SurrealA dream-like or bizarre feel or look when compared to reality.
Finished ExampleLet’s take a look at a finished example of a surreal environment.
Step 1 – Selecting a PhotoAfter browsing some free stock photos at stock.xchng, I finally decided on a picture of a road surrounded by daisies.
Step 2 – Think of Some ConceptsNow that I have my photo, I need to think of what I want to add to make it surreal. Since it is a curved road, I thought some vibrant tubes of light would create a nice effect. Also, since there were so many daisies, I wanted to make them appear to glow. I also wanted to add some more excitement into the empty sky.
Since I’m going to want some bright daisies and some glowing tubes of light, I’ll keep in mind that I may want to darken all the other parts of the photo.
Step 3 – Fixing the BackgroundI don’t like the tractor marks in the left field of daisies, so I’m going to use my Clone Stamp Tool to clear them away. I’ll do the same for the tracks in the upper field too.
Step 4 – Adding the First BeamCreate a path that winds up the road using the pen tool. Make sure that it extends below the actual document some, so that the end isn’t rounded. Select a 19px hard brush and set the Size Jitter Control to Fade, and give it a value around 400 or 500. Then, set the Minimum Diameter to 10%.
Fade BrushYou may have to experiment with different values on your Fade in order to get it to fit the size of the path.
Step 5 – Adding Layer StylesGo into your layers Blending Options (Right Click Layer > Blending Options).
Apply the layer effects shown below, making any modifications as needed.
Outer GlowThis will create a glow off of the tube of light. I used #ff0000.
Inner GlowThis will create a lighter color starting from the center of the tube. I used #f75151.
SatinThis will help to structure the shape of the tube.
Color OverlayThis will replace the color of the tube with red. I used #ff0000.
Step 6 – Add a Unique GlowOur red tube is looking a little boring and not very vibrant. SO LETS BRIGHTEN IT UP!
Duplicate your red tube (Right Click Layer > Duplicate Layer). Then, convert it into a Smart Object (Right Click Layer > Convert to Smart Object), so that we can easily apply and remove filters.
Now, lets apply the following filters:
Reticulation (Filter > Sketch > Reticulation)Make sure you have black as your foreground color and white as your background color.
Chalk and Charcoal (Filter > Sketch > Chalk & Charcoal)Make sure you have black as your foreground color and white as your background color.
Plastic Wrap (Filter > Artistic > Plastic Wrap)
Step 7 – Intensify the GlowCreate a new layer and make a selection of your red tube (Ctrl+Click Thumbnail). Set white as your foreground color and set a dark red color like #7c0707 as your background color.
Go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Then, go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. By pressing Ctrl+F, you can now keep applying the previous filter you applied. So press Ctrl+F a few more times to apply Difference Clouds until you end up with a result you like (be sure it is red and white). Now, set the layer to Linear Dodge and lower the opacity until you get an effect you are happy with.
Step 8 – Adding SparklesGrab a 3px brush and apply the following brush settings.
Step 9 – Adding More ColorsRepeat the process with some more colors, and use layer masks to make them twist above and below each other. If you place all the layers for the green tube, for instance, into a new group, then you can create a layer mask on the group, and it will apply it to all of the green tube layers!
Layer MasksA layer mask limits the visible area of a layer, without erasing it. Any area on the layer mask that is white, is visible. Any area that is black, is not visible. Any gray areas will change the opacity depending on how light or dark they are.
Step 10 – Filling the SkyIn order to create the effect in the sky, we need to create our own brush.
Create a new document that is 50x50px. Create a new layer and delete the background layer, since we want the background to be transparent. Then, create a rectangle that is 10px wide by 40px high. Then, duplicate it and rotate it 90 degrees (Edit > Transform > Rotate 90 degrees). Once you’ve got your shape, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.
You can close the new document now that you have your brush. Select your brush, and set your foreground color to #335776 and your background color to #6084a5. Then apply the following brush settings:
Brush Tip Shape
Step 11 – The DarkeningThis image looks pretty decent as it is, but its going to look even better when the background items are darkened. This way, the lights will have more attention and focus in the scene.
Create a new layer above your background. Fill it with black and set it to Overlay. By creating a layer mask and hiding the area of the layer over the daisies, we can make them appear to glow.
Get CreativeEven after you achieve a great effect, spend some time trying to improve it. It is rare to achieve the greatest outcome possible in one try. You may even want to start over from scratch, keeping in mind what you liked from before and what you want to change or include!