Base Plate Sketching


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


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 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.