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In this tutorial, I will show you how you can Create Beautiful Surreal Photo Effect via Cloud, Star and Vexel Hair in Photoshop. This is an intermediate level tutorial so some steps can be tricky, but why not have a try!

The PSD file of this tutorial is available via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

The purpose of this tutorial is to revise several skills taught in previous tutorials, such as:

  • Vexel Hair
  • Cloud Warping
  • Focal Points
  • Adjustment Layers

Here is a preview of the final effect for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

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OK let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:


Model -by tanit-isis-stock

Some grunge, cloud and star brushes from qbrushes.net

Step 1

Create a new document sized 800px * 1100px, fill the background with black colour. Create a new layer on top of the background layer, render some fibre texture via Filter > Render > Fibre with the following settings on the new layer:

Reduce the layer opacity to around 30%, you will have the following effect:

Step 2

Load the “Mountain” stock image into Photoshop, select the following portion from the image:

Copy and paste the selection onto the image, resize and flip in vertically, and use a soft black brush to erase the edge and some parts of the rock to create a bit of depth:

I decided to add a trace of cloud to the bottom of the mountain. To do this, we can use the Lasso Tool with (50px feather) to draw a selectin, then render some cloud inside it:

Hit Ctrl + L and bring up the Levels tool, apply the following settings to the cloud:

Then Warp it as shown below:

When you are done with the cloud warping, attach it to the bottom of the mountain as shown below:

Step 3

Group all these layers created in Step 2 into a layer group. Name it as “Mountain Group” and duplicate this group once, resize it to the small scale:

You might also want to use the dodge tool to add some highlight to the top left part of the mountain, for some lighting dynamics:

Duplicate the mountain group again and flip the group horizontally, move it the left part of the canvas, as shown below:

Step 4

Use a cloud brush, or texture image to add some cloud onto the mountain:

Load the Model stock image into Photoshop, cut out the model and paste it to the position below:

Now we’re on the vexel hair part. Use the Pen Tool to draw a work path as shown below, and select a 3px hard brush for stroking later on:

Now pick a dark hair colour from the model layer:

Stroke the path with this dark color:

Now go back to the model layer and pick a lighter colour:

Then stroke the path with this light color:

Duplicate the dark and light stroke layer several times, bind them together as shown below: (merge those layer together afterwards)

Duplicate the hair group, move the duplicated layers to different positions, also resize, rotate them for best result:

Step 5

Now let’s paint some splash and star texture on the image to spice it up a bit. No doubt you have downloaded a few brushes from the internet – now it’s the time to use them!

Create a new layer under the model layer and paint some splash to the position shown below:

also add some star texture to the position shown below:

Use the same cloud warping technique mentioned in previous step for some nebula effect:

you will have the following effect so far:

Step 6

Ok we’re almost done. Let’s add a few adjustment layer to fine-tune the image a bit:

Black and White

Color Balance

Layer Mask on the color balance adjustment layer:

Also I added a few focal points with soft white brush to the spots shown below: (Adjust brush blend mode to “Normal” or “overlay”)

Step 7

Now we can do some final retouches of the image. As you can see, by using all the brushes we created a lot of noise on the image, would be great if we can reduce the noise a bit.

Flatten the image, duplicate the background layer and apply the following “Reduce Noise” options:

As you can see, by using this filter we soften the hair we created before, plus getting rid of a large portion of the unwanted noise on the image:

and here is my final effect for this tutorial:

That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find it interesting and inspirational. Until next time, have a nice day!

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