How to Create a Fantasy Fish Scene above the Sky using Adobe Photoshop

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.

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the following settings:


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:


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%:


Step 4

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


Step 5

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


Step 6

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


Step 7

Apply Gaussian Blur with 7 px to this sky layer:


Step 8

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


Step 9

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


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:


Step 10

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


Step 11

I used Curves to darken the foreground edges a little:


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


Step 12

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


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:


Step 13

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


Step 14

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


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


Step 15

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


Step 16

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


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 shown below:

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