First thing you need to remember that every photo or digital artwork must have 1 point that catches the viewer’s attention.

It can be (and mostly is) face or the eyes, but it can also be any other spot, that is the leitmotif of the canvas. When having too many points that catch the visitor’s attention, your artwork loses its charm and simply may lack the zest it would otherwise have with fewer accents on the canvas. So the first thing you need to remember that in art, mostly, less is more. The second thing to bear in mind is the depth of the field. When you concentrate your look on a certain point, the rest becomes a little blurred in your vision, especially if the rest of the objects lay far behind. This is what we call — depth of field. In other words, the human face cannot be just as sharp on the picture, as the background house that appears to be a few miles behind the figure.

Although this isn’t always true and we have different variations of art (and sometimes the unusual is the best looking surreal concept!) but I am giving this little info so you will understand WHY we blur certain points and why we play with light the way we do, in this Photoshop Tutorial.


Get started.

We were working on a rather big canvas, we started with 1024px × 764px new layer as these were the dimensions of our base image. However you may feel more comfortable working with smaller or bigger images.

Take the image with fence and sand and paste it unto your Canvas:

Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, crop out and delete the sky and water upper half of the layer:

Don’t worry about the rough unnatural layer, we will work this out a bit later.

The next step is take the image with sky (from our ingredients list), and paste it on top of the  previous layer with sand. Using Eraser Tool with a small soft brush, remove the lower part so that you will have an image consisting from sky and sand, just as you see below:

The way our image looks now, it’s very far yet from been an organically blended scene, so let’s start blending the layers into one another.

To make the sand less cheery, the easiest way is to simply match colors with the clouds, so this is exactly what we are going to do. While the sand layer is selected, go to Image >> Adjustments >> Match Color and apply the following settings:

if you have already unselected, select the layer with sand again, and go to Curves. Using the RGB channel, darken the image by dragging the curve down somewhere in the middle. We used Output: 113 and Input:143.

This will give our image a nice tone. The next step is — select the sky layer and go to Curves again, create a small point at the bottom and drag the RGB channel’s curve down, to make the sky dramatically darker.

Yet we got a much better toned canvas but still it is very well visible that the image consists from 2 different pieces, even if these pieces match way better in color than before.

We will be using a very old trick to merge the horizon lines of both layers. Simply create a new layer and using a big, soft brush (we are working with Brush Tool, in case I didn’t make myself clear), chose a black color and paste over the horizon line including the sand area outside the fence.

After you have brushes over that area, set this layer to”Soft Light” and you will have a much darker illusion as the view gets farther…

Next, we want to create an extremely mild HDR effect for the wood, so what we will do is create a new layer above the rest of the files, but below the dark layer we brushed with black color. Please pay attention because the sequence is important. We will not be working with masked layers at all throughout this tutorial.

Once that layer is created, click on the little “black and white” icon at the end of your layers palettes, the one that allows you to create a new fill or layer adjustment. Select “Exposure” settings. You will have a new layer with exposure settings created:

Using the “white” droplet, drag the Gamma Correction up to 0.82. See how the wood looks now, as if it’s been exposed to moon light! isn’t it beautiful?

To accompany that bright path we have in the middle, create a new layer and using your Brush Tool, white color and very big soft brush (say, 300 pixels), create a spot in the middle.

This spot should be placed above all the other layers and with blending mode set to Overlay:

Next, take out your stock photo with flying balloons, and crop them out. Don’t worry if cropping isn’t perfect, because once you placed them on your canvas, we will resize them to much small size and any imperfections will be blurred naturally.

Once they are on the canvas, you will notice that they look terribly misplaced,  and they need something that will blen them in nicely. The easiest solution (and please bear in mind that our tutorial is targetted at beginners) is to add clouds, that will “cover” the balloons, easily blending them into the composition.

So, create a new layer and go to Filter >> Render >> Clouds. With your background color set to Black and your foreground set to White (this is important!) — create clouds..

Once the clouds layer is ready, press Ctrl + T  and drag the bottom line upwards, “compressing” the clouds into a smaller strap, about half of the canvas. Set the blending mode of the clouds layer to “Pin Light”. This way, you will only see the WHITE areas of the clouds and totally won’t see the black areas.

Move the clouds in a way that will allow the white areas in clouds to lay over the balloon, this way we can see that the balloons are actually floating somewhere in the area, partly obscured by the heavy sky… Use Eraser Tool with soft edge to remove any edges of the clouds layer once it’s moved and you can also duplicate that layer and make a few of them, so you will have more cloudy effect (which is what we have done).

Next, crop our beautiful Becca.

The cropping technique will not be explained here as being pretty much basic, but we want to emphasize that if you use our particular image, the cropping will be rather complicated, since at some points (such as arms) the contrast between skin and background is minimal, which makes the cropping rather difficult and we had to use a few steps to complete this task, first we used Polygonal Lasso Tool, them Magnetic Lasso Tool, them we “refine edges” as pictured below..

Place the girl unto the canvas, and desize her so she will fit in nicely..

To add our own contrast to the image, we want to make the clothes texture more visible, less dark areas yet without losing the overall contrast and juiciness of the image, so with the girl’s image selected, we went to Image >> Adjustments >> Curves, and created a custom curve that consists from 3 points, as pictured here:

Next we need a shadow underneath her legs. Draw a circle using the round shape tool and black color as your foreground Photoshop color. make sure it’s placed correctly underneath her feet and has an elliptical shape.

Resterize the layer and go to Filter >> Blur >> Gaussian Blur

Set the shadow’s opacity to Multiply 57%, and you will see that the shadow is mildly visible yet it is present and gives a more realistic illusion of the jump or fly in the air. Please also make sure that you place the shadow underneath the girl’s image!

Final Steps…

Although most of the colors we used here blended in well and eventually created an organically looking picture, we still need to equalize the layers together. What some people do, and I used to do it myself in previous tutorials, is to merge all the layers, or even flatten the image, and then work on the colorization and the levels. This is very easy and perhaps will do the trick with most beginners, but even if you are not yet that much of a pro with Photoshop,  you need to learn how to work with Layer Adjustments.

In your layers’ panel, you have a small icon below, that looks like Yin-Yang symbol.

Create a new layer on top of all the other layers, and click this icon; you have a menu with various options, select “Photo Filter” first.

Use the default “Warming Filter (85), which I think is best for any picture, if you are looking to get a quick and warm effect, and set the Density to about 25%. Basically, the rule of thumb is, if we use warm colors such as brown, pink and earthly shades, we will give our composition a warm feeling (which is our aim here!), however if you want to make your final outcome look more cold, dreadful, dramatic and morbid, use shades of blue and green.

Once this is done, white you still have a layer selected that is on top of all the others, click teh Layer Adjustments icon again, select “photo filter” one more time and this time apply plain yellow color filter, with 48% density.

Most of you might want to stop here, but we want to really make this image look awesome, so we go ahead and click the Layer Adjustments icons again, this time we pick the “Curves”. This will apply the Curve settings to ALL the layer that lay underneath these settings, which is a huge advantage as you need not go layer by layer.

Make two points, which will brighten up the image quite dramatically. Note that we are working with RGB channel.

Now, the very final touch is to give our composition a light lightly cold touch, as we spoke before, a bit of green hue will do this trick. So yes, we will click on the Layer Adjustments again, and select the RED channel this time. Darken the image a bit, using two points…

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed the tutorials, and please feel free to download the PSD file for learning purposes (1024 x 764). You can also replace the model of our tutorial with your own image, and you will have all the effects already in place. Click on the image below to full view.

Once you purchase the PSD, and complete the checkout, click the “return to merchant’s website” button — the download will start automatically. if you have any problem, please comment below and I will email you the file within 24 hours.


Design Surreal Composition Fallen Angel’s Dream Fly

  1. Am I missing something, or did you forget the wings? I can’t find either the picture or at which step you added them.

    Sorry if I missed something.

  2. thank you so much for writing this tutorial. It is really easy and it taught me some new features, like the match color option and the painting of black on a new layer to make the picture darker in areas. Great job!

  3. lol, I don’t see the ‘wings’ layer either. But this tutorial is still handy, even if you learn only one thing. Which I did, the steps to make the shadow underneath will save me a lot of ‘undo’ moments. It’s an “Ah-ha!” moment for me. So thank you. I enjoy your tuts, they are exactly the things I’m looking for [[fantasy art]]. Please keep sharing!!

    1. thanks Tiffy! Looks like I have indeed totally missed the wings step, damn. Basically these are brushes with wings which I added, I already explained this step (didn’t forget) on my other tutorial so you can follow the details about wings there, which is pretty identical except that here they are black and not white.

      and here are the brushes:

      Glad you liked the shadow part, always good to be helpful 🙂

    1. Hi, thanks for the purchase! When you hit the “return to merchant’s website” button, download should have started automatically, but if this didn’t happen, you should have in any way received an email with auto response saying that if you haven’t received a tutorial, you just need to send back a response and it will be emailed to you.

      Anyway, I just checked your email here and located your purchase on PayPal, so the files were emailed to you, please check your inbox 🙂

  4. Never received the file via “automatic download” and the tutorial never mentions the steps for adding the wings. Awesome! . . .eh, not so much. I want my dollar back.

  5. awesome tutorial.
    one question: which version of photoshop is the tutorial for? sadly, i’m unable to select “exposure” via the “black and white circle” on the layer palate (create new fill/layer) since it is missing from my CS2 version of photoshop. any tips?

  6. Beautiful picture it is nice to see artist share how their work was created. I’m a Corel user but its just a matter of translating it.

  7. you are really amazing artist..and its good to see artist sharing how best work can be done…thank you very much..I am also update my collection please do check…

  8. Nice final image and a good tutorial !

    I’m glad I discovered your site 🙂 I think I’ll write some tutorials for you (and I hope you’ll like them).

  9. Awesome. I really liked how the final outcome looks. It looks really polished and surreal and mystical!! It serves as an inspiration for my logo actually. I tried using this concept on my logo but it somehow looked a little bit “off”. Haha. I can’t get it to look as good as yours. Gave up after trying for days. Finally decided to use the professional services of an online logo design site instead after googling for one ( and finally got the logo I wanted at an affordable price and fast too. I did show the designer the link to your site to explain how I wanted the logo to like. Lesson learned. I’m not going to design a logo without any professional help although it’s somewhat fun. Anyway, thanks for the cool tutorial…

  10. Hello Friend…..

    I Really Impressed To Watch Yout Tutorial.First Think I Like Your Design Not Even In Single Blog All Site Design & Template Is So Good.

    I Need More Design,Templates,Banner Ads Design,Logo Design,Web Design Template And Many More.

    So Keep Sharing……..

    Thanking You.

  11. I paid for a PSD copy of Design Surreal Composition Fallen Angel’s Dream Fly file on paypal this morning and it did not let me return for the download.

    Don Reeder

  12. I was inspired by the effect. It simply looked awesome. I did give this link to my graphic designer from LogoDesignStation as a reference to how I wanted my business card to look like. Surprisingly, the design came out better than expected! It was really good all thanks to you! Even my friends were impressed…

    1. @Don, I emailed you now, sorry for the delay. I looked up your email and i can’t find your purchase ID though.

      If anyone else is experiencing a problem with download (which in most cases starts automatically), please email me — this is the fastest way to get a response.


  13. Still no PSD file and I emailed you a copy of the Pay Pal transaction. By the way I see no mention of the creation of the wings in the tutorial.

    Don Reeder

  14. I have attempted to leave a comment on this blog but every time I try the form times out the screen or provides an error. Can the author could possibly check into why it keeps messing up?

  15. Hello, Does anyone know the blog TutoTop? Looking for a tutorial on usenet, they told me there was one interesting! Thank you in advance!

  16. Hello, Does anyone know the blog TutoTop? Looking for a tutorial on newsgroups, they told me there was one super! Thank you in advance!

    1. In the seventh image I very confused

      .. can you help me please?
      and to become more clear
      because I do not know English well
      And I am new to photoshop. Thank you very much.

  17. Hello , i am new in your site and I can not understand because I’m very beginner.
    why my own clouds are black and not white? What to do?

  18. Hello,

    I just pay for the PSD, but the download don’t start.


    Please send me a link.


  19. For me personally, this has already happened. Phone, internet, and TV come out of the same small blinky box, and are all accessible through my computer. I have different hardware on the ends of the cables, but the fact that it all comes from one access point pretty much signals the end of differentiation between devices.

    Basically, I have a “home device” and an “away device”, and the only difference is the size of the screen.

  20. I’ve always been interested in working with wings, and I’d like to add wings to my own version of this piece. However, I don’t seem to see the part of that in your tutorial. Could you possibly email me how you did that? My email is Please and thank you! 😀

  21. Thanks for a great few hours well spent, I’m tottaly buzzing now I’ve just finished my first real project. Bring them all on, I’m hoocked

  22. Hi I just pay the PSD file but It dint download

    Unique Transaction ID #2HV936570P979233G

    Please send the link


  23. I’m trying to find a photoshop tutorial that features a dark (almost black) face with bright eyes… and keep getting linked to this tutorial. Can you send the link to the face & eyes tutorial? Thanks!

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  29. Good! Very nice ! I’m very like!
    i want this file for enjoyment the photo.
    Thank you, sure I will practice your steps, the final result looks great. Very useful.

  30. I did not see the part where you add the wings? I am a beginer, and was looking forward to that part. Could any one help me? Other than that one of the best detailed tutorials I have ever read!

  31. Dear Lorelei , thank you for the useful tutorial, even a novice like me can follow your steps and get a professional final results. Thanks from Peru.

  32. I payed by PayPal but I got a message that de zip-file didn’t exists.

    Please send it to me by email

    Thanks in advance,

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  53. Decent, in spite of the fact that it’d help your work process in the event that you began utilizing veils. Try not to crush pixels with the eraser device, there’ll come when you need them back

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