Rooted in the abstract, Victoria Siemer manipulates her images for a surreal finish. In this short tutorial, see how Siemer creates her unique aesthetic in Adobe Photoshop.

Victoria Siemer, also known as Witchoria, is a Visual Artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She works predominantly in the digital realm, creating surreal photo manipulations that reflect everything from the mundane to heartbreak. 

Step 1: Layer images

Siemer opened the empty bedroom image in Photoshop then dragged the image with the model as a new layer on top.

Two pictures of the same bedroom as layers in Adobe Photoshop, top image includes a model, bottom one does not

Step 2: Cut out color

To capture colors to use for the explosion, Siemer used the Lasso tool to make a selection, then copied and pasted the cutout onto a new layer.

Image zoomed in on the model with marching ants selection around her torso made by the Lasso tool, selection is on new layer

Step 3: Create an explosion

Siemer selected the new cutout layer and chose 3D > New Mesh From Layer > Depth Map To > Sphere to create the explosion. She then used the 3D Mode tools to move, rotate, and scale it.

Effect of selection made with Lasso tool when 3D tools applied, colors in selection explode to look like crystals

Step 4: Contain the chaos

Siemer used the Polygonal Lasso to select parts of the explosion and applied a layer mask to hide the pieces and emphasize the fragmentation. Then, she applied a mask to the model layer and painted with a black brush to hide the model’s torso where it overlapped with the explosion area to reveal the background layer.

Left: Polygonal Lasso tool to select parts of the explosion; Right: Explosion after mask applied

Step 5: Prepare for takeoff

When Siemer was ready to output a high-quality version of her composition, she selected the 3D layer, then right-clicked and chose Render 3D Layer. This process takes a few minutes.

Explosion on a separate 3D layer with a mask, right-click menu shows Render 3D Layer option selected

Erupt the scene

Add bursts of excitement to your photos with colorful explosions.

Final composite photo with colorful explosion coming from the model’s torso as she hovers above the bed

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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