Contemplation in Photoshop – Part 1

In this lesson we will create a surrealistic composition with a Buddhist monk and a floating sphere.

The lesson will teach you techniques by which you will be able to create a cave of simple stones, as well as interesting weaving of ropes using a 3D cube shape.

The lesson is long, so it is divided into two parts.

Let’s start!


Step 1

Create a new file in Photoshop using the settings as shown in the image below. I immediately assigned the title “Surreal Manipulation Tutorial” to my work; of course, you can give a different name to your work.

Step 2

Add the sky.
Switch to File – Post (File – Place). Locate the folder in which you saved the sources for the lesson and select the image “Sky”.

If you did everything right, then your canvas at the moment looks like this:

Activate the tool Transform (Transform Tool) and hold down the key Shift. Now, drag the sky down a bit, so as you hold down the Shift key, the image will move only along one axis.

To apply the changes, just press Enter or click on the “Run” checkbox in the top panel.

Repeat all of the above steps number 2 for the source “Clouds”.

At this stage you will get the following layer scheme:

In order to begin to combine the image, add to our work the source picture “Field” ((File – Post (File – Place)). Layer with the image of the field must be placed above the background layer (under the layer “Sky”). And then drag the field to the top of the canvas.

Laying the layers:

When creating the working canvas, we got an empty, white background layer. In this paper, it is not useful, so you can delete it. Double-click on a layer to unlock it, and then simply drag the white background layer onto the trash can icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

By the end of this step, your canvas will look something like this:

Step 3

Go to the “Clouds” layer and add a layer mask to it by clicking on the corresponding icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

Activate the tool Brush (Brush Tool) (hot key “AT“). Right-click anywhere on the canvas to quickly go to the brush set panel. Select a soft round brush (rigidity 0% (dardness)) opacity (opacity) brush should be set to 100%.

Changing the brush size is very easy:
– to increase the size click on the keyboard “]
-to reduce the size – “[

In order to hide part of the image using a layer mask, it is necessary to process areas with black color on it. To quickly switch to black, press the key on the keyboardD“.

When working with a vector mask (layer mask) it is convenient to use the key Alt, when clicked, you can go to the mask viewport. To do this, stand on the mask and while holding the Alt key, left-click on the layer mask. In order to return to the normal viewing mode, re-click on the vector mask with the Alt key pressed.

At this stage, you should maximally “mix” the “Sky” and “Cloud” layers. For best results, use a low-opacity black soft brush (10-25%).
In order to merge layers, I create such a layer mask:

Now the clouds look more harmonious.

Add a vector mask to the “Sky” layer. Using the technique described above, we hide the upper part of the image. Below you can see the layer mask for the “Sky” layer.

We received a beautiful background for further work:

We will make the sky even more attractive using corrective layers.
Select the “Field” layer and add an adjustment layer to it. Black and white (Black White). To do this, simply click on the icon with the image of a black and white circle at the bottom of the layers panel, and select the desired correction from the list.

In the settings window that appears, select from the proposed templates. Green Filter (Green Filter). Now apply a Black and White adjustment layer (Black White), as a clipping mask to the “Field” layer. You can do this by clicking on the appropriate icon called “Cut by layer“which looks like a rectangle with an arrow.

The second adjustment layer we will use is Curves (Curves).

On the RGB curve, add two points, and then change the shape of the curve as shown in the image below. Do not forget to apply this adjustment layer as a clipping mask to the “Field” layer.

By this stage we got the following result, so you can see the diagram of layers in the image:

In order to finish the work on the sky, we will correct the light and shadows. To do this, add a new layer by clicking Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + N. In the settings window that appears, enter the name “Sky Lighting”, and also set the blending mode Overlap (Overlay).

Activate the tool Clarifier (Dodge Tool (ABOUT)). Set the range in the settings “Mid tones“(Midtones), exposure (exposure) – 10%.

After setting up the tool, stand on the “Sky Lighting” layer and draw the parts of the clouds that you want to make brighter.
To darken some areas of the sky, use the tool Dimmer (Burn Too). With the active tool Dodge Tool, clamp the keyboard Alt, this allows you to quickly switch to the Burn Too tool.

This principle also applies in the opposite direction: if you have the Burn Too tool active, it is enough to press the Alt key to quickly activate the Dodge Tool.

Try creating a nice contrast between light and dark areas. Do not be afraid to experiment!

I will temporarily translate the “Sky Lighting” layer into Normal mode, so that you can see how the lighting has been worked out.

Returning the Sky Lighting layer to Overlay mode.

In order not to clutter up the layers panel, I recommend grouping all the layers related to the sky. To do this, hold down the key Shift and select all layers with clouds. Then press the hot key combination Ctrl + G, in order to move the selected layers to the group. Name the group “Sky”.

You can also not use hotkeys, but simply drag the selected layers to the mini folder icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

Step 4. Create a cave

Before we begin to assemble the cave of stones, you need to create a sketch. Create a new layer, on top of all the previous ones and name it “Rock for Sketch”.

Activate the tool Brush ( Brush Tool (B)). In the settings, select a soft round brush about 500 pixels in size, the brush color is black. On the “Scale Sketch” layer, draw the area on which we will later create a cave. You can use my example, or draw your own silhouette, it all depends on your imagination!

We will not use the finished image of the cave, but create it using the original image “Island”.
Open the “Islet” in the new document (File – Open (File – Open)).

Activate the tool Pen(Pen Tool). Create a contour around a part of the island. Then click the right mouse button and in the submenu select the item “To form a selected area“(Make Selection). Leave a radius of feathering on the value 0 pix.

With the active selection, press the key combination Ctrl + C, to copy the selected area. Go back to the main working canvas and on the new layer click the combination Ctrl +V, This will insert a section of rock into your collage. Place a layer with a piece of rock above all the previous ones.

Activate the tool Move (Move Tool (V)) and place a piece of rock as shown in the image below. You can also use the tool. Transform (Ctrl + T), for a better result. Then add a vector mask to the layer with the rock. Activate the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B)), brush color – black. Using this tool, hide some parts of a piece of rock.

At the moment you will have a similar result:

Following the technique described above, we will continue to add pieces of stone, creating a rock. This process is quite laborious and time consuming, but it is a good practice to use the Pen tool and work with the mask layer.
Go back to the “Islet” image. Using Pen (Pen Tool) define a new site.

Copy the selected area and paste it into the main canvas. Use the power tool Transform (Free Transform Tool) and modify the new piece at your discretion. Activate Move (Move Tool) and drag a new rock item.

You can learn more about how to use the free Transform tool from this lesson.

The result after adding the second section of the rock:

Some tips on creating a cave:
– you can use the same rock element several times;
– To quickly create a duplicate layer, use the key combination Ctrl + J;
– first create the right side of the cliff, and then create a combined copy of the right side and flip it horizontally. To do this, go to: Editing – Transform – Flip Horizontally (Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal);
– Do not give up on the floor, the process of creating a long, but you can get an individual unique result;
– leave the lower right section of the cave flat, because in the future we will place a character on it;
– do not combine pieces of the same size, combine small, large and medium sections of the rock;
– Turn on good music and enjoy your work. = D

Cave framing:

Layout of the layers when creating the cave:

Select all layers with rock pieces and group them into (Ctrl +G). Name the new group “Cave” and add a layer mask to it.

Stand on the layer mask and activate the Brush Tool. Set the brush color to black. In the screenshot below, the cave areas to be hidden are shown in red. When working, use a brush with an opacity of 10% – 25%.

Now we have a beautiful effect, as if a cave had been formed in a dark rock.

As in the case of the sky, the final touch to the cave is a new layer (on top of all previous ones) Ctrl + Shift + N, on which we will correct the lighting. Use the technique described above when working with tools. Clarifier (Dodge Tool) and Dimmer (Burn Too).

When working remember that the closer to the exit from the cave, the brighter the glare. Below you can see how the layer with the illumination of the rock looks like during the blend mode of the Normal layer.

When you change the mode of the layer with the lighting on Overlap (Overlay) you will get a similar result:

We have almost finished the work of creating the cave. Stand on the “Cave” layer group and lower its opacity to 85% -90%.

Step 5. Add a monk

Open in the main canvas the image “Monk”: File – Post (File – Place). Place the image with the llama on top of all previous layers.

In order to separate the character from the background, activate the tool Pen (Pen Tool) and create an outline around the llama. Then right-click and select in the submenu “To form a selected area“(Make Selection). Leave a radius of feathering on the value 0 pix.

With the active selection of a monk, click on the icon “Add layer mask“this will allow you to hide the background part of the image.

Press combination Ctrl + T (or go to: Editing – Free Transform (Edit – Free Transform)), in order to reduce the figure of a monk. Whatever image loses proportions, hold the key while scaling Shift. Place the llama as shown in the example below:

In order for the character to fit into the big picture, we will apply the tool correction to it. Clarifier (Dodge Tool) and Dimmer (Burn Too). To do this, create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) with blend mode Overlap (Overlay) and shading 50% gray.

Activate the Dodge Tool tool. Set the range in the settings – “Mid tones“(Midtones), exposure (exposure) – 25%.

Draw light and dark areas on the llama figurine. When working on a monk’s lighting, remember that light falls on his face.
Scheme to work on the lighting character:

At the moment my collage looks like this:

Under the monk layer, add a new layer and rename it to “Monk Shadow”.

Convert the layer “Monk Shadow” into a clipping mask to the “Cave” layer group. To do this, use the key Alt. Hold it and move the mouse between the layer “Monk’s Shadow” and “Cave Lighting”, having seen the corresponding symbol, click the left mouse button.

Now activate the tool Brush (Brush Tool). In the settings, select a soft round brush in black. Standing on the “Shadow of a Monk” layer, draw a shadow on the rock that the lama casts. Given that we applied this layer as a clipping mask, the shadow will fall only on the stones.

To make the shadow look softer, go to Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur), and set the blur radius to 12px.

Add more shadows to the monk’s silhouette. To do this, create another layer on top of all the previous ones. Apply it as a clipping mask to the “Monk’s Lighting” layer, and name it “Monk’s Shadow 2”.

The second shadow needs to be added at the bottom of the llama’s clothes. To draw this shadow. use the same brush as when drawing the previous one. The opacity of a black soft brush should be 10% – 25%. In the image below, the area of ​​clothing to be blacked out is marked in red.

Work on the character is over:

Step 6. Add Mountains to the Landscape

As before, go to: File – Post (File – Place) and open the source “Snow Mountains”.

Add a layer mask to the “Snowy Mountains” layer and use the black soft brush to hide the sky.

Reduce image with mountains. To do this, standing on the layer “Snowy Mountains”, press the key combination Ctr + T, and scale the image. Hold down while working Shift, in order to keep the proportions.

You can focus on the image below when scaling:

Now drag the layer with the mountains under the layer “Rock Sketch” (above the group “Sky”).

Now we will further work on the layer mask of the “Snowy Mountains” layer. Stand on the layer mask and activate a black, soft, round brush. Draw the foot of the mountains on the vector mask. When working, use a brush with an opacity of about 10% – 25%. You should get the effect that the mountains are drowning in the clouds.

Rename the “Snowy Mountains” layer to “Mountains” (I understand that this is not original: D)

After adding mountains, the collage looks much more interesting:

Step 7. Workspace correction

Before proceeding, group the Monk, Monk Light and Monk Shadow 2 layers.

Then open the “Sky” group and drag the “Mountains” layer inside this group. Make sure that the “Mountains” layer is the top layer of the “Sky” group.

Rename the resulting group to “Sky and Clouds / Mountains” (“Sky / Clouds”), this will help not to get lost in the future.

If your “Clouds” layer is added as a smart object, double-click on the layer to go to edit this image with clouds.

In the opened image, we will make small adjustments using the tool Stamp (Stamp Tool).
In order to fill in with a stamp any part of the canvas, first of all it is necessary to determine the sample (clone). To do this, hold down the key Alt (with the Stamp tool active) and specify the location from which you will take samples. In order to start the adjustment, release Alt and begin to paint over the area you want to change. I want to remove the white obsessive cloud near the left corner of the cave.

Spending a little time will give you a similar result:

On the main canvas you can clearly see that thanks to the Stamp Tool I managed to hide an unnecessary bright white cloud in the left corner.

We almost put in order our work area. It remains only to rename the previously formed group in “Monk”.

Step 8. Planet

Add a planet to the collage (File – Post (File – Place)).

Separate the planet from the background. To do this, activate the tool Oval area (Eliptical Marquee Tool). Hold key Shift and draw a round selection around the contour of the planet.

Click on the “Add Vector Mask” icon to hide everything except the highlighted round area.

Click Ctrl + T (or Edit – Free Transform (Edit-Free Transform)) to resize the planet and place it above the clouds.

Add a glow to the planet. To do this, double-click on the planet layer to go to the settings “Layer style“(Layer style). Then go to style Internal glow (Inner Glow). Set the parameters shown in the example below.

Here’s what happens after adding the Inner Glow style:

Layer of layers after this step:

Second part of the lesson

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