Light (Linear light) for overlay mode with set values ​​respectively.

Step 21

Now create again a new layer below the horizon. On this new layer, go soft yellow on the cloud. Set blending mode for this layer. Overlay (Overlap) c Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

Step 22

In this step, we will add distant mountains to the scene. Create a new layer again (do not forget to press Shift + Ctrl + N). On this new layer, draw a dark outline of the mountain, as shown below.

Combining tools Dodge (Clarifier) ​​and Burn (Dimmer), paint backlighting and shadows on the rock to add volume to the rock so that it does not look flat:

Add a mask to this layer and hide the bottom. Set the blending mode for this layer. Normal (Normal) c Opacity (Opacity) 40%.

Finally, apply a color correction with a clipping mask to this layer. Go back to the menu. Layer> New Adjustment layer> Hue/Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation). Make sure the box is checked Colorize (Toning).

Add another distant mountain to the left side of the scene.

Step 23

Add another object to the scene – ships. Open the ship image and add it to the document. Choose a tool Free transform (Free Transformation) (Ctrl + T). Resize the vessel accordingly.

Here is what the ship looks like after placing the reflection on the water and adding shadow.

Duplicate the ship and place copies where you want.

Step 24

In the following final steps, we will configure some parameters for the overall scene mode, such as color correction and lighting. First of all, let’s add fog to the scene. Create a new layer above all the other layers. Create a filter on this layer Cloud (Cloud). To do this, go to the menu Filter> Render> Cloud (Filter> Rendering> Cloud).

Set blending mode for this layer. Screen (Screen) c Opacity (Opacity) 27%.

Go to menu Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur).

Disguise a little cloud. Let the cloud at the bottom of the building be a little thicker.

Step 25

To add more fog to the scene, you can use the background texture created earlier. Copy the texture and place a duplicate above the cloud layer.

Set the blending mode for the texture. Screen (Screen) c Opacity (Opacity) 30%.

Step 26

Now we will have a small color correction. To begin, add a correction layer to the scene. Selective Color (Selective color correction). Place this layer above all other layers. Set the blending mode Normal (Normal) c Opacity (Opacity) 55%.

Add two more adjustment layers: ColorBalance (Color Balance) and Vibrance (Juiciness).

The result should be:

Step 27

Finally, after performing a general color correction, we will make some adjustments on the layer with the pirate house. Add some lighting. To achieve this goal, we will simply use the provided image. space. Copy layer space and place a duplicate above the layer GradientMap (Gradient Map) inside the folder pirate house. The area circled in red is the only thing we will use to create light on the building. Be sure to add a layer space clipping mask.

Set to layer space blending mode Overlay (Overlap) c Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

Duplicate layer space and set duplicate to blending mode Color dodge (Lightening Basics). See, the building is now lit. If you feel that the light is too strong around some parts, you can disguise this duplicate.

Step 28

Create a new layer with a clipping mask above the layers of space in the folder pirate house. On this layer, go reddish-orange as shown below to add a red highlight.

Set blending mode for this layer. SoftLight (Soft light) with Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

To add a brighter red highlight, you can duplicate this provided color and set the duplicate to blending mode Color dodge (Lightening Basics). Disguise some areas if you think color overlaps them.

Step 29

Finally, again, create a new layer with a clipping mask above the reddish layers in the folder. Take a very soft round brush. On this layer, draw a delicate combination of yellow, white and a little blue.

Referring to this color combination, we set the blending mode for this layer. SoftLight(Soft light) to get the result shown below:

Finally, we are done with a pirate house. Add a mask to this folder. Mask some areas around the bottom of the building and some of its edges marked in red.

Step 30

Almost done. To complete the scene we will add light spots to the distant cliff. To do this, create a new layer above all the other layers. Take Brush tool (Brush) (B). Press the F5 key to bring up the brush panel. Set the shape of the brush. Paint this shape with a brush. Use soft yellow for drawing.

Now on the same layer, click on a smaller white brush in the middle of the yellow spot.

Then set the shape of the stroke, as shown below, draw a white solid point in the center of the spot. Set blending mode for this layer. HardLight (Hard light) with Opacity (Opacity) 100%.

We can change the color of the light by adding an adjustment layer. Hue /Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and sliding the color tone slider in the appropriate direction.

Finally, to get a thinner beam, you can add a layer style. Go to menu Layer> Layerstyles> Outerglow (Layer> Layer Styles> Outer Glow). Given this bright spot, here are the layer style settings and the result:

Step 31

Add the last adjustment layer for the overall scene. Navigate last time Layer > Newadjustmentlayers> Curve (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Curves).

Mask the area shown in red.

Final result:

PSD lesson

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