Photoshop tutorial: Create a dreamscape photo illustration

How London-based Firedog juxtaposed portrait photos of models with architectural structures and dream-like landscapes

Intro


This tutorial explains the creative process behind one of the photo-illustration in the 2013 Barbican Classical Music campaign by London-based Firedog. We used portrait photographs of models and juxtaposed them with images of hard architectural structures and dream-like landscapes. The images reflect the intense emotions felt when listening to classical music.

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For more information, see our story on Firedog’s Barbican campaign.

Time to complete

4 hours

Software needed

Photoshop CS4 or later

Step 1

STEP 1

Before editing the photo, we made sure we had enough shots from as many angles as possible. Then we chose the one that best communicated the ‘dreamscape’ idea: eyes closed, calm facial expression, relaxed muscles.

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Once you’ve decided on your photo, open Photoshop. Create a new document with a white background, RGB colour space and 300dpi resolution.


Step 2

STEP 2

Once the document is set up, place the photo you want to use. Before transforming it, to it is important to convert the photo to a Smart Object (Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object).

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This means any transformations you make will be non-destructive. Now you are free to scale, distort or rotate the image.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Create a new path and use the Pen tool to trace around the model’s head and body. Once your path is complete, you will be able to make a selection of it by Cmd/Ctrl + clicking in the Paths panel.

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Step 4

STEP 4

With your selection still selected, go to your Layers panel and ensure you have the photo layer selected. Then from your menu go to Layer > Rasterize > Smart Object.

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Step 5

STEP 5

Then go to Select > Inverse (now you should be selecting the inverse of the path you created). Press Delete and you will see your excess area disappear (a good way to check this is to turn your background off).

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Step 6

STEP 6

Now that you have a clean cutout of your model, you can start adding colours.

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Create a new layer and use the Brush tool (with a hardness of 1%) to paint a soft spot of colour. Each new colour spot will need its own new layer.

Experiment with blending modes to find the best result (we found Screen, Overlay, Soft Light, Color Dodge, and Multiply to deliver the most successful results).


Step 7

STEP 7

Once you’re happy with your colours, you can start adding superimposed images. We focused on architectural images that offered bold lines and interesting geometries.

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The key is to find an image that will complement the shape of a specific part of the model’s body. This process should be experimental; trial and error. It should also be fun.


Step 8

STEP 8

Place your photo, convert it to a Smart Object and experiment with blending modes – in this case we used Screen.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Go to your Layers panel and ensure you have your latest layer selected. Now add a vector mask to your layer and, using the Brush tool, manually mask out the parts of the layer you don’t want.

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In this case we only wanted the lines of the building to affect the model’s face, not her body.


Step 10

Step 11

STEP 11

With your path selected, add a vector mask to your layer. Your image layer will crop inside of your selection giving you a crisp mask.

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Step 12

Step 13

Step 14

STEP 14

If you feel the need to add more colour spots at this point, go ahead – it isn’t too late.

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Here we have added a blue spot using the Brush tool. This is how it looks before we set its blending mode to Overlay.

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Step 15

STEP 15

Here’s the spot after changing its blending mode.

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We’ve also added another image layer – the plants superimposed in the bottom right of the model’s body.


Step 16

STEP 16

Finally, add a new layer and go to Edit > Fill and select Colour from the Contents drop-down menu. This is your background colour.

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Choose a slightly desaturated colour that won’t clash with the hues being used in the model’s body. In this case we used a quiet, neutral tone that would help make the model stand out.


Step 17

STEP 17

Here’s the end result with the background applied.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

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