Create Surreal Cityscape in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I used to create surreal cityscape in Photoshop. Along the way, we will use various photo manipulation techniques such as image adjustments, free transform tools, custom brushes & filters. Have a try!

The PSD file of this tutorial is available to buy on PSD Vault Shop, or via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

This is an intermediate level tutorial.

Note: The Photoshop tutorial is done in Photoshop CC – therefore some screenshot may have slighting different layout as in the earlier version. Some brushes are exclusive to Photoshop CS6 or above.

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

PSD Vault VIP Membership

You can download the PSD File for this tutorial via the VIP Members Area for only $6.95/Month (or less)! You will not only get this PSD File, but also 200+ other PSD Files + Extra Goodies + Exclusive Photoshop tutorials there. Signup now and get exclusive!

OK Let’s get started!

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

City Stock by Ealucids-Photos


Warrior by PhelanDavion


Planet by Spencicle

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1440px * 800px with black background. Load the city image into Photoshop, select the entire image and copy & paste to our document:

Use a big soft eraser, fade the following area as shown below:

Apply the following image adjustment layers on top of this city layer:

Black and White


and this is the effect so far:

Step 2

We will make a cliff out of the rock stock image we downloaded. Select a portion of the rock stock image, copy and paste to our document, use the free transform tool to adjustment its shape until it forms the shape shown below:

Apply the following image adjustment layer as clipping mask to the rock layer:

Black and White

We can add a second layer on rock to perfect the shape of the cliff. Select another piece of rock from the stock image, paste to our document as shown below:

Apply the following adjustment layers as clipping mask to this second rock layer:

Black and White



and this is the effect so far:

Step 3

Load the warrior stock image into Photoshop and cut out the warrior, paste it onto the following area as shown below:

Apply the following adjustment layers as clipping masks to this warrior layer:

Black and White


Use a soft black brush, paint shadow under the warrior as shown below:

Step 4

We will add some fiery effect around the canvas in this step. Load the fire stock image into Photoshop, create a new layer & use a particle brush to paint some particles onto this new layer:

Ctrl + left-click this new layer’s thumbnail on the layer palette to load its selection:

Copy and paste the selection onto our document to form the fire particles:

Then, go back to the fire stock and select the entire background layer:

Copy & paste the selection to our document, set the layer blend mode to “Screen”, reduce its size as shown below:

Use a smoke brush to paint some smoke effect around the fire:

Repeat the above process, add more fire around the city as shown below:

Step 5

We’re almost done! Load the planet file into Photoshop and place it the following position:

and this is the overall effect you will have:

I added some red colour to photo, and this is my final result: (click to enlarge)

Please feel free to experiment your own colour scheme, and see what results they bring you.

That’s it for this surreal cityscape photoshop tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find it useful! If you have any questions about the steps, please contact me or leave a comment below. I will try my best to answer them.

Till next time, have a great day!