Create a Floating Island Scene Similar to James Cameron’s Avatar

Create a Floating Island Scene Similar to James Cameron’s Avatar
  • Brush: 125px
  • Range: Midtones
  • Exposure: 15%
We’ll also need to add in some shadows to “island 1”. Activate your Burn tool and input these values:
  • Brush: 200px
  • Range: Midtones
  • Exposure: 30%
Now let’s edit the light on “island 2”. Click on that layer and use the same Dodge tool values above.
For “island 3”, use the same Dodge values.
The light on the 3 islands should be similar to the image shown below.
The light on “island 4 and 5” is acceptable so there is no further need to edit its light condition. Now focus on “island 6”. We will give it a hazy effect so activate your Eraser tool (E) and use the following values:
  • Brush size: 200px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
We would need to adjust the shadows of “island 6”. Create a new layer and activate your Brush tool then use these values:
  • Brush size: 300px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 50%
  • Flow: 100%
Now let’s make the light more ambient. Click on the “island 6” layer then go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare and then input these values:
  • Brightness: 80%
  • Lens type: 105mm Prime
To increase that effect, create a new layer and name it “light1”. Activate your Brush tool (B) and use these values:
  • Brush size: 400px
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Step 5 - Create the roots

To make the floating islands look like they’ve come from the ground, we would need to put some roots on the bottom of the island. Let’s create a new layer outside the “Islands” group and name that “roots 1”. Activate your Brush tool (B) and right click on the image to bring up the Brush tool menu then click on the drop down menu to bring up the contextual menu, and then click on Load Brushes. Once the Windows Explorer box opens, locate the brush “Rons Winter Collection” and press load.
Let’s now change its color, click on the Set foreground color and input this value on the # box:
  • #: 22320d
We would be applying the roots on “island 6”. Make sure that the currently active layer is “roots 1” then set the Brush values to:
  • Brush size: 200px
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
Now after transforming it, activate your Marquee tool (M). See image below for instructions.
Rename the duplicated layer as “roots 2”. Next we would have to move and erase some parts of our roots. See image below.
When erasing the excess, I would recommend using these Eraser tool (E) values:
  • Brush size: 50px
  • Hardness: 100%
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%
The result now should be similar to this:
Now let’s put some roots on “island 7”. We won’t need to put any roots on the other islands for it would just be too hard to see. Select “roots 1” and “roots 2” and right click on any of those layers then when the contextual menu pops up, just click Duplicate layers and press OK then rename them as “roots 3” and “roots 4” respectively. Move those layers up to where “island 7” is located.
Group those layers and rename the Group as “Roots”.

Step 6 - Add a flock of birds

Now to add some color or life, let’s add some birds. Create a new layer and name it “Birds” then open “Bird Brushes” from the Brush tool’s menu.
Use these brush values:
  • Brush size: 100px
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Flow: 100%

Step 7 - Retouch the image

Now let’s enhance the overall image by changing its tones and color. Click on the “Create new fill layer or adjustment layer”.
From the “Create new adjustment layer” button pick Color Balance. When the box pops up input these values respectively:

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4 comments on “Create a Floating Island Scene Similar to James Cameron’s Avatar”

    1. There's a bug on the QBrushes website. You have to click on the download link several times in order for the download button to work.

      The link was changed to yours since it is more direct and works correctly. Thank you Su!

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