I'm trying to achieve a distinct look and feel for a photomanip I'm working on. There's this trend of giving photographs an almost illustrated appearance; what I would describe as a 'surreal' look, as seen in this Avengers movie poster:
One of the premiere book cover designers in the publishing industry, Gene Mollica, achieves a similar result with his images. They're absolutely beautiful - google-image 'Gene Mollica Covers' for examples. It's not just the way he uses color, but that same look the characters on his covers have of being sort of halfway between photograph and illustration. I was hoping someone with a trained eye could point me in the direction of a technique or tutorial explaining how to achieve this. I'm proficient in Photoshop, but by no means a master. Is this done through HDR, or is there something else specific going on?
Much thanks in advance!