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In this tutorial, I will show the steps I took to design this absolutely magical, floating Eiffel Tower scene in Photoshop. The inspiration of this tutorial came from this wonderful design done by matu02 in PSD Vault Flickr Group.

Along the way, we will be using a lot of layer masking techniques, blending options, selection technques, pen tool and dynamic brushes. Hope you enjoy it and find it useful and inspirational!

Here is my final result for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

surreal-tower-scene-final-2

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To complete this tutorial, you will need the following textures:

Misty Ocean

Dark Water

Tower Image

Moon

Cloudy Scene

Eagle

Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Load the “Misty Ocean” stock image into Photoshop. Duplicate the background layer once and set blending mode of the duplicated layer to be “Soft Light”.

We can see the overall image become darker a little bit and the colour contrast increases comparing with the original image:

1-soft-light-duplicate

Rename this layer as “soft light” and make a duplicate of this layer, set the duplicated layer blending mode to “overlay” and this will further increase the light and contrast of the image:

1-overlay

Rename this layer as “light overlay”.

Step 2

Now you will see the ocean portion disappeared and we don’t really want that. To reveal the ocean portion,  add a vector mask to the “light overlay” by clicking the following button on the layer palette:

2-vector-mask

Click on the mask thumbnail to select it, grab a big soft brush (I chose a 300px round brush), erase the ocean portion off the “light overlay” layer.

You will now see the ocean become more visible:

2-effect2

Optional: I feel the colour tone of the image is a bit dull and a bit more variation will make the image looks a bit more lively. So I add a new Adjustment layer (Color Balance) and apply the following settings:

2-colour-balance

Change the blending mode of this adjustment layer to “lighten” and you will have the following effect:

2-effect-21

Step 3

Now let’s again focus on the ocean portion of the image. Currently we have a very smooth ocean without much movement at all. This can be a bit of problem because the end result we would like to achieve is a dynamic, active image.

So let’s load the “Dark Water” image into Photoshop. Go back to our document and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool with 20px feather to select the ocean portion of the image:

3-rect-mar

Drag this selection onto the “Dark Water” Texture to position the selection as shown below:

3-drag

Copy and paste it back to our document, and you will see now the image become a bit dynamic and not so boring:

3-effect2

Step 4

Load the “Tower Image” into Photoshop. Use the Pen Tool to make a working path around the Tower:

4-pen-tool

Make a selection (Right-click and choose “Make selection”) from the working path (0px feather), copy and paste the selection onto our document. Desaturate the layer, resize and position it as shown below:

4-tower-position

Rename this layer as “Tower”. Then add a vector mask to this layer,  grab the Gradient Tool and apply the following gradient to the mask: (You can go the mask by Alt+left-click the mask thumbnail on the layer palette)

4-gradient

Go back to our document and you will see the tower is seamlessly linked to the cloud:

4-effect3

Step 5

Load the “Moon” image into Photoshop, use whatever selection tool you feel comfortable with to make a selection of the moon, as shown below:

5-moon-sel

Copy and paste the selection back to our document, resize, rotate and position it on the top right corner of the canvas:

5-copy-paste

Name this layer as “Moon” and change the layer blending mode to “soft light”, you will have the following effect:

5-effect2

Duplicate the “Moon” layer a couple of times, you will see the the Moon become more visible:

5-effect-21

Step 6

Load the “cloud scene” image into Photoshop, use the Lasso Tool with 100px feather to make a selection as shown below:

6-select

Copy and paste the selection back to our document to the tower position, use Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) with Warp, perspective, resize, transform the cloud into a flaming effect:

6-warp

Name this layer as “Flame” and set its blending mode to “Overlay”. After this, duplicate this layer once, change the duplicated layer blending mode back to normal, use the Eraser Tool to erase off the bottom part of the flame on the duplicated layer:

6-erase

Step 7

Load the “Eagle” image into Photoshop, use the same Pen Tool technique to make a selection of the eagle. Tip: after you make the selection, use the refine edge option to further enhance your selection: (The setting below can be used as a guideline only, you might have to apply slightly different settings according to your own selection)

7-refine-edge

Copy and paste the image onto our dcoument to the position as shown below:

7-copy-paste

Name this layer as “eagle” anc change the layer blending mode to “linear burn”. Make several duplicated of this “eagle” layer, resize and rotate each layer and position the eagles in different places: (Assign different opacity, fill opacity to each duplicated layer as well)

7-duplicate

Step 8

Create a new layer called “shining effect” on top of all layers, use the Pen Tool to create a working path like this:

8-pen-tool

Stroke the path using the following dynamic brush:

Shape Dynamics

8-shape-dyn-1

Scattering

8-scattering-1

And you will have the following end result:

8-effect1

Ok that’s it for this tutorial! You can of course add some of your own texture or filter effect and see what the end results are!

Here is my final image for this tutorial. I Added a few light beams – If you like to know a quick way of rendering this, I have another tutorial here containing a part about doing so. Also tried aonther colour scheme:

surreal-tower-scene-final-2

Hope you enjoy this tutorial, drop me a comment if you have any question, I will try my best to help you out.

Cheers and have a nice day!