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2.3 Surreal Hand Double Exposure Effect

Our third and final effect features a surreal composition inspired by hands. In this lesson, you'll learn how to to make a double exposure in Photoshop by combining several images together using basic photo manipulation and photo compositing skills. Then you'll color the entire composition using Adjustment Layers.

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2.3 Surreal Hand Double Exposure Effect

Hey everyone and welcome back to this course. In this next lesson, we'll learn how to make a surreal theme double exposure effect created completely from scratch. Surrealism is one of my favorite art subjects to tackle. I usually create digital paintings with this theme in mind. So I thought I would give it a shot with this double exposure effect. By definition, surrealism is a 20th century art movement that releases the creative potential of the unconscious mind. And in many scenarios, artists pair interesting symbols, photos, or ideas together to create irrational worlds of fantasy purposefully. This particular style of double exposures is inspired by a series I found on Pinterest by artist Brandon Kidwell. So if you're having trouble finding themes for this effect, be sure to explore Pinterest or Google for more options. In this case, Brandon's work is hugely emotive, and focuses on placing often mysterious and dreamlike images in the center of a model's head or general anatomy. So our final effect plays with this idea in mind. Let's start by taking a look at our photos. Out of all of the double exposures we created in this course, this one is by far the most complicated. The main reason why is because it requires a total of five images. Our main focus of this piece will be a hand stretched outward towards the sky. A lonely figure will be at the center of the hand, complimented by a foggy landscape to enforce a serious mood. With the previous manipulations, I created the effect directly on to the main image. But in this case, we'll need to create a new document to help make the entire scene work. Here are the dimensions I used in the final effect. So create a new document at 2388 by 1999 pixels. Double click the background layer and rename it BG for background. Then open your hand reference and hold Ctrl+A to select it before copying and pasting it onto a new layer. Hold Ctrl+T to resize this image with the free transform tool. I wanna have significant space at the top for the background light to show through. So make sure to keep this in mind. Now, rename the layer Hand. If you haven't already noticed, the hand is facing the wrong side. So let's flip it. Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Then use the free transform tool again to rotate the image for a better fit. Just like our previous effects, we need to remove the unwanted background. To do this, add a layer mask to the hand layer. Now select the brush tool and use a solid round brush with a 100% hardness and opacity to paint black onto the layer mask. Continue painting black onto the layer mask until you've completely removed the entire tree from the background. Looking back at the footage, this step takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete, so be patient with the process. As you refine the layer mask, zoom into the hand to help mask away all the tight edges around the hand and fingers. You'll need to be especially careful with the fingers so that you don't remove too much. Keep the brush set at 100% hardness to retain a hard edge. As always, if you make any mistakes at any moment, hit Ctrl+Z to undo your work, or simply reset or reverse the background and foreground colors by hitting D or X on your keyboard. Continue to remove the tree. The rotation tool is especially helpful with this step. Rotate the canvas as much as you need to help you around the fingers. This will make the process much easier, whether you're using a pen tablet or even a regular mouse. Once this process is done, it'll look similar to this result. We wanna make sure there are absolutely no remnants remaining from the previous tree background. Now we can continue to build this double exposure. Let's start by adding more photos. Select a background layer, then copy and paste the sky reference onto a new layer above it. Feel free to adjust the size with free transform or rotate it to your desired look. In this case, I like how the clouds slightly mirror the shape of the hand. So reposition it until you're happy with the result. Now, rename the layer Sky. To add a sense of depth of field, we'll add a slight blur to the cloud picture. With the layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, adding a radius of eight pixels. Feel free to experiment with this effect, but I believe that subtlety is the key here. Usually it's best to keep building the effect with more images. But I also wanna keep in mind the kind of color palette I'll need to achieve the final moody design. So create a new layer, rename it Color, and use the paint bucket tool to fill the layer with a desaturated gold color. Then set the layer blend mode to color. See how the effect is already coming along? Let's move on by adjusting the lighting of our current photos. Select the hand layer and add a new adjustment layer of curves above it. Right click to create a clipping mask, so that the curves layer only affects the hand. Now we adjust the curves as follows to create a much deeper lighting scheme. Lower the curve near the shadows, but bring it back up towards the middle for more contrast and intensity. Remember, the final result shows intense sunlight behind the model. So I'll need to make the hand dark enough for a slightly silhouette effect. This will also help to make the unnatural surrealistic theme seem at least a lot more realistic. Let's add in a double exposure effect. Select the hand layer again and copy and paste the road image onto a new click layer below the curves adjustment. It will automatically become clipped since the hand layer is selected, but you'll need to reposition the layer above the curves. Now resize the road picture with the free transform tool. Use the move tool to reposition it so that the road lines are centered within the hand. Then rename the layer Road. Let's add some light. Select the sky layer and copy and paste the sunny clips onto a new layer above it. Reposition the light so that it's more centered behind the hand, then set the layer blend mode to Hard Light and rename it Shine. This is officially the foundation for our double exposure effect. Let's experiment with layer masks to create a seamless blend. Select the road layer and add a layer mask. Use a soft round brush with 0% hardness to mask away the areas of the road that are currently covering the lower hand. But don't push this part too far as I just wanna reveal some of the natural hair showing through on the model's wrist. Keep the brush opacity at a much lower range for this time, around 55% should do. Now, slightly mask around the fingers. Follow the natural shape of the hand and reveal parts of the fingers like the nails and wrinkles for a more realistic look. Let's adjust the colors even more. Create a new curves adjustment layer above the road, then set it as a clipping mask to the hand. Create a similar curve to this one for even more contrast and intensity. Then lower the opacity to 65%. Set the layer blend mode to Overlay to help bring out the road and hand pictures. For even more sunlight, create a new layer above the sky. Set the new layer to Overlay and use a soft round brush with 0% hardness to paint white onto the layer. Create more light by starting with a low opacity, then feel free to increase it to 50% to pump up the contrast. Lower the layer opacity as desired. Here I chose 92%. Great job so far. We're getting close to the end. Now that we have the intense light behind the hand, we need to make sure it's affecting the edges around it. Select the layer mask of the hand. Use a soft round brush to paint black onto the mask to soften the edges. This will create an incredible backlighting effect. Immediately, this simple effect creates a believable result. Increase the size of the brush and play around with opacity to continue softening the hand. Slightly mask the inner parts of the fingers as well as the tips of them to help blend them into the sky. I think that this step is by far the coolest transformation of the entire process. Feel free to adjust the mask for the road too allowing bits of the hand and fingers to show through what is otherwise cut off by the foggy sky. Continue to mask the hand until you're happy with the result. To create an even more dramatic story, we'll add a person into this manipulation. Use the rectangular marquee tool to select the silhouette, then copy and paste it onto a new layer clipped above the road. Add a layer mask, then use a soft round brush to mask away the background until it is completely gone. Once you're through, lower the opacity even further and use the same soft brush to diffuse the harsh edges. Continue doing this all around the silhouette for a more believable effect. Adjust the size if necessary, lower the size to 70%, and diffuse the silhouette even more for added realism. Now the person just needs a shadow. Duplicate the layer and reclip the copy to the hand. Hold Ctrl+T to free transform the shadow, bringing it down first to flip it. Adjust the perspective and angle by holding the control key while selecting the anchor points. Try to create a realistic shadow to the best of your ability, then lower the opacity. Let's finish this effect with a few color adjustments. For even more mood, we'll create a quick vignette. Create a new layer above the rest. Then select the gradient tool, making sure the foreground to transparent option, radial gradient option and reverse option are all selected. Create a radial gradient using the same desaturated gold from before. Then set the layer to Overlay and adjust the opacity to 60%. Last, but not least, is a new adjustment layer of color lookup. Add the color lookup adjustment layer and set the 3D LUT file to Foggy Night. This filter creates a dramatic cool undertone that makes for an incredibly powerful effect. All in all, it really matches our mood. Then lower the opacity to 52% and you've competed this final double exposure effect. I hope you've enjoyed creating this amazing surreal inspired double exposure. Join me for the last lesson to this course where we'll go over a final recap of everything we've learned.

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