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In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a ruined landscape using standard photo manipulation techniques. You'll learn how to combine different landscapes and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. You'll also learn how to adjust color and contrast, enhance the mood, lighting, and more.
Preview of the Final Result
Create a new 3000x1500 px document and fill it with white. Open the landscape 1 image and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Convert this layer to a Smart Object.
Go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches and fill in the following settings.
On this filter mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color. Use this brush to erase the foreground and midground.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Reduce the Saturation values to -91:
Open the landscape 3 image and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the lower part of the image to add to the ground of the working document.
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to remove the rock part and most of the foreground.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation settings to -87 to blend the new ground part with the existing one.
Open rock 2 image and isolate the rock and the ground from the background using your own method. Convert this layer to a Smart Object and place the rock onto the right of the existing ground.
Add a mask to this layer and use a medium-hard black brush to remove the ground.
Activate the Lasso Tool (L) to select the lower part on the left of the rock and go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask and fill in the following settings:
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and bring the Saturation values to -88.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the dark effect on the contour of the part sharpened in the step 7.
Open the landscape 2 image and drag it into the main document using the Move Tool. Set this layer below the landscape 3 one.
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to remove the sky and the ground, leaving the mountains visible only.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation values to -88.
Open the rock 1 image and cut out the rock only to add to the right of the main canvas. Set this layer below the rock 2 one and use a layer mask to remove the part covering the ground.
Make a Hue/Saturation values and change the Saturation settings to -78:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the contrast and lightness until the details and texture of the rock disappeared completely to fit the misty background.
Open the rock 3 image and isolate it to add to the left of the main canvas. Use a layer mask to remove the hard edges and blend the rock with the ground.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Saturation values to -82:
Add a Curves adjustment layer to increase the mist on the rock. On this layer mask, paint on the back side of the lower of the rock to keep some contrast there.
Open the ruin 1 image. As it has a transparent background so just use the Move Tool to drag it into our working document and place it in the left of the rock 2 one. Add a mask to this layer and use a medium-hard black brush to remove most of the rocky ground and blend the ruin with the existing ground.
Make a new layer (set as Clipping Mask) and use the Clone Tool (S) to remove and reduce some shadows on the columns
Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #c09d77, the opacity about 30% to paint on some details of the ruin to lighten the shadow and reduce the contrast of the ruin.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation values to -100:
Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the ruin.
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill it with 50% gray. Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 10% to refine the light and shadow on the ruin. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.
Open the ruin 2 image and take the part with five columns to add to the left of the main canvas. Flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal:
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the columns:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to increase the shadow on the back of the columns. On this layer mask, paint on the rest to keep its lightness.
Make another Curves adjustment layer to brighten the front of the columns a bit. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.
Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use the Burn Tool to strengthen the shadow on some areas of the columns.
Open the rock 3 image again and take the riding people to add to the left of the existing desert. Add a mask to each of these layers to remove most of the unwanted ground.
Make some Curves adjustment layers for each of these layers to brighten them and reduce their contrast. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.
Select all people layers and hit Ctrl+G to make a group for them. Change the group mode to Normal 100% and make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group. Reduce the Saturation values to -77:
Create a new layer and use a small brush with the color #11100d to paint the missing shadow and details of the people.
Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #021e38 and #2cb1e2.
Add another Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors #aa2517 and #00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:
Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the scene. On this layer mask, paint on the left and the top right of the canvas to remove or reduce the dark effect there.
Add a Levels adjustment layer to darken the whole scene more. Paint on the left and middle to reveal the lightness there.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the space between two rocks. Paint on the rest to keep the shadow and contrast.
Make another Curves adjustment layer to change the contrast and color of the whole scene a little.
Add a Photo Filter and pick the color #00ccff to complete the final effect.