Learn how to combine brushes and blur effects in Photoshop to create a beautiful fantasy scene in this step-by-step guide by Murilo Maciel.

Fantasy art scenes are usually handled with a liberal sprinkling of Photoshop plug-in fairy dust – but you don’t have to slavishly follow that route. By creating your own brushes in Adobe Illustrator, and using scanned elements with Photoshop, it’s a simple process to create otherworldly scenes that are alive with glow effects and shafts of virtual light.

This masterclass takes a standard stock model – a super high-resolution version is included on the cover CD, or you can use your own – and applies layers of light and vector shapes to generate the main image shown left.

During this masterclass, you’ll learn to wrap your source image into a multitude of layers that add a fantastical theme to your art. The key here is to tread softly. When recreating fantasy light effects, soft brushes and fine application is the order of the day. Anything that’s too heavy can ruin the look.

The masterclass also draws on a element that some Photoshop users are reluctant to explore – that of physical art then added to the composition. Here, Murilo uses tools such as a toolbrush and screwdriver in addition to digital design tools to create the whirling snow effect.

Obviously, the final result is down to you, but you should also experiment with colours and blends once you’ve mastered this technique to create your own look. The best thing is you can create images like this without using a single plug-in.

Step 1
Open the file ‘wonderland.psd’ supplied on this month CD and create a new top layer. Fill the canvas with pink (C12 M30 Y0 K0) and change the blending mode to colour. Next, create another layer and select a soft round brush. Change the colour to a gold tone (C20 M15 Y65 K0) and set the brush size to 300px. Single-click on the middle of the canvas and resize this layer before you move to the top of your image for a smooth colour transition.