How to Create Beautiful Alien Landscape with Floating Rocks in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the process of making a beautiful alien landscape with floating rocks in Photoshop (similar to the movie “Avatar”). We will use several interesting object blending techniques to combine several stock images, in order to form the final effect. Have a try!

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This is a beginner-intermediate level tutorial.

Note: The Photoshop tutorial is done in Photoshop CC – therefore some screenshot may have slighting different layout as in the earlier version. Some brushes are exclusive to Photoshop CS6 or above.

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

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Let’s get started!

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

Mountain

Rock

Cliff

Tree 1

Tree 2

Temple

Waterfall

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1440px * 900px with the default white background. Fill the background layer with the Gradient Fill tool with the following colour (light blue as foreground colour, white as background colour)

Load the mountain stock into Photoshop, select a portion of it, copy and paste your selection to our document. Place it to the bottom half of the canvas as shown below:

Use a soft eraser to fade the top edge of the mountain layer, so that it blends into the background layer:

Apply the following Lens Blur filter to this new mountain layer:

and here is the effect so far:

Step 2

Load the Rock stock image into Photoshop and select a portion of it:

Copy and paste the selection to our document. Reduce its size and rotate it upside down, move it to the following position:

I used the Burn tool to darken the right side of the rock, and erased parts of the rock:

We can add some extra rocky pattern to this rock layer. Load the Cliff stock image into Photoshop and select a portion of it

Copy and paste the selection to the rock layer, set it as clipping mask. Set its layer blend mode to “Hard Light”:

and here is the effect so far:

Step 3

We will add native plants around the rock in this step.

Load the Tree 1 stock image into Photoshop, select a small portion of it with the Lasso Tool:

Copy and paste the selection to our document. Use the free transform tool to adjust the shape and angel of this new layer. Repeat this process, cover the rock with plants as shown below:

You can even break apart your plants with eraser tool (use the chalk brush) to make the plants look more realistic:

Load the Temple stock image into Photoshop and select the template portion:

Copy and paste the template onto the top of the rocks, blends it with the surrounding trees/rocks:

Load the Waterfall stock into Photoshop, select the waterfall:

Attach the waterfall to the right side of the rock, as shown below:

Step 4

We can add more floating rocks in this step, simply by repeating step 4. Ensure each rock looks different from each other with various sizes and tree placement:

Once you’re happy with the rocks, merge their layers into a single layer. Use the Blur tool, blur the following objects around the canvas to create depth of field:

Step 5

I added a natural linkage between the 2 smaller floating rocks in this step. Select the following piece from “Tree 2” stock image:

Copy and paste selection our document, resize and use the Warp tool to bend it as shown below:

Duplicate this layer, add some greens to them with the tree leaves:

Use the Blur tool to blur them slightly:

Here is the effect so far:

Use a cloud brush or cloud filter, add some cloud effect over the canvas:

I further added the contrast and colour balance of the image, and this is my final result of the beautiful alien landscape: (click to enlarge)

Tags:

  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

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