Creating Shadow Layers


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

Creating Shadow Layers

So next thing I wanna tackle is that shadow. So I'm gonna go Control or Command + J. Duplicating my girl. What I wanna do here, is I want to delete this one layer mask. So we see there's a little bit of shadow here. Right there, a little bit of shadow here and along the edge of her dress. Now there's a billion and one ways to get shadows. Like everything else we've done, there's hundreds and hundreds of ways to do this, this is just one way that works quite nicely in my opinion. I'm gonna go Normal, I'm gonna throw the blending mode of this layer onto Multiply. Now what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna do a black layer, a black layer mask over the entire thing, so I'm gonna hold Alt to click on the layer mask. Now she disappears. I'm putting this layer underneath her. So I'm gonna call this, so I don't get mixed up, I'm gonna call this Shadow. We're gonna go down here to our brush. Oops, brush. And I wanna paint with white right now, it's set to black. Oh my god. Hey, this is one of those th...

ings that happens. I was like why is this not working? Because I was totally drawing on the actual layer itself. (laughs) If that doesn't happen to you, it will happen. Let's click on the layer mask. And this is too harsh of a brush. That's too much, right. I'm gonna make my brush nice and soft. And multiply might not be the best blending mode for this, it might be too strong. So I'm just gonna pull this around. Till I can see that. So this might be the incorrect blending mode. Because I can see that little bit of shadow right here but this is too much saturation, it's too dark. So of course, we could always just make it lighter like this but it tends to look really fake. So I'm gonna try throwing this onto Soft Light. Let's try Overlay. Overlay, of course, is pulling in a little bit too much saturation and color. Hard Light's not too bad, but I can probably do with this because now Hard Light I'm getting that shadow which is kind of, that's accurate to what I'm looking for. So I have a little too much saturation. And my brush size is a little too soft. So let's pull this around here. I'm also gonna reduce my Flow because it's at 100% right now. Pull that back further. And I'm just following the existing shadows that are already there. And they're very subtle. So this is the wrong color. It's not the right color at all. So I'm gonna play with this again on Multiply and worst to worst what I'm gonna do, is I'm just gonna wind up desaturating it a little bit. But this is not too shabby. It's just too much. So with a little bit of dodge and burning we can probably get this looking pretty realistic. So this is one way that I like to do shadows, there's tons and tons and tons of ways, and the more you study how light really works, the better this gets. So if I turn this all off, I'm gonna just go here to my photo of my model. Now because we have these tiers saved, right, we can compare kind of what's going on. So she's flipped. So I'm looking here, and I'm like okay, this here, this little piece here, that's the shadow. So I'm gonna try and match that as close as I can. I'm gonna use a slightly harder brush because that shadow is a little bit harder. So we're looking at that. Now I'm looking at this shadow right here. So this comes straight out and at an angle, so I actually had the angle incorrect here. So this is kind of coming more like this. It's a little bit softer. I'm gonna make it a little bit bigger than I need and then I'm gonna cut it down. So flat out here and kinda like that. Lower Flow. I'm just taking a larger brush just so I can blend this a little bit smoother. So if you see here, I'm too high. So this starts to come out right at the bottom of that lip. So that means right about here. So I am too high on my shadow. But this is why I like having the actual image handy, because then I can sorta match these guys up. So look at that. And it's looking a lot closer. Now the other thing I'm gonna keep in mind is that this ground has some texture. So the rocks, of course, are gonna have a slightly different shadow. So we can probably play with that with dodge and burning once we get into this a little bit further along. Does that shadow part make sense? Cause now we're going from her floating to she's grounded a little bit. And this still might be just a little bit dark because I'm looking at the some of the shadows here, maybe we could pull it down a little bit. I think that's looking much nicer. As far as best practices are concerned, when you're working on the opacity of a shadow to create the softness of it, is that something that you do while, do you photograph shadows while you're on location? So you kinda know where you're gonna be at? Yeah. Yeah, I will still photograph because we have the shadow of the other girl that was hiking with us, but we also know that with the lighting that we created, we did create this effect that as if we had shot her on location but we brought in a strobe light to fill it. So we know that there's gonna be more of a shadow coming onto this side of her dress. This part here, there's gonna be a little bit more because it's brighter here, we have the specular highlight on her cheek, we know that this synthetic light is coming this way. So I would probably pay attention to the shadow that comes from the dress that I shot in the studio more. Because if you match the lighting accurately, that's what's gonna be true. Whereas if you're not matching your lighting accurately, and you don't want to then, well maybe you pay attention to something else. (laughs) But I think your lighting should be very cohesive and coherent. So that's kind of how I like to do it.

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.