Create Surreal Pirate house photo manipulation tutorial

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How to Create a Surreal Pirate House Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

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Learn how to create this fantasy photo manipulation of a pirate house scene set in warm scenic dreamscape with Photoshop. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create rocky mountain using photos of rock and stones, combine ruin of castle to create dramatic pirate house in the dreamscape with warm vivid lighting. Throughout the tutorial, you’ll learn techniques that are very essential to create better photo manipulations.

What you’ll be creating

On this tutorial we will create a fantasy scene of a pirate house dreamscape with dramatic warm and vivid lightning. We will use some essential techniques in doing photo manipulation. We will use masking, brush tool, some filter, color adjustments all through the steps in this tutorial. Use Adobe Photoshop CS3 or higher, don’t forget a glass of coffee and optionally a pack of cigarette for your companion. Ready..?

final result

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

On these early steps we will create some ruined castles standing on a rocky mountain. We need this image to begin with. We will use this image as the rocky mountain.


We have to cut out the crack of the image. To do this purpose, take pen tool (P) in the panel tool. With the tool, cut out the crack lined out in red as shown in the screenshot.


For your inspiration, this is the cut out we have now.


Step 2

After cutting out the crack, we will start to create a rocky mountain with some ruins standing on it. We do this on a new canvas. Hit Ctrl+N to create a new canvas. Set the size of the canvas as the one sampled in the screenshot.


Next, select and copy (Ctrl+C) the cut out and then paste (Ctrl+V) it on the new canvas. We need to flip the cut out horizontally or resize it as needed. To do this, go to edit > transform > flip horizontal/scale.


Duplicate (Ctrl+J) the first crack to create the second one. Go again to edit > transform > flip horizontal to flip back the second crack as its original direction. Take move tool (V) and move it to the upper position behind the first one.


Do the similar step to add the third crack behind the second one.


Finally, add the fourth smaller crack and place it between the first and second one.


Step 3

Proceed to add some ruins to the rock. Cut out the ruin.


Scale the ruin to the size needed and place it behind the second crack.


Duplicate (Ctrl+J) the first ruin and place the duplicate on the lower left side behind the first crack.


Step 4

Now select the first ruin and give it a layer mask by going to layer > layer mask > reveal all. Take the brush tool (B) and choose chalk brush 17 pixel in the brush panel (F5). With black color, stroke the brush on areas where needed to mask them. The red highlighted parts show us the masked ones.



Next, we need to hide some part of the fourth crack that overlaps the first ruin. To do this, give the fourth crack a layer mask (Layer > layer mask > reveal all) and mask where needed as shown in the screenshot.



But the problem is we have the uniform looking ruins………………


Step 5

Well, don’t worry, we will fix this “twin” ruin. Give the second ruin a layer mask. Mask some parts of this layer. We do the similar way to do this masking as the one in previous step 4. The red highlighted part is where masking should be done.



Step 6

The second ruin looks flat now. We will add some shading behind the ruin. Create a new layer (Shift+Ctrl+N) behind the second ruin layer. On this new layer, paint dark shading behind the ruin as indicated in red arrows in the screenshot.


Step 7

Proceed to add another object to the scene. We will add stairs. Open the tower with stairs image first, the next steps we do are the similar steps as the ones in previous steps. Cut out the tower. Scale and place the tower in front of the first crack.


Give this tower layer a layer mask. Mask unneeded part.


Duplicate the tower layer some times. Place the duplicates where needed.


Step 8

On this step, we will alter the shape of the first ruin. To do this, duplicate (Ctrl+J) the first ruin. Scale its size bit bigger than the first one. Place this duplicate layer in front of the first crack layer.


Give this duplicate layer a layer mask. Mask parts where needed as shown in the red highlight.



Step 9

Next we will alter the shape of the third crack. Select the layer, and give it a layer mask. Mask parts as the ones highlighted in red.



Step 10

By repeating the previous step, add the other object on left top of the rock.


Step 11

More objects



By repeating similar steps with trial and error efforts, this is the result that is finally done for our inspiration. This piece will be used as the main object in the main canvas in the next steps. We still have a long, long way to go….. a cup of coffee, please 🙂


Step 12

Now we will create the main document. Create a new document/canvas (Ctrl+N).


Step 13

Firstly we will create background for image. To do this, open the misty sea image on the new document. Take rectangular marquee tool (M) in the tool panel. Make selection on the upper part of the image. Duplicate (Ctrl+J) the selection to make it a new single layer in the document.


We will use this new layer to create misty texture for the background of the image. Take free transform tool (Ctrl+T). With this tool, click-hold and drag the upper middle transforming point upward and the lower middle one downward to cover the white background.


Duplicate the layer and set the duplicate to multiply blending at 100% opacity.

Step 14

Next, place the original misty sea image above the two misty layers in the layer panel.

Mask the upper part of this layer to hide it. We just use the water texture of the image.


Select all the background layers and hit Ctrl+G to group them in a folder. Name this folder BG


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