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Compositing Clouds

Lesson 19 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Compositing Clouds

Lesson 19 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

19. Compositing Clouds


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

Compositing Clouds

let's just say that this is exactly what we want but I'm going to see about adding in the clouds a little bit more real quick just for demo purposes so I'm just going to bring back the clouds that I had perfectly not perfectly raised okay so this is what the image looked like to begin with my cloud layer I cut the clouds out you can see that there was her horizon line happening in this and if I change this from multiply too normal then you can really see what I had to work with here so this was my cloud shot and it looked just like that on my screen I dragged that into photo shop I dragged it on top of the picture that I was working with and I just plopped it right on top so I obviously have some mountain in my picture and we can't keep that because that would look crazy so instead I am going to make sure that I lower the opacity on that layer and once I do that now I can see where those mountains are so I can see that I need to move it up or down if if the mountains were intersecting ...

the sky than that wouldn't work I would have to clone them out or stretch it or do something like that so I'm putting them back in place you can see it's coming really close to the horizon line here I'm gonna be okay with that though so once we have the clouds in and we take that opacity back up we need to be able to see our subject the awesome thing about moving somebody to a different background is that the person's already cut out so if the person's already cut out then you can just put the cloud layer behind the subject and the moment that you do that then you don't have to worry about erasing the clouds off of your subject because the cloud layer is already behind your subject but if we don't have that luxury if it was shot on location just like this then we need to worry about the clouds sticking to our human or not human whatever you prefer so let's see I'm going to go to multiply I blend a lot of my clouds on multiply and I do that because it it really helps it stick to the lightest parts of the image here it helps it tio not stick as much to whatever has some variation in the totality there so the clouds still look really good on the background and all I need to do now is go back and forth to see what is happening to the clouds and if you like that effect so other things that we can try from multiply darken we could try because darken allows the clouds to stick to whatever is lightest in your picture but my problem with that is that now my my dress here that I had her wearing was so bright that it just sticks equally to all of that and I can't even see the edges of where my subject wass so if I go back to multiply then at least now I can see where the edge of her dresses and it doesn't make much of a difference for the background so in this case I prefer multiply but if I zoom out then I can start to layer mask and that is what I typically do to blend clouds I will later mask it off of me subject but this is what I never do because I don't want to have a headache about this I don't want to be paranoid that suddenly I'm not going to be able to finish my picture I do not go in with my layer mask on my brush tool on black make that smaller I don't go in with a hard brush expecting that I'll just be able to erase it perfectly so like when I start doing this and then I'm like oh crap oh crap oh it's not working well then I would get really angry and frustrated and then I would never finish this picture so instead of doing that I try to make some more subtle changes first so that I can just see it as a little bit of a cleaner image and not have to go in with a really hard brush right away so I'll take the hardness down in size up a little bit and instead of opacity at one hundred percent for that brush I'm taking that down I'm going to take that down because with blending mode multiply you're already getting this kind of effect where it's not sticking one hundred percent to your subject so I'm going to start to a race at fifty percent capacity here just so I can start to even out the dress a little bit more and I don't have to worry as much about creating those really horrible harsh lines um that would be happening around the subject so I'm just lightly erasing now obviously that didn't do enough but don't we feel much better now about tackling this image because we've just gotten rid of some of the harshness of it so you can go in again over that portion now don't hear this I would erase that one hundred percent because that's just ahh harsh line from the clouds that we don't need any where but when it comes to our racing off of the subject I much prefer to go in with a much lighter eraser and get rid of what we can now I don't mind that my subject is covered a little bit I don't mind that she's a little bit dark because there are a few things that I can do to adjust that first though I would have to go in and I would have to change how I am viewing the edge on that zoomed in a three hundred percent at the moment but I'm going to take my size down for my brush and I'm just going to color it back in on white where we kind of erased a little bit too much just around here now this is where you might want to use a harder brush to go along the edge of your subject but got just all depends on how much work you want to put into it and how long you're going to sit to cut around on edge and so on this is where it gets a little bit tricky where it's still kind of dark in this area and you know you can see that there's some cloud layer on it so a couple of things that I would d'oh if I'm having a really really hard time lending my sky then in that case I would probably go in with a really big brush like ok not that big I'm not used to this version of photoshopped my version doesn't create brushes like that so I'm going in with a pretty big brush that I'm going to take that opacity down a lot on the brush into the teens and then I'm going teo on black I'm just going to a race sort of a larger portion through here of the clouds that way we're erasing some of the clouds but it's also adding white to the clouds because you're allowing more of that white background to show through and so that's going to soften how it looks on the subject and how it looks on the edges so you don't have such dark edges going around your image obviously I wouldn't do that a ton but it helps a lot in creating just a little bit of a softer effect when you are racing some clouds so I'm going to go in here now and I'm going to race out one hundred percent opacity I'm just going to get in here to make sure that we are able to get rid of this line because I don't want that at all so I'm going to erase erase erase one hundred percent opacity and that's going to create kind of a sticky situation for us because in doing that were kind of cutting into our cloud layer and we kind of create this really weird brightness in the background that maybe we don't want so I'm just going to color that back in a little bit but now this is where I would then flip the cloud layer so a lot of people say that they have problems with making the clouds blend exactly over her horizon because of the fact that you are now sort of creating this problem for yourself where you have something really dark on top of something that was not dark to begin with it's really bright horizon line and that's when you would want to flip your clouds lower the opacity and let that blend itself instead of going in and I mean I could go in here and I could say ok I'm going to cut around every little piece of that mountain in the background and I'm going to make sure that that horizon line blends but there isn't really a lot of point to that when the water needs to reflect the clouds the land below needs to reflect the clouds so let's see how that looks first before we start to get in there and meticulously cut I'm going to duplicate that layer but now I'm going into edit transform flip vertical it's really important that we don't go into image image rotation flip vertical because that's going your whole canvas and then you're going to want teo you're gonna want to back up all right so edit transform foot vertical and now with our move tool we can go ahead and just move this around you can see that are subject to still cut out and we need to fill that back in because she is not flipped vertically as well so we would go back to the layer mask and go ahead and start filling that in all along here where maybe it needs to be a little bit more okay so we've got that filled in but now we still need to lower the opacity so we can start to lower that opacity and then suddenly it doesn't look like it is to be blended as much in the background because we're continuing the clouds how they would normally look we do need to get it off of our subject that's something that I would highly recommend working on first so I'm just going to go in with a big sweep there and get rid of some of that because there are certain places where maybe we don't need the clouds as much there are certain places where we can stand to race it a little bit more but along the horizon line is not one of those places that's where I would definitely keep it

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!

Student Work