Create a surreal photo manipulation with a flying brain in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a surrealistic illustration of a flying brain and a rider.

Materials for the lesson:

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Create a new file with the size of 4000 * 4000 pixels.

Open the image of the sky and paste into the working paper. To do this, go to Select – All (Selection – All), copy (Ctrl / Cmd + C), go back to the main document and press Ctrl / Cmd + V. The background layer is deleted.

Activate the transformation Edit – Free Transform (Editing – Free Transformation) (Ctrl / Cmd + T).

Stretch the picture as shown below. During the transformation, hold down the Shift key to keep the proportions.

Create a new layer above the sky. Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer) (Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + N).

Set the foreground color to white and back to black (D key, then X). Activate the Brush Tool (Brush) (AT). With a large soft brush (1100px, hardness 0%) draw a line as shown below.

Go to Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) and apply a blur with a radius of 250 pixels.

Set the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap). Duplicate the current layer (Ctrl / Cmd + J), then set the copy opacity to 60%.

Select both copies of the layer, right-click on them and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask).

Open the image of the sea and paste it into the working paper. To do this, go to File – Open (File – Open) to open the picture. Then Select – All (Selection – All) and Edit – Copy (Editing – Copy). Go back to the main document and go to Edit – Paste (Editing – Paste). Place this layer at the very top of the layers panel.

Use the free transform (Ctrl / Cmd + T) to stretch the image, as shown below.

Place the sea at the bottom of the working canvas.

Activate the Magic Wand Tool (Magic wand) (W), install Tolerance (Tolerance) by 50%. Click the tool in the sky, then press the Delete key to delete the selected part.

Now we will lighten / darken the sky. Create a new layer (Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + N) at the very top of the layers panel. Set the foreground color to # 808080 (this is gray 50%). Fill the document with this color and change the layer blending mode to Overlay (Overlap). Right click on the layer and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask).

Activate the Burn Tool (Dimmer) (O), set the range to Midtones (Mid tones) and exposure (impact) 100%. Darken the mountains as shown below.

Duplicate the layer (Ctrl / Cmd + J), then reduce the opacity of the copy to 70%. A clipping mask should also be active on this layer. If this is not the case, right-click on the layer and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask).

Open the image with the brain and paste it into the working paper. With the help of transformation (Ctrl / Cmd + T) adjust the size. Do not forget to hold Shift to keep the proportions.

Cut out the brain. For this you can use, for example, the Lasso Tool (Lasso) (L). There are many ways to cut an element from an image. Choose the one that is most convenient for you.

Open the image with the model and paste it into the working document. With the help of transformation (Ctrl / Cmd + T), we adjust the size and reflect it horizontally. Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontal).

Cut out the model and remove its right leg to the knee, as shown below.

Using the transformation (Ctr; / Cmd + T), we adjust the size of the model so that it clearly sits on the brain.

Create a new layer (Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + N) and place this layer under the model layer.

Take the Brush Tool (Brush) (B) and load the brush in the form of hair.

Make sure the color is black and the opacity of the brush is set to 100%. Once clicked anywhere on the canvas to draw hair.

Name the hair layer “Hair”, then go to Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontal).

We set the hair in such a position that they naturally and harmoniously looked at the model. When finished, duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + J) the layer and adjust the copy size (Ctrl / Cmd + T) to add more hair. After that, combine all the layers with hair in one. To do this, select them and press Ctrl / Cmd + E.

Create a new layer under the layer with the sea. Set the foreground color to white and activate the Brush Tool. (Brush) (AT). With a soft brush about 600 pixels in size, paint over the region of the mountains, as shown below.

Call this layer “White Glow” and go to Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). Set the blur radius to 43 pixels and click OK.

Duplicate the layer and place a copy above the layer with the sea. Make sure that a clipping mask is applied to it. If not, right click on the layer and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask). Set the layer blending mode to Soft Light (Soft light).

Activate the free transform (Ctrl / Cmd + T) and compress the white bar, as shown below.

Select the first layer “Dodge / Burn”.

Use the Burn Tool (D) to darken the bottom of the image, as shown below. Use a 1300 pixel brush with a range set to Midtones (Mid tones) and exposure (impact) 100%.

Select the layer with the model. Go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Vibrance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Oscillation) and apply these settings.

Go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation) and apply these settings.

Go to Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Photo Filter (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Photo Filter) and apply these settings.

Go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast) and apply these settings.

Select all four adjustment layers (hold down Ctrl / Cmd, click on each layer), then right-click on them and select Create Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask).

Select the layer with the brain and press Ctrl / Cmd + J to duplicate it. Change copy copy mode to Multiply (Multiplication).

Take the dodge tool (Clarifier) (O), set the range to Highlights (Shine) and the size of the brush is about 1000 pixels. Lighten the front of the brain.

Select the copy of the layer with the brains and the original (hold Ctrl / Cmd, click on each layer) and merge them (Ctrl / Cmd + E).

Now we will create the reins. Add a new layer and move it to the very top of the layers panel. Call it “Iron”.

Take the Rectangular Marquee Tool (Rectangle selection) (M) and create a selection, as shown below.

Take the Paint Bucket Tool (Fill) (G) and fill the selection with black. Then press Ctrl / Cmd + D to deselect.

Now with the help of layer styles we will apply several effects. Go Layer – Layer Style – Bevel Emboss (Layer – Layer Style – Chamfer and Emboss) and apply the following parameters.

Create a new layer and merge it together with the layer “Iron” (Ctrl / Cmd + E).

Take Eraser Tool (Eraser) (E) and with a stiff brush, remove the excess ends of the reins.

We darken part of the reins near the arm and where they are attached to the brain. The middle area of ​​the reins is slightly lightened.

Hit Ctrl / Cmd + J to duplicate the layer with reins. Using the transformation (Ctrl / Cmd + T), we adjust the size and position of the copy, as shown below, then use the eraser to trim the ends.

Create a new layer above the layer with brains and call it “Shadow”.

Take the Brush Tool (Brush) (B) and with a soft brush draw a shadow from the model.

We are almost done! Let’s add some adjustment layers to improve the color of the illustration. Select the layer with the brain and apply the correction in the order shown below in the screenshot.

Select the layer with the sea, then use the Blur Tool (Blur) with an intensity of 50% to blur the top of the mountains.

Now merge layers Layer – Flatten Image (Layer – Flatten). But you can also convert them into a smart object, so that at any time you can return to them and fix something if the need arises. To do this, select all the layers on the panel, click on them with the right mouse button and select Convert to Smart Object (Convert to smart object).

After information, we got one layer. Duplicate it (Ctrl / Cmd + J) and apply the filter Filter – Sharpen – Unsharp Mask (Filter – Sharpness – Contour Sharpness).

Reduce the copy opacity to 55%. Select the background layer and press Ctrl / Cmd + J to duplicate it. Then we merge this layer with the one above (Ctrl / Cmd + E).

Press Ctrl / Cmd + J to duplicate the background layer. Next, go to Filter – Other – Custom (Filter – Others – Customized). In the settings do not change anything, just click OK.

As you can see, the sharpness is too high, so we reduce the opacity to 20% and merge the layers (Ctrl / Cmd + E).

Create a new layer and fill it with black.

Moving Filter – Render – Lens Flare (Filter – Rendering – Blick) and apply the following parameters.

Change layer blending mode to Screen (Lightening) and place the highlight in the center of the image. You can activate the transformation (Ctrl / Cmd + T) to see the boundaries of the layer and its center.

Go to Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). Set the radius to 43 pixels and click OK.

Press Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + U to discolor the highlight. Activate the transformation (Ctrl / Cmd + T) to reduce its size. If you wish, you can lower the highlight opacity to about 60%.

The final result.

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