Composite a surreal lounge scene
Have a stag party with layers, masks & forest-themed stock photos
Let your interior designer run wild in our surreal tutorial. Warning: contains deer
What makes a picture surreal is simple. Surreal compositions are ones that place something somewhere that it doesn’t belong; this could be quite a simple premise or you can take it to ridiculous extremes. For this image, we’re going to go with something quite silly, but it’s not something so surreal that you can’t create with some of your own images.
Bringing the wild indoors is quite a simple idea but for this, we’re going to need exactly the right blend of rocks, branches and moss to mask into the photo. Elements and Photoshop are both great for masking tasks, and perhaps the easiest way to complete these are by using brushes. Soft brushes are good for relatively soft edges such as water, and harder brushes can be used for more defined objects like rocks. The key is in the blend, and that can be made with adjustment layers, and more brushing.
The best way to make an image feel realistic – well, as realistic as a deer in your living room can be – is to pay attention to the details. Be sure to zoom in, mask around individual rocks, and if something you’re trying composite doesn’t work, don’t force it to. The best compositions are simple in many ways; sometimes all you need is a good idea and a lot of time and effort to bring it to life.
Place your background
Create a new document (Cmd/ctrl+n). Start off by inserting the supplied file of the living room – or your own chosen living room if you’d rather! Hit Transform (Cmd/ctrl+t) and resize the background image as you wish.
Blend in some rocks
Now you can insert some rocks, and with the help of the hidden layer you’ve just created, mask out the sofas. With a soft brush, just mask so that it looks like the room’s floor is covered with rocky debris.
Layer up the environment
Add another of the supplied rock images and use the same techniques to insert this texture across the floor of the image. Trace around the edge of the rocks to mask them into the image, and hide them behind the table for realism.
Mask the sofas
Grab the Quick Selection (W). We’re going to select around the outside of the sofas and fill with white on a new layer, so that when we need to mask around the sofa, we can just Cmd/ctrl+click this layer preview to select quickly. Hide this layer once you’re done.
Refine the mask
Reduce the size of your brush, zoom in and touch around the outside of individual rocks so that the image feels a little more real. Vary the hardness of the brush if you need to and alter the opacity if it helps.
Harmonise the colour
Group the rock layers together. Duplicate the background layer of the living room and move it above the group, then Alt/opt+click to clip it. Set to Soft Light, go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur and set to 20px. Hit OK.
Place your deer
Add your deer to the image and place him on top of the table. Use a black brush on a mask to erase the background around him and nudge the layer so that it’s well-placed on the table.
Introduce more elements
Add the mossy branch to the image, masking it out and then add a shadow on the layer below; add another branch coming out of the sofa, and you could also insert some toadstools to the image to give the scene even more of a forest feel.
Make the table mossy
Add some more moss, this time to the table. Place it over the hooves of the deer and around the table to continue the forest theme, using different opacities and hardnesses of brush to get a realistic effect.
Place the trunk with the vine wrapped around onto the wall and set to Soft Light. Duplicate the layer, set to Normal and just mask the leaves onto the image to make them stand out a little more.