Create a Dark and Surreal Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Create a Dark and Surreal Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Step 25 - Adding leaves

The tiniest of the details are what makes a great artwork. So now, we add random flowing leaves near the guy using the stock leaves/particles brushes and add clouds with the cloud brushes on the left rock.

Step 26 - Adding birds and splatter

Next, we add a few birds to the scene. Also, we use splatter brushes to make the birds more interesting and give them a mystique disintegrating look. The splatter brush on itself may look flat, hence we use the bird stock on clipping mask with the splatter brushes.

Step 27 - Adjusting light on birds

Now, we try to further highlight and give details to the birds. Create a new layer on ‘Soft Light’ 'Blending Option' and use the paint brush to roughly highlight the feathers and the structure of the birds. The resultant layer is shown besides the respective bird below.

Step 28 - Adding dripping blood

Next, we create the dripping blood on the guy tied to the rock. This needs plenty of work to get right but I would skip it here as it has been done quite many times in countless tutorials. Notice that the blood is not shown in grayscale, this helps create focus and makes the whole scene more interesting, similar to effect like in the movie Sin City. To do it, mask out the blood drips and put them above the B&W gradient map layer.

Step 29 - Using soft light to add details

Create a new layer, go to Edit -> Fill -> 50% gray and put it on ‘Soft Light’ 'Blending Option'. Using the paint brush on low opacity (~10%) draw out the highlights of the scene, with white brush making it lighter and black brush making it darker. The resultant layer is also shown below.

Step 30 - Increasing contrast

Create a new ‘Levels’ adjustments layer and use the shown settings. Also, further increase the contrast by using another ‘Brightness/Contrast’ adjustments layer with the layer mask and settings as shown pictorially.

Step 31 - Adding partial vignette

Now we give it a partial vignette kind of effect, only better. We use the ‘Curves’ adjustments layer with the shown settings to darken the image and use the layer mask to only darken the required edges.

Step 32 - Gradient map adjustment layer

Create a new ‘Gradient Map’ adjustment layer on ‘Soft Light’ 'Blending Option' and use the values shown for the gradient. You could also mask out the blood drips here to prevent application of this layer on the blood (to get the blood to stay true red), as this gradient causes a shift in color.

Step 33 - Partial desaturation

The image with the gradient map on 'Soft Light' looks oversaturated, so make a new ‘Black to white’ ‘Gradient Map’ adjustment layer on ‘Color’ 'Blending Option' at 30% opacity. Also, there are places on the bottom left and right corners where the image is too black. Make a new layer with 'Lighten' 'Blending Option' and use the paint brush with #071922 color and use the brush in those corners. And there you have it, the final image.

Step 34 (Optional) - Optical flares

You could add some custom optical flares to add a more interesting look. The ones used here are a part of the Video Copilot’s Optical Flares Bundle which cannot be shared publicly. Notice though, that the optical flares are different in color than the whole scene, this adds more ‘color’ appeal and makes it look more interesting.

Step 35 - Saving the final result

The image is finally finished, you could add a border and sharpen the image. Go to Filter -> Sharpen -> Smart Sharpen and use the following given values. Then, save it as a PSD file.

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4 comments on “Create a Dark and Surreal Photo Manipulation in Photoshop”

  1. This tutorial sucks so much... You forgot to link half the stock photos used, one of the links is broken. You forgott a lot of steps, I jumped adding some stuff because I thought you would explain it later but you didn't.

    Your tutorial is bad
    and you should feel bad

  2. Although not much explanation, I really did get a lot off inspiration and ideas here. Especially the part with the rock and the dude with the drapes, just excellent!!

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