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In this tutorial, we will learn how to create a breathtaking and fantasy-themed, painting-like photo-manipulation. You will learn how to create this scenery by combining images, using Photoshop brushes, then finishing it with a soft photo effect.

Preview of Final Results


Beautiful River Scenery Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1: Create a New Image File

To start, let’s create a new image file, go to the Menu bar and click File > New, and then input the following values on their respective fields:

  • Width: 1900 pixels
  • Height: 1080 pixels
  • Resolution: 300pixels/inch
  • Color Mode: RGB Color; 8 bit
  • Background Contents: Transparent


Step 2: Create the Lake and the Sky

In this step, we will be creating the major element of our picture which is the sea and the sky. To start, let’s open the image “Stock Norwegian Nature 1” by RiddleSolved. Once the image is open, activate the Rectangular Marquee tool by pressing M on your keyboard. See image below:


When it is activated, click on an area on the edge of the image and drag a selection area (Rectangular Marquee) on the area shown below:


Once you’ve made the selection area, you may now move the image to our canvas. To do that, activate the Move tool by pressing V on your keyboard. Once you’re done, the mouse pointer will change and a small cross will be added to the bottom-right part of the cursor. When you see that change, left-click on the image using the Move tool and then drag the image within the selection area to our canvas.


Before we proceed with the next part, we will need to rename this layer to “Lake”. To rename a layer, simply double-click on the words: “layer 2” to prompt a text box to appear. Once that appears, you may now rename the layer.


Now we will have to resize that stock image to fit our canvas. To resize or transform the image, activate the Transform tool by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + T on your keyboard. When the Transform tool is activated, you’ll see a box around the image, with squares around it.


Now to resize, simply move the square shown below to the edge of the canvas to stretch our image.



Now that we’re done with those, it’s time we do a quick fix for this lake. On the Layer Window, click on the Create New Fill/Adjustment layer button. See image below:


After clicking that, a contextual menu would open – click on Gradient Map.


Now when this box opens, do the following as shown on the image below:


After you’ve clicked OK, you will see that the image is now a Black and White image but that’s not how it is supposed to look. We’re going for an image which has high contrast and dramatic lighting of that of a sunset, and in order for us to achieve that, we will need to make it colored. To do that, simply change the Blending mode of the Gradient Map layer to Multiply.

That could be done by clicking on the word Normal on the Layer window for a set of modes to appear. Once it pops up click on Multiply.


The result will be:


Next, let’s lessen the contrast of the lake layer. To do that, click on the Create New Fill/Adjustment layer button again and click on Brightness/Contrast from the contextual menu.


When the box opens, input the following values:

  • Brightness: 0
  • Contrast: -15

The result should be similar to the image below:


Now that we’re done with the Lake, let’s now start adding the sky. To start, let’s open, “stockimage 10” by CSnyder. When you have that stock image opened, activate the Move tool (V) and drag it to our canvas, and make sure you put it above all the layers that we’ve created. Once on the canvas, rename this layer to “sky”. Now let us resize this sky using the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T), take note that this is a huge image so you might try to fit it first in the canvas. See the image below:



When you’re done, activate the Eraser tool (E), because we would need to erase some parts of this sky to make it blend with our lake. After you’ve activated the Eraser tool (E), input the following values for this tool through the Options window.

  • Brush size: 400px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%


Now we’re ready to erase. Use the Eraser Tool on the areas indicated on the image below:


The result should be similar to this:


To make this sky look seamless, let us reduce its opacity to 70%.


The result: