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Basic Photoshop Tools for Compositing Part 2

Lesson 14 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Basic Photoshop Tools for Compositing Part 2

Lesson 14 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

14. Basic Photoshop Tools for Compositing Part 2


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Why Composite ?


Logic Checklist


What Not To Do When Compositing


Shooting for Composite


Changing Backgrounds and Light


Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


Lesson Info

Basic Photoshop Tools for Compositing Part 2

so let's move on to the regular brush tool my favorite tool I love the brush tool do lots of things with the brush tool like brushing and it's really fun so what do you do with the brush tool is I typically use it on a layer mask so if I go over here to my layers palate I'm going to talk about that in just a second at more length but typically that's what I'm using the brush for is essentially as an alternate eraser tool so that you don't have to make a mistake and then never be able to fix it ever again so I'm going to talk about that more but the other way that I very often will use the brush tool is just to draw a color in somewhere and I don't mean like okay I'm goingto choose red and we're going to just like have fun with painting and stuff I don't know what that says but we're not going to do that so instead what I mean is I will use a very big brush so all right click and right clicking on any brush will bring up the size and hardness and all of these options now if you don't wa...

nt to right click to bring up your options then you can go right over here to this dropdown menu and you can play with the size and the hardness and you have all these different brushes so what I d'oh typically is I will right click and I'll play with my size first how big do I want to make my brush so you khun see if you move off of that little dialog box that you can see how big the brushes this goes really big bigger than any of my photoshopped version so you can make it pretty big communistic maybe around there for what we're about to dio and I'm leaving my hardness of zero percent so we'll talk about that in a second right now all we need to know is that this brush right here is zero percent hardness which means it's very soft very fuzzy nice smooth transition with whatever you're painting okay so I have a really soft brush and one way that I might use a really soft brush is tio create fog in the background maybe to create a vignette around the image anything like that I'll do that choosing a color so let's see instead of choosing a color we can use the eyedropper tool you don't actually have to switch to the eyedropper tool when you're on a brush instead you can just hold fault or option and then choose any of the colors so I'm going to choose here in this background where her shadow is and now I might use this brush just a paint a vignette write around the outside of just here if I'm going to do that I'm going to take the opacity down of that brush that way it's not just black painting black all over the place instead I'll take that drop down then you lower the opacity quite a lot I'm at nineteen percent there and then I'll draw a little been yet around the outside edges just like that now I would normally do this on a separate layer so instead of doing it right on this layer here that we're working with instead of doing it on the background layer I would be much more inclined to do it on a separate layer that way I'm not working destructively so we'll talk about that in a second as well first let's go through our brushes some more so we have the clone stamp tool here which is of course the photographer's best friend especially for annoying people who get in the background of pictures and what I want to dio is I want to clone so I am literally selecting a portion of the image and then moving those pixels somewhere else so if I really like his face we can hold alter option click his face and we can just paint that wherever we want oh my gosh this is so fun okay so what I want to do is just select the point that's pretty good I want to select the point that I want to clone and then simply click and draw to paint that in somewhere else all right so the next tool that I'm going to talk about here is the eraser tool because if you like me are against layer masks at this point in your life know that it will get better and things will change but if not you can always use the eraser tool to simply brace an image so that's very straightforward and it works the same way as all the other brushes you right click and you'll have the size now this hardness is already up to one hundred percent indicating that were selected on this brush which is a hard edge brush if we have a hard edge brush that simply means that we are going to make a really sharp line wherever we erase or draw our brush so that's something that I usually keep down at zero unless we're doing something very specific which we will talk about leader so here we have grady in which we're not going to talk about right now it's not something that I really use very often but we will talk about radiance tomorrow when we talk about lighting and editing we have a blurred tool here sharpen and smudge again tools that I do not use things that are just there and look pretty and they can come in extremely handy but I find it to be too splotchy with this blur tool so I tend to prefer to make a selection and then blur that selection and then we have dodge burn and these are things that I do not use in any sort of typical way whatsoever so what I use the dodge in bern tool for um or to make bones look like they're popping and stuff like that like ribs and things like that spines I love doing that to a spine so essentially I started understanding light because of the dodge in bern tools that is where I started to grasp the idea of lighting and photoshopped and I did that because don't do that I did that because I was going into images and I really wish that we had a like creepy picture of a girl spine or something but we don't so pretend but I did this because I decided one day that I wanted it to look like my bones were popping like this creepy picture so I had photographed my spine and I looked at the light source which is kind of coming from the side and I realized that with the dodge and burn tools which make things brighter or darker depending on what you're brushing what this does is it allows you to minutes piil eight how we read the white so let's say that I wanted teo do something kind of mean here and make his cheek look like it's popping off this face something this is getting really weird I don't know how this happened but okay so we're going to take the exposure down right here on that a dodge tool and right here where it says range that's where you want to be looking to see what you're going to effect in the picture so we have a highlight here in a mid tone here so when this range says mid tones that means we're mostly going to affect mid tones in this picture so if I were to brush this tool along his hair and then along this face you would see quite a difference in how much it's affecting each of those areas so I could take this dropdown menu to highlights or shadows as well depending on what you're working with but we're going to keep it at mid tones so I could take this dodge tool and I could start to dodge right here on his face so we can see what that's done right it's kind of I could see it a lot on my computer is just pulling up his cheek and now if I want to do the opposite with the burn tool I'm just going to make this brush a little bit bigger take this exposure down just a bit so it's not so harsh then I can start to create a shadow on the other side and while this is ridiculously over the top right now what this is doing is it's creating a three d effect and that's how people work in gaming if you're creating three d objects it's all about what light are you applying to the object so the object just happens to be something stuck in his cheek right now I don't know how but that happens to be the object so when I am making something pop a little bit more in photoshopped that's what I'll do I will use dodging burn in that way which I reckon recognize is not a typical way of working but there is back to normal that's good that's how I used odgen burt I know that there are ways he's dodging burn teo clear up skin and stuff like that no idea how to do that at all so I don't actually know what people use dodging burn for typically if it's to clean up skin or to just make overall sort of lightness and darkness but I use it for that and I also use the dodge tool to create highlights and hair that's the only other thing that I would really focus on is changing my range to shadow and then just brushing it through her hair here to bring up some of those highlights just so that we can see a little bit of detail in the darkness there and create some shine on her locks so that's something that I would be more inclined to dio with the dodge tool all right so I've got the dodge tool there very good now let's move on I don't use the pen tool I just don't know why anything else to be so complicated in life but I tend not to use it and it's a really cool tool though to be honest I just never really got into it so much but this confuses me so I'm not going to do that but if that's how you like to make selections um that could be a really cool thing to dio it's just you know my logical brain now not gonna work okay so let's go ahead and how do I even get out of that there we go okay tech storm kind of irrelevant for what we're doing on dh the only other thing here is the color swatches so if you double click on one of those colors you can then go ahead and choose whatever color you want always handy something that I use very often and yet nothing else down there all right so I'm going to go back over here to my layers and lets talk a little bit now about layers and how we can start to use layer masks and adjustment layers and stuff like that so I use layers always have that channel up here the tab dialog box whatever you want to call it I have the layers dialog box up I also have history and navigator so that's what's going on over here on the other side of my image I'm just going to make this little bit shorter so that we can see what's going on there there we go okay so history navigator and layers now the navigator's not so necessary it's not really going to do much you can always click inside this red box to move around the frame if you want I was just a really quick easy way to see more of the image without scrolling or you could always hold down the space bar and that little hand pops up and you can move around that way and that's how I tend to work but the reason why I have the navigator up is because it provides a smaller view of the image at all times which means that if you're doing a big composite or you're doing something we're focusing so much on little parts of the image that you're really zoomed in this could be awesome because you could just really quickly see a tiny version of your image which allows you to look at composition very differently light very differently and all of those things so I like to keep it up for that and because I can just hit these little mountains the big mountains and the little mountains to zoom in and out pretty simply but you can also use keyboard shortcuts so command plus or command minus will also do the same thing so navigator not so necessary but I love seeing my image small history definitely necessary for me I am always going back in history you can always commands the your way back but it's a little bit tedious so I like to keep my history tab up now with my layers tab here this is what I'm working with most on the right hand side when I am working in photo shop so what I'm doing is paying attention to how many layers I have sometimes of lame naming the layers of from feeling really ambitious but that's only happened like three times I think in my life so typically I don't do that but first thing that we want to know about the layers palette here is that we can make a duplicate layer we can make many duplicate layers we can erase layers weaken turn layers on and off we can group players all of these different options so I can take this background layer and click it and you can see I can click and move it and it's not going to do anything but if I click it and I drag it down here to this little page foot by kon and drop it it will create a duplicate layer now for all of these little shortcut buttons there you can always write click to do that so you could just write click and duplicate layer and say okay and that's going to allow you to the same exact thing so you I'm not I'm going to go back to that mental okay so we have a lot of people in the chat room either agree or disagree with you and I love that I love that they're people who are like I love the pen tool right after like cape fear claude said love the pen tool very precise right after out of my main set you're not alone brooke well good I don't feel alone but I do recognize how credibly useful that tool is I just don't I've never mastered it so I have a really hard time with it but you know I've seen people use it before and I've just been like what is even happening right now that's amazing okay so we have a duplicate layer here and when we look at the layers palate I'm paying attention to a few different things the normal here where it says normal but drop down menu I'm paying attention to the blending mode which is something that we're going to talk about quite a bit because that is very very useful in terms of blending anything in photo shop opacity is the other thing that I pay a lot of attention tio and that's because I like to blend things really smoothly and my images I don't want anything tto look really pasted on and so both of these things will allow blending toe happen within your layers so I've got this extra layer here and that means that I can do whatever I want with it at this point I can leave it alone just so that I have a copy just for safety or I can start to make adjustments to this layer so if I go ahead and click this little icon right here this is an adjustment layer it's a half black half white circle so you can see when I hover long enough it says create new phil or adjustment layer when I click that I have all of these options and these options should look familiar if you are familiar with image adjustments it's almost all of the same boobs come back most all of the same adjustments here that you see in your adjustment layers with the exception of my favorite tool which is replaced color so we're going to talk about getting around that in just a little bit but everything else is in there it's curves exposure levels all those fun things so the way that I want to work with that is to click and then I get to decide which of these adjustments I want to make so let's say I wanted to exposure that's nice and simple what you'll see is that exposure dialog box pop up but then you also have an adjustment layer over here which is simply saying that within your adjustment layer you have the ability now to turn that way or on and off and then you don't see it so I can take that exposure down quite a bit and then I can talk all that eyeball on and off and then that's perfect now we don't to see it or we do but the really good thing about it is that if I want teo let's say I don't want the subject to be dark but I want the outside edges to be dark I am now automatically clicked on a layer mask that was created for me so a layer mask is this little circle within a square button if I click on my background copy layer here I can click that and it makes this little layer masked pop up so let's focus on the exposure layer mask they're exactly the same thing the only difference is that the exposure layer mask was done automatically because we're creating an adjustment layer so while we're on this white box here what I simply want to do is either a race or bring back we've erased and that's why I like the brush tour so much so the brush tool is going to allow me to either erase or bring it back if I am on black meaning black is my color swatch that's on top that means that I'll be erasing the opposite is true white so if I take my opacity back up and I can go ahead and just paint right in there to show our subject through so that doesn't look half bad with created a vignette just very very simply but if you feel that that's too drastic and you just don't like that enough you could take the opacity of that layer down to make it a little bit more subtle so it's a really nice way of playing with the netting and exposure and things like that I don't typically do an exposure layer that's not something that I'm usually drawn to so instead let's talk about what I would normally do which is to go for curves levels brightness contrast hugh saturation those air might go to adjustment layers that I'm typically using so let's talk about them as though you've never heard about them before now I am looking right here at this curves adjustment layer within curves we have lots and lots of options okay so right now I can click this graph and I am able to move that line I can create points and through those points I can do a lot of different things I could move it up or down and create anchor points essentially I don't know what I've just done but that is the beauty of using curves on this setting in this setting I mean this little squiggly line here with some docks on it that's what that indicates that you can create points there we go so I've created my points to get rid of them you can do a couple of different things one easy way is just a click and drag the point so if you don't want to get rid of everything that you've done you can just click the point you don't want and drag it right off of the graph and that will get rid of it you can do a couple of other things here this little pencil tool allows you to actually draw the curve and so you khun draw what you want it to look like which confuses the crap out of me I get so lost when I do this and this is largely because of how much I like tio do things in very small steps and build from there so I would much rather make this brighter and and say okay now what okay I'm gonna add contrast will do that maybe now we need to take the highlights down like that's how I work so I get really lost with this little pencil tool but it's pretty cool at the same time it's great if you already know the curve that you want to create so maybe you start here and you're like oh yes going to be like really contrast e you can create a contrast curve by drawing it in but now I'm not gonna do that so once you clicked back on your points you're I don't know what that's officially called or if it has an official name I'm hovering edit points to modify the curve that is not a name for something I just have to say so if you click back on that after drawing in your curve it pulls up individual points and turns it into a points graph so that means that you can now adjust it based on those points or you can get rid of certain points without having to draw again so I like that now one thing that I really need to point out here is that if you were using curves or any adjustment layer and it's affecting all the layers below it which is what happens with an adjustment layer you can always pin it to the layer just below with this little icon right here which is I don't know it's like a square with a little arrow going down so once you pin it that's saying that instead of this curves adjustment layer affecting all layers below it it's only going to affect the one layer below it which honestly it was like mind blowing for me when I realized that because I would always say adjustment layers are great but I don't I want it to affect everything below it I just wanted to affect this one thing so I pin mike adjustment layers all the time now pin them because of a multitude of reasons now let's say that you've just composited new arm onto this picture and that arm is on a separate layer totally separate and that arm is too yellow and you need to add more blue in there then you don't want to create an adjustment layer and make everything more blue you just want to make that are more blue so if you pin it to the arm and that's all you're going to effect the problem with doing it any other way is that you're doing something to the actual layer so that's the only other way to get around it is to clique the actual arm layer go into curves and make the change to that image so instead of doing that if you don't want to do that you can always pin it all right so let me go back into curves here so the way that it works is you have you're to shadow points down here in your highlight points appear if I move the curve into the upper triangle I am making everything brighter because this whole top triangle is bright and everything below is dark so you can think of it in those two ways this point on the graph that's always there indicate shadows this one indicates highlights so when you look at the graph in the background with that gray that's showing you if you have highlights mid tones or shadows so we have shadows down here it's kind of peking and more of the shadow area and we don't have a lot of highlights so I can go ahead and make those adjustments now you can also go into rgb and then choose red green or blue so you can add red by pulling up in green or science by pulling down and then we have the green curve at green or add magenta and then we have blue adding blue or yellow okay so I'm going to get out of curves and we're just going to throw this in the trash because we don't need that really quick just some feedback j j is julia says I never knew pinning my world has officially changed forever and elizabeth on earth says omg paying an adjustment layer that's brilliant this changes everything honestly I screamed about this for days to people I called my mom and I'm like oh my gosh and everybody's just like I don't know what you're talking about because apparently I need more photo people in my life to tell these things teo yeah I told my husband we were both very very exciting I went in and just I don't know like a month ago and I said just going to click everything that I can click and see what it does like everywhere in photo shop and it was really tedious and really boring most of the time but that we are very grateful to you for doing because people love what you're what what you're doing awesome that is fantastic okay so a couple of other things that I use in my images to adjust the different composites or parts of composites that I have put in all use hugh saturation a lot I really like to take the saturation down on skin tones especially but to make things match that's really really important for me in terms of color we'll throw you in the trash too and then taking another look I don't really use levels very often it's something that I find that curves does the same thing we have a little bit more control that way but that's just a really personal preference so you can always make things brighter by pulling this one up over here and levels is good because it shows you this is white this is great this is black so you know exactly where the shadows and mid tones are and things like that so you can pull the mid tones up or down you can pull the highlights up when you can pull the shadows and then you can always come down here to make the shadows brighter the highlights darker so it does have a good amount of control but I find that I can just open curves and do everything all at once so I don't tend teo focus so much there here we go you can do the same thing with the reds in the mid tones the highlights the shadows and it's the same way the curves works so it just depends on how your brain works if you'd rather see a curvy graph for if you'd rather sees him straight line I guess so we'll throw that in the trash is well all right so I think that we've pretty much gone through most of what I'll be doing here the only other thing is feathering so we're going to talk about that a lot more later I'm not going to worry too much about it now but feathering is if you draw any selection than you can feather it there's a feather box right here so you can just take those pixels up if you want but you can also write click and choose feather or refine edge so if you choose feather it just gives you a dialog box therefore there's no point in pulling that up really because you have it right here but if you do you can type in however many pixels and feather but that doesn't show you anything if you don't know what feather does then you don't know what just happened so I'm going to step back off of my feather there right click and refine edge so when I refined edge here it's showing me what my selection looks like that's important if you need to know exactly how much you need to feather something and you're not sure so the feather slider is right down here where it says a just edge it says it just edge because that's what you're doing you're affecting the edge of the picture not the center of the picture so I'm going to go ahead and take this feather slider and pull it up and when I do that you can see how much it's fading what it's doing is keeping a center intact and fading outward from there so a small amount of feathering is going to be a sharp edge a large amount is going to be really really soft it's the only other thing that I think you need to know

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Logic Checklist
Must Have Shots
Favorite Photoshop Tools
Lighting Effects
Practice Files - Cutting out Hair from Background
Practice Files - Building a Dress
Practice Files - Swapping Hand
Practice Files - Levitation
Adorama Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Logan Fox

I'm so thrilled to have come across this course and to have been introduced to Brooke Shaden. As a bit of background I do photography as a hobby, and always had an appetite to composite my work. It's only after watching this course that I can finally put a name to a craft that I love, that being 'fine art photography'. Through my own personal journey I've read various books, followed online tutorials both paid and free. When I came across this course I did hesitate. I wondered 'is it going to teach me anything new'... 'would the standard of the course be up to scratch'. Well, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is by far is one of the best courses I've come across to date. As a solo photographer myself I've found it difficult at times to be both photographer and subject at the same time. From the outset what became clear was that Brooke is just like me in this respect which made the course so 'relevant' to what I do. Brooke shows throughout the course what can be achieved with a little planning and some creative approaches to situations that can be difficult to pull off when on your own. She is such a joy to watch and listen to, I loved her sense of humor and great how the audience were involved in some of the shoots. All I can say is, if you're in to photography and interested in compositing your work, you should give this a go, you wont regret it!


I'd like to show my gratitude and gratefulness to Ms Shaden and other wonderful people at CreativeLIVE for sharing your vast knowledge without making a fuss. Not everybody has a super computer and a top-notch camera, not everyone has a studio to work in and not everyone needs to know everything as perfectly as some instructors and professionals do. I, for one, have gained so much insight and have been intrigued by Ms Shaden's present and past lessons, she makes the most difficult and surreal subjects unfold so easily and effortlessly. Ms Shaden has made me believe no matter where I be and no matter what i have, as long as i have a good story to tell, and the right vision, I should be able to handle it with a working camera and any version of Photoshop. Unlike many other instructors who kill us every 5 minutes to buy their flashes or gear and support this or that company and agency, Ms Shaden has spent the whole time teaching and teaching and teaching and I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person, but you, Ms Shaden, are awesome and nobody can unawesome you :)


Brooke has a wonderful way of not only making it all look so easy, but actually be easy. In a plain and down to earth manner, she can make both beginner and advanced pro comfortable with the material covered in this class. From a simple starting point to a polished post-production finished work of art, she takes us on a relaxed and joyous journey. I am a former professional commercial photographer returning to the art after a 30 year absence. When I left, there was no such thing as digital photography. Now, to be able to embrace such concepts and techniques as taught by Brooke, without any difficulty to me, says that this course provides great value and time well spent. Well done Brooke! Well done Creative Live!

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