In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a surreal piece featuring a man with a head of ladder. First, we’ll build the base scene using a field and sky images. After that, we’ll add the man, ladder, tree, and hat and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. Later, we’ll import the cloud, eyes, crow and falling leaves using the same techniques. We’ll use several adjustment layers to complete the final result.
Create a new 1500×1434 px document in Photoshop and fill it with white. Open the sky image and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Use the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T) to resize it to fit the main document and place it in the upper half.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and set it as Clipping Mask. Increase the light and hazy much to make the sky look very dreamy as shown below:
On the Curves layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color. Lower the opacity of this brush to about 5% to reduce the effect on the both sides of the sky.
Open the field image and place it into our main canvas. Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to remove the upper of the field including the background and the sky. Make the edge soft and smooth to make the horizon blended better with the sky. Convert this layer to a Smart Object.
There is an unwanted detail on the right of the field. To fix it , make a new layer above the field one and set it as Clipping Mask. Activate the Clone Tool (S) and use this tool to remove the indicated detail.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation values down to -79:
Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #0665da to match the field’s color with the background.
Add a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On the layer mask, use a soft black brush with the opacity about 5-10% to reduce the lightness on some areas on the field or any details you feel to bright.
Create another Curves adjustment layer to brighten the midground. On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to paint on the background and foreground to reduce the light there.
On the field layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 4 px. On the filter mask, use a soft black brush to erase the background and midground, leaving the blur effect visible on the foreground only. This step is to increase the depth of the scene.
Cut out the man without his head from the background and add him to the middle of the ground. Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to remove the shirt’s neck and blend the legs into the grass blades.
Isolate the ladder using the Magic Wand Tool (W) and place it above the man’s head. Set this layer below the man’s one.
Duplicate this layer several times and make them stacked up as the screenshot below shows: