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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 25 of 60

Adding Smoke Layer to Image


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 25 of 60

Adding Smoke Layer to Image


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 Adobe® 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.

In this class 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.


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

stephen lenman

I have completed many creative courses. This is by far the best so far. Quite the most amazing and inspiring presenter with a true passion for their craft. The core information is excellent, but the thing i liked most were her subtle tangents, dropping incredible information completely on the fly. A complete real world honest view of business and practical side of the industry. Especially her advice on how she started to her business. Saving up enough in her day job so she could pay the rent, and do photography for 3-6 months.

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. :)