Creating a surreal palace city in photoshop


In this tutorial, you will learn to create a “surreal  scene at night”, where you can see buildings on mountians, balloon ships. From this, you will learn lighting, day scene into night and compositing techniques.

Following are the images used for this tutorial.

break in the sun by pdomara, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic  License  by  pdomara 
Polperro 07-03-2005 by Karen Roe, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Karen Roe 
Road up by scjody, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  scjody 
cliffs by twicepix, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  twicepix 
Warkworth Castle by Draco2008, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic  License  by  Draco2008 
Neuschwanstein Castle by kanu101, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  kanu101 
Cliff 2 by Scarto, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Scarto 
Cliff of Insanity by gpoo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic  License  by  gpoo 
Acantilado by gpoo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  gpoo 
Palace of Westminster by Ryan Lea, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Ryan Lea 
Rivington Pike, Winter Hill and Penningt by  Pimlico Badger, on Flickr

Creating Landscape


Ok, lets start with a rough sketch of the scene.


Here, I’m using the following image for a mountains as follows

Using polygonal lasso tool, I’m going to select the part of the image

Copy and past it into your main project file. Now, using “clone stamp tool”  extend or modify the copied part.


Similarly,  I’m going to add the lower part of the mountain with following image

Lets position them in the following way (Note: Repeat the above mentioned process of copy and paste  where ever I tell you to add parts of any image)


Lets add a following plane ground on right side


Here you can see in the following image,  the edges of the plane ground are not perfect.

I’m going to use the following image to fix the edges.

In the above scene, I managed the edge part to tune with the plane.

I mean, I just rotated that edge piece a little bit and color managed it with color balance.


Lets place a rocky mountain on the right side of the scene

I’m going to add some green grass to the rocky mountain.

For that, copy the following selection and place it over the rocky mountain


Now, select erase tool, with brush like this

Keep the opacity and flow 100% , now erase the green part of the image randomly to get result like this…..


Similarly, I’m going to add rest of the element as follows.

Creating Balloon ships


For this, I’m going to use the following images

I, turned them into the following way

(I hope, you can modify them into balloon ships.)

The following result is the required scene, but you may be wondering that all the elements in the scene are in position but reality is missing right? Don’t worry about that, as we are about to make a night scene, we can over come day lighting and  shadows defect with dark night and lights.

Now, we have all the elements for our scene.  The rest is to turn it into night and add lights to the buildings.

Creating Night


For this, I simply added a blue colored layer in the top most. Lets say it as “night color” layer.

Set the blending mode of the “night color” layer to “Multiply

Now, you get the night scene like this….

Note: If you want to increase lighting, simply increase the brightness (curves:: Ctrl+M) of the color.

Creating Lights

This is the important and interesting part of this project, which changes the scene so effectively. Before going into the details, let me explain it in out line. The only thing we are going to do is earsing the “night color”  layer in such a way that gives lighting impression.


First I’m going to light up the following scene.

Select a part of the wall with lasso tool like this (Important: keep “night color” layer in selection)

Select the erase tool with the following brush tool

Set the opacity and flow to 25%

And erase the scene with semi brush (we want semi circle removal).

Now increase the brush size and erase with semi brush lightly

Similarly left side


Lets add white lights, for this create aglow like this….

Cut it into half

Now place this glow, like this…

Similarly, erase rest of the building parts and add glows.

You get a scene like this…

Now, lets add lighting to the window of the buildings.

For this, simply draw a rectangle with white color like this…

Resize this rectangle and place them wherever the windows are there. Randomly differ the opacity of the window lights, so that the lighting can look real.

Finally add some fog  and you get the final image like this…..

Similar tutorial: Creating an arc mountains in photoshp

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Category: matte, Photoshop

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