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Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Lesson 16 of 20

Project 2: Add Background & Build a Scene

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

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Lesson Info

16. Project 2: Add Background & Build a Scene

Lesson Info

Project 2: Add Background & Build a Scene

Let's go get some outer space paper, okay? So I'm gonna select my move tool, Shortcut key V on the keyboard, and go to File and Open and let's go get, some outer space papers. And for this one, I used number four. So that one, I think it's that one, yeah. And so why did I choose this one? I needed something that was gonna look like it had a lightening bolt. You guys see it? I wanted something even, you know, even though it has nothing to do, but this type of stuff, these types of little fixtures. They create such great little pieces if you can see see it void of color. If you can kinda train your mind to see backgrounds void of color when you're working in digital, you will start to notice a couple of things. So I'm just gonna suck the color out really quick. Doesn't that look like clouds? That's it. Repurpose your background papers, especially if you've been digitally scrapbooking for a long time and you love artistic papers. Those papers, sucked void of color, can do different things...

. Even textured paper, you can add them to other papers and do different things with them too. There's just so much you can do with it. So, I'm not gonna keep it like that, I'm gonna bring it back in and show you the real way you wanna work with it. So bring it in, drag it into your layout, and bring it to the bottom of your layers panel right before your background. Now that we have a background, do you see how his arm just kind of disappears into that? That's what we're talkin' about. Compositing is so easy if you just know how to do it. You don't have to worry about it. So that may have been a photo that you might have tried to be like, I can't use it, his arm is cut off, what am I gonna do? (audience member mumbles) Yeah, you know? No, no, no, you don't have to do it. You just make it disappear. He's just disappearing, like Michael J. Fox did in Back to the Future. (laughs) Eventually he was just like, my arm's gone. Same kinda thing, okay? Then we will work to hide that part so you don't see it as well. So, easy stuff. Now here's the thing. How're we gonna blend this into the background, this background paper, after we have dragged it in? We're still on page 22 on step five. The blend mode to do this kind of trick is a luminosity blend mode. Luminosity, let me show you this. If you don't have anything behind a luminosity, like a white or a black paper, this will not work. If you add a white paper or a black paper, it's gonna change it. It's going to make it black and white. Luminosity is basically a blend mode that's void of color. It's like I'm just working with brightness and darkness, void of color. If you have nothing behind it, like just with white, it's just gonna take the color out and say well, here's your white. (laughs) Here's your darkness and brightness. There you go. You can also transform it, not transform it, but you can also suck the color out and do hue saturation. But I tend to find that luminosity works a little bit better. So, there you go, just know in blend modes. Next, we now get to do stuff, whatever we want with this layer. We can make any color we want. You could add a gradience right to it to do something. You could add a patterned paper on top of it to get your own kind of color or add to it. If you took mixed media, you can add a gesso on top of it and give it that textured feel and make it look painted. Your imagination should be going in all these different directions. But what I suggest that you do is at least add some color. So here's the trick with the color. Click on the create new filler adjustment layer icon and select solid color. Excuse me, select brightness and contrast first. With brightness and contrast we need to build more contrast into that. When we sucked all the color out we literally sucked all the life out of it. I'm gonna bring my brightness to, I have my numbers here, 33, which makes it brighter, and 93, which is gonna add probably a lot more contrast and boom, now it looks really nice and happy. So that's how we wanna do it right there. Next step, we're gonna click on the create new filler adjustment layer icon again and select solid color. Now all we have to do is figure out the color. Well, you can do sample colors and whatnot. You can do red and all the other stuff. You can kinda figure it out. I'm gonna choose blue. And the blue that I might use might be something like that. Let's try and see how it works first. Now I'm gonna click OK. I'm gonna ask any of you guys who have probably not read through everything yet. Don't read it. (laughs) Don't read the answer. Why did I choose blue? Anyone know? To blend in with the content. Exactly, exactly. If you have a person and they are wearing clothes, and this is just a scrapbooking trick just in general, pick a background color that matches the clothes, not the face. If the person is a natural color, which I'm assuming we all are, none of us are aliens or green. (laughs) If you are tan, peach, brown, it doesn't matter what your skin color is. If you, in a compositing layout, anything, if you choose a natural color that matches that person's skin tone, they're gonna disappear. But if you choose their clothing background they will pop out from the background. That's just a general design technique. So please keep that in mind. Do not choose a color that matches the skin tone of your subject, especially for compositing, because they will disappear into the background of your composite. Just a general rule of thumb. Next we're gonna choose a soft blend mode. We're gonna add contrast very softly. So we're gonna choose a soft light. And boom bada bing, that's a really close blue to what I was working with before. And now you have this kinda cloudy sky that we created from this outer space paper. We've repurposed our paper to create that kind of contrast. And no big deal with the arm. Everything looks good. And right now I might start to say, okay, he needs to be a little bit lighter. And right now I might say contrast is becoming less or more of a big deal. I might start going back and start playing with that. I might even jump the background layer a couple more times and just get into where I say okay, you know, it's still not bright enough. Let me add more screen. You don't have to go like, oh, I can't add more. I'm gonna go to the brush tool and I'm improvising now. I'm just kinda saying alright, now that I've added my background paper I notice Oh, I painted his clothes (laughs). Let me do this. So now that screen isn't getting everything and it's lighter. I might say okay, I need contrast to become a big deal now, so let me add some more contrast so it starts to kind of look a little bit better. So you see again, layouts are fluid. As long as you know that initial process you can do this. Sound doable? Before we keep going on, any questions in the audience? Yes, Laura. I know that whenever you jump the background the file size gets bigger, but why, if you don't care about its file size regardless, why would you just to do that instead of adding a dummy layer? I think it's just preference. Me personally, before adjustments layers really, I've been scrapbooking before adjustments layers became cool. So I don't use them as often in this way. I kinda have my own workflow, which says, if I'm gonna jump the background layer and do a dummy layer, I'm just gonna jump the background. Because then when I need to kinda go back in my workflow and quickly see what layer's jumping, I can see it. Versus which one is absolutely needed for contrast. Or which one is absolutely needed for curving. So it's my personal preference of saying, okay, I need to be able to at a moment's notice go, I know what you're doing, and move on. Typically my layouts will have between 50 to 75 layers on it. So with that many layers, first of all, I can't be concerned (laughs) if I'm gonna add that many layers to it. Obviously, I'm doin' some big stuff. But the second part of it is is that I just don't have time to look at everything and label everything. I just need to be able to look at the thumbnail and go, okay, this is the one that's jumping the background. If I had all of those adjustment layers and I had 12 adjustments layers that said contrast, clipped to different things, I would be like, I don't know what you're doing. Now I've gotta go back and label you. But this way I can look at it and say, okay, all three of you guys as a group are jumping the background and then I added a curves, which means that one is the specific one who's dealing with my curves. Does that help? Yes, thank you. Awesome, wonderful question, Laura. Any other questions? Anything online? Awesome, okay, thanks Robert, you're doing great. Let's move on on page 22 to create some grounding. And this is what I was talking about before where you need your subject to kinda look like they're supposed to be there. Now this might, in our previous example, might be where you have a focal point, which looks like it's kinda just swimming in the middle of nowhere, you need to add something specific so that you can see where (laughs) what it's supposed to be referencing. It's the moon, it's floating out in space. Well, is it floating with Jupiter? Well, add Jupiter (laughs), okay? If it's just floating near some asteroids, well, add the asteroids. But it's our moon, relative to earth, so add earth. Add a forest, add something that's gonna ground it into the scene. The focal point here, he's in the background, but he's just kinda standin' off there. So I typically, if I have a focal point that is this big and it's a person, I'm gonna add a shadow that kinda grounds them into the background.

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.