Creating a landscape scene can be a great opportunity to learn new Photoshop skills, as well as enhance your existing ones. Composing this kind of image requires attention and care from the start, especially when you’re searching for the source photos. That’s a really important stage because it will affect how good the final result is. Always look for pictures you can get creative with, either to compose the scene or to add some cool effect. With that in mind, let’s look at how to compose an otherworldly volcanic landscape.
Because we are creating a scene with volcanoes, we would be missing a trick if we didn’t add some lava explosions, to make it as realistic as possible. To help with this we’ll use blend modes – more specifically the Screen mode. The beauty of this blend mode is that it erases the darkest part of a picture, leaving only the brightest. When you are searching for lava explosion pictures, choose ones with a dark background. That way when you change the blend mode to Screen, you will get a great result.
01 First, create a new document with the dimensions 444x300mm, then add ‘sky.jpg’ and place it as shown. To enhance the colours, duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), apply a High Pass filter (Filter> Other> High Pass) set it at 3px and change the blend mode to Soft Light.
02 Add ‘volcano.jpg’. Go to the adjustment menu, choose Hue/ Saturation, hold Cmd/Ctrl+Alt and click on the layer. Set it to 191, 45, 0 and activate the Colorize option. Repeat the procedure, linking Brightness/Contrast (11, 37) and Levels (7, 1.00, 221) adjustment layers.
03 Add ‘smoke_01_02.jpg’. Select Add Layer Mask, set the Foreground colour to black, pick the Brush Tool (B) and erase the image, as shown. Link Hue/ Saturation (189, 11, 0) with Colorize activated, Brightness/Contrast (0, 26), and Levels (15, 1.00, 255) adjustment layers.
04 Add ‘rock_base.psd’ and link a Hue/ Saturation (230, 4, 0) adjustment, with Colorize activated (step 2). Pick the Brush Tool (B), set the Foreground colour to #212a27, paint around the base as shown, and change the blend mode to Color.
05 Start adding a few details to the scene. Add ‘fire_side_02.psd’, place it as shown and change the blend mode to Screen. Then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur), set to 10px and make a mask (step 3) to erase unnecessary parts.
06 Now add the layer Mountain_ lava_02 from ‘lava_02_mountain_ lava_02.psd’, and apply a Gaussian Blur at 8px (step 5). Then use the Warp Tool (Edit> Transform> Warp), adjust the shape as shown, change the blend mode to Screen.
07 Add ‘side_detail.psd’, make a mask (step 3) to erase the unnecessary parts and link a Color Balance (0, 0, 12) adjustment (step 2). Finally, duplicate it (Cmd/ Ctrl+J), flip it horizontally (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal) and place it on the left side.
08 Add ‘mountain_detail.psd’ and place it as shown. Then to blend it with the scene, select Add Layer Mask, set the Foreground colour to black, pick the Gradient Tool (G), go to the Gradient Picker, choose Foreground to Transparent and gently erase the image.
09 Add ‘lava_01_lava.psd’ and make a mask (step 3) to erase the unnecessary parts and to blend it with the scene. Then change the blend mode to Screen and use the Warp Tool (step 6) to define the lava shape.
10 First add ‘lava_01_explosion_fire_ center_right.jpg’, place it on the top of the volcano and change the blend mode to Screen. Then make a mask (step 3), erase the unnecessary parts and duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Finally, add ‘lava_01_top. jpg’ and repeat the procedure.
11 Add ‘lava_03_smoke_top.jpg’ and place it on the top of the other volcano, as shown. Make a mask (step 3) and erase the edges of the image, blending it with the scene. Duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and apply a High Pass filter (step 1) at 2px.
12 Add the layer Lava_02 from ‘lava_02_ mountain_lava_02.psd’. Make a mask (step 3) to erase unnecessary parts and change the blend mode to Screen. Duplicate it, apply Gaussian Blur (step 5), set at 2.4px and change the layer Opacity to 80%.
13 Add ‘mountain_lava.psd’, change the blend mode to Screen and make a mask to erase the unnecessary parts. Create a new layer, set the Foreground colour to white, pick the Brush Tool, set the Size to 50px, Opacity: 70%, paint on the lava track and change the blend mode to Overlay.
14 Add ‘lava_01_explosion_fire_center_ right.jpg’, change the blend mode to Screen and place it on the right-hand side. Add ‘fire_base_center_left.jpg’, place it in the centre, make a mask, use the Warp Tool to set the shape and change the blend mode to Screen. Duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and place it on the left-hand side.
15 Let’s put some people in the scene. Add ‘people.psd’ and place as shown. To blend with the scene, activate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl-click on the layer thumbnail), apply a Feather (Shift+F6) of 2px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and press Delete three times.
16 To add motion to the scene, add the layer group Fire_drops_center from ‘fire_drops.psd’, place it in the centre of the scene, above the volcanoes. Then add the layer group Fire_drops_left from the same file and place it on the left-hand side.
17 Add ‘sky_effect.psd’, change the blend mode to Screen and link Levels (81, 1.00, 255) and Hue/Saturation (0, -100, 0) adjustment layers (step 2). Then add ‘moon. jpg’, change the blend mode to Screen, link a Hue/Saturation (0, -100, 0) adjustment and make a gradient mask (step 8) to blend in.
18 Add ‘smoke_texture.psd’, place it above the whole scene, change the blend mode to Screen and set the Opacity to 10%. Then add ‘smoke_03.psd’, change the blend mode to Screen, set the Opacity to 50%, make a mask to erase the unnecessary parts and place it like shown.
19 Let’s use filters to make a fire effect. Duplicate all the layers (Cmd/Ctrl+J), merge them (Cmd/Ctrl+E), go to the Filter menu and select Convert to Smart Filter. Then apply the Glass filter (Filter> Filter Gallery> Distort> Glass) and set Distortion at 10, Smoothness at 15 and Scaling at 177%.
20 Let’s set the scene’s colour tone. Go to the adjustment layers and use Brightness/Contrast (0, 12), Levels (3, 1.00, 246), Photo Filter (Cyan/Sepia) and Color Lookup (Crisp_winter.look – Opacity: 20%), (FoggyNight.3DL – Opacity: 20%), (3Strip.look – Opacity: 40%), (2Strip.look – Opacity: 15%).