Create an Illusory World with Abstract Composition in Photoshop

The world is rapidly changing. So maybe you also want to change it up a bit? I invite you to dive into the world of amazing and surreal photo manipulation “Inception”. This work shows a piece of the digital world. Possible future world. You will learn how to create an abstract composition, interesting techniques and effects, working with a variety of instruments and much more! This tutorial will help you improve your skills and open your creative vision!

At the beginning of this work is all quite simple, work with color, and places of the model. The model must be added at the beginning, because it is the central object. Adding a city and imposing on it effects. In part with cubes you will need a little patience, because you will do a lot to transform them. In the final steps we will add effects and a little paint. You need attentiveness, diligence and good humor as possible, any version of Photoshop. I created this picture in Adobe Photoshop 2014.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Open Photoshop. Create a new document. Go to File > New or the short key Cmd /Ctrl+ N. A blank document with size of 3000 pixels wide and 2000 pixels high, resolution 200 Pixels/Inch. I named the document “Inception”.

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Step 2

Create a new layer (Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift + N or use icon on Layers panel).

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Step 3

Fill this layer orange color #ffa92e. To do this, select Background color to #ffa92e and press Cmd/Ctrl + Del (you can use Paint Bucket Tool (G) or what is convenient for you).

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Step 4

Again create a new layer (Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift + N or use icon on Layers panel). Use Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and select the area in the bottom of the workspace (from 15.95 cm and down to the bottom). Change Background color to white (X) and fill selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Del). To deselect press Cmd/Ctrl + D.

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Step 5

Add a model. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded…) and in your folder with the downloaded resources, select the file “punch_in_the_ground_by_comicreference-d3lp69x”.

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Step 6

Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) on toolbar to select a Model. Be careful, because some parts on sneakers cannot be selected.

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Go to Refine Edge. Change View to “On Black”. Be sure to check the box on the Smart Radius, set Radius: 3.0px, use brush in this window to remove white parts, like shown in the image. When you finish, click Ok.

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Step 7

Use the Puppet Warp (Edit > Puppet Warp), slightly to straighten a hand of model. Put on each joint of a hand one point (shoulder – elbow – wrist). Gently pull on the point on elbow to the right that a hand straightened slightly (do not pull hard!). In my opinion it will look more realistic.

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Now we need to slightly reduce the size of the model, so that we have more working space and that it looked realistic. Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) to resize a model, like shown in the image below. To transform the model proportionally, hold down Shift + Option/Alt.

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Step 8

Now I decided to repaint her clothes, so she looked in harmony with the environment and in the future it does not distract us. To do this, I added to the layer with the model adjustment layer “Black & White”. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White… or click on Adjustment Layers icon on Layers panel and in list, select “Black & White”.

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Choose preset “Maximum Black” and click on the icon shown to apply this adjustment layer to the lower layer. Do not change anything else in there.

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Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) to select all model’s skin (hands and hair). Be careful and check that in the selection did not get clothes. Select a Layer mask of adjustment layer “Black & White”, set a foreground color (D then X) to black, fill selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Del). To deselect press Cmd/Ctrl + D.

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Step 9

Now let’s create background, and it is the city. At this stage, model is complete. Therefore, all subsequent layers must be located between the layers with a white and orange fill and model. The first thing we will add is panorama of factory. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded…) and select a file “factory_plant_panorama_by_evelivesey-d78zzax”.

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Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) to resize a factory, like shown in the image below. To transform image proportionally, hold down Shift + Option/Alt.

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Step 10

Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select a sky. Try to select as much as possible parts of the sky from the fine details of the plant and try did not add a parts of the plant to selection. To add to selection other parts, hold Shift.

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Then invert selection (Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift+ I or go to Select > Inverse). Add a Layer mask to remove sky.

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Step 11

The following add in image fragment of factory. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded…) and select a file “factory_blues_by_evelivesey-d7a1foe”. To give a little perspective this factory, I used Distort (Edit > Transform > Distort) closer the left side of the image and a bit distant and distorted the right-hand side, as shown in Figure. Values not be very accurate, so experiment! Do the same (repeat Step 10) with this image and position it as shown in Figure.

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This is my result. Try to get something like that. This layer should be part of the factory above the layer with a panorama factory.

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 Step 12

Now add skyscrapers. First we add the skyscrapers that are closer to the viewer. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded…) and select a file “Chicago_stock_35_by_Tigg_stock”. Firs you need flip it horizontally (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal).

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Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) and Perspective, Distort to make skyscrapers like shown in image. You need to increase the size of skyscrapers. Then, using a Perspective tool to approximate the foreground and alienate for the viewer background (if you pull the corner of transform area up or down, it will change perspective of the image). Distort helps you in order to make the building neat and correct perspective. Try to get the result like me.

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Step 13

Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) to select sky and water, then invert selection (Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift+ I or go to Select > Inverse) and add a layer mask to this layer. Be sure to remove the part of the building, which is cut off, so it does not spoil the picture. This layer with a skyscraper should be beneath the panorama factory.

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Step 14

It remains to add the last of the skyscrapers in the background, and we will proceed to the effects. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded…) and select a file “city_by_thesmallwonder-d4hv7c0”. Transform it (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) like shown in the image below.

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Step 15

We will not remove anything. Place this layer under the skyscrapers layer. Now merge all layers with the buildings in the one group (select layers and press Cmd /Ctrl+ G or Layer > Group Layers…). Change a blending mode to “Darker color”.

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Step 16

Do you see it? Yes, this is what you need! At this stage, the effect is difficult to see, but for now we’ll fix it. We proceed to the stage of adjustment layers. First adjustment layer is “Black & White” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White…). Choose preset “Red Filter”.

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Step 17

Next adjustment layer is “Levels” this layer we will create a contrast and a hard texture of buildings. Looks like a printed poster or something like that. But gives a picture of the ordinary. Set values to each marker, as shown in Figure.

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Step 18

Now to make more orange on the buildings (show and enhance the effect), I created a new layer, used the short keys Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift + N, set Mode: “Overlay”, set the check-box to: “Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% grey)”. Apply this layer to the layer below (Alt+ click on previous layer).

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Use Burn Tool (O) to lighten the desired areas of buildings and show the destruction. Also You can use a Dodge Tool (O) to darken the distorted portions of buildings and restore them to the texture (to show it).

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Here is my result. You can try to arrange for the destruction of the buildings as you like. Create a picture is a creative process, so experiment!

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Step 19

Still only skyscrapers in the background. They are not affected previous Overlay-neutral color layer, therefore, create the same new Overlay-neutral color layer but above the layer with the central skyscrapers.

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Need greatly lighten dark areas and darken too overexposed to restore the missing texture on skyscrapers.

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Step 20

Now add to the group with buildings a layer mask. Set a Gradient Tool (G), set the type of gradient: “Foreground to Transparent” and Radial form, Opacity: 50%. Set Foreground color to Black (X).

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Place the gradient as shown in the figure. Do not make too big a spot that did not disappear all the buildings. Only need to slightly reduce their visibility.

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Leave previous settings of the gradient. Just change form at “Linear Gradient”. Start to put it out of the working field, and finish by about one-third of the buildings, as shown in the figure. It is important not to tilt it, to make it hold Shift.

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Step 21

Now start working with cubes. At the beginning of this tutorial, I wrote to you, it’s a little monotonous activity (at least so I was because I came up with 5 different versions), but believe for you it will not be very difficult and long. You can use the cubes that you like more. The principle of operation remains the same.

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Step 22

Let’s start with black cubes. I used just use three types of cubes (Cubes 4, 7, 9). To begin, place the desired cubes in worked document (File > Place (Place Embedded…)) and remember, all the cubes have to be over a group with buildings. Let’s start with the edges of the image, so it will be easier (use “Cubes 7”). Duplicate this layer (Cmd /Ctrl+ J or Layer > Duplicate Layer…)

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Transform (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) cubes like shown in the image below. On the left side of the image I was a little increased cubes, and on the right side of the image, only used their left-hand side.

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Place (File > Place (Place Embedded…)) the remaining two types of cubes as shown in Figure. Use Transform Tool (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) and Flip Horizontal (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) to get like my result. I tried to arrange them so that then add the white cubes and their general location be like a spiral. Try to stick to the middle of the image. Apply the cubes so as to fill the gap between white and buildings.

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Step 23

Merge all layers with cubes in the one group (select layers and press Cmd /Ctrl+ G or Layer > Group Layers… ). Now time for the white cubes. This time I used the cubes 7 and 10. You can duplicate any “cubes 7”, and then change the size, but rather will have to add cubes 10 (File > Place (Place Embedded…)). First, duplicate (Cmd /Ctrl+ J) “cubes 7” 3 times. And combine them into one group. The group must be located on the Layers panel as shown in Figure.

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At once make them white add adjustment layer “Invert” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Invert…). This adjustment layer must be applied only to a group with duplication cubes, not to the whole document! Now you can begin to change their size and location. Try to do as I have shown. Location of white cubes in a group does not matter much, but very important to position the layers with black cubes.

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This is my result.

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Step 24

Now you need to paint background, to building not shown through behind the cubes. To do this, create a new layer (Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift + N or use icon on Layers panel). Place this layer below group with cubes. Select a Brush tool (B) (Size: 300px, Opacity: 100% – 50%, Hardness: 0%). Use Black color.

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Paint the background and a bit under the cubes (you can hide group with cubes on a time by clicking the eye icon next).

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Step 25

I wanted to create the effect of depth and cracks on a white floor, so I added image “34 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” from “C4d Pack 3 By TomSimpsonTS”. Now we will change it a bit that it was suitable for our art. To begin, duplicate it once (Cmd /Ctrl+ J).

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Select both layers and change the blending mode for them to “Multiply”. Add to each layer adjustment layer “Invert” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Invert…). Now they have become dark, and the background is gone.

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Step 26

You can begin to transform (Ctrl/Cmd+ T). Reduce the size and rotate so that they are along the lines of white and floor were directed roughly to the center. Transform each layer separately. Place these two abstractions as shown in the figure. They have just a little peek out from under the cubes.

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Add a layer mask to this group and use a Brush Tool (B) to remove of the abstraction that are imposed on the city, anything above cubes.

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Step 27

Begin to create a floor. We draw it yourself. Create a new layer (Cmd /Ctrl+ Shift + N). Fill it white color (D then Cmd/Ctrl + Del).

Take a Gradient Tool (G), set the type of gradient: “Foreground to Transparent” and Radial form, Opacity: 50%. Set Foreground color to Black (X) and draw a spot from the center to the left edge of the document.57

Step 28

And now you will learn how to make the effect of extrusion of cubes :) First, convert layer for Smart Filters (Filter > Convert for Smart Filters) and apply filter “Extrude” (Filter > Stylize > Extrude…). Make settings like shown in the image below. Be sure to check the box on “Mask Incomplete Blocks”.58

Move texture (use Move Tool (V)) so that its center was slightly lower (as the floor seems much volumetric). Add a layer mask to this layer. Use a Brush tool (B) to remove texture from the sky, city and under abstractions. Do not make a sharp transition of the texture. Little to hide it from the edges to create one effect transparent and dynamic floor.

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Step 29

this result have to get you. To make the document is not so much, I made a texture in a new document, and then transferred it to this work. Another important thing, the texture layer should be located between the group with the abstraction and the shading layer.

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Step 30

Now we will do break, through which emerges orange background. Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) and select edge of abstraction. Be careful and try to select only the abstraction.

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Step 31

Go to the layer with white background (floor) and duplicate (Cmd /Ctrl+ J) a piece of white background in form of abstraction. Do the previous and this step with the second abstraction. Now combine the two cut pieces of background in one layer (Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer> Merge Layers…).

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Step 32

Make a selection of content resulting layer (Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on layer). After select, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift+ I) and add a layer mask to the original layer with white floor. Use Move Tool (V) to lower down this layer and show orange outline.

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Step 33

Now add on a floor and sky a little wireframes. Let’s start with the floor. First, place (File > Place (Place Embedded…)) image “14 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” in folder “C4d Pack 3 By TomSimpsonTS”. Duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+ J). Reduce size of first wireframe and position as shown in image below.

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Step 34

To copy, reduce size and position as shown in Figure. Add a layer mask and used Brush Tool (B) clean background, which should be the previous wireframe.

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Step 35

Now Place (File > Place (Place Embedded…)) on the floor a two more wireframes: “36 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” and “49 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” change the blending mode to “Multiply” for both images. Place the layers in the Layers panel as shown in the image. I are grouped layers with wireframes (Cmd/Ctrl + G) and changed the blending mode to “Multiply”.

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Step 36

Duplicate the layer mask from the texture of cubes to wireframes group to remove part of it from city and sky. Hold Option/Alt and grab a mask and throw on the group. You should see an mask icon beside a group.

To enhance the color of contours, I added an adjustment layer “Levels” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels…).

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Step 37

Now we proceed to the sky. Place (File > Place (Place Embedded…)) images “10 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” and “04 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” into our work. For “10 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” need reduce it’s size and rotate, as shown in image below.

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Step 38

“04 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” need a flip horizontally (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal) and reduce its size. I moved to the right a little bit this image to the center was not overloaded.

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Step 39

Change a Blending mode for this two layers on “Divide”. These two layers must be located in the Layers palette by under a group with the buildings.

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Step 40

Place (File > Place (Place Embedded…)) image “20 C4d By TomSimpsonTS” into our work. Change a Blending mode to “Screen”. Transform it (Ctrl/Cmd+ T) as shown in image below. I added this layer to add some fun to the sky and make it more dynamic. This layer should be under the previous two layers.

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Step 41

If you did everything correctly, you got some similar to my result.

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Step 42

Now, on to a very interesting part – drawing! Load brushes “hightech1” in Photoshop. Create a new layer under the layer with the model, set Opacity: 57% for it and get started! I will move from the bottom up in layers, so that you could understand. First I drew large black circle. Set the settings for the brush as shown in image below. It is a creative process so you can decide what kind of brushes to use and where. I’m just showing how I did it.

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Try to position the circle so that the girl was in its center. I did not like much the dark areas of the circle, so I cleaned them, using Eraser Tool (E).

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Step 43

Create a new layer. Use two brushes in the form of cubes and draw a small explosion of them. On the Brush Presets (where we exposed Angle) you can flip the brush horizontally and vertically. Use it in different ways to create one brush diverse. I used a Eyedropper Tool (I) to orange color was the same as the color of the sky. To quickly switch between colors, click “X” on keyboard. To make the default color (Black & White) use “D”. Place the cubes in different places and with different color (you can add a little near model’s sneakers) so it will be much more interesting.

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Step 44

Create a new layer. Now I have drawn from brushes of small circle (I used almost all of brushes once). After I drew it, I used Skew Tool (Edit > Transform > Skew) and correct perspective of circle.

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Step 45

Once the circle is ready, I Duplicate it (Cmd /Ctrl+ J) twice, changing their size and is located under sneaker of model.

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Step 46

Create a new layer, above the adjustment layer “Black & White”. Use a soft brush (Opacity: 50%, Hardness: 0%, Color: White), apply this layer to the layer with the model (hold Option/Alt and click on it). Draw on the hand model a little reflection.

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Step 47

We ended up with a drawing and start adding digital noise. Again, create a new layer and fill it black color (D, then X then Cmd/Ctrl + Del). Convert layer for Smart Filters (Filter > Convert for Smart Filters). Add first filter “Fibers” (Filter > Render > Fibers…) and second “Add Noise” (Filter > Noise > Add Noise…).

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Step 48

Now we turn to settings for this layer. Set a blending mode “Overlay” and Opacity: 65%. Add a layer mask and invert it (Cmd/Ctrl + I).

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Step 49

Use a soft brush (Size: 125px, Opacity: 60%, Hardness: 0%) and draw (on a layer mask) a noise, where you like. I drew it under the sneaker of model and a bit on the circle.88

Step 50

That’s it! The picture is completely ready! One note, if you want to color version of the city, then turn off the adjustment layer “Black & White” above the city group.

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Final Resultsfinal-results

Download the PSD

Tutorial by Maria Semelevich

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Thank you very much for taking the time to study this tutorial! I hope you benefited it! I wish all lucked in your future achievements! I thank the authors of resources for their excellent work and good quality! Thank you very much! If you have questions or need help, please contact me. I look forward to your feedback and creative works! You can contact me by e-mail – otodex@hotmail.com or Facebook Deviantart Behance. I am open to suggestions and cooperation! With best wishes!

– Maria Semelevich.

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