In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a firing medieval scene with disintegration effect. You’ll learn how to combine stock images, use debrish brushes, work with fire, make a cool atmosphere and create lighting effect.

What you’ll be creating

We’ll start this tutorial by adding the background and blur it to create a depth of field. Then we’ll add the knight and apply the debris brushes to him to create a shattered effect. Later we’ll add the fire and create a glowing light for it. After that we’ll make the fire effect on the knight as well as use several adjustment layers to change the whole contrast and color. We’ll finish it up with more light and fire sparks. You’ll need Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial.


Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the settings below:


Step 2

Open the castle stock. Drag it into our white canvas using the Move Tool (V):


To add some depth to the scene, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 6 px:


Step 3

I used an adjustment layer and set as Clipping Mask to desaturate the background. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation:



Step 4

I used a Curves adjustment layer (Clipping Mask) to darken the castle background:


Step 5

Place the knight image in the middle section of the image and remove the background using a layer mask.


Step 6

Change the brush kind to the debris ones. Take the brushes you like and start painting on the arms to shatter these areas. I turned off the Curves adjustment layer of the castle to let you see the effect more clearly:


Step 7

To add more debris, on a new layer, use a debrish brush with any colors (I choose white) to paint on the knight body.


Turn off this layer. Hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click the debris thumbnail layer to load its selection:


On the knight layer, right click this selection and choose Layer via Copy. Move the copied part onto the one of the shoulders.


Step 8

Apply the same method to make more disintegration effect for the knight, use a layer mask to erase any unwanted debrises. Here is my result:


Turn on the Curves adjustment layer of the background.


Step 9

Select all the knight and debris layers and press Cmd/Ctrl+G to make a group for them. Change this layer mode from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. On the top of the layers within this group, make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the knight and the disintegration effect:


On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to refine the light and shade on the knight to fit the background. You can see the results on the layer mask and on the picture:



Step 10

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the redness of the skull and other details:


Step 11

To reduce the lightness on the top of the skull, make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #958673 to paint there. Change this layer mode to Multiply 100%:


Step 12

Place the fire image in the foreground and change the mode to Screen 100%. Use a layer mask to remove any white edges remained.



Step 13

To add a glowing effect to the fire, make a new layer under the fire one. Use a soft brush with the color #281b01 to paint on the bottom right of the image and change the mode to Linear Dodge 100%.