We will convert a daytime photo to a starry night scene in Photoshop and build a space battle scene, including compositing a soldier in place to complete the scene. We will learn about Masking, Blend Modes, Creating a Lens Flare, Using Color Range, Multiple Adjustment Layers, Levels, Curves, Selective Color, Color Balance, Extensive Brush Use, Custom Brushes, Editing Brushes, Working with Paths, Building Glows, Smart Objects, Building Mood and Drama in a Photo with Blend Modes, Black and White, Color Effects, Matching a model with the color of a background, adding noise, and so much more!
Replace the Sky with a Newer, Cloudier Sky
Ultimately, we’ll be converting a daytime photograph to a nighttime photograph and to help sell this, we’re going to poof up some clouds for our sky. You can use the download form right above this step in the tutorial to download the PSD so you can have the background and cloudy sky images for your own use. I used the Quick Selection tool and a Polygonal Lasso tool to select the sky and masked the new sky in place and set the blend mode of the new sky to Multiply. Reduce opacity if things just feel too dramatic for your taste.
Toning with Lots of Adjustment Layers
Next, we want to use a series of Levels, Curves, Selective Color, and Gradient Map adjustment layers to really shape the look of this background image. My main goal was to add spots of light (lens flare), darken the highlights, and infuse the image with magenta and blue.
Adding a UFO with Lights and Light Beam
I had an image I found with a UFO which I cut out. I’m not sure if the image was purchased or if I have sharing rights on it so I couldn’t share it as a resource with you for this tutorial, but a quick Google Images search should net you a UFO that you can cut out for yourself. We added some lights to the bottom of this flying saucer as well as a big hole in the bottom of the UFO with a giant light beam coming out. We also added a few small colored trails of light spinning off the edge of the UFO using the Pen tool, the Brush tool, and Blending Modes.
Adding Spaceships to the Night Sky
In this step, we load a pack of spaceship brushes into Photoshop and place a large spaceship in the scene, to which we add a few yellow lights and some afterburn. We then duplicate this spaceship to create a small squad of these spaceships that are attacking the city. We cover using the Brush tool, Blend Modes, Digital Painting, Smart Objects and more in this step.
Adding a Soldier to the Foreground
I very quickly cut a soldier off of a gray background and paste him into our scene. In this step, we colorize him to help him blend with our overall composite image. We spend a bit of time in this step making sure he is colored properly and make any needed global lighting, tonal, and color adjustments to make everything look just right.
Overall Color Toning and Finishing Touches
Lastly, we adjust the lighting in the scene to darken the very foreground and brighten the top of the frame to help change the depth/perspective of the image and we also add a bright red beam of infrared or night vision lighting coming from his very cool headset. That’s it for this one! It’s a long video, but we cover SO MUCH! Make sure to watch the video listed above for all the good details! Thanks!