Strip in Alternate Elements


Compositing for Commercial Photography


Lesson Info

Strip in Alternate Elements

So I have a smart object abuse request. Smart object abuse, what am I talking about? People mismatch smart objects all the time. What most folks will do is they will grab that lime and drop it onto their desktop and go hey, I mean pardon me, onto the file, I have a smart object, the lime, let's get going. Well what if you have to retouch that lime and what if you're not sure about the retouching? You double click on a smart object and you can retouch it, right? Only that was a JPEG, that has to stay flat now. I can no, I cannot say this is a layered file. So let's say for giggles I'm doing a lime and I'm like hey, that green's just a little too much. I'm gonna go to the hue. I'm gonna go to the hue, thank you. And we, it's a lemon now. Okay, I'm not gonna argue, you're paying me. Uh oh, I just hit Command W to save it, right? Close it. It's gotta stay the JPEG, that means I have to commit myself to this. But have you guys noticed if you are retouchers, professional retouchers, you are ...

not the final decider. Someone else is, this is not my call, and I have to be flexible. So in lieu of all of this my friends you're never gonna do this again 'cause I'm gonna be in your ear, you're never gonna drag a JPEG or a flat file onto a Photoshop document anymore, I'll come haunt you. You're gonna double click on that file, open it up in the first place, do you see that? You're gonna copy the name. To copy the name, very quickly, if you do Command Shift S or Control Shift S if you're on a PC, it will highlight the name. Do you see how it's already highlighted? Little Command C, Control C real quick. Close that window, just hit exit. Double click on your file. Lime, aren't we smart? Good production. Now I still want it to be a smart object. So all you have to do is hold the Control key and click on the name of the layer, convert it to smart object, drag and drop it in. You can sing and hum, it's all very good. Now another thing I'm gonna suggest you do right off the bat, please don't have 500 files open. Please don't, just don't. The minute you drag it in, close it, don't save. Take your hands off the computer, you've done some changing, hit a little Command S. Please, you know what I'm talking about? I know, I can hear the pain, Command S. Any time you do something major hit Command S. All right. Phew, take a breath, now what am I gonna do? I'm gonna scale it. Now I can't see it, can I? So when I hit Command, I'm just gonna hit M for Mary, which gets me the marquee tool, and then I'm gonna hit a number to the right, so I'm hitting five for 50 so I can see through it. I'm gonna go Command T to scale, free transform. And I'm gonna eyeball this. It's never gonna match exactly, how could it, it's nature at its best. Now what I do wanna do because I'm a smart retoucher, I do not wanna clone that bottle, I don't wanna clone that lime that's behind it. Uh-uh. So what I'm gonna do is make sure this lime is a little bigger. You don't mind, do you? You don't mind, all right. Now the other you can do while you're in the transform is you can go down to the Edit menu, transform, and you can go to warp, and you can warp it a little if you think it might look better for the comp or that you're gonna get busted. (audience laughs) Some people get really funny about like the exact, oh I love that highlight in the corner, okay? So I'm gonna hit return on this. Now I wanna talk to you about, ooh, maybe that wasn't polite. (audience laughs) I didn't mean that bad, anyway, sorry sir. Okay, so I need to mask this, and I wanna talk about masking for composite, what most folks will do, what you could do, you can use the magic wand, isn't it awesome? And you could just say hey, just expand that selection like a pixel or two to make sure you don't have any fringing, all right? I know you guys know this, this is basic rudimentary stuff, but I'm gonna show you something that I'm sure people are not thinking about. So if I hit the mask tool, oh, I masked the outside, right? No big deal, you guys are basic, you understand this. So I hold the Option key, right? And it gives me a black mask around it. But grasshopper, do you see it's a white mask with black in there? What that leaves you open to is a hairline little half pixel that you might not see. Kiss of death. The other thing will happen is every time you expand this canvas you have to repaint the mask. Ugh, we don't do that. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna go back to history. I know this is so basic, but it's so good. It seriously is. So what most people do is they have a selection of this white background and they hold Option and click on the mask, right? What you're gonna do is you're gonna inverse that mask first, select. I don't even know, it's Command Shift, I have to find it here. Command Shift I, Command Shift I. Inverse, Command Shift I. Here it is, I don't use the menus, I'm sorry, I'm a quick key girl, so oh, where's the menu? Inverses selection, so now that flipped it. I had it flipped already, that's embarrassing. There you go. And now I click on just at a mask. So basically what I did is I selected the lime, that's all. And then at the mask do you see how it's all black? No halo, you expand this, it'll stay black, and anybody that has to work with you will thank you 'cause any time they have to expand it they don't have to redo it. Did I save that color? I have a really interesting thing going on, do you see the color on that? Oh I'm a jackass, sorry. All right, sorry I hacked that demo a little bit, sorry about that, but let me just cheat. Nothing, did I say sometimes things go wrong? I didn't say that, did I? Ain't no thing, anyway. All right, let's move on, there's the lime. All right, isn't that so much better? Now here's the other thing about masking and doing composite and it's a simple thing, most folks I know would start masking the glass out, right? Exactly on this mask. I'm gonna suggest you don't do that. What am I saying? I gotta look there, I know what that means. So let's say I wanna put this back in or I wanna be able to paint this lime in, you following? Most folks would start masking actually on this mask that they've already made. And they'd go oh I wanna take that out. If you do that and you wanna be subtle and you over-spray you have to keep remasking it. So you don't wanna do that. So what we're gonna do is you're gonna put it in a layer set and call it Lime. And this is what we often call a double mask and then what you can do is you can mask it from there. So let's mask it out. And then go oh, well that looks like cack, let me paint a little in. But now I can paint it in gently and I can put the bubbles in. Do you guys understand how that works? And then we're gonna talk about putting the highlights back in. I'm not gonna worry about this tiny little bit of lime right now, normally you're gonna wanna mask that out, cool? All right, so as I said I like to work around the file, so what I wanna now do is look at the shadows. So what I'm gonna do is go back to the bottle and I have to tell you I like, as I said, I like to keep the shadows separate, so I'm gonna do Command J and make a copy of that smart object, I'm gonna put it on top for a second, not in the lime folder. And I'm gonna throw away the mask and I'm gonna evaluate these shadows. Okay, so I'm gonna look at these shadows and go okay. Now I'm gonna start going, okay, how am I gonna get these shadows out separately? And I have to tell you I'm a big believer in channel pulling, I'm a big believer in channel pulling, and as I said, there are masking classes here. I just hid that. So what I wanna do is I wanna look at the channels and see if I can find something that separates the shadow from the product. Now this product happens to be pretty similar to its shadow and the table. Do you see how the table's barely, I'm just clicking through the channels, barely separating. So what am I looking at? I can see some of you are like, wait, what are you looking at? I just wanna see this right here, this area right here. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take a copy of the red channel. There's many different ways of doing this kind of thing so this is just my way, I'm a little old school, and I'm gonna say hey, can we make that shadow a little denser, do you see that? And then the highlights, I'm gonna bring the highlights up. And then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take the layer, lasso tool, pardon me, and I'm gonna say hey, I just want the shadow. So I don't care about anything else, okay, take your hands off the computer for a second and go what are you doing? I'm on a channel, I'm right here. I don't want everything around it, I just want the shadow. So I'm gonna inverse the selection, Command Shift I, and I'm gonna fill with white, all right? So now what I have is the startings or the makings of a shadow. It's not entirely accurate yet and I'm gonna take the dodge tool and I'm gonna say hey, we don't need that part here and we don't need this part here, so I am dodging, it's on highlights. Now there's a couple of different ways to handle this. I hope this is not too advanced for people. Do you guys know that channels are stored selections? Okay, if you guys are out there listening and you don't know what channels are you're gonna have to investigate this a little bit on your own, there's some other classes, but channels are stored selections, so that is now a stored selection of the shadow. Only it's actually a stored selection of everything but the shadow, right, because it's inversed. So what I'm gonna do is just hit Command I and that's a mask for the shadows. Now I can do a couple of things, I can Command click on this, load the selection, and mask the stack copy, and there I've got a shadow on its own layer, and I can put it underneath the bottle and glass, and there I have a shadow already. Or if you want to you can not have the picture at all and you can take the selection, Command click, I'm taking my cursor, I'm clicking on the icon for the channel, I'm holding the Command key, and I've got the marching ants. And I can go back to my RGB, I can make a new layer, and I could say let's call this Painted Shadow, okay? So I'm gonna call it Painted Shadow and I'm gonna fill it with the color. What color should I paint it? Well let's go look at the glass bottle and let's go sample a color, the real shadow. You don't wanna do black, it'll look terrible, and then I'm just gonna do fill. Option delete, and I just filled with foreground color. So now I've got my bottle and I've got a shadow on a separate layer. You guys understand that, cool? I'm gonna save, did I say you guys save often? Now what you can do and we don't have a ton of time to go over this, as I said it's kind of a big class, because I didn't just mask the bottle and use the actual shot, I can either take the smudge tool to that painted shadow and extend out the shadow or it takes a while, the smudge brush is a little slow by the way, or I can Command T, excuse me, I can select a section of the shadow and hit Command T, and pull it out, okay? And if you do this what you're probably gonna wanna do is you're gonna probably wanna put a gradient map, a gradient mask with black on the end of this shadow and have it fade off. Do you understand? So at least it's getting closer. You may wanna change this to multiply mode or darken or change the color, but at least it's flexible, okay? Now this is a lot of work for something you might not have to do normally, except for I know full well I'm gonna have to do it 'cause it always comes back. Cool? Got the layout frame, I don't care about that anymore, I wanna check this out, am I okay on my horizontal? All right, I'm okay on the horizontal. Now let's talk about something here. The table top that I brought in, so what I have, I showed you, I have a tabletop that's the original. Let me turn all of this off just so you can see it. I lightened it because of the other comp and then I changed the hue saturation and do you remember, I had a big chat with myself over the week about showing you screw ups, and I thought oh I've gotta clean all this up, and I thought no, I need to show you screw ups. So let's talk about layer construction. I've got a background which is the sky and the mountains, I've got this table top with a hue saturation. Do you see how it's not linked? And that Alt Table Top, did I tell you that when you make a new layer set what does Adobe default do? It defaults to pass through, no, my babies, put it normal. Which means this hue saturation that used to effect the backdrop is in the wrong area. It needs to be down here. It needs to be either on top of the backdrop layer or in the backdrop layer. And do you see that really cayenne? Blue. Cayenne's got shifted, saturation down, and blue added. So this happens all the time when you're compositing and I wanted to show you, be careful. And can I say something really shocking? Have you ever considered labeling an adjustment layer. What? Label and adjustment layer. What if you say minus cayenne in sky. If you do that you'll know when it's out of position, okay? And I can't tell you how many times I have personally messed with a file, why is that table top changing colors, why is that happening, wait, why is my sky switched? And it's 'cause I had the darn layer in the wrong section. Okay? So now let's look at a table top and then look at the bottle and the shadow, and I think the lighter tabletop works better, but if a client wants it darker, I can go okay, I can darken that up, we don't have to keep it, keep it so much. I like it saturated, but we can take saturation down if possible. I don't know if I wanna show you this, but I'm gonna show it to you. If you take a curve on luminosity instead of normal it will take out the saturation. Anyway, personally I like it warmer, I'm gonna leave it warmer for this, and I'm gonna throw away the stacked shadow. Why am I gonna do that? Do you remember I talked about layer management? The biggest mistake I see, the biggest mistake I see with people with their composites is they have way too many layers in there and there are layers that don't, are no longer needed. Please, I beg of you, get rid of 'em. And I'm also begging about you, when you, if you don't like the color of that tabletop please don't add another curve and do it. Turn your original curve off and start over. Turn your original curve off and start over. I know it's a pain in the butt, but please do it. Lighten, darken, do whatever you feel like doing, but what happens is, and a show of hands I can probably see, how many of you had correcting layers that cancel out each other? Right, we do it. Please don't, just start over. I know it takes some time, but it's worth it. So I'm gonna go ahead and throw that out and I think what I'd like to do, there is the lime, there is the horizontal, I'm gonna ask you to bear with me here, I wanna show you the other file that's already been completed because it's way more complicated and we don't have time to go through all of that. So I'm gonna close this out in just a second, I'm just gonna say Command S to save. And I'm gonna show you about using the other kind of plates. Hopefully you guys understand kind of where we're starting from, you can see it coming to fruition. The lime, you can take that same lime face and put it here, the lemon, you put a lemon reference on top and just start doing the color. I often will keep a color reference folder on the top with a black mask on it just so I can come back. Never deliver that to your file though, to your client, excuse me, never, never, never. You guys doing all right?

Class Description

Compositing, or combining multiple images to create a single image, is particularly important in commercial photography, when getting the perfect shot while remaining under budget is essential. Well-known retoucher Lisa Carney will demonstrate a strategic compositing workflow from concept to shoot planning to prep to post-production. Joining Lisa on set is Christina Peters who will help Lisa demonstrate the relationship and interaction between the retoucher and photographer while shooting a commercial product. Christina is an award-winning food photographer and owner of the Food Photography Club, an online forum for all things food photography.

Lisa will cover time- and cost-saving tips for shooting a campaign, including heading off costly pitfalls and planning for the unexpected. Perfect for both photographers and retouchers, this class will help you elevate your workflow and increase your profit margin.


Anne Dougherty

I love Lisa Carney’s classes! She is casual yet precise, and she thinks like I do! The workflow logic of her process is brilliant. Really brilliant. I started working in PS version 1.something, as the publisher I worked for was just computerizing their department, and I was a total novice. But right from our first day working digitally, we had to create images and files that our novice printers could successfully print from. Lisa’s logic/approach is so familiar! Making things work on a deadline is an incredible way to learn time-saving techniques, and I wish I’d had Lisa crunching solutions with me. I am new to the newest PSCC, but all off her process made sense to me. She moves fast, so it might be a little tough for a total beginner, but she stops and explains things very clearly once she’s gone through it a time or two on a file, so, hopefully everyone can get things solidified for themselves. Now that I am retired and doing my photo work just for myself, her compositing techniques are helping me get to my end results much more quickly. I wish I had a Lisa sitting alongside me, with a glass of wine, while I’m experimenting with my creative composited work. Thank you so much for having her as a CreativeLive instructor/mentor.


I took advantage of Photoshop Week and caught this class live - and loved it! I own other CreativeLive food photography courses, but I really liked the way Lisa and Christina taught the image shoot segment in this one. They show us a little glimpse of how the retoucher and photographer work together, in real time, on the set and I like that. Lisa and Christina are also very giving with their knowledge of how things work behind the scenes as well. Though, the main reason I bought this course was for the info Lisa shared about file naming and file version organization. There are a lot of video's on how to perform functions in Photoshop, but almost none about correctly naming, and organizing your versions. Now, I've got a real base to start from. Thanks :)

a Creativelive Student

I don't usually write reviews, but after viewing this course ... to see "recommended" at 67% because of one review is misleading. Not diminishing the content of that review/reviewer, but my opinion given the time and the subject matter this class was fabulous - especially the interaction between the retoucher and the photographer. Demonstrating and detailing the relationships, and how to make them better, was invaluable. And although it was quick, given the time, I now have a much better understanding of the workflow for how to shoot for retouching, and how to retouch my own images for multi-use after first completion.