In this tutorial, we will create a catastrophic tsunami crashing into the Statue of Liberty, similar to a scene in The Day After Tomorrow. To achieve this effect, we will be combing and adjusting regular images to form a stormy composition, with a massive tsunami rushing past the Statue of Liberty.
Final Image Preview
Beneath is a preview of our final image. To view the full size version, click here.
- Storm Clouds – (image)
- Rough Sea – (image)
- Statue of Liberty – (image)
- Splash – (image)
- Capsizing Boat – (image)
- Skateboarder – (image)
- Lightning – (image)
- Bird Brush – (brush)
Start a new document, set the size to anything 1280×960 and below. My document was set to 966 x 722. Open the rough sea photo and copy it into your main project. Resize and position it, so the sea takes up about half your canvas. Use various selection tools to remove the sky and boat. I used the Magic Wand Tool (W) & Lasso Tool (L).
Now, in order to recreate a stormy color for our sea we need to alter its levels & color balance. This can be achieved by using adjustment layers and adding a clipping mask or, Image->Adjustments->Color Balance/Levels. Settings for the Color Balance and Levels are shown below:
Using the Clone Stamp Tool (S), remove light areas of the cloud by selecting dark areas (alt-click) and painting over them. This will remove areas where sun light is prominent, giving our photo a gloomier effect.
Open the Statue of Liberty image in a new window. Use selection tools to remove the sky background, I used the Magic Wand Tool (W) for most of the sky. To cut around the railings I used the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).
Now we need to use the Match Color adjustment to realistically change its color to that of our clouds. This is because it’s the light source, therefore the statue must match the light color shining on it. Go to Image->Adjustments->Match Color, select the source as your main project and the layer as the clouds.
Copy and paste the statue into your main document. Resize and position the statue in a position you like. I slightly darkened my statue by using Brightness/Contrast. (Image->Adjustments->Brightness/Contrast).
Duplicate the sea layer and place the layer above your statue, so it sandwiches the statue between the both sea layers.
Using your Eraser Tool (E), select a relatively large and soft brush. Now remove areas of your top sea layer, so it reveals the statues head and arm. As shown below:
The next step is to create a splashing effect behind and at the base of the statue. At the bottom of the sea image there is a small wave breaking. Duplicate one of your sea layers. Remove all the sea apart from the small wave (in the bottom right).
Set it’s Blend Mode to Lighten, roughly remove any unwanted sea with the Eraser Tool (E). Position and resize it at the base of your statue. Use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to replicate the white water at the base of the statue’s head, as shown below:
Move this layer behind your statue.
The next stage is to use your Clone Stamp Tool (S) to create more splash, behind and in front of the image. This involves clone stamping in the layer behind your statue then duplicating it and bringing it to the front of the statue. From here you can clone stamp until your satisfied with the level of splash. The series of images below shows me clone stamping the splash, step by step.
(Note: The trick for a realistic splash effect is to have splash at the front and back of your statue to create depth.)
Step 10 is creating a smaller wave in front of our statue. This gives the effect that waters rushing past the statue. Duplicate the bottom sea layer. Using various selection tools to remove sea, leaving a small wave, looking like the images below (Make sure not to move your new duplicated layer, otherwise it won’t blend with the sea image below):
Below is an image of what we have accomplished so far:
Notice that our statue still has a blue & green tint at the edges. To correct this we will be adding 4 adjustment layers. Highlight the statue layer, go Layer->New Adjustment Layer->Levels. Place your adjustment layer above the statue layer, right click on your adjustment layer and select->Create Clipping Mask (This allows us to apply an adjusjment to a single layer). Set the Level settings to the settings shown below:
Above this adjustment layer add a new adjustment layer->Brightness/Contrast. Create a clipping mask. Settings for Brightness/Contrast are shown below:
Above this adjustment layer add a new adjustment layer->Color Balance. Create a clipping mask. Settings for Color Balance are shown below:
Above this adjustment layer add a new adjustment layer->Hue/Saturation. Create a clipping mask. Settings for Hue/Saturation are shown below:
As you can see the blue & green tint around the edges have been removed:
By adding a capsizing boat to our composition we are giving it a sense of danger and realism, emphasizing the monumental scale of such an event. Open your boat image in a new Photoshop tab. Match the color to our sea layer, Image->Adjustments->Match Color.
Using selection tools, roughly cut the boat out and paste into your original project.
In the original project, resize and position the boat where you like. Select the layers Blend Mode -> Pin Light, then use the Eraser Tool (E) to remove any unwanted sea still left around the boat.
Duplicate this layer, make sure blend mode is normal on the new duplicate. Add a very small Gaussian Blur (Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur). Then using your Eraser Tool (T) with a small soft brush, remove everything around the boat, leaving the deck and mast. This leaves us with the effect of a battered ship with an ominous glow from our storm clouds.
For further effect, I am going to add a man clinging onto our boat. Open your skateboarder image in a new tab. Match the color (Image->Adjustments->Match Color) to the sea or clouds. Whichever looks most realistic. Using selection tools remove the background and skateboard.
Once the background and skateboard is removed, copy and paste him into your main project. Resize & rotate him to fit on the boat. I erased his left hand so it looked like he was holding onto the mast. If your man doesn’t match the color of your boat, play around with his adjustment settings.
For a great storm effect, we need lightning. Open the lightning image in a new tab. Match the color (Image->Adjustments->Match Color) to the sea.
Copy this image into your main project, resize and position it behind your bottom sea layer. Set the layers Blend Mode->Lighten. Use the Eraser Tool (E) to remove excess background, leaving the bolt.
Download bird brushes, using a sensible sized brush add some birds in the background.
To really bring this image to life, rain in the foreground is ideal. Simple rain effects are easy to create. Add a new layer above all your previous layers. Make sure your color palette is set to white and black.
With your new layer selected, go Filter->Render->Clouds.
Now add 60% Gaussian Monochromatic noise to your clouds, Filter>Noise>Add Noise.
Select the layer and click Filter>Blur>Motion blur. Set the values, Angle 73 and Distance 10 as shown below:
Finally change the layer’s blend mode to Screen and lower the opacity to whatever intensity of rain you want. My opacity is set to 16%.
Step 19 – Final Adjustments
To finish our image, I’m going add two adjustment layers above all the previous layers.
Create an adjustment layer for Levels (Layer->New Adjustment Layer->Levels). Settings are shown below:
Which looks like:
Now add our final adjustment layer, color balance (Layer->Add Adjustment Layer->Color Balance). Settings shown below:
Done! Lets just hope this really doesn’t happen!
Final Version (click for full size):
(Note: File size is about 11.5MB)
I hope you enjoyed this post.