Combine Photo Elements to Create a Surreal Photo Manipulation

Combine Photo Elements to Create a Surreal Photo Manipulation

Step 5 - Lightning the model

For the image used in this tutorial, the light comes from the background left. And to make the lighting match, we’ll have to darken the back of the model. To begin, select the burn tool.
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Use a soft brush, edit the midtones, and set the exposure to around 30%.
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Now use the brush over the models back. Try not make it too dark, just a little. Use this tool in the skirt too. After that, select the dodge tool and paint the outline of the model (especially in her hair and her left arm).
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Step 5 - Roots

Now we are going to add some roots and branches to the body of the model. It’s not difficult and you just need some images of trees and roots. We will be cutting parts of the root and tree and giving them some color like we did earlier with the color balance tool.
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First step will be to look for a beautiful root and select it with your favorite tool (Magnetic lasso or quick mask mode for example). Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect selection, we will modify it later. Copy it and paste in our image.
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As you can see the new image has not the same light and colors that the others, it looks out of place. What we have to do it’s the same that we did with the sky and the girl. Choose Image > Adjustments > Levels and adjust the input sliders. If you move the one in the center to the left the image will be brighter. If you move it to the right the image will be darker. In our case we are going to move to the right. Now choose Image > Adjustments > Color Balance and add color depending of the place where you are going to put the root. If the root it’s on the left arm of the girl, for example, it will need red and yellow. But if it is on the right arm you have to add blue and cyan. This time we are going to add yellow and red. This is how it looks with the modifications:
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When you have the root ready, just place it where you think that it will look good and select the eraser tool with a focus brush. Erase all the part that you don’t need and give the correct form to the root, now it’s when you have to improve the selection root.
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The final step will be to use the burn tool in the areas where we should see shadows. For example, in the image below, it was used over the arm or in the bottom. I have added a little of blue using Image > Adjustments > Color Balance too. The last step is to erase the upper part of the root to create the look of a crease.
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All the roots are added using the same process. The biggest impact to your results is choosing the photos. Once you have good photos to work with, you’ll have no problem getting good results using this technique.
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There is just one last detail to explain. Sometimes, to get a more realistic feeling you can add a shadow to the root that falls over the skin or the dress. Take a look to this picture:
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The only difference it’s the shadow on the right arm. To make this shadow just need to make double click over the root layer and the layer style menu will be open (or choose Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow). Select Drop Shadow and then use the arrow to move the shadow with freedom. When you have putted the shadow in the correct place just use the opacity bar in the drop shadow menu to add more or less intensity.

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32 comments on “Combine Photo Elements to Create a Surreal Photo Manipulation”

  1. HI. are there any assets to go with this tutorial please, i don't see them anywhere. I love doing your tutorials they turnout so good. David Holmes

  2. People should put nicer coments on this because I do not think they would like their work called crap or sloppy.

  3. Agreed.. the tutorial is quite crappy, not enough info for beginners, and more advanced users will know all that already.

    Also extremely sloppy work on the picture, I wouldnt dare to view it in higher resolution.

  4. Badly explained or for advanced people only (which wouldn't need it). Also extremely sloppy work at the bottom (grass).
    I guess this picture looks extremely crappy in a decent resolution.

  5. Pretty shitty explained... When I use the magic wand tool it always only selects little parts of the model, and I also don´t absolutely don`t know where to save this, or what happened to the layers I worked on before... And where the hell is the add layer mask button??

    1. You should probably get acquainted with basic Photoshop tools first...

      The tutorial is very well done, thank you.

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