How to Create a Surreal Dream Sequence: A Step-by-Step Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Get inspired and visualize the dream sequence
  2. Create a storyboard for the dream sequence
  3. Choose the right equipment
  4. Set the scene and lighting
  5. Direct the actors
  6. Shoot the dream sequence
  7. Edit the dream sequence
  8. Add special effects and sound
  9. Review and adjust
  10. Share and gather feedback

Imagine you're a filmmaker, and you've got this fantastic idea for a surreal dream sequence. But how do you bring that dream to life? That's where this guide comes in. We're going to take you step by step through the process of creating a surreal dream sequence, from the initial visualization to the final feedback. You'll see how to draw a surreal dream sequence can be a fun and exciting journey, not a daunting task. So, let's get started with the first step: getting inspired and visualizing the dream sequence.

Get Inspired and Visualize the Dream Sequence

Before you even pick up a camera, you need to know what you're going to shoot. That's why the first step in our journey on how to draw a surreal dream sequence is to get inspired. You can find inspiration everywhere — from your own dreams to paintings, from books to random conversations. So, keep your mind open and your eyes peeled. You never know when a fantastic idea for a dream sequence might hit you.

Now, let's move on to visualization. You've got your idea, but how do you see it in your mind's eye? Here's a little trick: try to see your dream sequence as a series of still images. Imagine you're flipping through a photo album of your dream. What do you see? What's happening in each picture? Is there a common thread that ties all the images together? Understanding these details will help you create a more compelling and surreal dream sequence.

Don't forget to jot down your ideas and visualizations. Sketches, notes, even a mind map can be helpful. Keep all these in a dedicated dream sequence notebook. Trust me, you'll thank yourself later when you're trying to remember that brilliant idea you had at 3 AM.

Now that you've got your inspiration and visualization sorted out, you're ready to move on to the next step. But remember, there's no rush. Take your time and let your creativity flow. After all, you're not just drawing a dream sequence — you're creating a piece of art.

Create a Storyboard for The Dream Sequence

So, you've got your inspiration and you've visualized your dream sequence. What's next? Creating a storyboard. Think of a storyboard as a comic strip version of your dream sequence. It's a way to map out how each scene will look and how the story will flow.

Here's a simple way to start storyboarding:

  1. Take a piece of paper and divide it into rectangles, each representing a different scene in your dream sequence.
  2. Inside each rectangle, draw a rough sketch of the scene. Stick figures are perfectly fine. Remember, this is not about artistic skills, but about clarity of thought.
  3. Under each rectangle, write a brief description of what's happening in the scene. Include any important details about the characters, setting, or action.
  4. Finally, add any notes about camera angles, movement, or lighting. This will be super helpful when you're ready to shoot your dream sequence.

Storyboarding is a crucial part of understanding how to draw a surreal dream sequence. It helps you see the big picture and ensures that your sequence flows smoothly from one scene to the next. Plus, it's a great way to share your vision with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Now, you've got your storyboard ready. You're one step closer to bringing your dream sequence to life. But before you start shooting, there are a few more things to consider. Stay tuned!

Choose the Right Equipment

Okay, so you've got your storyboard in hand, and you're ready to take the next step in learning how to draw a surreal dream sequence. It's time to choose the right equipment. This is where the magic starts to happen!

Here's a basic list of equipment you'll need:

  1. Camera: This is a no-brainer, right? But remember, not all cameras are created equal. You'll want to choose a camera that can capture high-quality images and videos. Also, think about what kind of shots you'll be taking. Close-ups? Wide shots? This can impact the type of camera you choose.
  2. Lights: To create that dreamy, surreal effect, you'll need good lighting. This could include natural light, studio lights, or even colored lights for added drama.
  3. Props: Depending on your dream sequence, you might need various props. These could range from everyday items to more unusual or abstract objects. Remember, in a dream sequence, anything goes!
  4. Costumes: What will your characters be wearing? Costumes can help tell your story and add depth to your dream sequence.

Choosing the right equipment is a key step in learning how to draw a surreal dream sequence. But don't stress. You don't need to break the bank. A lot of great equipment can be rented, borrowed, or even DIY'd. The important thing is to choose equipment that helps bring your vision to life.

So, you've got your equipment sorted. What's next? Well, it's time to start setting up your scenes. We'll dive into that in the next section. See you there!

Set the Scene and Lighting

So, you've got your equipment ready. Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of setting the scene and lighting. This stage is pivotal in figuring out how to draw a surreal dream sequence, so pay close attention.

Before we start, remember this: the surreal element kicks in here. The scene and lighting should create an atmosphere that's out of this world, a little odd, or even downright bizarre. That's the beauty of a dream sequence!

First, let's talk about the scene. Think about the location of your dream sequence. Is it indoors or outdoors? In a forest or on a city street? In a room filled with clocks or under a sky full of stars? The location sets the stage for your story.

When you've decided on a location, begin setting up your scene. Arrange your props, position your actors, and set up your camera. Remember, the scene should reflect the dreamlike nature of your story. Don't be afraid to get creative!

Next, let's talk about lighting. The right lighting can make or break your dream sequence. It can create mood, highlight important elements, and contribute to the surreal feel.

Play around with different types of lighting. Try soft, diffused light for a dreamy, ethereal feel. Or go for stark, dramatic lighting to create tension and mystery. You can even experiment with colored lighting for a truly surreal effect.

Setting the scene and lighting might seem like a lot of work, but it's totally worth it. This is where your dream sequence starts to come alive. So, roll up your sleeves and dive in. The dreamy world you're creating is waiting!

Direct the Actors

Once you've set the perfect stage, it's time to bring your characters to life. Directing actors for a surreal dream sequence can be a fun challenge. You have to guide them to portray emotions and actions that are, well, dreamlike!

Begin by explaining the story to your actors. Make sure they understand the dreamlike nature of the sequence. Remember, they're not just playing characters—they're also dream figures. So, their actions and reactions might need to be a bit exaggerated or unusual.

When directing, focus on the emotional tone of the scene. Is it eerie? Joyful? Mysterious? Help your actors tap into these emotions. Encourage them to use their body language and facial expressions to convey these feelings.

Remember, in a dream, things aren't always logical. So, your actors might need to act out unusual scenarios. They might need to float in mid-air, talk to imaginary characters, or dance like no one's watching. Guide them through these actions and make sure they're comfortable with them.

Lastly, remind your actors to stay in character. Even in a dream sequence, consistency is key. Their characters should behave in a way that's true to their personality and story arc.

Directing actors for a surreal dream sequence is a bit like choreographing a dance. It's all about guiding your actors to move, react, and emote in a way that's both dreamlike and engaging. And when they nail it, it's a sight to behold!

Shoot the Dream Sequence

Alright, so you've visualized your surreal dream sequence, created a storyboard, chosen your equipment, set the scene, and directed your actors. Now comes the exciting part—shooting the dream sequence.

Start with setting up your camera. If you're wondering how to draw a surreal dream sequence using a camera, remember this: it's all about choosing the right angles and movements. Use unusual angles to add a sense of disorientation. Try high-angle shots, low-angle shots, or Dutch angles. Also, consider using a Steadicam or a drone for smooth, floating movements.

Pay attention to the framing as well. A tight frame can create a sense of claustrophobia, while a wide frame can make the characters seem small and lost. Experiment with different framings to see what works best for your sequence.

Now, onto the lighting. Use lighting to create mood and atmosphere. Soft, diffused lighting can create a dreamy, ethereal look. On the other hand, stark, high-contrast lighting can add a sense of unease or danger.

Remember to capture all the important details. Close-ups of the actors' faces, wide shots of the scene, medium shots of the actions—everything that helps to tell the story.

Finally, don't forget to have fun! Shooting a surreal dream sequence is a creative adventure. Enjoy the process, experiment with different ideas, and let your imagination run wild. After all, it's a dream sequence, anything can happen!

Edit the Dream Sequence

Great job on shooting your surreal sequence! Now it's time to make it even more surreal and dream-like in the editing room.

Editing is where you can truly bring out the dreaminess of your sequence. To start with, experiment with the pacing. A slow, languid pace can make the sequence feel more dreamy. On the other hand, quick, abrupt cuts can create a sense of confusion and disorientation. Different parts of the dream might call for different paces, so don't be afraid to mix it up!

Next, think about color grading. Colors can greatly impact the mood of your sequence. For instance, a blue color grade can give a feeling of calm or sadness, while a red color grade can invoke feelings of danger or passion. Try different color grades to see what fits your dream sequence best.

Also consider adding transitions. Transitions like fades, dissolves, and wipes can help smooth out the jumps between different scenes and add to the dream-like quality of the sequence.

Finally, remember that less can be more. While it's tempting to go overboard with special effects and fancy transitions, sometimes the most effective dream sequences are the ones that are simple and subtle.

So there you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to draw a surreal dream sequence through editing. Remember, editing is a process of trial and error—so don't be discouraged if it doesn't look perfect right away. Keep experimenting, and most importantly, have fun!

Add Special Effects and Sound

Now that you've successfully edited your sequence, let's add some spice to it with special effects and sound. These two elements can significantly enhance the surrealism in your dream sequence.

Special effects are a great way to add a touch of magic to your work. They can range from simple light flares to complex animations. For example, you can use a fog effect to add an enigmatic touch to your dream sequence, or a ripple effect to create a sense of distortion. Remember, the key is to use effects to enhance the dream-like quality, not to overpower it.

On to sound. Imagine watching a movie without any music or sound effects—pretty dull, right? The same goes for your dream sequence. Sound is a powerful tool to induce emotions and amplify the dreaminess of your sequence. For instance, a soft, slow melody can create a calm, dreamy atmosphere, while an eerie, dissonant sound can evoke a sense of unease and mystery.

When choosing sounds, consider the mood and context of your dream sequence. Is it a peaceful, serene dream? Or is it a haunting, nightmarish vision? The type of sounds you choose should reflect this. Don't forget to experiment with sound effects like echoes or reverbs to make the audio more surreal.

To sum up, special effects and sound are essential tools in your toolbox when it comes to learning how to draw a surreal dream sequence. They can turn a good sequence into an unforgettable one. So go ahead, experiment and see what wonders you can create!

Review and Adjust

Now that we've added the necessary special effects and sound, it's time to review our work. You've done an incredible job learning how to draw a surreal dream sequence, but we're not finished yet. Like any great artist, you need to step back and view your work from a different perspective.

Start by watching the whole sequence from beginning to end. Does it flow smoothly? Does it evoke the emotions you were aiming for? Is the sound in sync with the visuals? These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself during the review.

Next, look out for any inconsistencies or errors. Even the smallest glitch can disrupt the dreamlike quality of your sequence. So, keep a keen eye on every detail.

Now, onto adjustments. Don't be afraid to tweak your sequence. Maybe the lighting in a certain scene isn't quite right. Or perhaps a certain sound effect seems out of place. It's okay to make changes. Remember, perfection isn't achieved in a day. It's a continuous process of learning and improving.

So grab your tools and start reviewing. Remember, the goal is not to create a perfect dream sequence on the first try, but to learn and grow with each step. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

Share and Gather Feedback

Now comes an important part in learning how to draw a surreal dream sequence: sharing your work and gathering feedback. It's easy to get so wrapped up in your own creative process that you overlook certain elements. A fresh pair of eyes can often catch things you might have missed.

First, share your dream sequence with people you trust. It could be your family, friends, or even a mentor if you have one. Make sure you choose people who will provide honest and constructive feedback. Remember, you're not looking for applause here; you're looking for ways to improve.

While receiving feedback, keep an open mind. It might be tough to hear criticism about your work, but remember that every piece of advice is a stepping stone towards perfection. Respect each perspective and consider every piece of advice. After all, art is subjective, and what one person dislikes, another might love.

Once you've gathered feedback, it's time to go back to the drawing board—literally. Use the feedback to refine and improve your dream sequence. Don't be afraid to make big changes if necessary. This is all part of the creative journey.

And there you have it! A step-by-step guide on how to draw a surreal dream sequence. With patience, creativity, and a little bit of technical know-how, you can create something truly unique. So, what are you waiting for? Start dreaming, start creating!

If you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on creating a surreal dream sequence and want to explore the world of surreal art further, check out the workshop 'Intro to Surreal Art' by Andrea Orejarena. This workshop will help you delve deeper into the surreal art world and provide you with the knowledge and inspiration to create your own unique dreamscapes.