Learn how to use Photoshop to create this amazing photo manipulation using several clever techniques such as using the Liquify tool to bend twigs and branches. The most important part of this tutorial will show you how to use layer blending modes and the Shadow/Highlights adjustment to create an ethereal tone effect.

Preview of Final Results

 

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create new document (File > New or Ctrl/Cmd+N)
image003
Use the Paint Bucket tool (G) and fill with the color #A1A1A1. Then, add a black to white gradient map by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map.
image004
image005

Step 2 – Add Ground Layers

Add the ground layer (GROUND\IMG_6231). Scale the image using the Free Transform tool (Edit > Free Transform or Ctrl/Cmd+T). Now, I will change the shadows and light a bit. Because you never know how it will work with layers and which one will come later, you should convert your layer to a Smart Object. To do this, right-click on the layer and choose “Convert to Smart Object”. Now we are ready to use the Shadow/Highlights adjustment (Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights). Note: Every layer name will have the same number as the ones in the tutorial resources.
image006
As you can see, the details of the rock has increased with the Shadow/Highlights adjustment..
image007
Now I will add a layer mask and erase parts of the image that I don’t want. Click on the “Add layer mask” icon on the bottom of your Layers palette.

image008 Info: Cienie / Podświetlenie mean Shadow/Highlights (Sorry about that, I use the Polish version of Photoshop)

Select the Brush tool (B) then paint with black on your layer mask. Usually, I just use the first default brush. You can change the opacity as needed. For this tutorial, I will only be using this brush.
image009
image010
Because the bottom of this photo is too blurry, I will add another ground layer. Add the next ground layer located in the folder Ground\IMG_6232. Using exactly the same step as before, I added a layer mask and painted on it with black.
image011

Step 3 – Add Clouds layers

Now I will add some clouds using the exact same technique we did with the ground layers. Remember, you will get better results if you decrease your brush opacity; I usually work between 30-50%. First, I will add a new Gradient Map adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map). It will be the same gradient map as the previous layer so you can just duplicate the previous layer. To do this, select the layer then press Ctrl/Cmd+J to duplicate the layer. Move the layer to the top of your layer like shown in the image below.
image012
  • CLOUD 6022 – Folder CLOUDS\IMG_6022
  • Blending Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
image013
  • CLOUD 6011 – Folder CLOUDS\IMG_6011
  • Blending Mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity: 100%
image014
Copy Cloud 6011 then press Ctrl/Cmd+T to activate the Free Transform tool. Change the position and transform  then press Enter or double-click on your image to apply the transformation. Set the layers blending mode to Overlay and opacity to 100%.
image015
  • CLOUD 6375 – Folder CLOUDS\IMG_6375
  • Blending Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
image016
  • CLOUD 6371 – Folder CLOUDS\IMG_6371
  • Blending Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
image017
  • CLOUD 6182 – Folder CLOUDS\IMG_6182
  • Blending Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
image018
Here’s what our layers look like:
image019

Step 4 – Dancer photo

Right-click on the Dancer layer and click “Convert to Smart Object”. I added a layer mask and erased part of the shoe. This isn’t necessary because later the image will be dark enough and the shoe will be covered.

26 thoughts on “Create This Incredible Surreal Photo Manipulation of a Dancer in Photoshop”

  1. Why would you use a shutterstock copyrighted image that has to purchased? We cant use this dancers image at a deent size/resolution without purchasing it. Makes this tutorial kind of a fail :(

  2. All my eyes go to is that black shape on the right side of his right arm other then that this is a sweet tutorial thank you for sharing your mad skills

  3. awesome……. but have doubts… if you could provide a video tutorial it would be worth watching and learning……. :)

  4. Undoubtedly the tutorials you in handling fotografais are the best of the website would love to if I baber podeira copies some tutorials to put on my website sintando the source

  5. Panie Darku super robota. Jedyne ‘ale’ to latajace korzenie , cegly itp. Ogolnie bardzo fajnie i “czysto” wytlumaczone kroki. Jesli to mozliwe, w przyszlosci c hetnie skorzystam z Pana wiedzy. prosze o kontakt. pozdrawiam

  6. The overall picture looks good and you obviously spent much effort on it, thank you :). But some highlights and shadows of dancer, parts of ground, roots, and flying bricks are wrong :).

  7. This looks good but is so badly explained. You have steps that are lacking info and steps with unnecessary info. You don’t need to tell us to “change the blending mode to normal and opacity to 100%” because that’s done by default. Some instructions don’t even say anything… It just says what image and blending mode but goes into no detail what was done. Good picture but sorry the tut is bad

    1. I think you are being too picky. Obviously this is not intended for beginners.

      But I agree with you on the excessive info. You don’t need to tell people to set opacity to 100% when it’s already 100% by default. It’s annoying to read.

    2. And kudos to the author for offering to fix steps. Most people would get angry but you stayed cool

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top

Subscribe and EnjoyFree Photoshop Actions

Sign up to our weekly newsletter and as a thank you, you’ll get 10 free Special FX Photoshop Actions courtesy of SparkleStock ($12 value).

Special FX Photoshop Actions