Surreal picture in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a surreal garden tree head. You will learn how to combine and properly combine different images, how to use a layer mask, as well as how to carry out color correction and much more.

Final result

Source materials:

Step 1

Create a new document 1000 x1000 px, fill it with white. Open the stock image ‘Heaven’. Select part of the sky image and then use the tool Move (Move Tool (V), move the selected part of the sky to our working paper. Apply scaling as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 2

I want to create a main light source in the upper left of the image, so create a new layer and press the G keys to activate the tool. Gradient (Gradient Tool). Install Radial gradient (Radial Gradient), default gradient colors (black and white). As soon as you apply a gradient on a new layer, change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity 100%:

Step 3

Using the adjustment layer, I slightly changed the color of the sky. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Hue / Saturation).

Step 4

Open the stock image of a man. Select only the area of ​​the body (do not select the head). Move the selected image to our working paper, placing it in the middle of the composition:

Step 5

Next, using corrective layers, make a correction of the contrast and color shades of the man’s body. I used adjustment layers as a clipping mask to the layer with the man’s body. Being on the layer with the body of a man, we go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves):

Next, using a soft black brush, I painted the adjustment layer on the layer mask over the left side of the man to hide the brightness:

Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and Color Balance (Color Balance):

Step 6

Open the stock image of the earth. Select and copy a part of the land (which part of the land you can select, you can choose it yourself), and then paste the selected part of the land onto our working paper, placing the men above the neck:

Add a layer mask to the layer with the earth by clicking the corresponding button in the bottom toolbar. Restore brushes (Reset brushes), then select a standard brush. Spray (Spatter) 24 px:

Being on the layer mask of the layer with the earth, process the edges of the image of the earth with a soft black brush to hide the hard edges and also create a look as if the earth is pouring out from the neck of the man:

Step 7

Create a new layer as a clipping mask for the layer with the ground. Next, with the tool Stamp (Clone Tool), fix some pieces of land.

Step 8

Next, add a correction layer to the layer with the ground. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) also as a clipping mask.

Step 9

Create a new layer (as a clipping mask to the layer with the fence), change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), the opacity of the layer is 100%, and then fill this layer 50% gray (50% gray).

Choose a tool Dimmer (Burn Tool) and Clarifier (Dodge Tool), install Range (Range) on Mid tones (Midtones), Exposition (Exposure) approximately 20-25% to correct the brightness of the earth. Next, using these tools, darken the right side and lighten the left side of the ground. In the screenshot below, you can see where I applied this tool during blending mode. Normal (Normal) and Overlap (Overlay).

Step 10

Next, add a correction layer to the layer with the ground. Levels (Levels) also as a clipping mask to lighten the image of the earth a little. And then using a soft black brush, process the right side of the earth on the layer mask of the adjustment layer.

Step 11

Cut out the image of the tree, and then move this image to our working paper, placing it above the layer with the ground. Next, add a layer mask to the tree layer to hide the bottom of the tree.

Step 12

I added an adjustment layer to the tree layer Color Balance (Color Balance) as a clipping mask, and then with a soft black brush painted over the trunk of the tree to remove greenish tones.

Step 13

I applied the tool Dimmer (Burn Tool) and Clarifier (Dodge Tool) on the new layer, the tool settings are the same as in Step 9 to change the brightness of the tree in accordance with the main light source.

Step 14

I used an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to lighten the tree a little, and then using a soft black brush, I processed the right part of the tree on the layer mask of the adjustment layer to remove the brightness and create a beautiful contrast between the right and left part of the tree.

Step 15

Once again, open the stock image of the Tree. Select several small leaves of a tree, copy, and then paste on our working paper, placing the leaves around the bottom of our tree, on the man’s shoulder, and also unfold some leaves so that they look like they are falling. If you want, you can duplicate the image of the leaves and apply a transformation to duplicates.

Step 16

Select all the layers with leaves, and then press (Ctrl + G) to group them. Change the blending mode for the group with Skip (Pass Through (default group mode) on Normal (Normal), layer opacity is 100%. Inside the created group, add 2 adjustment layers Color Balance (Color Balance) and Curves (Curves), placing them on top of layers with leaves:

Next, I used a soft black brush to remove the blackout effect on leaves that are far from the tree crown, as they get a little light from the sky.

Step 17

Select the image of the ladder, copy, and then paste it on our working paper, placing it to the left of the tree. Using a layer mask, align the image of the stairs with the image of the earth.

Next, to the layer with the ladder, add adjustment layers Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask to change the brightness and color of the stairs.

Switch to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and using a soft black brush with an opacity of about 20-30%, hide the brightness on the right side of the stairs, where it should be darker than on the left side.

Step 18

In this step, we will create a shadow from the stairs on the tree. Create a new layer below the ladder layer. Hold Ctrl + click on the thumbnail of the staircase layer to load the active selection of the staircase image.

Fill this selection with black color, and then lower the layer opacity to 40%, move the layer slightly to the right. Next, go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur) and apply a blur radius of 2.5 px. Next, using the layer mask, hide the part of the shadow that is located outside the tree image.

Step 19

Select the image of the house, copy it, and then paste it on our working paper, placing it at the top of the tree. Next, using the layer mask and Leaves brush, align the image of the bottom of the house with the foliage of the tree. I used the Leaves brush, which will create the outline of the leaves, which will make the combination with the house more natural. Do not forget to vary the brush to get a more natural look.

Next, to the house layer, add 2 adjustment layers as clipping masks to change the brightness and color shades of the house.

Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation):

Curves (Curves):

After color correction and shading, paint over the roof of the house with a black brush to hide the shading:

Step 20

Create two new layers as clipping masks. On the first layer, I used a soft brush, the color of the brush # c6c6bd, to darken the area under the roof. Change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), 100% layer opacity:

Change the blending mode for the second layer to Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity is 100%. I used the same brush to slightly brighten the left side of the roof:

Step 21

Open the stock image Flowers. Select several inflorescences, placing them around the foliage of the tree, if necessary, duplicate the inflorescences, and also apply the transformation, rotation:

Step 22

Create a new group for the created inflorescences as well as for the layers with leaves. Inside the created group, add adjustment layers Color Balance (Color Balance) Selective color correction (Selective color), Curves (Curves) for lightening and color correction of inflorescences:

Switch to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and further, using a black brush, process the inflorescences to the right of the tree to hide the brightness effect on the inflorescences (since they should be darker than the inflorescences located on the left side of the composition):

Step 23

Cut out the image of the hummingbird, then move the image of the hummingbird to our working paper, placing it on the right side of the composition:

Next to the hummingbird layer, add 2 adjustment layers Curves (Curves) and Color Balance (Color Balance) as a clipping mask to slightly change the color of the bird.

I removed the greenish hues from the hummingbird’s wings after applying the adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance):

Step 24

Create a new layer, on the new layer, apply the tool Dimmer and clarifier (Burn and Dodge) to darken the bird’s body and lighten up a bit of its wings:

Step 25

Open the stock image Leaves. Cut a few leaves, placing them around the image of a man, a tree, a bird, and also to the forefront, observing the principle “the farther, the less”. You can duplicate the image of the leaves, rotate them as you like. I called the leaves with leaves from “sheet 1” to “sheet 11”.

Step 26

To the leaves in the foreground, I applied Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), blur radius 3 px, to add depth of field to our picture:

Step 27

I added adjustment layers to the layers with leaves. Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask: to lighten the leaves on the left side of the composition and darken the leaves on the right side of the composition:

Step 28

Final step: apply adjustment layer Gradient Map (Gradient Map) to change the color shades and improve the contrast of the entire image:

Change the blending mode for the layer with the adjustment layer. Gradient Map (Gradient Map) on Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity is 100%.

Final result

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