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Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Lesson 12 of 20

Project 1: Add Personalization & Lighting Effects

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

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Lesson Info

12. Project 1: Add Personalization & Lighting Effects

Lesson Info

Project 1: Add Personalization & Lighting Effects

Our next step is to add personalization and lighting effects. Lighting effects help us create drama and set mood, they can light things up. Just like if you were in a real like this is a studio, what's highlighting me are all of these lighting effects. So lighting effects also help ground, but they make things look a little bit more realistic as well. So we have a lot of little personalization and lighting effects to go over while we work on this layout so let's just get started. First things first, when I was talking earlier I talked about flow, visual flow. And that you wanna have visual flow in whatever piece you're working at. That helps you move your eye around the layout. Well we already have a focal point. You're not gonna look at the forest probably first if this is just the layout by itself, you're gonna look at the moon. That's where I'm looking. So now how do I get to the forest? That's really the question. That's all I wanna know. How do I get to the forest? I haven't added...

anything else. Maybe if I add something else, maybe I'll flip it. But right now I'm going how am I gonna look at that forest? Who's gonna bring me down there? So do I add a picture? I could. Do add some embellishments? You could. But we're talking about a composite (chuckles) which doesn't usually have embellishments, so you kinda have to think outside the box. If you were working with a digital kit, they would probably provide you with something to help you do that, but we're just jumping off the cuff. I like to use shape layers to help me do that. I think I talked about that yesterday with the mixed media example. So I'm just gonna create something really slight that kinda pushes me eye down to the forest. I just want something that goes look down. (shushing) Look down. No, (hushes) look down. I don't want something that says hey, look down here with neon lights. I want something that says. (hushing). Okay? So how I'm going to do that, that was really, (laughing) I am ridiculous, but that was a little bit like what is she doing? So we're gonna use some circlish ellipse shape tool to draw some wide circles. And the reason why I chose to do that is I like to find ways to repeat visual effects. So the moon is circular, how about bringing something that kinda just drops you down, it kinda visually tells you to look down. And what better way to already use a circle. So I'm gonna start here by clicking on the layer, the levels layer after the forest. I don't say that in my notes, but we need a layer to start from and I don't want it to clip automatically to the stack. If I started with the forest layer, then it's gonna bring my circle shapes and clip them to the levels layer. So just just go one step above that. And then on page 16, number seven, and letter A is where we're gonna start. So we're gonna select the ellipse shape tool. And the ellipse shape tool might be behind or it might be hidden behind a rectangle tool if you have that one activated. It's usually not your default. So select the ellipse shape tool in your tools panel and then draw a wide circle about four inches in diameter. It does not matter what color this is, you just want to make it four inches. Now if you have your settings kinda jacked up like I do and you don't know what four inches are, then your gonna turn on your rulers. (chuckles) So I don't have mine on, I usually do. But that's gonna be Command+R or Control+R on the PC and then you can start from the top and draw a four inch by four inch circle, hold down the shift key so you at least know where you're kinda at. And I love the fact it's gonna give me like a little label that says this is four inches and 10 something, four inches 10 something and you just do that. So now I have my circle and it's black, that's no big deal, the color's cool. And of course because I have this moon and the moon is blending into the background, it's gonna start blending too. The moon is blending into the shape. So no big deal. Now if you switch to the move tool and start trying to drag things around, it's not gonna do it. (chuckles) It's gonna go to your top layer. So I have to Command+T or Control+T to access it so I can move it out so I can see it. So if you're wondering what's going on, that's what's going on. And you might go oh this is even amazing, I'm going in a completely different direction. Well baby, do that. Show it to me though. So now I'm just gonna move it so I can see it on the page. Next we're gonna reduce this fill opacity to 0% and this goes back to your earlier question about the differences between opacity versus fill opacity. We're gonna add a layer style to this. So if I reduce the fill opacity, I no longer will see the innards, but I will see the outards. So reduce the fill opacity to zero. In Photoshop it's very easy. Just go over to fill opacity in the layers panel and drag it down to zero. If you're working with Photoshop Elements, you will not have the option to do that. So you will need to use shortcut keys Shift+00. Same process. You can also do it in your effects panel if you know that secret trick too. Next we need to add a stroke. So however you want to add a stroke is up to you, I know some people will do it the old fashioned way which is going through the layer styles menu. You can also use your live properties if you're familiar with live properties where you have your shape and you can add a stroke right here, that's fine. It doesn't matter. And if you're working in Photoshop Elements you'll have to go into the effects panel. All the ways will work. All of them lead to the yellow brick road to the wonderful Wizard of Oz. So don't worry about it. So I will double click to open my layers style and grab a stroke. And the stroke that we're going to look for is a white stroke so change your color to white. Oh, I hate that. So F, F, F, F, F, is the hex code for white. And I think that's what's wrong. Yeah, my panel's all messed up. So let me fix that. There we go, okay. White. Then click okay. And we want a stroke between one to three pixels and let me drag that out. I just want a hint and that's what I'm talking about. I just want a hint of a circular shape. So it doesn't need to be this humongous circle layout. (laughs) It does not need to be that. One pixel. At the most three pixels if you really wanna see it, but just do something very slight at one. And for this example it does not matter if your position is inside or outside. Just more important you just need a very small, thin circle. So click okay. And then with your move tool, we're gonna place this circle. And what I did in my layout is I kinda just gave myself a chance kinda centrally under the circle. And you can see my little line, that little purple line that's letting me know it's matched up, I just put it there. Then I duplicated the circle three times, two and three, two or three times to just kinda overlap it. And bring each circle piece down like that. Just kinda say (hushing) look down. That's all you gotta do. But I don't want it to be overpowering. So last couple of steps. Duplicate the moon three times using shortcut keys Command+J or Control+J on PC and then use the move tool to reposition and overlap each circle vertically from the moon the the forest to create visual flow. Very simple, right? Does that help explain flow? How to make something easily move around your page? You don't have to do much, but those are little small things that you will see. Like how you see movie posters and you never even notice. I look at movie posters and I'm like oh, I see where you're telling me to go. (chuckles) Oh yeah, I see it. But those are just small things that kinda just little effects that they put in there to tell you where your eyes are supposed to go. Continuing on with personalization and lighting effects let's create some lens flares for lighting effects. Now why do I love lens flares? (laughs) I use them a lot. I have some friends who are digital scrapbookers who are composite-based and they use lens flares all the time and I look at them and I'm like we are the lens flare club. It's ridiculous, but I will tell you why. Back to the movie posters thing. Lens flares hide a lot of stuff. They also make things very dramatic. So you can use them to create drama, you can use them to hide stuff, you can use them as actual flares, it doesn't matter. But they're a starting point for some really cool special effect techniques. And what I will see is whenever someone blends compositing things together and there's a mistake or there's something that's not perfect, they will put a lens flare right there. (laughs) So I do that too and you're gonna see that in the next project example. You're gonna see me go I give up, put a lens flare on it baby. So same thing here, but no necessarily it's just another way of creating a different point of viewing things. So let's create a couple, a lens flare, at least one. So no matter where you are on your page, this isn't gonna matter as much, but I think I'm gonna start from the top. Oh, actually I do say eventually put it over the trees. So we're gonna start at the top to make sure this works and then we'll put it where it's supposed to be in our layers panel in an future step. Okay, so click on your top most layer. My top most layer at this point is the gradient. I'm also going to get rid of some of these extra files I have open. I don't need them. And then click on the create new layer icon in your layers panel to create a new layer. And then you shortcut key D to quickly change the foreground color to black. D. Done. And then we're gonna use shortcut keys Alt+Delete to quickly fill the new layer with black. So that's a new one. This is a flood fill. So it's easy to do. All you do is hold down your Option key or your Alt key and then hit the delete button. Whatever your foreground color is, well that's gonna (snaps) flood the layer really quickly. So that's an easy way to get black or white or whatever color you want on your layer. And if you don't plan to change the color at all, then this is the easiest way. If you do at one point know that you want to change your color over and over again, then use a solid color fill adjustment layer. All right, next we want to create our lens flare. We're going to go to filter and then render and select lens flare. I chose a 35 millimeter prime and I chose a brightness of 130%. It's not rocket science or anything like that, it's just kind of my default lens flare when I wanna just create something a little bit extra. If I wanna do a different effect, then I would go in a different route. But this is the way that I wanna go. And then click okay. So now we have a beautiful lens flare added to our page. Now we already know the secret. What do we do to get rid of the black? Screen. Screen, thank you. Awesome. Screen. Boom. Lens flare, we done. No we're not. (laughs) It's really bright. It created a ton of light on our page. So again, we're gonna reduce the fill opacity and the magic number I chose was 87% where I say that looks pretty good to me. I can definitely go down a little bit more, but you see that it changes the entire lighting of the entire page when I do that. You really wanna see how it mingles with the rest of your page, that's really what I'm looking at. Where it's gonna look. So I'm gonna keep it at 87%. I'm gonna use my move tool and kinda just drag it maybe down towards the trees so that I have a little bit of this extra piece sitting here. Get a little bit of that. Now also it looks like it's so high or so bright that I have a little bit of boundary showing up. We can fix that like with a layers mask. You can kinda reduce your fill until you don't see it anymore. It's really up to you. Sometimes you'll find a sweet spot where you can still kinda see the lens flare, but you don't see that outline. It just depends on your background and all the pixels in behind it. It just doesn't matter. But quickly, we can add a layers mask, I can switch to the brush tool and kinda just conceal that portion of the background using a soft round brush. You're not gonna wanna use a hard round brush for it. And that was simple and easy to do. All right, next it says we're going to create a new layer and create another lens flare. And that's because this is like the lens flare that's coming out behind the trees like oh there's something back here happening, maybe a sports event. (laughs) But what about our moon? Our moon creates light too. So let's put a little oomph near the moon. There's other ways to do this, doesn't have to be done, but this is the simpler way. So we're going to create a new layer. Create a new layer, same process. Black as our foreground color, use Alt or Option+Delete, flood fill. We're gonna go back to filter, render, lens flare. You can choose the same lens flare if you wanted, but I think I made my a little bit different. So choose a different lens flare. And this time I used a movie prime lens and I used a brightness of 200%. And then I click okay. Why did I use a movie prime? Anyone wanna guess? All right, because of this. This, if you have nothing but directional ques all day, if you tell me give me lines to make me look out somewhere, I'm gonna love it. Because you are giving me more visual flow. It's just giving me more ways to go oh, look here through there, look there through that. That's it. And then you can adjust it and change it however you want, but I really am not more amazed with the lens flare, I want more directional ques and flows through the layout. And compositing these kind of realistic layouts, we're looking for that. I want visual flow more than anything to help move your eye around the page. When you have a traditional scrapbook layout we use things like colors and embellishments and clusters, oh focal clusters and embellishment clusters, we do all of that. For this kind of page, you can't do that. You have to work it in a different way. That's what we do. Again, what's the blend mode that we're gonna use? Screen. I actually said overlay, so let's just try an overlay and see what happens. Oh, that's pretty. Why did that work like that? (laughs) Because it's contrast. It took all of those mid-level grays and boomed them and we did have quite a few. It's not totally black. There's a lot of gray tones in this piece so going to a screen which would have worked gives you lots of light, but working with the overlay gives your strong, dark shadows more contrast, it gives your highlights more contrast, and it gets rid of the mid-tones. So I hope by now you're starting to see why those blend modes that concentration and the focus of it in the second segment, why it's important. Because now we're not guessing anymore. We're going okay I used overlay, why did it work? Shadows, highlights, boom, mid-tones gone. Oh okay, it's clicking. Is it clicking? Awesome. Everybody's going yes. (laughs) That makes me feel great. So that's a lot of contrast though (chuckles) so let's reduce our fill to about 20% so we just have a little bit of directional ques going on. On my screen, on my computer at home, it's really apparent, you can see some of those lines kind of creeping in there. On my laptop it doesn't look as good so I may not keep it at 20%, 21%. Of course your settings and how your monitors and your printers and everything look is really always going to determine your values too. So go with what looks good. But here on this screen with all of these lights in here at least, this around maybe 40% is where I would kinda keep it. The other thing I said is to use the move tool to place the lens flare near the moon. So Command+T and then I can where that highlight spot is, bring it over. But it's kinda already in the exact place I want it so I don't need to. And then I said in the last step is to grab both layers. So highlight, hold down your Shift key, and then grab them and bring them underneath the move. So that gives you still more of that drama in the moon. Now before we start talking about silhouettes that we're gonna add to it, does anybody have any questions with that? No? Question from online. Do you ever use Illustrator to make vector files for import into your layouts? Mm-hmm. Who doesn't? Yes, of course. (chuckles) This class specifically we're not gonna be using Illustrator, we're only using Photoshop. But if you are very familiar with vector layouts in Illustrator, then absolutely use Illustrator to do that. I can't see a reason why you would never wanna do that. That's like a very cool thing, especially if you're working with shapes. Right here we're working with vector shapes when we use the ellipse tool and the rectangular bar key tool so we can make them bigger and larger. But if you know how to draw or scan and all that stuff and do stuff in Illustrator and bring it in, by all means please do that. By all means. And a quick question regarding your monitors. You had talked about that a little bit. Do you personally use one large monitor normally or two side-by-side when you're building this? Two side-by-sides. (chuckles) When I was just a scrapbooker, online friend, who was that friend? Do you have the name? That was Annette D. Hey Annette, when I was just a scrapbooker I only used one computer, but I'm a video editor so I have two if not three monitors usually at my desk. This being one of them too and then I have two very big monitors on my desk. That's not for scrapbooking though, that's just for video editing and I need to be able to render and see and match things up. But you don't need it. I don't think any scrapbooker absolutely needs to have one monitor unless you do. So that's it. (chuckles) Any other questions? Okay, all right. So we have to add the silhouette and then we're gonna fine tune our layout. So silhouetting. This photo works because she has clothes on that contrast with the background. I don't have to work hard to try and extract this. I will normally choose photos that I don't have to work hard for. If I choose to work hard, that means I have more time on my hands than life allows. But most of the time I'm like I take a photo and I look at it and go hmm high contrast, that's a good photo to use to make an extraction. So she's wearing black. The fact that her brother is trying to run and sabotage and get in the photo does not matter, because all I need is her silhouette. Another thing is this. If you're building silhouettes, just like a profile or a face or something, you wanna have strong lines because we're not worried about the inside, I'm not thinking about her face, I'm not thinking about the quality of the photo, I just need something to pull out strong lines. That is why I chose that photo and I wish I still had that photo because it's a great example. I don't have that photo, so what I'm going to do is I think I chose this one this morning as an example to say well let's do it a little bit harder, let's make it harder on myself and do a silhouette with this one. At least this one right here where it's high-quality enough where I can make it work. So I choose to use the quick selection tool. If you're following along with me again pretty much the steps are gonna be the same. We're on page 17, step nine, going through all those letters. We're almost done with this example project. But I choose the quick selection tool to use to make extractions because I like life to be easy. If you wanna make it harder, but a little bit more fine tuned and precision, you're gonna use a pen tool. If you're using Photoshop Elements, there is no pen tool so you can't do it that way. But I think in either the quick or the guided they do have some extra tools they have what they want you to do to use it to extract, but you're in the expert mode you gotta do it your best that you can. So with the quick selection tool typically in my content sensitivity menu I will make sure that it has add to selection so I don't have to keep using the Shift key all the time. The Alt key will remove the selection. And I what I do starting from my original, I don't create a new layer, anything like that, I will increase my brush and kinda start working around. Now I will tell you I don't care about hair when I'm doing a silhouette. The main thing I want are strong, clean lines. Not jagged lines, not hair, not shoelaces, not fingernails, I don't want any of those small details when I'm building a silhouette. I just want the person's portrait as best as I can. And whether it's the face, the ears, from the side, the nose, not eyelashes, you want the strongest of details, not the slightest of details. So if doesn't pickup everything as I go to select, I'm okay with that. It's gonna hit a little wall here, but that's okay. I'm just using it as an example to kinda show you that I'm looking for a silhouette outline. Now things I will care about, an ear. (chuckles) I'm gonna reduce the size of the brush and come back in and try and get as close as I can. But you see all of these wispies, if I was going to extract her into a layout that had not a silhouette, I would care more about her hair. Maybe not her hair, but if it wasn't curly, then if she had like I've done silhouettes and extractions where people who have very straight hair, I'm gonna try and find that hair. That may be something I look for the pen tool and try and get to it. But really I want strong lines, so no little curly hairs. That doesn't matter. I do want the ear to look a little bit more realistic so I'm gonna come in and grab those spots. And here's where I'm gonna have a little trouble though is because there are parts, oh it's not too bad. I don't care about that little piece of hair. You guys see that? That doesn't matter. And that's what I really wanted to point out to you guys as you're working around. The other thing is go slow. A lot of people work in extractions with the quick selection tool and you don't need to go really fast. The part where her arm is in our out, I don't need it. I don't need it to be a part of there. This kind of stuff I do, the clothes, and then of course her leg is not gonna come out like that. So you're gonna go back and forth using the Alt key. When you need to subtract from your selection, hold down the Alt key. When you need to add to your selection if you have this sampled at the top, this little add to selection, it will not matter. So again, that was a really quick selection from something that looks like it would be hard. But when you're dealing with a silhouette, you are making it easy on yourself. And I will say that for the first part of compositing, practice on silhouettes with your extractions. Get that down. Then work on something else much harder. Jen, yes. What happened to me is that the lines would sometimes pickup on the outside edge of the image and not on the silhouette that I was trying to capture. How do I get it back and how do I fix that? Okay, so say for example you do this and it starts to do that. Is that what you're talking about? It gets further out. Yeah, up more towards her hair. It would go out to the top. Sure, okay. So quick selection tool is a fine tool base. Here you would hit the Alt key and kinda go back. Now sometimes as I'm working you'll see that instead of me just clicking, I am working in this kind of fashion where I'm kinda directing the quick selection tool to go. That usually will help. So I'm gonna say hey, work with me here, go slower. Me, when I'm clicking like when I click and do this, it kinda takes it and it repositions it for you. But if you go slow, you're giving it more time to think about what should be in and what should not be in. I wouldn't do it like that for this example, but if you find that you get near the hair and you say okay I need you to rethink what's in and what's out, it just means you need to go slower with that tool. And are you holding the Alt key while you do that? I am. Got it. Does that help? Okay. Let me see if I can get back to my selection where I was at. Very good question. Does anybody have any other questions before we move on? Awesome. Okay. All right, so now we wanna create our silhouette or do we? Now we need to refine our edge actually. So with the quick selection tool still selected, right-click within your selection and select the refine edge dialog. And then that's gonna show you how well it turned out. Now with this silhouette all of these jagged things we do not want. We wanna smooth them away, we wanna get rid of them as much as we can. Now I change my view again to black and white. Again, whatever works for you. Some people like to use the overlay, some people like to use the on black. For me, this kinda has always helped me to see where my pixels are and what I grab that shouldn't be in there. And I've gotta cover extra stuff, but we need to move on. So I'm gonna choose an on white view and then I'm gonna smooth it out. Now, I say smooth all the way up to 75% if you can get away with it. The thing is that it's a silhouette. So it's okay if you're chopping off a good portion of the hair. I don't wanna lose her puff, I don't wanna lose her Afro-puff, but I don't need to see all of the individual curls in her hair anymore. So that's why I said you can have a range anywhere between zero to 75 I think. Do it 100 then it's so smooth it's not gonna look really good, but between zero to 75 it's gonna smooth out those edges and that's really what you're looking for with the silhouette. Remember yesterday you guys were in the audience, remember when I was talking about the outline and stuff? We're not worried too much about the outline, because it's gonna become a silhouette. It doesn't matter. So we're gonna click okay. And if you see that you have really the strong lines aren't developing, you can increase your contrast and that's gonna make it a lot sharper. Do you guys see that? Let me zoom in so you can see. Contrast on the refined edge dark edge dialog sharpens those edges. So you can both remove jagged and sharpen edges at the same time. But that's an optional step if you need it if you want to reduce blurring. And then click okay. So we are technically still on step number nine, we're on letter E, and now we need to create this into our silhouette. I'm gonna act like I'm doing it, but this is not the one I'm move into my document so it doesn't really matter. But here we're going to create a new layer in the layers panel. So boom, we're working like imagine this is a photo. And then we're gonna use shortcut key D to change the foreground color to black. Well, my foreground color's already black. Flip the page to the last page or second to last page number 18. And then we're gonna quickly flood fill this selection. Now if the selection was off, remember before the layer we used flood fill and it'd give us a selection on the layer that filled the entire canvas? But here because we have a selection if we do flood fill, which is Alt and Option+Delete, it just fills the silhouette. That's the easiest way to create that. Then to get rid of your selection use shortcut keys Command+D or Control+D and now you have this. If you feel that your spots are a little bit too rough, you still have too much, this would not be the example I would use, but again I don't have my real example so bear with me, if you feel that you don't have a great selection from it, go back and smooth it some more. Try and smooth down your edges you really only need. And as you can see, you don't need a lot to create a really great silhouette. Strong lines do help. Does anyone have any questions before I move back into my layout? Yes, Laura. Did it create an automatic new layer when you press D? No, no, no. You did it? I created the layer myself. Here's the selection and then I created a new layer. And then because the selection was already there, I used the flood fill to just fill it very quickly. Good question. Any others? All right, good. I'm gonna close this one, because again this is not the one I want to use on my layout. Just imagine for purposes that was the one I wanted to use. And then this is silhouette that I actually do use (chuckles) in my layout. So here we go. Wow, how did that happen? So this is my silhouette that I added to the piece and brought over the trees to start that cosmic girl thing.

Class Description

Scrapbooking is the experience of pulling together disparate elements of your life and creating stories that could never otherwise exist. And yet scrapbooking in the physical medium still limits your creative scope to what exists in the real world. Digital scrapbooking removes that barrier. By mastering the practice of compositing your personal photos, you can build fantastical, entirely impossible scenes around your favorite subject material.

Join Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel for this intermediate-level class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to develop and digitally sketch a theme for the page.
  • How to find and gather complementary photos for the fantasy theme.
  • How to use graphic design principles to improve the overall aesthetic of the final page.

Fantasy composites are difficult digital effects to create, and require the confident use of a photo editor. Tiffany will walk you through implementing the right kinds of blend modes and adjustment layers for different compositing results. You’ll learn her tips and techniques for creating quality selections and extractions, and applying them to your composited photos. Add new dimensions to your scrapbooking practice. Transform the things you love, and send them into worlds that exist only in your imagination.

Purchase to get the in-depth Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers workbook. The workbook includes step-by-step instructions on digitizing media, altering elements in Photoshop, and so much more!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Blending Practice Files

Cosmic Girl Working Files

Exclusive Bonus for Students

Outter Space Papers

Tiny Hero Working Files


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I was in Tiffany's Mixed Media class and was also lucky enough to be in this class. Tiffany is an AWESOME instructor and well organized. Her Mixed Media class was a great building block for this class. The class is well worth the money--well organized workbook and other great bonuses. If you want to take your scrapbooking to the next artistic level, I highly recommend Tiffany's two classes at CreativeLivel.

a Creativelive Student

Great course with easy to understand ways of blending more than one photo together for a great composite layout. Excellent materials and workbooks.. Thanks Tiffany for a wonderful class! - Christa (cfile)

E.L. Bl/Du

I think Tiffany is good at explaining it so those who arent pro photgraphers can start at the basics to learn photoshop. I really liked watching this even tho my vision is in another direction, I like how she explains how to get there in photoshop. She makes it not so scary to jump in. She is clever mom too, every parent wants their own kids to be a star and she surely did that. What a neat thing to "scrapbook" the photos. I liked learning adjustment layers, would like more in curves too. But great place to start out in ps. I recommend if your lost in PS.