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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 55 of 60

Creating Contrast in Your Composite


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 55 of 60

Creating Contrast in Your Composite


Lesson Info

Creating Contrast in Your Composite

We have got her hair masking, we've got her shadow looking pretty good. One thing of course that I'm noticing is that I've been looking at this image and I think she has a little bit too much contrast for this image. Right, the saturation's a little bit off, stuff like that. So, what I'm gonna do is I'm going to create a clipping mask to our model. So, what I'm gonna do on top of that so that I know everything's gonna work, see where it says Hair, that hair layer that we drew on? I'm gonna make sure that everything's gonna adjust at the same time. So, I'm moving my hair layer down and I'm gonna go Ctrl + E which is going to preserve the mask. But now that hair layer is now a part of this. So, to keep this, for you guys, so that we know that we have it because the PSD is gonna be part of, if you buy this course, the PSD is gonna be part of it. I'm gonna move this hair copy, I'm gonna turn off the visibility on it and then I'm gonna move this one down. So just, Ctrl + E. I'm gonna preser...

ve it. So, for those of you who buy this and you're sitting here goin' like why is there a transparent layer of hair? Well, that's because I've blurred this down or I've merged this down, so that I can do a clipping mask. So I could turn them into a group but it's more complicated and we're not gonna do that today. So, that's just gonna be turned off so you can just see just exactly what I drew. So, I'm gonna go to this little half-circle down here, I'm gonna to to curves, I'm gonna go Alt into that little box and it arrows down is gonna click. So I'm looking at this from a relatively high area and I'm going to just lightly bring that up. So see what happened there? We turn this on and off, all the sudden now she looks like she's part of the image. Very, very, very slight adjustment and now she's totally part of the frame. In my opinion, she's looking a lot more connected. So, before it was too much and now it's here. So, we're lookin' pretty good there. I kinda wanna get into adding some atmospheric elements. So, sometimes if you photograph somebody in the studio with a really, really hardcore daylight balance light and your background was shot at a very different white balance, this color matching process can be a pain in the butt. It can be really hard. But in this case, the background image here was shot at a very similar color temperature to the studio shot. So, matching it is relatively easily. So if you had, let's say for example, hypothetically speaking, let's pretend our background image, for kicks and grins here, I'm creating a curves there, I'm gonna clip it to the background. I'm gonna go into my blue channel and I'm just gonna add a little more. Not that much blue, crazy mess. Let's say we had more blue here and so now we look at her and we're like oh well this is like, she's too yellow. Then what we would do is we'd go to our clipping mask of our model 'cause I just made the background with the beach more blue because I'm trying to explain something, right? So, if we had shot our background and it was far more daylight balanced then I would go to my blue channel and I would turn this up a little bit 'til she matched the color temperature. So, that's before and after. So now she's kind of a little bit more coherent or cohesive with everything. She doesn't match the sky 'cause we didn't do the sky. Let's just pretend that it's all down here. But in either case, if you're having color temperature issues, that's what I like to do. Is I will create a curves layer, I will clip it to my subject or to the background, whichever one I deem appropriate and start tweaking the color. So, I'm gonna delete this curves layer though 'cause we actually don't need it. So she's lookin' not too bad. So, next thing here, I've been really torn, I'm like ah do I dodge and burn, or do I do atmosphere? But I think actually I'm gonna jump around 'cause I was gonna add atmosphere but this image needs some dodge and burning because it looks just kind of flat. In my opinion, it could use a little love. So, there's lots of ways to do dodge and burning. I am going to go and create two curves layers. First one I'm going to call dodge. Second one I'm gonna call burn. Now, there are a billion and one ways to dodge and burn just like there's a billion and one ways to do everything else in Photoshop. In my opinion, there's no right and wrong way because everybody I have seen makes it work for them in a bunch of different ways. This is simply another one of the ways that I like to do it. I did dodge and burning yesterday, a different technique, this is a way, another way that I like to do it that's quite common. I overexpose my image until I've just about lost highlight detail in the brightest part of the image which in this case is that highlight on her face. I'm going to go Ctrl or Command + I, which is gonna invert it, so I'm going to hide the effect of that. Gonna go to burn, I'm gonna do the same thing, but in this case I'm gonna watch for color 'cause if I burn, remember the problem with RGB adjustments is that we get increased saturation, and it looks kinda crummy. So I don't wanna make it too dark. But really the area that I'm wanting to burn a fair bit is her skirt, just to add a little bit more depth to it. So, I'm looking at her skin making sure that's not going any crazy colors. I'm going to invert it. Now, if I want to see only the contrast and color in this image, which is essentially all dodge and burning is, how do I do that, how do I see only contrast and color in an image? Any guesses? You're gonna paint with white. Mic please. You're gonna paint with white. But that's to dodge and burn, but if I'm only wanting to see contrast in the image, how do I do that? High frequency separation, color and... No, no that's separating color and texture, close. Put it in black and white? Exactly. That's exactly right, we're gonna make it black and white. So beauty retouchers do this lot where they put the image into black and white when they're dodge and burning. I also do this when I'm photo manipulating landscapes. So, I go up here and I will create a black and white layer so that I'm only seeing the contrast in the image. Now what this does, is in neuroscience, the way your brain works, and I made this analogy earlier for another subject, but this is pretty close. Your sitting there doing dishes. And you're doing dishes, and you're focusing on doing dishes and you're being careful you're not gonna cut yourself on knives and pokey things in the water. Then all the sudden your kids come in and start trashing the place. And then a cat crawls up your leg, and then a neighbor starts calling, and all this stuff's happening and your brain's getting distracted and you're not thinking about the pokey things in the water anymore. That's what happens when we're working in photo manipulation, with contrast and color. Is that if we are looking at all of this color and everything like that, it's extremely distracting. So when we move this image into black and white we're only focusing on the contrast of the image. Which is all black and white is, is varying levels of contrast. So, I'm gonna go to my dodge layer. I'm gonna take this brush down nice and low. Gonna make sure I'm on white. 10% flow is probably too much. For those of you who don't know the difference between flow and opacity we covered that yesterday, so. If you're missing that and you're kinda like oh my god what is that, it's totally covered yesterday in detail so you'll have to just go back and watch that or catch the rebroadcast this weekend. So I'm on a relatively low flow. And remember when we're dealing with shine on hair, shine doesn't follow the length of the hair, shine actually generally tends to go across it. So we look at these shiny highlights here. And see they just kinda dance across there, they kinda go up here. So shine doesn't necessarily go top to bottom. It does these little tiny spots. So I'm not gonna spend tons of time dodge and burning all of her hair because this isn't a beauty shot. But I just want just a little bit more light. Little pieces of hair, little bit of light around the corners of her eyes. If you wanna watch the ins and outs of really, really amazing beauty retouching Pratik's got that awesome course. Check it out, it's on CreativeLive. So far now see what I'm doing, before and after. So really, really, really subtle. Before, after. But in my opinion, really, really nice retouching should not be huge, massive, crazy changes all the time. So, I'm gonna add just like a little bit of highlight in some of this area here. And I'm using a relatively large brush on the areas that are bigger. I'm tryin' to get a brush that's roughly the same size. If I'm not working in a classroom, I'm sometimes more specific. I clicked up on to the burn layer and now I am just adding a little bit more shape to the shadows, on the fabric of the dress. There's like a little bit comin' up here. Maybe add just a little bit underneath her chin, just a teeny bit, and a little bit on her eye there. But it really doesn't need that much. So if I turn this on and off, I turn on and off the dodge and burn layers, it's pretty subtle. This dodge spot here I think is a little bit too bright. So I'm gonna invert that and just knock it down just a tiny little bit. I'm gonna go to my burn layer, I'm gonna turn on my black and white, and I'm just slightly gonna burn the bottom of that dress area where the shadow is. Just add a little bit more contrast. So, that's before and after. I can probably do just a tiny little bit of dodge and burning into the trees here. But I wanna make sure that I'm not being too distracting from what else is going on. And I will be totally honest, the retouching freak in me is like seeing this halo goin' like no! But you guys got it. You understand how this works, the science behind this right? We covered some of this yesterday on getting rid of those lines. I'm not gonna spend a million hours today rinse repeating the exact same thing. So, you know, textured brush, we'll go in there and you can clean that up quite quickly. So, but another case here, we can actually dodge and burn some of these highlights in the trees. And I'm gonna use that textured brush again. Where is that guy? 45, this one is actually pretty decent. But I just wanna make sure that I'm not gonna distract from our subject. And our subject of course is our model. Whoops, i'm on the burn layer, I wanna be on the dodge layer. But, it might not hurt just to have just a little tiny bit of stuff goin' on there. That little line across the top of her head is also gonna drive me nuts but we'll see if we can hide that otherwise. So, I'm gonna turn on and off the black and white, or off the black and white layer, and turn on and off my dodge and burn layer. And it's very simple and it's very gentle, so I don't like making massive, huge, crazy changes until I start getting into color.

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. :)