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Members Area Tutorial: Create A Fantasy Mushroom House Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a fantasy photo manipulation featuring a mushroom house. You’ll learn how to combine different stocks together in a proper way, work effectively with layer styles and another effects, create light and shadow correctly, make a good use of blending and adjustment layers.

You’ll also create a realistic depth of field, and learn how to master the tiny details of your piece to give a more polished outcome.

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Step 1

Create a new document and fill it with white or any color you like. Open background stock. I use a photo from Photoxpress so if you can’t take it, choose another suitable green plant one. Move the background after scaling it down to suitable size into our white canvas:

I want this background to be blurred so I’ll apply Gassian Blur Filter to it. Go to Filter-Blur-Gassian Blur and set radius as 8 px:

Step 2

Open foreground stock. Drag, resize and position it at foreground of our picture:

Add layer mask for this foreground and use soft black brush to blend blurred part with background:

Step 3

I want to add more space which is not blurred for this picture. On foreground layer, use Lasso Tool (L) to make a selection on a visible part of the left side:

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate (copy) selected part into a new layer. Move it a bit to the right and use Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform it:

Use layer mask and soft black brush to remove hard edges of this part. Call this layer as “foreground part 1″:

I duplicate this part and move it nearer foreground (our viewers). Use layer mask to blend it with the rest:

Name it “foreground part 2″.

Open foreground stock. Use any tools you like to make selection for this part ( I want to copy this part from original stock as it’s bigger and it’s easy to customize the size than the one layered in our main photo).

Place it on the part that is not blurred on our picture, and resize to be smaller as shown below:

Then blend it (with layer mask) and call it “foreground part 3″:

Step 4

Create a Color Balance layer on the top as I want to change color a bit. On foreground part 3 layer, go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Color Balance:

Step 5

Open mushroom stock. I choose the one with big stem and after extracting it, I position it at the right side of our picture:

I add layer mask for mushroom and use black brush with hardness about 30% to blend rough edges with ground ( don’t use soft brush as it will leave unatural result):

I notice that there are some parts on bottom of mushroom cap blurrier than the rest. To fix it, first make a new layer above mushroom one with Clipping Mask:

On mushroom layer, make selection for these parts and press Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy them. Choose new layer and press Cmd/Ctrl+V to paste copied parts into it.

Go to Filter-Sharpen-Unsharp Mask:

After sharpening the blur still remains on some parts so I repeat sharpening again but with copied parts from the layer sharpened before ( layer 17) and change the Amounts from 150 to 80:

Name these layer as “sharpen 1″, “sharpen 2″:

Step 6

In this step we’ll make shadow for the mushroom. As you can see, the main light source comes from the left so this mushroom should have a shadow on the right. Now create a new layer under mushroom one. Hold Cmd/Ctrl while clicking mushroom thumbnail layer to load its selection:

Go to Edit-Fill and choose black color. After deselecting (Cmd/Ctrl+D), use transform tool to turn it to the right:

Lower opacity to 40% and apply Gassian Blur with 2 px:

Add layer mask for this shadow and erase unecessary parts. Rename this layer “mushroom shadow”:

Step 7

You may notice that the foreground part beside the right of the mushroom looks a bit too bright. To reduce brightness, I make a new layer under mushroom ones ( mushroom, mushroom shadow). Use soft black brush with opacity about 30% to paint on this part, then change the mode to Multipy 50%:

Step 8

Make a new layer with Clipping Mask for the mushroom (above sharpen layers). I use soft white brush to paint over the right side of mushroom as I found it a bit dark. Set the mode to Soft Light 100%:

New layer ( Clipping Mask) and I use Clone Tool to fix a part on mushroom cap:

Step 9

Make a new layer ( Clipping Mask) with Overlay mode 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use Dodge and Burn Tool with Midtones Range and Exposure about 20- 30% to correct the light and shadow on some parts of the mushroom. You can see how I applied these tools with Normal mode:

Overlay mode:

Step 10

I add a Curves layer to change color of mushroom to be fit background. Go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves and adjust Green channels:

Step 11

Open door stock. Copy door part and place it on the left side of mushroom. I use transform tool to make it a bit skew as shown below:

Go to Edit-Transform-Warp and tweak it following the shape of the mushroom:

I apply Layer Style for this door to make it look more realistic. Double click door layer, choose Drop Shadow:

Step 12

I use some adjustment layers ( Clipping Mask) to change color and make the door brighter as it looks dull now. Go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Selective Color:

Curves 1:

Curves 2:


Step 13

In this step we’ll make doorstep. Open stock with pathway. Copy this stone step and drag it it into our picture, transform it to be much smaller and set it under door bottom. Also place this layer under the door one.

Add layer mask for this doorstep and soften the front edge:

Add shadow for this doorstep with Layer Style:

Step 14

I use a Color Balance layer with Clipping Mask to add some light yellow for this doorstep:

Step 15

Extract the shoes and position it on the doorstep and resize it to get a suitable size. Place this layer on the top.

Make a new layer under shoes one. Use soft black brush with very small size ( 3-4 px) painting along shoes bottom to create their cast shadow:

Call it “shoes shadow 1″.

Continue with a new layer and use same method done with mushroom shadow to make drop shadow for the shoes (as the light source comes from the left):

Name this layer “shoes shadow 2″.

Step 16

I use some adjustment layers ( Clipping Mask) to change color and brightness of the shoes:

Selective Color:



I use soft black brush on Levels layer mask to reduce brightness on the right shoe:

Step 17

Open window stock. Take the left one and place it on the right of the mushroom, transform it to get the look below:

Use Warp Tool as done with the door to tweak the edges a bit and follow the shape of the mushroom:

You can sharpen any blurred parts by making selection for them then applying Unsharp Mask (or Smart Sharpen) from Filter gallery.

Apply Drop Shadow for this window:

Step 18

I add a Color Balance layer ( Clipping Mask) to make color of window fit background:

Step 19

Open vine stock. Use your familiar method to extract the vine (I used Channels for it). Don’t need to be so precise or perfect as we’ll downsize it to be much smaller. Copy a part of this vine and place it onto the mushroom, beside the door, transform it:

Call it “vine 1″.

Duplicate this vine part and use transform tool to turn it to the right:

Call it “vine 2″.

Now add layer mask for these vine layers and remove the top and bottom of them ( use black brush with big hardness, 80-90%):

Step 20

Come back to vine stock. Take another part of the vine and set it on the top of door then flip it horizontally ( Edit-Transform-Flip Horizontal). Name this layer as “vine 3″. Place this layer under “vine 1″, “vine 2″:

Duplicate this layer twice and move them to the left of the door. Use layer mask to remove unwanted parts if you find it necessary:

Step 21

I want to change color of all the vines together to be fit background so I make group for them. Make all the vine ones selected then hit Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group. Click the small triangle beside group symbol to show all the layers inside. Now change the mode of this group from Pass Through ( default mode group) to Normal 100%:

On vine 2 layer ( layer on the top of this group), go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Color Balance:

Because the mode of this group turned to Normal 100% so this Color Balance layer only affects the layers inside this group ( vine ones).

Step 22

Apply shadow for the all the vine layers on mushroom and door by Layer Style (I use same settings for all these layers):

Step 23

I feel the right side of mushroom stem empty so I decide to add more element to it. Open stock with grass blades. Copy this part and situate it beside the mushroom, use layer mask to remove its bottom:

Name it “blade 1″.

Duplicate it four times and transform them into different sizes and directions. Place them along the mushroom stem bottom:

Rename them from “blade 2″ to “blade 5″.

Come back to blade stock. Take another part and repeat the same method with previous blades. I use 3 layers for these new blades:

Call them from “blade 6″ to “blade 8″.

Step 24

Make group for blade layers as we did with the vines. Use a Curves layer to add some green-yellow tone and brightness for the blades:

For all blade layers, I apply Drop Shadow with settings below:

Step 25

Open plant stock pack with the fern. As it has transparent background so you just use Move Tool to position it between blades:

Make shadow for the fern as done with mushroom and shoes:

Add another shadow for the fern on mushroom by Drop Shadow:

Step 26

I use a Curves layer with Clipping Mask for the fern to make it brighter and change its color:

Step 27

Open the house stock with chimney. Cut out the chimney, resize and place it above the right side of mushroom cap.

Add layer mask for the chimney to remove hard edges:

Step 28

Add some adjustment layers with Clipping Mask to make color of the chimney fit the picture rest:


Color Balance:


Use black brush on Curves layer mask to remove brightness on the right edge of the chimney to fit the light and shadow of picture:

Make a new layer ( Clipping Mask) and I use soft brush with color #4d3b1c to darken more the chimney bottom. Put the mode as Multipy 50%:

Step 29

Open smoke stock. Copy only smoke part and place above the chimney:

Change the mode to Screen 100% and use layer mask to remove white rough edges around the smoke:

Duplicate this smoke 10 times and set them to create a smoke stream coming out from the chimney. Erase any unwanted parts to get your desired look. Rename them from “smoke 1″ to “smoke 11″ and here is my result:

Step 30

Extract the chair and place it on the right side of our picture, near the mushroom:

Make shadow for the chair as done in previous steps:

Add a new layer (Clipping Mask) and use soft white brush to paint over the chair to brighten it a bit. Change the mode to Soft Light 100%:

Step 31

I use some adjustment layers to change color of this chair.



Step 32

Cut out the mailbox from original stock and place it at the left side of picture. I use layer mask to remove a tiny part at mailbox bottom:

To remove the text on mailbox I use Content-Aware Fill ( this feature is only included from CS5 so if you’re using older version you can use Clone Tool to do it). Make a selection around the text ( on mailbox layer):

Go to Edit-Fill-Content Aware:

And here is result:

Add shadow for the mailbox:

It’s lucky the mailbox has color and light that fit the rest so we don’t need to retouch it any more. Leave it and go ahead with another subjects.

Step 33

Open the house with flower baskets. I take this basket and place it on the front of mushroom house:

Don’t worry about the strings that connect basket and the top as we can easily redraw them later.

I use some adjustment layers to brighten and change color of this basket:


Selective Color:

Step 34

Make a new layer (Clipping Mask) with settings like in step 9. Use Dodge and Burn Tool with Midtones Range and Exposure about 30-35% to change the light and shadow of this basket. As the light comes from the left so I use Dodge Tool for the left side and Burn Tool for the right side:

Step 35

Create a new layer on the top. Take the Pen Tool and draw three lines that connect the basket and its top:

Right click on picture, choose Stroke Path with hard brush, 1 px and color #776950:

Now we’ll make shadow for the basket on mushroom house. Make a new layer and set it under mushroom one. Load selection of basket and strings (look at step 6 if you forgot how to load selection), fill it with black and move it on the mushroom. Lower opacity to 20% (as there is a distance between the basket and mushroom so the shadow must be more faded) and apply Gassian Blur with 2 px:

Step 36

Make a new layer under basket one. We’ll make a button that holds the basket on mushroom gill. Use Polygonal Lasso Tool to make a small rectangular as the image below shows:

Fill this selection with color #776950 ( same color with strings):

Apply Drop Shadow for it to make a 3D look:

Create a layer with Clipping Mask for this button. Use Burn Tool to darken the center of this button where it meets the basket:

Step 37

Open bokeh stock. I only take a part of it and place at the upper part of our main picture. Set this layer on the top.

Change the mode to Screen 60% and use layer mask to remove hard edges (with brush 100% opacity) and blur some colorful circles ( with lowered opacity brush). You can look at layer mask of bokeh to see how I did it:

Apply Gassian Blur with 4 px to make this bokeh effect fit well with blurred background:

I use a Color Balance layer with Clipping Mask to reduce red tone and increase green tone of this bokeh:

Step 38

Open butterfly stock. As it has transparent background so you just need use Lasso Tool to choose any butterfly you want to use. I choose three ones and place them on mushroom cap, mailbox ( apply Flip Horizontal for them) and place one on background:

Make group for butterlies with method done in previous steps. I add shadow for the ones on mailbox and mushroom (butterfly 1 and 2) by adding new layers, loading their selection, filling them with black, applying Flip Vertical, then lowering opacity to 40% and using layer mask to blur the top:

Step 39

Add some adjustment layers within this group for butteflies to change their colors.



With a sunny environment I think these butterlies must be a bit brighter. So I make a new layer ( within this group) and use soft white brush with opacity about 50% to paint over butterfly wings. I set the mode as Overlay 100%:

Step 40

Final step: Add some adjustment layers on the top to change color of overall picture.

Gradient Map:

Put the mode of this Gradient Map layer to Soft Light 100%.

Photo Filter:

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome.

Member File Download

Download the original .psd file for this tutorial here:


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  1. Boris Steinbach says:

    Wonderful Tutorial!!!

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