Create in Photoshop a mysterious temple in the mountains

In this lesson, you will learn how to create a surrealistic composition with a climber who unexpectedly discovers a mysterious temple at a transcendental height. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create your own mountain landscape, using several stock images with stones, position the character on the stage with realistic lighting and shadows, and finally, transform the shades of the composition into warmer and more pleasant. Throughout the lesson, you will learn methods that will help you create the best compositions.

What will we create?

According to the plot of the composition, the traveler-climber, climbing above the clouds, discovers a mysterious temple hovering above the clouds and a ship not far from it, also hovering in the air. To create this image, we start with a heavenly background. Then we will add some rock stones to create a cliff on which we will place our climber, then we will add a temple, a raven and trees. Finally, let’s make the color scheme of the composition warmer. To complete this tutorial, you will need Photoshop CS5 or later.

Final image

Source materials:

Step 1

First, sketch a sketch of the idea on paper. Based on this sketch, we will build a sequence of actions of our work. In addition, having issued an idea in this way, it will be easier for us to select stock photos.

Step 2

Once we have decided on the content of the composition, we can choose stock images for it, taking into account their perspective and lighting. For example, here are a few photos taken by me personally during my trip to the mountains of Indonesia.

Step 3

Now let’s work in Photoshop, combine the photos to create the scene we need. Create a new document through the menu. File> New (File> New) 3000px pixels wide and 2000px high.

Step 4

Now add photos through the menu File> Place (File> Post).

Step 5

Specify the file “Sky 2” for the document

Step 6

The added image will thus automatically be in transformation mode. If for any reason this does not happen, press the key combination (Ctrl + T) or go to the menu Edit> Transform> Scale (Edit> Transform> Scale) and drag the black squares in the corners to the sides. Position the image as shown below.

Step 7

Add a stock image “Sky 3” to the document via the menu File> Place (File> Post). Position this image as shown in the image below.

Step 8

Create a mask for this layer. Clicking at the bottom of the layers palette on the layer mask creation icon.

Step 9

Select a layer mask on the layers palette and select the tool Gradient tool (Gradient). Press D to reset colors to standard black and white. Add a gradient from bottom to top, as shown in the image below.

Step 10

Select all the layers we created on the layers palette. To do this, click on the first layer, then hold down the Shift key, click on the last layer, and drag them to the icon for creating a new group at the bottom of the layers palette. As a result, all these layers will be merged into one common group. The same result can be obtained by selecting all the layers, and simply pressing Ctrl + G. Name this new group “Sky”. Then remove the existing background layer by dragging it onto the trash can icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Step 11

Place on the document stock image “Stone 3”. Then using Pen tool (Feather) highlight stone texture.

Step 12

After circling the stone texture on the contour, right-click on it and select the item in the context menu that opens Make selection (To form a selected area). As a result, you should get something like this.

Step 13

Then add a layer mask for the stone layer by clicking the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Step 14

This is what should happen.

Step 15

Using Free transform (Free Transformation) through the menu Edit> Free Transform (Edit> Free Transform) adjust the size of the stone and position it as shown in the image below.

Step 16

Add a stock image “Stone 1” to the document. Then repeat the previous step to the selected image.

Step 17

In the same way, add to the canvas the rest of the stock images with stones. Select the stone texture on each of them, adjust their size with Free transform (Free Transformation) and position as shown in the image below:

Step 18

Use Move Tool (V) (Move) to position each stone, as shown below.

Step 19

If necessary, you can duplicate any of the layers with a stone (Ctrl + J), and add a composition.

Step 20

After finishing with the placement of stones, you can combine them into a separate group “Rocks”. To do this, simply select them on the layers palette and press Ctrl + G.

Step 21

Create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation) and set the parameters as shown below.

Step 22

Create a new adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels), set the parameters as shown below.

Step 23

Select adjustment layers on the layers palette. Levels (Levels) and Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), then right-click on them and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask). So the effect of the adjustment layers will affect only the stones.

Step 24

Add a photo of “Tree 1” through the menu File> Place (File> Post).

Step 25

Using Pen tool (Pen) select the tree and mask it (step 11). Then using the free transformation (Ctrl + T), right-click on the transformation window and select Flip horizontal (Flip horizontally)

Step 26

Select a layer mask on the layers palette, take a soft round brush of 175px. Paint the bottom of the tree as shown in the image below.

Step 27

Create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation) and set the parameters as shown below.

Step 28

Create a new adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels), set the parameters as shown below.

Step 29

Select adjustment layers on the layers palette. Levels (Levels) and Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), then right-click on them and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask). So the effect of the adjustment layers will only affect the wood.

Step 30

Create another adjustment layer. Levels (Levels), set the parameters as shown below.

Step 31

Select a layer mask on the layers palette, take a 300px soft round brush. Paint the left side of the tree as shown in the image below:

Step 32

If done correctly, the right side of the tree will be darker than the left.

Step 33

Add a photo of “Tree 2” through the menu File> Place (File> Post).

Step 34

Select a tree with the tool Pen tool (Pen), make a selection, then activate FreeTransformation (Free Transform) (Ctrl + T) and position the tree as shown in the image below. Then repeat steps 27-28 of creating adjustment layers to get the same effect as for the second tree.

Step 35

Add a photo of “Ivy” through the menu File> Place (File> Post).

Step 36

Go to menu Edit> Puppet Warp (Editing> Puppet Warp)

Step 37

Here is what your image should look like at the moment.

Step 38

The activated tool will allow you to manipulate and deform your object. Pins will be created on the surface of the object. By moving them you can give the object any shape.

Step 39

By holding Alt and moving the “pin”, you can shift the lower part of the plant towards the nearby tree trunk, while the rest of the plant retains its original position:

Step 40

Using the method described above, position the plant as shown in the image below:

Step 41

Changing the position of the pivot points – “pins”, give the plants the desired bend, position them as shown in the image below, and then press Enter.

Step 42

Create a new adjustment layer. Vibrance (Vibration) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Vibrance (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Vibration), set the parameters as shown below and create Clipping mask (Clipping mask)

Step 43

Select all the layers created last, to do this, click on the first layer, hold down the Alt key and click on the last layer, and drag them to the icon for creating a new group. Name the newly created group “Trees”.

Step 44

Add a photo with a crow through the menu File> Place (File> Post).

Step 45

Using Pen tool (Pen) select the crow and create a layer mask (step 11). Then using the free transform (Ctrl + T), position as shown in the image below:

Step 46

Create a new adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels), set the parameters as shown below and create Clipping mask (Clipping mask)

Step 47

Add a photo with a climber through the menu File> Place (File> Post). Then using the free transformation (Ctrl + T), slightly tilt and position the climber, as shown in the figure below:

Step 48

Create a new adjustment layer. Vibrance (Vibration) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Vibrance (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Vibration) and Adjustment Layer Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels), set the parameters as shown below and create Clipping mask (Clipping mask)

Step 49

Duplicate the climber layer, then using the free transform (Ctrl + T), apply Distort (Distortion) and transform the duplicate as shown below. Then change the blending mode for duplicate to Soft light (Soft light).

Step 50

Add a photo with the temple through the menu File> Place (File> Post). Then using the free transformation (Ctrl + T), position the temple, as shown in the image below:

Step 51

Using Pen tool (Pen), circle the outline of the temple, form a selected area, create a layer mask (step 11). Using the free transform (Ctrl + T), position the temple as shown below. Then create an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels), set the parameters as shown below and create Clipping mask (Clipping mask)

Step 52

Add stock image with ship via menu File> Place (File> Post). Then using the free transform (Ctrl + T), position the ship as shown in the image below.

Step 53

Create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation), set the parameters as shown in the image below and create Clipping mask (Clipping mask)

Step 54

Now duplicate the “Stone 3” layer (click on it and press Ctrl + J), and place it above all the layers.

Step 55

Adjust the size of the stone using the Free Transform (Ctrl + T), position it as shown in the image below. Choose a soft brush and mask the bottom edges of the stone. Then make a few more copies of the stone and repeat this step for the copies.

Step 56

Create an adjustment layer Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels). Apply the settings shown below and create a clipping mask (repeat this process for each layer with added stones)

Step 57

Now we need to break all the layers into categories in order to put some order on the layers palette. Therefore, divide the layers into groups with the names: “Rock Climber and Raven”, “Ship”, and “Stones”.

Step 58

Now create a new layer (click on the icon at the bottom of the layers palette), and name it “Fog”

Step 59

As the main color, set white, select one of the cloud brushes, set the size to 50px and reduce it. Opacity (Opacity) up to 80%.

Step 60

Paint over the bottom of the stones, the ship, and the temple, as shown in the image below.

Step 61

Having finished with the arrangement of all elements of the composition, we proceed to the final correction. Create a new adjustment layer. Black White (Black and white) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Black White (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Black and White) Adjust this adjustment layer as shown in the image below and reduce it. Opacity (Opacity) up to 27%.

Step 62

Create a new adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient map) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Gradient Map (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Gradient Map), set the parameters as shown below.

Step 63

Then set the blending mode SoftLight (Soft light) with Opacity (Opacity) 40%.

Step 64

Create a new layer and fill it with color #cd9d37

Step 65

Change the blending mode for this layer. SoftLight (Soft light) with Opacity (Opacity) 30%.

Step 66

Create a new adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast), set the parameters as shown below.

Step 67

Create a new adjustment layer. Selective color (Selective color correction) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Selective Color (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Selective Color Correction), set the parameters as shown below. Then change Opacity (Opacity) 50%.

Step 68

Create an adjustment layer Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels). Mask this layer as shown in the image below so that the center of the canvas remains lighter:

Step 69

Create another adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels). Apply the settings shown below. Mask this layer as shown in the image below so that the edges of the canvas become even darker:

Step 70

Create a new adjustment layer. Black White (Black and white) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Black White (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Black and White) Adjust this adjustment layer as shown in the image below and reduce it. Opacity (Opacity) up to 25%.

Step 71

Create a new adjustment layer. Photo filter (Photo Filter) through the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Photo Filter (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Photo Filter), set the parameters as shown below.

Step 72

Select on the layers palette all last-created adjustment layers, then, by pressing Ctrl + G merge into one group. Name this group “Final Correction”.

Step 73

The final step is to add a highlight to the composition, so that the image appears more dramatic. Create a new layer and fill it with black.

Step 74

Go to the menu Filter> Render> Lens flare (Filter> Rendring> Blick)

Step 75

Install Brightness (Brightness): 40%, and select lens type: 50-300mm zoom

Step 76

Change the blending mode to Screen (Screen) and using free transformation (Ctrl + T) position the highlight where you like. Layer with highlights should be placed under the group with trees.

Final image

Author: Adi Panca

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