Create an island in the form of a skull in Photoshop

In this tutorial, we will learn how to create a mysterious skull-shaped island in Adobe Photoshop CC. To create such an island, we will use many layers and layer masks to combine the necessary images that we will take from the photo stack. We learn how to create light effects and how to transform a skull into a rocky underwater island. The author used the Adobe Photoshop CC version, you can use any other that you have. Also, for this tutorial, we will use the PixelSquid filter to add realistic 3D-objects.

Well, let’s start!

Download the archive with materials for the lesson

Step 1

First, let’s create a new document sized 2000x2725 px and resolution 72dpi.

Transfer to the program, or just open the image with the island (Ctrl + O) and, using selection tools (the author used the tool Quick selection tool (Quick selection) (W)), highlight the whole sky. Apply Layer mask (Layer mask) to this layer. T. oh, the whole sky must go away.

Now transfer the image of the island with water to a new document, reduce its size and place it in the upper part of the document so that there is free space on the sides of the island. With the tool Free transform (Free Transform) (Ctrl + T) zoom out the image and place it on top of the document. Name this layer Island.

Step 2

Now let’s add the sky. Transfer to the program, or just open the image with the sky (Ctrl + O). Now transfer to the document and position it as in the screenshot (under the layer with the island), so that the sun just peeks out from behind the island on the left side. To reduce / increase photos with the sky, use the same tool. Free transform (Free transform) (Ctrl + T). Layer with sky name Sky.

Step 3

Now we need to create the illusion of deep waters. Create a new adjustment layer. Gradient (Gradient) with settings from 3cabcf before 001828 and in subsection Style (Style) change to Radial (Radial).

While on the Layer Mask, reduce Opacity (Opacity) of this layer to 60% and, in the area between the island and the water is the adjacent shadow of the island. In the area just below the island, using a black and white gradient, from the bottom up, draw a very small gradient line. Thus, the gradient responsible for the illusion of deep waters will be only in the area where the water is without affecting the island. At the end of this operation, return 100% Opacity (Opacity) this layer. Call it Underwater.

Step 4

Now we will create the effect of space under water. Create a new layer. Shift +Ctrl +N.

Next, go to Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Drawing – Clouds) and change the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light.

Reduce it Opacity (Opacity) to ten%. To filter Clouds (Clouds) was not visible at the top of the image, just drag Layer mask (Layer mask) (with Alt depressed) from the bottom layer (Gradient) on top. Name this layer Fog. You can remove the white background layer (which is at the bottom).

Step 5

Now let’s transfer the photo (Underwater-PSDBOX-12), underwater in our paper. With the help of the same tool Free transform (Free transform / Ctrl + T) reduce it and change the blending mode of this layer to Soft light (Soft light). Place it on the left side of the image.

Add him Layer mask (Mask layer) and a soft black brush (B) with a relatively large radius, on the white mask of the layer, erase the area where the water is located, leaving only the reef, as in the screenshot.

Step 6

Transfer another photo under water (Underwater-PSDBOX-47) in our paper. Place it on the right side of the image.

With the tool Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) with the settings as in the screenshot, change the hue and saturation of the photo so that it is not so green.

Change the blending mode of this layer to Soft light (Soft light). Create Layer mask (Mask layer) and using a soft black brush (B), with a large radius, on a white layer mask, gently erase the water and the left side of the seabed to get a soft transition between the water and the underwater rock, as in the screenshot.

The order of the layers is shown in the screenshot.

Step 7

Now let’s open the image with the skull. With the tool Quick selection tool (Quick selection) (W) highlight the skull.

Remove the background by adding Layer mask (Layer mask). Now transfer to our document and, using the tool Free transform (Free Transform / Ctrl + T), reduce the skull to the size as in the screenshot.

Apply the layer mask to the skull layer (right click on the layer mask – Apply Layer mask).

Now add a new layer mask for the skull layer. We need to remove the top of the skull. You need to copy the layer mask from the layer Underwater (we clamp Alt, click on the mask and drag it to a new layer), on the layer with the skull.

Step 8

Next, let’s drag the image with a face in the rock into our document. Apply it as Clipping mask (Clipping mask) (left click + Alt) to the skull layer. With the tool Freetransform (Free Transform) (Ctrl + T) reduce the image to the size of the skull, as in the screenshot and change the blend mode of this layer to Multiply (Multiplication). Call it Rock texture.

Step 9

The texture with the rock after laying on the skull looks too dark. To eliminate this drawback, create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), as Clipping mask (Clipping mask) use a layer with a skull. Decrease Saturation (Saturation) of this layer to -7%.

Create a new adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) above the adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to lighten the shadows, with settings as in the screenshot.

And that’s what we should get:

Step 10

Now, we need to make the edges of the skull more natural. This is necessary, because the edges of the island must be combined with the edges of the skull. You can use the tool Brush (Brush) (B) and manually make the contour of the skull first more ragged and then sharp. But let’s go in a more practical way. Select the skull. To do this, hold down Ctrl and left-click on the skull layer thumbnail to get a selection. After a selection appears on the skull image, right-click on the selected area and select Make work path (Make a work path).

After that, a window will appear Tolerance (Tolerance) with the choice of the number of tolerance in pixels. By default, leave 2.0.

Next, use the tool Brush (Brush) (B). Choose a brush Oil medium wet flow (Movement with semi-dry brush oil) with a diameter of 32 from the set, which is used by default. To invoke the default set of brush, go to Brush sets and press Restore brushes.

We need an oval-shaped brush, the shape needs to be changed to round (100%).

Now let’s go into the brush settings and change some of them. To do this, go to the tab that was just named (Window – Brush (Window – Brush)).

Uncheck all sections except Smoothing (Smoothing). In the topmost section Brush tip shape (Brush to shape), in function Spacing (Interval), increase its value to 83%.

Now go to Shape dinamics (Dynamics of form) in the topmost section Control (Control) change Pen pressure (Pen pressure) on Off (Turn off). AngleJitter (Angular oscillation) increase to 52%.

In section Scattering (Scattering) tick next to Both axes and increase the value Scatter (Scatter) to 20%. In subsection Count (Qty) put 2%. Leave everything else as default.

Now, let’s go back to the layer mask. Scull. Choose a tool Pen (Pen), right-click on the selected contour image, select Stroke path (Contour stroke) and select Brush (Brush). So, we created torn edges on the image with the skull. However, such torn edges look very unnatural. To make them even more realistic, right-click on the selected contour image again and select Brush (Brush). And again repeat this operation the third, and, this time – the last time.

Next, right-click on the layer mask. Scull and select Refine mask (Refine mask) and apply the same settings as in the screenshot.

And this is the result:

Step 11

Now, let’s add some layer styles for the skull layer. To do this, in the layers palette, select Add layer style (Add layer style) and add Inner shadow (Inner shadow), Gradient overlay (Gradient overlay with color # 316681), as well as Color overlay (Color overlay) with the same settings as in the screenshot.

Translator’s Note:Inner shadow (Inner Shadow) creates the illusion of a blurred image around the edges; Gradient overlay (Gradient overlay) darkens the lower right side of the skull, because light source in the upper left; Color Overlay (Overlay color) creates the illusion of finding the skull in the water. Due to the styles of the layer, not only the skull acquires volume. Also, the color correction to the environment is done, i.e. water

And here is our result:

Step 12

We turn to the water. Let’s add a small edge of it. To do this, transfer the image with water to the program and select its topmost part.

Move it to our document and position it between the bottom and top of the water. With the tool Free transform (Free Transform) (Ctrl + T) reduce the water edge and resize to make it as natural as possible. The screenshot shows what area it occupies.

Change its blending mode to Overlay (Overlap). To lengthen it, simply duplicate it several times. (Ctrl + J) and place across the entire width of the document. It looks like the line is very light, so you will need to experiment with the layer settings. Opacity (Opacity). Put it within 40-60%. For convenience, I advise you to create a correction layer. Levels (Levels) and play around with its settings. Remember to apply it as a clipping mask to the group with all duplicate layers. Name the group water line.


Also, you can see the order of the layers:

Step 13

Now use the brush. Bubbles, which is attached to the lesson. If you want to try to create this brush yourself, use all the settings that are listed here. Create a new document. (Ctrl +N), by size 500×500 px and resolution 300dpi. With the tool Brush (Brush) with a diameter 125px and with 100% stiffness, put a black spot in the very center of the document. Next, reduce the brush diameter to 120px and gray # 707070 Put another spot in the center of the black spot. Again, using the same tool Brush (Brush), only with stiffness 20% and with color cbcbcb, make one more click in the center of the document. Once again, with the tool Brush (Brush) with a tool diameter of approximately 90 px, make one more click to the center of the circle with color f0f0f0 and a little lower with diameter 70px, on the territory of the circle. And finally, for the last time, with a white brush with a diameter 25px and stiffness 54%, put a spot slightly higher than the center and a little lower, to the right. This should be the result:

Now, to create a brush from the resulting pattern, you need to go to Edit (Editing) – Define Brush Preset (Define brush). Name brush Bubbles.

At the very top of the layers palette, create a new layer (Shift +Ctrl +N) and also call him Bubbles. Select the brush created by us and go to the brush settings in the Brush (Window – (Window) – Brush (Brush)).
In section Brush tip shape (Brush print form) zoom in Spacing (Interval) to 40%.

In section Shape dynamics (Dynamics of the form) increase Size jitter (Size fluctuation) to 100%. In section Shape dynamics (Dynamics of form) next to Control (Control) put Pen pressure (Pen pressure). Angle jitter (Angle oscillation) increase to 92%.

In section Scattering (Scattering) tick next to Both axes (Both axes) and zoom in Scatter (Scatter) to 100%.

We’re done with the settings!

Use a brush with color. #bce9f9 with a very small diameter, approximately 10px and draw bubbles from the places of the skull, from where they could go. Result on the screenshot:

Step 14

Now, let’s do some light effects on the island. Above the layer Island create 2 layers as Clipping mask (Clipping mask). Call them light 1 (lower) and light 2 (upper). Change layer blending mode light 1 on Color dodge (Lightening the basics), and layer light 2 on Screen (Screen).

Use the tool Brush (Brush) with color # 8c4800 and a diameter of about 260 px. In settings Window (Window) – Brush (Brush) uncheck the box next to the section. Shape dynamics (Dynamics of form). Now draw on the top of the island with a brush so that it can be seen that sunlight falls on the top of the island.

Now, go to layer light 2 and with the tool Brush (Brush) with a diameter 250px and color # 836119 Draw over the top of the island again. If necessary, correct Opacity (Opacity). Result:

Step 15

Create a new layer (Shift +Ctrl +N) above the layer Bubbles and name it Sun glow. Change its blending mode to Screen (Screen). With the tool Brush (Brush) with color # 993600 and diameter 800px make 1 click right in the sun. Again, make 1 click on the same place with the color #cf7000 and a diameter of about 300-400 px. Another click with color #ffa53a and smaller diameter. And one more #ffe398 with even smaller brush diameter. So, we should get a glow from the sun, as shown.

Step 16

Next, add something like a glare from the sun. To do this, transfer the image with a light effect to our document and place it above the layer sun glow. Change the blending mode of this layer to Screen (Screen) and using the tool Free transform (Free Transform), reduce and place the light effect on the spot of the sun. The author reflected this effect horizontally, because the direction of the flare is located relative to the light source – from the upper left corner to the lower right. For this, in tool mode Free transform (Free Transform / Ctrl + T), right click on it and select Flip horizontal (Flip horizontally). If any parts of the light hit the skull, erase them with a tool. Eraser (Brush) (e).

The order of placement of layers is shown in the screenshot:

Step 17

Well, now we need to add fish to our document.

First, let’s learn how to handle the filter. Pixelsquid. You can download images of fish in the formats from the source link. psd and png, so the filter itself Pixelsquid, through which you can add these same images and which is only suitable for the version Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 or higher. After installing this filter, it will be in Window – Extensions – PixelSquid (Window – Extensions – PixelSquid). It is recommended to download the filter itself, and apply images for it using the button Add to Photoshop. T. oh, after pressing this button, all images will be installed in the filter. If it doesn’t, just use the button. Refresh. After the fish appears in the list of images, click on it 2 times. Once the image is downloaded, you can also apply / remove the shadow under it and high / low resolution. In this case, we don’t need high resolution, because we need small fish. Now, with the mouse, you can turn the fish as you like.

Note: If the version of your Photoshop is incompatible with the filter, then you can use the collection and download the necessary image from the site in psd or png format.

Create a new layer. (Shift + Ctrl + N) and move it to a group called fish. With the tool Free transform (Free transform / Ctrl + T) reduce the fish as you yourself would like.

If you are new and decided to complete this lesson, the layer style settings will help you.

Layer styles were not used for fish.

For the starfish:

For shark:


Step 18

Also, add to work a small yacht. It is in the same filter. Pixelsquid. It is recommended to enable high resolution for this image, since the yacht is much more marine life and we need a good image quality. Reduce the image with the yacht using the tool Freetransform (Free transform / Ctrl + T) and place it just above the water line. Name this layer boat. Apply Layer mask (Layer mask) for the layer with the yacht and with the help of a black hard brush, on the layer mask, erase the entire lower part of the yacht. After that, create a new layer under the layer with the boat and on it, using a black soft brush with a small diameter, draw a shadow.

Next, apply Layer style (Layer style) – Color overlay (Overlapping color) with color # f2dab3 and Gradient overlay (Gradient overlap) with settings as in the screenshot.

And here is the result:

Step 19

Create a new layer. (Shift + Ctrl + N) and call him birds. Let’s add birds to our document. We use the tool Brush (Brush) (B). Right click on the document and, in the settings icon, select Load brushes (Download brushes) and select the brushes of birds that are attached to the lesson.

Step 19

Create a new adjustment layer. Gradient fill (Gradient fill) on top of all layers. Change it to Radial (Radial) and apply colors from # 3e4e7b before #cf8a47. Check the box next to Reverse (Reverse) and drag the gradient to the upper left corner with the mouse, as in the screenshot.

Change the blending mode of this layer to Hard light (Hard light) and reduce Opacity (Opacity) to 50%.

Now go to the layer mask and, with a black and white gradient, stretch down from the water line to the eye area on the skull. Double-click on the layer mask to reduce Dencity (Density) to 94%.

Merge all layers into one Alt + Shift + Ctrl + E. Next, go to Filter (Filter) – Camera raw and apply the settings as in the screenshot.

After the white balance settings, use the Radial Filter tool (without leaving the Camera Raw filter) and make an oval circle around the skull with the following settings:


After that, in the section Split toning apply the following settings:


And also create a small vignette in the section Effects with the following settings:

And here is our mystical island in the shape of a skull – ready:

The order of the layers is shown in the screenshot:

The lesson turned out to be quite large, but informative and not difficult, and I hope that you gained a lot of knowledge during its implementation.

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