Create a surreal scene with a lightning overlord in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a surrealistic scene of nature and a person who holds lightning. You will also learn how to combine different source images with corrective layers, masks and a brush. In addition, you will learn how to work with groups, with a perspective, including creating the effects of lightning.

We will begin the lesson by creating a surrealistic atmosphere using the original images of the sky and the desert. Next, we will add a model, and also apply a retouch to it to combine it with the background, using adjustment layers and a brush. Next, we add rock fragments, lightning, and create light effects. Finally, we will add some adjustment layers. To complete this tutorial, you will need Photoshop CS 3 or higher.

So let’s get started!

The final result:

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop. Set the following values:

Step 2

Open the original “Sky” image. Move this sky image to our working paper with the tool Move (Move Tool (V)). Apply the tool Free transformation (Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T)) to rotate the image as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 3

Next, add a correction layer to the sky layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) as a clipping mask to reduce the saturation of the sky. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation):

Step 4

Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to darken the edges of the sky:

Switch to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and using a standard soft black brush paint over the center of the image, as I do not want to darken it:

Step 5

Open the original image with the desert. Move this image to our working paper. Apply the transformation by placing the desert on the right side of our scene:

To the layer with the desert, add a layer mask by clicking on the second icon at the bottom of the layers panel. Next, using a soft black brush, hide the hard edges of the image to create a smooth transition and combine the desert with the background:

Duplicate the desert layer, flip the duplicate layer horizontally, for this we go Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal). Place a duplicate desert layer on the left side of our scene:

Step 6

For each layer of the desert, apply a Gaussian Blur to add depth to our scene, for this we go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Install radius (Radius) blur 3 px:

While on the filter layer mask, hide the blur effect at the top of the desert using a soft black brush (hide the blur effect in the background), the blur effect should only be visible in the foreground:

Step 7

Create a new layer, select the tool. Stamp (Clone Tool (S)). Using this tool, clone parts of the desert so that the image of the desert does not look monotonous:

Step 8

Select the layers with the desert, including the layer with the cloned areas, and then press the keys (Ctrl + G) to group them into one group. Change the blending mode for the layer with the group from the mode Skip (Pass Through) to mode Normal (Normal), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%. Inside the created group, add a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to lighten the background:

Next, go to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the curves in the foreground:

Step 9

Next, add a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to darken the foreground:

Next, go to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the curves in the background:

Step 10

Next, add a new adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) to enhance the contrast of the entire scene:

Next, go to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the correction layer in the background:

Step 11

Open the original image with the model. Separate the model image from the background. Place a man in space between two fragments of the earth:

To add movement to the man, let’s go Editing – Puppet Warp (Edit> Puppet Warp). Extend your arms and legs:

Step 12

To layer with a man, add an adjustment layer. Color tone \ Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to slightly reduce the saturation of the image of a man:

Step 13

Next, add the adjustment layer to the male layer. Curves (Curves) to darken it. Switch to the layer mask of this adjustment layer and with the help of a soft black brush hide the correction of the curves on the hands and along the outline of the man, leaving a darkening only on the back of the man:

Step 14

Open the original image with a zipper 1. Select a part of the image with a zipper, and then move the selected part to our working document, placing it in the central part of our scene. Change the blending mode for the layer with lightning to Lightening (Screen), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:

To the layer with the zipper, add a layer mask and with the help of a soft black brush hide the hard edges of the image, as well as separate areas over the desert:

Step 15

Using tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L)), select individual pieces of lightning to position them around the man, hide the hard edges of the lightning using layer masks. I tried to create the feeling that a man was holding lightning:

Step 16

Group all layers with zippers, change the blending mode for the layer with the new group to Lightening (Screen), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%. Add a new adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce lightning saturation:

Step 17

Next, add an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) to enhance the contrast of lightning and make the effect of lightning more visible:

Step 18

Open the second source image with lightning 2. Use the tool Lasso (Lasso Tool), highlight the zipper. Next, move the selected part of the zipper to our working paper, placing it at the lower tip of the right leg. Change the blending mode for this layer with lightning to Lightening (Screen), opacity (Opacity) 100%:

Using a soft black brush, hide the hard edges on the layer mask:

Step 19

Select another part of the zipper. Place this part of the zipper on top of the man’s right hand, change the blending mode for this layer with the zipper on Lightening (Screen), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%, and then using a layer mask, combine this zipper with the rest of the lightning:

Step 20

Group the layers with lightning, change the blending mode for the layer with the new group to Lightening (Screen), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%. Add a new adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce lightning saturation:

Step 21

Next, add an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) to make lightning more visible and realistic:

Step 22

Open the original image with stones. Using tool Lasso (Lasso Tool), select individual fragments of stones, placing them around the man, as well as on top of the earth and sky. Next, apply the filter Motion blur (Motion blur) using various angles (approximately (+ or -) 90 and 60), including Bias (Distance) from 12 to 25 px (but you can set your own values ​​to your liking). Add motion blur to individual stones (particularly those closer to the foreground) to add dynamics to the whole scene:

Step 23

Group the layers with stone fragments into one group, change the blending mode for the layer with the new group to Normal (Normal), opacity (Opacity) 100%. Add adjustment layer Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast) to lighten stones:

Step 24

Next, add an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) for the same purpose:

Next, go to the layer mask of this adjustment layer and use the soft black brush to hide the effect of the levels in the areas that are highlighted in the screenshot below:

Step 25

Create a new layer on top of all layers. Choose a hard brush, brush color is black, brush size is about 2-5 px. Brush small dots by adding small fragments of particles:

Step 26

To create a glow effect around the man, create a new layer and using a soft brush, brush color # f3f3f3, paint over the man. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity (Opacity) 100%:

Create a new layer and with the help of the same brush, add more light around the man and the sky. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity (Opacity) 100%:

Create a new layer and with the help of the same brush, draw several beams of light around the arms and legs. Change the blending mode for this layer to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge), opacity (Opacity) 100%:

Step 27

It’s time for color correction of the whole scene. Add a new adjustment layer Gradient map (Gradient Map) on top of all other layers:

Change the blending mode for this adjustment layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity (Opacity) 100%:

Step 28

Next, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) to change the color slightly:

Step 29

Next, add two adjustment layers. Photo Filter (Photo Filter):

Step 30

Next, add an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) to enhance the mystical atmosphere of the whole scene:

Switch to the layer mask of this adjustment layer and using a soft black brush with low opacity (10-30%), reduce the effect of levels on the sky, around the man, and also on the ground:

Congratulations, we have completed the lesson! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Final result:

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