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Learn how to create this photo manipulation of a fisherman in a scenic lake dreamscape with Photoshop. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create your own dreamy landscape of a lake using water texture, add water ripples in the landscape, enhance original image with lightning and some more. Throughout the tutorial, you’ll learn techniques that will help you create better matte paintings and photo manipulations.

What you’ll be creating

On this tutorial we will create a dreamscape of a fisherman in a panoramic lake using some image stocks. We will use some essential techniques in doing matte painting and photo manipulation. You will be amazed on how easy it is to combine several different images and match their color. We will use masking, brush tool, some filter, color adjustments all through the steps in this tutorial. Use Adobe Photoshop CS3 or higher, don’t forget a glass or more glasses of coffee and optionally a pack of cigarette for your companion;-) Ready..?

final result1

Tutorial Resources

Step 1 (A new Document)

Let’s start by creating a new document (Ctrl+N) in photoshop with size of 1858 pixel wide and 1500 pixel high.


Step 2 (Filling The document)

Next, we fill the document with radial gradient. To do this, firstly activate the gradient tool in the tool panel. Make sure to choose radial gradient in the option bar. Set the foreground color to #e5e4e4 and the background to #141313. Fill the document by hold-clicking the mouse right in the center of the document and drag to the direction indicated by the yellow arrow in the screenshot.


Step 3 (Adding Water Texture)

Now we are going to begin adding some pictures to the canvas (document) to create our own landscape. Start by placing the lake picture in the canvas. We will need the water of this image used as texture to create our own lake composition.


After the image is in the document, we need to scale it up to get the desired composition of the water texture used to create the lake. To do this, hit Ctrl+T to activate the free transform tool, start scale up the image to get the water texture needed. Here is the one I created for your inspiration.



Proceed to alter the color of the texture by giving it a new adjustment layer is that hue/saturation. Go to layer > new adjustment layers > hue/saturation to open the hue/saturation’s setting window.


Here is the value of the hue/saturation and the result of the effected image.


Step 4 (Hiding unneeded part)

What we should do now is hiding the unneeded part of the image. As we know we just need the water part of the image to be used as texture to create the landscape. To do this, give the image a layer mask by hitting the layer mask icon located in the bottom of the layer panel. A layer mask is indicated by a white thumbnail next to the given layer.


Make sure to be active on the mask thumbnail and take a very soft round brush set to about 300 pxl size at 30% opacity. With black color, mask the upper part of the image by stroking it. The red part in the screenshot is the part we should stroke the black brush. When the layer is mask, it is indicated by the black or gray spot on the thumbnail.


Here is the result should be. Make sure to leave the lighter part (let me say the ground or sand) of the image visible a bit supposed to be a horizon line for the scene as shown by the yellow arrows. If you ever wonder why we should fill the background with radial gradient of color mentioned in step 2, this is the reason why: almost half of the background is now covered by the water texture and the rest which is uncovered supposed to be the part where the light source is coming from. The choice of the color mentioned in step 2 is to match the background with the water texture with hue/saturation adjustment.


Step 5 (Adding more elements)

Now place the dark wood image above the water texture layer in the canvas. Scale its size in such way that its position is right in front of the light source (the half part of the radial gradient)


Mask some parts of the wood to have result similar to the one shown in the screenshot.


Give this wood layer an adjustment layer to alter its color. When the hue/saturation option window shows up, make sure to check Use Previous Layer To Create a Clipping Mask. This will give this hue/saturation layer a clipping mask.



Here is the value of the hue/saturation and the look of the hue/saturation layer in the layer panel. The downward arrow next to the layer is indication of a clipping mask.


Give this wood layer another new adjustment layer with a clipping mask. This time we will give it color balance. Set the value of this color balance layer as shown in the screenshot. This will give the wood image some blue tone.


Finally, go select the wood layer to be active on it and set its opacity to about 30-40%. Select the wood layer including the two adjustment layers with clipping masks above it, and hit Ctrl+G to group them in a new group or folder. I named this new folder BG