Create a Surreal Environmental Photomanipulation

Today’s Photoshop tutorial shows you how to combine photographs to create a surreal photo manipulation using a combination of creative techniques and tips. Image manipulation can be tricky, especially for beginners, but this tutorial breaks some of he more advanced techniques; making it easy to understand for everyone.
Final Product
  • Hand Image
  • Background
  • Planet Earth
Step 1
Open the hand image
Step 2
Paste the Galaxy image into a new layer
Step 3
On the layer with the galaxy image, create a layer mask to paint in the part of the hand image we are going to use
Step 4
See below for an example of the finished layer mask that should be painted
Step 5
In a new layer, paste the earth image
Step 6
Create a new layer and move it beneath the pasted earth image layer (layer 2)
Step 7
Ctrl+click the ‘Earth’ layer to select the content of the ‘Earth’ layer.  Next, make sure you select the layer you just created
Step 8
Fill the new layer’s selection with white.  We will be using this layer to create the glow for the planet
Step 9
This is Important, press ctrl-d to release the selection or the gaussian blur you are about to apply will not work.  Apply a Gaussian blur by navigating to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur.  Set the Radius value to somewhere between 30px and 70px (depending on the size of your image)
Step 10
On a New Layer below the last layer, using a soft brush paint white over the area on the hand where we will simulate light reflection from the planet’s glow
Step 11
Change the Blend Mode to Overlay to simulate the natural light striking the hand from the planet
Step 12
On a New Layer beneath the ‘earth glow’ layer (or layer 3 in my PSD) paint a shadow with a soft brush
Step 13
Change the opacity to 50-53%
Step 14
On the layer above the planet layer with a soft brush paint white on the dark area to fully illuminate the planet
Step 15
Change the Blend Mode to Overlay
Step 16
On a new layer, paint black using a soft brush on the upper wrist area to increase the shadow effect
Step 17
Change the opacity to 15%
Step 18
Between the earth glow layer (layer 3) and the earth shadow layer (layer 6) create a Color Balance adjustment layer by navigating to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Balance.  With the Midtones radio button selected (by default) use the following values: Cyan/Red +19, Magenta/Green -9, Yellow/Blue -10
Step 19
On the layer above the earth glow layer (layer 3) create a Curves adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves).  Create a point on the grid in the position shown below
Step 20
Create a Levels adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels) using the parameters indicated in the image below
Final Product
And there you have it.  You have just created a stunning surreal photomanipulation in photoshop


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