Create a mystical picture and wallpaper for your desktop. In this tutorial you will learn many interesting effects such as creating lightning, fog and carved and burning runes and much more. I’ll show you an interesting example of the image toning and sharpening, a lot of interesting tricks and techniques.
What you’ll be creating
First, I will create a background and adjust its color. In this part I will tell you about the creation of lightning in Photoshop and work with filter Camera Raw, work with a layer masks and selection tools. The next step I will add stones and write them harmoniously into the overall atmosphere. I also tell you how to create a realistic fog. In the following steps I will create the effect of fire and carved runes. At the end of tutorial I increase sharpness, create depth of field and toning for the entire image and few details. This tutorial is designed for any knowledge of Photoshop. To create this, you will need Photoshop beginning with CS or or newer version.
- Hill – Morguefile
- Mountains (2796×2097) – Pixabay
- Sky – feainne-stock
- Lightning (3000×1532) – Pixabay
- Carnac Stones 1 – stockvault
- Carnac Stones 2 (4000×2250) – Pixabay
- Carnac Stones 3 – stockvault
- Raven – eross-666
- Birds and feather brush set – MariaSemelevich
First you need to open Photoshop and create a new document. Go to File > New or use short key Cmd/Ctrl + N, create a blank document with size 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high, resolution 200 Pixels/Inch. This resolution I chose specifically because I wanted to make wallpapers.
The first thing that we need to do is background. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and open “Hill” image. You need to properly locate it. In Free Transform Mode (Ctrl/Cmd + T or Edit > Free Transform) place image on right side of working field, reduce it’s size and rotate on -0.25 degrees and apply changes by pressing Enter/Return.
To fill left side of image I duplicated layer with hill (Cmd/Ctrl + J or go to Layer > Duplicate Layer) move this layer down in layer stack and with Move Tool (V) place a copy in left side. Add a layer mask to parent layer (use “Add Layer Mask” button in the layers panel or by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Take Brush Tool (B) and with soft round brush (Size: 120px, Opacity: 50%) blend images to make landscape. Don’t worry about stone in left side. We remove it in next step.
Select the Clone Stamp Tool (S) then set the brush size to 100 pixels and Opacity to 50%, change sample to “All layers”. Paint over the object shown in the image below. Choosing the right texture paint over remnants of the stone and continue mountains. Try to match the areas of source clone to place where you put them.
I decided to build the mountain to create depth in the image. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and open “Mountains” image. The most important thing at this stage is as possible pick the exact position of the mountains, that this image was a continuation of the basics. Do not worry about the color.
Add a layer mask and remove all unnecessary trees and base of the mountains. Use Brush Tool (B) with the settings from Step 4. It is important to create the impression of integrity of the mountains and the background. For me was to create background realistic as possible.
Create a merged copy of image with Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E and convert it to Smart Object (Right click on layer > “Convert to Smart Object” or go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object). Go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + A). This is powerful and quick tool to editing pictures without using a lot adjustment layers. So let’s get started from white balance and toning. Set following settings – Temperature: +3, Tint: -10, Exposure: -0.25, Contrast: +5, Highlights: -10, Shadows: -10, Whites: -10, Blacks: -5.
Now reduce noise from picture. Not all noise can be removed because otherwise we lost details in the foreground. So I use middle settings. Go to “Sharpness” tab and set for “Sharpening” Amount: 15, Radius: 1.2, Detail: 25. Set for “Noise Reduction” Luminance: 25, Luminance Detail: 60, Luminance Contrast: 10, Color: 20, Color Detail: 50, Color Smoothness: 50.
Now we replace the sky. I decide to change clouds to more smooth sky to increase the tension in the atmosphere and the overall environment. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and open sky image. Increase image size until it fill working field and move it up as shown in image below.
Add a layer mask and as with the previous images, you need to make a smooth transition between sky and main image. With same settings for Brush Tool (B) work carefully on a layer mask and use different brush sizes to get a realistic picture.
Next, remove noise from clouds. I specifically did not create the background completely and then use Camera Raw filter because each image has its own degree of noise and need different settings for each layer. Also, I do not need to change the color of the sky, because the original image has beautiful shades and blends in well with the background. Go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise… Set Strength to 9, Preserve Details to 20%, Reduce Color Noise to 10% and set around 10% to Sharpen Details, be sure to checked “Remove JPEG Artifact”.
I decided to add some details. To emphasize the drama of what is happening (although still nothing happens, but you’ve seen the final result). Lightning is a very good element of the picture, because it tells the viewer about something mystical or terrible (if we take into account the Norse mythology, Thor the god of thunder and rain storms. Maybe this is epic battle between Thor and the snake Jormungand). So, place lightning image (File > Place (Place Embedded)). Resize it as shown in image below and change layer Blending Mode to “Screen”. Next duplicate filter “Reduce Noise” from the sky (hold Opt/Alt and drag the circles on a layer with lightning). Add a layer mask and mix sky with clouds and lightning.
Now you have several options. The first is to leave the lightning and follow the principle of realism, or you can read these few steps and add more lightnings. Now I will tell you how to create a nice lightnings by using Photoshop. First of all you need to create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl +Shift + N or use “Create a new layer” icon). Take a Gradient Tool (G) with black and white gradient (D) and linear style. Draw a gradient from left to right side it does not matter how you apply a gradient. Most importantly, there was a small slope.
Go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. You see on the transition of black and white formed a stripe. This is Lightning. Inverse image (Cmd/Ctrl + I or go to Image > Adjustments > Invert…) to lightning become a white. Do not worry, that the clouds stayed around the lightning.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels… or press Cmd/Ctrl + L to open Levels adjustment window. Set for for blacks value 235 an click OK. So we have removed all unnecessary leaving only lightning. If you want more glow around the lightning just play with the settings. Use “Hue/Saturation” adjustment to colorize your lightning. Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation… or use Cmd/Ctrl + U. In window that appears check mark “Colorize”, change Hue to 225 and increase Saturation to 50.
With Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T or Edit > Free Transform) reduce the size of lightning. Hold Shift key to make it proportionally. Change layer Blending Mode to “Screen” and place it not far from the original lightning. Repeat Steps 11 – 14 several times to create more lightning. You can also use other colors. Do not be afraid to experiment. Merge all created lightnings into one layer ( select layers > Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer > Merge Layers…) and be sure to use “Screen” Blending Mode. On this work with the background is completed. Group all layer via Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers.
Now add the stones. As in all cases to start go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and open “Carnac Stones 1” image. Resize it so stones consistent with perspective and the entire image. Use Quick Selection Tool (W) to select stone and grab to selection bit of grass, it will be helpful for the image and increase the realism.
Use “Refine Edge” at the panel properties in the upper part of the screen to clear selection. In window that appears use brush to clear a grass. Check mark “Smart Radius” and set Radius to 1.0px, Shift Edge to -10. Add a layer mask to remove background (use “Add Layer Mask” button in the layers panel or by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection).
Add more stones following Steps 15 – 16 and used images “Carnac Stones 2”, “Carnac Stones 3”. You can use any the stones that you like. The most important thing is to respect the proportions and harmonious place them in the picture. Also, be careful so stones do not hang in the air and use “Flip Horizontal” (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal…) option to find an interesting angle of the stones. Group all layers with stones (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers…).
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves… or use “Add adjustment or Fill layer” icon to add “Curves”” adjustment layer. First clip this layer to a group by using icon at the bottom of “Properties” panel. Next you need darken stones. create one point with Input: 92, Output: 73.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and change Blending Mode to “Soft Light”. Make from this layer a Clipping Mask via Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G or hold Opt/Alt and click between layers so top layer become with arrow. Use black and white soft brush (Brush Tool (B)) with Size: 100 – 200px and Opacity around 30% – 50%. Draw a basic lighting on the rocks. It is necessary to lighten the center stone and darken the edges. Importantly do not overdo it, because the next step, you add the main light and shadow.
Now create two new layers (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). For the first layer change Blending Mode to “Multiply” and for second to “Screen” and set Fill to 70%. Make a Clipping Mask from both layers to a group (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G). Use Brush Tool (B) with the settings from previous step and draw key light. Use black color on “Multiply” layer and white on “Screen”. Draw lighting as shown in image below. On screenshot I use red for shadows and green for the light.
Now select all stones (hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on a layer mask thumbnail). Create a new layer above clipped layers and fill selection with black color (Cmd/Ctrl + Del or Edit > Fill > Color…). Deselect stones (Cmd/Ctrl + D or Select > Deselect) and flip this layer vertically (Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical). Use Warp Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T + right click > Warp) to deformed fill so that each shade consistent the correct stone. Create the shadow for each stone on new layers and warp each layer. A little bit of skill and you will succeed! Merge all layers into a single layer (Cmd/Ctrl + E). Change Blending Mode to “Multiply” and Opacity to 58%.
Stay on shadow layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Set Radius to 30.0 pixels and click OK. At this stage, the lighting is sufficient. A little later, at the end of tutorial I will add the final light and shadow. The most important thing is not to overdo it, because it is very great possibility of losing realism.
Add a birds. Raven is a key animal in Norse mythology. The satellites of Odin – ravens Hugin and Munin (“thinking” and “remembering”). I created a brush with feathers and flying birds. But you can use other resources if you want. Load this brushes in Photoshop. First, add the main crow. This image so use the technique from Steps 15 – 16 to clear the raven from the background and place it over the main stone. It is important to correctly guess the direction of the bird to create the impression of a bird landing and create realism in a picture.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and use bird brushes to create several flying flocks in the background. Use black color for the birds and brush size around 100 – 150px. Use Eraser Tool (E) if you want to create a variety of flocks by removing part of birds and the addition of other birds. I group this layers (Cmd/Ctrl + G) to make work with layers easier.
What mysticism and without fog. This is a very interesting and useful part of the atmosphere that we create using only Photoshop. In total, I used 3 layers with fog. The first will be the basis, the second is structure, the third is details of fog. Let’s start with the basics. Create a new layer at the top of layer stack (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and use Brush Tool (B) with low Opacity around 10%, Size 100 – 50px and color #e2e2e2. Draw small patches of fog near the stones in the foreground. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… and blur fog on Radius 5.0 pixels.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N), set to default foreground and background colors (D). Go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Use Distort Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T or Edit > Transform > Distort) and transform clouds to perspective of image. Just grab mid point and move down to horizon. Hold Opt/Alt + Shift and drag point from bottom right corner and move in the direction of the viewer. Change Blending Mode to “Screen” and set Opacity to 25%, Fill to 45%.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels… or press Cmd/Ctrl +L to open levels adjustment window. Set for blacks Add a layer mask for this image (Opt/Alt + click on “Add a layer mask” icon or go to Layer > Layers Mask > Reveal All). Use Brush Tool (B) with black color, Opacity around 30 – 50%, Size: 100 – 250px on a layer mask to hide edges of cloud’s layer and smooth texture.
Create another one new cloud layer with “Screen” Blending Mode and Opacity: 40%, Fill: 35%. Add a inverted layer mask (hold Opt/Alt and click on “Add a layer mask” icon or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All) and draw with white color to restore some clouds near the stones.
Also, as interesting detail of the fog, you can use the lightning. Yes, the same lightning from Steps 11 – 14, but only a little blurry. I use Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with Radius around 15.0 pixels. To add this kind of fog use the Steps 11 – 14 but only on a grass.
Now add runes. For long did not look for the resources I used Wikipedia and chose the runes that I wanted to add in my picture. Then just draw them using Pen Tool (P) on each stone and fill with black color (right click > Fill Path). Try to draw the runes in accordance with the arrangement of stones and perspective. Do not create the curvature on the runes. To do this, there are filters. After all merge all layers into one (Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer > Merge Layers) and convert to Smart Object (Layer > Smart objects > Convert to Smart Object).
Now a bit of work with styles, to create the effect of burning/glowing runes. Change layer Fill to 0% (do not use Opacity otherwise you will hide effect). Go to Layer > Layer Style > Gradient Overlay…/ Outer Glow… or use “Add new fill or adjustment layer” icon at the bottom of layer panel. First style is “Outer Glow”. Set Blend Mode “Screen”, Opacity: 100%, change to “gradient” grow mode and set up gradient “Foreground to Transparent” to colors #f6d243 > #ff8948 > #e40202 > #ff8948.
Next style is “Gradient Overlay”. Change Blend Mode to “Soft Light”, Opacity to 100%, Gradient: #000000 > #543318 > #c08d4e, Angle: 90 degrees, Scale: 100%. and click OK to apply styles.
Change layer Blending Mode to “Darken”. Now we need to distort the runes so that they become similar to the ancient and carved in stone. Go to Filter > Distort > ZigZag and set Amount to -19, Radius to 20, Style “Out From Canter” and click OK. The next step, we’ll add a little bit of manual work.
Go to Filter > Liquify. Use Forward Warp Tool (W) from this window (finger icon) with Size: 11px, Density: 50 and Pressure: 100%. Very quickly and correctly apply a few diagonal strokes. The most important thing to runes become a little bumpy but remained recognizable. Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J or Layer > Duplicate Layer) and delete all styles from this copy (drag “FX” icon to the trash).
The first layer creates a glow. This layer has the effect of concave/carved runes. Create a new styles for this layer. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Bevel & Emboss… Set Style to “Inner Bevel”, Technique “Chisel Hard”, Depth: 378% with down direction, Size: 1px, Soften: 0%. Highlight Mode “Screen”, Opacity: 70%, color: #555555.
Add style “Stroke” with Size: 1px, Position “Outside”, Opacity: 61%, Fill Type: color, Color: #000000.
The last style is “Inner Shadow”. Set Opacity to 50%, Angle to 90 degrees, Distance to 3px, Choke to 0%, Size to 7px. Click OK to apply layer style.
Here are the runes after the addition of styles and effects. It is realistic but not enough. You can try to change the color of the runes, but it is better not to change the style with shadows and bevel.
Now it’s time to work with the brush. But first you need create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and apply two styles “Inner Glow” and “Outer Glow”. Firs set for “Inner Glow” Opacity: 21%, Color: #ff4848, Size: 7px.
For “Outer Glow” style set Opacity to 20%, change Color to #890303, Size: 7px and apply style. Change layer Blending Mode to “Screen” Opacity: 57%, Fill: 50% and use b
Create two new layers to finish glow effect. For first layer Blending Mode “Color Doge”, Opacity: 45%, Fill: 50%. Use brush from previous step and draw glow with color #f5c157. For second layer Blending Mode “Color Doge”, Opacity: 70%, Fill: 45%, color: #f8d65b. Group all layers with runes into one (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers).
Before proceeding to the final effect remains one small thing. To increase the drama and tension of the situation shown in the picture, as well a little bit to adjust lighting. I created a new layer with “Soft Light” blending mode and gray fill (hold Opt/Alt and click on “Create a new layer icon”. In window that appear set Blending Mode “Soft Light” and check mark “Fill with Soft-Light-neutral color (50% Gray)”). Use Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Exposure: 20% or use Brush Tool (B) with Opacity: 20 – 30% and black & white colors on this layer to create lighting.
Here we are at the end of this tutorial. In this first part we will sharpen the entire image. Group all layers into one group (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers) and create a copy of entire image. Use Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E to make merged copy and convert it to Smart Object (Right click on layer > “Convert to Smart Object” or go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object). Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen… Set the settings as shown in image below.
Add one more sharpening filter. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Set Amount: 75%, Radius: 1.0 pixels, Threshold: 32 levels and click OK. This filter is needed to improve the clarity of detail.
Now’s work on the depth of field. Make one more merged copy (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E) and convert it to Smart Object. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with Radius: 5.0pixels. Fill with black Smart Filter layer mask and use soft white brush with Opacity: 50% to remove blur and restore the clarity of the main objects.
Now comes the color. Toning the image is a very important detail. Colour helps the viewer understand what is happening in a picture, or to capture the mood of the author. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map… or use “Add new Fill or Adjustment Layer” icon. Create a gradient with following sequence #030303 > #141818 > #2a5157 > #808080 > #cfaa86 > #dfd0b8 > #fdfde.
Set layer Blending Mode to a “Multiply” and reduce Opacity to 69%, Fill to 60%.
Next adjustment layer is “Selective Color” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color…). Use image below to adjust the settings for each color. As you can see from the result, I added more blue and green tints in the color range. It looks a bit strange, but the next adjustment layer will put everything in its place.
Now we take down a bit color, saturation and add a bit of darkness. I use adjustment layer “Black & White” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White…) with preset “Red Filter” to remove color from dark areas of the image. Try experimenting with different presets to find an interesting option for you. Reduce layer Fill to 40%. On adjustment layer mask with soft black brush restore original color of runes. On this tinting is over.
I decided to add a bit of detail and emphasize mysticism in a picture and is therefore used Brush Tool (B) with feather brush and black color to draw on foreground a bit of flying feathers. Try to keep the feathers more dense and do not apply it more than a third of the working area.
In the last step I create a vignette to focus the viewer’s attention only on the center of the image. With Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) draw a rectangle a little smaller than working area. Inverse selection via Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I or go to Select > Inverse. Press Shift + F6 or go to Select > Modify > Feather and set Radius to 60px. Fill selection with black color (D > Opt/Alt + Del or go to Edit > Fill > Color…).
That’s all, dear reader! I hope you liked my tutorial and you find it useful for themselves and enjoyed the workflow. In tutorial I sometimes mention a realistic option. The image below is shown it. This is the second version of my picture where I decided to create a more realistic in terms of real life. I removed all unnecessary effects and runes. I also flip whole image horizontally (Image > Image Rotate > Flip Horizontal). A little adjust sky and mountains. That all.
Do not be afraid to experiment!I am waiting for your comments, impressions and your finished results in comment section below :)