Create a surreal illustration in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to create a retro image filled with surrealism. Using several images, several brushes and some textures, we will create an image of a girl holding a picture with her mouth open, at the same time, the second half of her body will be under water with the fish. We will learn how to combine these images together so that they really look as if they are really under water. In addition, we will learn how to make the observer see the underwater and surface world, and then we will learn how to mix textures and tint colors to give the image a retro feel and much more.

Final result

Source materials:

STEP 1.Create a new document.
OK, to start the lesson, let’s create a new document, go to the menu File – New (File> New), and enter the following values ​​in the appropriate fields:
Width(Width): 3000px
Height(Height): 3000px
Resolution(Resolution): 300px / inch
Color Mode(Color Mode): RGB Color; 8 bit
Content background(Background Contents): Transparent(Transparent)

STEP 2.Create the sea
In this step we will create the sea, which will be the background content of our image. To get started, open the Underwater image. Once the image has loaded, simply select the tool. Move (Move tool (V) and move the image to our document. See screenshot below.

Once you have done this, name this layer “water.” To rename a layer, simply double-click on the text: “layer 1” (i.e. our image of the sea) to activate the text entry window. Once the window has become active, you can rename the layer.

After you rename the layer, we scale the image. To scale the image, activate the tool Transformation (Transform tool) by pressing Ctrl + T. Follow the instructions in the screenshot below.

The result should be as in the screenshot.

After transformation, we will create an observer feeling as if he or she are looking both above the water and see under the water. To do this, select the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso tool) by pressing the L key.

Once you have completed this, follow the instructions below.

The result should be as in the screenshot.

Next, we need to make the transition smooth, for this we need to blur the edge of the sea. To do this, activate the tool Blur (Blur tool) by pressing R.

When the tool is activated, set the following settings:
The size brushes(Brush size): 150px
Rigidity (Hardness): 0%
Mode(Mode): Normal(Normal)
Pressure (Strength): 100%

Result:

Next, let’s change the color of the water. To do this, click on the layer with water and go Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance). Once the window has opened, apply the following values:
Levels (Color Levels): -20, 0, +35
Tonal balance (Tone Balance): Mid tones (Midtones)
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick ​​the box (Checked)

The result should be as in the screenshot.

Once again, let’s correct the colors, this time with shades of water shadow. Click again on the layer to activate it, and go Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance). As soon as the window opens, apply the following values:
Levels (Color Levels): -45, +25, +18
Tonal balance(Tone Balance): Shadows(Shadows)
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Checked)

Result:

STEP 3.Create the sky
It’s time to add the sky. Open the “Sunny Glade” image, as soon as it opens, activate the tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool (M).

With this tool, select the sky, just drag the mouse from one point to another. Select a part of the sky on the image “Sunny Glade”. See screenshot below.

Once you have created the selection with the tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), activate the tool Move (Move tool (V) and move the sky to our document, placing it below the “water” layer. After you have placed the sky on our document, rename this layer to “sky”. Next, activate the tool Transformation (Transform tool) by pressing Ctrl + T and scale as in the screenshot below.

Next, let’s correct Brightness and Contrast (Brightness and Contrast) sky. First, make sure the sky layer is active. Next we go Image – Correction – Brightness / Contrast (Image> Adjustments> Brightness / Contrast) and enter the following value as soon as the window pops up:
Brightness (Brightness): 15
Contrast (Contrast): 0

The result should be as in the screenshot.

STEP 4.Create a Horizon
The sky and the sea are in place, and now let’s add elements to our background. First, let’s strengthen the horizon. Let’s make our horizon lighter. First, create a new layer by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + N keys. After that, name the new layer “horizon”. Place this layer above the “sky and below the“ water ”layer. Next, select the tool Brush (Brush tool (B) and as soon as the settings menu opens, apply the following settings:
Brush size (Brush size): 900px
Rigidity (Hardness): 0%
Opacity (Opacity): 30%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
#: ffffff

Note: as for the color of the brush, follow the instructions in the screenshots below:

Next, we set up everything – paint over the area, which is indicated below.

The result should be as in the screenshot.

STEP 5. Add Bubbles
After the horizon, let’s add some bubbles under the water now. Before you begin, make sure you download the “bubbles” brushes and install them in the Photoshop brush folder (Photoshop> Presets> Brushes). To open these brushes, simply select the tool. Brush (Brush tool (B) and right-click on the document. Next, the brush settings window pops up.

As soon as the second settings context menu appears, select the option Download brushes(Load Brushes).

Next, a dialog box opens, select a set of brushes: Bubbles and click “Download.” Next, you will see that this set of brushes is loaded into the brushes menu. OK, let’s create a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N and name it “Bubbles 1”. Place this layer above the “water” layer. Select the following brush from the set:

Next, enter the following values ​​for the brush:
Brush size (Brush size): 40px
Rigidity (Hardness): Default (Default)
Opacity (Opacity): 100%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
#: ffffff

Next, start drawing bubbles:

Next, create another layer, name this layer “Bubbles 2”. Use the same brush.

Next, enter the following values ​​for the brush:
Brush size (Brush size): 20px
Rigidity (Hardness): Default (Default)
Opacity (Opacity): 100%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
#: ffffff

STEP 6.Add birds
Next, let’s add the birds, first open the Birds II brushes and load them into Photoshop. Once the brushes are loaded, create a new layer and place this layer on top of all layers; name this layer “Birds”. Choose a tool Brush (Brush tool (B) and select the next brush from the “Birds II” brush set.

Next, enter the following values ​​for the brush:
The size brushes(Brush size): 1000px
Rigidity(Hardness): Default
Opacity (Opacity): 100%
Pressure (Flow): 100%
#: 000000

And now, let’s draw the birds.

After that, lower the opacity of this layer to let the observers believe that the birds are flying a little away. Decrease Opacity (opacity) up to 70%.

STEP 7.Create a shy little fish
Next, we add our fish! Before you start, open the image of a shy little fish. Once you have opened the image, select the tool. Move (Move tool (V) and move the image of the fish on our document. Name the layer with the fish “fish”.

You have definitely noticed that the image of the fish is too big, so we need to transform and scale the image. Choose a tool Transformation (Transform tool) and scale the image, as in the screenshot below.

Next, activate the tool Magnetic Lasso (Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) in the Lasso toolbar and create a selection around the fish, then duplicate the selection and delete the original image. You will see that you have separated the fish from the background. See the screenshot below.

Next, let’s make a color correction of our fish to combine it with water. Stand on a layer of fish and then go Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance). As soon as the window opens, apply the following values:
Levels (Color Levels): -27, +50, +49
Tonal balance (Tone Balance): Mid tones (Midtones)
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Checked)

After the color correction, reduce the opacity of the fish layer to 60% to completely mix it with water.

STEP 8.Add girl
Let’s add another object – a girl holding a frame in front of her. Open the “Model 36” image. We need to separate the girl from the background, for this, activate the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and create a selection around the girl. See the screenshot below.

Once you have highlighted the girl, select the tool Move (Move tool (V) and drag the model onto our document. Name this layer “model”. Next, we transform and scale the model image. See the screenshot below to what size the image should be scaled.

Next, let’s remove the girl’s face and the upper part of her body, which is located inside the frame. Choose a tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and create a selection inside the frame. See the screenshot below.

The result should be as in the screenshot.

Next, let’s correct the lower part of the girl for a combination with water. Choose a tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and follow the instructions in the screenshot below.

Once you have done this, simply delete the original lower body. Next, let’s make a color correction of the girl’s lower body. Stand on the duplicated layer (with the bottom of the model) and go Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance) and apply the following values:
Levels (Color Levels): -27, +50, +49
Tonal balance (Tone Balance): Mid tones (Midtones)
Save glow(Preserve Luminosity): (Checked)

Next, reduce the opacity of the layer with the lower body of the model to 70%. The result should be as in the screenshot.

Next, let’s remove the lower legs so that they look as if they really are under water. Choose a tool Eraser (Eraser tool (E) and apply the following settings:
Brush size (Brush size): 400px
Rigidity (Hardness): 0%
Opacity (Opacity): 75%
Pressure (Flow): 100%

Apply the tool Eraser (Eraser tool) according to the instructions in the screenshot below.

The result should be as in the screenshot.

STEP 9.Add mouth
Next, we will add a mouth that will serve as a picture inside our frame. To do this, open the “Oral cavity” image. As soon as the image opened. Choose a tool Move (Move tool (V) and drag the image with the mouth onto our document. Place this layer below the model layer. Name this layer “Mouth.” Next, in order for the image to match the borders of the frame, we need to scale the image of the mouth. Select the tool Transformation (Transform tool) and scale the image, as in the screenshot below.

Once you have done this, stand on the “Mouth” layer and then adjust the brightness and contrast. Let’s go Image – Correction – Brightness / Contrast (Image> Adjustments> Brightness / Contrast) and apply the following settings:
Brightness (Brightness): -27
Contrast (Contrast): 5

Next, we need to darken the edges of the “Mouth” layer in order to give shade and in order to make it more realistic – to create the impression that the image is really inside the frame. Let’s start by creating a new layer Ctrl + Shift + N; name this layer “Fade” and place it over the “Mouth” layer. After that, right-click on the layer to bring up the context menu. as soon as the menu appears, select the option Create clipping mask (Create clipping mask). A clipping mask will ensure that the “staining” does not affect the other layers.

Next, enter the following values ​​for the brush:
The size brushes(Brush size): 125px
Rigidity(Hardness): 0%
Opacity(Opacity): 15%
Pressure(Flow): 100%

And now, let’s paint over the brush.

Result:

STEP 10.Add textures
In this step, we will add some textures to give the work a grunge feel. Let’s open the first texture: Paper Texture 1. Once the image has opened, select the tool Move (Move tool (V) and move the texture to our document. Position it like this:

Next, scale to this size:

Next, change the blending mode and lower the layer opacity:
Blend mode (Blending mode): Soft light (Soft Light)
Opacity (Opacity): 70%

The result should be as in the screenshot.

Next, open the old paper texture image. Move the texture to our document with the move tool and scale the texture to fit the document.

Next, change the blending mode and lower the layer opacity:
Blend mode (Blending mode): Darkening basics (Color burn)
Opacity (Opacity): 50%

STEP 11. Adjust the atmosphere of our image
Next, we will enhance the color shades of our work. Let’s create a new adjustment layer. Colour (Solid Color). To do this, in the lower toolbar, click on the icon. Create a new adjustment layer (Create New Fill / Adjustment layer). See screenshot below.

After you have clicked on the icon for creating a new adjustment layer and selected the option Colour (Solid Color), a color palette window will appear. As this window appears, enter the following value:
#: 070937

Next, change the blending mode and lower the layer opacity:
Blend mode (Blending mode): An exception (Exclusion)
Opacity(Opacity): 50%

After that, create another new adjustment layer. Colour (Solid Color) and apply the following value:
# 1: 503929

Next, change the blending mode and lower the layer opacity:
Blend mode (Blending mode): Soft light (Soft Light)
Opacity(Opacity): 30%

Create another adjustment layer Colour (Solid Color) and apply the following value:
#: d68230

Mode overlay(Blending mode): Soft shine(Soft Light)
Opacity(Opacity): 10%

Next, let’s create an adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast). See screenshot below.

As soon as the window opens, apply the following values:
Brightness (Brightness): -15
Contrast (Contrast): -5

The image should look like in the screenshot below.

Next, let’s create an adjustment layer. Gradient Map (Gradient Map).

Once the Gradient Map menu opens, select the following gradient:

Now you see that your image has become Black and White, what we will do now – we will change the blending mode and reduce the layer opacity:
Blend mode (Blending Mode): Chromaticity (Color)
Opacity (Opacity): 15%

Next, let’s create an adjustment layer. Photo filter (Photo Filter).

As soon as the window opens, apply the following values:
Filter (Filter) Warming Filter (81)
Density(Density): 25%
Save glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Checked)

Next, create a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves).

As soon as the window opens, apply the following values:
entrance (Input): 109
Output (Output): 135

Next, create another adjustment layer. Colour (Solid Color) and apply the following value:
# dca145

Next, change the blending mode and lower the layer opacity:
Blend mode (Blending Mode): Hard light (Hard Light)
Opacity (Opacity): 40%

Finally, create another adjustment layer. Photo filter (Photo Filter) and apply the following filter:
Filter (Filter) Cooling Filter (LBB)
Density(Density): 25%
Save the glow (Preserve Luminosity): Tick (Checked)

The final result should be

By Michael Vincent Manalo

Link to PSD file.

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