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Magical Town in the Clouds Photoshop Tutorial


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Step 1: Create a New Photoshop Image File

Let’s begin by creating a new image file, go to the Menu bar and click File > New, and then input the following values on their respective fields:

  • Presets: International Paper
  • Size: A4
  • Width: 2480 pixels
  • Height: 3508 pixels
  • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch
  • Color Mode: RGB Color; 8 bit
  • Background Contents: White

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Step 2: Create the Sky

In this step, we will be creating the desert which will serve as the foreground of our picture. To start, open the image “Switzerland 01” by drakedrakedrakestock. Once you have it open, simply activate the Move tool by pressing V on your keyboard and left-click on this image and drag it to our canvas. Move it and position it as shown on the image below:

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Once on the canvas, rename this layer to: “Clouds”

Note: To rename a layer, simply double-click on the words: “layer 1” (which is our layer – clouds) to prompt a text box to appear. Once that appears, you may now rename the layer.

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Now, let’s resize the “clouds” layer to fit nicely on our canvas, and to do that, activate the Transform tool by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + T while the “clouds” layer is active.

Doing this will prompt a square with little squares on the corners and sides of the image. Now, we can resize the image. See the image below on how to resize it:

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The result should be similar to this:

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After transforming, let us now enhance the brightness and contrast of our image. To do that, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast (make sure that the “Clouds” layer is still active).

Once the Brightness/Contrast menu is open, input the following:

  • Brightness: 50
  • Contrast: 25
  • Legacy: Uncheck

After hitting OK, you would see a drastic change on our image, it is much brighter now. See image below:

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Next, let’s adjust the colors of the “clouds” layer. With the “clouds” layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Color Balance. Once you have the Color Balance menu open, input the following:

  • Color Levels: -24, +16, +63
  • Tone Balance: Midtones
  • Preserve Luminosity: Check

The result should be similar to the following:

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Next, let’s give it brighten it up more and reduce the saturation a little. With the “clouds” layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and input the following:

Hue/Saturation:

  • Hue: 0
  • Saturation: -15
  • Lightness: +20

The result:

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Now that we’re done with the “clouds” layer, let’s now change that layer’s sky. Let’s make the sky more eye-catching for our viewers. To start, open “landscape 56” by night-fate-stock. Once open, activate the Rectangular Marquee Tool by pressing M on your keyboard.

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Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to create a selection area over the sky of “landscape 56”. See image below:

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Now that you’ve created a selection area, activate the Move tool (V) and drag it to our canvas. Once on the canvas, rename this layer to “sky”. Next, position it as shown on the image below:

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Next, we will need to flip the “sky” layer to blend in with the clouds. To do that, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and right click on our canvas to show the Transform tool’s contextual menu. When the menu shows, click on “Flip Horizontal”.

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After flipping it horizontally, the result should be similar to this:

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Now, we will make it blend seamlessly with the “clouds” layer. To do that, we will need the help of the Eraser tool (E). Before erasing, make sure to adjust its settings to the following:

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

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Now, let’s erase!

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The result:

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In detail:

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After that, we would need to paint-in a horizon to give a sense of depth in our sky. To do that, let’s create a new layer by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N. When the menu opens, input “Horizon” on the name box.

Next, activate the Brush tool by pressing B on the keyboard. Once open, make sure that the brushes are the default Photoshop brushes. See image below:

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To make sure that you’re using that, simply right click the canvas while a layer is selected and while the Brush tool (B) is activated and then click on the button highlighted below:

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Then click on “Reset Brushes” from the contextual menu.

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Now, that that is done input the following settings for our Brush tool (B):

  • Brush size: 1100px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 50%
  • Flow: 100%
  • #: ffffff

The #: ffffff is the color of our Brush tool (B), so this means it is color white. To set the brush color, follow the instructions below:

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Once the Color Picker menu is open, input #: ffffff on the box shown below:

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Now, we’re all set to paint!

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The result:

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Now that we’re done, select all the layers and press Ctrl/Cmd + G to group them. We would need to group them to avoid confusion on later steps. Rename this group to “Sky”.

Note: Renaming a group is similar to renaming a layer. You would also notice that the layers have been hidden from view, to view them again just left click on the arrow beside the Group’s name. See below:

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Step 3: Create the Books

We will now be adding the books which will serve as steps into this dream world we are going to create. To start, let’s open “books pack 3” by twilightamazonstock. When the image has been opened, activate the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L). See image below:

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Now, that we have the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) open, we can now create a selection area over the book of our choice and in this tutorial, we are going to use several books. First, let’s create a selection area over the book shown below:

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When you’re done, activate the Move tool (V) and drag that book to our canvas. Once on the canvas, rename it to “Book 1”.

Make sure to put this layer above the “Sky” group to avoid confusion on later steps.

For us to transform the book easily, position the book on the area shown below:

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Next, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize it as shown on the image below:

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Now that it has been resized, activate the Eraser tool (E) and erase some parts of the books to make it look like it is covered by the clouds.

Use these settings for the Eraser tool:

  • Brush size: 1900px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Let’s erase:

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The result:

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Next, let’s create the second book from the stock image “books pack 3”. Choose the following book:

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Activate the Move tool (V) and drag that book to our canvas. Once on the canvas, rename it to “Book 2”.

Move it on this position:

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Once moved, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize and position it as shown on the image below:

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Next, activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 1000px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Let’s erase!

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The result should be similar to this:

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Next, let’s create the third book. From the “books pack 3” stock image, create a selection area on the book shown below:

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With that book selected, activate the Move tool (V) and drag it to our canvas. Once on the canvas, rename it to “Book 3”.

Activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize it as shown on the image below:

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Now, activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 800px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

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The result:

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Now, let’s create the fourth book. We won’t be using “Books pack 3” anymore, so you may close it if you like. We are going to use a new stock image, open “Books Pack 4” by twilightamazonstock.

Once open, create a selection area using the Magnetic Lasso tool (L) around the book shown below:

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Activate the Move tool (V) and drag that book to our canvas. Rename it to “Book 4” once on the canvas.

Next, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize it as shown below:

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Now, activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 600px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Now, let’s erase!

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The result:

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Now, for the fifth book! Create a selection area around the following:

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Move that to our canvas using the Move tool (V) and then rename it to “Book 5”.

Next, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize it as shown on the image below:

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After resizing, you know the drill! Activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 600px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

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The result:

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Next, let’s create Book 6. From the “Books pack 4” stock image, create a selection area around the following book:

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Move it to our canvas using the Move tool (V) and rename it to “Book 6”.

Next, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize it to the size shown below:

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Next, activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 600px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

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The result should be similar to the following:

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Next, let’s create Book 7. From the “Books pack 4” stock image, create a selection area around the following book:

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Move that to our canvas using the Move tool (V). Rename it to “Book 7”.

Now, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize it as shown below:

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Next, activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 600px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Then, erase!

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The result should be similar to this:

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Next, let’s create Book 8. From the “Books pack 4” stock image, create a selection area around the following book:

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Next, move it to our canvas using the Move tool (V). Once there, rename it to “Book 8”.

Activate the Transform tool and resize it as shown on the image below:

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Activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 600px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Now, let’s erase!

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Once you’re done, reduce “Book 8’s” opacity to 60%. See image below:

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The result:

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Now, for Book 9 – create a selection area around the following book:

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Move it to our canvas using the Move tool (V) and then rename it to “Book 9”.

Activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and then resize it as shown below:

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Activate the Eraser tool and then input the following:

  • Brush size: 600px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

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Reduce this layer’s Opacity to 40%.

The result:

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Finally, for book 10 – just click on “book 9” and then hit Ctrl/Cmd + J to duplicate it. Once duplicated, rename this new layer to “book 10”.

Activate the Transform tool and resize it as shown on the image below:

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Next, reduce this layer’s Fill to 70%.

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When you’re done, select all the layers and press Ctrl/Cmd + G do group them. Rename this group to “Books”.


Step 4: Create the Witch

Now, let’s create the witch who is apparently exploring this side of the sky. To start, open “Witch 4” by Meltys.

Activate the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and create a selection area around the witch. See image below:

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When you are done with the selection area, activate the Move tool (V) and drag the witch to our canvas, put it on top of the “Books” group. Once on the canvas, rename this new layer to “Witch”.

Move and position the “witch” on this area:

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After that, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and then resize the image as shown below:

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Next, we would need to adjust its Brightness/Contrast to make it blend with the rest of the images on our canvas. To do that, make sure that the “Witch” layer is active and then go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and then input the following once the menu opens:

  • Brightness: 40
  • Contrast: -18
  • Use Legacy: check

The result should be similar to this:

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Group this layer (Ctrl/Cmd + G) and rename the group to “Witch”.


Step 5: Create the Whale

In this step, we would be adding a whale swimming in the sky. To start, open “sperm whale 2” by donstock. Once open, activate the Move tool (V) and drag the whole whale image to our canvas, put it on top of the “Witch” group.

Once on the canvas, rename this layer to “whale”. Now to clear out that white part of its image, we would need some magic. Yes, we will need the Magic Wand tool (W). Simply click on the white part of the image using the Magic Wand tool (W) and then click on Delete. See image below:

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After deleting that area, the result will be:

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Next, we would need to resize the whale. Resize it to the size shown below:

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The result:

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Next, let’s rotate the whale as shown on the image below:

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The result:

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Now, move this whale to the area shown below:

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Next, let’s activate the Eraser tool (E) and input the following:

  • Brush size: 300px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

We will need to erase the head and body of the whale.

Now, let’s get to it!

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The result should be similar to the following:

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Group this layer and rename this group to “Whale”.


Step 6: Create the Windmill

In this step, we will be adding the windmill. Let’s start by opening shoofly-stock’s “windmill 4”.

Once opened, activate the Move tool (V) and then drag this whole image to our canvas, put this layer on top of the “whale” group. This is a PNG file, and its background is transparent, that means it has no background – just the windmill. So after moving it to our canvas, you’d only see the windmill. Rename this layer to “windmill”.

Activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize the windmill layer as shown below:

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Next, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) once again and right click on the canvas to bring out the contextual menu. Once the menu shows, click on “Flip Horizontal”.

The result:

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Next, drag the “windmill” to the position shown below:

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Next, activate the Eraser tool (E) because we’re going to make this “windmill” blend with the rest of the images. Now, input the following:

  • Brush size: 300px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

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After that, change the Opacity and Fill of the “windmill” layer to the following:

  • Opacity: 50%
  • Fill: 50%

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Group this layer and rename it to “Windmill”.


Step 7: Add textures

Now, we’re going to add some textures to our image. Let’s start by opening “Texture 119” by Sirius_sdz. Once open, activate the Move tool (V) and drag this to our canvas. Rename this layer to “Texture 1”. See image below:

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The result:

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Next, let’s change the Blending mode and the Opacity of “Texture 1” to the following:

  • Blending Mode: Screen
  • Opacity: 100%

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The result:

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Next, let’s add “Paper Texture 1” by Wojtar Stock. Move this texture to our canvas using the Move tool (V) and rename it to “Texture 2”.

Put this layer above “Texture 1” and position this layer as shown below:

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Activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize “Texture 2” as shown on the image below:

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Next, apply the following changes:

  • Blending Mode: Soft Light
  • Opacity: 40%

The result:

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Now, group these textures and rename this group to “Texture”.

STEP 8: Add the Bubbles

Now, let’s make the image more magical by adding bubbles!

To start, create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) above the “Texture” group and rename this layer to “Bubbles 1”.

Now, activate the Brush tool (B) and open the brush set: “Bubble Brushes” by Hawksmont. To load them, simply, right click on our canvas through any layer and then click on the drop-down button as shown below:

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This will prompt the contextual menu to pop up and once you see that, just click on Load Brushes.

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You will now be prompted to this directory: Adobe Photoshop > Presets > Brushes so make sure that you have put the brushes within this folder. Now locate the brush set and click OK.

Right click on the canvas again using your Brush tool (B) and now you’ll notice that you have the bubble brushes activated.

Now, that you have that brush set active, choose the following brush:

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With that brush selected, use the following settings before painting:

  • Brush size: 175px
  • Hardness: Defaulty
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
  • #: ffffff

Paint in the bubbles as seen on the image below:

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Next, let’s create a different set of bubbles. Create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) and then rename it to “Bubbles 2”.

Activate the Brush tool (B) and choose the following brush from the “Bubble Brushes” brush set.

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With that brush selected, apply the following settings:

  • Brush size: 125px
  • Hardness: Defaulty
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
  • #: ffffff

Now, let’s paint! Brush in the Bubbles as shown below:

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Next, let’s create the smaller bubbles. Create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) and name it “Bubbles 3”.

Use the following brush:

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  • Brush size: 50px
  • Hardness: Default
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
  • #: ffffff

Paint in the brushes as shown below:

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So far, the image should be similar to this:

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Step 9: Add the magical dust

In this step, we’re going to add a little fairy dust in the sky. To start, create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) and name this layer: “Magic 1”.

Activate the Brush tool (B) and Load this brush set: “Starfield Brush Set” by gvalkyrie. Once these brushes are loaded, choose the following brush:

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After that, input the following settings:

  • Brush size: 1100px
  • Hardness: Default
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
  • #: ffffff

Paint in the magic on the area shown below:

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The result:

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Next, create another layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) and name it “Magic 2”. Activate the Brush tool (B) and choose the following brush from the “Starfield Brush Set”.

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Input the following brush settings:

  • Brush size: 2500px
  • Hardness: Default
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
  • #: ffffff

Paint in the magic on the area shown below:

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The result:

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Select all these layers and group them. Name the group: “Magic”.


Step 10: Retouch the Image

Now let’s enhance the colors of our image to make it look more magical! For starters, we’re going to create a Solid Color adjustment layer. To do that, simply click on the button shown on the image below:

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When it opens, click on the following:

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Once you’ve clicked on Solid Color, the Color Picker menu would open. When it opens, input the following color:

  • #: 56351a

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Next, change the Blending mode and Opacity of this Solid Color to the following:

  • Blending Mode: Soft Light
  • Opacity: 30%

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Next, create a Channel Mixer adjustment layer from the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button.

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When the Channel Mixer menu opens, input the following:

  • Output Channel: Gray
  • Source Channels:
  • RedL -70%
  • Green: +200%
  • Blue: -30%
  • Constant: 0%
  • Monochrome: Check

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Next, change the following for the Channel Mixer layer:

  • Blending Mode: Luminosity
  • Opacity: 40%

Now, let’s create a Color Balance adjustment layer.

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When its menu opens, input the following:

  • Color Levels: -13, -28, +16
  • Tone Balance: Midtones
  • Preserve Luminosity: Check

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Finally, let’s create a Gradient Map adjustment layer, still from the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button.

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When it opens, choose the following Gradient:

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Now, the whole image is Black and White, but we don’t want that, so we’ll need to change the Blending mode and Opacity to the following:

  • Blending Mode: Luminosity
  • Opacity: 50%

Now, the image should be similar to this:

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Author’s Comment

image125 I am a huge fan of fantasy artworks and themes, so here’s one freshly picked from my head. I hope you’d enjoy creating this tutorial and I hope this would help you in whatever you’re doing. Anyway, thank you for visiting this page and using my tutorial, if you want to see more of my art works, give me a shout at my website: http://www.wix.com/theflickerees/michaelVmanalo

- Michael Vincent Manalo