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Composites Part 2

  • REMEMBER: the key to a successful composite is matching up
  • Lighting
  • Perspective
  • The heights of the elements
  • A flawless edge for the composite pieces
  • Proper color match
  • Matching the grain ( noise ) and resolution
  • Proper focus for all elements

Composites Part 2

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:06
  • Creating The Composite 2:21
    • Images Overview
    • Sharpening The Image
    • Moving & Placing Layers
    • Retouching The Wall
    • Retouching The Wall Under The Flowers
    • Adding Shadow With The Burn Tool
    • Adding The Lawnmower
  • Lesson Summary 23:38

Transcription: Composites Part 2

Hi everybody, Mike Brown here again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

We've been talking about layers, but at this point you've got a good background at making selections, corrections, also the retouching capabilities, and we're going to put that all together here, including what I spoke about in the last layers lesson about seeing digitally...0007

And we're going to create a complete composite from right up here starting visualizing it in my brain, to putting it down in a finished, singular image made of several different layers and different objects, OK.0026

So, the way I did this one--and I talked to you about seeing digitally...I'm trying to figure out exactly how to phrase this to you.0043

When you're looking at a vista, don't just get caught up in the star attraction, whatever it may be.0052

Look around, see everything that's there, and look at it from a photographic point of view how it's going to appear in your picture.0063

The biggest mistake I see; you go to some beautiful national park, how about Yosemite--most people have been to Yosemite or seen images of it--when you first come through the tunnel, it opens out and there's Half Dome in the distance and there's Bridal Veil Falls on the right and El Capitan (a huge cliff) on the left.0072

And you look at it all, and you pose your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend at the wall to take a picture of this and what you didn't notice is it was in the afternoon and the sun is behind them, and so you pop the picture and what you didn't notice is that that big pine tree that 30 years ago didn't show, was growing right up out of her head and so you get home and you look at the image.0091

She's a dark silhouette with a tree growing out of her head in this scene.0115

Nobody really looks--they just see what their mind wants to see, not what's actually there, so you need to be visualizing carefully.0119

I took my camera, and I just went and took a walk for two or three blocks, looking to see if I could find the two or three elements to make a composite, and here's what we came up with...0129

I was walking down and I walked around the corner, and up I came on this really nice looking wall with a lot of texture and feel to it and just some emotion--I like the way the mortar comes out of the bricks and it has curves, and the light's dramatic over it.0142

Right away that caught my eye, and even further in the grass, if you look, you'll see we've got all these little orange droppings from a tree, it's kind of cool, so I said "OK this is going to be a good element for my background, and I can strip whatever I need in there".0157

And what hit my mind immediately, because I'm looking at things carefully, the wall's beautiful but the background--you can see a little of it because I didn't even shoot it--it's just stuff, it wasn't of visual interest.0173

But I immediately said "you know, I've got a wall, if I can find something--a house, or a texture, or something that I can put behind that wall, that will work, and then maybe I can find some rocks or something to put on the lawn and that will complete my composition".0186

So I'm walking down the street less than a half a block further down, I come on another wall on the other side of the street, and here it is...and I'm going "wait a minute, there's an element of flowers that I could put on top of this wall", but you see the light here is from the right to the left, but the background light was from the left to the right.0205

But immediately I go "well that's easy, in Photoshop we just flip the background, or flip the entire image, whatever we want to do".0231

So let's do that right now--we'll take this image; Image, Rotation, Flip Canvas Horizontal, and now look; the light is from right to left, and you can see right off the bat that that might fit on top of the wall, bingo.0238

So I shot this again holding the camera at the same height with the same zoom, notice that they fit from a perspective stand point--you have to be very careful when you're shooting your elements; same lighting, same height, same zoom.0254

Then I was just looking for something else, couldn't find a thing, then two doors down from my house, on the lawn, here's a toy lawnmower, and it wasn't in the correct position but I just went "ah, there's the element we need", I just positioned it on the lawn and stood and shot it from the same--I got a little closer but I made sure that the angle was the same as the background shot.0269

You can see that little lawnmower will fit right down on that lawn area, so now we have our three elements, seeing digitally.0292

OK, first thing we need to do; we look at the background, we need to retouch the hole in the wall.0300

Got our Layers panel, the first thing we always do is duplicate the layer; Layer, Duplicate Layer, dropdown menu, Duplicate Layer, shortcut--Command on a Mac, Control on a PC plus the letter J, duplicate it--we're going to do it a second time so we can sharpen the image just a little bit.0308

As I zoom it up you can see it's a little bit soft and as we get over where the retouch is, the edging--it's a little soft out here, so what we're going to do, remember the High Pass Sharpening.0327

Blend modes, drop it down to overlay, it gets real contrasty, don't freak out.0339

Go to the Filter menu, down to Other, over and down to High Pass, and you adjust this so that just the edges work.0345

We're going to change that and go up right there on the rocks...there we go--you see the edges but you don't see the color--when you see the color, you can see right here, it's over-sharpening, you can see all this pixelization in there.0355

Round two, maybe even 1.7--see how it's just black and white edges?0367

Click OK, turn it off, turn it on, looks pretty good.0373

You want to blend those layers together, so one's highlighted, Command or Control on a PC, click to highlight both layers, little dropdown menu, Merge Layers merges the active highlighted layers, and there you go!0377

Turn it off and on, you can see down here probably in the grass, if we turn it off it's a little blurry, turn it on, it's sharpened up, OK.0395

We're good, so we're going to take the flowers, and we're going to bring those into the other image.0405

Now there's a couple of ways you could do this, I'm going to Window Arrange, Float All in Windows...we got a whole bunch of images here.0411

I could (I'm going to take this out of here, and this one--no, I'm going to save that one, I'll show it to you in a little bit, there was the final one, we'll just turn that off, one more and the background) you can very simply drag a layer from one image to another.0420

I think we can do this with the background--I haven't tried this one before--just drag it, and drop it, and there's the whole thing right in there, that's one way to do that.0440

The other way would be to take your Lasso tool for example, feather at zero, take the flowers, make a very loose selection around them like this, copy...and then go find that other one, and paste.0450

This one's a little bit better in this case because we got rid of some of the excess detail, but you also drag your (even the background layer) just drag and drop from one image to another, very cool, huh?0468

Alright, we'll close out the flowers--don't need them anymore, we're going to reconsolidate everything to tabs; Arrange, Consolidate to Tabs.0482

Now, we're going to take our Move tool for the layers, move this around--another thing we need to do--we need more top, so we're going to go...highlight the background layer--Image, Canvas Size--remember, this adds more canvas.0491

We're going to lock it at the bottom by making the little center piece down there so it can only go up, and we're going to make the height 12 inches, extend it in white, now we've got some place to play with it.0507

Take the Layer tool again, highlight the flowers, and move them, and we can see that right here, I need to rotate it down a little bit; Command or Control+T, that's Edit, Free Transform.0519

And we're going to put the cursor so you get the arrows and we're going to rotate it, just a little bit--just like that, move it up and down, that looks fairly close, we can always change it later.0535

We need to make it a little bit bigger; Shift key, grab a corner, make the flowers come out that side a little bit--make them come over here almost to the edge just like that...that looks pretty good, click OK and we'll take it.0548

Let's move it up a little...we'll deal with that in a minute.0563

Now, I'm going to turn that layer off, let's retouch that hole.0568

Highlight this layer, zoom it up...we're going to do our retouching now.0574

What we want to do is look at this and I see we need bricks, so we'll take our Clone tool, 100% opacity, brush size about like that, and I can see that right here I'd like to actually fill in a little mortar, so we'll pick this mortar, right here--Option or Alt click at the bottom of it, release--come right up here and fill it in.0580

Now we've filled in that little section.0604

We need a brick, and I like...I like this one right here, maybe this one down here--the angle looks about right.0606

Option or Alt click on the corner, which would be right there, and just paint her across...let's just go ahead and paint it completely and fill that in, come on up, fill in the top line, and just paint the entirety in there...OK.0615

Now we've mismatched this one, so we're going to go Option or Alt...let's pick the center, right...there.0635

Come back and paint that, we can just extend this--I'm trying to find a line--there we go.0650

Just extend it over--be careful you don't get any duplications, looks pretty good.0655

Alright, we need another brick up here, so let's take this one, Option or Alt click, take it right here, paint it up, over, and fill it in...looks pretty good, let's get that top edge, and now we need a little brick to fill in there--take a smaller brush size option, just pick a brick, any brick, and just paint it in...0660

And we're going to extend this down just a little bit, take the rock and add just a little bit to it, and there you go--I see one spot right there, and let's zoom it up and take a look.0687

It looks pretty good, I'd like to fix this little thing right here...there.0699

We have now fixed the brick--oh, I see something, remember we talked about repetition; look right here, look right here, that's a giveaway that it's Photoshopped, so I'm going to fix that by going right here.0704

Option...and we'll just clean that brick up, make that a little darker brick, now we've got a new one.0722

OK, looks perfect, now we've done our retouch work, pretty easy huh?0730

We started with that, and we retouched it up to make it look like a good wall.0735

Alright, let's get our flowers back--the first thing I need to do is get rid of the other piece of wall under the flowers.0740

Lasso tool, feather of one, and we're just going to kind of loosely go around the flowers...tracing them that we get flower...get up in here.0749

You can even go up a little bit because what we're going to do is we're going to end up...deleted the wrong thing--make sure you're on the right layer and delete, go down the flowers again and we're just kind of following them roughly.0764

Take these because I want that accurate, go back into the black, get rid of the wall...and we're going to go on up into here, come down a little bit, up and down, make sure I get this flower and this one, a little bit up.0778

You can do this rough, and I'll show you why because we're going to shade it all dark, and we can always fill it back in with other flower stuff if we don't like what we've got.0791

Go down and get this flower so it floats down there.0802

Tablet, this is the way to go, it gets it done--OK, there we go--oops, a little spot right there...and a little up right there...and there we got it.0807

OK, we've now outlined the flowers basically, let's move them and see how it looks--we'd like to be right about there on the wall...that looks pretty decent--we can even come up a little higher on these flowers on this end because if you notice we got lots of wall up there.0819

So let's take the flowers--Lasso tool, and we'll just come right up to these guys right up here and we'll let that one kind of droop down a little bit more, we'll come back up in.0839

We're creating a little dimension here...take that away--notice, it's going to be kind of coming down--I'll do the same thing up in here...just kind of abstractly adding a little depth to it so that we don't get just those straight edges all day and all night, up and down, click, and we'll even do the same thing right here...0850

Oh that's perfect, look at that!0874

Just, you know, putting notches in it so that it looks like it's real, not just a straight edge.0877

Take some more up here...down like that...I got a little too much there but that's OK, we're on the flower layer, we'll clone just a little more greenery right into that spot to fill it back up there, there we go.0883

Now it looks pretty decent, and you go "it still doesn't look right", absolutely.0901

Now we're going to do the trick--let's take our copy layer and copy it again--Command or Control+J to have a spare, and we're going to do this.0906

Take the Burn tool, and we're going to burn the rock layer to add shadow, we're going to burn about--let's go 30%, and mid-tones, and we'll just start painting underneath the flowers, but we're painting the rock...0914

Keep in mind that we're painting the rock layer, see that?0934

We're darkening the rock layer down so that the flowers look like we're creating shadowing so the flowers are hanging over the wall rather than--this one we need highlights so we'll shift to the highlights, and just darken down that upper edge of highlight there--oh yes, that looks great, oh look at that, oh wow, love it.0938

It's looking like the real McCoy--let's darken that up back in there just a little bit more, go back to the mid-tones, and we'll kick these rocks down, darken up some stuff underneath, back to highlights for this little section down here...oh yes, I'll darken that way down right in there, bring it across a little bit right under here.0961

I want to get black, get black, get black, there we go!0986

Just play with it...mid-tones down on the actual edge of the wall for a little depth and a little more under there, and let me turn that off and you can see that...there's where we actually did darkening on the other layer, but look at the flowers, looks like they belong there.0990

Let's crop this, bring it down and get the rest of that out of there, bring it in just a hair, we're good...and we come we can't, click Enter, and now we've got our upper--actually we can take a little more out of that--let's bring it down just a hair further...there.1011

And now it looks like the flowers are really on top of the wall, so we took that wall, and added the flowers onto it pretty easily.1033

We have one more element to go, stick with me.1044

Let's get that lawnmower...there's the lawnmower.1047

Now I can see right away that the grass is a little more yellow here, so what I'm going to do is take the...actually, we'll just take the Quick Mask, and we're going to paint a selection, not a mask, I've highlighted selection, so we're going to paint in red, and it will be a selection.1050

We're just going to select the grass--oops, I got to have the Quick Mask on, that black was there, there we go, I want to do it at 100%, not 50%, and there it comes right down the edge...I could actually go right on up and take that bright area there and probably do that as well.1069

OK, so we'll fill this in really quick...the images for this composite are online at suggest that you download them, check this particular lesson out a couple of times, and do the composite, and you'll be able to see, it will really help you just to follow through and do this.1091

OK, this layer; curves, let's just bring it down a hair...snap the contrast slightly...and let's see how that looks with the lawnmower--dark green, oh that's pretty good--a little greeny here so we're going to do it on the pixels this time because I want to match it up.1113

We're going to do color balance, and throw just a little yellow into that grass, there it is, right there, and we'll go back to the background, pretty much close match.1134

OK, lawnmower, Lasso tool, one pixel, loose selection--don't get the shadow because you don't want to have to recreate it.1146

Now we're going to fix this in a moment--I'll show you, it's real simple--Command+C to copy, back to our major one.1157

We're here at Command or Control+V to paste it in, we need to transform it to make it smaller; Command or Control+T, Shift for the aspect ratio, and bring the lawnmower down to a proper size, probably about like that would do.1164

I want to rotate it just a hair, and I'll fit it right in the grass right there.1184

OK, let's zoom it's where the details come into play.1189

See the edges, the grass is a little different.1194

We did match up the color pretty good, now here's a good trick; take the Rubber Stamp tool, 100%, we are actually going to clone from this layer of grass, up to this layer and that will remove this surround--watch how this works.1196

We'll start right here at the bottom layer, Option or Alt source right on the little corner of that orange flower so we have a reference point.1219

Release, it's right there.1229

Highlight the lawnmower layer and go back and start your cloning, so you're cloning right over it, you're cloning from one layer up, watch what happens.1231

It's slightly off, but look at that, see what we can do--we'll get that brush a little bigger.1240

Now when you paint, if you will, you're cloning from this layer, down here, up to the lawnmower layer.1245

And it's basically cloning the exact bottom to top and just follow along, don't get the shadow under the lawnmower, but you notice now we can just paint in almost up to the edge of the lawnmower's wheels, and it matches up, how's that for clever?1254

Instead of having to select the exact lawnmower and then go back and make a shadow, we just clone from the bottom up because it's grass removing grass, and come down here down the edge (I'm doing this as quickly as I can, I don't want to take all of your time) and we'll go right there.1276

Now, on the back end here, I don't want to hit the shadow because we already have a shadow working in there, and there you have it--I'm going to do about a 20%, and just paint a little to soften that edge where the shadow is, and just a little inside...and right along that edge right there...there we go.1298

See how that matches up?1321

Now, one final little touch, this is so cool.1323

Watch this--we are painting now at 100%, I'm going to go to that bottom layer, Command or Control click on this orange piece right here on the corner, highlight the lawnmower layer--now we're cloning from the bottom, and put that little orange piece inside the lawnmower so that everything has a better feel.1326

Let's put one more little one in--let's about this little one in the corner, from the bottom, Option or Alt click on it up to the lawnmower layer, and we'll put it right in there.1351

Just lighten up the grass a little bit, and there we go.1366

There you have from start to finish.1370

We took (let's see, there's where we started) we took that, fixed it by retouching the wall, added the flowers, toned it to get our shadowing to match the flowers in, added the lawnmower, and just a little bit of adjustment on the grass to give our composite a perfect feel.1374

And you notice, the lighting, the perspective, everything meshes into a singular looking photograph.1400

So we have now talked about seeing digitally, finding the primary images and matching the other photographic pieces up to it, and we used layers and adjustment layers, exposure and color, selections, channels, we didn't use masks.1408

And selections we did, transformations, sharpening, retouching and toning with the Burn tool, a complete composite from visualizing it in your brain, through the camera, into the computer, into a finished...absolutely real looking composite.1423

All in Photoshop CS6.1443