Step 8. Cave within a Cave
Now with my buildings looking reasonably decayed and damaged, I had to add one of the focal points of my image – my cave within a cave. This is one of the story elements of the scene which suggests some mystery as to what lies through the hole. It is also what the cavers are surveying and observing with their equipment.
By using the Eyedropper Tool and sampling the whites and blacks of the decay on the building, I used a textured brush and painted a hole into the face of the structure. I thought about the cables, steel supporting rods and the different floors of offices that might have previously existed while this building was standing. I painted this on a new layer in the area where I had previously left a clearing in my dust layer.
I tried to think of this part as if it was a cross-section of the building, so you can see it's ‘insides'
Step 9. Cavers of the future
I turned my layers back on to cover up the scene as it was before, but it was too bright for a cave so I added some more dust to the air to darken it. Then it was time to introduce my second focal point? the cavers.
I wanted them to be correctly scaled with regards to the sky-scraper. I used the windows as a guide and zoomed right in to paint two figures wearing head gear and suits to protect them from any harmful gases that may be present in the cave. Details did not matter on their suits, except for the orange lights I applied to their backs. I wanted it to act as a display meter for their air supply or maybe the battery life of their suits. I added the orange on a separate layer set to Linear Dodge. I also gave one of them a device with which they can refer to for any details or information about the cave.
Even though the cavers are very small in the whole of the scene. Adding subtle details such as the lights and the device can reinforce the futuristic nature of the story and the painting
Step 10. Shining a light
To finish the image and tie both focal points together, I added the torch light. With the Polygonal Lasso Tool, I drew a thin triangle, filled it with a bright sandy color and transformed it into place on a layer beneath the cavers. Then I applied a Gaussian Blur to it, (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur), and touched it up with a soft edged brush set to low opacity of the same color. I also added the diffused light from it to the area of dust surrounding the hole in the building.
Next, I created a composite layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E), this command merges all visible layers into one single copy without flattening your image.
Now for finishing touches! I played with the Levels and Curves of the new composite layer to push the darks, lights and the color and add some Noise (Filter > Noise) to tie the image together.
Before and after Levels and Curves, and Noise Adjustments