Discover the tricks to using masks, blend modes, highlights and shadows to create a vibrant yet surreal scene
Create a new document (Cmd/ Ctrl+N) set to 230 x 310mm. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N), use the Paint Bucket tool (G), set the Foreground colour to #f59880 and paint the background. Create another layer, use the Pen tool (P), draw a transversal shape, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and paint it with #ffd165.
Add a texture to the top, use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Cmd/Ctrl+B) set to 0, -100, 0, then change the blend mode to Soft Light with 40% Opacity. Use another texture to place on the bottom, and change the blend mode to Color Burn at 20% Opacity.
Add the subject to the composition, and adjust the tone using the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) set to 0, 1.00, 213, then activate Quick Mask (Q), use the Brush tool (B) with 50% Opacity and paint the face. Press Q again, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I), then use Brightness/Contrast set to 52, 21.
Select the woman’s layers, place into a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G), then press the Add Layer Mask button. With the Pen tool (P), draw the shape of the woman’s face, just like the image above, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter), set the Foreground colour to black and erase it (Alt+Del).
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N) and place it behind the woman’s body. With the Pen tool, draw the shape of the outlines, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and paint it (Alt+Del) with #b07c5f. Then, also with the Pen tool, draw the hole for the woman’s face and paint it black.
Select the woman’s layer group, activate the mask shape (hold Cmd/Ctrl and press the mask icon), then go to the woman’s layer, select the Polygonal Lasso tool (L), Ctrl/right-click and choose the Layer via Copy option. Place the woman’s face on her extended hand.
To give more depth to the scene, use the Pen tool (P) to draw some highlights on the woman’s body and face. Paint the shape of the highlights with white (step 5), then use Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur) at 20px. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.
Add fireworks, smoke and a waterfall image to the composition. To make black backgrounds disappear in all of these photos, all you have to do is change the blend mode to Screen. Place the photos as shown in the image above.
Add the leaves and change the blend mode to Multiply. To blend the photo with the scene, select the layer, press the Add Layer Mask button, use the Brush tool (B), choose the Soft Round brush (Opacity: 80%), set black for the Foreground colour and erase the unnecessary parts.
Place some flowers into the image as shown above. To make the edges of the photos look softer, activate the selection of the layer (Alt+click), use the Feather (Shift+F6) set to 2px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and press delete two times.
To add the flying elements, place birds, a glider, hot air balloons, a balloon, a butterfly and an aeroplane. In all these photos, use the High Pass filter to enhance details. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+J), go to Filter>Other>High Pass set to 1px, then change the blend mode to Soft Light.
Now add more flowers and place behind the woman’s face, as shown above. To make the scene more interesting and colourful, duplicate a flower layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and use the Hue/Saturation tool (Cmd/Ctrl+U) set to 0, 55, 0 to change the colour to red.
Add some more leaves as shown above. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), activate the selection (Alt+click on the layer icon), paint it with #c79462 (Alt+Del) and change the blend mode to Multiply. Then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set Angle: -25 and Distance: 30px.
Add a bubble with a black background, and change the blend mode to Screen and place it as shown above. Create a new layer, select the Rectangle tool (U), use the Stroke at 18px and with white as your colour, make a rectangle and place it behind the woman.
Use the adjustment layers to set the colour tone. Use Color Lookup (DropBlues.3DL), Levels (2, 1.00, 247), Brightness/Contrast (15, 16) and Hue/Saturation (0, +13, 0). Finally use a Soft Round brush (B), set the Foreground colour to white, change the blend mode to Soft Light and make highlights on the woman’s head.