In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a haunted house scene using photo manipulation techniques. You’ll work with blending, masking, coloring to create a dark and eerie atmosphere.

What you’ll be creating

We’ll start this tutorial by setting up a field scene from three images. Then we’ll add the house, crow, and birds and blend them using adjustment layers, masking, and brush. Later we’ll adjust color, contrast, and the dark atmosphere. We’ll finish it up with adding a red light effect to the window. You should use Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the given settings:
haunted1

Step 2

Open the sky 1 image. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag it into our white canvas:
haunted2

Step 3

Place the sky 2 onto the sky 1 as shown below:
haunted3
Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%:
haunted3a

Step 4

Click the second button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a basic, soft brush with black color to erase the hard edges of the sky 2 and blend it with the sky 1:
haunted4

Step 5

I used an adjustment layer with Clipping Mask to brighten the sky 2. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves:
haunted5
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with the opacity varied from 10 to 60% to paint on some areas of the sky. The aim is to reduce the lightness and create a better contrast for the sky:
haunted5a
haunted5b

Step 6

Open the landscape image. To delete the cars in this photo, make a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove the indicated details:
haunted6

Step 7

Press Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E to merge the background and clone layer into a new one. Move this merged layer into our main canvas, use Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform it as shown below:
haunted7
Use the Magic Wand Tool to mask off the sky and rock part in this image:
haunted7a

Step 8

I used Curves (Clipping Mask) to darken the landscape:
haunted8
On this layer mask use a soft black brush with very low opacity (10 -15%) to reduce the dark effect on the parts below:
haunted8a
haunted8b

Step 9

I used Hue/Saturation to decrease the saturation of the landscape:
haunted9
haunted9a

Step 10

Place the house image over the main document as the screenshot below shows:
haunted10
First I removed the background of the house using the Polygonal Lasso Tool:
haunted10a

Step 11

You can see that the edges are still very hard after using this tool, especially the bush around the house. To correct it, click Reset Brushes from the brush menu to set the brushes to the default ones. Choose the Spatter 24 pixel brush to refine the edges of the bush and make it more natural. Also, use a soft black brush to soften the edges of the house bottom and blend them with the grassy ground:
haunted11
haunted11a

Step 12

Use Curves to darken the house a little:
haunted12
Apply brush masking on this layer mask to refine the light and shade there, to keep the upper part brighter and the lower one darker:
haunted12a

Step 13

Isolate the crow and place him at the top of the roof:
haunted13

Step 14

Make two new layers on the top. Change the foreground color to black and the brush kind to the birds ones. Paint some birds in the sky as I did below ( remember to lower the size of the birds in the further distance to create a depth look):

6 thoughts on “22 Easy Steps to Create This Haunted House Scene”

  1. The red light isn’t realistic…projections (wall) and reflections (windows) aren’t repected…
    But the athmosphere is great !

  2. This is one of the coolest tutorials that I have ever seen for photoshop. Even as a new user, I feel like I could follow your instructions beginning to end.

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