In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a mysterious landscape with castles below the water. First, we’ll make the base scene using sky and sea images. After that, we’ll add the rock and water effects. Later we’ll import the castles and adjust the light, contrast, and color using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. We’ll add some birds and a Vibrance adjustment layer to complete the final effect.
Create a new 2000×2000 px document and fill it with white. Open the sky image and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the sky only and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Place it in the upper half.
Right click this layer, choose Convert to Smart Object. Go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches to reduce the noise of the sky a bit.
To make the base of the underwater part, go to Layer > New Fiil Layer > Solid Color and pick a dark color (#062731). On the layer mask of this layer, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to grab the lower half of the canvas. Turn the foreground to black and click Delete to reveal the sky.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and set it as Clipping Mask. Increase the lightness and on the layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color. Use this brush to paint on the bottom of this part to keep its lightness.
Open the sea image and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the foreground of the sea and place it above the underwater part. Use the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T) to resize this part to be much thinner.
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to soften the hard edges on the horizon and the foreground.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to match the sea’s color with the rest. Alter the Midtones settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the sea. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the dark on the middle of the background.
Add a Levels adjustment layer to darken the sea , especially the foreground a bit more. Use a soft black brush with the opacity about 30-35% to reduce the dark , especially the background.
Isolate the rock and place it below the water’s surface. Use Ctrl+T to rotate the rock to make its top go straight . Add a mask to this layer and use a medium-soft black brush to erase the rock’s part on the sea’s surface to make it hidden below the water and the top part a bit.
To blend the rock with the water, make a Color Fill layer above the rock one and set it as Clipping Mask. Pick the color #0f5164 and lower the opacity of this layer to 60%. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the top of the rock above the water so it won’t be affected by this fill layer.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the rock, especially the part below the water. On the layer mask, paint on the top part to keep its lightness.