Create Unique Abstract Photo Manipulation in Photoshop with Human, Rock and City Stocks

In this Photoshop tutorial, I will show you the methods I used to create unique abstract photo manipulation by mixing rock and city stock images in Photoshop. We will combine 3 objects: human, rock and city into one manipulation and form a unique looking digital art. We will primarily use the adjustment layers tool, layer blending modes and various filter to achieve this manipulation.

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 immediate level tutorial and some steps can be a little tricky, have a try!

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

Here is a preview of the final effect I have 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 Anikathropoloustock



Grunge Brush Set (Pick a few from the list)

Debris Brush Set

Step 1

Create a new document sized 780px * 1000px with white background. Grab the Gradient Fill tool to fill the background with the following gradients: (Set the Gradient Fill tool to use Radial Fill)

1 fill

Load the model image into Photoshop and cut out the model, paste it to the position as shown below: (Use the Free Transform tool to resize this layer to a smaller scale)

1 model

Grab the eraser tool to tidy up the edges of the model:

1 erase

Add the following 3 adjustment layers as clipping masks to this model layer:

Black and White

1 bw

On this black and white adjustment layer, use a soft eraser tool on its layer mask to reveal some colors on the model the facial area:

1 bw mask


1 lvs


1 curves

and here is the effect so far:

1 effect

Use a grunge brush set, paint some grunge texture below the model layer:

1 ground

Step 2

We will work on the rock texture in this step. Load the rock image into Photoshop and select the following piece from the image:

2 sel

Copy and paste the selection over to our image and place the layer below the model layer, in the position shown below:

2 paste

Use the chalk brush as eraser, remove the following portions from the rock layer and tidy up the edge:

2 eraser

2 erase

Add the following 3 adjustment layer as clipping masks to this rock layer:

Black and White

2 bw


2 lvs


2 curves

and you will have the following effect so far:

2 effect

Use the debris brush you downloaded to paint some small particles into the space we removed in the previous step:

2 particle

Put all these rock related layers into a layer group, duplicate this group a few times and move them to different positions as shown below: (Rotate and resize the duplicated groups as you see fit)

2 repeat

Step 3

We will work on the city building part of the manipulation in this step. Load the city image into Photoshop and select the following area:

3 sel

Copy and paste the selection over to our document and place it into the position shown below: (resize the layer to a small scale to fit the size of the rock texture)

3 paste

Use the chalk brush as eraser to blend the city edges into the rock texture:

3 erase

Add the following 3 adjustment layers as clipping masks to this city layer:

Black and White

3 bw


3 lvs


3 curves

and here is the effect so far:

3 effect

Repeat the steps described above to add another lot of buildings to the top left position as shown below:

3 dup

Paint some particles on top of the city building with the debris brushes for extra effect:

3 particle

Step 4

We’re almost done. We will work on some final touches in this step. Add some cloud round the rock with a cloud brush or cloud filter, use the Warp tool to warp the cloud so it forms a circular shape:

4 cloud

Flatten the image, duplicate the background layer and apply the following Crystalize filter to the duplicated layer:

4 crystallize

4 cry set

and you will have the following effect:

4 pixel

Of course we don’t want to the whole image to be pixelated, so let’s apply the following layer mask on this crystallized layer:

4 mask

Use a soft brush to paint some highlights on the model’s forehead:

4 highlight

I further adjusted the colour balance of the image with the colour balance adjustment layer, and here is my final effect: (click to enlarge)


That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy going through it and find it useful. Drop me a comment below if you have any question.

Till next time, 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.

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