Design an Epic Sci-Fi Style Urban City Scene in Photoshop

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In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to create this Epic, Sci-Fi Sytle Urban City Scene (Montage) in Photoshop, by utilising a few simple photo manipulation tricks. Have a try!

Here is a preview of the final image for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

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Ok let’s get started!

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

Ground

City

Cloud Right

Cloud Left

Cloud Overlay

Girl

Watercolor Brushes

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1200px * 1200px, fill the background layer with Black colour. Load the Ground stock image into Photoshop, select the lower half of the image with the Rectangular Marquee Tool, as shown below:

Copy and paste the selection onto our canvas, as shown below:

Erase the top edges of the texture, as shown below:

Name this layer as “Ground”, apply the following Black and White adjustment layer to it:

and here is the effect so far:

Step 2

Load the City texture into Photoshop, select the building portion of the image as shown below:

Don’t worry if the selection is not precise, this is not important in this tutorial.

Copy and paste the selection onto our canvas, resize and position the new layer as shown below:

Now we want to hide certain portion of the city building. So we can add the following mask to this city building layer:

As you can see, here we not only used a soft round brush, but also the Watercolor Brushes we downloaded before for the edges of the building, plus a feathered rectangular marquee tool:

and here is the effect after the masking:

Name this layer as “City”, apply the following Black and White adjustment layer to it: (make sure to tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” option)

and here is the effect so far:

Step 3

Load the Cloud Right stock image into Photoshop, copy the entire image, and paste it onto our canvas.

Put the new layer below the “City” layer, resize and position the new layer as shown below:

Add the following layer mask to this cloud layer:

Name this layer as “Cloud Right”, apply the following Black and White adjustment layer to it: (make sure to tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” option)

Duplicate this cloud right layer once, apply the following motion blur to the duplicated layer:

This will smoothen the cloud and add a bit more motion into the image.

Apply the same black and white adjustment layer as depicted in the original cloud right layer to the duplicated layer, reduce the opacity of the duplicate to around 40%, you will have the following effect:

Step 4

Load the Cloud Left texture image into Photoshop. Select a portion of texture with Lasso Tool (50px feather) as shown below:

Copy and paste the selection onto our canvas, put the layer above the “Cloud Right” layer, but below the “City” layer, resize it as shown below:

Erase the excessive portion with a soft brush as shown below:

Name this layer as “Cloud Left”, apply the following Black and White adjustment layer to it: (make sure to tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” option)

here is the effect so far:

Step 5

Load the Girl texture image into Photoshop. Use the Lasso Tool to make a selection around the girl and the snake, as shown below: (set feather to 40px)

Copy and paste the selection onto our canvas, put the new layer above all other layers, resize and position it as shown below:

Name this layer as “Girl”, apply the following Black and White adjustment layer to it: (make sure to tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” option)

and here is the effect so far:

Step 6

Load the Cloud Overlay texture image into Photoshop, copy and paste the entire image onto our canvas, as shown below:

Name this layer as “Cloud overlay”, apply the following Black and White adjustment layer to it: (make sure to tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” option)

Change the blending mode of this layer to “Screen” and opacity to 30%, you will have the following effect:

Cloud overlay is a perfect way to add lighting dynamics and increase the depth for your image. Experiment with it and you will find it very useful when it comes to add extra flavor to your design.

Step 7

Now we pretty much set the overall layout for this city scene. Now we add some more contrast and colour onto it to make it look sci-fi.

Add the following adjustment layers (and their relevant masks) on top of all layers:

Curves

Mask

Attention: for the following 2 colour balance adjustment layer, use the watercolour brushset on the mask for more painting and realistic effect.

Colour Balance Right (set blending mode to “soft light”)

Mask

Colour Balance Rest of the image

Mask

Levels

Mask

and here is the effect so far:

Step 8

We’re nearly finished! I decided to add more contrast to the left side of the image, especially on the left edge of the high-rise in the centre. So I further added the following two adjustment layers:

Hue and Saturation

Mask

Brightness and Contrast

Mask

and here is the effect so far:

You can see now the building is highlighted and as a result, the image has more lighting depth.

Step 9

I feel the right side of the image is a bit boring compare with the left. So I create a new layer on top the background layer, and use the water colour brush to paint some textures on the centre right portion, beneath the buildings:

And you will have the following effect as a result:

That’s it for this tutorial! I sharpen the image with the “Reduce Noise” filter and add some abstract lines on the girl, and here is my final result: (click to enlarge)

Lastly, I would like to stress that you will find the “Black and White” filter and the “Water Colour” style brushsets will be extremely useful when it comes to photo manipulation. Experiment with them :)

Till next time, have a great day!

Categories: Photo Effect

Tags: ,,,,,,

  • ps maker

    very good tutorial and nice website by the way

  • SKYRBE

    Amazing piece of tutorial…U rock man…

  • hieronymus

    Dude, awsome tutorial. I am gonna try this one out tonight. See what i can make out of it.

    Greetings hieronymus

  • ME

    4th

  • N1m

    thx!

  • http://devisefunction.com Matthew Heidenreich

    great looking tutorial, thanks.

  • Mino BuG’

    Good tutorial, thanks

  • Taimur
  • Vanessa

    This one looks epic in both color and black and white. I liked it so much I made on with colors and one in just black and white :D Your work is amazing!

  • Zilva

    Hey I don’t fully get step 7 how do you do it for all the layers? do you do them one at a time?

  • James Qu

    @zilva: with step 7, you add “adjustment layers” – however if you have earlier version of Photoshop, this feature is not available.

    If you have earlier version of Photoshop, You can perhaps try applying those image adjustments one by one following he same sequance. However you can’t get the same result because you can’t apply the masking effect.

    Hope this helps!

  • Zilva

    Ohk so i just add one adjustment layer at a time? or can i add it to all of them at the same time?

  • Zilva

    Wait sorry for being anoying but do i use a vector mask? or layer mask? and what is the difference?

  • Taimur

    added to my site

  • asiku

    overall is nice but look at the lady leg? can u fix it

  • Charles

    Good tutorial, thanks

  • http://www.marveloustrip.com Trip

    Thanks for sharing that great tutorial mate..

  • http://dom.my.gp Patric

    Very good tutorial thx you so much

  • Enigma

    Thank you for this tutrorial. It is very good=)

  • frx

    hi pls I do not understand step 7 I have a terrible color Do you need those masks that I paint (sorry for my english)

  • frx
  • Anon

    I followed this step by step and didn’t come out anywhere close to the result. I have photoshop CS5 (most current).
    It could’ve been more in depth, also the steps could have been explained in more detail.

  • ronald

    Hola, muy buen tutorial…aquí esta el mio.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/62912212@N08/5769002842/in/photostream

  • http://www.cmfphotostyle.com Carlos Rivera

    Hey a lost on steps 6 and 7 do you can helpmeet pleaseeeeeee.
    This a good tutorial

  • uykusazadam

    Awesome work dude :-)

  • Dudez

    Fix ground download link? Cool tut

  • Vinaymulagund23

    Away some work

  • Coldmemories

    great ! but would you plz explain the masking part … ’cause i didn’t get it

  • Jose

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    He used to be entirely right. This post truly made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this information!
    Thank you!