Create an epic scene with glittering lightning in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a powerful scene using various photo manipulation techniques.

To begin with, we will create a basic environment using images of the sky and buildings. After that we will add flying stones and lightning and mix them with the help of adjustment layers, layer masks and brushes. Next we draw light and small details. To complete the effect creation process, we will resort to using several adjustment layers.

Note: The author used paid materials. In the archive you will find an alternative version of the images to perform the lesson.

1. How to create a basic environment

Step 1

Create a new document of 2000 by 1333 pixels with the following settings:

Step 2

Open a photo of the sky. With the tool Rectangular marquee (Rectangular selection) (M) select only the sky and place it on the white canvas with the tool Move(Move) (V).

Step 3

Click Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation (Layers> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation) and change the parameter value Saturation (Saturation) at -100:

Step 4

Create a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to add light, especially at the top left of the sky, where we will later place the main light source. On the layer mask with a brush, paint the bottom area to reduce the effect in this place.

Step 5

Cut out buildings and paste them into a working paper.

Step 6

With the tool Lasso (Lasso) (L) Select the building in the upper right corner, and then press Control-J to paste the selection into a new layer. Flip it horizontally by clicking Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontally). Reduce the building slightly and move it to the upper left corner to fill the empty space.

Step 7

Copy the building at the bottom right of the canvas and add it to the upper left corner, where we added the small building in the previous step.

Step 8

Buildings look darker than the sky. In addition to each layer with buildings, create a new layer (like a clipping mask), change the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap) and fill the layer with 50% gray.

Use the tools Dodge (Clarifier) ​​(O) with a range of Highlights (Backlight) and with an exposure around 50-60% and Burn (Dimmer) with a range of Midtones (Mid Tones) to add more light and detail to buildings. Below you can see how the result looks like with blending modes. Normal (Ordinary) and Overlay (Overlap).

Step 9

Select all layers with buildings, including those that were edited using tools. Dodge/ Burn(Clarifier / Dimmer), and press Control-G to group them. Change the group’s blending mode to Normal (Normal) and add an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) within the group. Reduce saturation Cyans (Blue) to -51:

Step 10

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to make buildings even brighter. On the mask of this layer using a soft black brush hide some corners of buildings, as they should not be too bright.

Step 11

Create an adjustment layer Levels (Levels) to reduce contrast at the corners of buildings. On the mask layer with a brush, hide the effect on the rest of the buildings.

Step 12

Create a new layer and use a soft white brush to paint on the upper parts of the buildings to lighten them a little more. Change the blending mode of this layer to Soft light (Soft light), opacity 100%.

2. How to add stones

Step 1

Open the set of images with stones. From the meteor10 folder, select the one you like the most and place it in the middle of the area between the buildings. With the help of the command Free transform (Free Transform) (Control-T) “pull up” the upper part of the stone towards the sky so that the angle at which it is located coincides with the angle of the buildings.

Duplicate this layer and move the lighted side of the stone to the light. Apply the Control-T command in mode Warp (Deformation) to deform something like the image below:

Step 2

Use the layer mask to “mix” the first stone with the second.

Step 3

Add a few stones in the left and right sides of the scene by duplicating this layer or selecting other stones from the folders. With mode Warp (Deformation) you can change the shape of the stones in different ways so that they do not appear to be the same.

Step 4

Add more stones near the buildings and let all these stones be of different sizes (the Control-T command and the Warp (Deformation)). Place some large stones near the edges of the canvas. For each of these layers, click Filter> Motion Blur (Filter> Motion Blur), and set the parameters as in the image below. Depending on the size, angle and distance of the stone, you can change the settings to achieve the desired effect.

Step 5

Create a group of all layers with stones. Inside this group create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Lower parameter value Saturation (Saturation) to a minimum.

Step 6

Use the adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to make the stones brighter. On the mask layer with a soft black brush, hide the effect on the shadow side of the stones.

3. How to add a zipper

Step 1

Open image lightning 1 (Lightning 1). Highlight the zipper with the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand) (W) and place it at the bottom of the biggest stone (of what is in the center) so that it looks like a lightning bolt striking out of a stone. Using the Control-T command, change its perspective and make the top part much smaller, and the bottom part – on the contrary, much more.

Step 2

Select two parts from the original image and add them to the main zipper, creating a kind of branching effect, as shown in the image below.

Step 3

Create a group of lightning layers and create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to discolor the effect.

Step 4

Open image lightning 2 (Lightning 2). With the tool Lasso (Lasso) (L) Select a large branching and place it at the bottom of a large stone in the middle. Use the Control-T command to connect this zipper to the falling stone on the right.

Change the blending mode of this layer to Screen (Screen), opacity 100% and create a layer mask, and then, drawing on it, hide the edges of the cropped image.

Step 5

Add another lightning bolt from the original image and connect them to the three stones left and right.

Step 6

Create a group of these layers and change its blending mode to Screen (Screen), opacity 100%. Next, create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Lower parameter value Saturation (Saturation) to -100.

Step 7

Create an adjustment layer Levels (Levels) to completely get rid of white edges.

4. How to draw light and small details

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all the others and with the help of a soft white brush, put a dot in the place where all the zippers come out of a large stone – you get a light hole.

Step 2

Create a new layer and change its blending mode to Overlay (Overlap), opacity is 100%. Using a soft white brush with low opacity (about 50%), draw a glow around the light hole and the two lower zippers.

Step 3

Create a new layer and select black for the background color. Press F5 to change brush options. After that, use this brush to paint small particles around the stones.

5. How to make the latest adjustments

Step 1

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all other layers and reduce the brightness. On the layer mask of this layer, draw with a black soft brush between buildings to hide the effect and leave these places bright.

Step 2

Create another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to make the areas between buildings even brighter. Fill the layer mask with black and white brush and paint where you want to add brightness.

Step 3

Use the adjustment layer Color balance (Color balance) to complete the effect.

That’s all, Congratulations!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and you learned something new. Do not hesitate and leave your work below :) Let Photoshop be your joy!

Author: Jenny Le

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