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In Photoshop CS5: Creative Compositing, Chris Orwig demonstrates how to take photographs to the next creative level by combining images in Photoshop. This course covers multiple compositing scenarios, including portraits and architecture photos, from selecting the images, to blending photos with layer masks and blend modes, and resizing and sharpening the results. Chris also covers tips and tricks design to inspire and increase the drama and interest of photographs. Exercise files are included with this course.
Because compositing a subject or a model from one context to another is really intriguing and quite a bit of fun, I thought it'd be helpful to show one more example here. In this example, we have a little bit of help. These particular images come to us by one of my students, Robert Clausen. Robert is really good at Photoshop and he has a photographic vision. What you wanted to do was to take a picture of his dad, as you can see here, and extract it from the frame. We have a little bit of help in the sense that he's already extracted his dad from the context. He simply had him sitting on a chair here, as you can see, and then he uses the Quick Select tool, and then created a mask, and then turned that mask into a selection and copied that to a new layer.
Well, we already have our subject extracted, and we already know how to do that, because we looked at that at one of the previous movies but what I want to do here is take a look at how we can get this to look realistic and also add a bit of style in regards to color and tone in this new context. Well, the context that we're going to be working with is this book here. Here we have this old vintage book with some things sitting on top of it. This particular image was part of a series of images that he had created where he used this character in a number of different scenes.
Well, here, we'll go ahead and turn on the visibility of this layer. The first thing that we want to do really is just move it around and start to see where it might fit. We could have him sitting over here on the edge of the book, or perhaps here on these little flowers. We may need to free transform him a bit, Command+T or Ctrl+T, and then grab the Free Transform tool. I kind of feel like he should be just a touch smaller there, and then press Enter or Return. Now, one of the tricks with good compositing is of course to make sure your perspective and your lighting really matches up. So you want to shoot your subjects and your context in as similar of a lighting situation as possible.
He's done a great job here. So what we want to do, again, is just find a nice spot for this person to sit here. I think that's a pretty good spot. And then we also have this other layer. It's a closeup shot of a thimble. I'll zoom in a little bit so that we can see that. We'll zoom in by pressing Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus. Well, with this, what I want to do is I want to replace the coffee cup with this. Again, one of the tricks is when you're creating composites like this, you always want to have props. For example, like the coffee cup makes it possible to change that or swap that out with something else.
So, you saw in the previous project where she was sitting on the table, because she was on the table that made it possible to make it look like she was sitting on the books. She positioned her hands in a way that it worked. So again, you always want to keep that in mind. All right, well, here, let's go ahead and just position this thimble over this area, and what we're going to need to do is to mask this in. So in order to do that, let's hold down Option on the Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon. This will conceal the thimble in its entirely. Next, we'll grab our Brush tool.
We want to paint with white. We want to have a pretty high opacity here. We'll go all the way up to 100, and then we'll just start to paint this in. What we'll do is zoom in even further. The nice thing about this is we can modify its position after we've done this masking. We're paying a little bit more attention to the coffee cup here and a little bit less attention to the thimble. I'll show you why in a second. Again, once we've done this, if we don't have it in exactly the right position, we can modify this, by modifying the layer that has this thimble on it.
Again, I'm just being careful to get into these edges, and if ever you make a mistake, well, press the X key, and then paint on the other side to paint away some of the content that you have there, so you have nice edge detail. Well, in regards to moving this around, you want to unlink these two layers. Then we can click in the image, press the V key or click on the Move tool icon right there, and then use your arrow keys, and with your arrow keys you can nudge this around. Here you can see I desperately need to nudge this a little bit over to the right so that that looks and touch better there so that we get the lip of the cup over there, we get the thimble covering all of the coffee cup.
Then we'll go back to our mask and on our mask, press the B key to select the Brush tool, and just add a bit more of this here. I just want to try to get in all of the edge of that little thimble there. Press the X key again to paint away some of these edges and paint away anything that we brought in that's distracting, like I brought in some of the background, which I need to remove, I need to have white in the background there, not the color that was on the thimble. Then I'll go ahead and press X, and let's bring this back in a little bit more. So, I have a nice little rim edge there of that.
I think this is looking pretty good and pretty realistic. Again, just a little bit of back and forth, painting in all these details. So I will zoom in and touch more so you can see how we're doing. The fun thing about this is if you shoot this right and if you think about it ahead of time, you can really combine photographs together in just some stunning and really fun and interesting ways. So far so good. I think we're getting close. Here we can see if we Shift+Click the mask, here is before and then here is after. Here is how this is starting to fit into that context. It seems like we need a bit more of it over on this side.
So I'm going to paint in a bit more of this edge over here so it kind of wraps around a little bit better in that way. I think that's kind of nice. Then once again, we can of course move this around. Let's link these up, press the V key, and then we can nudge this one way or another, if we want the whole thing to come up or down. What I'm noticing is that while I was following the coffee cup, I want the thimble to be a little bit more prominent in the coffee cup so you'd notice it. So I needed to move mine up. I made a mistake. It was too low.
I moved it up with the mask. They're linked together. Then I unlink the mask, go back to it. With my Brush tool, I'll go back and I'll add a little bit more of this around these areas where I lost some of it. Again, the nice thing about working with a mask in this way is we can really have precise fine-tuned control over this to bring these images together. Again, we'll just work on that tail edge over there, just to have some consistent look to that. I think that's looking really nice. Really fun to have that on there.
Now one of the problems is we don't have any shadows on the thimble from the fingers. So we need to add some of those shadows and we need to just make this look just a little bit more realistic. So let's explore how we can do that. One real easy technique that we can use is to take advantage of the layers that we have and then to paint shadows into particular areas. So I just want to work on my fingers just a little bit more. It's a lot of fine-tune work here. You really want to get it just right so it looks super-realistic.
Then because this is on its own layer, it's sitting up above, what we can do is click underneath this. Create a new layer, by clicking on the New Layer icon, go ahead and name this layer shadow. Next, change our blending mode to good old Soft Light. Then from here what we'll do is we'll paint with black at a really nice and low opacity. As I'm looking at my layers stack, I'm realizing this layer actually needs to be above because we want to darken not necessarily the hands. we want to darken the thimble.
So let's move this to the top of our layers stack. Then once we've done that, when we have a really nice and low opacity we can just start to paint around the fingers there just a bit, kind of darkening that up, make it look like the hand is actually touching this, and we can darken up those edges in order to add to the believability of the combination of these two here. I think those little adjustments like that really do add that extra needed bit of information in order to make this look good. All right, well, let's zoom out, of course, to see if we're going in a good direction.
Here it is before, and then here it is after. Our overall before and then after. So far so good. We're ready to move to the next stage and add some more shadows to this photograph and also work on color and tone, and we'll do that in the next few movies.
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