How to Create an “Alice in Wonderland” Inspired Artwork with Photoshop

24 Apr

Alice in Wonderland is one of the most popular fantasy stories told all over the world! In this tutorial you will learn how to create a Wonderland inspired photomanipulation using masks, blending modes and adjustments. You’ll be taken through using transform, warp and blur to create perspective and the effect of movement. Finally, a series of adjustments is applied to give the image a unified tone and style.

Preview of Final Results

Down the Rabbit Hole_byV


Helpful Shortcuts

  • During this tutorial you will be making a lot of layers. As a shortcut, use Cmd+Shift+N (MAC) or Ctrl+Shift+N(PC).
  • Add masks by clicking “Layers > Layer Mask > Reveal All.”
  • To raise and reduce your brush diameter when painting your masks, use the [ and ] keys.
  • Use B and V to switch rapidly between the Brush and Move/Transform Tools.

Step 1

Launch Photoshop and create a new document. for the purpose of practice, we are creating a web-ready image. Therefore, choose 72 “pixels/inch” and set the Width and Height to a wallpaper size such as 1680 x 1050.


Step 2

Choose the Bucket Tool and fill the background with black. Click on “File > Place” and browse to choose the Victorian background. Click the Warp button in the selection toolbar to enable Warp Mode.


Step 3

Warping the background is the most difficult part of this process, and likely what you will spend the most time perfecting. Don’t worry if you don’t make it perfect now – you can continue to adjust it as you build the rest of the image, so it fits around the other elements you will be adding.

Begin warping the background into a circular shape starting with the top nodes. Pull them up and inward, and then do the same with the bottom corners.


Proceed to create a sort of person outline, which bends the background into a teardrop shape.


Imagine two circles in the center like the following example. Continue working with the nodes until the center lines are evenly spaced and bent into a circular shape, leaving an opening at the top. To create perspective towards the bottom and “front” of the image, click the bottom “fat” part of the background and drag it outwards. Try to keep both sides symmetrical by positioning your lines and nodes evenly.


Step 4

Once you have warped your background to a point you are satisfied with for now, click on “File > Place” and choose the Alice model photo. Scale her down slightly if using my suggested document dimensions. To help create the idea of motion, drag upwards on the top node to enlongate the photo by about 70 pixels and position it so the model is above the curve line at the “back” of the room, about 250 pixels from the top of the document.


Step 5

Choose the Magic Wand Tool and set the tolerance to 15. Hold down the Shift key and left-click to select the areas around the model. Don’t worry if you get some of her hair, as you will be able to bring it back in the next step. Once you have most of the background selected, choose “Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection” from the Photoshop menu. This will add a selection mask to your model layer that will allow you to paint over parts of the photo with black or white to either show or hide portions of the image.


Step 6

Choose the Brush Tool and set the Opacity to 50%. Gently brush over the remaining visible pieces of background using black. Remember you can use the [ and ] keys to change your brush size on the fly. When working in tight spaces or along the model’s skin, you may find it more comfortable to use the Polygonal lasso tool to outline the area before brushing over to reduce the risk of mistakes. To bring back any part of the model you brushed over, change the foreground color to white.


Here is how she should look when finished:


Step 7

Create a new layer called “gradient.” Right-click the Bucket Tool in the left toolbar and choose the Gradient Tool. Set your foreground to black and ensure the “Foreground to Transparent” gradient is selected in the Gradient options bar, and click the “Radial Gradient” button and “Reverse” checkbox.


Step 8

Left-click the document just above the model’s belly and drag downwards to extend the gradient beyond the document’s bottom edge. Release to create the gradient.


Choose the Move Tool and drag the bottom of the gradient down a little to lighten up the floor. This is a good point to re-adjust your background if you need to. Here is how your image should look so far:


Step 9

Select the gradient layer and click “Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.” Ensure the foreground is set to black and choose the Brush Tool. Set it to about 420 pixels at 40% opacity and click a few times over the model to brighten up the area around her.


Step 10

Right-click the model layer and choose “Duplicate Layer.” Turn off the original layer by clicking the little “eye” icon to the left of the layer name in the layer panel. Righ-click the copy layer and choose “Rasterize Layer.” It’s always a good idea to create duplicates of your layers before making a major change to it, in case you ever need to go back to the original layer state. Raserizing the layer will allow you to access the Adjustments options, which were previously unavailable.


Step 11

With the model copy layer selectd, click “Image > Adjustments > Curves.” Click the line and drag three nodes into position as shown here. Curve adjustments allow you to brighten parts of the model such as her skin and dress while maintaining a solid level of black and an even brightness in her hair. Curves avoid too much contrast and blown out highlights which can be a problem when using similar tools such as Contrast/Brightness or Level Adjustments.


Step 12

Alice’s hair is currently hanging straight down, which won’t work if we want her to appear to be falling. To fix this problem, you can warp her hair to bend upwards, and use some custom hair brushes to restore detail to the strands. Begin by using the Polygonal Lasso Tool to cut out her hair. Copy this new selection.


Create a new layer and hit Shift+Cmd+V (MAC) or Shift+Ctrl+V (PC) to paste the selection into the layer. Add a mask to remove the background. Choose the Move Tool and click the corner node of the hair selection. Click the “Warp” button in the top toolbar and begin dragging the nodes upwards to create a “U” shape.


Step 13

Create a new layer called “hair.” Open the Brush panel and load the hair brush set by clicking on the Preset Manager button located at the bottom of the panel window. Set the foreground to white and select the hair strand brushes to paint in some detail over the flowing hair on the layer below. Use the Brush panel to rotate the brushes and set an appropriate size. Uncheck the “Spacing” box for a better preview.

Use a normal brush at 2px – 5px to brush in some highlights to reduce the harsh edges left by some of the hair strand brushes.


Step 14

Add a mask to your painted hair layer and use a soft brush at 50% opacity or lower to gently blend the edge of your hair into the crown of the model’s head. Clean up any other rough edges using the mask.



Step 15

Let’s add some dimension to the model by creating some depth of field. Choose the Blur Tool and set the Opacity to 50%. Brush over the left shoe, right leg, bottom of her dress and right arm.



Step 16

Right-click your Alice layer and choose “Duplicate Layer.” Rename it “alice blur” and drag it below the Alice layer. Click the “alice blur” layer to select it and click “Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.” Set the Angle to “-90” and the Distance to “195.”


Set the layer to “Multiply” and use the Eraser Tool to remove the blur below the model.


Step 17

Create a new layer called “alice shadow.” Choose the Gradient Tool and set the foreground to black. Make sure the gradient is still set to “Radial” and uncheck the “Reverse” option in the Gradient toolbar. Click the center of the floor below the model and drag a short line to the right to create a small gradient. Use the Move Tool to reduce the height and position the gradient below the model as shown below. Once you have it centered nicely, reduce the layer Opacity to 70%.


Step 18

Time to do a little project organization. Hold down the Shift key and select all four Alice layers (including the invisible one) and her hair layers. Click “Layer > New > Group from Layers” and name it “Alice.” This will create a collapsed group in your layer panel that makes it easier to keep track of each separate element of our composition.


Step 19

Select “Layer 1” or the layer with your background image. Click “File > Place” and choose the rabbit photo. Scale it down to a proportional rabbit-size and position it above the model. Right-click the image and choose “Rotate” and rotate it slightly to the left.


Step 20

Choose the Polygonal Lasso Tool and create a selection around the white rabbit in the middle. Hit Shift+Cmd+I(MAC) or Shift+Ctrl+I(PC) to Inverse the selection and then click “Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection.” Set the foreground to black and remove the ramaining background with the Brush Tool. Use a lower opacity and smaller brush when working around the edge of the fur so it blends into the background better. You may find it easier to see what you are doing by turning off the gradient layer for the time being.


Step 21

The rabbit is a little pink. This can be fixed easily by clicking on “Image > Auto Tone.” If this option is grayed out, right-click your rabbit layer and choose “Rasterize.”


Let’s balance him out a little more. Click “Image > Adjustments > Color Balance” and enter “-35” into the first Color Levels box, or slide the top slider towards Cyan until his pinkness disappears.:


Step 22

Click “File > Place” and choose the top hat photo. Scale it down to a size appropriate for the rabbit and position it above him. Right-click the corner of the image and choose “Rotate.” Rotate the image slightly to the right.


Step 23

Because this image has a grayish background, we can use a quick method of removing it. Double-click the hat layer to bring up the Layer Style window. Under the “Blend if” section, drag the top slider to the left to about 170 or until most of the background disappears.


Add a mask to refine the edges and remove any background still visible.


Step 24

Place the photo of the pocket watch into your composition. Scale it down to proportion and position it off to the left. Click “Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen” to bring back a bit of detail. Use the Magic Wand to select the whitish background and click “Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection.”


Step 25

Right-click the pocket watch layer and choose “Duplicate Layer.” Drag the copy below the original. Right-click the copy and choose “Convert to Smart Object.”

Click “Filter > Blur > Motion Blur” in the Photoshop menu and set the distance to “50.” Change this layer’s mode to “Multiply” from the drop-down in the Layer panel.

Repeat this process to create a copy of the rabbit layer and blur it. Move it a little to the right and reduce the layer Opacity to 60%.


Step 26

Open the candle PSD and select the layer containing the candle of your choice. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the candle and copy it. Return to your Alice composition and click “Edit > Paste Special > Paste in Place.” Scale down your candle and place it off to the left.

Click the mask thumbnail for your gradient layer (make sure the layer is turned on.) Set the foreground to black and select a round brush. Set the size to 175 and the Opacity to 50% and click a few times over the candle flame area to brighten it up.


Step 27

Right-click the Blur Tool in the left toolbar and choose the Smudge Tool. Set the size to 10 and the Strength to 55 and smudge the flame(s) of your candle upward to give the impression of motion.


Step 28

Create a new layer called “smoke.” Choose the Brush Tool, open the Brush panel and load your smoke brushes (see Step 13 if you forgot how.) Select the “Sampled Brush 3” and click once over the candle flame. To see the names of the brushes, hover your mouse over the thumbnail and wait a moment for the tooltip to appear.


Use the Move Tool to enlongate the smoke by about 100 pixels.


Step 29

Click “File > Place” and choose the playing cards image. Scale it down a bit and then drag the layer below the “alice” group. Add a mask to the layer and brush over some of the cards to thin them out.

Set the layer mode to Linear Burn when finished.


Step 30

Save your PSD. You have a completed composite, but it still doesn’t quite have the right mood. The next several steps will walk you through how to use a few techniques to adjust the lighting and tone of the finished image.

Hold down the Shift key and select all of your layers in the Layer panel. Click “Layer > New > Group from Layers” and name it “Composite.” Right click the group and choose “Duplicate Group.” Right-click the group copy and choose “Merge Group.” Set the merged layer mode to “Screen” and reduce the Opacity to 60%.


Step 31

Click “Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color: and click “OK.” Enter “2d260a” into the # field and click “OK.” Change the layer mode to “Screen.”


Step 32

Add another Fill Layer using Solid Color. Enter “0a1a25” into the # field and click “OK.” Set this layer mode to “Exclusion.”


Step 33

Create a third Solid Color Fill Layer set to “ffcc00.” Set this layer mode to “Multiply” and reduce the Opacity to 10%.


Step 34

Click on “Layer > Flatten Image.” Click on “Image > Adjustments > Selective Color” and select “Blacks” from the Colors list. Enter “-12” into the Yellows field and “54” into the Blacks field. Select “Absolute” and click “OK.”


Step 35

Right-click your flattened image layer and choose “Duplicate.” Click “Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.” Enter “-80” into the Saturation field, make sure “Colorize” is not checked and click “OK.”


Step 36

Set the layer mode to “Multiply” and reduce the Opacity to 80%. Here is how your image should look so far:


Step 37

Right-click the layer and choose “Merge Down.” Click “Image > Adjustments > Color Balance” and enter “-34” into the first field or slide the top slider a bit to the left. Enter “22” into the third field or slide the bottom slider to the right until your image has an aqua-colored tint.


Step 38

Click “Image > Adjustments > Curves.” Set your points as shown below or experiment to get a look you like.


Step 39

Right-click the layer and choose “Duplicate.” Click “Filter > Blur > Radial Blur” from the Photoshop menu. Set the Amount to “10,” Blur Method to “Spin” and the Quality to “Best.” Set this layer mode to “Luminosity” and reduce the Opacity to 30%.


Step 40

Choose the Easer Tool and set the size to 600 and the Opacity to 50%. Click a few times in the center of the image over the model to reduce the blur and bring the objects into “focus.”


Final Results

Down the Rabbit Hole_byV[1]


vailThe techniques used here are perfect for creating any dark fantasy piece for wallpapers, portfolios, album and book covers, or just for fun. I hope you have enjoyed it! I would love to see what you do with what you’ve learned, so feel free to leave a comment with a link to your work! To see more of my art and design, visit or send me a tweet.

– Vail Joy



2 Responses to “How to Create an “Alice in Wonderland” Inspired Artwork with Photoshop”


  1. Sliders Sunday – 22 April « Mike Hardisty Photography - April 25, 2012

    […] How to Create an “Alice in Wonderland” Inspired Artwork with Photoshop ( Share this:FacebookTumblrStumbleUponTwitterDiggRedditPinterestLike this:Like12 bloggers like this post. Category : Mike Hardisty Photography, Sliders Sunday Tags : Adobe Photoshop, Image editing, nature […]

  2. How To Create A Vibrant Image Using Photoshop « itechtunes - April 29, 2012

    […] How to Create an “Alice in Wonderland” Inspired Artwork with Photoshop ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in Photoshop and tagged Adobe Photoshop, Computer art, Control key, Layers (digital image editing), Mike Harrison, Motion blur, Photoshop, USMLE Step 1 […]

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