Thanks go out to Maxime Quoilin for this Photoshop tutorial. See more of his work at www.remainsteadfast.net
Step 1: Getting Started
Start by creating a new document, 2,350 x 3020mm, 300dpi, RGB. Create a new layer and fill it with a very light grey (‘#212121’). Load the paper texture, which is on the CD and adjust it to the size of the document and desaturate it. Change the blending mode to Multiply and lower the Opacity to 80%.
Step 2: Background
Add a layer mask to the paper texture, and with a big soft, rounded brush, start erasing the middle of the layer; this will highlight whatever stands at the centre. Create another layer, fill it with a white to light grey gradient, from the top to the bottom, with 30% Opacity and blending mode set to Multiply.
Step 3: Add colours
We’ll mostly work with unsaturated elements. So, to give the composition some colour, let’s create a group that will always stand at the top of the layers stack. In this group, add two Gradient maps from light blue (‘#298ebe’) to white. Make the first one with 20% Opacity and Hard Light blending mode and the second one with 25% Opacity and Color blending mode.
Step 4: From circle to sphere
Now we’ll start working under the group of layers from the last step. Create quite a big circle with the Marquee tool and fill that selection with light grey (‘#f0f0f0’) on a new layer. Using the Dodge and Burn tools with a big soft brush, and low exposure, add some shadows and highlights to that circle, so it looks like a 3D sphere.
Step 5: Highlighting technique
Once you are happy with your sphere, add a white Inner Glow effect with 80% Opacity and a size of around 200px. This will highlight your sphere and make it stand out even more. Then convert it to a Smart Object, and save it somewhere. This way, we’ll be able to use it in many different sizes later on.
Step 6: Mountains
Now, open the mountain image of your choice on the CD in a new document. Cut the sky out and select a part of the mountain with at least one peak. Try to only select snow and rocks, as trees will be harder to blend in.
Step 7: Getting Ready
Bring that selection into your composition and place it in front of the sphere. Your selection should have more or less the same width as the sphere. Place it on the upper part of the sphere and desaturate it. Reduce the Opacity of the mountain image temporarily so you can see how the sphere fits behind it.
Step 8: Warping mountains
Now comes the tricky part. Using the Warp tool, try to give the mountains the shape of the sphere. There’s no right theory for this process, just a lot of experimenting. Try to remember that every element should keep on looking natural, eg rocks aren’t usually too curvy. You can have some parts of the mountain ‘outside’ of the sphere, but not the other way around.
To be continued…