How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a photo manipulation featuring an elephant and a rat skateboarding together.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

First we’ll build the base scene using two stock images. Later we’ll add the road shadows, replace the sky, and import the skateboards. After that, we’ll add the elephant andrat, and we’ll blend them using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. We’ll import other elements, such as hats, lollipop, and luggage, and we’ll use several adjustment layers to complete the final effect.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Build the Base Scene

Step 1

Create a new 2000 x 1293 px document in Photoshop with the given settings.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Open the background image. Drag the image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Convert this layer to a Smart Object.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 12 px.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

On the filter mask, select a soft round brush with black color (soft
black brush) to erase the midground and foreground, leaving the blur effect visible only on the background.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Create a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Activate the Clone Tool (S) to remove the existing shadows of the objects on the road. We’re aiming to make the main light come straight acrossfrom left to right, so the existing shadow should be erased or reduced.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance and change the Midtones settings:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Add a Curves adjustment layer and increase the contrast a little. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the middle to keep it a bit hazy.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Make another Curves adjustment layer to increase the fuzziness of the middle. On the layer mask, paint on the top and the bottom of the background.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Open the road image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the road area only and drag it into our main document using the Move Tool. Place it over the existing road. Convert this layer to a Smart Object.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to remove the sidewalk.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px to the road. On this filter mask, use a soft black brush to clear the blur effect in the midground (this is
in orderto locate the main elements).

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to alter the road’s color.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 11

Make a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the road.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 12

Create another Curves adjustment layer to make the road hazier and mistier. Paint on the foreground to reduce the hazy effect there.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

2. How to Make the Road Shadows

Step 1

We will now add shadows for the objects on the road.

First, create a new layer and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the sign with the letters JCT/181 (no need to be so precise). You should disable the Gaussian Blur filter on the background layer to see more clearly.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Fill this selection with a dark brown color (#1c190c) and flip it vertically (Edit >Transform> Flip Vertical). Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate it onto the right of the sign to fit the light direction. Make it longer and much thinner.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Lower the opacity of this layer to 80% and apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to this layer.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make shadows for the other objects: signs, bushes, etc. They should be long and thin.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Make another layer and use a soft brush with the same shadow color (#1c190c) to paint random shadows for the small bushes in the distance.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Select all shadow layers and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Lower the opacity of this group to 30%, and enable the Gaussian Blur filter on the background one.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

3. How to Replace the Sky

Step 1

Open the sky image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the sky only and place it in the upper half of the canvas.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Use a layer mask to remove the hard edges at the bottom and blend it with the existing sky. Lower the brush opacity when masking off the sign area so the integration looks smooth and natural.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 2 px to this layer.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #ece900.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones and Highlights settings:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the sky.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

To make the sky blend better with the background, create a new layer and use a large soft brush with#d6c7b3color and about45%opacityto paint on the middle of the canvas. You can use a layer mask to correct anything that looks too misty.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

4. How to Import the Skateboards

Step 1

Open the skateboard image. Cut out the skateboard from the white background and place it on the right-hand sideof the road. Duplicate it and make it much smaller, and then place it on the left.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Create a group for the skateboards and change the group’s mode to Normal 100%. The light on some wheels of the skateboards doesn’t really suit the main light source. To fix it, make a new layer and change the mode to Multiply 100%. Use a yellow color for the brush (#b8ab0) and paint on the indicated details to reduce the light there.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use another layer (Multiply mode) with the color #5e5847. Paint on the metal details below the deck to make them a bit darker.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the skateboards’ color.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Make a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the skateboards. Paint on the shadow areas below the deck so they won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Add a Levels adjustment layer with the same purpose. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

The main light comes straight from left to right, so the shadows will only show the griptapes and decks. Create a new layer below the skateboard group and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the deck of the big skateboard and fill it with the color #1c190c. Convert this layer to a Smart Object.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Lower the opacity of this layer to 60% and use Control-T to make the shadow longer below the skateboard.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Add a mask to this layer and remove the left of the shadow. Also decrease its visibility on the right.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 3 px to the shadow layer. On the filter mask, paint on the left part of the shadow as it should be harder than the rest.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Duplicate this shadow layer and move it below the small skateboard. Scale it down a lotto fit the size of the skateboard. Use a layer mask to remove the left and right of the shadow (the lifting parts).

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

5. How to Retouch the Elephant

Step 1

Open the elephant image. Isolate the one on the right and place him above the big skateboard. Resize him to fit the skateboard and remember to convert this layer to a Smart Object.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

We’re aiming to turn this elephant into a baby one. Searching for references using Google, we can see the top of a baby’s head is rounder, the legs and trunk shorter and plumper, and the skin smoother and less wrinkled.

First, we’ll change the pose of the elephant a bit. Select Edit > Puppet Warp and drag the points on the top of the head downward a bit until it looks rounder. Also lift the trunk and legs a bit.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

On the filter mask, use a soft black brush to erase the legs and eye.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Add a mask to the elephant layer and use a medium-hard brush to remove the trunk and the bottom of the legs a bit so he looks as if he’s standing on the skateboard.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

We’ll use the legs from the original image and scale them much less than the existing ones so they will look shorter and plumper. Select the front leg from the original image and add it to the same position as the existing one. Use Control-T to lift this leg a bit higher.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Use a layer mask to blend the legs with the existing body.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add the other legs and the chest part using the same method.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Add the trunk to replace the old one. Use Control-T with the Warp mode to make it shorter and raised a bit.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

It’s time to clone the skin, which will help the skin look smoother. Start with the least rough area of the skin, and from that, clone over the elephant’s body. The trick is to reduce the brush’s opacity (about 50-60%) so that the cloned areas will look smooth, but still show some original details and textures.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Make a group for the elephant layer and related ones. Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones values:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the elephant’s color a bit.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Create a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the elephant. Paint on the shadow areas and the part behind the ear to make its shadow on the body.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 11

Use another Curves adjustment layer to strengthen the shadow of the elephant. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 12

Create a new layer above the elephant group. Change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to refine the light and shadow on the elephant. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 13

Make a new layer under the elephant group. Use a soft brush with the color #1c190c, opacity about 45% to paint the shadow of the elephant’s feet on the back of the skateboard.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

6. How to Retouch the Rat

Step 1

Cut out the rat from the original background and place him above the small skateboard. Use the Puppet Warp to lift his head a bit.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Use a layer mask to remove the bottom of the feet outside the griptape.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Change the rat’s color using a Color Balance adjustment layer.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the rat. The selected areas show how to mask off the shadow area of the rat.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shadow of the rat.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to enhance the light and shadow of the rat.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Create a new layer below the rat one. Hold Control and click the rat thumbnail layer to load his selection.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Fill this selection with the color #1c190c and flip it vertically. Stretch it and place it above the top of the small skateboard’s shadow.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 2 px to this layer. Also use a layer mask to remove the legs’ shadow and make the rat’s one blend smoothly with that of the existing skateboard.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

7. How to Add the Hats

Step 1

Cut out the hat and place it above the elephant’s head. Duplicate this layer and make it much smaller. Add it to the head of the rat after flipping it horizontally.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Make a new layer below the hat ones. Use a soft brush with the color #1c190c to paint shadows for the hats.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Create a group for the hats and add a Color Balance adjustment layer. Alter the Midtones settings:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the hat. Use a soft black brush to paint on the shadow area (the right side) of the hats so it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shadow of the hats. Paint on the left side (bright area) to keep their lightness.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

8. How to Create the Lollipop

Step 1

Open the lollipop image. First, isolate the stick of the lower one and add it below the elephant’s trunk. Use Control-T to rotate it to fit the direction of the trunk.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Cut out the candy part and add it below the stick.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Use the Dodge Tool on a new layer (set as Clipping Mask) to brighten the top of the candy.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make a group for the stick and candy layers. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -55:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones settings:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Use a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the lollipop.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

9. How to Import the Luggage

Step 1

Extract the luggage 1 image from the background and place it onto the big skateboard, between the front legs of the elephant.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Use a layer mask to remove its bottom outside the griptape.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Master values:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use the Dodge and Burn Tool on a new layer to refine the light and shadow of the suitcase. Also paint the shadow of the handle and some small details to fit the light sources.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Open the luggage 2 image. Take the highest piece of luggage and place it onto the small skateboard, to the right of the rat, after resizing it down. Use a layer mask to remove its bottom.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the luggage’s color a bit.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Use the Dodge Tool to brighten the luggage as it looks too dark at the moment.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Make several new layers and use a medium-soft brush with the color #1c190c to paint the shadow of the handle of the small suitcase, the shadow of the rat on his luggage and skateboard, and the shadow of the leg of the elephant on the big suitcase.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

10. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Create a new Color Fill adjustment layer on top of the layers and fill with the color #18011c. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors#e10019 and #00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones and Highlights values:

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #d4a383.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light and contrast of the whole scene.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Make another Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the left part of the scene. The right should be erased.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop

Congratulations, You’re Done!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tutorial and learned something new for your own project. Feel free to share your results or leave comments in the box below. Enjoy Photoshopping!

How to Create a Surreal Animal Photo Manipulation With 10 Photos in Adobe Photoshop