I started with an idea based on an image of the dream itself: Mary standing behind her grandfather, who was dressed in a suit and laid out on a steel table, with a map of Texas behind them. I thought that might be a little too macabre, not to mention too time-consuming, so instead I skimmed through Morguefile for pictures of women who looked vaguely like Mary as she appeared in my dream.
This is the image I started with:
|I chose this picture because the girl looks very neutral: blank wall, neutral expression.
I'll be able to alter her appearance however I need to.
In my dream, Mary was sickly-looking and had bad acne. So instead of using Photoshop to make someone look better, in this case, I was trying to make her look worse. I did that by
- Scaling the photo horizontally, then using the Liquify filter on her face to make her thinner.
- Using the techniques described in this photo retouching tutorial to add shadows on her cheeks and under her eyes.
- Using the stamp tool to take acne from another photo and add it to her face. I set the acne layer to overlay so it blended naturally.
- Changed her hair from red to blonde using Image > Replace Color.
And here's how she looked after that:
|Mary's had a rough few months.
Then I used the patch tool, stamp, burn tool, and brush to remove the glare on her glasses. After a little more Liquifying to shorten her chin and enlarge her eyes, I saved the picture as a flat PSD file.
I found a great old map of Texas on Wikimedia Commons that I wanted to use as the background. This tutorial on selecting hair was exactly what I needed to create the composite.
|If you look carefully, you can see I didn't do a perfect job selecting her hair,
but I figured it was close enough for my purposes.
Now the really fun part: changing all the colors to make it look crazy and dreamlike! I used the layer effects palette to add a gradient fill over Texas. Then I created a layer above but below the photo, filled it with green, loaded the photo's layer mask as a selection, and expanded and feathered it the selection to make a shadow mask. This helped the photo stand out from the background better.
|The green shadow layer is set to Multiply.
Mary's face still didn't look nearly as red as it did in my dream, so I again loaded the layer mask as a selection, created a new layer above the photo, and filled the selection with hot pink. I tried several different blending modes for the layer, and liked the way Hard Mix looked (Vivid Light and Color Burn are two other modes I tend to favor).
|Girl, that color really brings out the texture in your zits!
The color looked great, but there wasn't enough detail, so I copied the original photo and put it on top with the blending mode set to Screen to capture the higlights.
Here are the layers palettes from the two files I created.