In this Photoshop tutorial you will learn in easy and simple steps how to create a surreal environment. We’ll cover techniques such as blending elements together with non-destructive techniques, using blur to create distance between the objects, and much more.
Preview of Final Results
Note: A long time has past since this tutorial was first written. Because of this, some of the free images below may not be available anymore. Please use the Alternative link instead.
- Model – TwilitesMuse
- Image Base – Cat-in-the-stock (Alternative)
- Mountains in the background – Lyfiar
- Mountain in the right – Castock
- Mountain in the left – Burtn
- River – Faestock
- Sky – Austriaangloalliance
- Tower – Divsm-stock
- Castle – Lilystox
Step 1 – New File
Open a new file, with 1311px of Width and 100px of Height
Step 2 – Gradient Background
Before you add any image, create a gradient to be the base of the image.
Step 3 – Place
To place a image go to the menu File in the option Place.
Step 4 – River
Resize the image of the river like this:
Step 5 – Less Opacity
Reduce the layer opacity to 80% and add a layer mask
Step 6 – Hiding
In the layer mask paint with a black brush to hide parts of the image in this case are the clouds the one’s you need to hide. Select the layer mask in the layer thumbs and with a black brush with 50% of opacity paint over the clouds.
Like you did before Place the other image of the mountains and resize it. Pick ONE of the corners and press shift to change the the resolution of the image without distortions.
Step 8 – Changing color
Double click in the image thumb, then you will see this window, press ok.
You can also duplicate the layer to have the original.
Then press Ctrl + U and press the option colorize, and just reduce the saturation to 12. Now save the image Ctrl + S, now the color will change in your mountains.
Step 9 – Layer mask
Once again add a layer mask and with a soft round black brush paint to make the mountains look like they are part of the image. Reduce the opacity of the layer to 70% so you can see the background.
Step 10 – Layers
Change layer’s order, move the one with the river and set it over the one with the mountains like this:
Step 11 – Details
Now do the same with other details of the image like the castle, Place the image, then resize it and with a layer mask hide the undesired parts of the image, also you can use help from the Magic Wand tool or another selection tool of your choice.
In the image above you can see that using the Magic Wand tool the blue parts of the image are selected.
Pass the black brush over the selected area and the result will be this one:
After that change the size of the image.
Step 12 – layer opacity
Change the castle layer to 25% of opacity and hide some other parts
Step 13 – Tower
Repeat the process you made before with the tower. The opacity of the layer is 30%
Step 14 – Mountains
To add some more mountains to the image place a new layer.
Step 15 – Layer mask
You only need the big mountain, so select it with layer mask like before.
Step 16 – Size
Press Ctrl+T to change the size of the mountain to fit the image. Also you can use the black brush to fix some details
Do the same with the other mountain, but this time reduce the opacity of the layer to 80%
Step 17 – place Sky
Place the layer of the sky
Step 18 – Hard light
Use the layer in hard light mode, reduce the opacity to 75%. Also add a layer mask to the image and hide some parts.
Step 19 – orange
To give more intensity to the sunset paint with a soft round orange brush in the sky. Use the layer in soft light mode. You can set the opacity to the pressure of your tablet, or if you don’t have a tablet the opacity can be 30%.
Step 20 – The Model
Place the model and like you did before select her using a layer mask.
Step 21 – Hair
Select only the hair and press Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer.
Step 22 – Change color
Press Ctrl+U to change the color of the model’s hair. You have a menu, select the option Colorize and then use the option Hue in 9, the option Saturation at 25 and the option Lightness in -30.
Step 23 – The Hair
To paint the hair you will need a tablet to get better results, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it with you mouse. To star pick the same color of the hair with the eyedropper tool, after that paint some hairs not too big not too small. Use a soft round brush 2px.
Paint some more strands
Step 24 – White Strokes
Make some white strokes to give highlights to the hair.
Add some with a lighter tone of brown
Step 25 – Shadow
To make a shadow in the model’s hair paint with a soft round black brush in the hair like this:
Change layer to soft light
Step 26 – Lights and Shadows
Paint a new layer with a gray tone like this:
With the dodge and burn tool pass over that layer, to make shadows and light. Use the layer in soft light mode to do this.
Step 27 – Orange
In a new layer paint with a soft round orange brush to create light over the mountains, remember the direction of the light, where light is coming from.
Reduce the opacity of the layer to 40%
Step 28 – River
Go back to the background, and place the image of a river
Add a layer mask and hide all the parts leaving only the river, and reduce the opacity of the layer to 70%
Step 29 – Shadows
Pick a soft round brush a big one and paint over the rock to make the shadow of the model. Color black with 35% of opacity
Step 30 – Highlights
In a new layer with a small round brush 2 or 4px paint to make strokes in the mountains and objects, the color has to be orange.
Here they are white so you can see them
Step 31 – Blur
Make the background a little blurry to do this, hide all the layers and just leave the ones that belong to the background, press Ctrl + A, then Ctrl + Shift + C to select the current image, not the current layer, and finally press Ctrl + V and you will have a copy of the background.
Adding blur to the background will give the look that the mountains and all the other objects are far away from the model.
Now you can convert the layer in a smart object and apply the filter Gaussian blur with 2px of radius:
Step 32 – Dark
In a new layer paint with a black brush like this, the opacity can be set with the pen pressure or you can you 20%
Change the layer mode to soft light
Step 33 – Colors
Now paint the sky with orange, yellow and a bit of blue tones to give more intensity to the lighting. Use the layer in soft light mode
In soft light mode
Step 34 – Gradient Fill
Go to the menu that is in the bottom of the layers and select the icon Create New Fill or adjustment layer, and then pres at the option Gradient.
Now Select black and Yellow to to the gradient
Step 35 – Layer Mode
Change layer mode to Soft light and reduce the opacity to 20%
Step 36 – The final touch
Fill a new layer with black and go to the menu Filter – Render – Lens Flare
Press Ok and you will have something like this:
change layer mode to screen, reduce the opacity to 50% and the fill to 70%
That’s all this time.
Tutorial by Andrea Garcia
Thank you so much for reading this tutorial, I hope this is helpful for you all. If you want to check more of my art go to http://www.andygarcia666.deviantart.com
– Andrea García