Conceptual photo manipulation in Photoshop

In my last lesson, I already mentioned that I will create more conceptual and surrealistic paintings, because I like this style. I would like to create a picture that conveys the idea or reflects the feelings or state of mind and for this picture, I decided once again to beat the idea with time.

In this lesson, I will show you work with perspective, for this, I will introduce you to the curvature in perspective, and also, I will show you how to create a composition from several stock images so that they look natural, in other words, how to combine stock images, they did not look strange, given light and shade.

The final result:

Source materials:

STEP one

As usual, we begin the lesson with creating the background and once again, I am limited by the small size of the background image, given my size when creating a new document. Therefore, open the image with the background and go to the next step.


Open the stock image of a man using the selection tools Pen (Pen Tool), Fast Allocation (Quick Selection tool), separate the man from the background, or use any other technique that you like. Please note that I left the lower part of the original background image at the feet of the man. We will hide this part with the layer mask in the next step.

When you intelligently select images, it will save you valuable time. In our case, the image of the model is almost perfectly combined with the image of the background, which accordingly does not require any additional corrections.

Also note how the lighted part of the man faces the right side of the background. This is of utmost importance because you can see that the light comes from the right side. Never forget about light and shade when creating your composition using different images.


To the layer with the man, add a layer mask. Next, select the standard default brush to work on the layer mask of the men’s feet, combining the men’s feet with the grass of the background. You need to open a bookmark. Brushes(Brush), for this we go Window – Brushes (Window> Brush) and uncheck the option Color Dynamics (Color Dynamics). When working on a layer mask, do not forget to set the brush color to black.

STEP four

Duplicate the male layer and apply an adjustment layer to the duplicate. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce Brightness (Lightness) to 0 to get the silhouette of a man. Next, apply the tool Distortion (Distort Tool) to create a shadow of a man on the ground. To the created shadow, apply a slight blur, go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) to soften the shadow slightly. You can use the layer mask as in the previous step to hide part of the shadow near the man’s right leg. I reduced the opacity of the shadow layer to 60%.


The only correction that needs to be applied to a man in order to perfectly combine it with the background image is a color correction, which I applied using Filter Photo (Photo Filter), as a clipping mask for a layer with a man, the blending mode for this layer is set to Normal (Normal).


Open the image with the clock, copy / paste this image onto our document, as shown in screenshot 6. I used Photo Filter (Photo Filter), Colour (Color) Orange (Orange) value Density (Density) set 50%. And also, I used a correction layer. Color Balance (Color Balance), as a clipping mask, to add more shades of yellow. This correction will help even better to combine this image with the image of the background.


To match the light and shadow of the composition, I added a little light on the right side of the clock using the option Inner Shadow (Inner Shadow).

STEP eight

Next, we need to tilt the clock and arrange them in perspective. The best way is to use the tool. Perspective distortion (Vanishing Point Tool). With this tool, we will create a grid in perspective, which will help us to align the hours, gradually moving away into the distance.
Create a new layer on top of the clock layer and then go Filter – Perspective Curvature (Filter> Vanishing Point). Draw a grid projection as shown in screenshot 8.

Use the background image’s horizon line as a reference line. If the projection of the grid becomes yellow, this means that the projection is not performed correctly, the projection of the grid must be blue. Once you have created the grid projection, click on the icon in the upper left corner to display the context menu, select the option Display grids in Photoshop (Render Grids to Photoshop), then click OK.


So, you should have a new grid on a new layer, you will see that this grid as a guideline will help you align the clock. Next, duplicate the clock layer (Ctrl + J), and then apply scaling to the duplicate, using the grid projection as the tooltip. See screenshot 9.


In order to add a bit of variation, I used additional images with a clock to change the dials on the clock so that they show different times.

STEP eleven

Next, we need to work with the layer mask. Select all the layers with the clock and dials, if you changed them, as I did in Step 10 and group the selected layers by pressing Ctrl + G. A new group will appear in the layers palette, which will contain all the layers with the clock. I called this group WATCHES. Next, to the created group, add a layer mask. Next, I used the same standard grass brush to paint on a layer mask, so we will create a sensation. as if the clock is buried in the grass.


So, the clock is in place, we can start creating shadows. Simply duplicate the largest image with the clock and apply the same technique that you used to create the shadow of the man. Of course, that the shadow of the clock should fall behind a man.

Next, duplicate the shadow image and apply scaling to the shadow duplicate, since all watches are the same. Also, I applied Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) a few pixels to soften the shadow and reduced the opacity of the shadow layer to 70%.

The only thing that can be done to make the shadow look more realistic is to hide some parts of the shadow with grass. I selected all the shadows with the shadow again, and then grouped them to the created group, I added a layer mask and do the same thing that you did with the clock.


Create a new layer on top of all layers, and then change the blending mode for this layer to Lightening (Screen). Using a soft brush, the size of the brush is approximately 650px, paint the glow of the light using the color tint # 866946.


From this step, you can leave everything as it is or add something to your liking. I added a few words, highlighting some letters in different colors, as if creating a “hidden” message.


Next, I used the tool Pen (Pen Tool) to create outlines and connect some words with the dials of the clock, as well as connecting the clock with each other. To create lines, simply draw a contour, and then right-click on the created contour, choosing the option Run stroke contour(Stroke Path).

Final correction

Whether you have completed Steps 14 and 15 or not, you can continue from now on. You can give your work a different, more modern style by applying a few general corrections to the entire image.

Create a merged layer on top of all layers by pressing Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E Next, go Image – Correction – Options (Image> Adjustments> Variations) and select the option More blue (More Blue), and then reduce the opacity of this layer to 15%.

To correct the overall lighting, I used a filter. Lighting effects (Lighting Effects). At the beginning, I once again created the Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E stamp, and then applied the specified filter to the merged layer. See the settings shown in the screenshot below.

Next, I added the final touch using two adjustment layers. Color Balance (Color Balance) for color correction and Levels (Levels) for a slight increase in contrast.

In the screenshot below, the result is a general correction. In the left part of the screenshot, the result we got in Step 15, in the right part of the screenshot, the result we got after applying the general corrections.

Final result

Like this post? Please share to your friends: