Compositing Headshots


Advanced Adobe® Photoshop® Techniques


Lesson Info

Compositing Headshots

this segment we talkabout compositing which is over the last few years become more and more common I find because people are taking advantage of the technology to say I want to take a photograph of a person in one location even in a studio and make it look like they're in some other background and there's a few steps involved I'm going talk about kind of ah workflow idea and some tips to make it believable because that's the biggest thing I think with compositing is when you look at on image of someone on a background then right away your eyes are drawn to things in a way that doesn't look quite right now before I start I do want to tell a quick story that I think it's really interesting about my friend joel grimes who's taught here on creative live as well and he's became known for his compositing because he did it developed kind of a lighting setup he would use his studio and they would put people on a new background and he told me this story the first time we were chatting and he sa...

id when I first started I would just put a composite up on flicker and people would one of the things of anyone uses flicker whether you like it or not people give you feedback even if you don't really want any you'll get some so he would post a composite people say oh that's really good I like the way that looks and after a while people were getting the more he would do they would get more and more critical you know criticizing well that's pretty good but I can see the edge around her hair you fix that little bed and on one occasion he was doing a photo shoot and he took the model from the studio and they went outside and actually took a photograph of the beach and he posted that photograph and ten people said that's one of your worst composites there's like which was interesting concerning it wasn't a composite it was a real photograph but because in their head they were so he was so known for doing compositing of they went with that expectation so we want to make sure that no one can look at something and right away go oh I could tell that fake because of certain things so the first thing that I would say is the thing that that I started doing that changed everything for me and doing composite and I do a lot of it now is an approach that I I realised I was making myself worked too hard because I would look at in this case the subject and I would do all this work of just extracting her off of her current background and then I would move her on to the new background and try and make it look realistic and there was one particular occasion I was doing that with a photograph and I had spent all this time trying to get every I was obsessing over all the little stray hairs and I moved around new background because of the coloring of the background you could even see them and I realized I just wasted half a gn hour of my time arm or trying to get all those images so the first thing I would say is before you do anything else take the background image and open it and then put your new subject on new background before you make any decisions so I'm gonna do it this way just because it's easy place linked and go and find that file that we're working on which is uh this one I think and hit place now still camera so because I'm hitting place even if I didn't have that open as smart objects turned on which I do but if I didn't placing makes a camera smart object anyway so that's going to give us that advantage and what I'm going to do here is I'm always thinking about the end result I want to get is a realistic composite of her on this new background and initially I'm not going to worry too much about do the colors master the lighting match what I want to do is think about how can I make the life of my selection tools and photoshopped easier so right now there are some areas of this photo that would be hard for the selection tool because it's hard to tell the difference in our hair and the background so I'm going to temporarily adjust the exposure and I'm not really worried about the fact that I'm seeing areas where I'm losing highlights because this is a temporary measure to help me make a better selection so eventually once I've made a selection and turn into a mask I can come back and adjust the settings the way I want so that was my first suggestion is think first about just making a good selection not to the colors matches the right white balance that comes later and it comes later because we're doing it is a camera smart object if these were to j peg files I just drag him together I wouldn't be able to do it the same way so this is the reason why it's another benefit of doing the camera work flow so I'm just going to hit enter and now I have my two layers the other thing that occurred to me is adobe introduced new technology awhile back called refined edge and it really does some pretty remarkable things and it has a slider that will see that tries to do like an auto detection of hard edges versus soft edges and my feeling is that it's a good theory but rarely do I ever find if I move that slider that's both good at the hair and things like shoulders and bodies and legs and things like that so I tend to just assume right off the bat that I want to separate the what I would call easier parts to select like body parts and the harder part like hair now some of us jim and I were easy to composite we've eliminated the hair issue out of the equation completely so if you could do that that's even better but earlier in the last class I showed about how the difference between duplicating a smart object and doing new smart object by a copy in this case I do want to duplicate it because eventually I'm going to change the settings back I want both layers to change in this case it does make good sense to just duplicate I'm gonna hide one of them on this one I'm going to take my quick selection tool w for a quick selection and just do a quick selection as the name suggests that all I'm really worried about is getting most in fact I'm going to deliberately say don't even bother about her hair up there because we're not going to worry about that so all I'm really doing here is saying I just want to get the parts that I know photoshopped khun do well and then we hit refined edge now in refined edge we have all these options I mentioned yesterday briefly I'm going to use on layers which is the one I currently have selected and you can see right away the reason why I suggested bring the background in first and drop drag her in there or a place or and there is now every decision I make is in the correct context now the lighting's not correct yet but at least I ca n't tell do I need to worry about that is that edge looking pretty good I'm not looking at her hair I'm ignoring the fact we're now that I've cut off the top of her head completely because that's okay and all I'm really doing is looking at those edges now some people I've seen red tutorials online where people say and make sure you always feather and I'm not sure I agree with that because if you look at a photograph of a person standing against the background that's normal like a regular photograph the edge of their arms then don't look feather they just look like a sharp edge of their arm so why someone like I think the reason people would used to say that was because some of the selection tools like the magic wand the edge would be kind of jagged and this would eliminate that with the quick selection tool I rarely if ever see that even if I did feel like ultimately yeah maybe there should be some feathering I would do that later using the properties panel because in here if I change any of those settings in the middle these ones here smooth feather contrast it's permanent and if I decide later I wish I hadn't done that I'm gonna be kind of up the creek without a paddle now even though I'm going to eventually do her hair separately I'mjust going toe yeah pink a little bit in these areas near her shoulder because I want to make sure I'm eliminating any things there but we'll talk we'll do that mostly separate and at this point the main thing I want to do is create a layer mask now there's keyboard shortcuts and refinance for all of these different views the two that I use are black and white and on layers because I know ultimately my goal is to make a layer mask and I want the layer master look good so if I press the letter k it doesn't quick preview of what the layer math looks so far and in this case all I'm looking at is these are just for the shoulder not really worry about anything else obviously up here doesn't matter and then back to el for layers so that overall is looking pretty good it would not be looking good if I hadn't made a copy because I know I'm gonna do with the pair separately so we click okay now we can come to this copy and focus more on the hair areas and generally want to do here is if you had the option I'd rather be slightly inside her hair than outside because I can always adjust the settings and get mohr hair by expanding it out if I've already right at the edge of her hair than it might get too much of the background so again I choose refine edge I've got um the other one is still showing so I can sort of see the cumulative effect hears this radius slider now in the first case I didn't move it at all because the quick selection told frankly did a good enough job getting her arms that I didn't worry about it this is the problem that we face those in some tutorials will say turn on smart radius and move the radius up this mountain and what happens is the hair starts look better but then the hard edges like arms start to look not so good and even though it's supposed to take both again it depends on the photo but I found the majority of the time I'm not all that happy with it so by doing it this way I can say I gonna be frank this radius up really far because I know I already have her arms I'm not affecting those at all all I'm doing is trying to get more hair than I already have a bit more in here and then this refined radius tool is already actives all you do is just do a little bit of painting and this will often ally to seymour now don't be surprised if as you paint here doesn't at first look like I really got much hair there so I'm just painted in here and see if there's a big hair there more there and often when you let go you're kind of like I don't nearly sure if that really did anything so I'm gonna press k and you can see in the masks they're actually are some little hairs they're they're ready to be defined even further so don't worry if at first you're like cash there I wish I could see them mohr and the temptations to move these sliders even more and you can certainly try that but usually it's not going to suddenly go bangle of theirs that hair I wasn't seeing so as long as when you go to this view you can see even a little small amount of that hair you want that's good enough and I'm gonna show you towards the end of this how if you're like me and used to obsess over getting every single little hair there's an alternative method that will save you time and effort without doing that okay so back to on layers and once again I want to make sure I'm adding a layer mask now what about this thing called decontaminate colors that's intended for situations where no matter what you do you're seeing a bit of a fringe of color around something depending on what it is in this case here I can see a little bit of fringe but I feel like in the next step I can remove it whereas if it's something like someone shot on a green screen or a blue background you're seeing an actual fringe of that blue or green color then I might try decontaminate personally I would reserve that for the next step which is going to be in the properties panel because if you do it here you can it's going to have to duplicate the layer in such a way that you can't go back and edit as much so I don't know if that's a reason why I'm going to do that later on if I feel it's necessary oddly enough just as an aside there's a button on the bottom says remember settings it seems like it always remembers the settings for me anyway if I don't have the turnout's I'm not sure why that is there but if you want to click it you can click okay so now I'm closer I've got the two images I wanted when I add them together I'm very close to the result that I want if I notice as I get a little closer that there's some missing hair that must mean between the two layer masks I didn't get everything I wanted so it seems like in here I still need to go in at this point it's using regular paintbrush just have to pick a size and I'm gonna either go white to show and just get a little bit of missing pieces there and then click on this want to make sure it's on that one as well so the only thing this adds is a little bit of extra confusion now I've got two layers each with their own mass I just have to sometimes look at them go which one is this on but you can see for example here on the original layer that I did there's a little bit of hair but not that much when I showed this one it's got a bit more could still use a bit more help but we'll get to that in a second so I'm just doing a quick look around you can see overall looks pretty good there's some hair there that I want to be there and I want looks pretty good if we use that shift key turn the layer mask on off we can also compare to see the original is quite bright so we're seeing through more so at this point I feel like I'm very close to the result that I want them now before I make too many and more decisions about does her hair look appropriate I think I need to change the exposure and things to be more appropriate because right now she's too bright this was a move I made remember to help make a select so because these air two copies of the same smart object I double click on either one of them and now I can go and put the exposure back to a more reasonable place and do some little tweaking as I wish to adjust like this like okay it's gonna update both of them and right now already some of the edges that I was about to try and edit look better because now it's a better coloring that matches better it's also worth noting by the way that the background image is also a smart object so if I looked at that and said you know what this image itself could use maybe the shadows a little bit lightened up then you can certainly do that because it's also a camera a smart object so I'd liketo have both the background image and whatever and putting on top both to be smart object from camera also I have plenty of ability to change my mind all right so now as we look at it I can still see some areas like here's a little weird smudgy thing happening so if we look at the layer mask the reason we're seeing that as there's grey now this is one of the challenges we face here so this is what the master was created I'm overall I'm quite happy with it because I'm concede little bits of hair but for example inside here and in there and over here those parts shouldn't be grey they should be white because I want the middle part of her hair completely selected the edges I have to play with and this is where we take advantage of using our paintbrush in overlay mode because overlay mode is this incredibly wonderfully magical mode that changes the way the paintbrush works if I used the paintbrush normally I could paint in here but then if I slip it's like ok I've just wrecked it so instead we changed the blend mode to overlay now mentioned earlier yesterday that this is if you're into keyboard shortcuts like I am I don't know the keyboard shortcuts for all the blend modes off the top of my head but I know option shift or halt shift over overlay and for normal so that way as I'm painting on the mask aiken split back and forth overlay and normal I also liked to paint it about fifty to sixty percent capacity because I still find sometimes it brings a little bit too much in right away so I just kind of keep painting over the same area here I don't even have to worry so I'm not the brush is not staying inside the lines so to speak but it's on ly affecting the lighter gray areas now I'm goingto do this and then go back a couple steps say I wouldn't actually do it this way in real life I just want you to see this is what overlay mode is doing but I would caution you not to do too much painting viewing the mask because again you removed context you have no idea is this looking better or worse on my photograph so I would actually step back a little bit here is going backwards a bit using command options a year control c and now what I would do is make sure I'm seeing it in context I still click on the layer mask now I'm gonna paint an overlay mo but now as I'm painting it I'm seeing it in the context of my actual background and that's really important because and I hold myself up is the perfect example of what not to do when I first sorry using this overlay painting modi paint away in the layer maskell wow now that grey is looking nice and white then I go back to the actual photo go who now looks too obvious because I went too far so you want to make sure context is important always keeping everything in context so now is I'm painting in these areas I'm doing it but looking at the actual image now if I go see here's a good example if I go too far I'm actually bringing back maura the original background over here then I really wanted to so I probably went one brushstroke too much there if that happens you can also press acts to swap two black and paint back the other way now often when you do that you run into this kind of problem resume until further than I normally would but you can see how the hair just kind of stops dead this is where I used to obsess and b I'd be here for the next twenty five minutes trying to get just that one hair looking better now if it just won't come in naturally using the way I'm trying to use this overlay mode I'm going to say okay at a certain point I just have to say that's not gonna work so I have to have a plan b which I'll show you shortly but what I would like to do is make sure I'm not seeing any of these kind of glowing things there was stuff over here like this stuff here we just want that also I'm still painting an overlay black and that's going to still leave some of the very fine hairs but take away some of that little fringy thing I'm using the space bar in between so I can easily scroll around now again I've taken away a little bit of context here because I'm zoomed in so far normally I would not do that although I suppose we could always do that whole second window tile the windows thing if I had a bigger monitor I might do that but for now I want to keep going back to kind of see how we're doing in the context of our actual document so down here this is a typical challenge we face it's just it's not looking all that great right now and if I try toe paint too much in black overlay I might just lose some of the hair that's their completely we'll come back to that over here let's see what we got going on so shift click and see there's more here and here this is not showing up at all so in this case I might need to go back to probably do backto normal painting because I need to actually get some hair back that just wasn't showing up at all and I'm still painting in less than one hundred percent so I condone it gradually and make sure I'm not kind of going overboard too quickly so at this point I'm relatively happy with the way that's looking it still needs a bit of work but this is where if for example I felt why wonder in this case whether it would make sense to try feathering a little bit remember we didn't do it during refine edge or during a selection what I might try doing is right here because this feather and I'm gonna overdo it at first let's get a closer look at these hairs up here when I feather a little bit maybe it's a little better but if I go too far now just introducing mohr of the background but the key point of this is I'm not doing this feathering in any place where it's going to be in any way permanent man later I'm gonna regret it and I still today see lots of tutorials that say and make sure you feather the edge slightly of the person's body and I get that because when I look att riel photographs of someone someone standing in front of a background they don't have feathery arms but maybe they do but generally they don't so why would you do that in photo shop I mean I think it's really that's having discussions someone the other day there are certain things that people learned in photo shop and that was probably appropriate five or six or eight years ago but they still keep doing it that way because they don't realize anything's changed you know like people used to say many years ago do your type and illustrated pasted in a photo shop it'll be sharper and that was true for like probably photoshopped four but then as a photo shop six it changed but people still do that some people so it's same kind of thing here I wouldn't as a rule I always say you should always feather because sometimes a lot of the time you shouldn't so as I look through overall again said I'm relatively happy with that I think I want to make one slight more tweet just to this exposure just a little bit change the color temperature just a hair here a little better okay now I'm going to say this because I want to come back and show you the little finishing touch that I would do later on but that's what you just saw there was a very typical workflow for me of number one make sure you're placing the person in to the background orbits an object whatever it is first before we do anything else and I can't stress that enough because I'm almost embarrassed to think about how much time I wasted by not doing that by extracting the person as a stand alone like only focus on it and I got obsessed over all kinds of things and there is one case where I remember it clearly because the person had lots of hair on one side I was trying to do everything a little curl and the person the person I was doing it for was sitting beside me and we put on new backgrounds you know I think I'd like it so I'm like almost out of the picture so we moved her over and all that work I done on the site wasn't even the photograph any more now I had put on their first and she had said moved me over to the far corner I would have been like okay that's just eliminated the whole need to even worry about that other side so that's what I mean by how important context is otherwise you're just working way too hard so let's look at this example by the way I'm starting off deliberately not taking easy ones where it's a person with black hair stand against a white background because those were pretty easy but this is a little more challenging and that's why I'm doing these deliberately just show you we'll talk a little about where it's easier when you have someone in the studio setting but here's another example on a place them in some day someone will explain to me why that error message comes up periodically when it's not riel so I want this dude in here now you notice this one it didn't come in as a camera off because it's not it's a j peg so it's still a smart object but when I double clicked on it the contents were this j peg file not camera aw so how would we deal with this when the problem is like up here it's going to be a little challenging to select his hair because it's hard to tell where his hair stops and the background begins so in those circumstances we ca n't take a similar approach just a slight variation and that is the other thing we can do within photoshopped that's temporary is adjustment layers are just players so for example if I add a levels adjustment layer and I play around with that all I'm all I'm looking at is right here in his hair I'm not looking at anything else I don't care if his shirt becomes so bright at cancer and all I'm doing is looking at the challenging part that's the think biggest advice I can give you is don't worry because this is temporary if I save this and coming here now it's going to adjust that if it's sometimes in this case because of the way this is start off is a j peg looks like that's not really gonna help so much so the other option would just be to do it right inside here is always more than one way to do it but in this case because I'm working right on this layer if I start changing the adjustments going to adjust both layers which is not a horrible thing but I really want to on ly adjust this layer temporarily so this little symbol right here is something called clipping which means now I'm on ly affecting the one layer directly below not the background layer as you can see the background layer is much darker deliberately than this photo right now and but that's okay because again this is to make a point that we're not trying to end up this way we're just doing this temporarily I would still make two copies of him and initially just worry about this part of him so quick selection tool does a pretty good job often we have to do this idea of going taking a couple of passes at I'm going down option all to say take that part out at a bit more face and probably his ear take away this part don't be surprised if you have to go back over things a couple of times because the quick selection tool as I mentioned yesterday it kind of has a some of that intelligence in it so it will learn as it goes and get better this is where I tend to fall back on old techniques I used to use all the time at this point ultimate I'm going to go to refine edge but the one thing that's important remember refined edge is it the name is called refine edge not fix bad edge so if your selection is not that great to begin with it's not going to suddenly go you missed the whole part of his elbow is going to say I will refine where you missed part of his elbow and make it smoother so before I even going to refine edge I press q for quick mask and just make sure I didn't miss anything glaring like I can see there's still some stuff in here and I miss a bit of his shirt and that that still needs a bit better so for me there'd be no point yet and going to refine edge because it's still missing there's some areas where it still needs to be a little better and I'm deliberately doing this quicker than I normally would because you don't really need to see every single part of it I'm just kind of going through and showing you that the rough idea the quick selection tool does a pretty good job on many things but by the time you fool around and try and get the quick selection will to get these little tiny bits right here I would just use go back to the last o'toole hold down optional and remove these little parts here because frankly is going to take much much longer to try and get that to go away using the quick selection tool and making him a teeny teeny tiny little brush it will just take too long so even though I said I'm not going to worry about being too accurate I still don't want to make it look relatively good for you that part there okay then after all that hae go to refine ej and look at it and overall it's pretty good would I move any of these sliders probably not because at this point ignoring the fact that the lighting is completely wrong because we're not worried about that yet I'll fix that shortly for now we're just trying to say is there does the ads look pretty good and I make a layer mask now sometimes if you see for example there's a little bit of an edge in here that was just my selection wasn't ideal sometimes just clicking on the layer mask and using levels commander control l and just adjusting this a little bit sometimes you khun compress it just enough for contract it's enough to fix it in this case I just need to make a better selection there but that is a potential option so now we could go back to this layer and turn on this adjustment layer temporarily because now I want to adjust his hair so the principle is the same the difference is I can't use camera raw because it didn't start that way and I could have forced it to open and camera but it happened I just brought in as a j p so now refined edge use that as detection and crank up that things look how much just getting his hair pretty well enough to go to farr I'm getting blurry stuff that doesn't look very good so I have to find a happy medium press k for black to make sure that's still looking pretty decent now look over here see what's happening this is the problem with trying to move that radius slider fix everything is hair's looking better but there's problems with his ear in his neck and that's the challenge that I think is why it's tough to do it all in one shot why I recommend most the time doing it in a couple of shots because that will often give you a better result even though it doesn't look great as long as I see some detail in this black and white view that means I can pull out a bit more using that overly method I'm okay with that and then in context you can see it's got some still got some issues but I can fix those later in the layer mask as opposed to right now so one of the key phrases in my vocabulary of you've heard me say multiple times always end up with I want to make sure I end up with something looks good so I'm going to not obsess over and go but wait there's part right there you'll get that in a second this job will refine and just try and pull mohr hair out then I could see before that was a weird say pull more hair you know what I mean make more hair visible at least something for me to work with I'm going to make that a lair mask so now I go back to my paintbrush overlay mode and start to look at and I have to say ok what I want to get rid of here I should be printing in painting and black gave her this weird grungy stuff around the outside and his neck aiken I know there were some issues there saul switch to white get that back here you can see again I don't have to worry about being right inside because that overly mode fixes that issue here it looks like there's still a bit of a problem and to be frank sometimes you have to go back and forth because as you're fixing one problem you might introduce another problem also keeping in mind and I should probably do this now before I go too far I still have that adjustment layer turned on so if I turn that off now I'm in better context of the color of his hair so now as I'm making decisions is already going to be a little bit better so I can actually throw that away because it's served its purpose now I just need to decide he said throw it away but one thing I realized for shop is still not voice activists when you say throw it away you have to actually pull it so that you can't just say I'll throw that away and have photo shops not like on iphone where it's like what would you like me to do with that that would be kind of scary actually if photo shop was like are you sure you want to do that like stop talking to me okay so at this point I have a couple of options again this is my background image and that is us camera smart obviously I could lighten up a little bit to match and the on ly kind of trick to this now is of course I have to layers so if I decide I want to position him somewhere further I have to make sure both layers are activated and one of the composite er's best friend is if you're having a hard time with hair you just said well you know what he really should be down here right in front of those trees where you can't see his hair so much there's always other ways and of course if I do that then I have to readjust the mask accordingly but overall it's looking not bad other than maybe still needs just a bit of adjustment with the brightness to match the background now keeping our same theme going here if I decided this point I'm happy enough to continue but I don't want to make any kind of permanent decisions here be another case where I would take these two layers that air both those individual layers with layer mass and convert that to a smart object because that gives me a couple of options one of them is now aiken do things like adjusting for example even though it's it's started life as a j peg I could now use the camera filter on this to try toe adjust the court of using the camera raw type setting so it matched a little better with my background but the other thing that's kind of interesting is this is another way remember one of the benefits of converting something to a camera excuse me to a smart object is like resetting so I can start again so just like we talked about briefly yesterday with masking each of the two layers inside of this had a layer mask I could commander control click on this and add a layer mask which seems like a weird thing to do why would you add a layer mass when it's already extracted because now I could go back to the mask edge and see if I could do with some further tweaking to maybe shifty as just a little bit or something like that so this is one of the ways where weaken leverage the way that smart obvious work is giving us multiple levels of control so keep in mind I'm working at about fifty percent faster than I normally would for the sake of time I'm relatively happy with that you all know it's a composite because you saw me do it but hopefully if someone walked in right now and didn't look at the layers panel there wouldn't be anything glaringly they would say oh I can you can tell that was pasted on there because something about it doesn't look realistic it still needs some finishing touches but that's the kind of thing we can we can easily work with as we go so let's also end up saving a bunch of things so that we can go back and do some I don't want to spoil a surprise and show you the finishing touch right now because it's like a magical thing but I want to reserve that for the end of these ones

Class Description

There is always a better way to edit in Adobe® Photoshop® – learn new, advanced techniques from expert instructor Dave Cross and develop a faster, more effective post-production process.

In Advanced Adobe® Photoshop® Techniques, Dave will introduce you to a wealth of little-known and under-utilized techniques that you can use to make your photographs really pop. You’ll learn learn new ways to work with:

  • Layers and masks
  • Composites
  • Type
  • Camera Raw
  • Color grading

Dave will show you how to speed up your work with luminosity masks and how to be more creative using the Blend If sliders. You’ll see how non-destructive methods – including smart objects, adjustment layers, vector shapes and smart filters – can boost both productivity and creativity. You’ll also get lots of great tips on automating your work.

Open up a world of creative possibilities – join Dave Cross for Advanced Adobe® Photoshop® Techniques.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 15.0