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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.
This last year I was out at Palm Springs Photo Festival, which is an amazing photography conference that just brings together a lot of the greatest minds in photography and it was a real privilege to be there and one morning I walked out of my hotel and looked up and saw these desert clouds. There is something about clouds which is so fascinating. It's almost like they're bit of a dreamscape in a way. So what I wanted to do was to work with these clouds, so while I was sitting in one of the sessions I started to experiment with some of my images and I want you to take a look at that experiment here.
What I want to do here is try to create something that is a visual of what I was thinking. You'll notice that I have a few layers here. One layer is this photograph of one of my friends Jeff Johnson, a really fascinating person. I also have some copy layers that read, "I had dream that one day I looked up into the clouds and saw myself there and I saw with my own eyes." And this whole idea of seeing of dreaming of clouds. I want to try to build something that has this mood. I also have another photograph here just a black-and-white image. So we are starting off with some pretty ordinary materials but compositing in Photoshop is all about taking the ordinary and trying to build something extraordinary, trying to express some kind of idea or concept.
So here let's start off with this background layer. What we can do a lot of times with backgrounds is we can add to them by perhaps building up texture. We can do this in some interesting ways. So let's copy the background by pressing Command+J. Let's go ahead and name this new layer fibers. Here I am going to navigate to my Filter pulldown menu, and what I want to do is choose Render and then Fibers. And all this will do is just create this pattern of fibers that we can then blend into the background, just to build up more of a sense of texture.
Now a lot of times when you look at this adjustment you'll think, "Gosh! This is really nothing. I mean here it is just black and white streaks." But sometimes with composites this can help build something out. Next thing we want to do is try out some blending modes and we know that Soft Light works really well with these kind of black and white colors. And already this is getting to be pretty interesting. So let's go ahead and lower our opacity, here a bit, so it's not quite so strong but it's changing clouds to perhaps something a little bit different.
Now whenever you apply a filter you always want to blend it. You also want to add a layer masks. So let's add layer mask. Here we'll grab our Brush tool and then select a brush which is irregular. And if you have some custom brushes you could use one of those or you could just use one of these, your regular brushes here. We also want to decrease the opacity of this brush significantly. So here all that I am going to do is with a real low opacity, with a nice big brush I am going to paint with black across this. I am just looking to try to interrupt the pattern a little bit, so I am just kind of messing up the pattern.
So it isn't quite so uniform. I want to try to break it up, just a touch here, because sometimes this can help disguise things or hide your tracks. So, again, I don't really know if this is going to work but I find that masking in something like this can help build out the effect even better. You also want to try other blending modes like Overlay. That gives you a bit more of that boost there and it's starting to really just build up this interesting, intriguing background. Let's turn on the layer with this guy here.
And it's an interesting layer, interesting color, but I want things to go cool. So I know I'm going to need to desaturate this layer. To do that let's go to Image. Let's choose Adjustments. And actually what I need to do first is click on the layer that I want to Desaturate. So I made a little mistake there. But let's click on that layer, now go to Image Adjustments, and then we'll see that all of our options are visible. In particular, Desaturate. I'm not too concerned with how it's being converted to black-and-white. I just want a black-and-white conversion.
Next let's take this to a blending mode of Soft Light and this will start to bring this image into that background. Well I'm liking that but I've lost some of the photo. I also want him to be looking from the left side to the right so I need to flip this around. One easy way to do that is to press Command+T on Mac, Ctrl+T on Windows, and then right-click or Ctrl+click, and hear this contextual menu you have a number of different options. The one I'm interested in is flipping this so I am going to go ahead and flip this horizontally. Press Enter or Return.
Next I'll select the Move tool and I'll go ahead reposition this over here on the left side of the frame. Now I'll get it exactly where I want it. The trick of course is that I don't have enough of the guy. I need more of him. The background is just overpowering everything. So let's take a look at how we can bring out more of the guy and continue to build out this composite in the next few movies.
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