Photoshop Tutorial: Turn A Photo Into A Movie Scene


For this tutorial, we will try to create a dramatic movie scene where a massive sinkhole suddenly appears in the middle of a major city. Then we will give our image a more cinematic look by modifying the colors and the contrasts.

I used stock photos from Deposit Photos for tutorial. This is where I always get them btw as they have by far the best prices.

Below is what we will end up doing, CLICK on the IMAGE to see the BIGGER version.


Step 1:

Click on the picture below to grab the BIGGER version. This will be our base.


Step 2:

Then grab the picture below…


… and place it on our image like shown below, then change the Layer Blending Mode to DARKEN.


Step 3:

Now there’s a lot of dirt around the hole we need to clean up.

Select the “Hole” layer and add a Layer Mask to it. To do so, at the bottom of the layer palette, click on the little icon of a square with a circle inside.

By adding a Layer Mask, we will then be able to erase what we want on the “Hole” layer in a non-destructive way with black paint. We can then use white paint to undo what we did with the black paint.

Now using a small Black paint brush with a Hardness of around 50%, erase on the mask all the dirt around the hole.

It should then look like this:


Step 4:

As you can see, because the Blending Mode is set to DARKEN for the “Hole” layer, there are a few things like a car and the shadow of trees that we see through the hole. The reason for that is the blending mode DARKEN will replace every lighter pixels of the street with the darker pixels of the hole, but since the shadows of the cars and trees are darker than the hole, they remains.

To fix that, create a NEW layer right above our background layer (the street) and use a WHITE paint brush and paint over anything that is visible through the hole like the shadows. This will make them invisible, as you can see below.


Step 5:

Now because this seems to be a bright sunny day, let’s add some contrast to the hole.

To do so, select the “Hole” layer and add a LEVELS Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels). Since we only want the adjustment layer to affect the hole, RIGHT+CLICK on the adjustment layer and select CREATE CLIPPING MASK. This will create a little arrow pointing down indicating that the adjustment layer will ONLY affect the layer right below.

Now increase the contrast by entering those settings for the LEVELS: 19, 1.13, 227

This is how it looks now:


Step 6:

Now let’s add a bit more shadow on the right side of the hole.

To do this, add a New Layer over the hole and call it “Shadow”.

Then you can use the Elliptical Marquee Tool and create an oval selection right over the hole. FILL the selection with the color Black.

Then lower the layer Opacity temporarily to about 50% to see what you are doing and erase anything that goes over the outside edge of the hole. Here you can either use the Eraser with a small brush or you can erase in a non-destructive way by adding a Layer Mask to the layer and then use a small black paint brush.

Once you have erased everything outside of the hole, INCREASE the Layer Opacity to 75% and then use a big soft brush, Hardness 0% and Opacity 30% and start erasing the LEFT Side of the shadow/black oval as we only want to create a shadow on the right side. Erase until you get a result like you see below:


Step 7:

Ok now let’s do some Color Grading, we want to give our image a movie look.

First add above all layers a Black & White Adjustment Layer. Turned down the Layer Opacity to 50%.

Then start to play with the settings.

My settings were:
REDS: 75

This is how it looks now:


Step 8:

Now let’s continue and add a PHOTO FILTER Adjustment Layer.

Choose the color #ac7a33 and enter 50% for Density.

This is how it looks now:


Step 9:

Now let’s add a SELECTIVE COLOR Adjustment Layer.

To give our image a flatter film look, we will enter those settings:

REDS: Cyan -27, Magenta +23, Yellow +25, Black -60
YELLOWS: Cyan -33, Magenta -28, Yellow -45, Black +20
GREENS: Cyan -25, Magenta 0, Yellow -60, Black +2
WHITES: Cyan +30, Magenta +20, Yellow +10, Black +60
NEUTRALS: Cyan -7, Magenta -4, Yellow -5, Black +2
BLACKS: Cyan -5, Magenta +3, Yellow -5, Black -1

For the flat look, the key is this setting WHITES: Black +60

This is how it looks now:


Step 10:

Now let’s add more shadow at the bottom of the sink hole.

To do so, use a Soft Black Paint Brush and just darken the bottom of the hole. Then change the Layer Blending Mode to OVERLAY and the Layer Opacity to 50%.

Now you can use the Eraser or add a Layer Mask to the layer and with a small black paint brush, with a density of around 50%, erase any black paint that goes beyond the hole.

This is how it should look like now:


Step 11:

Now a cool thing we can do to increase the details of our image is to use a plug-in called ‘Topaz Adjust’ and a preset called ‘Blueprint’. You can get the plug-in HERE, it is completely free for 30 days, you also get to try for free their entire plug-in collection for 30 days. You can check out my review of their plugins HERE if interested.

The way it works is simple, select all the layers, then choose DUPLICATE LAYERS and then choose MERGE LAYERS. Now call the resulting layer “Blueprint”. We are doing that because we want to add the ‘Blueprint’ effect to our current image, not just the background image.

Now with the “Blueprint” layer selected, go to Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Adjust 5 and then under ‘Stylized Collection’ on the left side, choose the ‘Blueprint‘ preset.

This is how it’s going to look below AFTER you DESATURATE the resulting image (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate). Otherwise it will be yellowish and blue.


But since we want a much more subtle effect, we only want to increase the details, we are going to lower the Layer OPACITY to 20%.

This is how it looks now:


Step 12:

Now let’s add the finishing touches, starting with a Vignette.

Easy to do, first Create a New Layer and call it Vignette #1.

Then just use the Elliptical Marquee Tool, click once in the upper left corner and then release when you reach the lower right corner. Then INVERSE SELECTION and fill with the color BLACK.

Then Add a GAUSSIAN BLUR to our layer, enter 70px as Radius. Then Change the Layer Blending Mode to SOFT LIGHT and the Layer Opacity to 50%.

We will now DUPLICATE the ‘Vignette #1’ layer but this time, change the Layer Blending Mode to NORMAL and the Layer Opacity to 30%.

This is how it looks now:


Step 13:

Now let’s add a blur at the top of our image to give an impression of depth.

To do so, Select ALL the Layers, DUPLICATE them and the choose MERGE LAYERS. Call that Layer ‘Blur’.

Now add a GAUSSIAN BLUR to that layer and choose 1px as the Radius.

Now use the RECTANGULAR MARQUEE Tool and make a selection like you see below then hit DELETE. That’s because we don’t want that part to be blurred.


Then a Layer Mask to the ‘Blur’ layer and with a Soft Black Brush with an OPACITY of 50%, start erasing the edges of the blurred areas so the sharp part and the blurred parts blends together smoothly.

This is how it should look like below:


The Layer stack:


Step 14:

Finally, add two black bars on top and bottom to complete the film look and this is how the final image looks like.

*CLICK on the IMAGE for the BIGGER version


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  • Ibrahim Murtala Jimson

    im loving your stuffs bro, im really gaining from your tut…. and i cant wait for 15th of feb, im longing for that new tut 😉

    • Pat

      Thanks Ibrahim! Come back to this blog often as I will add smaller tutorials regularly 😉

      • Ibrahim Murtala Jimson

        yessss boss, i have never for ones close this site’s tab…….:) im here 24/7

    • Jeremy

      Welcome Ibrahim we will long be remembered as the first to post on this wonderful new site 🙂

      • Pat

        Jeremy: lol and you’ll famously be known as the very first one! 😉

        • Jeremy

          Well I hope I can learn lots and be able to contribute.
          I have finished building a new pc and I will buy my first serious camera on Saturday so Ill have the tools needed to pursue my new hobby.

  • simarvfx

    hey bro when u will post new tuts on your website im still waiting i bought the account and watched all the tuts+ please create and upload more

  • paul

    thanks a lot , awsome tuts !

  • Lianto Cussz Munez


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