Create a “Magic School” Photo Manipulation

Create a “Magic School” Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial we will be covering some very interesting topics on Matte Painting and Photo Manipulation such as planning a concept, pre-visualizing, and using images as references. This tutorial not only shows some techniques but also helps in improving logical thinking while creating a fantasy scene.

Preview of Final Results

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“Magic School” Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1

Create a new canvas in Photoshop with the resolution of Width=2560px and Height=1485px.

Step 2

Before getting into the tutorial lets sketch a rough outline of the concept we are going to create. In this scene a master wizard will be teaching his student witch about how to create monster tornados and huge whirlpool at the same time. In the mean while he creates dark energy balls to protect themselves if anything goes out of control.

Step 3

Since the characters are in contrast with the background, mask out only the characters leaving the stick in between them using the Magic Wand Tool(W) and import them on to the working canvas.

Step 4

To create a dull and rainy environment in the scene, import the image with thick grey sky and place it on the canvas as shown.

Step 5

To make the scene more intense we need to create much more thick clouds. So import the clouds image and place it above the 'rainy clouds' layer.
To match the blue clouds to the scene, we need to desaturate the 'clouds 2' layer. With the 'clouds 2' layer selected Desaturate it to -61 using Hue/Saturation (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation).
Since we need only the clouds, using the Soft Eraser (E) erase the base of 'clouds 2' layer as shown.

Step 6

Now import the image of the river that we are going to manipulate into an ocean in the scene. Make sure to place it on the 'clouds 2' layer.
Erase the sky from the 'ocean water' layer using the Eraser Tool(E).

Step 7

In this step we will be creating distant hills. In the below reference image you can observe how the hills are fading with the increase in distance.
Hence to create the same natural depth in our scene, import the image of the hills that suites perfectly to our scene and place it on the canvas as shown.
Now mask out the sky leaving only the hills. Then desaturate the hills and water color to -61 using Hue/Saturation.

Step 8

Now by using the Stamp Tool (S) clone the stick in the 'ocean' layer that is creating a distraction.

Step 9

Since we are creating a stormy environment, we need to create water splashing against the rock on which our characters are standing. Import the water splash image into Photoshop and select the Red layer from the Channels pallet.
Then select Calculations (Image>Calculations) and select Red from the Channels dropdown list.
Once the Calculation is checked OK an Alpha 1 layer will be created in the channels pallet. With the 'Alpha 1' layer selected set the Levels as shown to create maximum contrast between the water splash and the background that are to be separated.

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