Create your own cool landscape in minutes
Jon Adams crafts a bland sunset into the perfect lone-tree landscape
Landscape photography in its purest form is a reactive game. Once you’ve made the effort to get yourself to the right location at the right time, you compose the elements presented to you and wait for the ideal light to capture the shot. When you consider all the variables at play – particularly where the weather is concerned – the odds are against you landing the precise shot you might have in your mind’s eye. But in this fun exercise, you’re going to stack those odds in your favour and build your own evocative landscape in Photoshop, arranging all the elements just as you want them.
To create my sunset landscape, I started with a spectacular sunset shot (which I took from the car on a country road), then used the Lasso tool to draw in some ‘ground’ at about one-third height. I filled this with black. On another layer, I used the Grass brush to paint in some convincing grassy detail. To do this, I set both the brush and the layer to the Multiply Blending mode.
1 On another new layer, I then drew some mountainous shapes and filled these with a slightly lighter tone to give the impression of distance. I placed this layer beneath the grass and foreground. I then repeated this step with some more mountain shapes, placing them just above the sky layer and making them a little brighter again.
I thought a lone tree would make a good focal point. On a new layer, I went to Filter > Render > Tree, which enables you to generate a convincing tree within Photoshop. I chose the Maple Tree shape and created a shapely offering with no leaves. Once the tree shape was made, I filled it with black to make a silhouette and used Free Transform to scale it down to suit the image.
I now needed a sun in the shot, so I filled a new layer with black, selected the Screen Blending mode and went to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. With the Move tool I placed the ‘sun’ close to the horizon.
2 To finish, on yet another layer I added an eight-point starburst effect, all made with the Pencil tool and some Motion Blur.