Step 10 – Dashed lines
Click on the Pen tool (P) and create two points corresponding to each endpoint of a line by holding down the Shift key to get a perfectly straight line. Select Stroke (to the right of your screen), then Check Dashed Line and enter a number in the first square (the first dash) depending on the depth-of-field effect that you want to give this line. For example, the flowers in front have a value of 30pt while the skyline is one of 8pt and 20pt castles. Don’t forget the colour (#fff7ed) and the weight of the line a little further up.
Step 11 – Import into Photoshop
Open a new document in Photoshop>CMYK>400mm x 530mm and name it ‘half_worlds’. When this is done, switch to Illustrator, select the entire sky area (hold Cmd/Ctrl while clicking on the layer), copy your selection (Cmd/Ctrl+C) and paste (Cmd/Ctrl+V) it on the first layer of your Photoshop document as a Dynamic Object. You can now name this layer ‘sky’. Do the same for each paper cut, starting from the farthest in the image to the nearest. By the end of this process, each item must have its own layer.
Step 12 – Drop Shadows
Next we can focus on one element: the red forest layer. Create a new group to put this layer inside and place a new layer below (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N) and name it ‘dropshadows’. Now, on the first layer, go to Selection>Load Selections then confirm. Go to the new layer and fill your selection with black (#0000), then set the layer to Vivid Light mode (above the layer list, click Normal to edit), lower the Opacity to 45%. Select Filter>Attenuation>Depth of Field >15%. You can now apply this method to each paper cut!
Step 13 – Embed the Paper Grain filter
We will now begin to develop the grainy paper appearance. This method is similar to Step 12. You must create a new layer above the red forest layer, retrieve the selection (Selection>Load Selection) but this time you need to tick Invert before confirming. Place the paper grain image on the new layer, making sure it covers the entire hill. You can clear away the extraneous parts with the Eraser tool (E). Finally, set the layer to Multiply blending mode. You can modify the prominence of the grain’s effect on the image by changing its opacity.
Step 14 – Patterns integration
Again (for the last time), we’ll use the same method as Step 13. (go to Selection>Load Selection>Invert>Eraser tool), then we need to add multiple effects using various images. The paper cuts concerned are the three waves (‘image.1’), pyramids hill (‘image.2’), pink mountain (‘3.picture’), the curtain (‘image.4’) and the sky (‘image.5’). Each time, place a new layer above the image in question and put it in Overlay blending mode or Multiply according to the desired result. Obviously, the filter applied to the sky doesn’t need to be erased.
Step 15 – Add gradients
Now we will strengthen the tangy aspect of the atmosphere with the Gradient tool (G) in Color blending mode. This is useful for tinting colour images because it keeps the brightness of the base colour. Select the red forest layer (Selection>Load Selection) and put your Gradient tool on Radial (by clicking one of the icons above image), set Opacity to 25%. Choose your colour (mine is: #9d4798) and apply it on the lower right.
Step 16 – Darken the base
now we will work the realistic aspect of this little paper theatre by accentuating the illusion of depth. To do this, select each item one by one (Selection>Load Selection) and apply a base linear darken black gradient (#0000). More specifically, you need to click outside of the form with the Gradient tool
(G) and keep returning to the centre while pressing the Shift button. Vary the opacity depending on what you want to highlight; personally I wanted to emphasise the two castles darkening the five plans before.
Step 17 – Add lights
Another way to enhance the realistic look is to act on the light. For example, you can work along the lines that the further away the subject is, the paler he is. This way, you can always use the same method (Selection>Load Selection) with the same tool (the Gradient tool) as the previous step. Simply replace the Darken mode with Soft Light mode and switch black #0000 to yellow #ffe68e. I focused on the two castles again by illuminating their peaks.
Step 18 – Final adjustments
The image is now nearing completion, you just have to make a few last tweaks that I think really help at the end of each illustration. For these final edits you can go to Image>Adjustments to adjust the hue and saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) or tweak the Color Balance (Cmd/Ctrl+B). Finally, do not forget to saving a PSD version with all the layers and effects achieved. Your artwork is now complete!