Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Surreal Scene Full of Life in Photoshop


We’re almost there! We just need to add the root shadows and then we’ll enter the final stage of our manipulation.

So go to our elephant group and add a new layer above the Shadow layer we created on the step 17. Name the new layer ‘Root Shadow’.


Open the turtle group again and Ctrl/Command click the thumbnail of the turtle.


Now paint the shadow of the roots with a hard brush.


Then add a Gaussian blur to make the shadow more realistic, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to around 10px.



Set the opacity of this shadow layer to around 40%.


And now we’re finally done with all those stock images and we’re ready to make the final adjustments.


Step 24:Final Adjustments

To start with out final adjustments, create a new layer on the top of our layer stack.


Now select a gray color by going to the color picker and setting ‘H’ to 0, ‘S’ to 0 and ‘B’ to 50.


Fill the new layer with gray using a shortcut. Alt/Option+Delete will fill the layer with gray for you.


Now change the blend mode of this layer to Overlay and you will se no difference in your image.


Select the Dodge Tool(O) with a soft brush(hardness between 0~50%) and the exposure at 10%


And now start “painting” your gray layer with the Dodge and the Burn Tool. Here are some tips:

  • Doge Tool will make place you paint brighter
  • The Burn Tool will make the place you paint darker
  • To quickly change between them hold Alt/Option, this will change the tools as long as you hold the Alt/Option key (You will use this A LOT)
  • If you made a mistake and it’s too late to undo the changes don’t worry, just select the Brush Tool and paint the area of the layer you want to “reset” with gray again (that’s why we’re using this gray layer)

This is the most important step of our manipulation, and can really improve your final image if you do this right. So take your time in this step and don’t rush with the painting.

In the image below I tried to show you which areas to dodge and which areas to burn but it’s just a reference, try to make your own lightning of this image.


The image below is just my gray layer after I was done with the Dodge/Burn Tool painting. You don’t have to do that, but if you want to see what yours look like just change the Blend Mode to Normal again.


And here is my outcome:


We’re almost finished. Press Ctrl/Command + Shift + Alt/Option + E to make a new layer merging all the layers of your project together. Don’t worry, your layers will not be deleted.

Now change the blend mode of this new layer to Lighten and lower the opacity to around 35%.


Now let’s add a dreamy effect to our image. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to around 10px.



With the dreamy effect:


Just two more adjustments! Add a Selective Color Adjustment Layer (non-destructively) and check the image below for the input values in each of the Colors values. The Colors that don’t appear in the image were not changed.


With the Selective Color Adjustment:


To finish off, repeat the shortcut to create a new layer merging all the previous layers (Ctrl/Command + Shift + Alt/Option + E).


And add a Lens Correction by going to Filter > Lens Correction.

Select the custom tab and change the Vignette Amount and Midpoint (see the image below for the values).

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