Create a new Levels Adjustment Layer and use the settings shown below to darken. Clip this layer to the dragon layer and fill the layer mask with black. With a white round soft brush at 90% opacity paint in the layer mask over the lower section of the dragon. Clip it to the dragon layer.
We are essentially correcting the lighting of the dragon layer – because the light will come from above we want the lower section more dark and the upper section lighter.
Let’s further improve the dragon’s lighting. Create a new layer and set the blending mode to Overlay. With a round soft brush at 20% opacity paint over the dragon’s highlights. Once you’re done paint with black over the existing shadows. Clip the layer to the dragon layer.
I used 3 layers to achieve the effect below (all of them set to Overlay) because I wanted to be able to delete a layer if something was not to my liking.
Create a new layer and set the blending mode to Dodge or Overlay. With the round soft brush at 80% opacity and 1px size paint some highlights on the edges of the dragon shape – especially in the upper sections. I also took the liberty to paint some highlights over the dragon’s teeth – he is supposed to be a menacing figure and white sharp teeth are a good way to express it.
Clip this layer to the dragon layer.
You should also paint some shadows on a new layer below the dragon layer – use a soft round brush at 50% Opacity.
Ok, how do we go about blending the dragon with the scene? One obvious answer would be to lower the opacity but this will have the unwanted effect of the background scene showing through the dragon’s body. So we have to do it in another way.
Create a new layer but this time don’t clip it to the dragon layer. Sample a blue color from the background (#092046) and with the round soft brush at 20% opacity stroke repeatedly over the dragon – especially over the lower sections.
Let’s add the diver. Open the file “Diver” and make a selection of the diver with your favorite selection tool (you can use the Pen Tool to make a path around the diver and then Ctrl + Enter to transform the path into a selection). Copy and paste the diver into our scene and position him as shown below (with Fee Transform).
Create a couple of new layers (once you’re satisfied with a result you can continue on another layer just in case you make a mistake) and paint some lighting on the diver until you achieve a result as shown below. You should clip these layers to the diver layer and consider the light direction – which is from above. Thus you should darken the bottom parts of the diver and lighten the upper parts. In order to achieve this you can either use Levels Adjustment layers that darken and use layer masks to restrict the darkening effect or you can simply paint with black and white (at low opacities).
Next we should blend the diver with the scene like we did with the dragon. Create a new layer and with the same blue color as that at step 15 paint (at a low opacity) with a soft brush over the diver.
Let’s add some marine life. Open the file “Fish” and place two fish in our scene as shown below.