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Tips & Tricks

How To Create Fun and Surreal Dali-Styled Images in Photoshop

By Paul Faecks on May 30th 2014

In this video, Nicole Dalesio, “Photoshop’s Next Evangelist 2012,” demonstrates how to create surreal images in Adobe Photoshop by compositing multiple pictures and giving the background a swirly-windy look. By applying this technique, you will end up with a very artistic and creative image. The dreamy background effect is achieved using the “Liquify” tool in Photoshop. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out more of Nicoles tutorial at This effect is great for imitating the look of surreal painters like Dali.



Similar to almost everything you are going to do in Photoshop, you start by duplicating you layer so in case you mess up everything, you’re still having a backup layer of the background image.

On the unlocked duplicate of your background layer, apply the “Liquify” filter. Within the “Liquify” filter tab you choose the finger in the top left corner at a medium brush size. Then you simply start drawing circles in the sky. In this step there are no borders in terms of creativity. You can make this effect as strong or as subtle as you like. It’s up to you.


After that, you can continue by adding a flying man to your composite to make the final picture look even more mysterious. In this example, the presenter has a picture of a man lying on a ladder that looks like he’s flying. Of course, you will have to outline the man someway. The instructor starts by making a very rough selection with the lasso tool to delete the unwanted parts. This is not the only way to do it, there are virtually thousands of possible techniques. You can check some other tutorials on compositing here  and the Phlearn‘s Photoshop 101 and 201 tutorials here.


After the person is cut out, you will, of course, have to remove the ladder to sell the effect of the man flying through the air. In this case, removing the ladder is very easy, because the man wears a black suit. Simply paint over the ladder with black. Because the man is going to be fairly small in the final image, you don’t have to be perfectly exact with this.

Now you can move the flying man over to the background layer and place it above. And Voila: you’re done. If you want you could add even more objects and place them in your image.


What do you think about this technique? Are you going to create your own surreal piece of art?

[via Adobe Photoshop, images via screencaps]

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Paul Faecks is a portrait- and fine art photographer, based in Berlin. If you want to check out his latest work, you can do so by following him on Instagram or by liking his Facebook Page

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  2. Basit Zargar

    love it

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