How to Create a Surreal Ballet Image in Photoshop

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  By Julian
How to Create a Surreal Ballet Image in Photoshop www.sleeklens.com

In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll be creating a surreal image using 3 stock photos.

So to start, I’ll open up my background, the image size that I have chosen here is 1024 x 768 px.

This is just a standard web size, if you were to do this for a poster you would have to use much larger stock images.


In the Layers panel, click on the fourth icon across indicated below, to open up an Adjustment layer, then click on solid colour.


I want to give this image a Dark night time feel, so I’ll choose my colour to suit, which is a dark blue, then click ok.


Now we’ll apply a Blend mode, Blend modes are located in the layer panel, beside Opacity. You will first see that it says Normal, click on that and a drop down will appear. Click on Multiply to make the Dark Blue Overlay transparent.


Once you have done this, adjust the Opacity of that layer a little to what you are happy with. I wanted the night colours to come through, but I didn’t want it to be super dark and Blue, so I adjusted to what I felt would work.

This is an Adjustment layer, so you will always be able to go back and sort if out at a later time.


Now, my Background has been prepared and I’ll move on to my subject, which is the Ballet Dancer.

I used the Polygonal Tool to cut Her out, clicking carefully along the edges. I zoomed in and out by holding the CTRL button in combination with the – and + keys.


When you have completed that, Copy and Paste the cropped image onto your background.

I cropped out the head because I do not need it for this piece.


Next, I moved on to my third image which was the Light Bulb that I’m going to use for the head. When searching for this, a nice little tip is to include PNG in the search, so… “Light Bulb PNG”

The reason for this is because you will find a lot of images already pre cut, which will save you loads of time.

I select outside the Bulb using the Magic Wand Tool indicated on the left side of the Tool bar. You will see it selected, then I inverse the selection and copy and paste it into the main image, changing the size accordingly.


Next, I used the Eraser Tool with a soft brush and low opacity to erase out parts of the Bulb and make it seem more transparent, like it would be in real life.


Take a little bit of time with this.


Then I do something similar with the bottom of the Bulb, erasing it out as well to reveal the neck, same as before, soft brush with low opacity. This will take some concentration to get correct.


So at this stage, we should have pretty much everything cut out and looking good.

Now, I’m going to add the Light for the Bulb.

Create a new layer and paint it over completely Black.


Then, go to Filter – Render – Lens Flare.


Choose the one you like the best by playing with the Brightness slider, then hit Ok.

You will now have something that resembles the image below.



So as we did before, we’ll change the Blend Mode, click on that, then go down and click on Screen.

The Light should now be present, so position that where you would expect to see the light source coming from in the Bulb.


Next, select and create duplicates of the Ballet Dancer and Bulb layers, then merge the two duplicate layers so they become one layer.


Once this is done, select that layer and as before using the Magic Wand Tool, click on the background and inverse.



Then using the Paint Brush, paint over that layer in black, then lower the Opacity of that layer in the Layers Panel to the Right.


This is going to be your Shadow layer, so it only needs to be as dark as you would expect the shadows to be.


Now using the Eraser Tool, also as done before (Soft Brush – Low Opacity), start to erase out the areas on the Shadow layer were the light would not be hitting the model if this was real.

So, like the tops of the shoulders and hands, etc.

Use your imagination and creativity and do what you think looks best.


Now create a new layer and make sure it is behind the model. Using the Brush Tool, paint in the Shadows at the bottom of the Feet, using the Eye Dropper (Hold Alt) to select the light colour, I also painted this in. Then, I created a Blur Effect on this by going to Filter – Blue – Gaussian Blur.

I then erased out the areas on that layer that I thought didn’t fit with the shapes of the background and model to make it look life like.


The final steps were to add some Presets in Lightroom from the Sleeklens collection. Then, after that I painted in some ‘Bugs’ using the Brush Tool, just using the colour of the light and a Soft Brush on a low opacity, clicking several times to build it up, and this was my final result 🙂


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Graduated from college in 2002 with a degree in Art & Design, I started exploring my way in Graphic Design and Professional Post Production. Full-time freelancer since 2011.

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