Create an Earth Shattering Disaster Scene in Photoshop

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If you saw the movie “2012” you may remember that scene where the California coast begins to break apart and fall into the sea. In this tutorial, we will show you how to re-create that scene using a selection of stock photographs. Let’s get started!


Speed Art Video

Watch this whole tutorial completed in 6 minutes.


Tutorial Assets


1. Image Setup and Base Images

Step 1

Let’s start by setting up our document as shown below; if your computer permits. If not don’t worry and make it smaller.

Step 2

Let’s bring in this two images that will be the base of our work; copy and paste each in a new layer.

Step 3

Let’s now save the document, any name will be fine.

Step 4

Now on the first image, with the lasso tool make a selection that includes all the area shown below.

Step 5

Copy and paste that selection on a new layer and hide the other two.

Step 6

Now create a layer mask for this section and grab your paint brush tool with the tip shown below.

Step 7

Now let’s simply mask off what we don’t need as shown here.

Step 8

Access the rotate command and rotate the section as shown below.

Step 9

Let’s repeat the step for this other section shown here, so grab the lasso tool and select the area as shown.

Step 10

Then place it and rotate it as indicated here.

Step 11

And once again create a mask and mask off the edge as shown here.

Step 12

Let’s grab a third big section in between both, copy and paste it on to a new layer and rotate it as shown below.

Step 13

Mask the section as shown here and rotate it a bit more.

Step 14

Let’s go now to the top layer, and make yet another selection of a big piece as indicated below. Then rotate it as shown.

Step 15

OK now we will go to the bottom image layer and make a quick selection of the bottom half, and then mask it off so we have only the top left visible.

Step 16

Great!, now we will go all the way down to the background layer and fill it with the blue color shown here; working on a white back is both distracting and tiring for the eyes.

Step 17

We need another big piece from the bottom section so let’s make another selection and copy and paste it on to a new layer.

Step 18

OK good, now rotate it as shown here, and then make a selection of the top as shown and then cut and paste it on to a new layer so we have two sections.

Step 19

Now rotate and position this section as shown here.

Step 20

Let’s now go back to the bottom layer and flip it horizontally as shown here. And then position the image as shown below.

Step 21

Let’s pick a big soft brush and just mask the top as shown here for now.

Step 22

Now its time to refine the layers edges a bit so let’s start with this one here and grab the paintbrush with black to continue masking off.

Step 23

Grab the 23px chalk brush tip with it and detail the edge as shown here.

Step 24

Continue all around the section as shown here

Step 25

This section right here will need some rebuilding, so be sure you plan ahead of what you mask off to bring the sections of the buildings back. So in the previous steps we masked off irregularly but in this one sharp angles will serve much better.

Step 26

OK this is what we need right now, let’s grab the clone tool and make a new layer as shown. Then clone the sections that we need from the buildings as shown below.

Step 27

Do the same for the other building as shown here.

Step 28

For the top sections be sure to clean up all the edge of the buildings, so we have a clean sharp edge.

Step 29

Continue with the rest of the image, working on the mask adding or removing as needed.

Step 30

So at the end of this section we should have all these pieces in different angles ready to start building on top of them.


2. Broken Cliffs

Step 1

OK now its time to start figuring out how the volume of our pieces will be against each other and how the cliffs created by these huge fractures of the land will appear. So create a new layer as shown here

Step 2

Then grab this brush and a color such as this below.

Step 3

OK now paint downwards creating volume fro the pieces of land planning out the different cliffs that support the pieces in the direction they are setup. Then vary the color to a darker shade to suggest shading and paint accordingly.

Step 4

Now let’s open this image here and select the portion indicated below; then copy and paste it on to a new layer.

Step 5

And we will do the same for these other images, so we have several materials to work with.

Step 6

Perfect, now we have 4 layers of different cliff texture to work with, so now let’s change the perspective in the layer shown below by applying some skew to it as shown.

Step 7

Then simply in a new layer with the clone tool we start covering the basic painting we did with cliff texture as shown here.

Step 8

Continue cloning from all the different sections until you have covered all of the pieces with corresponding texture and variation in cliff texture.

Step 9

Once we are done let’s group all of our materials in a folder and hide it so we can still use them at a later time.

Step 10

Now we will modify the shading of the texture we applied a bit by creating a levels layer clipped to it, and adjusting as shown.

Step 11

This darkens the whole layer a bit so we will mask off where needed to bring back a bit of light. So with black and the soft brush let’s mask off as indicated below.

Step 12

Let’s add a second adjustment layer, this time a curves layer and adjust it as shown here.

Step 13

This has the opposite effect lifting the blacks overall quite a bit so let’s once again grab or soft brush and mask off where we don’t want this layer to affect as shown below.

Step 14

OK great!, now we will readjust the curves layer a bit as shown separately for the green and red channels as shown here and also the levels layer for the blue channel

Step 15

So at this point this is what we have pretty much correctly shaded and ready for the next step.

Step 16

Now its time to enable the background layer and at this point we will mask off to suggest the huge crack extending to the horizon as shown below. And we have successfully positioned most of the pieces for the puzzle and we are on our way with a clear plan on our new image.


3. Ocean Base

Step 1

We will now establish the basis for the ocean that covers the rest of the image, so go ahead and open this image and paste it on to a new layer.

Step 2

Let’s distort the perspective of it as shown here and also mask off what we don’t need right away.

Step 3

At this point I decided to replace the back layer so enable the top layer we used at the beginning and drag it all the way down as shown.

Step 4

Then just scale it a bit as shown here.

Step 5

Since we have replaced the former horizon layer let’s mask off the crack section again.

Step 6

Make a new layer as shown here and grab the clone tool.

Step 7

We will start fixing the ocean layer roughly cloning where needed as shown here.

Step 8

All areas where there is no ocean need a bit of quick creative cloning so we can cover with ocean all of what’s needed.

Step 9

Now grab both ocean layers and drag them to the top as shown here.

Step 10

Let’s mask off all the leftovers from the original image.

Step 11

Do a little bit more cloning where needed to clean up roughly the ocean surface, don’t worry we will be refining and improving it along the way.

Step 12

Create a levels layer for our ocean and adjust it as shown below.

Step 13

And again we will mask off what we don’t need from this levels layer, so grab your big soft brush again with black as color; and mask off as shown below.

Step 14

We are trying to pair up the color and shading between the ocean and the back so let’s create a hue saturation layer just above the horizon layer.

Step 15

Then go back to the ocean layer, add a color balance and adjust it as indicated.

Step 16

In this case we want the layer to affect only a small part so we will invert the process by filling the mask with black, and then using the paintbrush with white just to let the layer effect through where we need it as shown below.

Step 17

OK now we need another layer clipped to the ocean so we can start a bit of clone cleaning as shown.

Step 18

And while we do this we will start also detailing the edge of the cliff where it meets the ocean by editing the mask on it.

Step 19

Let’s drag the painting layer for the ocean on top of the adjustment layers so its not influenced by it and continue fixing with the clone tool the sections needed all around such as this one below.

Step 20

And by the end of this section we should have a cleaner ocean without any missing sections.


4. Earth Fracture

Step 1

Time to add detail to the earth fracture on the background, so first of all let’s detail the mask that creates it as shown.

Step 2

Then as we have done before we will quickly paint in the plan we have for these cliffs revealed by the crack, so grab the brush and the tip shown here, plus the base color for it.

Step 3

Create a new layer on top the back layer and start painting in what will be the cliffs for this section.

Step 4

We will vary the color as we go along suggesting shaded areas and also taking into consideration the depth in Z space that makes the objects further away to have lighter blacks as shown below.

Step 5

We also need to do some fixing to missing parts of the other previously done cliffs so go to the material group and copy the layer shown here, and then drag it out below the group.

Step 6

Move that section where you can see it and grab the clone tool.

Step 7

Then simply clone in the aforementioned missing section as shown here.

Step 8

Now let’s grab another layer from the materials folder and copy and drag it out below the back section as shown here.

Step 9

Drag the section over to the crack area and place it as shown here so it covers the length of it.

Step 10

Then distort it a little bit so it matches the perspective.

Step 11

Then once again grab the clone tool and fix the section shown here to make the cliff extend all the way down.

Step 12

Let’s grab one more section from the material folder and also drag it below the back section as shown.

Step 13

Place it as shown here and then just erase what we don’t need.

Step 14

Duplicate this last layer and drag it as shown here, and then also erase as needed.

Step 15

Duplicate this last one and also move and erase as shown.

Step 16

Now we have sections for the whole length of the fracture on both shaded and non shaded sections.

Step 17

Now we will adjust the hue saturation on all of our landscape layers applying a clipped layer to each; so let’s start with this one and adjust the saturation as shown below.

Step 18

Apply the same to all the layers that make up the landscape as shown here.

Step 19

And now let’s apply a hue saturation on top everything and adjust it as shown.

Step 20

And let’s follow with a curves layer and adjust it as shown below.

Step 21

Let’s continue with grabbing all of the layers we did for the fracture and merge them into one.

Step 22

Then make a levels layer clipped to it and adjust as shown.

Step 23

Let’s follow with a curves layer and adjust as shown here.

Step 24

Let’s mask off everything from this curves layer by filling in with black and then pick up the brush tool with a nice soft tip and the color white to mask in just where its needed.

Step 25

And mask in on the layer closer to the horizon as shown here.

Step 26

And finally let’s now increase the size of the brush and change it to black so we can now mask off on the levels layer as shown below. And we have one more section completed.


5. Sunken Buildings

Step 1

We will now add some buildings below the water level, so select this layer shown here plus the lasso tool.

Step 2

Then make a selection of this building here and copy and paste it on to a new layer on top.

Step 3

Then drag it into position and mask of the edge as shown.

Step 4

Grab a couple of more buildings and do exactly the same.

Step 5

And finally let’s do one more building as shown here.

Step 6

Grab all of the newly created building layers and merge them into one.

Step 7

Let’s duplicate one of the hue saturation layers we did for the landscape, drag and clip it to the building layer; and that is it for now on the buildings.


6. Ocean Detailing Part 1

Step 1

Now its time to start the process of detailing increasingly the ocean, so grab the brush tool and create a new layer on top.

Step 2

Select this brush tip and enable transfer and pen pressure on the brush palette.

Step 3

Decrease or increase the diameter as needed and sample a light color from the close by ocean foam; then start painting in detail as shown below. This being a heavy painting step it is strongly recommended to follow the action on the video so you get a good idea of what is being done.

Step 4

We will be combining all the time painting with creative cloning as shown here to obtain a good result on the ocean surface.

Step 5

You have to go all over the image fixing and detailing the quick cloning we did before as shown here; yet its only another level in detail, we will be increasingly adding more as we go.

Step 6

Also find sections that need splashing or foam detail and paint/clone as needed.

Step 7

Finally don’t forget the buildings we did previously they need to be fully integrated on to the water surface. And again follow the video since all this painted detail can be better understood by watching the action.


7. Cliff Detail Part 2

Step 1

OK let’s now jump to the cliffs and add a bit more detail on those; for that we will use the image shown here. So make a selection as shown and copy and paste it on to a new layer, plus flip it horizontally right away.

Step 2

Now access the distort command and change the perspective a bit as shown here.

Step 3

We will also use a bit of warp to further change the perspective of the image.

Step 4

And then go back to the distort command to adjust a little bit more as shown here.

Step 5

Then quickly erase the sky by quickly making a selection of it and deleting it. Then proceed with changing the layer mode to soft light.

Step 6

Then move the cliff as further up as you can so we have space to clone and then start cloning on top of the cliffs we already have to increase the detail on them as shown here.

Step 7

Continue cloning on all the cliff sections as shown here, carefully changing your clone source to pick the sections that look better in the different areas. Then drag the layer way down just above the original cliff layers and make a duplicate of our new cliff detail; then follow by selecting all of the original cliff layers shown in red and merge them together.

Step 8

Next just clip the layer to the resulting merged layer.

Step 9

Now enable the duplicate of cliff detail and make a selection of it with the lasso tool as shown below.

Step 10

Next access the rotate command and rotate the section as shown here.

Step 11

We did these because of the different angle this section has which is angled the opposite direction.

Step 12

Now let’s name the top layer where we started to do some sea painting plus create a new one on top named broken paint.

Step 13

Now let’s select all of these layers and merge them together.

Step 14

Before continuing let’s grab the clone tool and in the section shown here let’s clone a bit to fix the edge as shown.

Step 15

Now we go back to the layer shown here where we will do heavy detailing on the cliffs all over the image, so select the layer and grab the brush tool.

Step 16

Select this brush tip and start sampling from the close by shadow areas as shown here.

Step 17

We will switch between that brush and this brush as needed to detail and merge the surface with the rocks as shown below. Again another heavy painting section where it’s recommended to closely follow the video.

Step 18

Also find any section that is missing or requires a rebuild such as this one here.

Step 19

We have to go all over the image finding detail to add so all the surface blends better with the rocks as shown here, and again heavy painting process so watch the videos.

Step 20

Let’s now add a levels layer on top the cliffs and adjust it as shown below.

Step 21

Then fill the mask with black

Step 22

Select the big soft brush and mask in with white as shown below.

Step 23

Let’s now go to the surface layers and detail the edges as shown here, just masking on or off as needed with the 23px chalk brush.

Step 24

Go over all sections refining the edge as needed.

Step 25

If you find detail needed to be added where the sea meets the cliffs don’t hesitate to change the layer and touch up as needed.

Step 26

Where needed just suggest or quickly paint in as we have done before a base to polish up later. Which brings us to the end of this stage.


8. Ocean Detail Part 2

Step 1

Let’s continue right where we left off the previous stage and continue adding detail to what we started suggesting, painting in the water that goes into the sinking coast, using both the paintbrush and the clone tool as needed. We don’t do anything but painting in this way on this section so to comprehend you need to watch the video closely and start painting in.

Step 2

We are still painting heavily so be sure to keep an eye on the video for this section. OK now we need a new layer on top where we will paint in debris falling from the pieces of cliff, the surface and even the buildings. So name the layer debris and let’s start with the brush shown here, and increase the spacing on the brush tip as shown below.

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Create an Earth Shattering Disaster Scene in Photoshop | manda | 4.5
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