Create floating island in a twilight atmosphere with plenty of magical details. Read this tutorial and learn how to combine all those elements to create this fairy tale composite.

What you’ll be creating

Photo manipulation tutorial with simple and advanced techniques. You will need Photoshop CS5 or newer to follow this tutorial.

final-results

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Open file “Sky”. This will be our background on which we will create our scene.

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Step 2

Import the moon brushes. Choose a half moon brush and on a new layer (to create a new layer press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) click once to create a half moon like shown below.

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Step 3

Now let’s create the castles floating in the sky. First open the file “Floating Island”. Select all by pressing Ctrl + A, copy by pressing Ctrl + C. Go back to our scene and press Ctrl + V to paste. Now we could resize the island as it is but it is good practice to convert most of our imported layers to Smart Objects in order to preserve their original pixel information no matter how much we resize them or apply filters on them. Smart objects and adjustment layers are very important for lossless image editing and manipulation – we will soon use adjustment layers. For now let’s convert the imported layer (our floating island) into a smart object. There are multiple ways to do that but the simplest way is to right click the layer and from the drop down menu choose Convert To Smart Object. After you do that you can safely resize the island (Ctrl + T) as shown below.

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Step 4

Our island is orange but our sky is blue. The island looks like it doesn’t belong here. That is because objects tend to have a hue close to that of the sky. This is generally true for most photo manipulations scenes. Now how should we go about color correcting the island so that it blends nicely with the sky? There are multiple ways of doing that: we could use a hue/saturation adjustment layer, a Curves adjustment layer or a solid color layer. We will use the latter since it is the easiest way. First select a brush tool and Alt-click somewhere in the sky to sample a blue color. Create a new layer and press Alt-Backspace to fill the layer with the sampled color. It looks all blue but we want to limit the blue only to the island. We will do that in the next step.

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Step 5

It’s time you get familiar with another very important concept regarding photoshop layers: clipped layers. A clipped layer shows only through the pixels of the layers it clips. It sounds complicated but it’s not. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you created a new layer and on this new layer you draw a horse. Now let’s say you want to apply a texture to the horse. Well, you could copy and paste a texture from somewhere, place it above the horse and painstakingly delete every pixel that falls outside the horse.