Create an alien invasion scene in photoshop

In this tutorial, we will create a snippet from an epic alien invasion scene! I will show you how to create a realistic landscape with battle elements and attacking aliens. You will learn about an interesting technique of execution, various tricks and much more. So the battle begins!

First we will create a realistic landscape. I will show you how to create a realistic foreground, including the sky. In the next step we will add the aliens and work on their realism. Next, we add the wreckage of the aliens. In the final step, we will work on the lighting, as well as add a few effects. All you need is attention, inspiration and good mood, as well as any version of Photoshop. Have a nice time!

Step 1

So let’s get started! Open Photoshop, create a new document. Let’s go File – New (File> New) or press the keys (Ctrl + N). Install the following dimensions: 3000 px in width and 2698 px in height, Resolution (resolution) 200 ppi (Pixels / Inch), Background content (Background Contents): background color # 898989.

Step 2

Next, we will add the main image to our working paper to create the perspective and atmosphere of the battle. So let’s go File – Post (File> Place) and in the appeared window select the source image ‘Tartarus on Fire’. Flip this image horizontally, for this we go Editing – Transform – Flip Horizontally (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal). Next, with the tool Free Transformation (Free Transform tool) (keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + T)) or Editing – Free Transformation (Edit> Free Transform)) apply scaling to this image, placing it in the upper part of the working document, but not completely closing the upper part, but leaving free space for the sky.

Step 3

Next, we move on to creating the foreground. Let’s go File – Post (File> Place) and in the appeared window select the source image изображение Desert ’. In the same way as in the previous steps, reflect the image with the desert horizontally (Editing – Transforming – Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal)) and then apply scaling (keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + T)) or Editing – Free Transformation (Edit> Free Transform)). Place the image with the desert on top of the image with tartar (so that the mountains are located near the edge of the working document). The result should be as in the screenshot below.

Step 4

And now there will be a very interesting step. Let’s just say, an exercise to combine images. In this step, we need to remove the sky in the image with the desert, and the most important thing is to create a smooth transition between the first and second image so that the seam can not be seen between them. So first with the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool (W)), select the sky (holding down the (Shift) key, you can add areas to the selected area). Next, perform an inversion, for this we go Selection – Inversion (Select> Inverse) or press the keys (Ctrl + Shift + I).

Step 5

Once you have inverted, add a layer mask to the desert layer through the icon at the bottom of the layers panel or go Layer – Mask Layer – Show Selected Area (Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal Selection). Next, duplicate the desert layer, since later we will need this duplicate layer. To do this, press the keys (Ctrl + J) or go Layer – create duplicate layer (Layer> Duplicate Layer).

Step 6

Choose a tool Brush(Brush). Set the following settings: The size (Size) brush 175 px, Opacity (Opacity) brushes: 20-65%, Rigidity (Hardness) brushes: 0%, Pressure (Flow) brush: 100%. While on the layer’s layer mask, hide separate parts of the mountains and textures to create a smooth transition with the main image. Vary the brush opacity to make the transition look realistic.

The main point is that you can not see the edge of the lower image with tartar when creating a transition with the image of the desert.

As can be seen in the screenshot above, open areas appeared on the image, as well as along the contour seam, so move the duplicate desert layer down below the original desert layer, reduce the duplicate layer scale (Ctrl + T) to get a non-uniform soil effect Do not zoom out much. Process the images in two layer-masks to get a balanced landscape. The result that I got.

Step 7

I am satisfied with the result, then, we will carry out the color correction of the desert, so that it matches the color shades of the main image. For these purposes, I used two adjustment layers. But first, group the layers with the desert into one group (Ctrl + G) or go Layer – Group Layers (Layers> Group Layers) and apply adjustment layers to the layer with the created group.

Step 8

Next, we proceed to the adjustment layers. First add a correction layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast), for this we go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast (Layer> New Adjustment layer> Brightness / Contrast) or add this adjustment by clicking the icon at the bottom of the layers panel. Set the value Brightness (Brightness): -150, and the value The contrast (Contrast): 100. So, we have darkened the image with the desert, now we can work on the color. Remember to convert this adjustment layer to a clipping mask. Reduce degree Opacity (Opacity) for this adjustment layer up to 77%.

Step 9

Next, we will work on the color of the desert. Add adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance), let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer> New Adjustment layer> Color Balance). Apply settings in range Mid tones (Midtones) and Shadows (Shadows), which are shown in the screenshot below. By making the shadows and halftones more violet, we gave the earth a suitable shade.

Step 10

You can see my result in the screenshot below. You should have the same result. It is very important to achieve the correct shading of the scene, so that the image looks more solid. Now we can add the rest of the elements to our scene.

Step 11

I decided to add lighting effects to the ground. Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N). Set the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), check the box Fill with Neutral Overlay color (50% gray) (Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray). ”Neutral color is a color that does not change the image during the Overlap (Overlay). Therefore, this layer will help to recreate the desired effect without damaging the image.

Step 12

Using tool Dimmer (Burn Tool (O)) create shadows. Using tool Clarifier (Dodge Tool (O)) create lighting and shadow effects. Set the following settings for each tool, which are shown in the screenshot below.

Add lighting and shadow effects based on the sunset on the main image. Do not create too contrasting tint, otherwise, the texture will be too accented. A blue tint indicates where to add shadows, and a red tint indicates where to add lighting. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) layer up to 77%.

Step 13

Next, I added sunset hues to separate areas to combine the image with the desert with the foreground of the main image. Create a new layer on top of the adjustment layers, set the blending mode for this layer to Chromaticity (Color) Opacity (Opacity) layer 48%. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool) (the size (Size) brushes: 250 px, opacity (Opacity) brush: 45%, rigidity (Hardness): 0%) and using the tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool) ((I) or the pressed key (Alt) when working with a brush), take samples of color shades from the sky, as well as from the ground. Paint over the desert texture, but only along the seam line.

Step 14

We have completed the correction of the earth, now we turn to heaven. It was very important to choose an appropriate image of the sky to make the scene realistic, and also to combine it with the main image. Let’s go File – Post (File> Place) and in the resulting window select the source image изображение Sunset ’. Zoom into the sky so that this image is slightly larger than the work area. Position the image with the sky in line with the horizon of the main image. For precision, simply align the sea and the mountains on the main image so that they are approximately on the same line (you can temporarily reduce the layer opacity to simplify the alignment process).

Step 15

Move the image down with the sky below the main image layer. To combine the sky, add a layer mask to the tartar layer. We will remove part of the sky on the main image in order to achieve a realistic image, but not to create an artificial landscape. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B)), set the following settings (the size (Size) brushes: 450 px, opacity (Opacity): 20-65%, rigidity (Hardness): 0%) and, while on a layer mask, carefully paint over the top of the image to create a smooth transition. Next, try to save and combine the cloud, which is in harmony with the sky. The most basic thing here is to create a smooth transition. Remove or leave, but not completely, the yellow clouds, vary the opacity of the brush to create transitional shades.

Step 16

The final touch is to add flying fragments as well as explosions. Add the original image ‘Shots’ to our working paper, for this we go File –Place (File> Place). Change the blending mode for this layer with shots to Lightening (Screen), apply scaling to fit the workspace. Position the image so that the smoke on the image with the shots coincides with the smoke on the main image (so that it is the basis and continuation), as well as the horizon line. Try to make sure that the shots do not touch the ground too much, just a little. Shots must be added in the background.

Step 17

As can be seen from the previous screenshot, I merged all the layers with the whole scene into one group (Ctrl + G). Next, we will work on top of the group with the landscape. Now, we can add aliens to our scene. In this part of the lesson, we will add aliens, as well as effects to them. Open the original image (Ctrl + O) with aliens. In this step, everything is very simple, first select the tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L)). Using this tool, select the first group of aliens (where 4 aliens are standing next to each other, it is not necessary to add more aliens to them :)). Hold down (Ctrl) and switch to the tool. Move (Move Tool (V)), and with the help of this tool move the selected group with aliens to our working paper.

Step 18

Apply scaling to the aliens (Ctrl + T), placing them on the right side of the scene. I arranged them to the right, thus creating the feeling that they were coming from the ruins of buildings. Do the same with the other aliens, but for now don’t touch the flying ships, we will add them later. Remember to place the alien layers on top of the ‘Landscape’ layer.

Step 19

Try to respect the proportions of the size of the aliens, so that they do not look too big, at the same time, so that they stand out from the background of the landscape. Try to find interesting and suitable positions for them (if you look at the movement of aliens, which we added first, then you will notice that they are standing on a rock, which looks absurd, so I corrected this by adding a smoke effect). If you still encounter such a situation, then try to disguise these areas using additional objects or other aliens. To hide the legs of the aliens, I used a layer mask to remove the lower parts of the legs that are visible on the rock (this applies to aliens, which we added in the previous step).

Step 20

When I placed all the aliens in the right places, I decided to work on creating shadows. This is a bit of a tedious process, but trust me, this is very useful. So, hold down (Ctrl) + click on the thumbnail of the alien layer to load the active selection, then create a new layer and then fill the active selection with black color (press the ‘D’ keys to set the default colors and then press (Ctrl + Del) or go Editing – Run Fill … (Edit> Fill …).

Step 21

Using tool Free transformation (Free Transform tool (Ctrl + T)), Flip Vertically (Flip Vertical) shadow, and then connect the shadow to the bottom of the alien foot. Select an option Distortion (Distort Tool) in transform mode to shift the shadow closer to the newcomer (pull the middle anchor point of the horizontal frame), so the shadow will become shorter and be at an angle according to the light source (so that the shadow falls at an angle, just move the shadow a little right). Decrease opacity (Opacity) of a layer with a shadow to 35%. In the same way, add a shadow to the other aliens. I understand that this is a bit tedious, but adding shadows is very important for creating a realistic picture.

Step 22

If you are satisfied with the location of the shadows, then merge the layers with the shadows into one layer (Ctrl + E) or right-click on the selected layers and in the appeared window select the option Merge layers (Merge Layers). Next, on the merged shadow layer, apply a filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), for this we go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur), set radius (Radius) blur: 15.0 px. So the shadows are ready! Now, merge all the layers with aliens (Ctrl + E) so that you can work with layers conveniently.

Step 23

Next, we will add alien warships. Just as in the previous steps, highlight the flying ships, and then add them to our working paper. Place them on top of guided missiles. To the ships layer, add a layer mask and with a brush with a very low opacity (Opacity) 15-30% (the size (Size) brushes: 150 px, rigidity (Hardness) brushes: 0%), hide certain parts of the ships to create the feeling that the ships are flying among the clouds. Try to treat areas that reflect the glow from the sun, as well as the tentacles, because they are thin and indistinctly visible.

Step 24

Next, using the same brush, add a little haze to the ships on the new layer. Using tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool (I)), take samples of color shades from areas located near the ships to observe the color range. Just do not paint the ships completely, otherwise realism will be lost in the picture. Transform a new layer into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G).

Step 25

It remains to add the effect of haze to the aliens. But first, let’s adjust the brush. I used the standard brush “Per Smoke Brightness Variance” in Photoshop (Translator’s Note: brush fog or smoke). Select the “Per Smoke Brightness Variance” brush, press the key (F5) to go to the brush settings. Increase the size (Size) brushes up to 500 px, set the value Interval (Spacing) 80% and further, go to settings Form Dynamics (Shape Dynamics). Install Size fluctuation (Size Jitter): 100% as well Angle swings (Angle Jitter): 40%. It remains to add a bit of volume to the brush so that there are no flat lines when we paint with a brush. In settings Scattering (Scattering) set value Scattering (Scatter): 75%, and the value Counter (Count): 1. Save this brush, because we will need it at the end of the lesson.

Step 26

Create a new layer, set the brush color to # a09081, opacity (Opacity) brush 40%, using the brush created, draw the effect of smoke on the legs of the aliens and a little around. With the effects of creating certain climatic conditions, you can hide any unwanted details or unnecessary elements. With skillful use of the environment, you can achieve realism, but only when you know these boundaries :).

Step 27

The color of the smoke effect seemed too bright for me, so I applied an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to the smoke layer to match the color tones of the entire image. In the settings of this adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), set the value Color tone (Hue): -9, Saturation (Saturation): +11, Brightness (Lightness): -11. Apply this adjustment layer as a clipping mask to the smoke layer.

You can see my result in the screenshot below. I combined all the layers with aliens into one group (Ctrl + G). Name the new group ‘Aliens’. Further, all subsequent layers will be located on top of two groups: groups with a landscape and groups with aliens.

Step 28

Next, we will add the fire and the bodies of dead aliens. I decided to add these elements to convey the feeling of battle. The same, add the alien fragments, just as you added aliens to our working paper (Step 17). Place the remains of dead aliens in the foreground. There are only two such fragments with aliens on the original image, so experiment with rotating the fragments to connect both fragments and get an additional alien fragment (use the tool Transformation (Transform Tool (Ctrl + T))). In this way, I created a third stranger. Once you are satisfied with the result of the location of the fragments of dead aliens, merge all the layers with these fragments into one layer (Ctrl + E).

To create the shadows for the created alien fragments, I used the layer style Shadow (Drop Shadow), let’s go Layer – Layer Style – Shadow ((Layer> Layer Style> Drop Shadow …) or click the corresponding button in the layers palette). In the settings of this layer style, set the degree Opacity (Opacity) shadows: 100%, Angle (Angle): 151 degrees, put a tick in the box Global coverage (Global Light), Bias (Distance): 33 px, Swipe (Spread): 0%, The size (Size): 100 px. After applying all settings, press the OK key.

Step 29

The color of the wounded aliens does not match the entire atmosphere, so I used corrective layers to correct them. The first adjustment layer is Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast). Set the value Brightness (Brightness): -92, and the value The contrast (Contrast): 46. So we blacked out the alien fragments to impose the desired shade.

Step 30

Now color correction. The next adjustment layer is Color Balance (Color Balance). In the settings of this adjustment layer, set Mid tones (Midtones): Blue – Red (Cyan-Red): +16, Purple – Green (Magenta-Green): -16, Yellow – Blue (Yellow-blue): -26; for Of shadows (Shadows): Blue – Red (Cyan-Red): +6, Purple – Green (Magenta-Green): +9, Yellow – Blue (Yellow-Blue): -10. Since the original color level settings were much brighter, I did not use the Tone Balance Sveta (Highlights). Now, all the fragments of aliens are ideally combined with the entire color palette.

Step 31

The last adjustment layer is Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). In the settings of this adjustment layer, set the value Color tone (Hue): -35, Saturation (Saturation): -36, Brightness (Lightness): -31. Now let’s balance colors and saturation for realism. I specifically decided to create a color scheme for you, which you see in the screenshot below, in case you want to add other elements and then combine them with this atmosphere.

Step 32

Now we will add fire. Let’s go File – Post (File> Place) and in the window that appears, select the Fire texture “sidestreet-stock (5)” from the Fire texture set. Change the blending mode for the fire texture layer to Lightening (Screen). When you work with different effects (fire, fireworks, lights, etc.), or something on a black background, the most convenient way to process an image is to replace blending modes with modes. Lightening (Screen) or Light replacement (Lighten) Zoom out the image of the fire (Ctrl + T) so that the flame is not too large, but proportional to the area where you place it.

I will show you how to add a fire effect to an alien fragment, and for the rest of the newcomers, you can add fire effects yourself. To create the effect of fire, I used five images with the texture of fire “sidestreet-stock (3)”, “sidestreet-stock (5)”, “sidestreet-stock (10)”, “sidestreet-stock (12)”. At the end, I merged all five layers with the fire texture into one layer (Ctrl + E), and then changed the blending mode for the merged layer to Lightening (Screen). If the created fire effect seems too bright, apply a correction. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), for this we go Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation (Image> Adjustments> Hue / Saturation …), decrease the value Brightness (brightness) and Saturation (saturation) for the corrected layer.

Step 33

Next, we will add a glow from the fire to add realism. I know a lot of techniques to add light, but I offer you my version of the overlay of light. So, create a new layer, set the foreground color to # e9b22d. To create this glow, we need a light shade (I usually select a color tint sample from a flame image using the tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool (I)) for selecting the appropriate color shade. Using tool Brush (Brush Tool (B)), The size (Size) brushes: 400 px, Opacity (Opacity) brush: 65%, Rigidity (Hardness): 0%), paint over the fire and rock fragments, as shown in the screenshot below. Change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay) and also reduce opacity (Opacity) layer up to 30%.

Step 34

Now we add the main color to the glow. Repeat the previous step, but this time set the brush color to # e6e03d, and also reduce the opacity of the brush to 59%. Duplicate this layer (Ctrl + J), and then change the blending mode to Linear dimmer (Linear Burn), the opacity of the layer is 100%.

Step 35

Next, I darkened the fire in the foreground. Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) and in the appeared window change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), do not forget to put a tick in the box Fill in neutral color with Overlap mode (50% gray) (Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray). Settings for the tool Dimmer (Burn Tool (O)) are indicated in Step 12. Darken the fire in the foreground a little bit, as well as sections of aliens that do not stand out much.

Step 36

Next, let’s add sparks to the fire. Let’s go File – Post (File> Place) and in the appeared window we select the image with sparks. Zoom out the image with sparks, because Sparks should be smaller than the size of the fire, change the blending mode for the layer with sparks to Lightening (Screen). Duplicate the sparkle layer 2 times (Ctrl + J), place duplicate layers on the remaining two lights. Merge layers with sparks into one layer (Ctrl + E), and then use layer masks to hide the extra areas with sparks, so the texture seems more natural.

Step 37

So one of the final steps is to add final details. Initially, I wanted to change a little light and shade to enhance the shadows and light highlights in some areas. Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) and in the appeared window change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), do not forget to put a tick in the box Fill in neutral color with Overlap mode (50% gray) (Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray). Next, using the tools Clarifier and Dimmer (Dodge and Burn Tool (O)), add light highlights to the flames of fire to add space around, and also enhance the shadows on the aliens. Also add light highlights to the alien armor according to the main light source.

Step 38

Now it’s time for the brush from Step 25. Create a new layer, set the brush color to # a5a5a5, brush opacity: 30%, and then use the created brush to add a smoke effect to the foreground. If you do not like parts of the effect, you can remove them with the tool. Eraser (Eraser Tool (E)), but in the settings use our created brush, with which we create the effect of smoke. Decrease opacity (Opacity) layer up to 86%.

Step 39

In the final step, we will add sparks. Add an image with sparks to our working paper, zoom in on the image with sparks (Ctrl + T), placing them in the foreground of our picture. Change the blending mode for the sparkle layer to Lightening (Screen). Using a layer mask, remove sparks around the edges of the image, as well as at the top (you can remove areas where the texture seems too saturated) and we have completed the lesson! Congratulations!

Thank you for taking the time to complete this lesson. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I wish you good luck in your future projects!

The final result:

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