Blast Off with Photoshop and Adobe Stock

Shane Griffin, originally from Dublin, Ireland, is a multidisciplinary artist who now makes him home in New York City. However, the mystical scene he conjured for us is far from either of those urban enclaves. Using just six Adobe Stock images, Griffin transports us to a land where a giant crystal—or is it a spaceship?—hovers in a rocky field of asteroid fragments.

Click to see the original assets Shane Griffin chose for his collage: a panoramic landscape, clouds, asteroid fragments, a red crystal, and two whisps of smoke.

Griffin captured his photo-compositing process in a series of soundless video screen-captures. Take a look at his techniques below and, if you're inspired to try it yourself, download 10 images from Adobe Stock for free to get started.

In Adobe Photoshop CC, Griffin opens the landscape that will form the background of his photo collage. To make his landscape more symmetrical than the original image, he copies and pastes the layer, flipping it horizontally (Edit > Transform). With the Eraser tool, he removes unnecessary bits in the middle. He then copies the cloudy skyscape into a new layer, lowers its opacity (Layer > Layer Styles), and again duplicates and flips the layer for greater symmetry. Next, he adds an Adjustment layer on top of the landscape and, in the Properties panel, he adjusts Hue/Saturation to create the illusion of a rosy glow reflected onto the ground.

The asteroid fragments are actually 3D objects. Griffin uses Photoshop's Color Range tool to select the green background and mask it out. He globally changes the size of rocks with the Transform tool, then uses the Lasso tool to separate them into individual rocks. At that point, it's easy for him to alter the location, size, and angle of several of the rocks.

After adding copies of the 3D rocks to the scene (not shown), Griffin uses a soft Brush to add a red glow that looks as if it's above the ground. He further softens it using a blending mode in the Layer Style panel. He then switches to the crystal photo and uses the Pen tool to outline a portion of the stone and turn the shape into a selection.

Griffin pastes the crystal into the scene, adding a copy that he resizes, rotates, and moves behind the original rock to vary its shape.

After copying and pasting one smoke photo into his composition (not shown), Griffin imports a second smoke image. He adds a layer mask and paints onto it with a black brush to make the smoke look even smokier.

Using Curves on an Adjustment layer, Griffin plays with the composition's tonality, heightening the drama. He quickly creates a custom vignette by adding new layer, selecting the Brush tool set to a dark color, and brushing that into the corners. He then lowers its opacity in the Layer Style panel for a subtler effect. Lastly, Griffin fine-tunes the smoke's appearance with the Eraser tool.