How To Create Modern Ruins Photoshop Design Tutorial

This tutorial will show you the steps and tricks I used in turning Hong Kong harbor into a wasted reflection of itself.

Basically, we're going to turn this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Into this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Let's begin!

Any Photoshopped image must start with a great source. Ruins are no exception. Ideally, you want a city with a recognizable landmark or building. This can get tricky, as a Modern Ruins contest may have 18 New York entries and 20 from Paris. So, be aware that whatever city you choose may be duplicated. Imprint your own style on whatever city you choose.

After selecting a city, find a picture that displays a good view of the features you want to destroy. I would suggest using only images greater than 1024x768 in size. Using a tiny source image for this contest will make things very difficult when it comes time to put in detail.

Here is our source image, a small crop for tutorial purposes:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Let's talk for a moment about the source pictures for our destruction. I can almost guarantee you that typing "ruins" into Google will get you nothing better than the Parthenon or the Pyramids. While these are certainly ruins, they don't offer much help to those of us who have to ruin modern buildings. Modern materials require modern ruins. So, here is a quick list of words that will bring us modern destruction:

  • bombed
  • bombed out
  • destroyed
  • gutted
  • rubble

It also helps to know your geopolitics. These words brought me the most useful images:

  • Belgrade
  • Grozny
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Sarejevo
  • WTC

I used 24 different images of rubble and destruction in my Hong Kong image. You don't need nearly that many, but you'll be happier with a greater variety to work from.

We're almost ready to start butchering our buildings. First though, I find it helpful to have some organization. My final Photoshop file was over 50 layers deep, and I would have been lost had I not given the buildings names, like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

You can see that I only know the real name for one building. It doesn't matter, just as long as you can remember it.

Let's start destroying!

The first thing is to identify areas where you will be taking large chunks out of the building:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Create a new layer. Set the Clone tool to "Use all Layers" and clone the sky and ground to create what we would see if a piece of the building wasn't there. Notice that the sky behind the Bank of China building isn't perfect. For this building, I was aware that I would be putting some rubble over that, so I didn't spend a ton of time getting it just right. You only need a nice backdrop to work from.

Creating the destruction and rubble is perhaps the most time consuming bit of work.

The first thing I'll show you is creating false structure. This is not always necessary, but it can add a sense of realism. Let's create some struts for the Bank of China building. I came across a picture on the net of this building under construction, so I have a good idea of what the insides looked like.

Grab a rubble pick to make our struts. This'll do:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Then, cloning from the rubble, create strips. These are the floors of the building. Copy these until you have a good amount, then rotate and place over the Bank like so:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Pay close attention to the angles when creating false structure. You want it to match as closely as possible to the angle of the building.

Next, eliminate a portion of the struts. This is where you get to be creative. Try to think as you are doing it what consequences your actions have. If you erase a floor here, the mass from the floor must have fallen somewhere, right? Maybe it took out a floor below. Maybe it just landed on the floor below, depositing rubble. Be creative, but don't be completely random. It's an interesting balancing act between chaos and structure.

Now that you've created any false structure necessary, lets get to the real chaos.

Open your rubble images, say, these three:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Now this next part will be much easier if you have a tablet. A tablet's best feature is the ability to sense pressure. If you have a tablet, set your clone brush to "Shape Dynamics" with the Size jitter controled by the pen pressure. This will let you make very thin, light strokes. If you don't have a tablet, that's ok. Simply control the size of your brush by tapping quickly on the bracket keys. [ = decrease brush size, ] = increase brush size.

Ok, create a new layer and clone some chaos from your rubble pile, like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Use varying widths of stroke to create areas of light and darkness. Pay close attention to your shadows. You need to be aware of where the light in your scene is coming from, and where it will cast the shadows. In my scene, as in most, the light comes from above. Notice that in areas where surviving structure overhangs destroyed buildings, I have added shadows. I prefer to use cloned shadow area instead of simply painting black or using the burn tool. Using cloned shadow from a rubble pile will give you a more realistic effect.

Continue cloning until you have something like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Create new layers for each building, or set of buildings. This will help you control what you see, and will avoid destroying detail you have worked hard on.

Try to pick a different source rubble pic for each building. Even before you start cloning, it can be helpful to adjust the hue and saturation on the rubble pic to more closely match the building you're destroying.

Note also that I took some liberties with the actual look of the brick building as well as the short and busted. If you need to make adjustments to allow for more destruction, do so. This is your image. Who knows what kind of upgrades the buildings have had!

Now that we have destroyed some facades and collapsed floors, lets add an element of age. The first thing to remember is that destruction is dirty. Clouds of dust in the air, acid rain and soot can make a place look absolutely filthy. Let's throw some on!

I like to apply dirt and grime on a new layer, set to 'multiply' or 'darken' blend mode. Eyedrop a shadow color from your building. It's best to use this method instead of straight black, since the eyedrop will pick up on any hue present. Create a new layer and paint thin strips of color on and around ledges. Next, use the smudge tool to grab that color and smear it down, simulating the effect of rain carrying particles downward. You should come up with something like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

After you've done that, I like to apply some nice color to get a rust and soot effect. For my Hong Kong pic, I used a sheet of paper with coffee and tea stains. A texture like this will have lots of great detail that will further grime up the image. Select a few buildings and paste it over like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Selectively erase in areas and get rid of anything that is jarring. Then, set the new texture layer to 'color burn', and drag the opacity down just a bit until it looks good, like so:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Next, we want to simulate some oxidization and salt deposits from rain and sea. Grab a new texture pic. For mine, I used an image of white paint cracking on a wooden fence. Again, create a new layer and paste in the texture, like so:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Erase any detail you don't want and set the layer's blend mode to 'soft light'. Decrease the opacity until you're happy with it. This should leave your building looking like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Next, we're going to work on the water. First off, realize that any boats in the water may be sunk, or sitting lower. Raise the water level so that the boat appears to be taking on water. Additionally, remove any white water that exists. Your boat is not moving, and should not be creating a wake. Next, select a brownish color and paint some detail onto the water itself. Set the layer to darken mode to achieve this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Next, you're going to want to add some rust and age to the boat. Grab a new texture map. I used the paper with the coffee stains. Paste that over the boat and erase any unwanted detail. Set the layer at 'color burn' and decrease the opacity to arrive at this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

You're almost done. We've got a good image, but we want to bring it all together with some post-effects.

Use ctrl+shift+c to copy the entire image merged, or go to 'Edit > Copy Merged'. Paste this at the top of your layers list.

The first thing we want to adjust is saturation. Crank down the saturation about 25% to simulate a somewhat overcast day:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Next, we want to make the image a bit more contrasty. I prefer to use 'Image > Adjustments > Selective color'. Using 'Brightness and Contrast' can affect saturation, and we don't want that. Selectively darken the blacks first, adding 5%. Next, edit the Neutrals, taking out 10% black. Additionally, for my image, I corrected a slight blue cast by taking out 3% cyan and adding 3% yellow. You should arrive at something like this:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Finally, to give the entire image a sense of cohesiveness, and further add to the grimy feel, use 'Filters > Sharpen' and 'Filters > Noise' to sharpen the image and add a little noise. Don't go overboard, use sparingly to add some dirt. Do a final once over, selectively desaturating anything that pops too much.

You've now got a finished product:

How to create Modern Ruins Photoshop tutorial

Photoshop tutorial by Tocath originally posted on Worth1000.

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Written by DesignCrowd on Thursday, April 27, 2017

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