Photoshop Tutorial | Urban Wasteland Photo Manipulation

Urban Wasteland Photo Manipulation

Intro

In this Photoshop tutorial I am going to show you how to combine different photos to create an Urban Wasteland composition. We will do some background removal by masking images and then composite them together into our scene. We will use adjustment layers to manipulate the colors and hues of our image to achieve the dark and grungy final result. These techniques are essential for photo effects and photo manipulation when using Adobe Photoshop.

Final Result

Create a Fantasy City Background With Photoshop

Tutorial Details

Program: Adobe Photoshop CS5

Difficulty: Beginners, Intermediate.

Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour

Resources

Download the PSD

 

Step 1

Create a new document. I chose 1000 x 707 px for this design. First download Autumn Road 6 and bring it into your newly created document. Re-size and position it.

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 2

On this photo, the sky is ok, however I prefer Apocalyptic Sky. So let’s change it. First we want to mask out the sky. Choose the Autumn Road layer, click layer mask and start painting out the unwanted parts with black. The key to successful masking is to first use a large brush with 100% hardness to erase large areas, then use a smaller brush with zero hardness to erase the detailed parts. Here is the final result after masking.

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 3

We are ready to add our new sky. Download Apocalyptic Sky, bring it out to Photoshop in a new layer placed under our road photo layer. Re-size and position our new sky.

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 4

I prefer to adjust the colors and lighting after laying out the composition. Download Cityscape Stock, bring it to our composition and place it between the road layer and sky layer. As usual re-size and position it. Finally mask out the unwanted parts using a layer mask.

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 5

Next we have our wrecked car. Download Marysville Ghost Town 2, and bring it into our Photoshop file. Place it on top of the layer stack, position and re-size it as usual. Finally, mask out unwanted parts.

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 6

Now we are going to bring in the bunker. Download Coquina Fort and import it into our Photoshop composition on top of the layer stack. Re-size and position the bunker, then mask out the unwanted parts.

Our composition elements are now in place, and your image should look like this:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 7

First of all congratulations! There will be no masking (I know sometimes it gets really boring) after step 6. We will start adjusting the colors, lighting, shadows etc. to give our image a dark and grungy look. First add a levels adjustment layer to road layer with the following settings, making sure to clip it to the road layer):

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 8

Now let’s add a curves adjustment layer to our road, and again clip it to the road layer. Here are the settings:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 9

Now it’s time to play with the sky. First let’s change the color balance. Add a color balance adjustment layer to sky and apply these settings.

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

And here is the final result after adjustment:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 10

Next let’s differentiate the color balance. Select the layer mask of the Color Balance adjustment layer. Choose Filter –> Render –> Difference Clouds. This will ease the effect of color balance adjustment layer. Here is what I get after applying filter:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 11

Our last step for the sky is to apply a curves adjustment layer and clip it to the sky layer. Here are the settings:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 12

Now it’s time to make adjustments to the Cityscape layer. First of all it’s too bright. To change it, apply levels adjustment layer to this layer with the following settings (clip this to the Cityscape layer):

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 13

Now apply a curves adjustment layer to the Cityscape with the following settings (clip this to the Cityscape layer):

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 14

Now we will make some adjustments to the bunker. Start with adding a curves adjustment layer (clip to bunker layer). Here are the settings:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 15

Now apply a levels adjustment layer (clip to bunker layer) with the following settings:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 16

Now it’s time to play with our rusty car. It’s way too bright for our composition. Therefore we will start by adding a brightness/contrast adjustment layer to it (clip this to the car layer). Here are the settings:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 17

Next apply a levels adjustment layer and clip it to our beloved car layer:

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Step 18

Lastly add a curves adjustment layer and clip it to our car layer, here are the settings;

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

Conclusion

Create a Fantasy Background With Photoshop

And we are done. I generally add a gradient map or a warming filters to my manipulations, however for this one i like it better as-is. You can try and achieve different results by experimenting with the adjustment layer settings.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

About the Author

Baran is a digital artist and owner of cgbaran, He is a geological engineering student in Middle East Technical University, when he is not, he is blogging daily, writing tutorials, sharing inspiration.

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  • http://www.jamespero.com James Pero

    I have to be honest. The final result of this tutorial is not very well constructed. :/

  • http://www.jamespero.com James Pero

    There are some good techniques demonstrated here but they are demonstrated without the care and precision they should. Specifically the detail of the masking, the angle of lighting of added elements not matching (shadows), and color correction.

    • http://www.cgbaran.com Baran Cezayirlioglu

      First of all thanks for the honest feedback James. In this work realism was not my goal. As you can see, I used extreme values for some of the adjustment layers. This of course create absurd results which is what i want to achieve on my finished work.

    • http://www.cgbaran.com Baran Cezayirlioglu

      I tried to use photohop as a canvas. I just mix elements and colors. I didn’t try to be precise and personally i am happy for the final result.ıt gives me a surreal feeling.

    • http://www.cgbaran.com Baran Cezayirlioglu

      But of course, I really appreciate your opinion. This is a tutorial so the most important thing is the user opinion. I take a note and will be more careful about the final outcome to guide users better in my future tutorials.

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  • http://www.e11world.com e11world

    I kind of agree with James on this even though the techniques are good. To me, the bunker on the right seemed very out of place and not well mixed in for color matching and masking (again maybe because it is just out of place).

  • Raoco

    Really enjoy this tutorial, thank you Baran

  • http://www.deepetch.com Deepetch

    Nice tutorial and well explained, as James mentioned here it need few corrections. Apart from all this tutorial looks good..thanks for sharing.

  • John

    Great Post. Thanks to share your tutorial.

    Thanks

  • http://www.vekta.co.uk Vekta

    It can be so easy to be over critical if you’re a Photoshop user as we always analyse the picture too much. At first glance it really caught my eye, I thought it was a really interesting composition and radically different from the original image. Well done Baran.

  • avigill

    this is true work , hats off to designer.

    thanks

  • http://pixelcurse.com/ Alex Photography

    It’s really nice tuts. Thanks for share

  • Računovodstvo

    Great work. Great tutorial. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.tutoriallounge.com/ Tutorial Lounge

    useful techniques you sharing. thanks

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  • http://www.psd-dude.com PsdDude

    I love this post apocalyptic look ! thanks for sharing

  • John

    Poor Tulsa Oklahoma!

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  • http://www.seohello.co.uk/ SEO Hello

    I do like the post apocalyptic look and some good techniques, although I would do some work to the wheel/wheel arches of the car as I don’t think it looks quite right.