Learn how to create this amazing surreal underground scene with a heart created from branches and scattering leaves! This photo manipulation tutorial will teach you various techniques such as blending, complex masking, painting, working with groups, and more.

Preview of Final Results

depression99-final

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document with size of 900×1125 px and fill it with black. Open soil 1 image. Use Move Tool (V) to drag it into our black canvas, choose Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform it as shown below:
depression1

Step 2

Click the second button at the bottom of Layer Panel to add mask to this one. Use soft black brush with opacity about 60-70% to erase some parts of the underground. You can see the result on layer mask and result on picture:
depression2
depression2a

Step 3

To darken this underground, I used a Curves layer with Clipping Mask. On underground layer, choose Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves:
depression3
On Curves layer mask use black brush with opacity about 10-15% to reduce the lightness on the part near foreground:
depression3a
depression3b

Step 4

I added a Levels layer to change the contrast a little:
depression4
I used black brush to erase the foreground:
depression4a
depression4b

Step 5

I made a Hue/Saturation layer to reduce saturation of the underground:
depression5

Step 6

Isolate model from background and place her on the underground (feel free use your own stock).
depression6

Step 7

I don’t like the shirt model wearing so I’ll repaint it. Make a new layer (Clipping Mask), use hard brush with color #fbfbfb to fill the shirt:
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I named this layer “clothes base”. We’ll be adding more details to it later.

Step 8

Use Curves to darken the model :
depression8
I added a Levels layer to fix the contrast there:
depression8a
On Levels layer mask use brush to erase on some part of the model to get proper light and shadow:
depression8b
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Step 9

Apply Hue/Saturation to match her with the scene:
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depression9a

Step 10

Now we’ll pay attention to the clothes. Create a new layer, fill with 50% gray and change the mode to Overlay:
depression10
Take Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 25-30% to darken the clothes. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and result with Overlay mode:
depression10a
depression10b

Step 11

Make a new layer with same settings, use Dodge and Burn Tool to create details of the wrinkles for the clothes. I’ve tried to achieve a silky, soiled look (as she is sitting on the underground ) and you can see my results as a reference:
depression11
depression11a

Step 12

Make a new layer under model one. Use soft black brush with opacity about 30% to create shadow for model clothes, legs on the ground:
depression12

Step 13

To give the model more “dirty” look, choose wood texture, use Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to make a selection :
depression13
Place this part on the model and use Warp Tool (Edit-Transform-Warp) to bend this part a little:
depression13a
Change the mode of this layer to Soft Light 100%:
depression13b

Step 14

From brush menu, choose Reset Brushes to change brush preset to default. Now on brush menu, click to choose one of Spatter brushes (mine is Spatter 24):
depression14
Press F5 to change settings for this brush:
depression14a
Add layer mask to this wood texture layer. Use indicated brush to remove hard edges and create a subtle effect on the model:
depression14b
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Step 15

I darkened the effect with a Curves layer:
depression15
On its layer mask, reduce the dark with soft brush with very low opacity (10-15%) on model feet:

23 thoughts on “Create a Surreal, Emotional Underground Scene Photo Manipulation”

  1. Great tutorial, All are path instruction for a model very teachable. Thanks for sharing great experience.

  2. Hi, I think the link for the “Branches 1” is not working. Could you give me the alternative link instead? Thank You

  3. Please re uploaded PSD file because when i click on download showing 404 error, this is best work for me i want check how did you do this

  4. Jordan Anderson

    This is a pro job.
    I’m a fan of photoshop and I see that you give real professional lessons.
    I admire your work

  5. I a beginner in photoshop, I know only make the cut: (
    Seeing such advanced tutorials I wonder how people are to learn all that

  6. Esteban Villanueva

    I will follow this tutorial to see the results.
    I am looking for a long time this kind of lesson

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