In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to create this Surreal, Ancient Fantasy Scene in Photoshop. We will take several real world objects and seamlessly blend them together to form this artwork. We will also use a number of Photoshop brushes to spice up the effect. Together we will explore the power of Photoshop image adjustment options, filter effects and layer blending modes. Have a try!
To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:
- Moutain in the Mist by ~ Momotte2stocks
- Sunset by ~ night-fate-stock
- Fantasy Castle by ~nixie04
- Mysterious Gate by ~rensstocknstuff
- Stormbringer 14 by *Iardacil-stock
- Cloud Brushes by ~JavierZhX
- 11 Photoshop Bird Brushes by ~ahoberer78-stock
- Fractal Brush Pack 02 by ~above-and-beyond
- Winter Breeze Brushes by =Axeraider70
Create a new document sized at 1400px by 800px (in fact size doesn’t really matter here, I chose this size because it fits my screen the best).Â Load the Moutain in the Mist by ~ Momotte2stocks in Photoshop, copy and paste the entire image onto your document, use free-tranform (ctrl + t) to fit it to the canvas size.
Name this layer “misty moutain”. Duplicate it twice, resize and position each duplicated layer as shown below.
Add a layer mask to each of the duplicated layers. On the mask, use a big, soft and round brush to gently erase the edges so those three mountain layers seamlessly join together, as shown below.
Now, let’s add some lighting contrast to the mountain. To do this, duplicate the original mountain layer once and drag it to the top, apply the following Gaussian Blur settings to the duplicated layer.
Secondly, add a layer mask to this layer like the one shown below.
Change the blending mode of this blurred layer to “Color Dodge” and reduce its opacity to around 75%, you should have the following effect.
Now, let’s add some lighting dynamics and alter the colour of the image a bit to make it look more surreal. To do so, add the following adjustment layers on top of all the previous layers you made. (Please make sure you set the blending mode and opacity according to the screenshot for each adjustment layer)
Curves - Blending Mode: Normal, Opacity – 65%
Color Balance 1 – Blending Mode: Soft Light, Opacity: 35%
Color Balance 2 - Blending Mode: Multiply, Opacity: 65%
Vibrance - Blending Mode: Normal, Opacity: 90%
Brightness and Contrast - Blending Mode: Soft Light, Opacity: 100%
And here is the effect so far.
Now, we can add some more texture to the centre portion of the scene to give itÂ a bit more motion. So load the Sunset by ~ night-fate-stock image into Photoshop, and use the rectangular marquee tool to cut out a bright portion of the sky, as shown below.
Copy and paste it onto your document and name it as “centre highlight”, position it in the centre (a bit lower right) of the canvas, use a soft brush to erase the edges and add the following Motion Blur to it.
Hit Ctrl + F a few times to re-apply the motion blur filter, then change the layer’s blending mode to “Soft Light”, with 100% opacity. You should have the following effect.
Now load the Fantasy Castle by ~nixie04 into Photoshop, use whichever selection tool you perfer to cut out the castle. (Hint: don’t worry if the selection is not perfect the first time, you can use the Refine Edge tool (Ctrl + Alt + R) to adjust it, try out different options within the tool to get the best results). Copy and paste the selection onto the canvas, name this layer “Castle” and position it as shown below:
(Make sure you use a big soft brush to erase the edges so it blends with the surroundings)
Change the layer blending option of this layer to “Soft Light”. You can see the building blends itself into the surrounding lighting environment, which is exactly what we want for this work.
Duplicate this “Castle” layer twice, drag the duplicated layers to the positions shown below: (use the free transform tool to adjust their size a bit)
Keep their blending mode as “Soft Light”, and make sure you take care of the edges so they blend into the mountain background as well.
Now, add some nice cloud texture onto your work. Create a new layer called “cloud”, use the Cloud Brushes by ~JavierZhX brushset to paint some cloud on the upper portion of the canvas. (Hint: adjust the flow and opacity of the cloud brush to add depth to the cloud.)
Let’s also add some flying birds to the scene to make it look a bit more fantasy and surreal. Create a new layer called “Birds” and use the 11 Photoshop Bird Brushes by ~ahoberer78-stock to paint some birds on top of the castle (set the brush opacity to a relatively low level so the birds are not too visible)
Now let’s add an ancient gate to our artwork. Load the Mysterious Gate by ~rensstocknstuff into Photoshop, cut out the gate and copy and paste it onto your document, name this layer “gate” and set its blendng mode to “Hard Light”, opacity to 50%. Make sure you erase the edges of the gate with a soft brush. You should have the following effect.
Add the following Black and White adjustment layer to it, as a clipping mask:
Duplicate the “Gate” layer and drag it to the top, set its blending mode to “overlay”, opacity 100%. You should have the following effect.
Create a new layer called “abstract effect”, use the Fractal Brush Pack 02 by ~above-and-beyond and Winter Breeze Brushes by =Axeraider70 to add some abstract effects around the gate, as well as the castle. Also make sure you vary the flow and opacity of the brush a bit, for more depth.
And this is the overall effect so far.
Now let’s load the Stormbringer 14 by *Iardacil-stock into Photoshop, cut out the lady and copy it onto our document, name this layer “lady” and resize it into the position as shown below. (Set the opacity to around 80%)
Like the previous step, use those abstract brushsets to paint around the lady’s body, make sure you cover the her feet.
Ok we’re pretty much done here. Add some final adjustment layers to the artwork for some fine-tuning.
Curves - Blending Mode: Normal, Opacity 75%
Colour Balance - Blending Mode: Color, Opacity 90%
Levels - Blending Mode: Normal, Opacity 100%
Vibrance - Blending Mode: Normal, Opacity 100%
Here is the effect so far.
Before we finish up, I think it would be a good idea to tidy up the image a bit by reducing some noise. So save your current work as a different file, flatten the image, and apply the following Reduce Noise filter to the image.
Optionally you can add a glowing effect to the image. To do so, simply duplicate the background layer and apply the following Gaussian Blur settings to the duplicated layer.
I also adjusted the colour balance and saturation a bit, here is the final effect I have for this tutorial.
I find from personal experience that it sometimes helps if you simply walk away from your work for a few mintues, play some games or have a cup of tea, then return. Ok that’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoyed and found it useful!