Create a surreal landscape in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the various options for color correction and lighting, as well as techniques for selecting and combining to create surreal landscapes. Combine your creativity with these techniques in Photoshop to create your own landscape.

Final result

Step 1 – Background.
The first step is to put the sky, our background, in the image. As you can see, we changed its color. We are going to create one half of the image in warm colors and the other in cool using the tool Color balance (Color balance). To do this, select an image of the sky, and then go to Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance). Adjust the sliders to add more red and yellow. Go to Sveta (Highlights) and Shadows (Shadows) and try adding a few colors to them until you like the shade.

Step 2 – Color correction of the sky.

Duplicate the sky layer. Now we will repeat the previous step using the tool Color balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance), but this time we add blue and blue shades. Don’t forget to add colors to Sveta (Highlights) and T? Enyah (Shadows).

Take Eraser (Eraser tool) and select a soft brush with settings as shown below:

Now, using Eraser (Eraser tool), erase the left side of the sky on the top layer. Thus, where you wash, warm tones from the bottom layer will appear. Using Eraser (Eraser tool), erase in waves, not a straight line. When you’re done, you can lower the opacity of the current layer to make the colors softer.

Step 3 – Add a Model
Now let’s open the image of the girl. Using the tool Magic wand (Magic wand tool), highlight the girl, and then click on the button Add layer mask (Add layer mask) in the layers palette to create a mask on the layer with the girl. Adjust the selection by drawing on the layer mask with a stiff brush. When you’re done, place the girl in the center of the image.

Step 4 – Model Color Correction
As you can see, the color of the girl does not fit into the background. We will fix this with a tool. Levels (Levels). Go to Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels) and move the sliders to add contrast to match the background.

Now go to Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation (Image> Adjustments> Hue / Saturation) and reduce Saturation (Saturation), which appeared when using the tool Levels (Levels). For the image used in this lesson, the saturation is reduced to -24.
The next step will be a step similar to item 2 (when we used the tool Color balance (Color Balance)), except that we are going to use it on a layer with a girl. First, duplicate the model layer, now you have two layers. Select one of the layers with the girl and, as shown in step two, use the tool Color balance (Color Balance) (Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance)) to add red and yellow tones.

As you can see, the girl is better aligned with the left half of the background. Now, select the second layer with the girl, go to Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance) and add some blue and blue tones.
Now, as you did before with heaven, take Eraser (Eraser tool) with soft edges to remove the blue tones on the left side of the layer with the girl. Lower the opacity on this layer to reduce the strength of the color effect.

We made the most complex color correction for combining the model with the background. Merge the layers with the girl in one layer. Now you can still play with the settings. Levels (Levels), Color balance (Color balance) and Saturation (Saturation) (found in the menu Image – Correction (Image> Adjustments)) to make additional adjustments.

Step 5 – Girl Lighting
In the background used in this lesson, the light falls on the left. In order to make our landscape uniform, we need to darken the back of the model. First, select the tool Dimmer (Burn tool).

Take a soft brush range Mid tones (Midtones), Exposition (Exposure) about 30%.

Now use the brush to darken the girl. Try not to make it too dark, just a slight darkening. Use this tool on the skirt.
After that, select the tool Clarifier (Dodge tool) and process the contours of the model (especially on the hair and left hand).

Step 6 – Roots
Now we are going to add some roots and branches to the body of the model. It is not difficult, you just need different images of trees and roots. We will cut out the parts of the roots and branches, and change some colors, as we did before with the tool Color balance (Color balance).

First, find an image of a beautiful root and select it with your favorite tool (Magnetic Lasso(Magnetic Lasso) or, for example, in Quick masks (Quick mask)). Do not worry if the selection is not perfect, we will change it later. Copy it and paste into our image.

As you can see, the new image differs in lighting and color, and it looks like it is out of place. So we must do the same thing that we did with the sky and the girl. Select Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels) and move the sliders. If you move the center slider to the left, the image will be brighter. If you move it to the right, the image will be darker. In our case, we will move to the right.
Now select Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance) and adjust the colors depending on where you are going to place the root. If, for example, the root is on the left hand of a girl, it should be with red and yellow shades. But if he is on the right hand, you must add blue and blue. This time we are going to add yellow and red. Here’s what it looks like with the changes:

When the root is ready, move it to where you think it will look good, and select the tool Eraser (Eraser tool). Erase all the parts that you do not need and give the root the correct form, this will improve your original selection.

The final step is to use the tool. Dimmer (Burn Tool) in areas where there should be a shadow. For example, in the figure below, it was used at the arm and along the bottom. I added a little blue tint using Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance). Finally, remove the top of the root to create the folds of the dress.

All other roots are added in the same way. The greatest influence on your result will have the selected photos. Once you find good photos to work with, you will have no problems getting good results with this technique.

It remains to explain only one detail. In order to get a more realistic result, you need to add shadows under the root, which falls on the skin or dress. Look at this picture:

The only difference is the shadow on the right hand. To make such a shadow, double-click on the root layer to open the menu. Ctile layer (Layer style) (or choose Layer – Layer Style – Shadow(Layer> Layer Style> Drop Shadow)). Select Shadow (Drop Shadow), and then, by moving the sliders, adjust the location of the shadow. When the shadow is in the right place, adjust the opacity to add more or less intensity.

Step 7 – Earth and Grass
Now we are going to add land. The first image we use is a simple land with sand, photographs of the beach are taken.

Grass taken from different photos. Create a new grass layer and place it below the model layer. Cut and paste different areas of grass, and then mix them to create a field of grass, as in the image below.

The grass layer should be located between the model layer and the ground layer. Create a new layer and place it above the layer with the girl. Add herbs to cover part of the legs.

Finally, carefully add some grass and stones at the junction of the grass and earth to hide the hard transition. It is important that you check everything carefully and hide any flaws.

Step 8 – Add More Roots
Now we are going to add roots and flowers to the foreground. If you have read all the previous steps, you will not have any problems to do this. As mentioned above, it is very important to choose good photos for work. Photos must be of high quality. If you use low resolution, the finished results will look pathetic.
With this in mind, take various photos of flowers, roots and trunks. Carefully cut them using Lasso (Lasso) or Quick masks (Quick mask) and paste into the image. Use the same color correction technique with Color balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance), which we used previously several times.

To complete the work with these details, you need to add a shadow. There are two ways:
The first I explained at the end of step 5. Adding shadows through the layer style menu (Layer – Layer Styles – Shadow (Layer> Layer Style> Drop Shadow)).
Second – select a layer with earth and use the tool Dimmer (Burn Tool) in areas where shadow is needed.

Step 9 – Dust
Now we are going to create dust near the girl’s legs. Take an image of a cloudy sky and select one of the clouds using Lasso (Lasso).

Copy it and paste into our document. Select Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels). Move the middle slider to the right to darken the cloud.

Then using Eraser (Eraser tool), make the edges of the cloud soft. Finally, select Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter> Blur> Motion Blur) and add a blur from left to right about 7 or 8 pixels. Place this layer under the layer with the model. Duplicate the layer and position the duplicate above the model layer. Correct the duplicate layer using Levels (Levels), but this time move the central slider to the left to lighten the cloud.
The last retouching will be the addition of red and yellow tones using the tool. Color balance (Color Balance) (Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance)).

Step 10 – Final Roots
We are going to add more roots. We need them to be located in the form of a zigzag on the body of a girl. To make this effect, we need pictures of the roots, as shown in the figure below.

As always, the first step will be color correction and root lighting using Levels (Levels) (Image – Adjustment – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels)) and Color balance (Color Balance)(Image – Correction – Color Balance (Image> Adjustments> Color Balance)). Use a soft-edge eraser to remove everything you don’t need and give the ends of the roots a fading effect (so they can later be easily combined). Here is an example of combining different roots to create a large root:

It is not as difficult as it seems. Just be patient to find good images of the roots and combine them with this technique.

Step 11 – Adding Details
To make our landscape more attractive, we will add more details, such as flowers, petals and birds. I chose photos with objects that are easy to cut. This will speed up the process and provide a good result.

Step 12 – Adjustment Layers
To complete the work, we will add an adjustment layer. Select the top layer and go to the menu Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation). Reduce saturation to -10 or whatever you like. Experiment with other adjustment layers to change the color and influence the final image.

Final result
Creating complex landscapes is not so difficult if you follow several principles of photo manipulation.

Here are some important principles:
– Choose good photos first.
– Make sure that the lighting and colors of the objects match the overall composition.
– Do not hurry. Find good images for work and carefully combine them together. Make sure that there are no unnecessary parts or dirty edges.

Author: Oliver Cereto

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