By Michael Vincent Manalo
Use Photoshop to create a surreal digital diorama “living” room with blue-sky walls, a turbulent sea floor, and an antique clock sun.

Digital diorama

You can follow this tutorial using Shutterstock Images and Photoshop Creative Suite (any version). This is an intermediate-level tutorial, so you should have some familiarity with Photoshop functions such as Transform and Layer Opacity. Let’s get this wall texture Photoshop tutorial started!

1. Download your images.

Here are the Shutterstock images we recommend you use to build your room. Of course, feel free to experiment with different image choices!

Old paper textureDeep sea water wavesVintage vector wall clockLuxury yacht in the sea2. Prepare your canvas.

Create a new image with square dimensions. We used a canvas 3000 pixels by 3000 pixels for this demo.

3. Reach for the sky.

Once that’s done, we can start creating the walls of the room. To begin, search for a vivid blue sky. Let’s use Shutterstock image 72703351 by irin-k.

Vivid blue sky

Activate the Move tool (V) and drag this image to your canvas and resize it so it fits. Next, activate the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and cut the sky into three parts and duplicate them. You may activate the Ruler to help guide you as you cut the sky.

Transform the blue sky

Once cut into three and duplicated, activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and choose Distort by right clicking on the canvas while the Transform tool is active. Now, pull the bottom left corner of the left part of the image down and pull the right bottom corner of the right part of the image down.

Transform the sky some more

3. Scuff up the walls.

Now, let’s add texture to the walls to give them a grungy feel. Search for a grunge background in the Shutterstock library. We recommend Shutterstock image 65347750 by Eky Studio.

Grunge background

Open this texture, paste it onto a layer above the sky wall, and adjust its size and distortion to cover the sky wall. Set its Blending mode to Color and its Opacity to 25%, then duplicate the texture and set its Blending mode to Normal and its Opacity to 15%.

Blending the background

Next, search for a paper texture from the Shutterstock library. We recommend Shutterstock image 73272484 by Valentin Agapov.

Paper texture

Use the same technique to make the wall but set the texture’s Blending Mode to Normal and Opacity to 20%.

Adding opacity to an image

4. Ever heard of a sea floor?

Next, we will create a floor made out of the sea. You’d find a lot of enticing stormy sea images in Shutterstock, but let’s narrow it down to Shutterstock image 65402491 by dimitris_k.

Stormy sea

Activate the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and select the sea from the image and move it to your canvas using the Move tool (V). Activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and resize the sea.

For a ripple effect against the walls, we chose to place this on a layer above the walls we’ve already created, and hand-draw a layer mask the same shape as the floor, with the wavy edges.


5. Time is on your side.

Place an antique clock on the upper portion of the room to add a focal point. Try Shutterstock image 61417744 by Lugers. (This is a vector illustration, but you should be able to open it and work with it as a rasterized image in Photoshop.)

Analog clock

Activate the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) or the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to create a selection area around the clock. Activate the Move tool (V) and drag the clock to your canvas. Put this layer above all the layers that we’ve created and then activate the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and make the clock smaller to give the illusion that the room is quite spacious.

Adding a clock to the image

To add depth, you can apply a drop shadow to the clock layer, or create a layer underneath it (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) and use the Brush tool (B) to draw in your own shadow.

Create a texturized layer

6. Don’t forget to brush.

Create a layer on top of all the layers and brush in more shadow to the sides, top and bottom edges of the room to give it depth and make it look even more realistic. You may also create a clipping mask over the clock layer and use the Brush tool (B) to darken parts of the clock.

Brush up the image

7. Come sail away.

For a finishing touch, add a boat to the sea. Try Shutterstock image 53411551 by Phant.


Cut the sailboat from its background with a Lasso Tool and then move it to your canvas. Resize it. Position it on the waves to make it look real.

Adding a sailboat to your image

There you have it! With this technique and your imagination there are no limits!

Feeling a little texture savvy? Learn even more texture techniques here.