Cut-&-paste creativity has always had a bad press ā€“ but digital artist Mike Harrison shows that it can be used to generate inspirational surreal images.

Cut-&-paste montages in Photoshop are probably the first creative exercise new pixel jockeys do, after cut-outs and colour conversion. And while it can be a quick process to seamlessly blend a multitude of images together, there is a real knack to using them to build up a creative landscape.

In this masterclass, designer and illustrator Mike Harrison has created a surreal digital scene using layer effects, vector masks, and the liberal use of dodge and burn tools in Photoshop. The result is a fantastic, genre-defying montage that shows that you can take cut-&-paste to new heights.

Step 1
Because this piece is very stock heavy, gather a possible collection of images first and put them in a folder. This will save you time searching for images while creating the piece and will keep your creativity flowing. Donā€™t worry about collecting every single image you wish to use because you will most definitely think of more along the way. Now create a new A4 document at 300dpi resolution.

Step 2
Now open the elephant.jpg, select the pen tool and carefully create a path around the body. We will be putting in objects on top and behind it in detail, so cutting it out is important. Once finished, double-click the background layer to unlock it, then right-click the path and select Create Vector Mask. Then drag the elephant into the new document and position it somewhere in the bottom half.