In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll create a Battlefield 1 style poster composite with a Roman Legionnaire and we’re going to title it “Battlefield B.C.” In this video, not only will I get side-tracked talking about World War I for a quick minute at the beginning of this tutorial, but we’ll also cover how to create custom smoke with brushes, blending the Roman soldier into the composite, creating motion blur, creating sparkling lighting effects, color grading, squared sharp corners on an outer stroke, and much, much more!
Create New Document + Drag in Background Elements
Create a new PSD and set the size to 3840 x 2160 pixels in size. I downloaded a pay-for stock photo of some Roman ruins that I thought would make a great element in the background of this “B.C.” era Battlefield poster. You can place the image by going File>Place Embedded and then navigate to where you’ve saved the image on your hard drive and choose to open it. Use the corner anchor handles while holding down the “Shift” key and resize the image until it fits about like mine does in the screenshot.
Painting the Smoke Effect
After cutting out the sky of the Roman ruins and adding a couple Adjustment Layers to brighten that image up a bit, I downloaded these smoke brushes from Brusheezy.com and loaded them into Photoshop using the little flyout menu in the top corner of my Brush panel and choosing “Load Brushes”. Also in the Brush panel, tick on the “Shape Dynamics” option and increase both size jitter and angle jitter to 100%. Tick on “Color Dynamics” as well and set Foreground/Background to 100%. These options will randomly change the size and angle of your brush while picking a random color somewhere between your foreground and background colors while you paint. Set your foreground color to #dbf4f7 and the background to #475d70. I used three different layers of smoke and the color of the smoke changed a little bit on each layer. Check out the full video above to really see how I did this.
Adding the Roman Legionnaire
I found an image of a Roman Legionnaire on a stock photo site and I cut him out using Select and Mask and refined the selection with the Lasso tools and brushing in the mask. Grab your subject and drag him into the composition and we want to place him in front of the Background and Middle Clouds smoke layers, but keep him behind the Foreground Clouds layer. Add a Layer mask to each of the smoke layers and paint away parts of the smoke to get a more realistic smoke effect. Again, check out the video above to see exactly how I manipulated the Brush tool to allow me to get a great effect here.
Adding the Shower of Sparks
I found three free stock photos from Unsplash.com that really worked well for sparks. You can download the first image here, the second image here, and the third image right here. Open these images in Photoshop and drag them, one at a time, into your composite file. Working on a sparks layer, open the Levels Adjustment (Cmd/Ctrl + L) and drag the black slider on the left inward toward the gray slide to really solidify the blacks in his photo. The idea is to get the spark photos to have a mostly black background because we want to set each of these layers to the blend mode “Screen” which will knock away black and only preserve the bright spark shower. Use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to resize and position the spark showers in the top left corner of your image.
Placing the Text and Getting Sharp Corners on an Outer Stroke
I used the typeface “Bebas” which can be found right over here for free and I placed my text right in the middle of my image and set it to a size that I thought was big enough. The size of your type will depend on the size of your PSD. I ended up choosing a size of 375pt and I set the tracking to 60 in the Character panel (Window>Character). Right-click on the type layer and choose “Convert to Shape Layer” and then grab the Direct Selection tool (A) and drag a lasso around your type to select it. In the top control bar, set the fill of the text to #472b48 and add a 12pt stroke and set its color to #472b48 as well. The stroke will not appear until you choose the stroke options panel (just to the right of the stroke selector) and make sure that the stroke is being applied to the outside and has squared corners. Set this entire layer to the Multiply blend mode. There is so much more to creating this text effect, but I can’t fit it all in right here. Watch the video at the top of this page!
Be sure to watch the full video above to see every little step, detail, and technique that was used to create this entire effect. Thanks for checking it out!