Creating Surreal Effects with Image Manipulation in Photoshop
Welcome to the world of creating surreal effects with image manipulation in Photoshop! With its
powerful tools and capabilities, Photoshop allows you to transform ordinary images into
extraordinary and dreamlike compositions. Whether you want to create whimsical landscapes,
otherworldly portraits, or abstract art, the techniques and strategies outlined in this guide will help
you unlock your creative potential.
In this guide, we will walk you through the process of creating surreal effects step by step. We’ll start
with opening and duplicating an image, ensuring that you have a solid foundation to work with. Then,
we’ll explore the application of adjustment layers to manipulate colors, tones, and overall mood.
You’ll learn how to combine multiple images and utilize layer masks to seamlessly blend elements
and create surreal juxtapositions.
But we won’t stop there. We’ll delve into the world of blending modes and opacity, discovering how
these tools can enhance the interaction between different layers and add depth to your composition.
Filters and effects will be introduced, allowing you to experiment with textures, distortions, and
To truly refine your surreal masterpiece, we’ll guide you through the process of fine-tuning details.
You’ll learn how to selectively enhance specific areas, fix imperfections, and emphasize important
elements using various tools and techniques available in Photoshop.
Finally, we’ll cover the essential steps of saving and exporting your surreal creation. Whether you
plan to share your artwork online or print it for display, we’ll provide you with the knowledge to save
and export your image in the appropriate format, ensuring optimal quality and compatibility.So, let your imagination run wild as we embark on this creative journey together. Get ready to push
the boundaries of reality and unleash your artistic vision with the surreal effects of image
manipulation in Photoshop!
Creating Surreal Effects with Image Manipulation in Photoshop_
Creating surreal effects with image manipulation in Photoshop can be a fun and creative way to
transform ordinary photos into something extraordinary. Here are some steps to help you get
1. Open the image in Photoshop: Start by opening the image you want to manipulate in
Photoshop. Go to “File” > “Open” and select the image file from your computer.
2. Duplicate the image: It’s always a good idea to work on a duplicate of your original image to
preserve the original intact. Right-click on the background layer in the Layers panel and
choose “Duplicate Layer.” You can also use the shortcut “Ctrl+J” (Windows) or “Command+J”
(Mac) to create a duplicate layer.
3. Apply adjustment layers: Adjustment layers allow you to make non-destructive edits to your
image. Experiment with different adjustment layers to alter the colors, tones, and overall
mood of your photo. Some commonly used adjustment layers for surreal effects include:
Hue/Saturation: Adjust the colors and saturation levels.
Curves: Modify the tonal range and contrast.
Gradient Map: Apply a gradient map to change the color scheme.
Color Lookup: Apply pre-defined color grading effects.
Selective Color: Fine-tune specific color ranges.
To add an adjustment layer, click on the “Adjustment Layer” icon at the bottom of the Layers panel
and choose the desired adjustment.
4. Combine images: To create surreal compositions, you can blend multiple images together.
Open the additional images you want to include and use selection tools like the Magic Wand,
Lasso, or Quick Selection tool to isolate specific elements. Copy and paste these elements
onto your main image, and use transformation tools like Scale, Rotate, and Warp to position
them as desired. Experiment with layer blending modes (e.g., Overlay, Multiply, Screen) to
seamlessly integrate the elements.
5. Use layer masks: Layer masks allow you to control the visibility of specific areas within a
layer. You can use layer masks to blend images together, create smooth transitions, or hide
unwanted parts. To add a layer mask, select the layer you want to mask and click on the “Add
Layer Mask” button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Use the Brush tool with black and
white colors to paint on the layer mask, revealing or hiding parts of the layer.
6. Apply filters and effects: Photoshop offers a wide range of filters and effects that can add
surreal touches to your images. Experiment with filters like “Gaussian Blur,” “Lens Flare,” “Oil
Paint,” “Distort,” and “Liquify” to achieve unique and dreamlike effects. Remember to apply these filters to individual layers or adjustment layers for non-destructive editing.
7. Experiment with blending modes and opacity: Blending modes control how the pixels of one
layer interact with the layers below it. Play around with different blending modes like
“Overlay,” “Multiply,” “Screen,” and “Soft Light” to create interesting combinations. Adjusting
the opacity of a layer can also help achieve subtle or transparent effects.
8. Fine-tune details: Pay attention to the small details to ensure a polished result. Use tools like
the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Content-Aware Fill to remove distractions or blemishes.
Adjust the overall image sharpness, apply selective sharpening, or add vignettes to enhance
the focal points.
9. Save and export: Once you’re satisfied with your surreal composition, save your work in a
suitable format like JPEG or PNG. If you want to retain the layers and editability, save the file
in Photoshop’s native .PSD format.
Remember, the key to creating surreal effects is to experiment, think outside the box, and let your
creativity guide you. Have fun exploring the endless possibilities that
1. Open the image in Photoshop:
To open an image in Photoshop, follow these steps:
1. Launch Adobe Photoshop on your computer. If you don’t have Photoshop installed, you can download and install it from the Adobe Creative Cloud website.
2. Once Photoshop is open, go to the menu bar at the top and click on “File.”
3. In the dropdown menu, select “Open.” Alternatively, you can use the shortcut “Ctrl+O” (Windows) or “Command+O” (Mac).
4. A file browser window will appear. Navigate to the location where your image is saved and select it.
5. Click on the “Open” button in the file browser window.
6. Photoshop will then open the selected image in a new document window, ready for you to start manipulating and editing.
Now you can proceed with applying various techniques and effects to create surreal effects with image manipulation in Photoshop.
2. Duplicate the image:
To duplicate the image in Photoshop, follow these steps:
1. Make sure the image you want to duplicate is open in Photoshop.
2.In the Layers panel, located by default on the right side of the Photoshop workspace, you’ll see a layer representing your image. It is usually named “Background” or the file name.
3. Right-click on the layer and select “Duplicate Layer” from the context menu. Alternatively, you can also go to the top menu and choose “Layer” > “Duplicate Layer.”
4. A dialog box will appear where you can specify the destination for the duplicated layer. By default, it will be set to the same document.
5. Optionally, you can change the name of the duplicated layer if you prefer. It’s helpful to give it a distinct name to differentiate it from the original layer.
6. Click on the “OK” button, and Photoshop will create a duplicate layer above the original one in the Layers panel.
You now have a duplicate layer that you can work with, allowing you to apply image manipulation techniques and effects without affecting the original image. It’s a good practice to work on a duplicate layer to preserve the integrity of the original image.
3. Apply adjustment layers:
To apply adjustment layers in Photoshop, follow these steps:
1. Make sure you have the duplicate layer selected in the Layers panel. Adjustment layers affect all the layers beneath them, so it’s important to have the duplicate layer selected if you want the adjustments to apply to the entire image.
2. In the Layers panel, click on the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” icon at the bottom. It looks like a circle that’s half black and half white.
3. A dropdown menu will appear with various adjustment options. Choose the desired adjustment layer based on the effect you want to achieve. Here are a few commonly used adjustment layers for surreal effects:
Hue/Saturation: Allows you to adjust the overall color and saturation of the image.
Curves: Lets you modify the tonal range and contrast of the image.
Levels: Helps you adjust the brightness, contrast, and tonal range.
Vibrance: Enhances or reduces the saturation of less saturated colors while protecting skin tonbes.
Photo Filter: Applies different color filters to simulate the effect of camera filters.
Gradient Map: Maps colors to different tonal values using a gradient.
4. Once you select an adjustment layer, a properties panel specific to that adjustment will open. Use the sliders and settings in the properties panel to modify the adjustment to your liking. Experiment with different values to achieve the desired surreal effect.
5. If you want to apply multiple adjustment layers, repeat steps 2 and 3 for each adjustment you want to add. You can stack adjustment layers on top of each other to create complex effects.
6. To fine-tune the adjustment layer’s effect, you can adjust its opacity. In the Layers panel, locate the opacity slider for the adjustment layer you want to modify and adjust the value. Lower opacity values make the effect more subtle, while higher values make it more pronounced.
By using adjustment layers, you can make non-destructive edits to your image, as they can be easily modified or removed at any time. They also give you the flexibility to experiment with different adjustments and fine-tune them until you achieve the desired surreal effect.
4. Combine images:
To combine images in Photoshop and create surreal effects, follow these steps:
1. Open the main image you want to work with in Photoshop by going to “File” > “Open” and selecting the image file from your computer.
2. Open the additional image you want to combine with the main image. Use the same “File” > “Open” method to open the second image in a new Photoshop document.
3. With the second image document open, select the Move Tool from the Tools panel on the left side of the Photoshop workspace (shortcut: V).
4. Click and drag the second image onto the main image document. This will create a new layer in the Layers panel for the second image.
5. Position and resize the second image layer as desired by using the handles around the image. You can also use the Edit > Free Transform (shortcut: Ctrl+T or Command+T) option to transform the image further.
6. To blend the two images together more seamlessly, experiment with different layer blending modes. In the Layers panel, locate the blending mode dropdown menu at the top and try different options such as Overlay, Multiply, Screen, or Soft Light. The blending mode controls how the pixels of the top layer interact with the pixels of the layers below it.
7. Adjust the opacity of the second image layer if needed. Lowering the opacity will make the second image more transparent, allowing the underlying image to show through. You can adjust the opacity slider in the Layers panel.
8. To further refine the blending between the two images, you can use layer masks. Select the second image layer in the Layers panel and click on the “Add Layer Mask” button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Use the Brush tool (shortcut: B) with black or white color selected to paint on the layer mask. Painting with black will hide parts of the second image, while painting with white will reveal them.
9. Experiment with other image manipulation techniques such as adjusting the brightness, contrast, or color of the combined images using adjustment layers. You can also use filters or apply additional effects to enhance the surreal effect.
Remember to save your work regularly as you go along to preserve your progress and have the flexibility to make changes later. Combining images and using various techniques will allow you to create unique and surreal compositions in Photoshop.
5. Use layer masks:
Using layer masks in Photoshop allows you to control the visibility of specific areas within a layer. This is useful for blending images, creating smooth transitions, or hiding unwanted parts. Here’s how to use layer masks:
1. Ensure that the layer you want to add a layer mask to is selected in the Layers panel.
2. Click on the “Add Layer Mask” button at the bottom of the Layers panel. It looks like a square with a circle inside. Alternatively, you can go to the top menu and choose “Layer” > “Layer Mask” > “Reveal All.”
3. A layer mask thumbnail will appear next to the layer thumbnail in the Layers panel. By default, the layer mask is white, indicating that the entire layer is visible.
4. Select the Brush tool (shortcut: B) from the Tools panel on the left side of the Photoshop workspace. Choose a brush size and hardness suitable for the area you want to work on. Adjust the opacity and flow settings as needed.
5. Make sure the foreground color is set to black. You can press the letter D on your keyboard to set the default colors (black and white) or click the small double-headed arrow icon in the Tools panel.
6. With the layer mask thumbnail selected in the Layers panel, start painting over the areas you want to hide or blend. As you paint with black, those areas will become transparent, revealing the layers below.
7. If you make a mistake or want to reveal parts of the layer again, switch the foreground color to white by pressing the letter X on your keyboard. Then paint over the areas you want to reveal. Painting with white will restore the visibility of those areas.
8. You can use various brushes and brush settings to achieve different effects. Soft brushes with lower opacity are useful for gradual transitions and blending, while hard brushes with higher opacity are better for precise masking.
9. To refine the mask, you can use other tools like the Eraser tool, Gradient tool, or selection tools to modify the mask’s edges or make more complex adjustments.
10. If you want to disable or enable the layer mask temporarily to see the effect without the mask, hold the Shift key and click on the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers panel.
Using layer masks gives you precise control over the visibility of specific areas within a layer, allowing you to create seamless blends, combine images, and achieve surreal effects in your Photoshop compositions.
6. Apply filters and effects:
Applying filters and effects in Photoshop can add surreal touches and enhance the overall look of your images. Here’s how to apply filters and effects:
1. Ensure that the layer you want to apply the filter or effect to is selected in the Layers panel.
2. Go to the top menu and choose “Filter.” A dropdown menu will appear with various filter categories.
3. Explore the filter categories to find the desired effect. Some commonly used filter categories for surreal effects include:
Blur: Offers options like Gaussian Blur, Motion Blur, or Radial Blur to add a dreamy or ethereal look.
Distort: Provides filters like Liquify or Ripple that can create surreal distortions or transformations.
Stylize: Contains filters such as Glowing Edges, Find Edges, or Emboss that add artistic or stylized effects.
Render: Includes filters like Clouds or Lens Flare for adding atmospheric elements or lighting effects.
Artistic: Offers filters like Watercolor, Oil Paint, or Poster Edges to create painterly or artistic effects.
Filter Gallery: Provides a wide range of creative filters and effects that you can customize and combine.
4. Once you choose a filter category, select the specific filter from the submenu that appears. A dialog box or filter properties panel will open, allowing you to adjust settings and preview the effect.
5. Experiment with the filter settings to achieve the desired surreal effect. Each filter will have its own unique options and adjustments that you can modify to customize the look.
6. After adjusting the filter settings, click the “OK” button to apply the filter to the selected layer.
7. If you want to apply filters non-destructively, you can convert the layer to a Smart Object before applying the filter. Right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and choose “Convert to Smart Object.” This allows you to edit or remove the filter later without losing the original image data.
8. Additionally, you can adjust the opacity of the filtered layer or experiment with different blending modes to blend the effect more subtly with the underlying layers.
9. Remember that you can also combine multiple filters by applying them one after another or by using adjustment layers and layer masks to control the application of filters to specific areas.
By applying filters and effects in Photoshop, you can transform your images, add unique textures, distortions, and visual enhancements to create surreal and artistic compositions. Experiment with different filters and settings to discover new possibilities and create the desired surreal effects.
7. Experiment with blending modes and opacity:
Experimenting with blending modes and opacity in Photoshop can significantly impact the appearance and interaction of different layers within your composition. Here’s how you can explore blending modes and adjust opacity:
1. Ensure that the layers you want to adjust are selected in the Layers panel. You can select multiple layers by holding the Ctrl key (Windows) or Command key (Mac) while clicking on the desired layers.
2. Locate the blending mode dropdown menu in the Layers panel. By default, it’s set to “Normal.”
3. Click on the blending mode dropdown menu and explore the different options available. There are various blending modes to experiment with, such as:
Overlay: Creates a combination of the underlying and top layers, enhancing contrast and saturation.
Multiply: Multiplies the pixel values of the underlying and top layers, resulting in a darker appearance.
Screen: Multiplies the inverse of the pixel values, resulting in a lighter appearance.
Soft Light: Applies a subtle softening effect while preserving highlights and shadows.
Difference: Calculates the difference between the pixel values, creating an inverted effect.
Exclusion: Similar to the Difference mode but with less contrast.
And many more.
4. As you select different blending modes, observe the changes in your composition. Some blending modes may work better for specific effects or combinations of layers.
5. Adjust the opacity of a layer to control its transparency and how it interacts with the layers below. Locate the opacity slider in the Layers panel for the selected layer.
6. Drag the opacity slider to the left to decrease the opacity and make the layer more transparent. Drag it to the right to increase the opacity and make the layer more opaque.
7. Experiment with different opacity values to find the right balance and achieve the desired surreal effect. Lower opacity values can create subtle blending and overlays, while higher values can make the layer more dominant.
8. To adjust the opacity of multiple layers simultaneously, you can group them by selecting the layers and using the shortcut Ctrl+G (Windows) or Command+G (Mac) to create a layer group. Then adjust the opacity of the group to affect all the layers within it.
By exploring blending modes and adjusting opacity, you can create unique and surreal combinations of layers, control the visibility and interaction of different elements, and add depth and atmosphere to your compositions in Photoshop. It’s a valuable creative tool to experiment with and achieve your desired surreal effects.
8. Fine-tune details:
Fine-tuning details in Photoshop allows you to make precise adjustments and enhancements to specific areas of your image. Here are some techniques to help you fine-tune details:
1. Zoom in: Zoom in on the area you want to work on to get a closer view. Use the Zoom tool (shortcut: Z) or the zoom options in the bottom left corner of the Photoshop workspace.
2. Use Selection tools: Select the specific area you want to work on using selection tools like the Marquee Selection tool (shortcut: M), Lasso tool (shortcut: L), or Quick Selection tool (shortcut: W). Refine your selection by using options like Feather, Refine Edge, or Select and Mask to ensure smooth transitions.
3. Apply adjustment layers: Use adjustment layers to make localized adjustments to specific areas. Select the layer you want to add an adjustment layer to, then click on the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Choose the appropriate adjustment layer, such as Curves, Levels, or Hue/Saturation, and adjust the settings to fine-tune the selected area.
4. Dodge and Burn: Use the Dodge and Burn tools to selectively lighten or darken areas. The Dodge tool (shortcut: O) lightens areas, while the Burn tool (shortcut: O) darkens them. Adjust the brush size and exposure settings in the options bar at the top to achieve the desired effect. Remember to work on a separate layer or use non-destructive editing techniques like a new layer with blending modes or a layer mask.
5. Sharpening: Apply sharpening to enhance details and make them more pronounced. Go to the Filter menu and choose Sharpen. You can use options like Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen to adjust the sharpening effect. Apply the sharpening effect selectively by using layer masks or the History Brush tool (shortcut: Y).
6. Healing and Cloning: Use the Healing Brush tool (shortcut: J) or Clone Stamp tool (shortcut: S) to fix imperfections or clone details from one area to another. This is useful for removing blemishes, distractions, or unwanted elements. Adjust the brush size, hardness, and opacity as needed for precise control.
7. Dodge and Burn layers: Create separate layers for dodging and burning adjustments. Use a soft brush with low opacity and choose Overlay or Soft Light blending mode for the Dodge and Burn layers. Paint with white on the Dodge layer to lighten specific areas and with black on the Burn layer to darken them. Adjust the opacity of the layers to control the intensity of the effect.
8. High Pass Filter: Duplicate the layer you want to enhance, go to the Filter menu, choose Other, and select High Pass. Adjust the radius to focus on the details you want to emphasize. Change the blending mode of the High Pass layer to Overlay or Soft Light to blend it with the original layer. Adjust the opacity as needed.
9. Layer masks and brushes: Use layer masks and brushes to refine adjustments and ensure smooth transitions. You can paint with black on the layer mask to hide adjustments or with white to reveal them. Adjust the opacity and flow of the brush for more control.
Remember to save your work regularly and work non-destructively by using adjustment layers, layer masks, or duplicate layers. This allows you to make changes later or revert to the original image if needed.
By employing these techniques, you can fine-tune details in your image, emphasize important elements, fix imperfections, and achieve the desired surreal effect in Photoshop.
9. Save and export:
Once you have finished creating your surreal image and you’re satisfied with the result, it’s important to save and export it properly in Photoshop. Here’s how you can save and export your final image:
1. Save your Photoshop (.PSD) file: First and foremost, save your work in the native Photoshop format (.PSD) to preserve all the layers, adjustments, and other elements of your composition. This allows you to make future edits or changes if needed. To save your PSD file, go to “File” > “Save” or use the shortcut Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac). Choose a location on your computer and provide a name for the file.
2. Flatten layers (optional): If you’re satisfied with your image and don’t need to make further edits, you can choose to flatten the layers to simplify the file and reduce its size. This merges all the visible layers into a single layer. To flatten the layers, go to “Layer” > “Flatten Image.”
3. Export for web or sharing: If you intend to share your image online or use it in digital platforms, it’s best to export it in a web-friendly format such as JPEG or PNG. Here’s how to do it:
a. Go to “File” > “Export” > “Export As” or “Save for Web (Legacy)” depending on the Photoshop version you are using.
b. In the export dialog box, choose the desired format (JPEG or PNG) from the format dropdown menu.
c. Adjust the settings such as quality (for JPEG) or transparency (for PNG) according to your preferences and the requirements of the platform or purpose.
d. Specify the destination folder where you want to save the exported file.
e. Click “Export” or “Save” to generate the final image in the chosen format.
4. Save for print: If you intend to print your surreal image, it’s important to save it in a high-resolution format such as TIFF or PSD. Here’s how to do it:
a. Go to “File” > “Save As” or “Save a Copy” and choose a suitable file format like TIFF or PSD.
b. Adjust the settings such as color space (usually sRGB or Adobe RGB) and resolution (at least 300 pixels per inch) based on your printing requirements.
c. Specify the destination folder where you want to save the file.
d. Click “Save” to save the image in the chosen format.
Remember to consider any specific requirements or recommendations provided by the platform or printing service you’ll be using to ensure the best quality and compatibility for your surreal image.
By properly saving and exporting your image, you can preserve your work, share it online, or print it with the intended quality and format.
Creating surreal effects with image manipulation in Photoshop opens up a world of creative possibilities. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can transform ordinary images into extraordinary and dreamlike compositions. Starting with opening and duplicating the image, you can then apply adjustment layers to enhance colors, tones, and overall mood. Combining multiple images and using layer masks allows you to blend elements seamlessly and create surreal juxtapositions. Experimenting with blending modes and opacity further enhances the interaction between layers, while filters and effects add unique textures and distortions. Fine-tuning details with tools like dodging, burning, sharpening, and cloning helps refine specific areas and bring out desired features. Finally, saving and exporting your surreal masterpiece in the appropriate format ensures it can be shared or printed with optimal quality. With these techniques, you can unleash your imagination and create captivating and surreal images in Photoshop. Enjoy the journey of exploring the limitless possibilities of image manipulation and surreal effects!
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