Final product image

How to Create a Surreal Boat Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop | How To | infoBot

By Prosyscom
In October 4, 2018
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Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a surreal boat photo manipulation featuring a flying boat with birds, a tree, and a house. 

First, we’ll build the base scene using several stock images. Later, we’ll add the boat, tree, roof, and window. We’ll retouch the model, ladder, and lamp, and we’ll paint the light. After that, we’ll import the birds, add ropes, and paint some mist. We’ll use several adjustment layers to enhance the final effect.

What You Will Need

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

  • Landscape 1 
  • Landscape 2 
  • Sky 
  • Tree 
  • Roof 
  • Window 
  • Model 
  • Ladder 
  • Boat 
  • Lamp 
  • Birds 
  • Rope 

1. How to Build the Base Scene

Step 1

Create a new 2052 x 1333 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

boat photomanipulation - new file

Step 2

Open the landscape 1 image and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Place it in the lower half of the canvas and flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal:

boat photomanipulation - add landscape 1

Step 3

Go to Filter > Adjustment Layer > Color Balance and set it as Clipping Mask. Change the Midtones and Highlights settings:

boat photomanipulation - landscape 1 color balance midtones
boat photomanipulation - landscape 1 color balance highlights

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On the layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color to erase the left side to reduce the effect there.

boat photomanipulation - landscape 1 curves 1
boat photomanipulation - landscape 1 curves 1 masking

Step 5

Make a Levels adjustment layer to increase the light and reduce the contrast of the middle section. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase both sides of the canvas so they won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

boat photomanipulation - landscape 1 levels

Step 6

Open the sky image and place it in the upper half of the main canvas. Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to erase the hard edges and blend it with the existing background.

boat photomanipulation - add sky
boat photomanipulation - sky masking

Step 7

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and change the Midtones settings to make the sky more blue.

boat photomanipulation - sky color balance

Step 8

Add a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the sky. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to remove the light effect on the lower section so it won’t be too bright.

boat photomanipulation - sky curves 1

Step 9

Create another Curves adjustment layer with the same purpose. Paint on the left side so it won’t be too bright.

boat photomanipulation - sky curves 2

Step 10

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the color of the sky.

boat photomanipulation - sky vibrance

Step 11

Open the landscape 2 image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the mountains area to add to both sides of the main canvas, as shown below.

boat photomanipulation - add landscape 2

Add a mask to each of these layers to move the hard edges and blend the mountains with the existing background.

boat photomanipulation - landscape masking

Step 12

Select the mountains layers and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group’s mode to Normal 100% and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group to alter the mountains’ color.

boat photomanipulation - landscape 2 hue saturation

Step 13

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the color of the mountains with the background.

boat photomanipulation - landscape 2 color balance midtones
boat photomanipulation - landscape 2 color balance highlights

Step 14

Use a Curves adjustment layer to decrease the mountains’ visibility to fit the soft, misty atmosphere of the horizon.

boat photomanipulation - landscape 2 curves

2. How to Import the Boat

Step 1

Open the boat image (I’ve chosen the angle below to fit the perspective of the scene) and add it to the middle of the canvas. Add a mask to this layer to remove this detail as this is where we’ll be adding the model.

boat photomanipulation - add boat

Step 2

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to alter the boat’s color:

boat photomanipulation - boat hue saturation

Step 3

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones values:

boat photomanipulation - boat color balance

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the front of the boat. On the layer mask, paint on the back side and shadow details to keep some contrast there.

boat photomanipulation - boat curves

Step 5

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray.

boat photomanipulation - boat D and B new layer

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range and Exposure about 10-15% to refine the light and shadow of the boat, especially the bottom part. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.

boat photomanipulation - boat D B results

3. How to Add the Tree

Step 1

Open the tree image. I’ve chosen the angle below and used the Lasso Tool (L) to select the trunk to add to the middle of the boat. Set this layer below the boat’s one. The reason I’ve set the trunk and the leaves on different layers is to resize the trunk separately so it won’t be too small compared to the leaves.

boat photomanipulation - add trunk

Take the leaves part to add to the top of the trunk.

boat photomanipulation - add leaves

Step 2

Create a group for the tree layers and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group to alter the color of the trunk and leaves.

boat photomanipulation - tree hue saturation

Step 3

Make a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light and contrast to the tree. Paint on the right so it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

boat photomanipulation - tree curves

Step 4

Use a Levels adjustment layer to give the tree some haze to fit the atmosphere of the background. Paint on the bottom right so it won’t be too hazy.

boat photomanipulation - tree levels

Step 5

The trunk looks a bit too green, so use a Color Balance adjustment layer above this layer (set as Clipping Mask) to give it a more natural color.

boat photomanipulation - trunk color balance

4. How to Add the Roof and Window

Step 1

Place the roof image onto the top of the tree, and use a layer mask to blend the hard edges into the leaves.

boat photomanipulation - add roof

Step 2

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones values:

boat photomanipulation - roof color balance

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the top left of the roof. Paint on the left so it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

boat photomanipulation - roof curves 1

Step 4

Use another Curves adjustment layer to darken the lower part of the roof and window. The selected area shows where to paint on the layer mask.

boat photomanipulation - roof curves 2

Step 5

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to enhance the light and shadow on the roof.

boat photomanipulation - roof D B

Step 6

Open the window image and select the one you like (I’ve chosen the right one) to place over the existing window. Use a layer mask to blend it with the existing one.

boat photomanipulation - add window

Step 7

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the color of the red flowers on the window.

boat photomanipulation - window hue saturation

Step 8

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to give this window some cyan tones.

boat photomanipulation - window color balance

5. How to Retouch the Model

Step 1

Isolate the model and add her to the middle of the boat (remember to set this layer below the boat one).

boat photomanipulation - add model

Step 2

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

boat photomanipulation - model color balance midtones
boat photomanipulation - model color balance highlights

Step 3

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the front of the model. On this layer mask, paint on the shadow/hidden details so they won’t be brightened by this adjustment layer.

boat photomanipulation - model curves 1
boat photomanipulation - model curves 1 masking

Step 4

Create another Curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast of the model’s body.

boat photomanipulation - model curves 2

Step 5

Add a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to paint more details for the model.

boat photomanipulation - model DB

Step 6

Create a new layer and change the mode to Linear Burn 100%. Use a small brush with the color #214358 to strengthen the details on her T-shirt.

boat photomanipulation - model shirt details

6. How to Add the Ladder

Step 1

Open the ladder image and use the Lasso Tool to select the lower section of the ladder to place beside the tree. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to change the perspective of the top and bottom of the ladder a bit to balance their form.

boat photomanipulation - add ladder
boat photomanipulation - ladder transform

Add a mask to this layer to blend the top of the ladder into the leaves.

boat photomanipulation - ladder masking

Step 2

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and alter the Saturation settings:

boat photomanipulation- ladder hue saturation

Step 3

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the front of the ladder. Paint on the shadow/hidden areas of the ladder to keep their contrast.

boat photomanipulation - ladder curves 1

Step 4

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

boat photomanipulation - ladder curves 2

7. How to Add the Lamp

Step 1

Open the lamp image and isolate the lamps from the background. Select the lamp you want (I’ve chosen the right one) to place beside the window.

boat photomanipulation - add lamp

Use a layer mask to hide the bottom of the lamp within the leaves.

boat photomanipulation - lamp masking

Step 2

Add a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the front of the lamp.

boat photomanipulation - lamp curves

Step 3

Create a new layer on top of the layers, and use a soft brush with the color #f5bf98 to paint over the lamp area to create a glowing light and the reflection around it. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.

boat photomanipulation - lamp light

8. How to Add the Birds and Ropes

Step 1

Open the birds image and isolate the birds from the background. Add different birds, with their flight matching the movement and direction of the boat. Add three big birds flying ahead of the boat.

boat photomanipulation - add birds

Step 2

Make a group for the birds layers and use a Color Balance adjustment layer to change their color.

boat photomanipulation - birds color balance

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the contrast of the birds to fit the softness of the background.

boat photomanipulation - birds curves

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten one of the big birds more.

boat photomanipulation - big bird curves

Step 5

Use the Dodge Tool to brighten the front of the wing of the big bird.

boat photomanipulation - birg bird dodging

Step 6

Open the rope image and use the Lasso Tool to select the rope only to add to the space between the big birds and the boat. Duplicate this layer twice and set them as shown below.

boat photomanipulation - add ropes

Step 7

Create a group for the rope layers and use a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light and haze of the ropes.

boat photomanipulation - ropes curves

9. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the other layers and use a soft brush with the color #d4d0bc and Opacity about 20-25% to paint on the model, the tree, and the landscape to give them a misty effect. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

boat photomanipulation - paint mist 1
boat photomanipulation - mist 1 soft light mode

Step 2

Create another layer and use the same brush with an Opacity of about 5-10% to give the top of the tree a more hazy effect.

boat photomanipulation - paint mist 2

Step 3

Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the other layers and pick the colors #e10019 and #225c67. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

boat photomanipulation - whole scene gradient map

Step 4

Add a Selective Color adjustment layer and alter the Reds values to change the leaves’ color a bit.

boat photomanipulation - whole scene selective color

Step 5

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:

boat photomanipulation - whole scene color balance midtones
boat photomanipulation - whole scene color balance highlights

Step 6

Make a Color Fill layer and pick the color #3a0404. Alter this layer mode to Exclusion 70%.

boat photomanipulation - whole scene color fill

Step 7

Create a Color Lookup adjustment layer and pick Fuji ETERNA 250D.

boat photomanipulation - whole scene color lookup

Step 8

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

boat photomanipulation - whole scene curves

Step 9

 Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.

boat photomanipulation - whole scene vibrance

Congratulations, You’re Done!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tutorial on creating a surreal boat photo manipulation and learned something for your own projects. Feel free to share your results or leave comments in
the box below. Enjoy Photoshopping!

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boat photomanipulation - final result

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