common object example


Fantasy Background in Photoshop

    ●   Make a Background in Photoshop that Looks Mysterious

    ●  Layer Masking can be a difficult concept to understand, but every program uses them and Photoshop is a good place to begin teaching it.

Learn About:

Blending Mode Layer Mask Gradients Brushes Text

•   This tutorial is part of the Monster Mesh Project.

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.

        example 2       image      

Step #1: Open a Blank Document in Adobe Photoshop ~

Open PhotoShop & create a new canvas. Hit the keyboard shortcut: Cmd(⌘)+N or go to: File > New

Set the size of the background, probably 18 x 24 inches …

Step #2: Pick your Colors ~

Double-Click your colors …

… and set the color to whatever you want.

Set the other color too to another color that matches, just change them both …

Step #3: Gradient Fill ~

Select the Gradient Tool which is behind the Paint Bucket

… click Radial Gradient on the menu bar …

radial gradient

… then click the Gradient Picker arrow and select the Foreground to Background gradient.

Step #4: Drag a Gradient ~

Drag the gradient tool across the canvas and position the glow shining down from the top.

Step #5: Find Some Clouds ~

Find a picture of some Mammatus clouds and copy them …


… paste the clouds you copied …

… and adjust their position using the keyboard shortcut: Cmd(⌘)+T

Step #6: Blending Modes ~

Scroll through the Blending Modes and find one you like …







Try Multiply, Screen or Overlay or whatever you like best …


If you see other blending modes you like as you're scrolling down, don't be afraid to experiment.


Blending Modes are awesome!

Hint: You can scroll through the different Blending Modes by hitting Alt (⌥)+Shift+Plus:

Step #7: Layer Mask Effects ~

Click Add layer mask at the bottom of the Layers Palette …

… then click the Layer Mask Thumbnail

… and select the Gradient Tool again.

Drag the Gradient Tool across the image until you get a nice blend:

Try it!

Step #8: Images ~

Find a picture of a Skyline, Mountains, Castles, Waterfalls, Yosemite, Aztec Pyramids, Trees, Moons, Planets, whatever looks cool and mysterious or whatever you need …

… copy and paste the image.


Step #9: Layer Mask Again ~

With the Castle layer selected, click on Add Layer Mask

… make sure the Layer mask thumbnail is selected …

… get the Gradient Tool again (G) …

… but this time, hi the letter 'd' on the keyboard or click the default icon to reset the default colors to Black & White on the Color Palette …

Radial Gradient (or Gradient Scheme you want) …

… and drag the Gradient Tool over the image.

Experiment with the different gradient styles!

Step #10: Find a Font that Matches your Project ~

Go to and search for a font that fits your project theme -

  •   For instance, if you want a text or font that looks Old, search for that at


  •   If you want something that looks like Money, search for that. Get it?

Step #11: Download the Font ~

When you find a font that matches your project, Right-Click and save the file to your desktop, or somewhere you can find it …

Step #12: Open Font Book ~

Go to where you downloaded the font, open it, and double-click on the .tff file(s) …

… when Font Book opens, click Install Font.

Step #13: Type Some Text ~

With the Text Tool, type your text: the name of your site, your Movie Title or Tag Line, whatever you can use in your project.


… click on Font Family in the menu bar and scroll through the different fonts.

Step #14: Layer Styles ~

Lastly, click on Add a layer style

… and apply the Blending Options you want.





Blending Options are very powerful.





Live them! Learn them! Love them …

Step #15: Stars ~

Create a New Layer.

new layer

Click the Brush Tool or hit the keybord shortcut letter (B) …

… click the Brush Preset Picker in the Menu Bar …

Click on the little image and click on

… and hit Append.


Find a brush that looks like a star shape:








Suggest using: Crosshatch Brush or Starburst Brush

Also, paint some stars on the new layer in white.

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Step #16: Open your Project in Illustrator ~

Then open YOUR CURRENT PROJECT in Adobe Illustrator

REMEMBER: This assignment will not be accepted unless it is published IN YOUR PROJECT.


… create a new background layer below all your other layers …

new layer background

… lock all your other layers …

…then go to: File > Place … and find the .psd file you just saved.


Step #17: Embed the File ~

With the background selected, hit the Embed button so the Photoshop document is permanent "embedded" into Illustrator layers …

embed image

If you don't Embed the Photoshop image, it wont be there when you send it in!

Last Step: Save Your Project & Attach ~

Save your project, attach it and keep working …

  •   ALWAYS save your projects like this:


  •   DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.


  •   NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.