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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
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Lecture Comments (3)

2 answers

Last reply by: John Dufour
Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:23 AM

Post by John Dufour on April 21, 2014

I have Elements 10, and when I go to Window, Images, Float in Window,  the Float is there but not activated. (greyed out) What am I doing wrong.  John Dufour

Creating Photo Composites

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 0:05
  • Selecting the Composite Pieces 1:11
    • Selecting the Composite Pieces Overview
    • Size & Lighting
    • Perspective & Color Match
  • Creating the Composite 9:23
    • Creating a Flawless Element Edge
    • Moving Layer From One File to Another
    • Moving the Rose Behind the Petals
    • Changing the Color of the Rose
  • Lesson Summary 22:03

Transcription: Creating Photo Composites

Hi, everybody--Mike Brown back with you, with another lesson in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11!0000

We have discussed how layers work; we have discussed how the Layers panel works; I have shown you adjustment layers; we talked about layer masks--all of this to allow you to isolate additional areas and allow you to add and subtract non-destructive editing to improve your photographs.0005

In this lesson, we're going to take a look at how we use layers to create photo composites.0023

Now, a photo composite can be, actually, a couple of things.0031

If you have--let's say--you see ads all the time: in newspapers and magazines, on television, on the Internet--where someone is taking several elements--they could be photographs, type, or graphics--and they put them together to make an advertisement, or something that is pleasing, or even a work of art.0035

But, obviously, it's a combination of multiple elements.0053

A true photo composite is two or more elements put together to make a finished product that looks exactly like it was only one photo, and you can't tell that it was done.0058

Let me give you an example to start with: here is one that you have seen before.0071

Let's consolidate this to tabs...here is a picture that I took of some friends of mine; the original photo was this shot right here, and you can see that it's a nice photo.0078

But, it certainly doesn't have the pop and depth of this shot right here.0090

This is where you have to have mental visualization, or as I call it, "seeing digitally."0095

The more you do this, the more you will understand it; you need to make sure, when you are making a composite, that size, lighting, perspective, and color match are all correct; otherwise, it will be a giveaway that it is not.0101

Now, in this case, the lighting and everything is from the right; and if you look at the clouds, you can see that the right side and tops of the clouds are brighter than the lower left.0116

So, the clouds themselves are lit by the sun from the upper right, just the same way that this image was.0128

If I had had a picture of clouds that was lit the other way, all I would have to do is flip it.0137

But, it would have been a giveaway if the lighting were different.0142

In this case, let's show you how good it looks; we zoom it all the way up, and look--even the stubble of his beard and the fine hairs under here, the Refine Edge dialogue box took care of, so that we can see (look at this) right through the hair on his head; the hairs on her head--even the little fine hairs were picked up by the Refine Edge, and you can't tell, even under that intense magnification, that this is not one photograph.0146

But, by using a photo composite with another background, we improved our image dramatically.0177

That is what you can do with a photo composite.0186

All right, so the thing is: again, you have to do size, lighting, perspective, and color match; and let me describe that.0188

Here is a specific image I have here, and another one that I have here.0199

I was out shooting pictures of flowers, and I took this shot; it's a pretty nice shot--it's OK--but when I was editing through, I thought, "You know, it really looked good in the camera, but I really would like to have another item over here that would complete the composition more dramatically; this big item at the lower right over here overpowers the red flowers--it just needs something for this spot."0206

So, the first thing: I was walking around, and I spotted this rose, and I thought, "That will work!"0233

Now again, this is visualization: I was looking for something that the light was coming from the upper right to the lower left; I happened to shoot this in the same garden on the same day.0240

So, the time of day and the color didn't really matter--they matched up.0252

I recognized immediately that, if this flower was pointing in the other direction, and right here in the picture, it would fit.0257

I went ahead and shot it, and first of all: we were talking about dealing with lighting--in this case, the light is the same.0268

When I'm talking about the lighting (let's do it up here): for example, if I had shot this image at about 2 in the afternoon, and went and got this flower just before dark, it would have been yellow-red because of the late sunlight.0278

Even if the shadows were right, the coloration and the color temperature would have been off; and the way I could have corrected that was to go into Camera Raw and balance the color temperature up to match the other image.0294

In this case, they match; but you have to watch that--let's say you were compositing that sky that I composited in on the other one; let's take a quick look at that again.0308

If that sky was dusk--late afternoon--it certainly wouldn't look right here with hot sunshine.0320

So again, you have to be very careful on matching it up, so people...people who don't know anything about photography or art will still instantly recognize that something is wrong if things don't match up in a photo composite.0326

It's because we are so used to looking at good photography all the time--your brain is just attuned to it, and you know, "I don't know what is wrong, but something is."0341

That is why you have to be so careful.0350

All right, so I have this; and the other thing is size--the first point I was talking about; let's take a look over here, Image, Resize, Image Size; this is a 20-megabyte image at 180 dpi.0352

Our flower, which was taken with the same camera (obviously), is 20 megabytes at 180, and the flower itself is a little bit larger than this image.0367

I shot it with the same lens; I just moved in a little bit closer.0380

You want to make sure that the elements that you are bringing in to your primary image (which, in this case, is the background image) are at least of equal size and resolution to this original background image.0384

If you go on the Internet, and were to download a 1-megabyte small file of this flower here and bring it in, it would be so tiny when it comes in--you size it up until it's the right size, but the resolution and the quality level would be so low that the flower would degrade really badly, and certainly would not match up in quality--another giveaway.0400

So, I made sure that the flower was slightly large, because if you downsize, you're not going to lose the quality--it's only when you upsize.0425

Keep that in mind, as well; so there is your sizing that you have to keep in mind--a little practice, and you will understand that.0434

Perspective: I shot both of these items at the same (let me see if I have one other one here; I don't--I know I can find one more I want to show you really quickly--this is a really big file, but I'll show you how perspective works)...0442

Red Mercedes, no; Red Camaro--there it is.0461

You also need to make sure that your perspective matches; in this particular image, here we have a professional composite that I did for a car company, and this actually is made up of...these four are the elements that I did for the logo.0466

But here is the original car, shot at a dealership; and the original background (let me show it to you very quickly--I'll copy it and move it all the way up to the top of the layer stack): it was actually facing in the other direction, just like the flower is.0484

But you notice, when I flipped it, that the lighting matches the car.0510

It's coming from the right, just over the hill here--see the shadow on the back side--so the light is going from upper left to lower right; the car itself is upper left to lower right, so it matches, and the perspective--it's the same lens.0518

This is shot with a slightly wide-angle lens; I made sure that I shot this image with the same lens, so that it wouldn't look out of place.0534

All right, let's go back to our composite; now, we have our flower; we know that we can flip it and move it in and resize it, so now we need to do that.0544

Let's get started!0554

We have now dealt with, also, perspective and color match.0556

Just practice, and you will see how that works out.0560

All right, creating the composite: the first thing is creating a flawless element edge, and move a layer from one file to the other.0563

So, here we have--and let's see if we need to do anything first; let's do the whole artistic game...I like the shot; a little too much dead space on the lower left, so let's crop this to start with.0571

Quick crop; bring it up just a little bit; bring it in just a little bit; it probably can come right in...we can even come in to there; that would work just fine; up just a hair more, even, and accept that.0585

Pick our History panel; we went from there to there; that looks much better--we cut down on the dead space, notice, at the left side.0599

But now, we need to fill the right side, and we have a little problem at the top; I'm going to go ahead and retouch this right on the background, because I know I will never change it.0607

We'll use our Clone tool; up the thing; let's check the options: opacity is 100%, soft brush--we're good; so we're going to source; Option/Alt, click down in the greenery, and paint up in here to just copy areas in.0616

Option, Control, and change the source a little bit, so that...even though that is blurred out, we have a little repetition, so I'm going to take that blue piece out, start down here, move over a little bit more...start with this bush and come around...0634

That seems pretty good; I think I want to take that red piece out, too--I'm just a little a little caught by that; I don't want to see it, because I'm going to put a rose in that spot.0652

There we go; that looks clean, but now it's obvious that all we need to do is bring in another object.0662

Now, we can duplicate our background: we're ready to go; Command/Control+J just in case; let's go back to the rose.0669

We need to get the rose selected and copied into the other layer; there are two ways to do the transfer from layer to layer.0676

I'll show you how to do that: the first thing we're going to do (we did this in the selections--I showed you--but I'm going to show you another trick): we're going to duplicate the layer (Command/Control+J, or Duplicate Layer--go under the Layer menu, Duplicate Layer), and this layer I really don't care about, so we're not going to use adjustment layers; Enhance, Lighting, Levels.0685

All I want to do is make the flower more noticeable on the edges, so that when I cut it out or when I make the selection, it's a lot easier.0711

I'm just going to brighten the whole thing up: notice how this edge looks better--I don't care about the other part.0720

Contrast a little bit; brighten it up just a little bit more; that looks pretty good.0727

Go to our selection tool--Quick Selection again--it's perfect for this.0734

Brush size down just slightly (left bracket key), and look how it just snaps right out to those edges, because we enhanced the edges: look!0739

When we did this once before, we had problems at the bottom, but by changing the exposure on a duplicate layer, we have a perfect selection, right away--it saved us time.0749

Dump the layer into the Trash Can; now we're ready to go.0760

Now, there are two ways to do this: let me go to the Window menu, Images, and we will float them all so that you can see the two ways to deal with this.0764

There are our two images, and we have the selection made over here; I can do...one thing is to take the Move tool, and it comes in around the selection, and just click and drag it over, and drop it onto the other file, and it just duplicated the flower that was selected, right in the other file--pretty quick, huh?0772

That is one way; we'll undo that; the other way is the way we did it before, and that was with the selection active--the crawling ants, Command/Control+C, go to the other file, Command/Control+V, and paste.0798

Either way works; sometimes, if you have several files, it's a lot easier to just click and drag, and away it goes.0811

All right, back to the tabs; and we're going to deal with this image right here.0819

Now, the flower is in, so "What do you want to do?" you say; all right, we need to flip the flower, so we're going to take this layer and go to the Image menu, Rotate, Flip Layer Horizontal.0826

Voila--we have the lighting; you can see right now that the lighting is the same for both objects--a pretty good start.0842

Now, let's turn off everything else and see that we have a problem: remember, we need to create a flawless element edge, and you can see (as you saw with the feather in the other example for feather)--we have a little bit of fringe that is background from the other layer when we made the selection.0850

Now, the way to get rid of that: we select the flower; then, we invert the selection so everything else is selected; then we soften the edge and move it (remember how we can expand or contract the selection with the Refine Edge) inside the flower a little bit (that is the selection of everything else), and just delete the outer rim.0872

I'll show you how that goes.0897

Select; first we need to select it--Command/Control, click, and we'll invert the selection right now.0899

If we go to our Selection brush tool as a mask, you will see that the flower is protected; everything else is selected; so now, if we move this selection edge inside the flower and delete, it will just cut the edge off.0906

All right, so let's go ahead and do it.0924

We'll go to the Select menu, down to Refine Edge; we're viewing it on white so we can see what is going on here.0926

Now, normally I would feather this 1; I want to feather it 2, which makes it slightly softer, because as I mentioned, we're going to delete that outer edge, which means that, when you delete, it will take that soft edge and push in a little bit, which will take the actual feather of 2 and cut it down a little bit.0936

OK, let me demonstrate; we'll feather it 2; watch the edge come up as I type in 2; you see, it softened the edge, and you can see that little bit of contamination, now, because of the soft edge.0956

So, if we move it...we're expanding the selection of everything else, so it pushes in, inside the flower--you can see that right now.0970

So we see the dark edge, and we see clean pink for the flower right there, so we click OK, and now you can see that the crawling ants (let's just zoom it up again) are now inside the flower, and all of the contamination is off in the...basically, the transparent area, which is also the selected area.0983

All I have to do...I'm going to hide the crawling ants (Command/Control+H; the selection is still there) and just hit delete, and watch what happens.1010

Look at that!--and I'll hit it a second time, and it cleaned it up twice, and now we still have a nice, smooth edge, but look--the flower is perfect.1020

Let me go ahead and back that out; you see the dark edge the first time I deleted it; the second time pushed it in just a little bit further, and now we have a perfect edge, flawless, on our composite element that we brought in.1033

How about that--that is pretty cool.1049

All right, so let's turn these back on, and now we'll go on to the finish.1051

We're going to size this now: select it, Command/Control, click the thumbnail, Image, Transform, Free Transform, and we'll just size it down.1058

Now, in Elements, you know that you don't have to hold Shift; you notice, the aspect ratio is holding, and we'll just go ahead and move that flower.1070

Let's make it a little smaller--that looks pretty good; position it right here (let me zoom that down just a little bit); let's rotate it just a hair.1079

OK, move it up just a little more; that looks pretty good, right...still a little too large; bring it down just a little more; ah, there we go.1091

Perfect; we'll accept that and deselect, and there we have the flower.1105

And you say, "It still looks phony!"--patience.1111

What I'm going to do is: I'm going to put the rose behind these red petals.1116

Interesting; it's floating on top, and there is nothing else here; how am I going to do that?--really simple.1125

Highlight this layer; back to our Quick Selection tool and make the brush a little smaller, and let's just select this group of red flowers, right here.1132

They're very clear, and there we have it; so we have selected more than what is covering the rose, so I'm going to Command/Control+C (copy), and when I paste in a new layer, it comes in above the active layer.1144

I don't want it below the rose; I want it above; so I'll highlight the rose layer, Command/Control+V, turn the rose on; and you see now, if I turn on or off--there is the flower, but once again, when we pasted, we have a little contamination around the edging.1159

So, we're going to fix that: we're going to load the selection, invert it just like we did before, go into Refine Edge, feather at 2, move the edge inward just enough that we see the edge of that flower, click OK, delete it, deselect; and now, you see--look at that--a perfect edge around that.1181

If we back out, the rose now resides right behind the flowers.1206

I don't like something here; I don't like that--let's go to the background; let's go to our Clone tool, quickly remove this item here; there we go--now it looks perfect.1210

The only thing I want to do is just another little touch; I'm going to move that rose a little bit out; it's tucked in behind there a little bit--right there; rotate it just slightly, and maybe--yes, that is good.1224

Now, one thing to make it stand out a little bit better (because the pink rose is almost the same color as this cluster): let's take the rose, Command/Control, load the selection, make an adjustment layer for Hue Saturation...and we're going to use the Colorize command, which desaturates into a singular color.1243

We up the saturation and change the hue; so we'll just flip the color of the rose and make it a yellow rose--a kind of yellow-orange.1266

It's a little bit over-exposed, so Command/Control, click the layer mask to load the selection of the rose; one more adjustment layer for Levels, and we'll just darken it down, just a little bit, so that it looks pretty good.1275

There we go, and there you have a photo composite that, when we zoom it up, the edges of the rose are perfect; the edges of the red flowers are perfect; that rose looks exactly like it was really in the image, and now we have a really good composition, whereas before, all we had was that.1293

Paste in the rose, change the color, and put it behind the other flowers.1318

There you have a method of making a photo composite, and in the creation of the composite, we created flawless edges by cleaning off the decontamination.1323

That is one of the most important lessons in this particular lesson.1334

Move, from one image to another, the layers by clicking and dragging or copying and pasting; and all the fine details of finishing up a photo composite so that you get a flawless, finished image that is made up of more than one image, but looks like a singular photograph--all in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11!1338