advanced photoshop

How I Made: Unknown Universe

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Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

We catch up with Maciej Matuszak to uncover the thought processes and reasons behind creating his surreal composite

How I Made: Unknown Universe

Maciej Matuszak is currently working with an advertising agency as a graphic designer. He’s actually been involved in making montages with Photoshop as a hobby for the past six years, helping him to gain more knowledge through creative freedom to make whatever he chooses.

The person that most inspired him for this creation Unknown Universe was an ex-girlfriend of his: “We spent a lot of time talking or just watching the stars. And one day, with a head full of ideas, I sat in front of a computer and I started work on this challenge,” he recalls.

But it’s not always been about re-creating something based upon the mystery of the ‘unknown’, as Matuszak describes: “From the very beginning I wanted to create something unique… I chose a picture of a horse which shows strength, vitality, joy of life and unbridled freedom.” Interested in seeing more of his work? Head to

Step 01: Piece together stock

How I Made: Unknown Universe

I chose a few photos and started to modify them using the Pen tool and Refine Edge. I connected them using masks and well-shaped brushes. The tablet was my tool of choice for more precision.

Step 02: Textures and brushes

How I Made: Unknown Universe

The background was obvious. I used photos of stars on a black background and I adapted the contrast. I put in textures, which imitated the splashes, and I masked them using a special brush.

Step 03: Going Surreal

How I Made: Unknown Universe

I joined the model’s head with a horse. For a spiral effect I used the Twirl filter. I changed colours with a plug-in, Color Efex Pro 4, and at the end I corrected colour more using Curves.