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Made With Envato: How to Create Surreal Digital Art in Photoshop with Daniel Artx

Want to know how to create surreal digital art in Photoshop? We chat with Photoshop master Daniel to learn how he uses Envato Elements to create his work.

Posted 13 Jul 2022
Made With Envato: How to Create Surreal Digital Art in Photoshop with Daniel Artx

Daniel Sanchez is a digital artist from Mexico City. Known as Daniel.Artx on Instagram – where he shares his eclectic edits with his 11K followers – Daniel is passionate about creating surrealist scenes that all have a sense of serenity. 

He’s a self-taught artist who’s perfected his craft through YouTube tutorials, and has been honing his Photoshop skills for over 12 years to become a true photo manipulation master. We chatted with Daniel to find out what led him to the wonderful world of digital art, his top Photoshop tips, as well as how he used Envato Elements to create this picturesque piece of art

What’s your artistic background & how did you get into digital art?

I’m a self-taught artist. I love creating surrealist art that’s both magical and meaningful. I draw a lot of inspiration from animals and nature, and try to capture a sense of peace in all of my artworks. 

I learned by watching tutorials and observing other creators. I’ve loved drawing ever since I was a child – I wasn’t very good, but it was a good base for digital art which I started about 12 years ago. I still remember opening Photoshop for the first time – there were so many tools and buttons, it looked like an airplane! It took a lot of time and patience to learn, but it was worth it to get to where I am today. 

How did you come up with the idea for this piece? What inspired it?

I met a woman and we fell in love, which inspired me to create this romantic, surrealist artwork. I love flowers, so I included a lot of floral details to further reinforce the theme. 

What specific Elements items did you use and how did you choose them?

I first focused on creating the background, then I started looking for photos on Envato Elements and found an image of a starry night sky. I collected photos of a cloudy night sky, mountains, and a field of grass with a dirt road. In all of these images, I tried to match the color and tone to the sky.

To create the balloon, I used an image of a heart-shaped hot air balloon, and then added 3D components such as the ladder and basket.

What tools and programs did you use?

I used Adobe Photoshop to create this photo manipulation. In my opinion, Photoshop is the best professional program out there for creating this type of art. I also used a tablet to create the silhouettes of objects and people, and to adjust the lighting.

Could you walk us through how you created it step-by-step? What was your creative process from start to finish?

  1. I started by creating a sketch and testing images, until they matched the idea I had in mind.
  2. I then cut out all my images using the Photoshop pen tool to mark the outlines, starting with the image of the children as it was the most complex. 
  3. Once I had all of my cropped images ready, I started creating the scene, and then made color, brightness and contrast adjustments.
  4. To create the balloon, I used various flower images from Envato Elements, using the hot air balloon as a template. I placed each rose on top of the hot air balloon to create a heart shape. 
  5. I then placed a 3D image of an antique copper vase to form a ring at the bottom of the flower balloon. 
  6. For the basket, I used a 3D image of a hot air balloon and removed the balloon. I then found an image of fire and placed it over the basket. 
  7. Finally, I placed the ladder above the basket and added in the image of the children, as well as their shadows, highlights and silhouettes.

What were the main skills and techniques involved in creating this piece? How did you learn these skills?

A technique that I use in all my works is using brushes to create a style similar to “dodge and burn”. I also use curve adjustment for the shadows and highlights of an image or object, and I use Camera Raw to adjust the color and brightness of images.  

As a self-taught artist, I learnt these techniques – and many others – through tutorial videos from artists such as The Life of Aivax, PSD Box, and Rafy A.

Do you have any secret tips or tricks for achieving this style of art?

Many people love the finishing touches of color I add to every piece I make. Often the first thing they ask me is, “What’s the trick to getting that pop of color?” The answer is – it’s not really a trick! The main advice I can give is to learn color adjustment techniques and apply them to every image you work with. It’s also very important to know how to use the Camera Raw Filter – it brings images to life and improves their color and tone.

My other top tip is to be patient. If you try to create something too advanced too soon, you’ll end up frustrated and disappointed. 

How does Envato Elements help you create your work?

Envato Elements has everything I need to create anything I desire. I mostly use Photos and 3D objects – they save me a lot of time, and the 360° option allows me to place the objects in the perfect position. 

Without a doubt, Envato Elements has been key to improving my work. I’d recommend Elements to everyone – from those just starting out to experienced artists. 

What are the top opportunities that have come from your art?

Thanks to the internet, my work now reaches many different parts of the world. This has allowed me to meet many interesting people, including professional artists who have transformed my digital artworks into real-life paintings. It brings me a lot of joy knowing that my work is an inspiration to people.

What’s the biggest learning you’ve had from becoming a digital artist?

Something I’ve learned is to always keep learning. Humility is so important – there will always be someone better or more skilled than you. The best advice I can give for becoming a successful artist is to be patient. You won’t achieve success overnight – it can take months, or even years. Know your worth, keep learning, and set short-term goals to stay motivated. 

We hope you enjoyed this interview with Daniel Artx! While you’re here, learn how to create dreamy designs in Photoshop with Sofia Aguilera or how to create abstract 3D art with Khyati Trehan. Or, head to Envato Elements to start creating today!

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