In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a new year artwork featuring two cute cats. You’ll learn how to combine different stock images together to make a cohesive scene, apply texture, create lighting effect and more. Try it out and may your New Year be as happy as these two furry kitties!
newyear-finalSoftware: Photoshop CS3 +

Difficulty : Intermediate

Estimated Completion Time: 90 minutes

Resources Used In This Tutorial:

Stock Photo - Two fluffy kittens isolated on white background



9458239 @ flib

Stock Photo - Cosy country antique ceramic cottage with falling snow



Stock Photo - Set of new year fireworks in composition



15685103 @ petr84

Stock Photo - happy new year hat



2694564 @ hannamariah

Stock Photo - winter background



16637971 @ lilkar

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the settings below:

ny1Step 2

To create a dark baclground, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick the color #08142e:

ny2Step 3

Open the cottage image. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag it into the canvas:

ny3Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a hard black brush to remove the background as shown below:

ny3aStep 4

To delete the unwanted cottage shadow, make a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Activate the Clone Tool (S) and use it to remove the indicated shadow:ny4Step 5

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

ny5Select the Dodge Tool (O) to brighten the cottage contour. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

ny5aStep 6

The house looks quite incomplete so make a new layer above the Dodge one. Select the house layer and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to grab the right side of the house ( the side from the viewer).

ny6Press Ctrl+C to copy this part and then press Ctrl+V to paste it into the new layer above. Flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Move it to the left side of the house.

ny6aStep 7

Add a mask to this layer to blend this part with the house:

ny7Step 8

Select the house layers and its relevant ones and press Ctrl+G to make a group for them. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through to Normal 100%. Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to change the color of the layers within this group:


ny8aStep 9

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the house and foreground:

ny9On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the following parts and leave the dark effect visible at the sides:

ny9aStep 10

Drag the firework image into our main canvas and place it behind the cottage. Change this layer mode to Screen 100%:

ny10Step 11

Open the cats image. Use your familiar method to isolate them from the background and place them in the foreground:

ny11Step 12

To make shadow for the cats on the ground, create a new layer under the cats one. Hold Ctrl key while clicking the cats thumbnail layer to load their selection. Fill this selection with black and flip it vertically and then move it under the cats feet:


ny12aLower the opacity to 40% and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 4 px:

ny12bStep 13

Make a new layer and use a soft black brush with the opacity about 30% to paint the missing shadow of the cats on the ground:

ny13Step 14

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to change the cats color a little:

ny14Step 15

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the cats:

ny15Paint on the mask of this layer to reveal the light on them:

ny15aStep 16

On a new layer, use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow on the cats:

ny16Step 17

Isolate the hat and put it onto the cats head:

ny17On a separate layer, paint shadow of the hats using a soft black brush:

ny17aStep 18

Make a group for the hat layers. Use a Color Balance adjutsment layer and change the Midtones settings:

ny18Step 19

Darken the hats using a Curves adjustment layer:

ny19Step 20

Open the snowfall texture. Use the Retangular Marquee Tool to select the snowfall part only and add it to the current image. Change this layer mode to Screen 100%:

ny20Apply a Gaussian Blur of 2 px to this layer:

ny20aStep 21

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the effect:

ny21Step 22

Make a Levels adjustment layer to remove the background and make only the snow effect visible:

ny22Step 23

Add a mask to the snowfall texture and use a soft black brush to make the effect appear more subtle:

ny23Step 24

Make a Color Fill layer on top of the layers and pick the color #270e0e. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%:


ny24aStep 25

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:


Step 26

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #43efc5:

ny26Step 27

Use a Curves adjustment layer to increase the whole scene contrast:

ny27Step 28

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #c06118 to paint the light effect from the window to the environment around : the ground, the cats and hats. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%:


ny28aStep 29

Use a soft brush with the color #d1bb94 to paint illuminated furs for the cats and make them look more realistic.


And that’s it! If you’re having some issues throughout the tutorial, our Photo Chick will be happy to help you out! Just leave a note below! Hope you had fun trying this out! Happy New Year 2016!