Home Tutorials Photo Manipulation Create a Spectacular Space Scene in Photoshop

Create a Spectacular Space Scene in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial we will compose a fantasy scene depicting a fire horse chasing an ice horse on a volcanic field. We will learn to use a small number of elements in various circumstances to achieve different effects.

Preview of Final Results

“A Chase of Fire and Ice” Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1

Open file “Horses at play 2”. Using the pen tool select the 2 horses. Don’t worry too much about the hair as we will resolve this issue later.


Step 2

With the path still active pres ctrl+Enter to transform path into a selection. Press ctrl+J to copy selection into a new layer and turn off the visibility of the Background layer. Name the new layer horses.


Step 3

Go to File > Place and select “Stars Background”. Resize it like in the image bellow and press Enter. Move this layer below our horses layer.


Step 4

Now we will refine our horses selection by creating some hair. First press ctrl on the horses layer to select it’s opaque pixels. Press ctrl+alt+R to open refine selection window. Use settings like shown below.


Step 5

If the horses are still selected press ctrl+D to deselect them. Turn on the visibility of the Horses layer and add a layer mask. Choose a brush with the following settings:

  • Size: 100 px
  • Hardness: 0%

Select black as foreground color and brush gently in the areas shown below. Make sure you are brushing in the layer mask and not in the layer itself.


Step 6

Select layer Horses and layer Horses copy by holding ctrl and clicking on them. Pres ctrl+E to merge them together. Name the new layer Horses.


Step 7

Now comes the tedious part. We will recreate the horses hair by using the smudge tool. Select the smudge tool and use a fairly small 3 px size to drag hairs following the natural way the hair falls. Use smaller and larger brush sizes, but don’t go beyond 8 px. Try to imagine the way hair is blown by the wind. This task took me about 40 minutes to accomplish so take your time. Now it is also a good time to tone down the highlights from the horses skin and to reduce the harsh transitions between highlights and shadows. For this task I used the Clone Stamp tool set at 10% opacity and sampled from the darker skin.


Step 8

Congratulations for coming up this far. The most difficult part of this tutorial is done. Press ctrl on your horse layer to select opaque pixels. Press M to select marquee tool. Hold alt + shift and draw a selection big enough to encompass our left horse without selecting the right one. Now we have just our left horse selected so press ctrl+J to move him on a new layer. Repeat this step with the right horse. You shold have 2 distinct layers, each layer containing a horse. Name the layers Left Horse and Right Horse.


Step 9

Now we will make our fire horse. We will add some adjustment layers to give the impression of hot fire burning inside our horse. Add a clipped color balance adjustment layers and use the settings below. Set it’s mode to overlay. Press ctrl+J to make a duplicate of the color balance layer and make sure it’s clipping Left Horse layer. Change it’s blend mode to Multiply and lower opacity to 35 %. Add a clipped gradient map layer and choose black to white preset. Change the blending mode to luminosity and lower the opacity to 50%.


Step 10

We see that our fire horse has some unusual bright spots on his back and head. We will remove them by using a masked curves adjustment layer. Make a new curves adjustment layer and make sure it’s clipping the Left Horse layer. Use the settings like shown below. Choose a soft brush with these settings:

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