How to Paint a Surreal Scene in Photoshop

Learn how to create this fantastic drawing by Hatice Bayramoglu. You will learn the process she uses to create drawings in Photoshop.

Preview of Final Results


Paint a Surreal Scene Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1 – Sketch the tree

I have a lot of sketches. Here, I decided to use the tree that was a part of an older sketch. You may sketch a tree of your own and scan it into the computer or use the sketch below.


Step 2 – Create a new image

Create a new image (Ctrl+N or File > New) with the settings shown below.

  • Width: 640px
  • Height: 948px
  • Resolution: 72


Step 3 – Create layers

Name your sketch layer “sketch” or any other name you desire. Create another layer for the animal you wish to add to the drawing and name it “squirrel_sketch” or whichever animal you are drawing. Select the “squirrel_sketch” layer and sketch a squirrel.


Step 4 – Choose a colour palette

For this painting, I chose an earthy palette. You may load these colours into the Swatches palette in Photoshop or choose your own colours.


Step 5 – Choose a brush

Select the Brush Tool and then right click on the canvas.


When the Brush Setting window appears, set your brush to the settings below.

  • Master Diameter: 19px
  • Hardness: 100%


Now add more settings by opening the Brush Presets (F5 or Window > Brushes)


This will open a new window with extra options on the left.


From the left panel, check “Other Dynamics”


Make sure both controls are set to “Pen Pressure.”


Set Opacity Jitter to 6% and Flow Jitter to 5%.


Test your brush to see how well you can control it.


Step 6 – Filling in the background

Select the layer labelled “background.” Then select the Gradient Tool and fill the canvas as shown below.


Step 7 – Adding the sky

Create two more layers and label it “sky_colour” and “tree_colour.” As you can see below, I’ve deleted the “squirrel_sketch” layer. I have saved the sketch into a different psd file to work with later. Now select the “tree_colour” layer and roughly paint the tree brown. Then select the “sky_colour” layer and roughly paint the sky.


Add some more shadows to the “sky_colour” label. Create a layer labelled “sun” and paint a sun behind the tree.


Step 8 – Change the canvas size

To add more detail to the painting, you need a bigger canvas. So change the Image Size (Image > Image Size) to the following settings.

  • Width: 1500px
  • Height: 2222px
  • Resolution: 300


Step 9 – Quick detailing on the tree

Set the opacity of the “sketch” layer to 42% so that it doesn’t interfere with your painting. Select the “tree_colour” layer and add some more colour to your tree.


Hide the “sky_colour” layer so you can better work on your tree. Add some more detailing to the branches.


Step 10 – Adding light on the tree

Still working on the “tree_colour” layer, add some light colours to some of the edges on the tree. Remember where you have positioned the sun and add the highlights accordingly.


Step 11 – Adding grass

Create a new layer and name it “grass.” Select the Brush Tool and use a green colour.


Right click on the canvas. When the Brush Setting window pops up, select the brush tip that looks like grass (112).


Draw some grass in front of the tree.


Step 12 – Detailing the tree

Hide your “sky_colour” layer so that it doesn’t distract you. Select the Dodge Tool and add some light to the tree. Add other details like the grains and the uneven light on the bark.


Your painting should now look like this.

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