By Jenny Le
What You’ll Be Creating
In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create an inspired Emerald City based on The Wizard of Oz, with royal buildings, a poppy field, a yellow brick road and a green gate. You’ll learn how to enhance the color and lighting, use texture, create depth of field, and use drawing and painting as well as advanced compositing techniques.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
- Landscape 1
- Landscape 2
- Tower 1
- Tower 2
- Dome 1
- Dome 2
- Dome 3
- Dome 4
- Church 1
- Church 2
- Church 3
- Castle 1
- Castle 2
- Castle 3
- Poppy field
- Tree 1
- Tree 2
- Tree 3
- Tree 4
- Tree 5
- Tree 6
- Tree 7
- Ornament 1
- Ornament 2
- Ornament 3
- Ornament 4
1. Add the Sky
I just love the magnificent and gorgeous buildings as well as the fantasy atmosphere of the city, and I want to recreate this scene on a bright, sunny autumn day. There will be lots of steps, and some techniques will be repeated or done in the same way, so I’ll go into more detail in the first stages and be shorter in the later ones.
First create a new 1800 x 1500 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:
Open the sky image. Select a part of the sky only using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M).
Drag the sky into our white canvas using the Move Tool (V).
Create an adjustment layer to change the sky color. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance:
On this layer mask, select the Brush Tool (B) with a soft, round one
with black color (soft black brush) to reduce the yellow on the
top of the sky.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the sky.
2. Add the Grass
Open the grass image. Select a part of the grass in the middle using the Rectangular Marquee Tool.
Add it to the lower section of the working document using the Move Tool.
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to desaturate the grass green.
Use a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness in order to make the grass less dull.
On its layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the brightness in
the foreground and the right side. We’re aiming to make the main light come
from the left.
3. Make the Wall
Create a new 3000 x 3000 px document and fill it with any colors you like.
Press Control-Shift-N to make a new layer and fill it with an
illuminating emerald color (
Open the wall image. Drag the wall into the canvas using the Move Tool and place it on the right.
Change this layer mode to Soft Light 50%.
Duplicate this layer and flip it horizontally by choosing Edit >
Transform > Flip Horizontal. Place this in the left side.
Save the result as a JPG file for your future use.
Open the wall texture created in the previous step. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select a part from this texture.
Place it in the middle section of the grass and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) with the Warp mode to bend the top of it as shown below.
Duplicate this layer several times and arrange them along the ground to create the wall form. Leave some distance between the biggest wall parts in the middle for
the gate. Use Control-T to resize and bend these parts to vary the
curves and sizes.
all the wall layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change
the group mode from Pass Through to Normal 100%. Use a Curves
adjustment layer for all of the wall layers (set as Clipping Mask)
which are located on the left to brighten them to fit the main light
source. The nearer the left, the brighter the wall.
Create a Curves adjustment layer within the wall group to brighten the wall sections.
Use a soft black brush on this layer mask to reduce the lightness on the right ones and some lower areas of the left ones.
Make another Curves adjustment layer to darken the walls a bit.
Apply brush masking on this layer mask to reveal the light on the left ones and the top of the right ones.
The wall still looks flat, so make a new layer above the wall group, changing the mode to Overlay 100% and filling with 50% gray.
Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about
10–15% to paint more details for the walls. You can see how I did it
with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.
click the wall group, and choose Duplicate Group. Right click it again,
choose Merge Group, and we have the wall selection. Make a new layer
above this one. Load the wall selection by holding Control and clicking
the thumbnail layer.
Go to Edit > Stroke and pick the color
Double click this layer, and choose Bevel and Emboss.
Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to remove the stroke at the bottom as we don’t need it.
4. Make the Gate
Come back to the wall texture. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a shape like a gate on this layer.
Press Control-Enter to turn this path into a selection.
click this selection, and choose Layer via Copy. We have this shape on a new
transparent layer (I turned off the texture background temporarily
and made a new white fill layer between the background and the shape to
help you see the process clearly). Name it “1”.
Duplicate this layer and use Control-T to make it smaller.
Create a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken this
shape and make it visible on the previous one. Name it “2”.
To make another part of the gate, draw another shape on the texture
background and copy it into a new layer as we did with the first shape.
Move this layer on top of the layers and use a Curves adjustment layer
to brighten it. Place it onto the existing portal and name it “3”.
Duplicate the “3” layer and move it under “2” and above “1”. Make it narrower using Control-T.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken this shape and it becomes the inner shade. Name it “4”.
Make a new layer above “2” and load its selection. Go to Edit > Stroke and pick the color
Load the “3” selection and stroke it with a brighter color (
#f5dd7d) and width of 15 px.
Double click this layer, and choose Bevel and Emboss. Set the color of Highlight Mode to white and Shadow Mode to
Make a new layer and draw a line from the top to the bottom of “2” using
the Pen Tool. Right click it and stroke it with the color
remember to uncheck Simulate Pressure.
Apply the Bevel and Emboss effect with the same settings as in the previous step.
Duplicate this layer and move it to the right a bit. Align these lines in the center of the door.
group for these two lines and use a Curves adjustment layer to darken
them a little. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to make the
lower part of the lines brighter (the top is more hidden so it should
Come back to the “1” layer. Add a mask to this layer and remove the bottom using a hard black brush.
Hide the background and the fill layer and press Control-Shift-Alt-E to
merge all transparent layers (the gate parts) into a new one.
Move the merged gate into our main document and place it between the
wall sides (the space we’ve left while adding the wall sections).
To make the gate pattern, double click this portal layer, and choose Pattern Overlay. Load Texture Fill 2 and pick Web.
To make the gate shadow on the wall (the light comes from left to
right so the gate should cast shadow on the right), create a new
layer under the gate one. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to make a
selection beside the right side of the gate and fill it with black.
Lower the opacity of this layer to 80% and soften the shadow by choosing
Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and changing the Radius to 1 px:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to reduce the opacity of this shadow.
Use the same method to make the shadow of the left side of the gate cast on the ground.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the gate, especially the
left where it’s illuminated by the light. On this layer mask, use a soft
black brush to hide the light and create the shadow of the left on the
hidden door area.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to strengthen the shadow. Paint on the rest of the gate to maintain the lightness there.
5. Add the First Building
From this stage on, we will be creating the buildings behind the wall
and setting these layers below the wall and gate ones. We’ll be using
different elements of different castles, churches, domes and monuments to
composite into the fresh ones. The aim is to avoid uniform buildings, but to allow the viewer to see some commonalities in color, structure and details. There will be two main color schemes: green/cyan and
Open the castle 3 image. Select a part of this castle using the Polygonal Lasso Tool:
Add it behind the gate and flip it horizontally to fit the light source of the background.
Select the big dome from this castle and add it to the top of the existing one. Set this layer under the existing layer.
Make a group for these layers. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate them.
Use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer to change the building color.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Master settings:
Use another Channel Mixer adjustment layer to turn the building color golden.
Paint on the mask of this layer with a hard black brush to reveal the cyan, especially the wall of the building to create an emerald building with golden columns.
Use a Levels adjustment layer to increase the highlight.
6. Add the Second Building
Isolate the monument and place it on the left edge of the wall.
Make a new layer (set as Clipping Mask), change the mode to Overlay 100%
and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to brighten the left of this
building as it looks too dark at the moment.
Use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer to change the building color.
Use this layer mask to reveal the golden details (ornaments) of this building.
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. Paint on the layer mask to maintain the shade there.
7. Add the Third Building
Open the church 2 image. Extract the top of the church put it on the
right side of the scene. Flip the bright side of the dome to the left.
Select the dome of the church and add it to the top of the building 2.
Use Control-T to distort it to fit the form of that building.
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to blend the top part with the existing building.
Select the globe on top of the building from the original image, and place it onto the top of building 2.
Use a layer mask to remove the bottom of this globe.
Create a Channel Mixer adjustment layer to alter the globe color.
Make a group for these layers, and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Cyans settings:
Create another Channel Mixer adjustment layer to add emerald to the
building parts. Erase the columns and the globes to keep their original color.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to give some light to the building. Apply
brush masking on the dark side of the building to maintain the shade there.
Make a Levels adjustment layer to increase the highlight. Keep the shade of the building and globe by erasing the darker parts.
8. Add the Fourth Building
the church 3 image. Select the top with the dome and place it on the two
sides of the wall. Add the dome to the top of the center building
Group these layers into a new folder. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to alter their color.
Reveal the original color of the gold lines on the domes by using the Hue/Saturation layer mask.
Make a Channel Mixer adjustment layer to give some vibrant golden color to the building parts.
Use this layer mask to reveal the emerald areas on the top and the windows and leave the gold visible on the columns and strokes.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to increase the highlight, especially
on the domes. After that, erase the rest using this layer mask.
9. Add the Wall Columns
Open the column image. Select the higher part of the column and add it
to the connection between the two wall sections. Duplicate them several times,
use Control-T to vary their size, and add them to other wall connections. The farther from the viewer, the smaller the column.
Set these layers above the wall and stroke ones.
You can see that most of the columns are higher than the wall. To delete the
higher parts, add a mask to each of these layers and work on it using a hard black
Take a lower part of the column in the original image and place it onto one of the
building parts in the previous stage (building 4) which lacks the top.
Make a group for all of these layers. Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to bring some saturation to them.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the columns.
Use a soft black brush to maintain the shade on the darker side of the columns.
Make another Curves adjustment layer to strengthen the shade.
Erase on the brighter side of them to keep the brightness there, especially the ones near the light.
Make the columns’ shadow in the same way as the gate’s.
The farther from the light, the longer and softer the shadow.
10. Add the Fifth Building
Open the church 1 image. Select two domes to place behind the existing buildings.
Make a group for these layers and use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer
to change the building color, especially the domes. On this layer mask,
erase the lower parts using a soft black brush.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Master settings:
Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the buildings. Apply erasing on the layer mask to keep the shade on the darker sides.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the shade on the buildings stronger. Erase the bright areas using its layer mask.
the tower from the original image and place it under the existing
buildings (not in this group). Duplicate this layer and move it to the other side of the wall.
Make a new folder for all of these layers including the existing group.
Use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer and change the Reds settings:
And here is the result after masking:
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and enhance the color of the building by changing the Midtones and Highlight settings:
11. Add the Sixth Building
Open the tower 1 image and isolate the top to add behind all the existing ones.
We’re going to do the same with the other buildings. First use a Channel
Mixer adjustment layer and bring the Red value of Reds up to +65. Erase
this adjustment layer effect on the lower part of the building to avoid a
color cast look.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to bring more shade to the darker part of
the building. Use a layer mask to bring the original lightness back to the front.
Increase the light on the building by adding another Curves adjustment
layer. The screenshot below shows the result after masking off the
12. Add the Seventh Building
Open the tower 2 image and cut out the tower using the Polygonal Lasso
Tool. Place it behind building 2 and then duplicate it to add behind building 1. Use a layer mask to remove the top of the duplicated
tower (don’t worry, we’ll add another top to it later).
Use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer and change the Reds and Blues settings:
Use the layer mask to get the result below:
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to increase the vibrance of the parts which have been masked off in the previous steps.
Add a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. Apply erasing to the parts which are less illuminated.
Increase the highlight using another Curves adjustment layer. Here is the result after using this layer mask.
Open the dome 1 image. Take the highest part and add it to the building which lacks the top.
Here are the results with Hue/Saturation, Channel Mixer and Curves (after masking).
13. Add the Eighth Building
Open the castle 1 image. Select the highest tower to place behind building 2.
Select the lower part of this tower and another building to combine into a new one. Place them near the right side of the wall.
Group all of these layers and make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer inside the group. Use its layer mask as usual.
Add two Curves adjustment layers to refine the light and contrast of the
buildings. The results are shown in the screenshots below:
Use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer for the top of the second building
(the combined one). Here is the result after working on this layer mask (the selected part shows the masking area):
14. Add the Ninth Building
the castle 2 image. Take two domes and add them to two sides
of the walls and behind most of the existing buildings. Use Control-T to make one of them smaller than the other.
Apply Channel Mixer and Curves adjustment layers to match the color and light of these with the other elements.
15. Add the Tenth Building
Open the dome 4 image. Select a dome and place it behind building 9.
Apply Channel Mixer, Hue/Saturation and Curves:
16. Add the Missing Details
Open the dome 2 image. Select the dome part only and add it to the one
of the buildings in the building 3 group which lacks the top. Set this layer under the
building 1 group.
Duplicate this layer and move it to the top of building 1. Use Control-T with the Warp mode to bend it as shown below:
Use a layer mask to remove some outside details of this part:
Group these layers and use two Hue/Saturation adjustment layers to add some vibrant gold/cyan to these dome parts.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to these details.
the church 3 image again. Take the top part of the dome and add it to
the top of one of the buildings in the building 5 group. Place it inside the fourth building group,
below the adjustment layers so it has the same effect with the elements
inside this group. Use a layer mask on the Channel Mixer adjustment
layers to reveal the golden tone as we’ve done with the layers in the fourth building group.
Add a mask to this building layer and remove its top using a hard black brush.
Open the castle 1 image again. Select a part from its top to add to the
top of building 1. Set this layer above the existing buildings ones
and apply the same adjustment layers and masking method done with the eighth group of buildings.
Come back to the church 3 image again and select the highest part of the
dome to complete the first building. Apply the same adjustment layers and masking method we used with the fourth building layers.
Open the dome 3 image. Take the small globe on the top to add to the top of the columns, and duplicate them several times according to the number of the
columns. Vary their size to match the size of the columns.
Make a group for these globe layers. Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. Apply masking to
make the ones on the right a bit darker than those on the left.
17. Add the Landscapes
the landscape 1 image behind the grass, and use a layer mask to remove
its sky, reveal the existing sky, and make the tops of the mountains fade a
bit into the sky.
Change the landscape color using a Color Balance adjustment layer:
Use a Curves adjustment layer to increase the haze and match the landscape contrast with the background.
Add landscape 2 above landscape 1, and use a layer mask to blend it
with the grass. Leave some tree bushes on the sides, and reduce the
opacity of the trees in its background. The aim is to add some depth of
field to the whole scene.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to match the brightness of landscape 2 with the background.
18. Add the Trees and Bushes
Open the tree 1 image and drag it into our working document using the
Move Tool. Place it on the left and behind all the buildings.
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to turn the tree color into a red one.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the tree a bit:
Duplicate this tree layer and bring it to the top of the layers, placing it
beside building 1. Use a layer mask to erase the lower part of the
tree and make it stand inside the wall.
Make it brighter using a Curves adjustment layer.
Add tree 2 to the left edge of the scene and the front of the first building.
Change the color of these trees using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
Make a group for trees 2 and use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten them.
Add tree 3 using a similar method:
Add tree 4 to the ground, near the left edge of the image. Use the familiar method to match it with the scene.
Make its shadow as we did with the other elements.
Add tree 5 to the right side using the same method.
Place tree 6 on the right edge to hide some details in the background.
Isolate the bush and place it near the gate, using the Warp Tool to tweak its form as shown below:
Duplicate this layer twice and arrange the bushes along the wall.
Make a shadow for them as we did with the other elements.
Use some adjustment layers to change the color, light and shade. I won’t
say in detail as it has been repeated too much through this tutorial.
the tree 7 image and cut out the trunk only to cover the right edge of
the scene. Use the Warp Tool to bend it as shown below. Set this layer
above all the existing ones.
Use some adjustment layers for this tree:
Open the leaves image and cut the leaves part to add to the top of tree 7. Use a layer mask to blend the leaves with that tree.
Make some adjustment layers for the leaves, giving them more red and vibrance.
19. Add the Poppy Field
the poppy field image onto the ground area. Use a layer mask to remove
its background and blend it with the existing ground. Set this layer
above the gate ones.
Create a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to clone the poppy to the selected parts to hide some unwanted areas there.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to enhance the light and contrast of the field.
20. Add the Yellow Brick Road
First use the Pen Tool to draw a curvy shape like a road running along the field to the gate. Fill it with any color you like, but better choose a bright one,
such as a yellow like mine. We’ll be using it as a guide.
Open the brick texture image and drag it into our main document. Place
it in the foreground and use Control-T with the Warp mode to bend the
brick following the curve of the shape:
Load the shape selection and on the brick layer, click the Add layer
mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel. We have the result:
Use the same method to make the parts of the road and fill the shape with the brick texture, remembering that the further from the viewer, the smaller the bricks.
Add some adjustment layers to turn the road color into a yellow one.
To make the road look more realistic, make a group for all the brick
layers. Add a mask to this group and use a hard black brush (better
use a tablet pen) to paint on the edges of the road to show some poppies
and blades of grass:
Create a new layer and use a soft black brush to paint the shadow of the
poppies on the road. Lower the brush opacity to achieve a more realistic
21. Add the Ornaments
Isolate ornament 1 and add it to the middle of the door. Use a layer
mask to remove the sides of this ornament and make it look like a big decorated key.
Double click this layer, and choose Drop Shadow:
Use some adjustment layers for this ornament.
Use the same method to add ornament 2 to the bottom sides of the door.
Do the same with ornament 3 and place it in the middle of the sides of the door.
Repeat the same steps with ornament 4 that is located on top of the gate.
22. Add the Oz Text
Make a new layer and activate the Type Tool (T). Choose Arial font with 10
pt and type the O letter with the color
#f8ae43. Move the O to the middle of ornament 1.
Type the Z letter on a separate layer and move it to the middle space of the O.
On each of these layers, apply Layers Styles with the settings below. Set the color of shadow in Inner Shadow to
Make a group for the text layers. Use a Curves adjustment layer to change the contrast of the letters.
Add a mask to this group and blend the bottom of the O letter with ornament 1.
Come back to the gate layer and use the Clone Tool on a separate layer to remove the lines shown inside the “OZ” letters.
23. The Final Adjustment
Make a new layer on top of the layers and use a soft brush with the
#190600 to paint on the top left of the scene. Change this layer
mode to Linear Dodge 100%.
On a new layer, use a soft white brush to paint glowing light on the top of the buildings and gate.
Make a Selective Color adjustment layer and change the Yellows and Cyans settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the whole scene. Keep the brightness of the left side using this layer mask.
Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick the color
Lower the Opacity of this layer to 30% and reduce the effect on the
right side and some of the buildings. Leave the hazy light on the buildings at the back to enhance the depth of field.
Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors
#367a8e. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to bring more vibrance to the scene.
Create a new layer and set the mode to Hard Light 100%. Use a soft brush
with the color
#f9dd89 to paint more light for the left, especially on
the buildings located there, to give them a dreamy, fantasy light effect.
increase the scene contrast, use a soft black brush with the Opacity
about 30–40% to paint on the right side and the bottom left to darken
these areas. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.
Come back to the trees 2 group and make a shadow for the tree in the left edge (I forgot this detail!).
Congratulations, You’re Done!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial didn’t become too sleepy before you finished reading it! As always, you’re very welcome to share your comments and feedback in the box below. Enjoy Photoshopping!