In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a fantasy snail carrying a house.
First, we’ll build the basic scene using two moss images. Later, we’ll import the snail and make its ivy shell. After that, we’ll add the window, door, mushrooms, chimney, smoke and lamp and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes.
We’ll use a bokeh image to increase the dreamy effect for the scene, and we’ll make several adjustment layers to enhance the final effect.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. Build the Basic Scene
Create a new 1500 x 1100 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:
Open the foreground image. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select
the foreground area and add it to the lower half of the white canvas
using the Move Tool (V). Activate the Free Transform Tool (Control-T)
and rotate it to make it lie horizontally.
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to
this layer. Use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush)
to soften the edges, making them fade into the white background.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 8 px:
On this Filter Mask, use a soft black brush to erase the blur effect in the middle and make it visible only in the foreground.
Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Bring the Hue value down to -17:
Open the background image. Drag this image into the main canvas using
the Move Tool (V) and place it behind the foreground. Set this layer
under the foreground one.
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 12 px to this layer. The pixel radius should
be bigger than the one applied to the foreground. It’s to make it separate from the foreground and increase
the depth of field.
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Yellow value of the Midtones to -32. It’s to fit the foreground color.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to make the background brighter.
2. Add the Snail
Cut out the snail from the white background using the Magic Wand Tool
(W) and then place it in the middle of the foreground (non-blurred
Add a mask to the snail layer and use a medium-soft black brush with a
small size (3-4 px) to trim the bottom of the snail to blend it with the
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
The main light source comes from left to right so the hind part of the
snail should be darker. Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the
lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the front
and non-shaded areas of the snail.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to give more light to the front of
the snail. Paint on the shaded area so it’s not affected by this
3. Add the Ivy
Open the house image. Use the Lasso Tool to select an ivy area in the front and add it to the shell of the snail.
To remove the unwanted wall remaining on this part, select the Brush Tool
(B) from the drop-down menu, and choose Reset Brushes to set all the
brushes to default. Choose the Spatter 24 pixels brush to trim the
unwanted details and make jagged edges.
Add other ivy parts to cover the shell using the same method.
Select all the ivy layers and press Control-G to make a group for
them. Change this group mode from Pass Through to Normal 100%. Create a
Curves adjustment layer within this group to brighten the upper part of
the ivy shell. Use a soft black brush to erase the light on the lower
Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shade on the lower area. Paint on the upper part to reveal the lightness there.
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the ivy’s color with the rest.
4. Add the Window
Open the window image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select
the window only and place it in the upper left of the ivy shell. Use
Control-T with the Warp mode to bend the window to fit the perspective
of the shell.
Add a mask to this layer and use the Spatter 24 px brush to make the ivy cover the window edges.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -49:
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Yellow value of the Midtones to -46:
Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the window a little:
5. Add the Door
Open the door image and take the door area to add to the lower right of the shell.
Use a layer mask with the Spatter 24 px brush to blend the door with the existing ivy.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Reds value:
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and adjust the Midtones settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast of the door.
6. Add the Mushrooms
Isolate the mushroom 1 from the background and place it in the right corner of the scene, behind the snail.
Use a layer mask to blend its bottom with the mossy ground.
Create a new layer under the mushroom 1 image. Use a medium-soft black
brush and the opacity about 50% to paint a thin shadow for the mushroom
(as the light falls from left to right).
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Master settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to shade the right side of the mushroom
a bit. Paint on the left and the front of the mushroom so they’re not
affected by this adjustment layer.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light on the front
of the mushroom. Apply brushing on the left and lower right of the
mushroom so they’re not brighter after this step.
Add the mushrooms 2 image to the left corner of the scene and blend the mushrooms with the ground
using a layer mask.
Make shadow for the mushrooms 2 as we did with the mushroom 1.
Make a group for the mushrooms 2 and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the mushrooms’ color a little.
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer for the same purpose.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the mushrooms brighter. Paint
on the lower areas of the mushrooms so they’re still in shadow.
7. Add the Chimney and Smoke
Cut out the chimney from the original image and place it onto the top middle of the ivy shell.
Make shadow for the chimney as we did with the previous elements.
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to give some vibrant red/yellow to the chimney.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the chimney. Paint on the back of the chimney to increase the shadow there.
Select the smoke area from the original image and place it above the chimney. Rotate it to fit the direction of the chimney.
Change this layer mode to Screen 100% and use a layer mask to hide the hard edges of the smoke.
Add a Hue/Saturation layer to desaturate the remaining blue on the smoke.
Use a Levels adjustment layer to change the visibility of the smoke, making the bottom more visible and the top less.
8. Add the Lamp
Cut out the lamps from the original background and select the right one to add to the lower back of the shell.
Use a layer mask to make the hook hidden inside the ivy.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the lamp.
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color
#2a1b01 to paint on
the lamp and the ivy around it. Change this layer mode to Linear Dodge
Use a brighter color (
#fbd796) to paint more light for the lamp. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.
9. Add the Bokeh
Import the bokeh image to the main document and change the mode to Screen 100%.
Use a layer mask to reduce the visibility of the bokeh. Also erase the effect on the snail and the mushrooms:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to this effect, making it appear more subtle.
10. The Final Adjustment
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer on top of the layers and change the Midtones settings.
Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors
#f6fbcb. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.
Congratulations, You’re Done!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel
free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I’d love to see
them. Enjoy Photoshopping!