Preview of Final Results
Start by creating a blank document with size of 2490 pixels wide and 1507 pixels high by hitting the short key Ctrl+N. I named the document sanctuary.
Here is the document will be:
Make sure we have downloaded all the tutorial assets needed and saved them in a folder in our computer. In these early steps we will create our custom rocky mountain using several stock images prepared. Start by opening one of the mountain stocks in Photoshop by hitting the short keys Ctrl+O. This will lead us to the folder in the computer where we have saved the image.
Next, we will cut out some part of the image. Take the lasso tool in the tool panel. We will use this tool to cut out the part.
The part we are going to cut out is the one outlined in red. To cut the part, start clicking, holding and dragging the tool on the red outline to trace it.
After tracing the outline, the part will be selected which is indicated by blinking small black and white lines around it.
Hit Ctrl+J to duplicate the selection into a new single layer. Now we have the cut out of the mountain image.
Copy-paste the cut out into the main blank document. When the cut out is in the main document, this will be a new layer named layer 1. We will work with many layers, so to specify them, I will name them accordingly. For this layer, I named it rock. (Well, sorry if I may sound fussy at this tutorial, but I have to by consideration this tutorial is supposed to be read by fresh new Photoshop users to advanced ones. Hope this tutorial will not be tricky) Now go back to our main document where we have had the rock layer. Activate the free transform tool by hitting Ctrl+T on the keyboard. The rock image is still very large so we need to scale it down to the size desired. To do this, press the Shift key on the keyboard and click, hold and drag the upper left transforming point until we have desired size.
After we have the size, hit Ctrl+J to duplicate the rock layer. This will be a new layer in the layer panel named rock copy. With the rock copy layer selected and the free transform tool is still activated, right click on the document to show up the transforming option box. Choose Flip Horizontal to flip the image horizontally.
Then, move the duplicate (rock copy layer) to the left a bit to get the position like the one shown in the screenshot:
When we have the desired position and the transform tool is still activated, right click again on the document to show up the transforming option box. This time, choose Warp. Now try to alter the shape of the rock by warping it. To do this, click, hold and drag the upper right transforming point to the direction shown in the screenshot below. Do similar way to the lower left transforming point.
Next, select the original rock layer which is under the rock copy layer in the layer panel. Alter its shape the same way as the previous rock copy layer.
We have tried to combine the two rock layers. However, the combination is not well blended yet. To fix this, we will mask some part of the upper layer is that the rock copy layer. Make sure we are still active in the rock copy layer. Give this layer a layer mask which is simply achieved by clicking the layer mask icon located in bottom of the layer panel. After clicking the icon, this will give a layer mask on the selected layer indicated by a white thumbnail next to the layer.
Make sure that the foreground is set to black and the background is to white by hitting D key on the keyboard.
Next we have to set the brush. Take the bush tool in the tool panel.
In the brush option bar, click the small triangle to open the brush picker box. Choose a very soft round brush meaning that the brush is set to 0% hardness. Set the opacity of the brush to about 20-25% and about 200 pixels size.
Now we are ready to mask the unneeded parts of the rock copy layer. Click the mask thumbnail to be active on the layer mask. With black color, stroke the brush on the parts of the rock copy layer in the document. This will hide the parts completely or make them transparently visible depending on the opacity of the black color stroked to them. The blacker the stroke is, the less visible they will be. I always start using a brush of low opacity (20-25%). After stroking the black brush on an image with a layer mask, there will be black or gray spot on the mask thumbnail indicating that the parts are intentionally masked to hide or make them transparent. On contrary, we can reveal the masked parts by stroking back white brush over them. The whiter the stroke is, the more visible they will be. Well, sorry again if I may sound fussy instructing this layer mask matter I just want to pay more intention on this layer mask because we will use much masking in the next steps and the result of this tutorial is greatly achieved by this masking is that how we hide parts of an image with a layer mask or how much we want to make them transparent. Go back to the rock copy layer, mask some parts of the image. The red mark indicates the parts we should stroke with black brush to mask them. See the screenshot below:
Here is the result after masking.
We will add another rock. Open the other rock image and cut out the red outlined part.
Copy-paste the cut out into the main document. Scale its size to the size needed. I named this layer more rock.
Duplicate the more rock layer and flip it horizontally.
Alter the shape of this duplicate by distorting. To do this, activate the free transform tool. Right click on the document. When the transforming option shows up, choose distort. Try to alter its shape by clicking, holding and dragging the transforming points as indicated in the screenshot.
Then mask both more rock and more rock copy layer to have the result as below:
Open another rock image. Cut out the selected part of the rock.