Create Beautiful Surreal Photo Effect via Cloud, Star and Vexel Hair in Photoshop

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 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

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!

Categories: Photo Effect

Tags: ,,,,,,,,

  • Childmonster

    Wow !!! very great tut !
    Thanks for share

  • L

    Wow man! thats amazing! great work

  • Gina

    This tut is really great!! I liked it very much. Thanks for sharing.

  • pico


  • Cho

    Sweet Tut

  • Giacomo Colddesign

    Great work..!

  • Constantine N

    Great work! Just one question: what was your final effect?

  • Bruno Ricardo

    Wow, is amazing, very, very nice tutorial, thanks.

  • Steven

    Not going to lie … it wasn’t detailed enough, at the beginning you cut out the mountain then you don’t tell me what the layer setting is for it, what you’ve done to it on the indicating arrow and more it’s like :/

  • lotte

    Love it, it’s a shame that you don’t tell everything you do (for example with the mountain or the cutting of the female…. ) for those who don’t know these things yet…

  • helltones

    Thanks. tut very good

  • Malik

    It good, but step 6 I dont get
    Please help

  • şehmus

    Thank You perfect All

  • bryan


  • Rocket French

    Perfect piece of work you have done, this site is really cool with wonderful information.

  • MaykelMichaels

    Wow! This is so amazing. The person on the picture looks like animated!

  • Xentosh

    OMG i already failed at the first step..!!!

  • solangul

    Woow Perfect Crazy.. Effect.

  • DIP


  • James Qu

    @DIP: this tutorial can be a little difficult to get start with. You need to be familiar with basic Photoshop command first, then attempt.

  • Amazing

    no they cannot get past the first step because you leave something out. After you apply the fiber and reduce the opacity it looks like the very first pic not the second. I am guessing that there are two layers one behind the fiber one with solid black. Please fix this.

  • James Qu

    @Amazing: thank you for pointing this out. I have fixed the description.

  • ian

    wow!! very nice . BTW . i cannot follow very well .

    could please make a video tutorial of this ..

  • Gaspar

    Nice work but can you help me? im not so sure how you got your results for step number 6. After adding the adjustments i just cant get all the noise… even after i reduce the noise its showing me the same thing. What you mean by this: “Layer Mask on the color balance adjustment layer”

  • Jim

    Very nice work but a video of this would make it a lot eaiser for most people.

  • Lynda Berggren

    Love it! Cannot wait to try it. Gives lots of good tips. I feel I’m at the intermediate stage of Photoshop, so it shouldn’t be too hard (hopefully :) )

  • Dhh

    shit tut…. failed in explaning “how to” . Many cant even get past step 1

  • Alvincruz20

    nice…good working….

  • Cyrush

    where is your please…..

  • Drupal Web development

    Very nice.Keep up the good work.Ans it gives lot of tips also.Thanks..!


    nice but…all of this dont really like the same the one that made it…some are not right when u made it..but its a tutorial so find it on your own way^^

  • Phebe

    I can not open wooden texture and grass texture download, what should I do?

  • Web Hosting

    the tutorial is great, you have such creative imagination!

  • Taupo Accommodation

    Love it! can’t wait to give it a try…

  • Building Inspections Auckland

    Nice work!

  • iamzb

    simply amazing! thnx for the Tut!

  • The mystery girl

    I love this tutorial because its something different and new