This is the process I used to create the ‘Backyard with a View ‘ design.
01.) Open the ‘Hills’ Image in Photoshop and unlock the base layer by double clicking it. Copy the layer to keep the original as a backup (ctrl+J). Re-lock and hide the original layer.
02.) Go to the ‘paths’ palette and use the pen tool to create the blocks of ground you’ll be removing from the hills. Name the paths as you make them, this will save the paths and keep them organized.
03.) ctrl/cmmd+click the first path to select it. Shift+ctrl/cmmd+click all other paths and, while selected, go to the layers palette and, on the base image layer, hit delete. This will remove the unwanted areas but you can still go back to the locked backup layer to make corrections if need be.
04.) Create a path that selects the entire sky and delete it from the picture the same way as you did the holes in the previous step.
05.) File – place the clouds file and move the layer to the very back of your work. Just above the locked base layer.
06.) Block in the base supports for the grass with a brown brush. File – place the rust texture of your choice into the document. Here I used the above mentioned rust texture. Mask it to the blocked in dirt layer by alt+clicking between the two layers and set it to overlay.
The texture I used is from texturevault.net
08.) Open the tree document in Photoshop and remove it from the background. You don’t need to be to terribly careful unless you place the tree into the foreground, in which case, you can either select it with a variety of selection methods or cut it out manually with the pen tool. Copy it over into the comp document and place it where you intend to ‘plant’ it.
Use a small hard brush to rough in some background roots in a dark brown, lighten the brown and repeat the process for some roots in front of the others, and finally, increase the brush size and block in the large supporting roots.
09 .) Take a 1px-100% opacity-100 hardness brush and on the ‘Grass’ mask layer brush little scruffs around the edges of the holes to reveal the underlying grass layer to make the grass go to the edge more naturally. This removes the hard, defined, clean cut sides from the holes.
On the outer edges of the grass use a bigger soft brush with a lower opacity to blur the sides into a softer transition. The distance decreases the definition so keep that in mind and make the edges that are closest to the field of view sharper than the more distant ones.
10 dirt edges
11.) To create the moon use the ellipse tool on a new layer to make a perfect circle by holding down shift while dragging out the shape. Fill the ellipse with white and double click the layer to open the layer styles panel. Reduce the fill opacity to between 0-10. I used a blend mode of normal, an outer glow with 17% opacity, an angle of 153, global light on, a distance of 28, choke of 0, and a size of 5px. Outer glow= blend mode, Screen, Opacity of 12%, color of white, spread of 6, and size of 70. Inner glow= opacity 22%, size of 117. Leave the other settings at their defaults.
11.) Hide all but the sky layers. Take a 1-3px hard brush and lay out some stars where you see fit. You may want to turn the other layers on and off to see how they work together with the stars. Change the size of the brush and vary the hardness to create star clusters and constellations. I’ve also added a low opacity vignette for extra contrast.