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Tutorial: Cloud 9

  • Difficulty: Medium (Basic photoshop 2019 skill required)

  • The application used: Photoshop 2019 and Pixaloop

  • Time spent: 45 minutes

Visual art has no definite rule to follow and go by as it is very subjective. It entirely depends on person to person how it wishes to see the image and how to go about. After a lot of trial and error, I have come to mine and often I follow the path the reverse way. This very image Cloud 9 (just thought to steal the name) is composed of a landscape image I captured on my way to Goa, India and later added the moving elements in Pixaloop.

If you ask me what is Pixaloop? It is a fun application which let you give a moving or living element in your still photograph. This application comes with fun sky replacement themes, moving elements like clouds, animals to many more and few other gickmicks. The best part with the pro-version is it keeps updating itself with many more elements from time to time.

  • Available for both Apple and Andriod users, pro-version against standard fees giving you lifetime access.

  • The application doesn't give you rights to use it for professional/commercial purposes.

I have to admit being a commercial photographer I need to go through a lot and lots of work to seek inspiration and Pinterest, Instagram and google have been my best mentor so far. With thousands of talented people to follow and seek understanding from there is nothing much space left for a block to happen in mind yet it does from time to time. My way of going about has been traditional so far and I love re-enacting what others have done yet I keep a few elements true to myself. My advertising venture is not always straight forward and often I am asked to show what I can do and visualize more than the ordinary. Manipulation and surrealism do go by side and I love doing both.

So let's get started!

STEP 1: For the given tutorial I have used a panoramic landscape with a vast grassland and an open sky (merged in photoshop). I have edited the image in terms of colour correction, contrast and eventually thought to remove a few elements like clouds and a tree positioned at the right of the image. Just wanted to remove few distractions. I used a combination of spot healing, a clone stamp tool and content-aware in photoshop.

STEP 2: I found the sky little uneven in terms of the horizon, hence decided to even it out. Using the clone stamp tool with low opacity (10% is my personal preference) gives a smooth gradation. It helps to avoid any kind of patches.

It is indeed a simple concept, a plain canvas for the elements to stand out and give a dimension to the image. Again my composition is pretty straight forward and I love keeping things simple for the viewer to enjoy in most of my cases. I do love layering things and keeping certain conscious and subconscious elements which let people stare a little more and they eventually discover things one by one making it more engaging.

A fun aspect is always a good way to go about when doing surrealism. People love playing games and solving the mystery, it makes them look smart and people love being called smart.

  • I edit an image at 16bit at 300dpi. The dimension of the given image is 7645 by 5285 pixels. This part is completely subjective to your end-users and where you are going to publish it. I primarily kept it for my personal website and Instagram. Pixaloop doesn't restrain you with dimension. I love this part of the application!

STEP 3: To fill the empty space of my extended composition, I selected a part of the sky and stretched it to the top. You can feel free to use a clone stamp tool to do the same.

COMPOSITION TIP: I wanted the moving element in the middle of the sky, for the cloud to have enough breathing space around. It is always a good idea to think about the final image you have in mind.

STEP 4: Coming to the fun part and where I start my surreal journey, using a wrapping tool in photoshop I decided to give a convex feel to the grassland, you can very well do the opposite. Just keep it wacky and fun.

STEP 5: Everyone loves filters and the vintage feel. Pixaloop though has a new feature to do the same but I am not exactly convinced as it makes the images pretty pixilated hence I love the manual control photoshop gives. Colour correction, Vibrance and the selective colour is a great tool to add a feel to the image.

I have shared my calculations and feel free to copy it or tweak it as per your need. There is no rule to follow the above in the given direction, it's quite a lot of permutation and combination and it entirely depends what you think looks good, add value and mood to the image.

COMPOSITION TIP: A warm tone like yellow, orange and red is always about happiness and cool tones like blue and grey give a gloomy feeling.

I give a bit of sharpening and export my image suited for web and keep it within a range of 2500 pixels wide or 3mb in file size max, for the mobile processor to work over it without hanging on. Avoid uploading a heavy file to prevent the application from crashing.

STEP 6: As the application is mobile-based you need to transfer the image to your mobile, I own a Pixel2 and I upload my images in Photos (cloud storage). Post that I opened the image in Pixaloop. To start with I go to the sky menu of the app and for the given image I decided to use Dancing Aurora with Horizon: 77 and Opacity: 100. Feel free to tweak as per the image. A smooth transition is all that you should look for.

STEP 7: I just love fooling around with the application. Jokes apart, I knew it has a new element of clouds and it fitted perfectly to my landscape. I always have this love for animals especially the not so usual for many and thought to use a frog for it to be lost in the grassland under the sky with majestic aurora and stars. Placed the frog as per a suitable perspective yet easy to notice. I added the cloud at the centre and made it large enough to dominate the image. To add a little of drama I added some lightning. The steps are pretty much after a lot of combinations from the available list. You should feel free to create your own version. The elements have options like dimension and opacity. Play until you like to your liking.

STEP 8: Gadgets have their own colour profile and it depends on the brand of your phone hence you may find the colour a little off, what you saw on your computer screen. I was happy with the composition, yet found the image a little off in terms of colour gradation. Corrected the needed in the application. See image for calculations.

STEP 9: The application gives enough flexibility regarding the export option and I prefer keeping it at the highest resolution possible for any future needs and record. You can choose to tweak it as per your need. I personally love keeping the dimension intact, Duration around 18 seconds and quality 2k.

Woah! You have it done it so far fantastically and I hope you enjoyed the process. I loved creating this image and sharing the journey with you. There is nothing more that gives me contentment than creating something fresh and learning something new.


Hii, I am Shovona Karmakar, a freelance commercial photographer, presently based out of Mumbai, India. As an artist, freelancer, and businesswoman, money, and creativity always intrigue me and I am passionate enough to share my knowledge with others too.

To note: My tutorials are mine from my own experience.

I am open for any portrait, corporate, food, product | people photography related queries/services, or just drop a hi! at


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