To kick off, we need to isolate our hero image, the snowboarder. Open the image of the snowboarder (iStockphoto’s ‘Snowboarder In The Air’). Next open the Calculations dialog (Image>Calculations). For Source 1 select the Red channel and click the Invert checkbox. For Source 2 select the Blue channel, and for the blending mode choose Add with these settings: Opacity 100%, Offset -110 and Scale 1, with the Result being a new channel. Calculations are used multiple times in this tutorial to isolate objects, so make sure you have a full understanding of this tool (see the boxout).
Now go into your Channels window, select the new channel you created and open up the Levels dialog (Image>Adjustments>Levels). Slide the shadow and highlight points closer together so that you start to get a black-and-white silhouette. Don’t crush the numbers too close, as you might start to lose some of the important edge details. For this image, we will use 129 for the black point and 211 for the white point.
Now use your Brush toolset to Overlay and start to brush on areas you want to turn black with your brush set to black. You might have to go over some areas a couple times to push them all the way to black. Now do the same thing for your white areas with a white brush. When you are done, make a selection from your new channel and create a layer mask for your snowboarder.
Our snowboarder is a little too bright and has some neon greens that won’t fit into our colour scheme, so use a Curves adjustment layer to bring down the midtones, and Hue/Saturation to slide the green-yellow colour into our orange colour palette. Once you have done this and are happy with the colour and tone, merge your layers and apply the layer mask.
Now that we have our snowboarder ready, let’s move on to the background. Create a new image, 3,500 x 5,000px with Background set to white. Create a new layer. Use your Gradient tool set to black/transparent and create a gradient from the bottom and top ending in the top third of the canvas. Now set the layer’s Opacity to 30%. This helps create the idea of depth and will help us when building the background. Now drag your snowboarder onto this file and set him above the gradient.
Now we need to build our base background scene. Open up the clouds (‘Showing the way’ from iStockphoto) and two mountain images (‘Mountain’ and ‘The Alps Mountains’). Drag all three images onto your new file. Scale the images so they reach edge to edge and give each one a new layer mask. Using a large soft brush start to blend the hard edges out and combine the three elements into one scene. We don’t have to worry about being exact with our mask as most of this will be blended or covered with other elements.
Now that we have our background roughed in and our hero set in place, it is time to build our type. Usually, this type could be done straight out of a 3D program. But, for our example, we will use Photoshop to achieve the same effect. Open the supplied type file (‘SnowJungle_3dtype.psd’) and make a selection with your Square Marquee tool just below the typeface. We will be using Transform and Warp to add some drama to the bottom shape of the type. Once you have stretched and pulled the type into shape, you might want to use Liquify to push and pull any areas that didn’t quite line up.
Now for applying the ice texture. Open the image of ice – iStockphoto’s ‘Semless frost (ice)’ – and drag it onto the type file. Free Transform it to closely match the shape of the type. Now make a clipping group using your type layer and set it to Overlay. You will need to duplicate the layer a couple of times to get the effect we are looking for. Mask out areas that get too dark or too light.
To finish our type we need to add a couple of Curves to brighten it up. Apply one Curves adjustment layer to brighten it overall and then add another to brighten up just the top portion of the type and mask out the areas on the bottom that will go into shadow. Since this is going into a bright snow scene, it really needs to shine. Finally, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate it overall. The finished 3D type is supplied on the disc for reference on setup (‘3dtype_finished.psd’).
Now drag your type image into your scene file. Position it so that it is behind the snowboarder and centre the typeface over his head. The type is a little dark for our winter scene, so we will add a white transparent gradient layer going from the bottom to the top. This will help us blend it into the scene as we begin to add more elements.
Our scene is looking a little sparse, so we need to add more elements to help our snowboarder feel at home. Open up the images of the chairlifts (iStockphoto’s ‘Ski lift up a mountain’), ski lodge (‘Mountain Home’, iStockphoto.com) and pine trees (the two ‘Winter Scenics’ images). Using Calculations and layer masks (as we did in Step 1) begin to isolate the chair lift, trees and ski lodge. Once you have them isolated, drag them onto your scene file behind the 3D type layer and position them appropriately.
We want to add some interest into the bottom of the scene, and right now the snow it too dark and has some distracting lines. So let’s open the stock photo of the snow pile (‘snow on the mountain #1’ from iStockphoto). Drag it into your scene file and place it at the base of the composition. Create a layer mask and blend it into the existing snow.