Making a Surreal Manipulation in Photoshop

Step 1

Open the room image, use the original dimension. Now open the woman model stock and subtract her using the�Pen Tool (P). Copy the woman on your document and scale her down. Use a layer mask or the Eraser to hide the head. You will see that there are some hairs on one of the arms, you can hide them painting with the brush and the same color as the hand.

Step 2

If you followed my other manipulation tutorials you will probably guess what’s next. That’s right! Color adjustments and shadows. Let’s go with the color adjustments. I can’t stop saying this: use adjustment layers because they are non-destructive. I wanted the woman to be pretty much the same color as the wall so what I sampled a color from the wall and I added a�Color Fill�adjustment layer, set the�Blend Mode�to�Color�and reduced the�Opacity�to 50%. Then I added a�Levelsadjustment layer to increase the contrast.

Step 3

Let’s continue by adding some shadows. You can cast a shadow duplicating the woman layer and use the distort tool and also create some soft shadows on a new layer using the brush tool. I made a video showing both techniques, you can watch it here:�

I also added some shadows on the body itself with a low opacity soft brush and Overlay blend mode.

Step 4

Open a cracks image from the pack and add it over the woman’s body. Set the blend mode to Multiply and increase the highlights and shadows using Levels (CTRL+L) in order to hide the white background.

Step 5

Now I will show you how to mask a light bulb. Masking transparent objects in Photoshop like glass or ice can be tricky. Regular selection tools don’t apply here because you have a lot of gradients and highlights that must be kept.

Go ahead and open the light bulb image. First, cut out the light bulb shape using the�Pen Tool (P).

Step 6

Go straight to the channels panel located next to the layers tab. The details that tell you that this is actually a light bulb and not an egg are mainly the highlights and reflections. So, your objective is to keep the highlights and remove everything else.

Duplicate the blue channel and increase the shadows midtones and highlights. See image below.

Step 7

Now get a small hard edge brush and start painting with white the metallic cap, the contact wires and the filament. Help yourself by loading the bulb selection with CTRL+T while you’re on the layers palette.

Step 8

Now keep increasing the midtones and shadows using Levels.�Not as much as in the preview image

Step 9

When your ready, with the channel still selected, select the light bulb mask using the shortcut�CTRL+Click�(click on the channel icon). With the selection loaded go to layers and click the layer mask icon or go to�Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

Step 10

Apply the mask on the light bulb and copy it on your manipulation scene. Scale it down and place it where the woman’s head was.

Step 11

After adding the light bulb make color and contrast adjustments as needed to make it blend with the surrounding scene. As you can see, it looks too white. I wanted to give it a yellowish color so I added a gradient map with a similar color to the wall and tried several blend modes until I found that the best one in this particular case was Vivid Light. Then I got a photo of a crouching man, masked it and placed it inside the bulb.

The basic manipulation is done. All the you have to do now is some final general adjustments. I also want to show you the second version with the tap head. If you want to skip this part go to Step 15 to see the final adjustments.

Step 12

Making the tap head is a lot easier than the light bulb version because there is nothing to mask here. Just crop the tap with the�Pen Tool (P)�and place it where the head of the woman was.

Step 13

Make some adjustments to the tap if you want, but it’s looks almost right. I desaturated it a bit and I increased the midtones.

Step 14

Now I also added some human arms coming out the tap because I wanted to make the image look even more abstract. You can add what ever you like. Just cut and paste a few different arms from the stock images provided. Do not use the same arm twice because it’s easily noticeable. Use different sizes as well. When you’re done, paint some shadows over the arms close to the tap and also on the hands that are behind.

Step 15

This is an important step because here is where you get the final effect that makes you image look old and special.

First I pasted a grungy stock image above all the layers, turned�Opacity�down to 10%, I desaturated it and changed its�Hue.

Step 16

Now, just like on many of my other tutorials, I made some general color adjustments using gradient maps with different blend modes, in this case two. See image below for details.

Final result

Version 1 – Tap head

Version 2 – Light bulb head


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