Get ready to create an epic battle between a sea creature and a courageous pirate girl. I will share you various tips and techniques that will hopefully improve your current workflow. In this tutorial I will make extensive use of layers, masks, smart objects and other basic Photoshop tools so if you’re not familiar with them I recommend you read my article.
In order to follow this tutorial you will need Photoshop CS3 or newer.
First of all go ahead and download and import the brushes used in this tutorial so you won’t have to do it later. You can also download the rest of the images used as resources to have them ready when needed.
Create a new document (Ctrl + N) with 2000 x 1500px size and click ok.
Open the image “Sky”. Select all by pressing Ctrl + A and copy by pressing Ctrl + C. Go back to our newly created document and press Ctrl + V to paste. Convert this layer as well as all the future pasted images from other documents into a smart object (right click the layer and from the drop down menu choose Convert To Smart Object).
Use Free Transform (Ctrl + T) to position the sky as shown below.
Open the image “Underwater”. Select all and copy/paste in our document. Place this layer as shown below with Free Transform. This will serve as a basis for the underwater portion of our scene.
Hopefully you are already familiar with layer masks so I won’t go into much detail about how to create one. Create a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and use the Gradient Tool (G) to fill the upper portion of the underwater layer with black. Using the Gradient Tool instead of the Rectangular Marquee will grant us a smooth and seamless masking effect.
Open the image mill. Use the Pen Tool (P) to make a selection of the mill and copy/paste in our document. Place the mill as indicated below.
As you can see we are starting to place various objects in our scene to make this work visually.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) and drag the curve down to darken. As you can see it darkens the whole scene but we want the darkening effect to restrict only to the mill. In order to do that simply Alt-click between the curves layer and the mill layer. This operation is called clipping a layer to another – it will restrict all the effects of a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to the clipped layer (the layer below). You can have an unlimited number of upper clipped layers that will be visible/restricted through a single layer below.
Open the image “Sea”. Make a selection of the sea surface with the Rectangular Marquee Tool and copy/paste into our scene. Add a layer mask and use the standard soft round brush to paint with black in the layer mask the horizon and the lower hard edge of the sea surface. Don’t forget about converting it to a smart object too.
Create a Curves Adjustment Layer like shown below and clip it to the water surface layer. Drag the blue curve up and red curve down to color the water surface blue.