Making a surreal collage in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will tell you how to create a beautiful surreal collage.
I hope you will like it!

We will use blending options, adjustment layers, and filters. I also want to draw your attention to one important point that you will encounter in the lesson. This is the parameter “use previous layer as clipping mask”. What it is and what it is eaten with, you will understand during the lesson. It can be replaced with the key combination ALT + CTRL + G (snapping layers).

Well, let’s get started!
Here is a preview of the final result:

To complete this lesson, you need to download several images for a future collage, but you can use your own.

Step 1. Upload the Coast image to Photoshop. This picture will be used at the initial stage. The first thing we need to do is duplicate our image and swap it. Blending option (Overlay settings) on Color burn (Blackout basics). We get:

On the same layer add layer mask :

On the layer mask tool Eraser tool (Eraser) erase the darkest areas. In the figure below they are highlighted. Use a large soft brush. Attention: you need to erase on the activated layer mask!

Now apply the adjustment layers:
Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves).

Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New adjustment layer – Color balance).

Now we will fill in with a gradient.
Layer – New Fill Layer – Gradient (Layer – Fill New Layer – Gradient):

And we change Blending option (Blend options) layer with gradient on Overlay (Overlap). Result:

Step 2. Now we have a beautiful yellowed grass, but the sky still does not look very. To fix this, upload one of the downloaded images to Photoshop. Sky and drag on our document. Arrange it so that the part with the sky in both pictures coincides. Name the layer “sky”.

Using a big soft brush , erase the bottom part, leaving the sky untouched.

Apply to the sky layer“Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves), make sure that the options are marked “”use the previous layer to create a clipping mask” (an important parameter!).

Duplicate the “sky” layer and move it to the very top, apply Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur in motion):

Change Blending option (Overlay settings) on Screen (Lightening), opacity is reduced to 70%:

Step 3. Add a dynamic light effect along the edge of the rock. Activate the tool Lasso Tool (Lasso) (L), feathering (feather) – 30px. Draw a selection around the desired area and apply Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Rendering – Clouds) (select dark gray as the foreground and white as the back).

Make sure the selection is still active. Duplicate the layer and call it “low light.” Change Blending option (Overlay settings) on Overlay (Overlap).
On the rock, which is located on the right above, use the same method. For a quick result, simply duplicate the newly created layer and place it on another rock:

Rename the layer to “light on the right”, duplicate and change Blending option (Parameters overlay) duplicate Overlay (Overlap), we get:

For the best effect, create a layer mask and add Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast) with the following parameters:

And we get:

Step 4. Now add a remote island in the ocean. We load the Island image into Photoshop and drag it onto our document. Eraser (Eraser Tool) erase everything except the island. Name the layer “island”:

Apply Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance), make sure that the options marked “use previous layer as clipping mask” / “use the previous layer to create a clipping mask”:

Now duplicate the “island” layer and change Blending options (Overlay settings) Overlay (Overlap). You should have the following:

Step 5. We continue to work on the island. Add a waterfall (this should give our work more surrealism). I decided to add on both sides of the waterfall. Start by loading the image. Waterfall 1 and dragging it onto the main document. As you have probably guessed, we erase too much, leaving the waterfall untouched.

Name the layer “waterfall 1” and duplicate it once. Apply Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance), make sure that the options are marked “use previous layer as clipping mask” “/” use the previous layer to create a clipping mask “:

We get:

Load in Photoshop Waterfall 2 and drag on our document. Name the layer “waterfall 2” and move it above all layers. Again Eraser (Eraser Tool) erase too much:

Apply a few adjustment layers, make sure that the options are marked with “use previous layer as clipping mask”: Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves)

Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New adjustment layer – Color balance).

Add the adjustment layer again Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance), but now by unchecking the option “use previous layer as clipping mask”, and put it above all layers:

Layer Mask:

And here’s what comes out:

Step 6. Load the image into Photoshop Castle ruins and drag on our document. Change the size and position, as in the figure below:

Call the layer “ruins”. Eraser erase too much (use a small soft brush). Tip: to remove the sky, use Magic wand Tool (Magic wand) and Edit – Clear (Editing – Clear).

You can add Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New adjustment layer – Color balance), however, I decided to leave the original lighting on my work:

Duplicate the “ruins” layer and flip horizontally (Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal). Resize and move to a remote island in the ocean.

Step 7. So it’s time for our beautiful lady to move to a surreal island. Load and move the image to our document. Free the girl from the background in a convenient way for you. Call the layer “lady.” Resize and arrange the image as shown below:

Apply adjustment layers, make sure that the parameter “use previous layer as clipping mask” “/” use the previous layer to create a clipping mask “is active: Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves)

Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance)

Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness and Contrast). Duplicate the “lady” layer and move it above all. Change Blending option (Overlay settings) on Multiply (Multiplication):

Now we will paint the shadow behind the girl with a brush. To do this, create a new layer under the “lady” layer and using a soft round brush black, lowering the pressure (flow) and opacity (up to 50%) and draw:

Step 8. At the final stage, add two more adjustment layers with the following settings and layer-masks: Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance)

Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness and Contrast).

We get:

Step 9. Bring the sharpness on the image using the filter “Smart Sharpen

And in the end we add sunshine to the collage. To do this, duplicate the background layer and apply Filter – Blur – Radial Blur (Filter – Blur – Radial Blur) with the following settings:

Change Blending option (Blend options) on Screen (Lighten) and lower the opacity to 40%. You can still play with the parameters Color balance and Saturation. Here is what we get as a result:

It’s all! Good luck.

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