Create a Sci-Fi night landscape in Photoshop


In this lesson I will show you how to create a dark, sci-fi landscape photo manipulation in Adobe Photoshop.
First we will create a base scene using two images. After that we will add stars and planets. Then, we'll add the misty mountains and rock in the middle of the composition. We will use several adjustment layers to change the color and contrast of the entire scene. And finally, we will create the lighting effect.
If you are looking for resources to work with photos, including brushes, textures, 3D models and photos, you can find them on the Envato Elements and Envato Market elements  (paid).
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Note: There are no images in the lesson source. In the archive you will find an alternative version of the materials for the lesson.

1. How to create a basic landscape

Step 1Create a new document 1920 x 1080 px and fill it with white:

Step 2Open landscape image and use the tool Magic Wand (Magic Wand Tool) (W) , to delete the sky and leave the layer only landscape. Move it to our document. Using the tool movement (Move Tool) (V), position this image on the bottom of the canvas. Convert this layer to the Smart Object .
Translator's note: Select the Magic wand tool with the tool and, after going to Edit , select the Clear command to delete the sky. To convert a selected layer to a smart object, select Layer (Layers) - Smart Objects (Smart Objects) - Convert to Smart Object (Smart Object)

Step 3There are some undesirable details on the surface of the earth. To fix this, create a new layer and apply it as a Clipping Mask (Clipping Mask): right click it and select Create Clipping Mask (Create Clipping Mask). Use the tool Stamp (Clone Stamp) (S), to remove these parts.
Translator's note: While working on the Clipping mask layer with the Stamp tool, select the option " Current and Below" in the top toolbar , this will allow the tool to take a sample from the layer with the landscape.

Step 4Create an adjustment layer: Go to Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Color Balance (Color Balance) and change the settings of the mid-tones (Midtones):

Step 5Create another adjustment layer: Layers (Layers) - New adjustment layer (New adjustment layer) - Hue / Saturation (Hue / saturation) and bring the value of the Chroma (Saturation) to -82:

Step 6Add another Correction layer Curves: Layers - New Adjust layer - Curves with the settings, as in the image below. On the mask of the layer with a soft round brush of black color, with reduced opacity (about 10-15%), paint some areas of the earth:



Step 7Create a new layer above all the layers: main menu - layers (Layer) - new (New) -  Layer (Layer), change the layer mode to Overlay (Overlay), 100% opacity and fill with 50% gray:

Translator's note: do not forget to check "Use previous layer to create clipping mask" and "Fill neutral with color of" Overlap "mode (gray 50%).
Activate the the Burn Tool will (Zatemnenitel) (O) with the settings: Range (Range) - Mid tone (Midtones), Exposure (Exposure) - about 25% to darken the left edge of landscape. You can see how I did it in Normal mode, and the result in the mode Overlay (Overlay).

Step 8Open the sky image. Use Tool rectangular marquee (Rectangular Marquee) (M), to highlight the sky and put it in the top half of the main canvas. Set this layer below the layers of the landscape group and reduce its Opacity to 50%.
Translator's note: The author collects all the layers with the surface of the earth in the Landscape group: click on the icon "Create a new group" at the bottom of the layers palette, hold down Ctrl, click on the layers you want to select, and then drag them to the created group.

Step 9Create adjustment layer Curves (Curves) for air layer and darken the image: Layers (Layers) - New adjustment layer (New adjustment layer) - Curves (curves). On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the blackout in the middle of the sky, as we will try to make a light source there.

Step 10Add another Curves adjustment layer to darken the left side of the sky, since it's slightly brighter than the right one. Paint on the mask of the adjustment layer with a black soft brush on the right and in the middle to show the light areas.

Step 11To make the left edge darker, create a new layer and, using a soft brush with the color # 8f939d, paint the portion of the sky to the left. Change the blending mode of this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), the opacity is 100%.

Step 12Use an adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance): Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Color Balance (Color Balance) and change the settings of the mid-tones (Midtones), to make the sky more purple:

Translator's note: The author collects all the layers with the sky in the sky group: click on the icon "Create new group" at the bottom of the layers palette, hold down Ctrl, click on the layers you want to select, and then drag them to the created group.

2. How to add stars

Step 1Place the image with stars on top of all the layers, and adjust the blending mode to Linear clarifier (Linear Dodge) with 100% opacity.

Step 2Create another adjustment layer: Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Hue / Saturation (Hue / saturation) and will expose values settings as in the image below to desaturate effect:

Step 3Use the Levels adjustment layer to decrease the brightness: Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Levels (Levels). Move the settings sliders, as in the example below:

Step 4Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add the mask to the sky layer. Use a soft black brush to erase stars on the surface of the planet and reduce the visibility of the effect of stars in the sky.

3. Adding the planet

Step 1Open the texture of the planet. Study this lesson to learn how to make a planet. Drag the planet onto our canvas and place it in the middle, sliding it to the topmost edge. Duplicate this layer twice and reduce the planets, and then arrange them on both sides of the large one.

Translator's note: You can skip the step of creating planets, and you can use the already finished image. To change the size, use the Transform tool: Editing (Edit) - Transformation (Transform) - Scale (Scale).
Step 2Add a layer mask to two small planets and, using a soft black translucent brush, make them faded, dissolving in the sky.

Step 3Double click on the layer with the big planet, select the layer styles:
Inner shadow (Inner Shadow) - set the shadow color # f4f5f6 and Outer Glow (Outer Glow) - Set the color of light is white.
Translator's Note: Inner Shadow: blending mode - Line clarifier (Linear Dodge), Offset (Distance) - 25 pixels, the size (Size) - 104 pixel Opacity (Opacity) - 45%. External glow: blending mode - Screen , Opacity - 51%, Method - Soft(Sof ter), Size (Size) - 25 pixels.



Step 4Select layers with planets and press Control-G to create a group for them. Set this group to Normal (100%) and use the Hue / Saturation adjustment layer in the group to reduce the chromaticity of the planets.

Translator's note: in the early versions of Photoshop, the blend mode of the group is changed from Skip to Normal and in the group above all layers add a correction layer that will only affect the layers in this group.
Step 5Create Adjustment Layer Color Balance to change the color of the planets: Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Color Balance (Color Balance), expose setting midtones (Midtones), like in the image below.
On the layer mask, using a soft black brush, reduce the magenta effect on small planets.

Step 6Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves): Layers (Layers) - New adjustment layer (New adjustment layer) - Curves (curves) with the settings on the image below to darken the planet. Paint on the mask of the correcting layer with a soft black brush the lower parts of the planets.

Step 7Use another Curves adjustment layer to add more light to the bottom of the planets. Paint the top of the planets black to hide the effect of this adjustment layer.

Step 8Create another adjustment layer Curves to make the largest planet more foggy and dissolving in the sky.
Translator's note: on the layer mask of the selection area, paint in black to remove the blur effect.

4. How to create background mountains

Step 1Open the image of the mountains. Separate the mountains from the sky and add them to the left in our landscape. Reduce the opacity of this layer to 70%.
Translator's note: for highlighting the sky, you can use the Magic Wand tool (Magic Wand)

Step 2Duplicate this layer and flip it horizontally Editing (Edit) -  Transformation (Transform) - Flip horizontally (Flip Horizontal). Move it to the right side and reduce its opacity to 90%.

Step 3Add a mask to each of these layers and use a soft black brush to remove excess areas on the ground and reduce the opacity of the mountains against the sky.

Step 4Create a group for the layers with mountains and use the Curves adjustment layer for this group to change their illumination in accordance with the general landscape.

5. How to add a rock

Step 1Open the rock image. Separate the rock from the background and place it in the middle of our work. Use the layer mask and medium soft black brush to erase the bottom of the rock and mix the stone with the ground.


Step 2Create adjustment layer: Layers (Layers) - New adjustment layer (New adjustment layer) - Hue / Saturation(Hue / saturation) for the rock layer and decrease the Chroma (Saturation) to -66.

Step 3The rock looks too bright compared to the background, so add a Curves adjustment layer to darken it, set the settings as in the image below:

Step 4Create Adjustment Layer Color Balance: Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Color Balance (Color Balance), expose here are the settings midtones (Midtones):

Step 5Create a new layer above all the layers: main menu - layers (Layer) - new (New) -  Layer (Layer), change the layer mode to Overlay (Overlay) to fill neprozrachnostyu100% and 50% gray.
Translator's note: do not forget to check "Use previous layer to create clipping mask" and "Fill neutral with color of" Overlap "mode (gray 50%).
Use the Dodge Tool and the Burn Tool to draw bright edges for the outline of the rock where it should be illuminated, and also draw more texture details for the rock.

Step 6Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the contour of the rock softer and more blurry. Leave this effect on the edges, and paint the middle of the rock with a soft black brush on the mask of the adjustment layer to keep the contrast and shadow.

6. How to perform basic settings

Step 1Create an adjustment layer Gradient Map on top of all layers: Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - the gradient map (Gradient Map) and select the color # a58869i # 94ece5. Change layer mode to Soft light ( Soft Light) with an opacity of 90%.

Step 2Create a new Curves adjustment layer to make the edges of the terrain darker. Paint the middle of the image with a soft black brush on the mask of the adjustment layer to keep the brightness.

Step 3Create an adjustment layer Photo Filter (Photo Filter): Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Photo Filter (Photo Filter) and select the color # 1200ec:

Step 4Create Adjustment Layer Color Balance: Layers (Layers) - New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) - Color Balance (Color Balance), expose here are the settings midtones (Midtones) and light (Highlights):


Step 5Add one more adjustment layer Curves to increase the light in the middle. Paint the edges on the layer mask with a black brush so that they do not suffer from this adjustment layer.



Step 6Create another adjustment layer Curves to increase the contrast for the entire scene. The selected areas show where to draw the layer mask.

7. How to make the light effect

Step 1First create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color # b1c0d9 to make a spot on the canvas. After that, change the brush color to # cddbf3 to make a smaller spot in the middle of the previous one.

Convert this layer in the smart object (Smart Object): A layer (Layers) - Smart objects (Smart Objects) - Convert to smart object (Smart Object), and use the tool Free Transform (Free Transform) (Control-T ), To make it longer and thinner.


Add a mask to this layer so that the line fades in the rock and looks like a gap in the stone.

Step 2Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color # f5f7fb to draw another bright spot. Use the Free Transform tool (Control-T), and the layer mask to make the light spot look like a thin beam.

Step 3On a new layer, use a soft brush with the color # cddbf3 to draw a light section in the middle. Change this layer to overlay (Overlay), 100%.

Duplicate this layer to make the light stronger.

Step 4To make the light shine, grab tool selection rectangle (Rectangular Marquee), to highlight the shape of a square, and set the Feather Radius (Feather Radius) to 2. Use a large soft brush with color # cddbf3, to create a spot on the right side.
Translator's note: create a radiance effect on a new layer.

Press Control-D to deselect it, and use the Free Transform tool (Control-T) to make the highlight much more subtle (convert this layer to Smart Object before transforming). Move it to the gap in the rock.

Use the layer mask to remove the top and bottom of the highlight, making it stronger, to the left of the light gap.

Step 5Use a small brush with the color # ff89aa for drawing along the line of light. Set layer mode to Hard Light(Hard Light) with 100% opacity.
Translator's note: create this effect on a new layer.

Step 6Use the same brush to paint around the light gap. Change this layer to soft light (Soft Light) 100% and partially hide on the mask layer to effect red looked very easy.

Step 7Create adjustment layer Vibration (Vibrance) over the layers to complete the final effect.

Congratulations, you've done it!
I hope that you liked the lesson and you learned something new for your own projects. Do not hesitate to share your results or leave comments in the box below. Enjoy the work in Photoshop!