Create this magical twilight landscape with floating islands, a old sailboat, and a surreal moon background. This tutorial will teach you how to mix stock photos, apply filters to create a twilight scene, and even some matte painting basics!

Preview of Final Results

final-results[10]

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Let’s start! Create new file 1920×1080 size.

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Step 2

Choose Forest Mountain stock and place it:

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Step 3

Add new adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer) with Brightness/Contrast).

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Step 4

At adjustment layer make mask. Use big (ex. 200px) soft brush and draw:

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Step 5

Then, paste Sky levels stock as new layer. You should transform it, to fill canvas. Change blending mode to Multiply.

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Step 6

On this layer, use mask. Try to mask all the trees from the bottom side. you should use big, soft brush (ex. 300px or more). My masking results are below

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Step 7

Paste Stars stock, as new layer. Then add mask to this layer. Again use soft, big brush on contours of mountains.

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Step 8

Change blending mode of stars to Screen.

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Step 9

It’s time to paste moon stock on new layer. Place it as shown. Change blending mode to Screen

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Step 10

As you can see, moon is too big and the color doesn’t goes with this landscape. You should change that. First – mask. Use big, soft round brush (100-200px) and mask it on the bottom.

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Step 11

Now hue of the moon. Add adjustment layer with Hue/Saturation and create clipping mask (RMB>Create clipping mask).

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Step 12

You should make moon brighter. Compliment won’t work ;). Holding ctrl choose Moon and Hue layer. Duplicate it.

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Step 13

Add new layer. Choose Gradient Fill tool and #362f2d color. Arrow will guide you :)

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Step 14

Change blending mode of this gradient to overlay.

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Step 15

Add new layer. Choose soft, big (370px) brush, #6dcff6 color and set opacity to 70%. Draw gently glow around and near moon. I also draw a few spots on the edges of mountains.

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Step 16

Change glow layer blending mode to soft light.

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Step 17

Now you will know some matte painting techniques. Add new layer. Choose soft brush, 40px wide, #929397 color. Draw on the edges of the mountains/plants. This is very important step! It can appear like fog, and give mystic look!

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Step 18

Change blending mode to Soft light. Will be awesome! :)

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Step 19

Duplicate fog layer.

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Step 20

Create new layer. Now choose 100px wide brush, the same color. Draw delight on the depressions of landscape.

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Step 21

Change blending mode to Multiply (Suprise! :])

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Step 22

Okay! Keep up good work! Now add Adjustment layer with Selective color. Choose Reds from menu.

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Step 23

Now choose Greens from the same menu.

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Step 24* – optional

Cool! Now select all and copy merged picture (Edit > Copy merged). Paste it as new layer.

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Choose Filter > Filter Gallery > Glowing edges.

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Then change blending mode to Color Dodge and opacity to 75%.

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Step 25 – First Island

Create new folder (if you want). Add new layer. Set Hard Round Pressue Size brush, 42 px wide, black color. With strokes draw rocks shape on the bottom of island. You can, of course make your own shape. Play with it! :)

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Step 26

Add mask on this layer. Choose soft brush and draw on the top of island. I also cut out too long edges of rocks.

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Step 27

Paste Agglestone Rock stock. Transfotm it as shown and then, create clipping mask.

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Step 28

This stock is too saturated. You should change that. Add adjustment layer with Hue saturation. Then create clipping mask.

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Step 29

As you can see it’s also too bright. Add Adjustment layer with Brightness/contrast. Again, create a clipping mask.

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Step 30

Now you should choose soft, white, small (ex.30px) brush. Add new layer and create clipping mask. Draw, where should be lights!

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Step 31

Change opacity to 18%.

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Step 32

Add new layer – you should draw shadows on islnd. Create clipping mask. Choose the same brush, but dark-gray (#131312). Draw shadows on the left side of island.

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Step 33

Change blending mode to Multiply and opacity to 50%.

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Step 34

Add new layer and create clipping mask. Choose the same brush and draw harder shadows. This is important!

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Step 35

Add mask to your shadow, and fix too hard shadows, by using big (370px), soft brush.

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Step 36

Good job! Now you should change blending mode to Multiply and opacity to 80%.

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Step 37

Add adjustment layer with color/balance. Create clipping mask. Set adjustments:

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Step 38

Wow! A lot of work is already behind you! Now paste Belltower on new layer.

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Step 39

Add mask to this layer.

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Step 40

Add Adjustment layer with Hue/Saturation. Create clipping mask. Set it:

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Step 41

Add Adjustment layer with Color balance. Of course create also clipping mask:

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Step 42

You should create lights on belltower. Add new adjustment layer with brightness/contrast and create clipping mask.

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Step 43

Add mask to this layer. Light source will guide you.

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Step 44

Place at new layer Unsual tree, as is shown:

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Step 45

Mask it as shown:

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Step 46

On this Unsual tree create Adjustment Layer. Choose Hue/saturation. After you set it, create clipping mask.

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Step 47

Add new layer and create clipping mask. Choose 100 px soft round brush #1e373b color. Draw gently shadows on the tree.

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Step 48

Change blending mode to Multiply and opacity to 80%.

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Step 49

Add new Adjustment layer – Color balance. Create clipping mask, and set it:

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Step 50

As you can see, tree is to bright in some places. You should fix it by masking :).

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Step 51

Then you should make lights on the tree. Add adjustment layer with color/balance and create clipping mask.

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Step 52

Mask it baby! :) Use soft, big brush.

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Step 53

Set blending mode to Screen, opacity to 67%.

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Step 54

Cool! Now add adjustment layer with brightness/contrast. Set it as shown below:

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Step 55

Create new layer. (Hey! Without making clipping mask :]) Choose spatter 59 px brush #baf3f0 color. Draw on the edges of trees.

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Step 56

Add new layer, choose 1 px soft brush, the same color. Draw contour of rocks, belltower and trees.

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Step 57 – Second island – abstract

I used the same techniques on second island. You can just read again from 25 step, leave only one island, or do as many as you wish! :) But I’ll remind you about this! Start from black base. Brown color is for depth of field.

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Step 58

On clipping mask, you should paste rocks, try to place another part of stock image! :)

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Step 59

Change saturation by adjustment layer with Hue/Saturation.

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Step 60

With soft brushes draw shadows (change blending mode to Multiply) and lights (leave blending mode – Normal).

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Step 61

Again draw shadows and lights with smaller brush.

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Step 62

Set brightness/contrast of second island (clipping mask)

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Step 63

Change color balance. (clipping mask)

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Step 64

With soft, big (300px) black brush on new layer (clipping mask) draw stroke on the top. It will be shadow of tree.

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Step 65

Paste Unsual tree.

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Step 66

Mask tree.

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Step 67

Set color/balance of the tree. Create clipping mask.

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Step 68

Add adjustment layer with brightness/contrast. (clipping mask) Set it:

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Step 69

With soft brush, #4081b7 color, on new layer draw shadows on tree. Set blending mode to Multiply. (clipping mask)

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Step 70

With the same brush on new layer draw lights on the tree. Change opacity to 26%.(clipping mask)

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Step 71

Create new layer. Choose spatter 59 px brush #baf3f0 color. Draw on the edges of trees. (clipping mask) Then change blending mode to Soft Light.

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Step 72

Then with 1px soft brush, the same color, draw light contours. I also prepared some contours of hanging plants :).

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Step 73 – Making Plants

Create new folder. With soft 1px brush #4c7373 color draw long stroke, under the light countour.

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Step 74

Now with the same brush draw lianas. Arrows will guide you :)

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Step 75

Make the same with lower plants.

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Step 76

On the lowest parts of plants use the same technique.

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Step 77 – ship

Paste ship png.

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Step 78

Reduce saturation with Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Then create clipping mask! :)

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Step 79

Add color/balance layer (clipping mask). Set it as shown below. Then set blending mode to Screen – it will look like lights from the moon!.

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Step 80

Mask this layer.

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Step 81

Then add Brightness/Contrast layer (create clipping mask).

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Step 82

Mask layer. It will look like shadow :).

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Step 83

Again adjustment layer with Brightness/contrast. Also clipping.

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Step 84

Then set color/balance with clipping mask.

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Step 85

Add new layer. Here you should set 1px soft light-blue brush. Draw gently contours of the ship and fix ropes.

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Step 86 – corner leaves

In the left corner of picture, paste Corner leaves.

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Step 87

From menu Filter choose blur > Gaussian blur. Set it as shown below:

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Step 88

Add adjustment layer with hue/saturation. (Clipping mask).

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Step 89

Now, holding ctrl, choose Leaves and Hue/Saturation layers. Duplicate it.

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Step 90

Then transform it (ctrl +T, or Free transform from “Edit” menu). I flipped it horizontally and changed position.

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Step 91

Wow! You are on good way! Add layer. Now with 300 px soft #6dcff6 color brush, draw as shown. It will be glow.

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Step 92

Next, you should choose from menu Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur.

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Step 93

Change blending mode to Soft light and opacity to 41%.

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Step 94

Now you should add new layer. Choose big (800px) soft, white brush. Draw large dot on the moon. Then change blending mode to Soft Light.

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Step 95 – final colors!

It’s time to fix colors. Now colors are unsaturated, too light. Let’s fix that! Create brightness/contrast layer. Change opacity of it to 70%.

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Step 96

Now create color balance layer, for standarizing colors.

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Step 97

Again add brightness/contrast layer. It’s necessary :)

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Step 98

Now hue/saturation layer. You will sharpen greens :)

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Step 99

This is last step! Add color/balance for really magical look!

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Final Results

final-results[11]

Download the PSD

Tutorial by Monika Nowakowska

profile[6]Thank you for following this tutorial – You are amazing! :) I am Monika Nowakowska – msRiotte – photomanipulator and graphic designer from Poland. I’m in love with design and coffee. If you want, like my facebook page. Have a nice day!

msRiotte

30 thoughts on “Create an Incredible Twilight Surreal Scene with Floating Islands”

  1. Thank you very much is a great job and I was surprised by the castle, since it belongs to my city Almadén (Ciudad Real) has been an incredible detail.
    regards

  2. Thanks, love this tutorial, and thanks for posting. Explains a lot of techniques. One thing I would add is to delete (or mask or cover) the stars that are showing thru from behind the moon. Unless they are meteors, they would not be visible behind the opaque moon.

    My 2 bits

  3. what’s a spatter brush?
    (:: – Step 55
    Create new layer. (Hey! Without making clipping mask :]) Choose spatter 59 px brush #baf3f0 color. Draw on the edges of trees.)

  4. In Step 4, you say “At adjustment layer make mask”. What does this mean? I’m pretty new to this, so any help would be great!

  5. Hi, can someone please explain to me in details how step 4 and 5 was done? After I made a new mask layer and colored in red the sky area, I then proceed to paste the sky stock. That sky stock image appeared as a new layer and not on the mask layer called “Sky – mmtEvr6.” How do you merge the sky layer with the landscape to appear as one image?

    Thank you.

    1. For merging two layers, select both layers and press Ctrl + E.. Hope this helps..

  6. Hi Monika,
    Fantastic Tutorial..! Thanks for posting..! I too have a blog with Photoshop Tutorials aimed for beginners..

    Keep on posting nice tutorials like this.. Happy to revisit..!

  7. Daniel Thomassin

    Bonjour;Je vous remercie beaucoup pour votre tutoriel et l’utilisation des calques et des masques.
    Je vous souhaite à tous une bonne journée à tous

  8. Would be really nice if you would inform me when you use my stock in a tutorial – we could do some social sharing and promotion

    Kind Regards

    Eve

  9. I think this could have all been a lot shorter now that i’ve read through the whole thing.

    For one, hyper links, use them and just say repeat this process such as the saturation, hue, contrast and brightness factors, as well, it’s really hard to learn this tutorial if you were a beginner, saying to just “mask” something is far easier said than done if you have no idea more effective ways of doing the like with the quick mask or the layer mask.

    I hate the ship, it’s like heres rocks and trees and everything natural not a single bit of water showing, oh and here’s a ship. I took it out of mine on personal choice but it’s up to you.

    Last thing I’d say is the rocks you created, they look far more detailed then just using a brush to create them I’d say you took multiple layers using different sections of the rock each time and layered them on top of each other to give more depth to the photo, if you want nice crisp clean jagged rocks try using the lasso tool and deleting the brush layer piece by piece.

  10. What a great tuto! Trying to be better in photo manipulation this was really helpfull.
    Just having a weird result on step 30 when trying to add lights to the stone, it needed to be set at 5% opacity not to have those white mass…
    And also step 56 I’m not able to have something like yours, I just have this white edge as if it wasn’t well cut out, took me time to fix it but nevermind, I learnt a lot thank you! (and sorry for my bad english ahah)

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