In this tutorial I’ll show you how to use photo manipulation techniques in Adobe Photoshop to create a surreal artwork featuring a woman carrying an old television on her head.
How to Create a Surreal TV Head Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop
First we’ll build the base scene using images of the sky and a field. After that, we’ll create some columns, add and retouch the model, and create some branches and the TV. Later, we’ll import the flying leaves and finish the tutorial with several adjustment layers.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Build the Base Landscape
Create a new 1440 x 1089 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:
Open the sky image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V) and place it in the upper half. Convert this layer to a Smart Object.
Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50%.
To soften the sky, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 3 px.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and reduce the Saturation value to -69:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round brush with black color to erase the left side of the sky. We’re aiming to make the light come from the right, so the left should be darker.
Make another Curves adjustment layer to darken the left a bit. Use a soft black brush to paint on the right so it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.
Drag the field image into the main canvas and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to resize it to fit the canvas. Convert this layer to a Smart Object.
Use a layer mask to remove the horizon and the upper half and reveal the existing sky.
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to this layer.
On the filter mask, use a soft black brush to erase the midground and leave the blur effect visible only on the foreground and background.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Bring the Saturation value down to -79:
Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the field. On this layer mask, paint on the left side so it will be less bright than the right.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to brighten the right side of the field more. The dark details show where to paint on the layer mask.
2. How to Create the Columns
Open the column image. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the surface of the right column and place it on the left of the main file.
Use a layer mask to blend the bottom of the column with the grassy ground.
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to this column as it’s in the blurred area.
Duplicate this layer and enlarge it a bit. Move it to the right of the foreground.
Select the column layers and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Change the group mode to Normal 100% and make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group. Reduce the Saturation value to the minimum.
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to change the column’s color:
Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Create a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. Paint on the left of the big column and the right of the small one as they’re exposed to the light.
Make another Curves adjustment layer to give more light to the illuminated areas of the columns. Paint on the shadow areas as shown below so they won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.
To make shadows for the columns, create a new layer under the columns one. Hold downControl and click the thumbnail of the left column to load its selection.
Fill this selection with black and use Control-T to rotate it on the ground and make it narrower.
Lower the Opacity of this layer to 30%.
Use the same method to make a shadow for the big column, but increase the Opacity to 50%, and use a layer mask to reduce the shadow opacity on the left side (the darker area).
3. How to Retouch the Model
Cut out the model from the background and move her into the midground of the main scene.
Use a layer mask to blend the feet with the grass, and remove her head.
Make a shadow for the model as we did with the columns.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation value to -74:
Make a subtle color change on the model using a Color Balance adjustment layer.
The model looks too dark, so use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten her. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray:
Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones RangeandExposure about 20-25% to refine the light and shadow on the model, especially adding some light to the briefcase. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.
4. How to Add the Tree
Open the tree image and isolate it from the background. Use the Lasso Tool to select the branches on the left and place it above the model.
Use a layer mask to soften the bottom of the branches (on the model’s neck).
Take different branches to add more to the model’s head. You can use parts of the branches, resizing and transforming them to make them appear different and more natural.
Create a group for the branches layers and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate them.
Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to add a subtle warm tone to the branches.
Make a Curves adjustment layer to make the branches a little brighter.
5. How to Import the TV
Cut out the TV and move it to the top of the tree. Use a layer mask with a hard black brush to remove some parts of the TV and reveal several branches.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to add some warm color to the TV:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the TV brighter. Paint on the shadow areas and the middle of the screen so they won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.
Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool with Highlights Rangeand the Burn Tool with Midtones Range to enhance the light and shadow of the TV.
Create a new layer above the TV one. Load the tree selection by holding Control-Shift and clicking the thumbnail of the branch layers, and then fill this selection with black.
Lower the Opacity of this layer to 60% and move it a bit to the left.
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 3 px to this layer and use a layer mask to remove the unwanted shadow parts outside of the TV.
6. How to Add the Leaves
Open the leaves image. Select the one you like and place it in the lower part of the foreground. Use Control-T with the Warp mode to bend it as shown below:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to this layer:
Duplicate this layer many times and arrange them around the whole canvas. Vary the leaves’ size and form using the Warp Tool as well as the Gaussian Blur Radius to increase the depth of field.
Create a group for the leaves layers and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the leaves.
Add a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the leaves. Paint on the left and the lower side of the leaves as they’re more hidden from the main light than the rest.
7. How to Make the Final Adjustments
Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors
#114755. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights values:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light and contrast of the whole scene.
Use another Curves adjustment layer and increase the shadow on the left side. Paint on the right as it’s the illuminated area.
Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.
Congratulations, You’re Done!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I’d love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!