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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 36 of 60

Base Plate Sketching


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 36 of 60

Base Plate Sketching


Lesson Info

Base Plate Sketching

It's the same thing as yesterday, I like to draw on these things, so I can see in my brain what's goin' on. So, to make this more visual I'm thinking about putting a V-Flat... Wrong perspective, eh. There you go, this is like my awesome drawing skills. Be jealous. (laughing) Alright, V-Flat, with a little light. That's gonna go there, that's kinda what I'm thinking in my head and then probably an octobox, maybe with a little bit more of a downward angle. Because you see this light, if we zoom in nice and close. You have this little bit, it's a little bit less bright here than it is right here. So that tells me that I'll probably have my Octobox at a slight downward angle, here. That would make sense to me. I may or may not throw a reflector on the ground here, I haven't decided. I'll figure that out when I'm photographing it. But, I'm also gonna wanna fill in some of the shadows, here. And, I could if I wanted to, do that. Which is another V-Flat, or a big tall reflector. I could just ...

stick something up here, which I've done. Right, I could totally do that if I wanted to, but I think in this case I would probably use another octobox here. 'Cause I wanna create slightly nice shaped lighting. The way that I'd done yesterday with the other model, which I can pull that up again, here. So, in this case this shadow here is from the strobe. It's not from the sun, because the sun was coming from this way, down. Which is why we have this nice soft shadow, here. This is our environmental shadow, this is the shadow from the strobe. So, in this case, I love though that we have nice defined features on her face. It looks very pretty. We have a nice shadow under her chin, which is, of course, the thing that I really like. And so I'll probably do something similar with that here. So, I'll probably have this octobox-- I angled it the wrong way. Probably something like this. Will be angled down, here. So, that's kind of what I'm thinking. And this is how my pre-visualization goes in my head. I'm mentally doing this while I'm photographing. Going, "Oh, what would I do with this?" Ya know? And I have tons and tons of images where I have ideas that have just been floating around in my head for a year or two and then I just forget about them and I go back into the file and I'm like "Oh yeah," there was that idea that I planted in there like a little seed. And I may or may not jump on it, but this really isn't the pose that I'm thinking at all. So, if I was to pick a blank shot, and I haven't picked which one I'm gonna use yet. I'm just totally guest-imating here. 'Cause I haven't done the culling yet. Open image. So if I zoom in, I find my little rock. Hello rock, that is my focus point. So, my subject is gonna go here. I know I have this fluffy little dress thing. I'm gonna wanna do stuff with it, 'cause I like it when dresses go places and go all over the place and do crazy stuff. I have my person and it looks like that. Which is like the worst drawing ever, and that's okay. But another case, what I'm saying is I would love to have the fabric kind of do this. Float out like this. 'Cause it's gonna go nicely with what's going on here. It's gonna be like a nice little swoop. I would love to have her body here. Her face here, and her hair kinda doin' stuff like this. Which I'm gonna hate in masking. (laughing) And it's gonna suck, but that's okay. But that's kinda what's rolling through my head. The other option of course is that if I make her smaller. So this is making her quite large in the scene. Which is admittedly bigger than what's required. She should be, you know, the top of her head should be here. So, she would be quite small in the frame. So, then my question is: Well, do I want her to be that small in the frame, what if I wanted her to be bigger? Well what if I take one of the portrait shots? And in this case, she'll take up more space. Alright, I have more sky up here. But, let's see, let's find the rock. Which the rock makes it easy. Nice dark spot. And maybe in this case here I wouldn't want her to be standing sideways with the fabric going this way because it's gonna go against the composition of the frame. So I have my plan of focus is this area, here. Sideways. Roughly that. And I shot this at F11 or a 13, so it's pretty forgiving in reality. This is my area where I can put my model. I can put my model here, I could put my model here, I could put my model here. I can put here, here, and that's gonna all make sense. So, what I could do, is I could have her take up a fair portion of the frame, right here, with fabric. It's too tall again. Fabric like this. Body here and hair. But even still, I'm pre-visualizing this and I'm seeing kind of what's goin' on and I'm seeing like okay, some of the fabric here could do this, and do this. And I could maybe even crop this in a little bit. You know, maybe all this extra space up here is too much and none of this stuff is adding to the story. So maybe I'll crop it in when we're done. Right, so, I'm sitting here and I'm looking at this and I'm understanding that this is just my base plate. This background piece is only my base plate. It's level zero, this is my rough sketch. And then when we bring her into the studio, and we're photographing her, it's also just our rough sketch. So, it's basically we're getting together our ingredients. Right so, we're gonna bake a cake, we're gonna bake an image cake. (laughing) And in this case, one of our ingredients is this. We want focus plane to be roughly here. We want subject size to be roughly that tall. And to be honest that horizon line going all the way through here kind of sucks. So maybe i'll move her over here and then we can balance things out with what's goin' on over here. If I was feeling more industrious and I had more time maybe I would add a little castle here, some crap. But, it's not gonna happen today 'cause I don't have the time but, you know, if I was to do this on my own where I was just siting at home and I could spend a few hours of like, you know, mistakes, screwing around and seeing what happens maybe that's what I would do. I would add a third thing, so then it would be like one, two, three. Alright so maybe I could do the quintessential thing and add some like birds, 'cause everyone adds birds into their pictures, which is fine. Nothing wrong with adding birds, but maybe that would be the thing that I could add over there relatively easily, right. I could draw in something, or in my case, maybe we could make bats. There's my bats. Anyways. (laughing) But, if I'm looking at this, if I wanted to put my subject here along the same plane of focus, I'm looking at this and I'm going, okay, there needs to be something going on here. And so maybe during the break I'll bash my head in a little bit and see if I could figure something out that we could easily put in there. So, probably birds. (laughing) That's kind of what's going through my head right now. So, this is two of our ingredients. Right, one of them of course we have to photograph the model. The other ingredient is our background piece and then I've already snapped the sky's up. So it's just gonna be a matter of picking which one. And that I'll know once we get into the editing this afternoon.

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. :)