In this lesson, we will show you the process of creating a mystical Asian-style temple. You will learn many professional and advanced techniques for combining images and get to know some of the new and powerful functions of Photoshop CS5. Let’s start!
Step 1 – Creating the Scene
Create a new document size Width (Width) 3000px and Height (Height) 1750px, ColorMode (Color Mode) set to RGB.
Download the “Hall of Prayer” image and place it in the bottom left of the canvas. You probably noticed that the right side of the image is lit more than the left. Since we want our scene to be evenly lit, we will create a symmetrical right-hand side to the right. Choose a tool Rectangular marquee tool (R) (Rectangular area), select the right half of your image and delete it.
Before continuing to look closely, you may have seen that the staircase is not strictly horizontal. Click Ctrl+T, to enter mode FreeTransform (Free Transformation). Rotate the layer by 0.4 degrees.
Duplicate the layer (Ctrl+J or through the menu Layer> Duplicate Layer (Layer -> Duplicate Layer)). Being on a duplicate layer, press Ctrl + T to enter the mode FreeTransform (Free Transformation), right-click on the transformation window and select Flip horizontal (Flip horizontally). Align the duplicate in the lower right side of the canvas.
Now fill the void in the center of our scene. First, create a ladder. Via Rectangular marquee tool (R) (Rectangular area) Select the steps in the bottom left of the image. Go to menu Edit> Content-Aware Scale (Edit -> Scale based on content) and pull the steps to the center of the image. Repeat the same with the right side.
Step 2 – Filling the central part
Combine the two layers and name the resulting “Background 1”. Via Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) (Polygonal Lasso) or Pen tool (P) (Pen) Select the area in the center of your image, between the two red columns and above the stairs, capturing a small area of the red wall. The figure below shows in red the area to be highlighted.
With the selection still active, go to the menu Layer >LayerMask > Hideselection (Layer -> Layer Mask -> Hide Selection) or click on the mask icon in the lower part of the layers panel. This action will hide the center of the image.
Step 3 – Correction
Paste the “Temple Interior” image onto your working paper and place it under the “Background 1” layer. Name this layer “Background 2”. Click Ctrl+T, to enter mode FreeTransform (Free Transform), zoom out to 80% and rotate it at an angle of 0.35 degrees. Position the image as shown below.
You probably noticed that the floor on the “Background 2” layer is too strong compared to the floor on the “Background 1” layer, so we will remove it. Via Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) (Polygonal Lasso) or Pen tool (P) (Pen) select the floor and hide it with a mask.
We also remove the pot from the left side, since after the removal of the floor it does not fit into our scene. We will get rid of it using the right side of our image. Take Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) (Polygonal Lasso) and on the “Background 2” layer select the area to the right of the golden pillar. Copy (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V). Flip horizontally and place a copy on the left side of the image. If necessary, apply a mask to hide the floor and join the top to the background layer.
Step 4 – Change the floor
Next we fill the void that we just created. Open the texture “Beige marble” and place it on your canvas. Press Ctrl + T, zoom out a little, then right-click on the conversion window and select Perspective (Perspective). Then pull the upper two corners inward. Next, go to mode Distort (Distortion) and drag the top middle point down until the texture looks like a floor. Name this layer “Textured Floor”.
Place the “Textured Floor” layer below all layers. Apply an adjustment layer to it. Hue/Saturation (Hue / Saturation) through the menu Layer> NewAdjustmentLayer>Hue/Saturation (Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Hue / Saturation) or click on the icon at the bottom of the layers panel. Do not forget to check the box Colorize (Toning).
Step 5 – Floor Reflection
To make things look more realistic, add a little reflection on the floor. Duplicate the “Background 2” layer. Select the bottom copy, flip vertically and position it so that it connects the center piece to the original layer.
Duplicate the layer again. Select the bottom copy and temporarily move it up so that the left and right sides are connected.
Merge the two copies and name the resulting layer “Floor Reflection”. Pin it behind the Textured Floor layer, then right-click on the Floor Reflection layer and select Convert to Smart Object (Convert to smart object). Go to menu Filter> Blur> Motion Blur (Filter -> Blur-> Blur in motion) and apply the following parameters.
Then click on the “Reflect the floor” layer mask and use a soft black brush to paint over the area where the walls and columns connect to the floor. This will make the reflection near the columns more blurry.
Duplicate layer, set for top layer Opacity (Opacity) 50%, and for the lower blend mode ColorBurn (Blackout basics) c Opacity (Opacity) 50%.
If you want, you can add scuff marks to the floor on a new layer using Brush tool (B) (Brush), Eyedropper tool (Pipette) and filter Motion blur (Motion blur). Once finished, select all the layers associated with the floor and group them (Ctrl + G). Name the group “Paul”.
Step 6 – Floor Reflection
Open the “Ornament 112” image and place it on your canvas. Reduce the size to 30%, duplicate it several times and place duplicates so that they fill the top of the image. Merge them into one layer, name the resulting layer “Ornament 1” and add the following adjustment layers.
Then do the same with “Ornament 194”. Only this time, reduce its size to 15% and name it “Ornament 2”.
To help achieve a similar effect with Gradient map (Gradient Map), below is a detailed example of my gradient. However, to get the same effect, you must have exactly the same curve filter as mine (which can be difficult), so do not be afraid to experiment with the values on which the result will depend.
Step 7 – Bottom of the Ornament
Next, add the bottom for the ornament. Create a new layer “Ornament 3” and place it under the layer “Ornament 2”. Via Rectangular marquee tool (R) (Rectangular area), create a selection under the ornament and fill it with color 491915.
In order for this area to look more realistic, we need to texture it. Place the texture “Beige Marble” and with the help of free transformation give it an appropriate perspective.
Fix it behind the “Ornament 3” layer as a clipping mask and add a layer mask. With the mask selected, make a rectangular selection and go to the menu Filter> Render> Clouds (Filter -> Rendering -> Clouds).
Add more contrast to the clouds with an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves). Then detach the mask, select the mask, press (Ctrl + T) to transform it and give it the same perspective as the texture.
Finally, apply the following layer styles to the “Ornament 3” layer.
Step 8 – Move the center up
In this step we will stretch our “Background 2” so that it covers the empty area under the ornament. In order to maintain the quality of our image, we will use Content-Aware Scale (Scale based on content). We do not want to stretch the whole image, mainly columns and walls. To do this, create a selection at the top of the layer and cut out a small Buddha statue. Then go to menu Edit> Content-Aware Scale (Edit -> Scale based on content) and drag the selection up.
Step 9 – Correction of the central part
At this stage we will fill in the empty area left in the center of the image. Also get rid of the shrine, because in this place will be our model. For an empty area Content-Aware Fill (Filling in view of the content) will not give a good result. So let’s do everything manually. This step is quite difficult and will require a lot of patience.
Enlarge the Buddha statue, and with any tool, create an oval selection of the Buddha and the paintings behind him. Cut (Ctrl + X) and paste (Ctrl + V). Name the new layer “Statue”. Select the “Background 2” layer again, create a rectangular selection behind the statue and move it up.
Create a new layer, fill the void under the top with a gradient (# FEC748, # E9AB44) and name the layer “Fill Wall”.
Select the “Fill wall” layer and take Smudge tool (Finger). Make sure the checkbox is on Sample all layers (Sample from all layers) and cover the side of the area that we have just filled so that it blends with the rest of the wall.
Here is how I did the top
Once finished, merge the “Fill Wall” layer with “Background 2”. Rename the resulting layer to “Background 2”. Then select the whole area under the chandelier and move the selection down.
Next we fill the empty area. There is no best way here, so you can apply your own method.
Once finished, merge all the layers together and name the layer “Background 2”. Add a soft grain texture – this is a good way to make your painted / scaled areas more realistic. Download the White Plaster Image. Reduce its texture to fit the wall.
Duplicate and position the layers so that they cover the entire wall. Merge the layers and name the resulting layer “Wall Texture”. Set the blending mode Multiply (Multiply) and apply adjustment layer Curves (Curves) with the following settings.
Add a mask and a soft black brush to hide the edges of the texture so that it blends in with the rest of the wall.
Step 10 – Dark Windows
We are almost done with making the scene. The windows on the right and left are the brightest part of the image and draw attention to unwanted areas. We will fix this by replacing them with darker windows.
Open the image “Beijing”. In this picture we will take the window on the left, because direct sunlight does not fall on it. Select the window and copy it. Then apply the transformation mode Distort (Distortion) and make the window horizontal. You can help yourself by positioning the guides on the edges of the window. Also, do not forget to hide the metal part in the lower left corner.
Paste the windows onto the working canvas and give them the appropriate perspective. To help yourself, you can place several guides using LineToo l (U) (Line).
Since both sides are symmetrical, once finished with one side, you can simply duplicate the windows and place them on the other side. Next, do the same with the upper windows.
Once finished, merge all the windows together, name the new layer “Windows”. Mask the layer where the columns are and apply a correction layer to it. Curves (Curves) with the following parameters.
Step 11 – Floor Reflection Correction
Since we removed the windows, now we have to get rid of the light reflection that the environment creates. Let’s start with the floor. Return to the mask of the “Background 1” layer and paint over the floor.
Copy the red fence above the floor, flip it vertically and fix it as a clipping mask behind the “Textured Floor” layer. I named this layer “Reflection left / right”.
Then do the same as in step 5 to reflect.
Step 12 – Final Correction
At this stage, we fix minor annoying details. This may take a fair amount of time, but attention should be paid to such details, as they give the image a professional glossy look. All adjustments were made on a new layer, which is above all and is called “Correction”.
Step 13 – Model Placement
Open the “Queen of butterflies” image and separate the model from the background. After you have selected the model, add a mask. Since our scene will be dark, try placing a black background behind the model.
It didn’t work out too well, did it? The problem is that our model has put on a transparent outfit, and we see a blue background through it. Working in CS4, we could not fix it. In CS5, this can be corrected using the mask panel.
Place the model on a working canvas, flip horizontally and scale down to 17%. Download the Red Dragon image and place it on the model’s hand. Name the layer with the model “Model”, and the layer with the dragon “Dragon”.
The shoes of our model do not quite fit the perspective of the floor. Do not worry, it can be easily fixed. Make a selection of legs, press Ctrl + T, and squeeze vertically.
Step 14 – Remove the blue shrine
And finally, before moving on to the correction. The blue area is a bit annoying and maybe after the color correction it will look even worse. To remove it, add a mask to the “Background 2” layer and hide this area. Then remove the “Floor Reflection” layers, and replace them with new matching walls, using the same technique as in step 5.
Step 15 – Light Compression
We are done with creating the scene. As you should have noticed in the final version, the main source of light is the center. To achieve this effect, we need to completely redo the lighting and darkening of our image. The first part in this process is to neutralize current highlights and shadows.
Next we will use the correction HDR Toning (HDR toning) is a new and very powerful feature of Photoshop CS5. However, the effect requires us to smooth the image, which we do not want to do. Thus, select the “Model” and “Dragon” layers and group them (Ctrl + G). Duplicate the group. Name one of them “Reserve”, and hide it. Merge the layers of another group and name the resulting layer “Background”.
Right-click on the Background layer and duplicate it into a new document. In the new document go to menu Image> Adjustment> HDR Toning (Image -> Correction -> HDR Toning). Photoshop will ask you if you want to smooth the image, click yes. In the pop-up window, select the method Highlight Compression (Light compression). Click Ok.
Step 16 – Reducing Noise
Fine! Now we have completely smoothed the light and shadow of our image. Now we can go to redraw light and shade as we want. But before that, we will make several other corrections. Move the “Background” layer back to the working paper. Call it “Background B2” and hide the old “Background.” Go to menu Filter> Noise> Reduce Noise (Filter -> Noise -> Reduce Noise) and specify the following settings.
Step 17 – First Light Correction
Apply the following adjustment layers Gradient map (Gradient map). This will change the overall bright red color to a more blood red one.
Step 18 – HDR Toning
Duplicate “Background B2” to a new file, and apply HDR Toning (HDR toning) with the following parameters. Transfer it to the main document and set the blending mode Vivid light (Bright light) with Opacity (Opacity) 15%. Add the following mask.
Duplicate “HDR1”, name it “HDR2”. Set the blending mode Color dodge (Lighten the base) and apply the following adjustment layers to it. In addition, remove the mask.
Step 19 – Clarification-Dimming-Painting
Group all the layers except “Model” and “Dragon”, duplicate the group (for backup in case something goes wrong), merge together and name the new layer “Background B3”. On this layer, apply Dodge tool (Clarifier) and Burn tool (O) (Dimmer) to recreate the lighting. Next, I will show the area where I fixed the lighting. Also try to keep your instrument in mode. Midtones (Mid Tones). Modes Highlights (Light) and Shadow (Shadows) tend to wash away colors.
On the new layer, I also repainted parts of the red fence with a small stiff brush.
To darken red, apply the following method. To begin with, fill the fence with a semi-dark red color (# 6F2324) on a new layer “Red +”. Then duplicate the layer and set for both layers Opacity (Opacity) 50%, specify blending modes for the bottom layer Overlay (Overlap), and for the top Multiply (Multiplication).
Step 20 – Curves and Color Correction
Dodge tool (Clarifier) and Burn tool (O) (Dimmer) are great tools, but as you can see, they sort of wash your colors away. Therefore, to complete the re-lighting of the scene, we will use an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) along with ColorBalance (Color balance). Create the following adjustment layers and group them. Name the group “Fading”.
Add a mask to the group
I do not really like the color of the bottom of the golden pillars in the center. So I added a mask to the layer. ColorBalance (Color balance).
And repainted the columns with another adjustment layer ColorBalance (Color Balance) with the following settings. For the mask. I duplicated the previous color balance mask and inverted it (Ctrl + I).
Next, do the same for Clarification.
Step 21 – Model Correction
Return the model and the dragon. Apply the following layer styles to the model layer.
Apply the following layer styles to the dragon.
Add a mask to the dragon layer and hide part of the tail, as if it were behind the model’s hand.
Pin the following layers behind the model layer. To draw layers “Darker”, use a soft round brush.
Add the following adjustment layers to the dragon layer
Finally, add shadows for the model and the dragon. Duplicate the “Model” layer, rename it to “Model Shadow”, flip vertically, place it under the woman and apply the following adjustments to it. Don’t forget to hide the layer on the steps.
Step 22 – Adjustment Layers
Some more more detailed adjustments. Create a new group and name it “More Correction.” Place the following adjustment layers. All layers except the first two GradientMap (Gradient map) are in blend mode Normal (Normal) 100%.
Here is how your file should look.
Step 23 – Finishing Touches
This is the last step! Create a new layer, and a small soft brush (# EFD59), draw a few light highlights in the female hair. Set the blending mode for the layer Vivid light (Bright light). Name the new layer “Glare in Hair”.
Create a new layer, name it Strokes. On this layer, we will fix the small remaining annoying details. Make sure you zoom in quite a lot, and now take your time, and try to figure out everything that looks wrong. Here are some examples that you can improve. All these modifications were made using Brush tool (B) (Brush).
Using a large soft brush and a dark gray color, draw the outline of the image, and then set the blending mode for the layer Multiply (Multiplication) to give the image a good vignette effect. Name the layer “Vignette”.
Select all layers, duplicate and merge them. On this new layer, add a filter. Filter> Sharpen> Smart Sharpen (Filter -> Sharpness -> Smart Sharpness) with the following settings.
Voila! We are done. If you missed nothing, then your layers panel should look like this at the end.
The most important thing you need to learn from this lesson is that it takes time to achieve the desired result. Take the time to create a detailed mask, often zoom in and draw using different parameters. This is what makes your job stand out. In addition, it is very important to be aware of the latest Photoshop features, such as Content-Aware Scale and HDR rendering. Know when to use them and when not to.
And my last piece of advice: experiment more! I discovered the possibility of using HDR image renderings along with blending modes during experimentation, and was amazed at all the features of this combination and what can be done! Keep experimenting and try different tools together, who knows what an amazing effect you might come across!