Tutorial: Making of Sichuan

This is a short tutorial on how I made the SICHUAN EARTHQUAKE 2008 picture. Do not that far from all small details are included here. Instead, this tutorial is more of a walkthrough on the overall effects and making of the picture. If you have a fair knowledge of Photoshop though, it shouldn’t be too hard to follow. If you have any questions about anything specific, feel free to ask!


We have our original picture of the crumbled building.

Tweak contrast and especially saturation of it. You can do this through Hue/Saturation and Levels or Curves.

Then place in the boy. I got him from another picture and gave him a mask, removing his former surroundings. Go into layer styles and give him a nice yellow glow. I did the glow by first giving it a white glow on low opacity, then duplicating the layer and giving it a yellow glow on Overlay.

Duplicate the kid again, and go into Hue/Saturation, put on Colorize and give it a nice warm golden tint. Then put that layer on Overlay.

I then added in a lot of fake shadows to bring up a nicer contrast where I wanted, without brightening the image too much. I did this by simply painting in black areas with a soft brush. Remember to paint a shadow around the kids feet.

Adding the lights. I did that by using a soft white brush, with some scatter settings. I painted them in white, then used a layer style to give them a glow. Then I set the layer opacity to 25. Then I duplicated that layer, and instead of white, filled the lights with yellow, and then set the layer to Overlay. I again duplicated that layer, and left it on top of the two others with no additional changes.

Then I added the dark areas around the kid, to create focus. I did this by just painting in dark areas. On a white background, it looks this.

Then I used the gradient tool set to Radiant (with black on the outside, and transparent on the inside) to create a darkening around the kid, and set that layer to Overlay.

Then last I added in the text with a layer style glow on it. And viola, finished. (Though deciding what to do, figuring out how to, composition and more all in all took me around 5 hours when I made the picture.)

Feel free to link this tutorial anywhere, as long as you give credit to me, and link back here.

As always, its awesome if you link your picture in the comments section, or add it to the MentalMirage flickr group!

- Philip Zeplin

Support a starving (no, not really) artist and buy some prints!

142 Responses

  1. Davien Jones Says:

    WaooO..cool tutorial. Is a really2 nice tutorial for a beginner like me..

  2. donkey Says:

    wow, you should write more tutorial. ^^

  3. Photoshop Tutorials Blog Says:

    Really nice and simple! I also linked this tutorial from my blog!

  4. mm Says:

    pa tutor ako sayo sa photoshop please.

  5. admin Says:

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    Donkey, more tutorials will come soon :) In the meantime, check out our flickr pool, as well as the previous tutorial!

    PTB, as I wrote to you, thanks!

    MM, I’m sorry, I dont understand. Please reply in english :)

  6. joe Says:

    you really didnt explain much. i got lost in this tutorial quite a few times and still havent gotten it right

  7. admin Says:

    Joe, please the tutorial description next time before voicing a complaint :)
    “Do note that far from all small details are included here. Instead, this tutorial is more of a walkthrough on the overall effects and making of the picture.”

    Have a good day now :)

  8. kontratt Says:

    very nice and climatic effect, good idea also

  9. Thomas Says:

    where did you get the boy image? i cant find any good picture.

  10. admin Says:

    I got it off a stockfootage website, but I’m already that I dont have the link anymore.
    For testing the tutorial out though, if you do a google images search for “walking with umbrella” you’ll find plenty of pictures. Just remember you can’t use those for commercial use :)

  11. ma1deN Says:

    what font you use for the text?.. its reli nice :)

    cheers and keep up the good work :)

  12. FranckYboy Says:

    Really cool effects and composing!gonna try this one, thanks 4 sharing

  13. arlu Says:

    really2 cool!:D

  14. Dart Says:

    mm said “Can you please tutor me on photoshop”

    I Love this tutorial, you acquire such great skill. I learned alot from this.

  15. bobonaingwin Says:

    i crazy this picture very much. i want to create like this picture and i want to become a world famous expert photoshop expert.I think this tutorial give me great feelingness and sadness for me.It hit my heart.Thanks for your creating photo tutorial.

  16. wiresofbreathing Says:

    wow.. thanks for sharing this..:) iam really trying this one out.. but can i ask, in adjusting the hue/saturation, can i apply the something retro/acid effect?:(

  17. natasenka Says:

    Спасибо очень полезная и познавательная статья !
    Материал хороший и конечно жду новых статей :)
    Автору спасибо

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    I think you’ve gotta be insanely creative to begin with. The Photoshop skills are pretty much complimentary..

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    i’m from China.I like this tutorials very much. I’d like to translate it into Chinese and share it with my chinese friends.

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