Create Surreal Artwork via Simple Break Apart Effect and Smoke Texture in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to create this Surreal Artwork via Simple Break Apart Effect in Photoshop. I will also introduce the use of dynamic brushsets to generate a “magic dust” effect. Have a try!

Techniques included in this tut are layer mask, image adjustments, cloud rendering and various tools.

Here is a preview of my final image 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:

Stone Background (the first image on the page)

Girl

Smoke Brush

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1000px * 1500px with black background, copy and paste the model onto our background:

Fade the edge of the model as shown below:

Apply the following adjustment layers to this model layer:

Levels

Curves

Black and White

You will have the following effect so far:

Step 2

Now let’s get on to the break apart effect creation. One quick way is to use a 0px feather Lasso Tool, select some random pieces on the outer part of the girl model:

Then choose the select tool, move your mouse over the selection, you mouse will change into a pair of scissors:

Click and drag to move the pieces away from the girl:

You can also distort the selection for some zooming effect:

Repeat the above method to different body portions for more effect:

That’s it! Isn’t that simple? :)

Step 3

Now load the “stone texture” into Photoshop. Copy and paste the entire image onto our canvas and put the new layer  just above the background layer. Apply the following Smart Sharpen filter a few times to this texture:

You will have the following effect:

Drop the opacity of this stone texture layer to around 10%. This will create a noisy overlay for our background.

Now we’re onto creating some light strips. Create a new layer called “light” and grab a soft round brush, do a single click anywhere on the canvas:

Resize it as shown below:

Then rotate it as shown below

Now simply duplicate the light layer, scatter those light around the girl and adjust the opacity as you see fit:

By moving those light around, you can easily add depth and grab people’s attention to the areas you hightlighted.

I also added a ray of light on the right arm, for extra effect:

Levels

Mask on the levels adjustment layer:

Curves

Here is the effect so far:

Step 4

Now that’s add some grass texture on the bottom of the canvas.  To do this, use the Lasso Tool with 50px feather to cut out a piece of grass texture from the girl stock image, then use the free transform tool to resize and distort it until the shape is similar to the one shown below:

Add the following adjustment layers on top of the grass texture layer: (make sure to tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” option)

Levels:

Curves:

Create a new layer called “smoke overlay”, use the smoke brushset we downloaded and paint away, make sure you change the size, opacity and flow of the brush as you go for more effect:

For some extra effect, I added some smoke texture on the right arm:

Of course you can experiment different smoke shapes then the ones I used and see what result it brings you.

Step 5

Now let’s make a brushset for painting some dusts around the girl and over the grass texture. To do this, grab a 1px, 100% hardness brush, apply the following brush dynamics:

Shapes Dynamics

Scattering

Transfer (other dynamics)

Make sure you tick Noise, Airbrush and Smoothing options too.

Once you done this settings above (you can save this brushset if you want to use it again in the future). Starting Painting on the area above the grass and around the girl:

As you can see, this brush creates a thin layer of dust-like effect:

At last, we can add some image adjustment layers on top of all previous layers to fine-tune the image:

Curves

Color Balance

That’s it! Here is the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

Hope you enjoy this tutorial and find it useful! Cheers and have a great day!

My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.