Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 25/60 - Adding Smoke Layer to Image


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

Adding Smoke Layer to Image

One thing I think I might try doing with this and this is part of, this is the bonus pack that I gave you guys. I have this smoke layer and I'm totally gonna play with it. Right click + Open with Photoshop. Control + A, select all, Control + C, Control + Shift + V. I'm going to stretch this thing to fit the frame. I am going to blur it just a tiny little bit, Gaussian Blur, it's already a little bit soft. I shoot my smoke textures intentionally a little bit soft because I know in reality it's probably going to be a little bit soft, it's gonna be a little bit forward, or a little bit behind of my subject. I don't necessarily want it to be completely and totally in focus. So gonna change my blending mode, I'm gonna throw it on a Soft Light and see what happens. That feels better, (laughs) and then I'm gonna maybe move this underneath my Color Balance layer, or Color Lookup layer, see what happens there, I like that, that's feeling better, that's feeling much better, so I'm gonna create, ...

actually I wanna try using the stamp tool first, I'm like changing my mind here, stamp, come one, stamp thank you. Okay, leaving it on current layer, I'm going to stamp see where it's lighter here in the center, where that smoke texture is, let's see if we put that up here, not 56% let's make that lower, and basically what I'm doing is I'm moving around the smoke texture and just seeing, so if I go Normal, you can see here what's going on, flow is too low, doot do doot to do, blend that a little bit, so let's see what that looks like, when I put this back onto Soft Light, before, after, it's little bit dark on her face, so maybe I'm going to mask that. Oh stop, black, when I start really getting into it, I start talking quietly (laughs), I've been recording tutorials lately at home, and I've learned that I talk to myself (laughs) like listening to them later, like, oh man, that's happening (laughs). But that's looking really nice, I'm really liking that, that makes this feel better, you know, and I can start to feel it in my hands, I sound like some weirdo but I guess I'm cool with it (laughs) okay so, this is looking nice, last thing I kinda wanna play with before we get into sharpening, I'm gonna play with the contrast a little bit, and once again with contrast and everything else we can do a lot, we can spend a ton of time on contrast, so here, I'm just gonna basically try to make this look a little bit more painterly, this is really common in a lot of artwork. Gonna go to my Curves, that little half circle down at the bottom, Curves. And pull that up just a tiny bit, pull that down just a tiny bit, and so now that I'm looking at it, and I made that adjustment I notice that this spot here, is too bright, alright, it's kinda sticking out too much, so I'll probably go here, put that on Normal, and be like, okay this here, you are my problem, stamp tool, grab that guy, let's bring that down just a tiny little bit, we're still leaving the texture in there, that's better. I have a little bit of halo going on around her face, remember the haloing I was talking about, it's like a thing, can't not see it, come on, brush, thank you, so I'm just gonna bring this in around her, again a little tiny bit, little bit higher, doot to do, the soft silence of working. Alrighty, so now that halo is kinda disappeared right, so there was that little sort of glowy thing going on around her, 'cause I used a larger soft brush and it looked kinda weird, so we're doing this instead. Now I'm looking at this and I'm sitting here, going you know what a little bit of dodge and burning probably isn't gonna kill anything, so there's lots of different ways that we can do dodge and burning, so let's say we did that little bit of like, you know, painterly contrasting, it's looking pretty good, let's try a slight bit of dodge and burning, but I'm gonna but the dodge and burning underneath my Contrast and my Color Lookup layers, so I'm gonna turn that off, Alt + Control + Shift + E, and there's so many ways to dodge and burn, so many ways, so this is just one way out of many ways, that I like to do this, oops blur, click, gonna go to my dodge tool and this is honestly just because this is gonna work the fastest for what I'm looking to do. So I'm gonna to my Midtones and I'm just lightly going to add, now there's a little bit to much, clink, gonna add just a little bit of shaping to her face, and just the tiny, tiny little bit, it's very subtle but I want it to be subtle, right, I don't want it to be really, really super noticeable, like oh my God you did that think, that looks really cool, like (groans) same thing with a little tiny bit in the hair, shine on hair by the way doesn't follow the length of the hair, so if we look at shine, it's little horizontal lines like this, so it's giving me a little bit of color screwing up-ness, let's see does that go away, no it doesn't go away, alright, so we're just gonna go back. What's a really fun challenge when you're retouching is your history, allow three (laughs) or one if you're feeling really adventurous, there's a few retouches, what we like to do is we challenge ourselves to remove the amount of history so that you can only go back so many steps so that's a good time. (laughs) So here, I went to my burn tool and I'm just going to put that onto my shadows as well and just lightly add in, just a tiny little bit of shaping, very, very subtle, following some of the lines on the fabric, once again, if I'm not doing this in a classroom I tend to spend a lot more time on this, if I tend to do it at all, and a little bit of that, and so then I can compare this, before, after, and that looks a lot more pretty, and then we have this. So that would be the quick dodge and burning if we were to jump through that, right, so where I do that totally changes image to image, I can't say that it's all one spot and it's always this one way 'cause it's not.

Class Description

With the right Photoshop know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

Join us for “Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography” and you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


1Class Introduction 2Why You Should Sketch Your Composite 3What to Look for in Your Background 4Posing Your Model 5Communicate with Your Team 6Elements of Compositing 7Learning from Failure & Criticism 8On-Location Safety Tips 9How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo 10Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location 11On-Location Posing 12Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts 13Tips for Culling Images 14Culling Images Q&A 15Preparing Your Image for Composite 16Composite Image Cleanup 17Adding Background Image to Composite 18The Difference Between Flow & Opacity 19Composite Sky Elements 20Using Curves to Color Match 21Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image 22Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color 23Using the Liquify Tool 24Color Theory & Monitor Calibration 25Adding Smoke Layer to Image 26Selective Sharpening 27Crop Your Image 28Goal Setting for Digital Artists 29Review of Location Composite 30Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image 31Base Plate Focus Point 32Base Plate Lighting Tips 33How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image 34Capture On-Location Base Plate Image 35Student Positioning Demo 36Base Plate Sketching 37On-Location Sky Capture 38What to Look for in a Base Plate Model 39Building Composite Model Lighting 40Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching 41Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing 42Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair 43Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques 44Composite Test with Final Shot 45Lighting Setup Overview 46Culling Model Shoot Images 47Adjusting Skintone Colors 48Merging Background with Model 49How to Mask Hair 50Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool 51Creating Shadow Layers 52Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool 53Replacing Sky with Layer Mask 54Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth 55Creating Contrast in Your Composite 56Adding Atmospheric Elements 57Using Particle Shop 58Selective Color Adjustments 59Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches 60Closing Thoughts


Dino Maez

i have to say, the class was AMAZING! in every way from the tricks and technique's of mastering this art form to the personalized attention given by Renee. through the class you are able to learn information that would normally take the average person years of trial and error. Renee gives you the gift of benefitting from her her experiences and what she has learned THE HARD WAY! Renee is an outstanding instructor full of passion for what she does, and with a strong desire to not only improve the art, but more importantly, pay it forward, by sharing her knowledge with others. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event in person, truly a once in a lifetime experience for me, the staff at creative live were THE BEST! they are helpful in every way and really made this event something special, i can't say enough about the experience i had and would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to go down for a class, it will be an experience that you will never forget. but the best part of creative live is that wether you are there in person or wether you are watching from the comfort of your own home, you are involved in the class in REAL TIME, you have the ear and attention of the skilled artist giving the instruction, being there myself i can tell you that Renee was regularly given questions and comments from the viewers via the creative live staff and she would respond to them as they came, in that way you are very much apart of the class you are never left without getting that personalized attention of an amazing artist or that specific question you have answered, and even better you have the option to purchase the class and have it as a constant resource in your tool kit that you can refer back to at any point that you need a refresher or want to recall that special technique that was demonstrated. thank you thank you to renee and all the staff at creative live you have a life long member in me. and i would recomend that everyone take advantage of this valuable resource dino maez

Sheldon Carvalho

Awesome class. I've been following Renee for a very long time. I love her work and to finally see her work and get an image done from start to finish was quite something.. I love the way she sees things and the way she treats her work and all fellow creative. I would recommend this to everyone interested in getting into composting. Looking forward to creating and making my own art work. But it now :) Have fun creating. :)

Tristan Wilhelm

Very good class. I enjoyed the very friendly, approachable and quirky style Renee teaches with. I did feel, as others have said that she could get off on bunny trails and tell stories and I was glad for Creative Live's option to speed up the video. But great tips and it was extremely helpful watching it how she would do it. Thank you much Renee, and also, I'm a PC user that unites with you.