This tutorial will teach in fast and easy steps how to combine various elements and textures to design a dramatic and epic photo montage. Learn the basics on how to use the gradient tool and blending options to work the lighting and overall tones. Plus how to use light flares, smoke and water splash brushes. With simple steps learn how to obtain mind blowing effects.
Final result preview
- Main Character by Marcus Ranum (Model miss-mosh)
- Pre Made Background by Dezzan-stock
- Light Flair by SaphireDesign
- Fire Sparks by Ayelie-stock
- Snow Texture by wchild
- Smoke by dennytang
- Rope by slavetofashion69
- Water Splash Brush by FrozenStarRo
- Water Splash 2 by mikmik
Start off by opening the background image and the main model we will be using. (File > Open or Ctrl + O)
With the pen tool or other tool you prefer, remove the background of the main model image. Copy the clean model image and place her over the background image layer.(Ctrl + A, Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V) Name the model layer as ‘Model’.
For this tutorial we will be using the actual size of our original background image. (3888 x 4009 px)
Place the ‘Model’ and re dimension her to fit the background properly. (Ctrl + T) After we have placed the model in the proper place, click twice on the model layer to change the Layer Style.
Set the ‘Model’ Layer Style as in the image Bellow. This will add a slight tone to match the overall background colors.
On the model layer, click the add layer mask option and remove some of the bottom part of the boot. This will give a slight effect that the boot is partially underwater.
Now create a new layer above the model layer and name it ‘model shadow’ and set the blending mode to Soft Light.
With a large soft brush set at about 30% opacity and black color. Pass the brush starting at the model’s feet towards the bottom of the image. Go adding this shadow to simulate the soft shadow cast from the main model.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer in between the background and model layers. Name this layer ‘Fog’. Select a large soft white brush at 100% opacity. Make a large line across the background where the sky meets the water line.
Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius Blur to 125 pixels than press OK. This will blur our in a uniformed way the white line we added previously. You will notice the white line now had a fog aspect.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer in between the Model and Model Shadow layers. Name this layer ‘Water Splash’.
Select the water splash brush (662) at a large enough pixel size to cover each foot. Set the brush color to #c1e8ff at 100% opacity. Add the brush on each foot as in the image example.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer in between the Fog and Model layers. Name this layer ‘Rope’.
Select the rope .png image and duplicate it many times to make it long and thin. Place this long rope behind the Model figure. Select the Puppet warp tool (Edit > Puppet Warp) and shape the rope a little so it doesn’t look stiff and straight.
Now click twice on the rope layer to open the Layer Style.
Set the layer styles as in the image example. For the Inner Shadow you will use the #000000 color and for the Inner Glow select the transparent gradient and set the color at #6093b2. This will add a 3D volume to the rope and also follow the overall image tones.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above all layers. Name this layer ‘shoot flair’.
Open the light flair image and cut out the 3rd from top to bottom.
Place this light flair on the ‘shoot flair’ layer we have just created.
Re size the light flair to a larger scale. (Ctrl + T – free transform).
Set the blending mode of this layer to Screen.
Following the same methods as in step 8 we will be adding more light flairs to the image.
You can name these as ‘Shot Flair 1’ (2, 3,…)
After you have added all the desired light flairs, you can group them all together (select all and press Ctrl + G) to avoid getting the layer pallet to busy and hard to mess around with.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above all layers. Name this layer ‘Smoke’.
Select White 100% opacity smoke brush and apply it to the point of the gun.
Set the blending mode to ‘Overlay’
If you don’t think the splashes on the women’s foot looks believable, you can add other effects to make the splash larger and more natural as if she had just jumped off a helicopter or something similar.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above Water Splash layer. Name this new layer ‘Water Splash 2’.
Open the image of the lollypop being shattered and cut out only the shattered bits.
Place this image in the layer we have just created and change the blending mode to Screen.
Erase parts of the lollypop that shouldn’t be in the image.
Do this with both feet.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above Smoke Layer. Name this new layer ‘Fire.
Set the Blending mode of this layer to Screen.
Select the fire sparks image and apply it as in the position of the example image.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above ‘Fire’. Name this new layer ‘Snow’.
Place the snow texture on the show layer and using the transform tool, stretch it out to fill the entire image. (Ctrl + T)
Now change the blending mode of this layer to Screen. This will eliminate the black and only leave the white dots.
Now with the Snow layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.
Set the Angle to 55 and Distance of 80 pixels.
We now have a snow that actually looks like it’s falling with motion and everything.
Note: you can reduce the layer opacity to about 50% if you think the snow is too strong.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + Alt + N) Place this layer above ‘Snow’. Name this new layer ‘Blue Radial’.
Select the Gradient Tool (G), pick the Radial Option. Select the Transparent Gradient tool. The color we will be using is #006b6f.
Add this radial gradient to the overall image. (Center Transparent, borders #006b6f) Now change the blending mode to Multiply and lower the opacity to 50%.
Go to the Adjustments Panel and select the Gradient Map. Set the gradient colors to #003d43 and #ff7c00. Now change the blending mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 50%.
We are already on the final touches of the image.
To add a surreal and dramatic touch to the image, Select all the layers worked on until now, duplicate all layers, merge all the selected (only the ones we duplicated) layers.
You will now have the entire image on one single layer.
Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the blur to 1,6 pixels than press ok. Change this layers blending mode to Lighten. Make sure this layer is above all the layers we have worked on until now. You can name this layer ‘Soft Blur’.
You can notice now that the white areas in the image are glowing. This also avoids overly sharp borders.