Creating a surreal illustration in Photoshop

Creation of manipulations is always an interesting occupation, in which you discover a lot of useful things for yourself, and also learn about the technique of creating interesting and unique manipulations.

In this lesson, you will learn about the technique of creating a realistic shadow effect, the drawing technique, and the depth of field technique, i.e. how to arrange objects on the scene, given the depth of field of the original image. As well as many other interesting techniques of creating photo manipulations.

Final result

Source materials:

Step 1

Let the dimensions of the working paper be the same as those of the ‘Widow’ image.

Step 2

To this image we will create several objects that will be placed behind the widow’s back, so we need to copy the widow’s image to a new layer.

So, create a selection around the widow image, as shown in the screenshot below, and then copy and paste the copied image onto a new layer.

Step 3

It is said that the environment also plays a huge role in creating character. Therefore, in this step, we will create a magic ball located in the foreground of our scene, from which black poison will constantly trickle onto a red rose to demonstrate this statement.

Create a round black sphere, as shown in the screenshot below.

Next, create light highlights on the left side of the ball in accordance with the lighting of the entire scene, as shown in the screenshot below.

Open the stock image ‘Red Rose’. Create a selection around the rose image, and then copy to a new layer. Move the highlighted rose image to our working paper. Place the image of a rose in the foreground in the lower left corner under the image of the magical sphere.

Now, with the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), draw a black poison flowing from the magical sphere into a rose.

Select Splash Water Brush. Using this brush, paint splashes of black color on the rose to show the intensity with which the poison oozes and falls on the rose.

Step 4

In the original image with the widow, you can see that the focus is completely focused on the woman, therefore, in order to maintain the depth of field, we need to apply the filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) to the image of the magic ball, as well as to the red rose.

Combine the layers: with the magic sphere, with the flowing poison and the red rose in one layer. Name the combined layer ‘Poisoned Rose’. Next, being on the ‘Poisoned Rose’ layer, let’s go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Install Radius (Radius) Blur 22.3px.

Step 5

In this step, we will add the texture of the planet to the magical sphere so that the sphere looks more solid and voluminous.

Open the texture of the planet. Move the texture to our working paper. Apply scaling to the texture of the planet in accordance with the size of the black magic sphere.

So, to maintain the depth of field, apply Gaussian blur (Gaussian blur) 22.3px to the texture of the planet.

Step 6

Now, in the same way, create two more magical balls around the image of a woman. Place the second ball layer below the widow layer, the image of which we copied onto a separate layer in Step 2. Since the focus is on the woman, and the magical spheres are located around her at some distance, then we need to apply a Gaussian blur to these magical spheres, suggesting that the spheres are remote from the woman.

Step 7

Repeat the same action as in Step 5. Add the texture to the planets we created in the previous step. To make the texture of the planets match the brightness of the whole scene, let’s go Image – Correction – Brightness / Contrast (Image> Adjustments> Brightness / Contrast) and increase the value Brightness (Brightness) to 103, and the value The contrast (Contrast) to 25.

Step 8

In this step, we will create a tree similar to the ghost we will add to our scene. To create a tree, we cut out separate fragments of branches using a stock image with a dead tree. Next, we will connect all the created fragments of branches, creating a whole tree of the form that we need.

Open a stock image with a dead tree in Photoshop. Cut out the fragments of branches that we need on separate layers.

Now, move the branch layer to our working paper, placing it on the right side of our scene, as shown in the screenshot below.

Next, arrange the branches so that you get a solid tree, as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 9

In this step, we will add an image of an apple that will hang from a branch of a dead tree. This idea is borrowed from the story of Adam and Eve.

Open the image with the apple, create a selection around the image of the apple, and then copy the selected image to a new layer. Move the apple layer to our working paper by placing it above the woman’s head, as shown in the screenshot below.

Since the light comes in from the left side, we need to create shadows on the right side of the apple.

In the same way, create a second apple. Place the second apple on the right side of the scene, right next to the woman.

Step 10

In this step, we will add a black crow to the widow’s shoulder, which will be the personification of black evil.

Open the stock image of the bird. Move the image of the bird to our working paper, place the woman on the shoulder, as shown in the screenshot below.

Using a soft black brush, draw a shadow on the woman’s shoulder from the crow.

Also, using a soft black brush, create a shading on the crow in the area that is highlighted in the screenshot below.

Step 11

Next, create the text of the name of the picture ‘VENOM’ in the background.

Type the text VENOM using the default font Times New Roman. In the layers palette, place the text layer below the woman and tree layers.

To the text layer, apply a radius Gaussian Blur (Gaussian Blur) 28px according to the depth of field of the entire scene.

Next, reduce the opacity of the text layer to 68%, since we don’t want the title text to be too dark.

Step 12

In this step, we will apply the host texture to our image so that the image looks as if it were printed on canvas.

Before we proceed to this step, we need to combine all the layers that we have created at the moment. Name the merged layer ‘venom’.

Open the canvas texture. Move this texture to our working paper. Reduce the opacity of the layer with the texture to 69%, then change the blending mode for the layer with the texture to Overlap (Overlay).

Step 13

On the ‘venom’ layer, go Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation (Image> Adjustments> Hue / Saturation), set the value Saturation (Saturation) -43.

Next, create a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) on top of all layers. Fold up the curves, as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 14

In this step, we will create a frame around the image we created. Before we continue, we need to resize the canvas to Width (Width) = 3234px and Height (Height) = 4701px.

Cut the corner of the frame, and then glue the cut part of the frame to a new layer. Next, move the layer with the frame part to our working paper, placing it as shown in the screenshot below.

Duplicate the frame part of the frame several times to create a whole frame.

Step 15

Since we create a dark scene, then the frame should not be light shades.

Reduce the saturation of the color of the frame with Curves (Curves).

Next, using Exposure (Exposure), set the value Shear (Offset) at -0.0551, and the value Gammas Corrections (Gamma Correction) at 0.82.

Step sixteen

In this step, we will create a frame shadow.

Duplicate the frame layer, next, with Levels (Levels) discolor the frame to create a black outline.

Next, position the layer with the shadow below the layer with the frame, slightly shifting it to the lower right corner, as shown in the screenshot below.

Since we know that the shadow has no clear edges, therefore, we need to add a Blur according to Gauss 25.1px.

In the same way, create a shadow in the inside of the frame to create a natural depth, taking into account the lighting of the scene.

Step 17

In this step, we will create a torn edge effect to make the canvas look old and worn.

Choose a tool Eraser (Eraser Tool (E), then go to the brush settings and set the Crack brush. Walk with the eraser on the ‘venom’ layer, as shown in the screenshot below.

Repeat Step 16 to create a shadow under the ragged edges of the host.

Next, select the Grunge brush. Using this brush, paint in black around the ragged edges, as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 18

The wall behind the picture should be dark, because less light falls on it.

Open the texture of the wallpaper. Move this texture to our working paper. Apply scaling to the texture of the wallpaper according to the size of the document. Place the wallpaper texture layer below all created layers.

Further, by correction Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast), decrease the value Brightness (Brightness) to -106, and the value The contrast (Contrast) increase to 31.

Step 19

In this step, we will create a tablet with the name of the painting, located under the frame.

Open art metal texture. Create a rectangular selection required for the table.

Next, using the Times New Roman font, type the text Mrs.VENOM on the plate. Next, go to the layer with the tablet. Create a text selection, and then copy the selected text to a new layer. On the label layer, use the same text selection to remove text from the label.

To show the depth of the imprint of the name of the picture, we need to darken the text with a metallic imprint.

So, with the help of correction Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast), reduce Brightness (Brightness) layer with text up to -79, set the value The contrast (contrast) 20.

Via Exposure (Exposure), set the value Exposure (Exposure) at -0.57, and the value Gammas Corrections (Gamma Correction) at 0.94.

Step 20

Repeat Step 16 to create a shadow inside the edges of the text.

Step 21

In this step, we will draw the water flowing out of the picture.

Choose a brush from the Water Spray set. Paint the water flowing out of the picture using the black color of the brush.

Then, with the help of the same brush, paint white over black water, which we drew in the previous step.

Step 22

In this step, we will add a flying bird that flies out of the picture.

Open image with flying bird. Move this image to our working paper, placing it as shown in the screenshot below.

To the bird layer, apply Exposure (Exposure), set the value Shear (Offset) at -0.0061, and the value Gammas Corrections (Gamma Correction) at 0.82.

Since the bird is in motion, we need to apply a filter Motion blur (Motion blur) to the edges of the wings of the bird, as well as to the tail, to create natural depth. Using tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L), create a selection around the edges of the wings, as well as around the tail, as shown in the screenshot below.

4) Without removing the selection, go Filter – Blur – Blur at Movement(Filter> Blur> Motion Blur). Install Angle(Angle) 10, and option value Bias(Distance) 44px.

On a layer with a bird, apply a filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), blur radius 1.0px.

Final result

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