Category Archives: Photoshop

Creating the Basic Landscape with Photomerge in Photoshop, Part 4

 Creating The City In The Sand and Adding Atmosphere in Photoshop

By Stephen Burns

Part 1, 2, 3, and 4

Now that you have the basic building to establish your city we will blend this into the sand dune landscape.  You are going to create 4 separate buildings to place into the landscape. You will use several tools to assist with this: layer masking, Layer Grouping, Paint Brush and the New Rotation command.

Step 1.

Enlarge and place the merged Sky Scrapper into the left edge portion of the composition.  Since you are going to create 4 buildings to place throughout he composition let’s create a new Layer Group and call it “architecture”.   To do this click the 3rd icon from the right on the bottom of your Layers palette.  Next, make sure that the “architecture” Layer Group is selected.  Now, add four new Layer Groups within it and title them “city 1” thru “city 4”.  Place a Sky Scrapper into each Layer  Group where two of them will sit onto op the highlighted peaks located to the left of the composition and one will sit onto of the shadowy peak.   Resize each Skyscraper smaller as it gets further into the background approximately 50% of its foreground brothers. Continue reading Creating the Basic Landscape with Photomerge in Photoshop, Part 4

Creating the Basic Landscape with Photomerge in Photoshop, Part 3

Creating The City In The Sand

By Stephen Burns

Now, you are going to create the city that will fit into the landscaper with photographic images.  You will start by giving the dunes the appearance of the rear portion integrating into the rear lighting atmosphere.  We will then use photographic content to create the skyscrapers emanating from the peeks of the dunes.

Step 1.

To help prepare the sand dune for the city details let’s give it the appearance of the light source spilling onto the rear portions of the dunes.  You will use the Layer Style option for this. Duplicate the sand dunes layer and place it on top of the layer that you used to intensify the shadow detail.  Double click on the right most portion of the layer to get the Layer Styles dialogue box.  Select the Gradient option and edit the gradient by clicking on the gradient preview box.  Apply the settings that you see in figure 24 by applying a color that will gradiate to transparency from a yellowish brown hue.

Step 2.

Go to your tutorials folder and open “refinery.tif”.

025smView of “refinery.tif”

Step 3.

Duplicate the layer and Inverse it horizontally (Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontally).  Position the second layer and blend it with the other using a layer mask to achieve a look similar the figure 26.

026smCreate a symmetrical look for the refinery

Step 4.

Now, implement steps 2 and 3 for the technique for “sky scrapper 1.tif”.

027smView of “sky scrapper 1.tif” “refinery.tif”
028smCreate a symmetrical look for the sky scrapper

Step 5.

Select both of the Skyscraper layers and right-click on them to bring up a submenu.  From this menu select “Convert to Smart Object”.  This will merge both layers into a Smart Object so that you will maintain the original quality of the image as you alter its size with the Free Transform tool.  Next, duplicate this layer and transform it (Ctrl-T/Cmd-T) so that it is thinner and longer than  the first merged shape.   Use figure 29 as an example.  Next, merge the two layers as a single Smart Object.

029smGive the ambient light a neutral warm color.

Step 6.

Go back and select the Sky Scrapper layer and duplicate it (Ctrl-J/Cmd-J).  We will keep one to place in the foreground of the composition to help establish depth.  The other you will use for the following procedure.

Position the Refinery layer beneath the Sky Scrapper layer and transform it (Ctrl-T/Cmd-T) so that it gives the appearance of extra detail being added that protrudes above the architecture.  Use figure 30 as a guide but play with the layer blend modes as well to experiment with other possibilities.

030smTransform the “refinery.tif” image to integrate with the sky scrapper .

Part 1, 2, 3, and 4

Creating the Basic Landscape with Photomerge in Photoshop, Part 2

Exploring Refine Edge Options in Photoshop

By Stephen Burns

From the Masks palette you were able to access the Refine Edge dialogue box to further make adjustments to any selected mask.  This is very useful when you want to control the hardness or the softness of a masked effect. Let’s explore the possibilities.

Step 1.

By default the mask will be previewed against a white background.  This will show the mask in its native black and white mode.



Default view of the Refine Edge option with mask against a white background.

Step 2.

Choose the icon to the far right to view the mask as you created it.

015smView the mask as you created it.

Step 3.

Choose the center icon to preview the mask against a black background.

016smView the mask against a black background

 Step 4.

The second icon from the right will show your mask as a Quick mask.

017smView mask as a Quick mask

Step 5.

Choose the icon to the far left to view the mask as a selection.

018smView mask as a selection

 Step 6.

Play with Radius slider.  This will help determine drastic the effect will be based on the amount of pixels being affected.

019smThe Radius slider will determine the strength of the effect.

Step 7.

Shift the Contrast slider in both directions and notice how the contrast intensity can effect the sharpness of the mask edges.

020smThe Contrast slider will strengthen intensity of the values.

Step 8.

Play with the Feather slider to soften the edges of the mask.

021smThe Feather slider will soften the edges of the mask.

Step 9.

Contact and Expand slider will expand or contract the values .  Figure 22 shows the mask being expanded and figure 23 displays the mask being contracted.

022smExpand  the mask.

023smContract  the mask.



Part 1, 2, 3, and 4


Creating the Basic Landscape with Photomerge in Photoshop, Part 1


Photomerge By Stephen Burns

You will use the panoramic of the Sand Dune that you created in article 1 as the basis for the matte painting.  The image has been provided for you as well.  Go to the Tutorials folders and open “sand dune merged .tif”.

Step 1.

The goal is to build a new sky with some Skyscrapers above the sand dune.  To do this you will need to extend the canvass upward a bit.  Start by duplicating your layer (Ctrl-J/Cmd-J).  Activate your Crop tool (C ) and drag a Crop box around the entire image.  Next, extend the top portion of the crop box upwards about 50% higher as shown in figure 1.  When you satisfied just hit enter on the keyboard to commit the changes.  You should have a result similar to figure 2.

001smView of the panoramic sand dune

002smView of the panoramic sand dune with extended canvass

Step 2.

Next, you will remove the mountain ranges from the upper portions of the scene. To accomplish this activate the Magic Wand (W) and select the sky and mountain areas.  The Magic Wand will select similar colors or luminance’s contiguously and will stop at any differentiating hue or value.  So, if you need to select additional information just hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and continue to add to your Selection.  When everything is selected hit the Delete key to get rid of the mountain range leaving only the sand dunes.

003smDelete the mountain range and sky to leave the sand dunes present.

Step 3.

Go to your tutorials folder and open “clouds1.tif”.   Place this image below the sand dune layer.  You will notice that the clouds are approximately 50 % smaller than the sand dune file due to it being a panoramic.  Duplicate the clouds layer (Ctrl-J/Cmd-J) and place them side by side with an 30% overlap as shown in figure4.  The 30% overlap is important for the next step because Photoshop will need some room to make blending adjustments for any panoramic style techniques.  Let’s move on.

016smDuplicate the clouds layer and place them side by side.

Step 4.

Use the Auto Blend Layer Command (Edit> Auto Blend Layer) to blend both cloud layers together seamlessly.  You will see the two layers pieced together with the use of layer masks.  This is essentially what we did when we used the Photomerge command in Bridge on the Sand Dunes in the previous article; however, Photoshop allows us to choose Auto Blend instead of Auto Align Layer independently.

005smApply Auto Blend Layer

Step 5.

It would be easier to work on a single layer instead of two so select the two cloud layers and merge them together.  Next, duplicate this layer and set its blend mode to Soft Light.  This gives the sky a more contrasting look.

006smCreate cloud layer and apply a Soft Light blend.

 Step 6.

Apply a layer mask to paint out the effect of the Soft Light layer form the top portion of the clouds as shown in figure 7.

007smApply mask to cloud layer and apply its effects selectively.

Step 7.

Now, duplicate steps 3 to 5 to create a single merged layer with the “clouds 2.tif” image.

008smView of the merged clouds 2 image.

Step 8.

Apply a layer mask and paint out all of the cloud details for this layer just as you did in step 6.  Now, you are getting a little more drama in the sky.

009smView of the merged clouds 2 image.

Step 9.

Finally, let’s add some drama to the sand dunes by intensifying the shadow areas.  Create a new layer (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-N/CmdOpt Shift-N) and fill it with black.  Change its Blend mode to Multiply.  Hold down the Alt/Opotion key on your keyboard and select the Create New Mask icon on the bottom of your layers palette.  This will create a black filled layer instead of the default white.  Now edit the mask using the Paint Brush and paint with white to reveal the black pixel in the shadow regions.

009smIntensify the shadow areas of the Sand Dunes

Use a soft edged brush for this step and be patient.  However if you decide to make a rough go at it there is another way to fine tune your mask.  Open the Mask palette (Window>Masks).  Make sure that the mask that is associated with the black filled layer is selected by clicking directly on it.  The Mask palette has options for fine tuning the pixel information.  The Density slider will brighten or darken your mask.

011smUse the Density slider to brighten or darken the mask.

The Feather slider will add a blur to the mask to soften the edges. 012smUse the Feather slider to soften the edge.

ON the very bottom of the dialogue box you will see a button called “invert”.  Click it and notice that the values on the mask will be inverted.


Invert the mask

Now above the “invert” button you will see a button called “Mask Edge”. Click it and notice that this takes you into the Refine Edge dialogue box that gives you even more controls for fine tuning your mask.  Let’s explore those.

Part 1, 2, 3, and 4