Thanks go out to Fernando Aparicio for this tutorial. See more of his work at www.studiocapicua.com
Step 1 – Get started
The first step is to create a new document. Set it at 3847 x 2156px. The background colour is not important, but you can set it to white. Open ‘3D Helicopter Render Layers.psd’. Select all four layers within the file and with the Move tool (V), drop them into your document in the desired position. The first step will be giving movement to the helix. There are three different helix renders. One by one, select them and apply Motion Blur by going to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur, with a value of about 40px and Angle between 6 and -6.
Step 2 – Working with the helix
Select all three helix layers and set the blending mode to Screen. Set the Opacity to 30% for Helix 1 and 3, and 20% for Helix 2. Now open ‘Helix top.psd’. Go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur and set it to an Amount of 50, Spin and Best quality. Duplicate the layer and rotate it 25 degrees using Cmd/Ctrl+T. Duplicate this layer and rotate it again 57 degrees. Now select all three layers and merge them into one by going to Layers>Merge Layers (Cmd/Ctrl+E).
Step 3 – Place the top helix
Duplicate the layer onto the composition above the helicopter and helix layers. Transform and adjust it with the correct perspective, (Cmd/Ctrl+T) or Edit>Transform>Distort. Now create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer over it and create a clipping mask, clicking between the two layers on the Layers palette while pressing Opt/Alt, or Ctrl/right-clicking>Create Clipping Mask. Set the Edit to Master, Hue to +24, Saturation to -47 and Lightness to 0. Place another Hue/Saturation adjustment layer over the Helicopter layer, set it to Greens and enter -51, +61 and -63. Add a black layer mask to it and paint different areas with a white, soft brush to change the helicopter colour slightly. Set the brush’s size to 150px and Hardness to 0.
Step 4 – Add some movement
Duplicate the helicopter layer and place it above all layers, then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set the Angle to 0º with a Distance of 26px. Add a black layer mask to it and paint just the helix part with white, so everything else gets hidden in the layer. Name it ‘Helix Main’. Add a Levels adjustment layer over it and create a clipping mask. Set the Input Levels to 0, 0.87 and 255 and the Output Levels to 64 and 126. This adjustment layer will eliminate the lightest and darkest shades of the helix.
Step 5 – Tail rotor and helicopter final adjustments
Go back to ‘Helix top.psd’, duplicate the blurred layer over your image again and name it ‘Small Helix Blur’. Resize it and adjust the perspective, but this time over the tail rotor to achieve the same sense of movement as the main helix. Duplicate the Helix Main layer and place it above. Set the layer Opacity to 50%. Fill the layer mask to black again and paint in the different parts of the helicopter where you want to add movement with a white, soft brush.
Step 6 – Composite the background
Okay, here is where the fun starts. Use an aerial picture as a base for the composition. If you don’t have one, you can get a similar image from stock sites, for example #148309599 or #139850795 from www.gettyimages.com. Place the background at the bottom of all the layers. Duplicate it by going to Layer>Duplicate Layer and then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 12º and Distance to 33px. Add a layer mask to the blurred background and paint only the bottom part with white, to leave the horizon unchanged.
Step 7 – Change the landscape
Find an image of a burning forest on the side of a mountain, call it ‘Burning Forest’ and with the Move tool (V) drop it into your document. Add a layer mask to it to remove the unwanted parts. This way, you can go back and add to it if necessary. Add some adjustment layers over it – Selective Color and Hue/Saturation will work fine with neutrals and greens. For further adjustments, create a layer above these, set the blending mode to Multiply and paint with a soft brush and colour # 455b15. Now create a new layer, set the blending mode to Color Dodge and paint with colour # 896a1d.
… to be continued