In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a surreal scene featuring a man with the head of a lamp watching flying birds. First, we’ll build the base scene using images of a sky, mountains, and arch rock. After that, we’ll add the man, lamp, and tree and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. Later, we’ll import the birds and paint the light effect. We’ll use several adjustment layers to enhance the final result.
Create a new 2000×1333 px document and fill it with white. Open the sky image and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Place it in the upper section of the canvas.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and change the contrast of the sky by increasing the lightness so much.
Open the mountain image and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the sky and mountains part only and add it to the main canvas using the Move Tool. Place it onto the existing sky area.
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Select a soft round one with black color (soft black brush) to remove the top hard edges and blend the sky with the existing background .
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above the mountains one and set it as Clipping Mask. Decrease the Saturation values to -61 :
Create a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to brighten the mountains a bit more.
Open the arch image and using the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) or your own method to isolate the arch with the sea area and place it in the lower section of the main document. Use the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T) to distort the perspective of the arch a bit .
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the rock arch. Bring the Saturation values down to -76:
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to change the color of the arch.
Add a Curves adjustment layer to darken the back area of the arch and rock. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the arch surface and the front details to reveal the lightness there.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the front of the arch and rock. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the shadow, hidden areas or any details you feel too bright.
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray.
Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 10-15% to refine the light and shadow of the arch and rock. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.
Cut out the man’s body from the background and then place him onto the middle of the arch surface. Use Ctrl+T to resize him to be much smaller.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the man’s color with the arch. Adjust the Cyan and Yellow values to give him some blue hint to match the arch’s color.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the man. On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the light on the back/shadow/hidden areas of the man.