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"The Clarity of Nature" Background- For All Skill Levels


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This tutorial is available as a PDF. Click here to view or download it


You may want a few plugins for this tutorial, however they are not completely necessary.

  • Splinter
  • Cross Processing
  • Smart Blur/Surface Blur
  • Average Blur

Here's a few examples:

By Me:


By aguba:


I'll be using this photo:


1. Start with a decent quality nature background, you can use one of the default ones from Windows Vista.

2. Make sure the background you've chosen has an obvious focal point. If not, it will be difficult to choose where to place the glass box later on.

3. (Optional) Sharpen, Smart Blur/Surface Blur, and etc. as needed so that the image looks its best before you start work on it. Or of course, you can always do so after you are finished.

4. Make a New Layer. Name it "Glass Box"

5. Making sure the "Glass Box" layer is selected, use the Rectangle Select Tool and make a selection from one side to the other of your background. Be sure to include the bulk of the focal point, but a little of it may be left out (as seen in my example above where the tips of the butterfly's wings are out of the box).

6. Fill the selection with white. Duplicate the "Glass Box" layer.

7. Move the duplicate below the original and name it "Shadow".

8. Invert the white to black by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I.

9. Go to Effects> Blurs> Gaussian Blur. Run it with a radius of 7 or 8. Or higher, if you want a less noticeable shadow.

10. If that isn't intense enough for you, duplicate the "Shadow" layer and mess around with the opacity. Don't merge them, it will override any opacity changes you've made and merge them as if both were fully opaque. Unless, of course, you want it that way.

11. Go to your "Glass Box" layer. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select it, then go to your "Shadow" layer(s) and press Delete on your keyboard.

12 Now play with the opacity on the "Glass Box" layer. I would lower it to something around 50-75. You can play with the Blend Modes as well. I used Overlay here.

You should have an image that looks something like this:


13. Select the glass box on the "Glass Box" Layer again, and invert your selection (meaning it selects everything but what you currently have selected). Go to your Background layer.

14. Now go to Adjustment> Hue/Saturation. Lower the Saturation to something around 50, depending on how saturated your image already is.


15. With the background parts still selected, go to Effects> Blurs> Splinter; Gaussian blur works well to, if you don't have Splinter. For Splinter, use 13 to 22 or so Splinters and a Distance of say, 10. The Rotation doesn't matter. For Gaussian Blur, set the Radius to around 10-15.

16.(Ready only if you used Splinter in the last step) Now run an Average Blur with a Radius of 5.


17. Make a New Layer. Name it "Lighting" (Make sure it is above the "Glass Box" layer). Go to the "Glass Box" layer. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select the glass box again. Take a 30-50 px brush and brush a line from left corner to the right corner. Increase the size of the line as you make your way across. Fill the right corner with brushing.


18. Run Gaussian Blur at whatever Radius you like (Make sure the glass box is still selected). I used 57.

19. Now this is where things get slightly complicated. Make a new layer, call it "Line 1". Then make another called "Line 2". Make sure these layers are above the "Lighting" layer.

20. Select the Line Tool and with a 2px line, make 2 lines. Make one white line across the top on the "Line 1" layer. Then make one white line across the bottom on the "Line 2" layer. Hold Shift while making the line to make it perfectly straight. Also, try to get it inside the glass box area not on the shadow.


21. You still with me? Good. :D

22. We're almost done here. Grab the Gradient Tool and select the Linear Reflected pdn35icons.LinearReflectedGradientIcon.png. Now change the mode to Transparency.

23. Make sure your Primary and Secondary colors are at the default (Primary: Black; Secondary: White).

24. Now play with the gradient so that the ends of the line are transparent, and the part line near the focal point is white.

25. Go to Effects> Photo> Glow. Play with the settings until you like what you see. Remember to add a glow to both lines.

26. Repeat the effect for a more intense glow.

27. You can mess with the blend modes of the lines if you want; and you can merge the layers as well.

28. Do any touching up you see fit.

29. Flatten the image.

30. Run Cross Processing at settings you are comfortable with.

31. Post your result on this thread. :D

Here's my result:


Edited by Ego Eram Reputo
PDF added. Added links to ReMakes archive of the images.


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Very nice. Very similar to how I do it. I especially like how you noted to desaturate the image, rather than to make it greyscaled. However, I would recommend that next time you want to use someone else's image, you ask them first. I personally don't mind it, but others might.

Otherwise, very nice. I really like the use of Cross Processing (I've been using Soften Image).

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However, I would recommend that next time you want to use someone else's image, you ask them first. I personally don't mind it, but others might.

I don't think it totally matters, considering I said who's image it was and I never claimed it was mine. Not to mention it was on the same forum and just an example for a tutorial. ;p

I will, however, ask permission in the future. To be honest, I hadn't thought about that when making the tutorial. Thanks for bringing that up.boltbait.wink.png

Edited by Ai7


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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...
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There's a PDF. With pictures.


See where it says Click here to view or download it?

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On 9/7/2020 at 1:19 PM, LoudSilence said:

(tinypic shut down so in other words, we cant see the pictures)


@ReMake has graciously rehosted the images for this tutorial. I've added the links.


Thanks @ReMake

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