The first thing you need to remember is that every photo or digital artwork must have 1 point that catches the viewer’s attention. It doesn’t matter if you deal with magic (not to be confused with occultism) or surreal composition.
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 — the depth of field. In other words, the human face cannot be just as sharp in 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.
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 brushed 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 moonlight! 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 a 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 free 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 need something that will blen them in nicely. The easiest solution (and please bear in mind that our tutorial is targeted 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!
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 the 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 fully 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 problems, please comment below and I will email you the file within 24 hours.