Design an Awesome Urban City Photo-Montage In Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to design this cool-looking, urban city photo-montage in Ph0toshop. You will learn how to combine several stock images together to achieve surreal photo effect.

The PSD file of this tutorial is available to buy on PSD Vault Shop, or via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

This tutorial involves techniques such as layer blending options, image adjustments, transformation techniques, filter effects and lighting effect rendering. The tutorial itself is quite simple but the end result looks good in my opinion, have a go!

Here is a preview of the final results:



Black and White version:


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OK let’s get started!

Step 1

We start off by download the following four stock images from and

City Image

High-rise Image

Little Girl Image

Grunge Splatter

Load the “Grunge Splatter” image into Photoshop, duplicate the Background layer once and set the blending mode to “Overlay”:


Save this document to a new psd file and name it “urban city”.

Step 2

Load the “City Image” into Photoshop, drag the entire image onto the “urban city” document, use the free transform tool (Ctrl + T) to resize it until it fits the canvas size:


Name this layer as “city” and change the layer blending option to “vivid light”. You will have the following effect:


Step 3

On the “City” layer, hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+B and bring up the Black and White adjustment tool (for those who don’t have CS3, try use the Channel Mixer with Monochrome option enabled), apply the following settings:


Then hit Ctrl + M and bring up the Curves tool, adjust the Red channel a bit:


And here is the effect so far:


Step 4

Duplicate the “city” layer once, apply the following Gaussian Blur Setting to the duplicated layer:


Duplicate this layer once more and merge them together, then change the blending mode of the merged layer to “Darken”. You will have the following effect:


Step 5

Load the “high-rise image” into the Photoshop, drag the entire image onto our canvas, resize and erase (with a big soft brush) the cloud/sky + bottom part of the image. (please also note that you can use layer mask to achieve this) Name this layer as “high-rise”.

Again we apply the black and white adjustments to this layer using the same settings as in the previous layer: (Make sure you set the whole document as RGB color mode)


And the effect so far should look like this:


Step 6

Change blending mode of the “high-rise” layer to “overlay” and you should see the high-rise image blend into the grunge texture:


To add some shape dynamics and depth onto the image, we can duplicate the high-rise layer a few more times, resize and position the duplicated layers as shown below:


Step 7

Load the “Little Girl” image into Photoshop. Again we drag the entire image onto our canvas, but this time we don’t resize it. Instead, we move the image to the position as shown below: (where we see only the girl and the sky)


Erase the sky portion as well as the build to right using a soft brush, and change the layer blending option to “Hard Light”.

The effect so far will look like this:


Name this layer as “little girl” and duplicate this layer once, set the blending mode of the duplicate layer to “overlay” and you will have the following effect:


Step 8

Lastly we can add a bit of shining effect to the image so it won’t look boring. To do this, create a new layer called “lighting effect”, use the Lasso Tool with a 40px feather, draw a selection in any area (I chose a place where it meets with the direction the girl is looking towards) and render some cloud and lens flare in:


Change the layer blending mode to “Color Dodge” and apply the following gaussian blur settings:


You will have the following effect:


Duplicate the layer a few more times and drag them in areas you would like to lightup, and you will have this result image:


Ok that’s it for this tutorial! I further adjusted the image hue/satuation a bit and here is my final result: (click to enlarge)


Black and White version: (click to enlarge)


You can of course further enhance this text effect by applying some more filter effects, or combining it with some background texture, that’s totally up to you :)

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!


  • 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.

  • Show Comments

  • Andreyco

    since the title says it i have nothing to say… anyway, awesome!

  • admin

    Thanks Andreyco!

  • Jeno



    this i’ll have to try

  • psaddict
  • Ines

    Very, very good.! Thanks for teaching so well!

  • Caufield04


  • Illustrator tutorials

    Thanks for tutorial, it’s very nice.

  • hieronymus

    Dude….. your stuff is addicted… great work and i really love following your tutorials.

    Many thanks

  • Caufield04

    hey your stuff here, they’re amazing really helpful. great job but do you have sample works or tuts how to make photorealistic architectural rendering/presentation? sorry, i’m a little desperate here. thanks.


  • Paul Thomas

    So to get step 3 to work for me in CS4 you need to state that the whole .psd document is RGB or you can not access the black and white color tool. Took me a bit to figure that out.

  • admin

    @Paul: Thanks for pointing this out! I will make modification immediately.

  • JoDee Martin

    I am really new to Photoshop and love being able to read a tutorial and see results. This was incredibly well written! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

  • zharif

    oh my God!


  • jessseme

    very very good. thankyou for teaching so nicely.

  • Vibushan

    Thanks a lot! I tried it out and it came out really awesome :)

  • I’m form china


  • admin

    @sandylem: hello, 不用谢^^

  • slavewire

    The tutorial was amazing. I learned so much from this one tutorial. I knew nothing about layers and blending images together before today. However, I got a bit carried away along the way, that I started playing around with a few things and added my own final picture instead of the one with the little girl. Is there a way to send you this picture so you could see the end result of your creation? You’d be proud.
    My pictures will never be the same again…

  • admin

    @slavewire: hi~ yeah i’m really glad you find the tutorial helpful! You can upload your image to hosting service such as imageshack, and send the link to me. You can post the link here if you like, and more people can see it as well :)

  • Hey, here’s a link to my final result as part of your tutorial adding a picture of my gf instead of the little girl.
    And here’s my first try at doing something of my own with what I learned so far. Although I feel I could’ve done something bigger and better. Maybe next time.

  • Mel

    Awesome! One question though… I’m having trouble with step 4 if anyone would explain it in detail that would help. Thanks!

  • Excellent work, as always! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me! Your designs are really something else. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Very pro! Thanks for sharing…

  • jonaokt

    Mel: go to filter, with the “city” layer celected. Go down to blur, and there you can choose “Gaussian Blur”.

  • admin

    @Mel: Sorry about the late reply, I acutally missed you comment….

    With Step 4: you will need to apply the Gaussian Blur on the duplicated “City” layer, not the original “city” layer. The filter is located under Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

    @Jonaokt: Thanks for helpinng out!

  • The sky effect is great man! good job!

  • photo retouching

    Great bit of work! Please keep these highly informative posts coming!

  • Gavo704

    Can someone please help…it seem like Step 4 is still a little unclear. Do you duplicate the ‘city’ layer (the vivid blended layer) then take that duplicated layer and add the blur??

    Afterwards which city layer do you dupilcate? The one with a blur on it already or the regular ‘vivid light blended one”

  • Wow, this is most certainly impressive! Congratulations on your epic work!

  • As usual a unique tutorial. Good job !!!

  • Stephen York

    Can anyone re upload the Grudge Splatter?

  • Pseudodreams

    Yeah I can’t get Grudge Splatter either?????

  • James

    @Pseudodreams: the link has broken… i will try and see if I can find the original link. Do apologise for this.

  • sandeep

    it’s a good tutorial & i am your fan now.

  • thank a lot :)
    it’s always great to follow ur tutorial

  • IZ

    I’m still waiting for the Grudge link to be working

  • James

    @IZ: the link should be working now.

  • Joe

    Still having problems with step 4, Ive done it exactly like it says but just comes out as a dark, blurred mess. Have tried many times and just cant seem to get around this problem…please help maybe try to explain a little clearer, I really want to finish this thing

  • مۇھەممەدئەمىن

    بەك پىچەت لايىھە ئىكەن
    Good job.

  • daniela

    hi! unfortunatly three of the four links doesn’t work anymore ,i talk about the frist three links. There would be a way to recover them please?
    Waiting for an answer…Thank’s all!

  • Dan

    unfortunately the links for the City Image, High-rise Image, and the Little Girl Image doesn’t work any more. Please could you reupload new links. Thank you.

  • James Qu

    @Dan: I will see if I can find it and let you know.

  • Martin

    Any ETA of when you might sort out the links?
    I can’t wait to get started on this tutorial! this looks amazing

  • James Qu

    @Martin: sorry can’t find those images anymore. Those links are from two years ago and no longer active.
    No need to use the exact same image, just go find some similar ones. The techniques are universal.

  • Holydiver42

    Wow, this is one of the best photoshop tutorials I’ve ever seen! Very detailed, very easy, yet you achieve a very complicated looking effect. Wonderful.

  • Leah

    Wow! This was great. Was a little disappointed about the links at first, but just ended up using some of my own and was very pleased with the results. Great tutorial!!

  •  thx alot bro

  • Leonarddavis44

    im really glad i looked at this tutorial thanks

  • wow!!! really informative post….Thanks for sharing guys

  • I work Grahic design is Photoshop. I like u make use image beauitful

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