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Creating a Fictitious Landscape

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Difficulty: Intermediate

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Have you ever wondered how the global warming may affect the scenery of today’s world? Or maybe you want to visualize a post-apocalyptic surroundings that incorporate common landmarks? Create a stupefying photo-manipulation with the help of this tutorial.

The Layer Masks, the Gradient Tools, Layer Blending and other features of Pixelmator are used in this tutorial.

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Resources

Step 1

Open Pixelmator and create a new document. The image size used in this tutorial is 900x600 pixels. Copy and paste the picture of the sky. Use the Move Tool (V) to adjust the position of the image. To enhance the image go to Image > Brightness and Contrast and set Contrast to 20%. Then, go to Image > Shadows and Highlights, set Lighten Shadows to 50% and click OK.

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Step 2

Next, copy and paste the image of the desert mountains. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the sky in the image. Then, go to Edit > Refine Selection, set Smooth to 20%, Size to 3px and click OK. After that, remove the selection by pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.

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Step 3

Use the the Move Tool (V) to align the images. Go to Image > Brightness and Contrast, set the Contrast to 10% and click OK. This will highlight the different colors and shadows in the image.

Now, let’s readjust the colors so that the sand looks more flaxen. To do that create a new layer and name it Color. Then fill it with beige color (#d6cdab). If you have trouble selecting an appropriate color look at the tip below. Set the layer’s Blending to Color and reduce the Opacity to 40%. Right-click the layer Color and choose Create Clipping Mask. Then, duplicate it and set the copy’s Blending to Linear Light and reduce the Opacity to 40%.

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Tip: To select a color using a hexadecimal color code open the Colors dialog (View > Show Colors) and select Web Colors. Then, simply enter the hexadecimal color code into the text field.

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Step 4

Now, copy and paste the image of the level desert and name it Desert. Once again use the Polygon Lasso Tool to remove the sky. Refer to step 2 if guidance is needed.

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Step 5

Drag the image to the lower part of the canvas using the Move Tool (V). Before taking any further steps, the two images of the deserts have to be blended together. Right-click the layer Desert and choose Add Mask. Fill the mask with a white to black gradient, so that the right part of the image becomes transparent. Use the image below as a reference. If you have trouble creating an appropriate gradient look at the tip below.

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Tip: To create a radial gradient used in this tutorial open the Gradients Palette (View > Show Gradients). Click the action button and choose New Gradient. Select Radial as the Gradient Type (If the Gradient Type is not visible in the Gradients Pallet, double-click your gradient preset). Now, click the right color stop and set it’s color to black in the Colors Palette. Then, click the left color stop and set it’s color to white.

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Step 6

As the images do not blend continuously yet, lets make further changes to the colors of the photographs. To make the Desert layer brighter, go to Image > Levels, set White to 80%, Gray to 40% and click Ok. To further blend the images, create a new layer and name it Gradient. Use a white gradient where the two photographs intersect. For reference, look at the image below (Layer and Gradient Palettes are hidden for a better view). After that, set the layer’s Blending to Overlay.

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Step 7

Now comes the interesting part! Copy and paste the image of the Big Ben and flip it horizontally (Edit > Flip Horizontal). Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the tower. Skip the minuscule details as they will not be visible in the final image. The go to Edit > Refine Selection, set the Size to -1px and click OK. This will remove the residual parts of the sky. Copy and paste the selection into a new layer and name it Big Ben. The original image may be deleted now, as it will not be needed anymore.

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Step 8

Slightly reduce the size of the image (Edit > Transform) and rotate it by 3 degrees to make the tower appear crooked. To make the tower look like it’s buried in the sand, remove the lower part of it using the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Use the image below as a reference. After that, go to Image > Brightness and Contrast and increase the Contrast to 10%.

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Step 9

Now, lets make the tower look battered and weathered. Import the image of the cracked roof surface and name it Cracks. Use the Move Tool (V) to position the image over the tower. Right click the layer Cracks and choose Create Clipping Mask. To make the cracks more distinct go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, set the Sharpness to 60% and click OK. After that, set the layer’s Blending to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 40%.

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Step 10

To lighten the image create a new layer named White and use the Paint Bucket Tool (N) to fill it with white color. Then, set the Blending to Soft Light.

After that, create a new layer and name it Brush. Open the Brush Palette (View > Show Brushes). Click the Action button in the palette and select Grunge. Choose the brush that is situated in the first row and is second from the right. Set the brush color to beige (#e7c396) and size to 13px. Then, use the Brush Tool (B) on the bottom of the tower, so that it appears to be covered with sand. Use the image below as a reference.

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Step 11

Now, let’s add a cloud of dust and sand at the bottom of the tower. Create a new layer and name it Gradient. Then create a new gradient that consists of beige and transparent colors. Fill the lower part of the Gradient layer with the new gradient as it is shown in the example.

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Step 12

Now let’s create the tower’s shadow. Duplicate the layer Big Ben and rename it to Shadow. To resize the image go to Edit > Transform. Click the Action button in the Tool Options bar and choose Distort. Then, drag the upper middle handle of the selection until the image looks similar to the one provided below.

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Step 13

Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the lower part of the tower. Look at the image below for reference. After that, remove the selected part of the image by pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.

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Step 14

Now, change the color of the image to black. To do that go to Image > Colorize and set the Lightness to 0%.

After that, go to Filter > Blur > Motion, set the Radius to 20px and click OK. Set the layer’s Blending to Overlay. Then, duplicate the layer Shadow and set the copy’s Blending to Soft Light. The final result should be similar as shown in the image below:

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Step 15

To intensify the colors of the image create a new layer and name it Black. Use the Paint Bucket Tool (N) to fill it with black color. Set the Blending to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 60%. Then duplicate the layer and set the copy’s Blending to Color and reduce the Opacity to 40%.

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Step 16

The tower will blend in more naturally if a slight shadow is added. To do that duplicate the layer Big Ben and rename it to Blur. Place it below Big Ben in the Layer Palette. Then, go to Filter > Blur > Zoom, set the amount to 10px and click OK. Set the layer’s Blending to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 20%.

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Step 17

Lastly, let’s add a lighting effect. Create a new layer and name it Lighting, right-click it and choose Create Clipping Mask. Use the Brush Tool (B) to color the left side of the tower white, as it is shown in the image below. Then, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian, set the Radius to 20px and click OK. Reduce the Opacity to 20%.

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Conclusion

Create uncanny photo-manipulations by combining intriguing backgrounds with contrasting landmarks or items. Just remember to focus on combining the images in a realistic way, otherwise the result may not look as good as you’d expect.

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Comments

  • Matto FTW says:

    U forgot to add the cracked roof image to resources :( but the tut was awesome! :D

    • Jacob Bordieri says:

      Thanks! Sorry about that, you can grab the cracked texture from within the PXM file provided at the top.

  • Lew Knudsen says:

    In step 3 I created a new layer, selected web color #d6cdab however, I cannot get it to the new layer, Im stuck !