Create this beautiful treehouse artwork using a combination of photo manipulation and painting techniques. Find out how to easily draw a surreal-looking tree easily using the Brush tool, clouds from scratch, and more! You’ll learn all these techniques in this Photoshop tutorial.
Preview of Final Results
Download the PSD
Surreal Treehouse.zip | 23.59 MB
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Surreal Treehouse Photoshop Tutorial
- Tree Houses – Thanks archetype, Deviantart
- Bonsai Tree – Thanks fabemiko, Deviantart
- Model – Thanks mizzd, Deviantart
- Nebula – Nasa
Create a new document (Ctrl+N) of 1024 pixel wide and 1280 pixel high.
From this step on we will create a tree going to be used in this work. First of all, go to Brush tool in the tool panel. Hit F5 to open the brush panel. Choose a hard round brush and then do some setting on Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Color Dynamics as the following:
Set the color of the foreground to #fabc22 and the background to #352703 in the color pickers panel. With the brush size set to 150 pxl and the brush tip set to the ones in step 2, stroke it to give it a try. I have made a shape like the one in the illustration picture:
Keep on trying to stroke the brush to create the stems and some branches. Do this on different layers. One thing to remember is try to vary the brush sizes and the amount of Fade Control in the Shape Dynamics accordingly. After doing some trials and errors, finally I sorted some shapes suitable to the tree we are going to create:
What we are going to do next is arrange the shapes into a single tree. This is what I did: first I arrange the stem for the tree. Place the stem 1 in the bottom and then the other stem (stem 2) is right above it. Then put another stem (stem 3) above the others. Finally add the last stem (stem 4). See the illustration picture.
Continue to add some branches to the tree until we find the complete shape.
Next, merge all the tree layers to make them a single layer. With the single tree layer selected, go to Filter > Render > Lightning. Follow the setting as shown in the illustration picture:
In this step we will give more details to the tree by defining the shading and shadow. To achieve this, we will use Burn tool. Activate Burn tool in the tool panel. Set its range to highlight at 10% exposure. With a very soft brush, stroke some areas on the tree to give it shadow and shading. Please see the illustration picture to see what we are doing:
Finally, we will give the tree Gradient Map. Go to Layer > New adjustment layer > Gradient map. This will change the color of the tree. Remember to create a clipping mask to this gradient layer. Set this gradient map layer to normal blending at 60% opacity. Select all layers and then hit Ctrl+E to merge them. I named this layer tree. We have finished the tree.
Create a new white document of 1024 pixel wide and 1686 pixel high. Create a new layer. Set the foreground color to #9db1fc and the background to #6ca5f8. Take Gradient Tool and set it to linear gradient. Fill the new layer with gradient by dragging the gradient tool on it. Now we have the background.
The background created in the step 11 is so plain that we need to give it some cloud texture. To achieve this, we will create the cloud. Make another new white document of 1024 pixel wide and 731 pixel high. Set the foreground color to #92a8fb and the background to white. Give this new document cloud by going to Filter > Render > Cloud. Next take Lasso Tool in the tool panel. Click and drag the lasso tool on the document to make selection. Hit Shift+F6 to show Feather Selection’s option command box. Set the radius of the feather to 100 pixels. Hit Ctrl+J to duplicate the selection into a new single layer. Hide the main background by clicking the eye icon to see the result.
Open the cloud into the background document created in step 10. Set the blending of this cloud layer to soft light. Hit Ctrl+T to activate Free Transform Tool. Wrap the cloud to distort the shape.
To complete the cloud, proceed to do this: 1. Place the cloud layer created in step 12 in the position needed. 2. Duplicate the cloud layer some times as needed. With Move tool (M) locate the duplications where needed and also use Free Transform tool to scale or flip them to find desired cloud texture. Try to play around with the blending of each duplication layer varied to soft light and hard light. 3. Just mess around with distorting the shape of the clouds by wrapping them. 4. After doing some trials and errors, finally I got the desired cloud texture. Select all the cloud layers. Hit Ctrl+G to group them.
Next duplicate the cloud group. Set the duplication to soft light blending at 100% opacity. Move the duplication layer down a bit. Please see the illustration picture to see the result.
Next, please do this following: 1. open the tree on the canvas. 2. duplicate the tree layer. Scale the duplication a bit down and also flip it horizontally. Locate it a bit higher than the original layer. Place this layer underneath the original layer in the layer panel. 3. duplicate the tree layer again. Do similar step as the one in 2 but locate this duplication lower than the first duplication. 4. once again duplicate the original layer. Scale the duplication down, rotate it a bit and also locate it lower than the second duplication. Make sure to place the three duplication layers underneath the original one.
Open the tree house stock picture. Extract the house from its background. I used Pen Tool to do this. With the pen tool selected, click on the picture to make the starting point anchor. Then proceed to trace the house by clicking to make the other anchors until the path is closed. When the path is closed, right click on the path to bring out the option command box. Choose Make Selection. Hit Shift+Ctrl+I to inverse the selection. Hit Del to delete the background.
There are still some unneeded parts on the extracted house. See the illustration picture. They are marked in red. We need to clean them out. I did a simple way to do this: crop one of the ladder’s pole and then place the cropped to the one to be cleaned. I did the same way to the other unneeded parts on the picture. See the illustration picture.
I decided to add more wood to platform. I did the similar way as on the step 17. Select all the house layers and hit Ctrl+E to merge them. I named this layer hut
Now open the hut to the canvas. Scale to fit the size proportionally to the scene. Hide part of the area with a layer mask.
Duplicate the hut layer four times. Scale the duplication layers to fit the size and place them in the position where needed. I did this composition so far:
We will add another tree to the scene. Open the other source picture. Firstly extract the tree from its background. I did this with Color Range. Duplicate the tree layer. Hide the original tree layer by clicking the eye icon in the layer panel. With the duplication layer selected, go to Select > Color Range. Put the cursor on the white sky area on the document, when the eyedropper icon comes up, click the area to sample the color. Then, set the fuzziness’ amount to 145 to give more contrast between the black and the white. Click Ok. Hit Del to delete the selection.
Drag the extracted tree to the canvas. Scale it to fit the canvas and located in the position where needed. Hide parts unneeded with a layer mask.
Duplicate the tree layer. Scale the size and locate it where needed.
Next, we will add poles to the other house. I did this just simply by cropping the existing pole and place the cropped to the house where needed.
Do the same way as the ones in step 24 to add the poles to the other house.
This is the composition I created so far:
I decided to hide some parts of the tree. Go to each tree layer and give them layer mask. Hide the parts. See the illustration picture to see clearly which parts they are.
We will add a model to the scene. Open the model picture. Please refer back to previous step 16 to extract the model from its background. here is the result I got:
Drag the extracted model to the canvas. Scale it down. Now take Smudge Tool. With a very small soft round brush and the strength set varying to 60-70%, smudge the edges of the model’s hair to make swirls. Then, crop the lamp, duplicate it two times. Place the duplication layers to each house.
In this step we will give new adjustment layers to the scene. Firstly I gave it two gradient maps, then photo filter and vibrance. Please see the illustration picture to see the setting for each. Finally, set the blending of the first gradient map to soft light at 28% opacity, the second to normal at 27% opacity. Set the photo filter to normal blending at 70% opacity and the vibrance layer to normal at 100% opacity.
Hit Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to merge all layer into a single layer in the layer panel. I named this layer green.
With the green layer still selected, go to filter > render > lightning. See the illustration picture to see the setting:
Next, give the green layer a layer mask. With soft round brush set to low opacity 20%, stroke some area on the canvas. After finding the desired result, set the blending to normal at 80% opacity. Now duplicate the green layer one time and set the duplication layer to soft light at 80% opacity.
The idea of this work is to create a fantasy garden set in dreamy warm night with many stars. To achieve this, open the nebula picture on the canvas. Place this nebula layer above the cloud group layers created in previous step 12-14. Set the nebula layer to multiply blending at 100% opacity. Here is the result:
The result is a bit dark. I decided to set more lightning to the scene. I gave new adjustment layer > brightness/contrast above all the other layers. Please see the illustration picture:
I gave another new adjustment layer > selective color:
The night atmosphere is still dull so far. I decided to make it brighter. Duplicate the nebula layer and place the duplication layer top most layer. Set it to soft light at 80% opacity. Give it a layer mask and mask the tree area.
In this step, we will add light to the lamps and some highlight to the lower trees. Create a new layer (Shift+Ctrl+N). Fill (Shift+F5) this new layer with black and set its blending to color dodge. Firstly, we will give highlight to the lower trees. Set the foreground color to white. Take the brush tool, set its opacity to 5. With a very soft round brush selected, stroke gently the desired areas on the lower trees (see the illustration) until finding desired highlight. Finally, after finishing the highlight, proceed to give light to the lamps. Set the foreground color to #fcb004 and stroke the brush to the lamp area. Try to vary the color among #fcb004, #fe9024 and white to get better light.
I I decided to clean out the unnecessary leaves. Create a new layer. On this new layer, paint over the leaves. Take the nearest color around the leaves as the sample color to paint. Use soft brush at opacity varying to 20-40 %. Finally I gave black gradation at the bottom and edges of the scene. I also darkened the right side of the main house to give it some shadow.
Download the PSD
Surreal Treehouse.zip | 23.59 MB
Download from Website