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  • Walking into the Light – Surreal Manipulation Tutorial

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  • In this easy photoshop tutorial I will show you how to create an impressive Photoshop manipulation using only 4 stock images. I will show you how to create cool light effects in and colors in Photoshop. We are going to use only free stock images for this Photoshop tutorial.

    Final result

    Easy photoshop tutorial for beginners

    Step 1

    Open the background image and using the Magic Wand Tool with a tolerance of 10 start selecting the sky. In order to select the bottom part between the columns you can use the Quick Selection Tool. When you’re done making the selection use the Refine Edge/Refine Mask to smoothen the edges of the column.

    Remove background in Photoshop tutorial

    Step 2

    Open one of the sky images from the pack and place it on a new layer below the columns layer. Scale it as necessary. I wanted to have the brighter side of the sky on the lower part between the columns. This will help separate the man from the background later on.

    Replace sky in Photoshop

    Step 3

    In order to make our manipulation more realistic we have to remove the original shadows and the original shadows and create our own. Open the image of the ground and select only the part of the ground and paste it above the columns layer as a clipping mask. Now create an inverted layer mask for this new ground layer by holding down the Alt key and clicking the Layer Mask icon. This will create a black mask which will hide the entire ground.

    Now use the Brush Tool (B) and start painting with white on this layer mask to paint the ground back. Pay attention when you get close to the columns and move the ground around and match the perspective. (watch video)

    Rreplace ground in Photoshop. Tutorial for beginners

    Step 4

    Open the stock images of the standing man and extract him from the background using the Quick Selection tool. In this particular case the edges are not that important because we are going to make the man so small that the quality of the edges will be barely visible. But if necessary use the Refine Edge if you fill like.

    Place the man on your canvas and reduce its size. I reduced it to about 6% of its original size.

    Walking into the Light - Surreal Manipulation Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 5

    Now let’s create shadows in Photoshop. We will use the Polygonal Lasso tool to make some straight lines and fill them with black, those will be our shadows. Create the shadows in a bit of angle towards the right and smoothen their edges a couple of pixels with Gaussian Blur and reduce the Opacity to about 70%. You can use the layer mask of the ground layer to save time and not make it manually (see video).

    Create shadows in Photoshop

    Step 6

    Creating the shadow of the man is very easy. Duplicate the man layer and using the Hue/Saturation adjustment decrease the Luminosity to -100 and you will get a silhouetted version of the man. Flip if vertically and after pressing Ctrl+T or Cmt+T, with the Perspective and Distort tools you can stretch and modify the shadow as seen in the image bellow. Smoothen it and reduce the Opacity to match the columns shadow.

    Walking into the Light - Surreal Manipulation Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 7

    We need more shadows so create a new layer on top of everything and name it soft shadows. Use a big soft brush with Opacity and Flow at just 10% and start painting around the canvas. See image below for reference or watch the video. This is just to darken the corners and concentrate the light in the middle where the light comes from. The areas in red color on the image below is where I painted the shadows.

    Painting soft shadows in Photoshop

    Step 8

    The columns have to be a bit darker and do to that you can use a Curves adjustment layer or with Levels. I used Curves as a clipping mask to the columns layer with the following settings.

    Walking into the Light - Surreal Manipulation Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 9

    To create the final look of this manipulation I used a Color Lookup with the Edgy Amber preset at 20% Opacity and Normal blend mode. And then a Solid Color with a dark blue color at 30% Opacity and Exclusion blend mode.


    If you want to add more contrast you can use a Curves adjustment layer. Watch the video tutorial for more details and information.

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