Learn how to create this beautiful mountain landscape in Photoshop. This tutorial shows how to develop a amazing and meditative landscape of the mysterious East theme out of a plain background using photo manipulation, photo montage techniques coupled with some painting inside Photoshop.
First of all we will create foreground atmosphere using temple and lotuses photos. In next part add towers to expand the landscape and make the transition between plans. Then we will create a surreal mountain landscape and add a variety of color effects. In the final step, we will create light effects and sun. Finish it up with using adjustments layers properly. I have used Photoshop version CC 2014 to create this work but you cam use any version from CS onwards will be fine as well.
Opening Photoshop and get started! Create a new document at 1800 pixels wide and 3300 pixels height, resolution 300 Pixels/Inch.
Now, we’re going to create the base of our artwork. I started with the first central temple. It was from its position I can move on and build a correctly perspective. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and add in working document image “byodo_in_temple_in_oahu_by_cynnalia_stock-d7bz2oh”.
In the case of vertical image, I did not change the original size of the photo. I positioned it so that the photo started with 2536 pixels height up. Try to place the picture precisely, so as not to background stood out (to make it easier to hide the background layer by clicking the eye icon next to the layer).
I immediately removed the fog and pyramidal trees, that it does not interfere. For this I used Pen Tool (P). I need a clear and straight edges of the temple. If you use other tools as Quick Selection Tool (W) you will get rough edge and some unnecessary items can stay. For matte painting every detail is important and forms the basis for a good picture. Leave trees on the left and right sides of the image. When you selected trees do not need to exactly follow the contour, leave some free space above them as well as at the edges of roofs. From created path make a selection (right – click on image or button on upper Options panel).
Make Feather: 0px, set checkbox on “New Selection” and click OK. Improve the selection and remove the extra. First inverse Selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I or Select > Inverse) and go to Refine Edge (Opt/Alt+ Cmd/Ctrl + R or Select Refine Edge). In Refine Edge set checkbox on “Smart Radius” and set Radius: 0.3px. Use brush in this window and several times draw it along the edges of the trees, where stayed background. After all click OK.
It remains to remove background. Add a layer mask by clicking on the Add Layer Mask button in the layers panel or by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.
We go further. The next step, I began work on the first plan. I added in working document (File > Place (Place Embedded)) a small lotuses (Stepping stones) image “Stepping_Stones_by_Ekuboryu”. Resize it so lotuses be smaller (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) and place them between temple coast and the left edge of the image.
Add a Layer mask to both layers and use Brush Tool (B) (Brush form “Oil Pastel Large”, Size: 63, Opacity: 100%) to remove from water part of the plant. Make sure that would have removed part of the image where the plants darkened from tree. Do not make a smooth edge of plants, otherwise you will lose the realism. Play a bit with the form that the plants were dynamic but without sharp conversion.
Duplicate two times this layer (to do this, use Cmd/Ctrl + J or go to Layer > Duplicate Layer), because we will need to cover remaining empty space and increase the river and make the transition between the large lotuses, which we then added. Increase second and third layers so that plants have been a little bigger than previous (just a bit), place them in a stepwise manner, but try to observe the type of plant (texture must matched). The third layer I Flip Horizontal (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) to not use a dark area. So I can use the more useful parts of the image and ensure harmony.
With a Soft Round brush (Size 70px, Opacity: 100-70%), on a layer masks I lined texture of plants to make the transition between layers. You can not leave it in this form :). Be careful with a big stone on a second layer, it must been not visible. With the same stones, remove unwanted stones, only very gently without damaging texture. For the third layer with water plants use a brush from Step 7 to make the uneven edge for plants.
I added in working document (File > Place (Place Embedded)) a large lotuses “262_boat_by_Chinese_stock”. Quite a bit to increase the size of lotuses (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform). Select lotuses, used Quick Selection Tool (W) and add layer mask to this layer.
Duplicate once this layer (to do this, use Cmd/Ctrl + J or go to Layer > Duplicate Layer). A little reduce size and move this layer under previous lotuses layer. Arrange them so that the images overlap. I recommends that you first select the desired fragment and not use reflection to this layer (Flip Horizontal). Otherwise, the picture loses its harmony and becomes not lose integrity. To make the leaves a little different and get rid of the light background in some places, I removed some parts of the layer mask with a small soft brush.
Lotus is perhaps the most famous and sacred plant. But the vast majority of these beliefs combines basic concept denoted Lotus: purity by light. Lotus rhizome immersed in the mud, but the flowers and leaves its pure and untainted. Flowers raised high above the water, over land. Is not it beautiful and instructive!
I thought it necessary to add a few bloomed lotus flowers to diversify and give affection. Place (File > Place (Place Embedded)) image “loto_flower_png_by_darksideofgraphic-d6ck3z4” in working document. Reduce the flowers that they were about the size as on original photos and arrange them different parts of the image. I advise you to place some layers before the layers with lotuses and behind them. Also, do not replace all the buds on the flowers, otherwise you will lose the harmony. Try to arrange the flowers in the foreground on sticks buds. Total I used 4 flower. To Merge flower layers use Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer > Merge Layers…
To put the point in the work on the first plan, add the finishing touches – koi fish. Koi – it is one of the gems of east. With them is associated with many legends and this fish is highly respected, it has long been revered as a symbol. I added them much later when doing this artwork, but you better do it now. Open image “Koi_1_by_Alegion_stock” (go to File > Open or use Cmd/Ctrl+ O). As you can see, background is not enough black to select the fishes, so press Cmd/Ctrl + L or go to Image > Adjustments> Levels… Set for Blacks: 21, for Whites: 225 and click OK. I increased the maximum black to get rid of noise and color spots on the background and reduced a little of maximum brightness to make a little contrasted fishes.
Go to Channels tab, hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on RGB thumbnail to select fishes from background. Use Move Tool (V) or hold Cmd/Ctrl to switch into it and drag a fishes in your working document. This is a very easy way to quickly select the colorful image from the black background. Depending on the different channels, the colors are paler or saturation. In this case, the fish will be slightly transparent, making them realistic in water.
Reduce the size of the fishes to a little less than the distance between the water plants and shore (Ctrl/Cmd+T). To transform the image proportionally hold Shift. Duplicate fishes 4 times (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and change the size of a slightly larger and smaller fishes, flip layers horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) to make visible the diversity of fishes, arrange some little under water plants. All you want. This is a creative process and you can make your own version. After all the transformations I merge the layers with the fishes in one (Cmd/Ctrl + E). Place the layer with the fishes above layer with the temple to randomly fish have not started to go down the water lilies.
Here is my result. I combined all layers with the first plan and the main temple in one group “Temple and lotuses”. That’s it! In this work on the first plan until finished and you can move on. Be sure that your image does not leave white stripes on the edges of document (this means that the image does not reach the edge of the document). If there is one, use the arrow keys and move the desired layer and if necessary, increase the image. Check it always and use Zoom Tool (Z).
Now I start adding towers. I decided to add more buildings to make the transition between the temple and the mountains to landscape change smoothly. Into working document, add image “temple_in_the_trees_by_firenze_design-d4uaozg” (Miyajima Temple) and resize it that trees to become the same size. Place the tower from the right edge of the document to the roof of the main temple. Place this layer under a group “temple and lotuses”. Do not worry that the remaining blank space under the tower. I will add that there is a tower, only smaller.
First, let’s remove the blessings of civilization in the form of cable throughout the tower. For do this, make right click on tower layer and select “Rasterize Layer”. Take a Clone Stamp Tool (S) (Size: 6px, Hardness: 0, Opacity: 100%) and very very carefully, paint over cable. The source of the cloning choose adjacent region to avoid differences in color. If you are careful and attentive, then you get everything perfect.
Use Pen Tool (P) to circle the tower and trees. Make selection from path (right click on image > Make selection) and go to Refine Edge (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + R). In Refine Edge Set checkbox on “Smart Radius”, Radius: 0.5px, Shift Edge: -10% (this option will help squeeze a little contour that will prevent possible unnecessary details). Use a brush in this window to clean the contour of trees. After all, add a layer mask to remove background. Small crossbar on both sides of the tower, I cleaned manually use small hard brush on a layer mask.
Duplicate this tower two times (Cmd/Ctrl + J), resize each tower that all three towers are various sizes and place them side by side in harmony, closing the empty spaces and making landscape soft. Keep in mind that the last tower of the smallest and closes the absence of background and to resize proportionally (Ctrl/Cmd+T), hold Shift. It is very important to keep proportion and try to find for each tower right place.
Now add the last temple ( File > Place (Place Embedded), image “japan_vacation_XXV_by_mimose_stock”). After all the left edge of the image noticeably closer to the viewer, and if adding small tower can turn violation of the composition. Like all the previous times I recommend that you select the temple, using Pen Tool (P), make selection and add a layer mask. I decided to add a little larger building to balance perspective. Remove all the sky and mountains. In this case, the background is have not useful elements.
The building is too dark for our purposes, so I added an adjustment layer “Hue/Saturation”. Go to Layer > New Adjustment layer > Hue/Saturation… or click on icon on a Layer panel). Set Saturation: +46, Lightness: +4. Be sure to clip adjustment layer to lower layer. So much better! Now go to a little tedious part, but a very short.
Now we need trees to close the space above the temple. Without it we can not move on vertical perspective, and move into horizontal. Exactly trees will make transition function in my landscape. I did not become a long and tedious search for a specific resource, and returned to the layer with the main temple. Used Lasso Tool (L) and select a small portion of the trees with regard to their form. Duplicate this fragment (Cmd/Ctrl + J), hold Opt/Alt and move a layer mask of temple to fragment layer (just do not move the fragment layer).
Do the same for the yellow trees, but only with the layer on which you have the biggest “Miyajima Temple”. When the pieces are ready, move both front layer and fill the space above the temple, duplicating and changing the size (the quickest and easiest way to duplicate its hold Opt/Alt when you use Move Tool (V)). Try to diversify their types using different parts of the fragments. It’s okay if the edge is not very smooth or are poorly cleared the trees, then we will eliminate all.
I adjust color and Saturation on created trees with two adjustment layers “Hue/Saturation” (Layer > New Adjustment layer > Hue/Saturation… or use icon on a Layer panel). For first layer: Hue: -17, Lightness: +2, clip to previous layer. For second layer: Hue: +40, Saturation: -19, Lightness: -15, clip to previous layer.
This is my result. All layers with towers and trees combined in one group “Towers”. If you want to make trees more varied use the more fragments. I had enough of these two. Do not make the trees too large because the background is already at a greater distance than the tower and temple.
Let’s actually start to build mountain scene. This is an interesting part in which we start work to effects. But at first make landscape. Place mountains “huangshan_1_3_by_meihua_stock” (Huangshan) in our document (File > Place (Place Embedded)). Not needed resize this layer, just place mountains that spire of biggest of small three towers protrudes slightly from the forest, ate are connected with trees and there was no place to exude background. Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J).
And now use Quick Selection Tool (W) select the sky, inverse selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I) and adjust mountains contour in Refine Edge (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + R). Set Radius: 3.0px and, of course, “Smart Radius”. Use brush in this dialogue box to remove remaining sky in trees. And as always, add a layer mask :). And let me remind you that we are moving down through layers, so it will be lower layers.
As you can see in this image (I mean the mountain) is dominated by blue tint, and distant mountains in general as much shine, so I corrected it with adjustment layer “Curves” (Layer > New Adjustment layer > Curves…). As blue on a mountains a lot, so we need blue channel; on it make one point with Input: 163 and Output: 135. In the process I turn down the brightness a bit. On RGB channel make one point with: Input: 145 and Output: 106. Don’t forget clip this adjustment layer.
Next, take a Brush Tool (B) (Size: 250px, Hardness: 0, Opacity: 50%,) set foreground color #111315, create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or use icon on Layer panel) and paint over too light mountains (they only). Make this layer as Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G) and set Opacity: 25%. So much better. In this way we compensate a little bit of flare mountains and returned to their texture.
Now even small but important task. Hide all layers except duplicated mountain layer (eye icon next to the layer) and on layer mask, remove all except a small portion of the forest as in the image below. In Refine Edge set Radius: 1.7px (checkbox on Smart Radius), draw on the edges of forests. Place this layer above the layers with the mountain.
It is time to add the last mountain in our work. Repeat Step 23 for image “patagonian_landscape_07_by_fuguestock-d76299x” the only difference that you need Flip Horizontal (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) this image and place it so that only hide valley of the previous mountains (this layer below them) and leave most of the mountains visible.
Again the same problem with the blue, but this time we will reduce the color quite a bit. Add adjustment layer “Curves” (Layer > New Adjustment layer > Curves…) wit there settings: Red – Input: 121, Output: 129; Green – Input: 158, Output: 154; Blue – Input: 114, Output: 102.
Add the sky in working document “Sky_17_by_sacral_stock” and position it so that the bottom edge completely disappeared behind the mountains. Make a copy of this layer (Duplicate layer Cmd/Ctrl + J) and place it before mountains layer and move it a little higher ( to approximately half the height of mountains and taking into account the color of the sky to make the transition of colors). Add a layer mask to duplicated layer and remove some sky to make visibility foggy mountains. Use Brush tool (B) (Size: 60-150px, Hardness: 0%, Opacity: 20-65%) to create a soft overlay of clouds (it strongly affects to realism).
When you align the sky, you can add a little fog in the bottom of the mountain to separate plans, create depth and perspective. Load Brushes “effects_brushes_by_vincdesign-d4mwjs4” in Photoshop create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) above the layer with the highest mountain and make it as Clipping Mask. Use brush “CLOD #2” (Size: 300px, Opacity: 60%) from this pack and set foreground color # 000000 Black (press D on keyboard) and draw on left side of the mountains to make shadow from clouds. Set Opacity: 22% for this layer.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) make it as Clipping Mask in this time use foreground color: White (press D, then X on keyboard) and draw between the two main mountains to create depth. Set Opacity: 29% for this layer.
Now add two new layers beneath Huangshan Mount. On the first layer draw fog with the bottom of the mountains and a little higher (Brush Tool (B), Size: 200px, Opacity: 100%; brush does not change – “CLOD #2”, color – White). Set Opacity: 25% for this layer. For the second layer, repeat the same, but use layer Opacity: 33% and paint fog slightly lower.
Create a new group under group “Towers” and add on it image of waterfall “Waterfall___Full”. Select waterfall, used Quick Selection Tool (W) and on Refine Edge remove all unnecessary with brush, set Radius 1.0px. Add a layer mask.
Use Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to resize, stretch different sides more or less, flip the waterfall horizontally. Duplicate waterfalls ((Cmd/Ctrl + J ) make it easier, use Opt/Alt + Move Tool (V)) and modify them to make them a lot. Try siting them harmoniously. Most importantly, the top of the waterfall approached form the rock (aka waterfall will look dangling in the air). Add a layer mask to the group and with soft brush (Size: 100px, Opacity: 30%), make the distant mountains and ends of waterfall a bit transparent.
Here is my result. I hope you will not have difficulty. All layers with mountains, sky and waterfall combined in one group “Sky and mountains”. The basis of the work ready and now I moved on to adding effects. It’s not difficult but you need a lot of new layers :). To achieve a realistic and beautiful colors need to work on each part of the image separately. Each effect, I superimposed on a separate layer, so that I was able to control the color, shape, opacity and location.
Now that everything is in their groups, then you can start adding clouds and fog. It will be a little tedious, because you need to create a new layer after every one or two strokes and then, when you’re happy with the result, merge layers. Before, we were moving down per layers, but now we go up. I let go of the details of creating a new layer but remember about this. Let’s start with the most simple. Create a new layer over the group “sky and mountains” and draw shadow from clouds on forest (Soft Round Brush, Size: 300px, Hardness:0% Opacity: 100%, color Black). Set Layer Opacity: 52%.
With Big soft round brush (Size: 1000px, Opacity: 100%, color: White) crossing mountains and sky to create the illusion of distance. Layer Opacity: 12%.
Here proceed to a little daunting task. We need to draw a volumetric fog between the Huangshan mountains and temple. Layer before group “Temple” (Brush form: “CLOD #2” and “stratus”, Size: 300px, Opacity: 15-30%, color: White). As I wrote earlier, create a new layer after every one or two strokes, after completion merge clouds layers (Cmd/Ctrl + E).
Now over the group “Temple and lotuses” add more fog on the trees and the temple. Brush settings remain the same, but I do not use a brush “stratus”.
And now make a small detail – flying birds. Use brush “Sampled Brush 1” (Size: 150px, Opacity: 100%). Several times I use this brush to make a flock of birds more. In my opinion, the birds will look good near the peak of the mountain. So the landscape becomes more dynamic.
With clouds and fog we understand now and I worked more detailed shadows and create a foundation for the future of lighting. Create a new layer by using Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or go to Layer > New > Layer. In the dialog box, specify the following settings for the layer: Mode: Overlay, set checkbox on “Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)”.
Use the Burn Tool (O) for create shadow and Dodge Tool (O) to create a light and shadow. Set the settings to each tool like shown in the image below. On this layer draw light and shadow, in accordance with the weather conditions, view a specific location (such as yellow trees. They look too bright). Especially pay attention to the lotus flowers. To facilitate your task, use the gray image and retry the shadows and light (you will not have an image in gray) in my example. Use different size brush to darken the big places.
Here is my result. I made the picture more contrast in the sky temple roof and yellow trees. Lighten very dark areas in the mountains and places for future light.
Now introduce some dark tones to the mountains to make them more realistic, and the contrast. Use Soft Round Brush with Size: 300px, Hardness:0% Opacity: 100%, color #253647. Draw a spot on a a mountain in the middle of the image, the woods on the left and right, on the yellow trees. Layer Opacity: 20%. For Second layer use same brush but change Size: 850px and color #253547. Draw a spot between Huangshan and Patagonian mountains. Layer Opacity: 35%.
So work with the mountains over. Now a bit of light and mist I added on lotuses (Size: 300px, Opacity: 50%, color: # f5e4c3). Draw spots on the middle left edge and at the seam of textures. Layer Opacity: 15%.
Create the sun and light effects from it. Create a new layer, set background color to black (press D, then X on keyboard) and fill layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Del). Convert this layer for Smart filters (Filter > Convert for Smart Filters) Add a filter “Lens Flare…” (Filter > Render > Lens Flare…). Set Lens type: “105mm Prime” and Brightness: 50%. Try to position flare on the edge of the mountain on the right side. Not much close to the edge of the document and not much higher than the mountains. That is why comfortable convert layer for Smart filters, double-click on the filter and you can change all settings :).
Duplicate flare layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and change Lens Type to “50-300mm Zoom” and Brightness: 40%. Do not change the position of the flare, not to get the wrong form of the sun.
I painted some orange tones on the flares to give some vividness. Create two new layers. One front flare layers with light color # f2ecc6 (layer Opacity: 27%) with dark color # f2d9b1 (layer Opacity: 15%) behind the flares (Soft Round Brush, Size: 500px, Opacity: 100%). Try make that brush center and flare match, then the form will be better.
Create a new layer. Take Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and draw a shape similar to a wrong crystal or just a way of movement of the sun rays (Sun – roof of left tower – right towers – sun). Fill this figure with color #ffedba, deselect it (Cmd/Ctrl + D). Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Set Radius: 200px. Done! Set Opacity for this layer 40%.
We make the rays of the sun by using Photoshop filters. Fill black color a new layer. Go to Filter > Render > Fibers. In dialog box set Variance: 20, Strength: 20 and click OK.
Rotate this layer on 39 degrees (Cmd/Ctrl + T or Edit > Transform > Rotate). Set Blending Mode “Screen” and Opacity: 15%. Add a layer mask and with soft brush remove all except the space in the center of the image, where we did the incident light. A little more to add to the mountains and the sky (just do not overdo it).
All layers of the sun safely hidden in the yellow group with same name :). It remains to improve the clarity of small details and do a little color correction.
Please make the correction of noise and sharpness. You have two options for how to do it. You can merge all the layers now (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + E) (without the possibility of returning to the layers. In this case you will have to make a duplicate of this layer) into one or duplicate them (Cmd/Ctrl + J), and then will merge it (Cmd/Ctrl + E). In any case (I chose the second option) convert layer for Smart Filters and add Filter “Reduce noise”.
And add a second filter – “Sharpen” (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen…). Nothing happens, but in Layer panel, on this layer appears “Sharpen”. Make double-click on settings icon on the right-side; in window, that appears, set Opacity: 55%.
As I promised to begin the correction. This is not the hardest part, but very useful and last. Now I will only add adjustment layers and the first to be a “Brightness/Contrast” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast… or click on icon on a Layer panel). Set Brightness: -10, Contrast: +25. Set Opacity for this layer 22%.
Next adjustment layer is “Curves” (Layer > New Adjustment layer > Curves…). I increased the light and dark tones on the RGB, Red and Blue channels. Use the image below to accurately construct a curves. Opacity for this layer 43%.
Next adjustment layer is “Selective Color”. This layer will help me to change each color separately. Here and try to change the tone of almost all colors. It helped me to achieve a balance of color, and places such as yellow trees successfully fit into the picture. List a little big, so I ask you to take attention to pictures below.
That’s is the last Step and final adjustment layer “Color Balance”. Make settings as in image below. On this layer I balanced red and magenta tones on shadow, add these tones to highlights, to the midtones, I added a bit of blue and green. Opacity for this layer 82%.
Done! I am satisfied with my result. I hope that you are satisfied your result too and have a good time. You can achieve great results by combining photos and painting. I hope you enjoyed it! Take a look at the final image.
Download the PSD
Tutorial by Maria Semelevich
Thank you very much for taking the time to study this tutorial! I hope you benefited it! I wish all lucked in your future achievements! I thank the authors of resources for their excellent work and good quality! Thank you very much! If you have questions or need help, please contact me. I look forward to your feedback and creative works! You can contact me by e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook Deviantart Behance. I am open to suggestions and cooperation! With best wishes!
– Maria Semelevich.