Create a Fantasy Fish Scene above the Sky

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a fantasy fish scene using a variety of photo manipulation techniques. You’ll learn how to combine different stock images into a cohesive scene using blending, adjusting colors, masking and brush. You’ll learn also how to focus on the details, work with lighting, manage your layers and more.

What you’ll be creating

We’ll start this tutorial by setting up a sky scene from three stock images. Then we’ll add the boat, tree, model ,fishes and blend them using adjustment layers, masking and brush. Later we’ll adjust the color, light, contrast and finish it up with an adjustment layer. You should use Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial properly.

fish44-final

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the following settings:

fish34-final[1]

Step 2

Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N to make a new layer. Active the Gradient Tool (G), choose Radial Gradient with the color #5a513d and #d1cba2. Drag a line from the top center to the bottom:

fish2

Step 3

Open the sky 1 image. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag it into our canvas and change the mode to Soft Light 100%:

fish3

Step 4

To make this sky look smoother, go to Filter > Blur > Gassian Blur and set the radius to 2 px:

fish3

Step 5

I used an adjustment layer with Clipping Mask to change the color of the sky. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves:

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fish3a

Step 6

Place the sky 2 image over the sky 1 and change the mode to Hard Light 100%:

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Step 7

Apply Gassian Blur with 7 px to this sky layer:

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Step 8

I used a Color Balance adjustment layer (Clipping Mask) to change the color of the sky 2:

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Step 9

Drag the clouds image into our working document and use the Cmd/Ctrl+T key to rotate it as shown below:

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Click the second button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a basic, soft brush with black color to remove the hard edges of this clouds image:

fish9a

Step 10

I used Color Balance to add some warm color to these clouds:

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Step 11

I used Curves to darken the foreground edges a little:

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On this layer mask use a soft black brush to erase the part near the horizon (I aim to add light there).

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Step 12

Open the images pack contained the boat. Isolate it from the white background and position it at the middle of the clouds:

fish12

Add a mask to this layer and use a black brush with the hardness about 30% to blend the bottom of the boat with the clouds, and increase the hardness of the brush to 100% to clear a part of the top left:

fish12a

Step 13

To give the boat more light, I used a Layer Style effect. Double click the boat layer, choose Inner Shadow:

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Step 14

I used Curves to darken some parts of the boat where are hidden from the light:

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On this layer mask use a soft black brush to erase the dark effect on the higher part where is iluminated by the light:

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Step 15

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the boat saturation:

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Step 16

I used Color Balance to match the boat color with the scene:

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Step 17

Open the tree image. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to choose the trunk and drag it onto the top left of the boat. Use the Warp Tool (Edit > Transform > Warp) to bend the trunk as show below:

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Use a layer mask to blend this trunk with the boat:

fish17a

Step 18

Take the leaves part and put it above the trunk and tweak it a little with the Warp Tool to fit the angle of the trunk:

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Add a mask to this layer. Use a black brush to remove the unwanted part at the bottom of the leaves:

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Step 19

Make the trunk and leaves layers selected and press Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group for them. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. On the top of the layers within this group, use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to alter the color of the tree:

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Step 20

I used Color Balance to add some yellow to the tree:

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Step 21

Make another Hue/Saturation adjustment to reducing the tree saturation:

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Step 22

I used Curves to brighten the tree:

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On this Curves layer mask use a soft black brush to decrease the light on some parts of the tree to make its contrast suitable for the light in the background:

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Step 23

Make a new layer on the top of the group. Use a hard brush with the color #987b47, 4-5 px to paint on the trunk and branches to reduce the contrast of them and make them look more blended with the boat:

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Step 24

Extract the child from the background and place her in the center of the boat, flip her horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) to fit the light direction:

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Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to erase the bottom of the dress and make her look like sitting inside the boat:

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Step 25

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the child saturation:

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Step 26

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to add some color to the child:

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Step 27

I used Curves to brighten this little girl:

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Step 28

Open the fishes image (feel free to use your own) and isolate them from the white background. Take the fishes you like and arrange them around the boat and girl.

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Add a layer mask to the fishes on the clouds. Use a soft black brush to make the fishes look like swimming in these clouds:

fish28a

Step 29

I used Curves to darken two fishes at the left edge:

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Step 30

Make a group for the fish layers and their related ones (Cuves) as done with the tree. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment for the fishes:

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Step 31

Add some color to them with Color Balance:

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Step 32

Brighten the fishes with a Curves adjustment layer:

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On this layer mask apply brushing to decrease the light on some of the fishes:

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Step 33

Right click the fishes group, choose Duplicate Group. Right click the duplicated group, choose Merge Group. Now we have the selection of the fishes on a separate layer. Turn it off.

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Step 34

Make a new layer on the top. Hold Cmd/Ctrl while clicking the fishes copy thumbnail layer to load its selection:

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Use a soft brush with the color #ebe7da to paint on some parts of them to create more light there. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%:

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Step 35

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on the top of all layers:

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Lower the opacity of this layer to 20% and apply brushing on its mask:

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Step 36

Use Color Balance to add some warm color to the scene:

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Lower this effect by brushing on the layer mask as shown below:

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Step 37

Add two Photo Filter adjustment layers to the top of all layers:

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Step 38

To change the light focus, make a new layer, use the Gradient Tool with Radial option and default colors (black and white).

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Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100% and use a layer mask to reduce the dark effect on the top left of the pic:

fish38a

Step 39

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #825111 to paint on the right edge . Alter this layer mode to Color 10% to add more warm color to this area:

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Step 40

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment on the top and change the Yellows settings:

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Here is the result after erasing the top left and the middle right of the pic with a soft black brush:

fish30a

Step 41

I used Color Balance to give the scene some sublte cool color:

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On this layer mask use a soft black brush with the opacity about 20-25% to erase the most of the clouds part:

fish31a

Step 42

Use Photo Filter to add more warm color to the scene:

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Erase the right edge on its layer mask:

fish32a

Step 43

I used Vibrance to boost the final color:

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Reduce the saturation some parts below:

fish33a

Step 44

Final step (optional): Press Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E to merge all visible layers. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask:

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On the Filter Mask use a soft black brush to erase the details you find sharper than you expected:

fish34a

Download the PSD

Final Results

fish44-final

Tutorial by Jenny Le

Thank you for reading this tutorial, I hope that you enjoyed it. If you want to view my other arts and tutorials you can follow me on Facebook or look at my Deviantart page .

– Jenny

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