In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a fantasy fish scene using a variety of photo manipulation techniques. You’ll learn how to combine different stock images into a cohesive scene using blending, adjusting colors, masking, and brush. You’ll learn also how to focus on the details, work with lighting, manage your layers, and more.

What you’ll be creating

We’ll start this tutorial by setting up a sky scene from three stock images. Then we’ll add the boat, tree, model, fishes, and blend them using adjustment layers, masking, and brush. Later we’ll adjust the color, light, contrast, and finish it up with an adjustment layer. You should use Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial properly.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the following settings:
fish34-final[1]

Step 2

Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N to make a new layer. Active the Gradient Tool (G), choose Radial Gradient with the color #5a513d and #d1cba2. Drag a line from the top center to the bottom:
fish2

Step 3

Open the sky 1 image. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag it into our canvas and change the mode to Soft Light 100%:
fish3

Step 4

To make this sky look smoother, go to Filter > Blur > Gassian Blur and set the radius to 2 px:
fish3

Step 5

I used an adjustment layer with Clipping Mask to change the color of the sky. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves:
fish3
fish3a

Step 6

Place the sky 2 image over the sky 1 and change the mode to Hard Light 100%:
fish6

Step 7

Apply Gaussian Blur with 7 px to this sky layer:
fish7

Step 8

I used a Color Balance adjustment layer (Clipping Mask) to change the color of the sky 2:
fish8
fish8a

Step 9

Drag the clouds image into our working document and use the Cmd/Ctrl+T key to rotate it as shown below:
fish9
Click the second button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a basic, soft brush with black color to remove the hard edges of this clouds image:
fish9a

Step 10

I used Color Balance to add some warm color to these clouds:
fish10

Step 11

I used Curves to darken the foreground edges a little:
fish11
On this layer mask use a soft black brush to erase the part near the horizon (I aim to add light there).
fish11a

Step 12

Open the images pack contained the boat. Isolate it from the white background and position it at the middle of the clouds:
fish12
Add a mask to this layer and use a black brush with the hardness about 30% to blend the bottom of the boat with the clouds, and increase the hardness of the brush to 100% to clear a part of the top left:
fish12a

Step 13

To give the boat more light, I used a Layer Style effect. Double click the boat layer, choose Inner Shadow:
fish13
fish13a

Step 14

I used Curves to darken some parts of the boat where are hidden from the light:
fish14
On this layer mask use a soft black brush to erase the dark effect on the higher part where is illuminated by the light:
fish14a

Step 15

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the boat saturation:
fish15

Step 16

I used Color Balance to match the boat color with the scene:
fish16
fish16a

Step 17

Open the tree image. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to choose the trunk and drag it onto the top left of the boat. Use the Warp Tool (Edit > Transform > Warp) to bend the trunk as shown below:

16 thoughts on “Create a Fantasy Fish Scene above the Sky”

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