Create a surreal portrait in Photoshop

“Beauty is a terrible power.” In any case, so stated the unforgettable Faina Ranevskaya. But beauty in the style of surrealism is a terrible force doubly. And this is exactly the author of our lesson today.

We will draw an absolutely surreal portrait using a regular photo, various brushes, textures, filters and correction layers.

This is the result we must come to.

And we will need these images in the process of work:

And a few general comments:
Those who are not sure that they understand the meaning of the word “surrealism” correctly, I advise you to look into Wikipedia. So it will be easier for you to understand the essence of what we have to do. As for me, I believe that surrealism is the ability to visualize those unusual pictures that the human subconscious draws.
We will now try to take an ordinary portrait of the most ordinary girl and try to work not just with her appearance, but with her inner world, which, as we know, is what distinguishes us humans from monkeys and rabbits. For example, having a little imagination before starting work, you can make for yourself a pencil sketch of what we should do. See what I did:

Now let’s get started.
Open a new A4 document, 200dpi (300dpi is also possible). Now we will work with a photo of a girl. Open the image with the Woman Stock Image girl and place it at the bottom center of our document.

Now duplicate this layer. On a copy of the layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Black White(image-correction – black and white). Play with the settings until you have a sharp contrast between black and white. Do not forget that in such a stylish portrait that we are going to make, it is mainly necessary to emphasize the eyes and hair. Therefore, make sure that at this stage and the girl’s eyes look quite expressive. And we draw hair later. This is the most interesting part of the lesson.

Make a second copy of the image with the girl. Now we apply a filter to it. Go to Filter > Artistic > PosterEdges (filter – imitation of artistic effects – outlined edges). Set the maximum thickness to 10, and set the remaining settings to 0. This will give the skin of the girl a glamorous shine, and the whole image will have an unusual and catchy look.

The order of the layers should be like this: the “Contoured Edges” layer should be above the “Black and White” layer. The layer transparency should be 90%.

Now we take the tool Pen (pen) in mode Paths(contour) and remove the background and hair of the girl. We need to leave for work only the girl’s face and body. It is most convenient to do this work with a pen, the selection will be very accurate and we can always correct our work by adding and removing points on the contour.

So, we single out the girl’s face and body without touching her hair. Look at how I did it: You see, I drew a little the outline of her face, since in our image it was slightly cropped.

Now we do this. We will open a new group “Girl” (Create a New Folder), load the created path as a selection (Load path as a Selection), and add layer mask (Layer Mask) to the created group:

Move the “Contoured Edges” and “Black and White” layers to this group. You will probably have to adjust the mask a little more to get a clear black outline of the face. Do this with a brush. Take a soft round brush and paint on it a contour on the mask.
All the layers that we will create now must also be located inside the “Girl” group.

Let’s dress the girl in something cool and exclusive. Download Victorian Brushes Victorian Brushes and use brush number 1. Choose black and draw a flower on the girl’s left and right shoulders. It should make something like a tattoo:

Then take the Clone Stamp tool (cloning), a brush of 180-280 pixels and clone the flowers so that they completely cover the shoulders of the girl (you are working on the “Contoured edges” layer). To achieve the perfect result is absolutely not necessary, because most of the flowers will be hidden under the clothes of the girl.

Now we are going to look. First, we need to increase the lashes. Open a new layer, take a brush that mimics eyelashes, and draw black eyelashes on the upper and lower eyelids of the girl. Remember Liza Minnelli in the movie “Cabaret”. Also full sur!

Now it’s time to get some hair done. Download curly brushes splatter brushes and black color draw the base for our hairstyle:

Look at the order in which my layers are located in the “Girl” Group. If you have the same way, it means that you are going the right way. New layer name “Hair”. Open a new group above and give it the same name.

Now duplicate the “Hair” layer into the “Hair” group.

Now download “Japanese floral brushes” Japanese flowers brushes and brushes “Beautiful flowers” ​​Beautiful flowers brushes. Draw, feel in yourself a rebel and an artist!

I thought for a long time how best to process a photo, and came to the conclusion that the best option for it is an imitation of watercolor painting. In order to achieve the watercolor effect, I used this paper texture: beautiful paper:

Open the texture, and copy the layer with it. You should have one layer of paper at the very top, and the other right above the background layer. Reduce the opacity of the layer above the background to 10%. You will see what a delightful tone a girl’s skin will acquire. (It is a pity that life is much more complicated!)

It’s time to add surrealism to our girl’s hair. Let’s create a fairy-tale world on her head, so that Brothers Grimm would remain – they would be pleased with them.
For starters, add to all three layers of hair LayerMask (layer mask)

Now we need “Watercolor Brushes” Watercolor Splatters. With their help, we will remove unwanted black parts of hair, adding air curls at the ends of the hair and giving the image a charming watercolor charm. We will start working on the Hair 3 layer. Play with brushes, be creative. Done not necessarily exactly copy my work.

In the same way (on masks) process the layers “Hair 1 and 2”

You can still create the effect of mist around the hair. Go back to the layer of Hair 3, take EraserTool (eraser). Select the watercolor brushes again, but, this time, smaller, and process the layer mask with them:

Turn came to the trees. Just not a girl, but Michurin’s dream comes out! By the way, do you know how Michurin died? He climbed mushrooms on the Christmas tree to collect, and a watermelon made a feast on him from a nearby birch tree. Like this.
Okay, let’s go further. Open the brush “Trees” trees, create a new layer and draw something similar on the girl’s head:

No, guys, do you imagine how Leonardo da Vinci says to his students: Guys, open the brush “Trees” …. Fie you! All, all, silent.
Now activate TransformTool (transform) and reduce trees by 10%. We need a little extra space to continue.

We will use “Fairy brushes” fairies brushes. Open a new layer and fantasize with different brushes and settings. Just do not overdo it, otherwise your fairies will look like insects. Ugh!
See how I did it:

Do not forget, changing the brush, each time open a new layer. You can also use a brush from the set “Fairy 2” fairies brushes.

It remains to add butterflies. Now Vladimir Nabokov should be delighted. Download the Butterfly brushes butterflies brushes, open a new layer and draw a few butterflies in the girl’s hair:

And now we will color our flora and fauna. Open the Watercolor texture with watercolor texture. Create a new layer and place it under the “Trees” and “Fairies” layers. Change the blending mode to Darken(blackout):

Add a LayerMask (layer mask) and using a watercolor brush, remove the excess green from the girl’s forehead. After all, she should look alive and healthy here, and not the way I look after 2 packs of strong cigarettes and 6 cups of coffee.

Now we will load the Victorian brushes with flowers (you have already downloaded them, and used them for a tattoo on the girl’s body). Now we will decorate them and hair.

Create a new layer and draw a flower in black. You will have to make the “Hair” folder invisible for a while (turn off the peephole). Then you will see your flower in all its glory.

That’s it, now we need to paint the flower in a scarlet color. Create a new group and name it “The Scarlet Flower”. Now we will do the same thing that Mosfilm did with the unfortunate Stirlitz-Isaev. That is, we will translate a black and white image into color.
Activate MagicWandTool (Magic wand). While staying on a layer with a flower, click anywhere outside the image.

Go to Select > Inverse (select – invert). Activate the “Scarlet Flower” group and add a layer mask to it (AddLayerMask)

Download watercolor brushes and open a new layer inside this group. Look at what color I chose, it’s ocher. But you can act on your own. Just do not forget to slightly reduce the transparency in order to achieve a more transparent watercolor effect.

Now open another layer above the “Ocher” layer and paint the upper part of the flower with a rich red color. Leave a transparency of 100%.

But that’s not all. Let’s try to create the effect of the paint spread over the flower. Open a new layer above the “Flower in color” group. Download brushes: splatter brushes. Choose the same brush as mine:

See how it looks in my picture:

Now you can make visible layers with hair (they are in a separate group). Take EraserTool (eraser), install a small round brush and remove the paint in those places where it does not look very natural:

We are approaching the final. Create another new layer and draw two small droplets as in my drawing. You can use the splatter brush. You can transform and expand them a bit, but this is already a matter of your taste and time. I did this:

I also thought that it was necessary to somehow balance the color palette. And then the girl’s hair looks too bright compared to her shoulders. That’s why I added a few red splashes to the girl’s left shoulder. To heighten the effect.

Then he could not resist, and decorated with splashes, only black, and the right shoulder:

The last thing left for us to do is to move the flower a little to the left so that it does not cover our beautiful fairies. All is ready!

Here is the final result:

In principle, you can take for this work or your portrait, or a portrait of someone from your friends and acquaintances. Unless, of course, are not afraid to break off relations with them. The possibilities open to you are endless, the main thing to remember is that the real world is all the same different from the surreal world. Therefore, leaving home, take out butterflies and fairies from the hair and place a flower in a vase. For a time, until better times. Good luck!

Author: Carine Ma.

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