In this tutorial, we will create an awesome underwater photo manipulation. I’ll explain some of the more complex techniques I use in the first steps to make it easy for beginners but intermediate and advanced users can also learn a thing or two. I like doing underwater scenes because there is something mysterious about the depths of the oceans where all kinds of strange creatures live but also because I like putting menacing creatures and curious humans together in a scene.

Final Results

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Open the file “Underwater”. This will be the base of our scene.

Step 2

Open the file “Cathedral”. Copy all by pressing Ctrl + A and Ctrl + C. Go back to our scene and paste with Ctrl + V. Transform this layer into a Smart Object by right-clicking on it in the Layer Palette and choosing Convert To Smart Object from the drop-down menu. Press Ctrl+T to enter Free Transform and position the cathedral as shown below. Hold the Shift key while dragging the corners when in Free Transform to resize proportionally.

By converting a layer into Smart Object we can resize the layer without actual loss of pixel information. We can also apply various filters that we can edit at a later time.

Step 3

Don’t forget to properly name your layers – organization is key when working with lots of layers.

Change the blending mode of the Cathedral layer to Soft Light and lower the opacity to 43%. As you can see this makes the cathedral blend nicely with the scene.

Step 4

We will use layers masks a lot in this tutorial so a short explanation is in order.

First, you can create layer masks by going to Layer > New Layer Mask > Reveal All.

Second – layer masks allow us to partially or completely hide a section of the layer without deleting the actual pixels of that layer – we are merely “masking” the layer. By painting with a black brush in a layer mask we will hide the painted area. If the brush is at various opacities (smaller than 100%) than we will partially hide that section and achieve a transparency effect that is very good for blending various objects in a scene. White color reveals a section of the layer – so for example, if we fill the layer mask with black (Shift + F5) we will completely hide the layer. Painting with a white brush at various opacities will partially or completely reveal the painted section.

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10 responses to “Create an Awesome Underwater Scene Depicting a Dragon and a Treasure Hunter”

  1.  Avatar

    The Cathedral image is broken. Pls fix otherwise great tutorial!

  2. mukulmamun Avatar

    This is awesome !!This is SUPER helpful.I’ve been curious about this. Lovely tutorial too.

  3. Trevor Garratt Avatar
    Trevor Garratt

    I love that end results. I am going to check those links now since some are saying they do not work.

  4. Сергей Avatar

    Сегодня взялся за урок и дошёл до 15 шага. Спасибо большое:) Я человек простой из бедной семьи и потому скажу просто. Я балдею от урока!:)) Оставлю два варианта синий и зелёный, оба нравятся:)

  5. Photoshop Inspire Avatar
    Photoshop Inspire

    Nice work.

  6. Rayleen Slegers Avatar
    Rayleen Slegers

    That was awesome…I thought I knew most but I still picked up on a few things!
    Simple things like Adding colour balance etc via the layers panel.
    Thanks heaps!
    Where can I post my version? Is it ok to put up on facebook?

  7. Jill Avatar

    Love your result but how do I access the materials to try your tutorial?
    Thank you,

  8. Сергей Avatar

    Интересно было бы поработать с этим уроком, результат красивый но исходники не работают.

  9. Nicholas Avatar

    Awesome article. Great content.

  10. Logan Kane Avatar
    Logan Kane

    None of the image links are working..

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