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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 59 of 60

Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 59 of 60

Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches


Lesson Info

Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches

I am going to crop this next. I'll probably do another slight color adjustment after we do the crop, here, but because the composition kind of sucks, left brain me is like nope, this is no good. Mathematically, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I tend to really like center posing. It's just a style that I have, that's it. I know some people who are like, my subject's always in the far corner or something. Cool. I just kinda dig this. Actually if you watch the movie Mad Max, there's this amazing thing about the cinematography about the whole movie, is that the subjects were almost always dead center and if you watch that movie, you read, basically the DP and how they structured all the frames in that film, everyone was very, very center. It's an amazing read, so. All sorts of interesting information from people who are much smarter and far more experienced than we are. So, or at least from what I am, I can't speak for everybody who's watching or anybody else in this room but, you know, fr...

om my own self, they know way more than I do. (laughing) So, that was the crop. It's just nice and centered, now. I put the spot right on her hand, right in the center, so I think it looks nice. From here, I think I'm gonna do a sharpening. Alt, control, shift, E. Filter, other, and there's tons of ways to sharpen, so I don't care how you do it. This is how I'm doing it for this image. I got 2.4 pixels, I'm going to change the blending mode to overlay but I don't want to sharpen everything in the image. That's no fun. I'm gonna hold alt and click. Create a layer mask. Zoom in nice and close, use a brush. I'm gonna use a white brush. There's like a few little masking things, here, that I'm probably gonna, not even probably, I'm gonna go in and clean up. And remember how I was saying yesterday about sharpening on the focal length, so I'm kinda just looking at what is somewhat in line with her eyeballs? Because I don't need this whole image to be like massively, crazy, perfectly sharp. So, maybe a little bit on the hip, there. A little bit across here. Probably a little bit at the top of her head, there, like so, and if I want to fix up any last minute stuff like that masking thing that I missed earlier, I'm going to go to my healing brush, sample all layers. Let's see if we can clean some of that stuff up. Once again, there's lots of ways to do this. But I'm also feeling like after we've done all this work, I could probably do another dodge and burn layer, so what I'm gonna do is, I already have my sharpen layer, which is right here, the high pass layer. Which admittedly, there's not tons of stuff there. But that's the point, right? So I am going to create another merge layer. Alt, control, shift, E. Call this Dodge and Burn. And different dodge and burn techniques have different effects. So here I'm going to grab the dodge and burn tool. So I'm going to grab dodge tool quickly. Set to highlights. Come on. I'm just going to dodge out just a little bit of this stuff here, and it's a little bit strong, but because I've created my own layer, I can adjust that after. So I'm going to add a little bit of sparkly highlights in her hair because with that glowing thing, it would probably, some of that would be going down at least. And that's way too strong. Now... Let's move to the burn. Some of this little yellowy stuff here I'm not a big fan of either, but eh. Oh, man. Totally botched that. Go back. There we go. (humming) Just get rid of that little line there. Of course I could dodge and burn this out too, but I can also do tiny, tiny, tiny little healing brush strokes as well. And yeah. Thinking that's looking pretty good. How are you guys feeling? Because if we sit there and we look at this, first of all we started with this. (laughing) So originally, where did we go. We started with that. So from that to that. And in relatively short time. I mean, doing this stuff on CreativeLive, I'm getting through this as quick as I can for you guys, because I know it's kind of boring to watch. I get it. I've watched tutorials where I'm just like (strangled sound) But I'm trying to make this just as relatively quick and interesting and informative all at the same time. I really hope you're enjoying it so far. That's about where we go. From there I always save. File, save. (laughing) I'm turning off the maximize compatibility right now, but of course, when you guys get the PSB file, I'll downsize a little bit so it's easier to download and I'll save it as a PSD and maximize compatibility so everyone should be able to open it, but if for some reason you can't, I'm sorry. I'm not a tech person. I can't save your computer. Great. So are we doing good? Do we have any questions on that so far? I mean I kind of was just like, you know, it's like playing Fallout, and you're like, I have this quest, but there's this other quest, and this other quest, and this other quest, and it's just no good. So, I kind of do that, I know. Yeah? When you're doing closer up portraits, how much atmosphere depth do you use in comparison? Say that one more time? When you're making closer up portraits, how much atmospheric depth are you adding to, in comparison? It partly depends on the background, and entirely depends on the look that I'm going for. So if you're not sure how much depth in atmosphere you want to add in a portrait, go out and shoot a bunch of portraits and then study them. Shoot them in different environments. Of course if it's misty, of course you're going to add more. If it's going to be at dusk, you might add a little bit more. If there's lots of humidity in the air, you might have more. But if you're out in the bright sunshine, then maybe it would be a little bit less, right? So if you're not sure how much to add in, take some photographs, and then study them, and then try to match them up. That's usually the best way. Yes. This is more about Photoshop running. I know you needed those files open to show us what was happening. But is that taking away scratch disk space, and making it harder to run them too? Yeah, one of the nice things about having multiple drives in a laptop is I have one hard drive dedicated scratch disk. Because I need it. So yeah, if you find that your scratch disk is getting full a lot, which can totally happen, especially with bigger files, you can File, Save, and then try to get some scratch disk space, or like reboot your computer, so if your computer's known for filling up quickly, then save and reboot every hour to be safe, to give yourself some space. If your computer's got the space to run it, then go for it, you know. Don't worry about it. I run this thing a lot where I'm not rebooting it, but that's because it's built for editing. These guys actually make great editing systems. They make systems that work, are optimized for Lightroom or optimized for Photoshop or optimized for video editing. So if you're into the PC world, and you haven't drank the Apple juice, you can totally do that. (laughing) What's up? I notice that you used two methods of dodging and burning. Was there a reason? Was there something in your image that made you choose one or the other each time? Yeah, absolutely. That's a great point. So because there's so many different techniques for dodging and burning, a lot of them have different looks. So with this technique of dodging and burning right on the actual image itself, it increases contrast and saturation. And the effect is quite strong. But in this case I'm okay with that, because the image itself is quite contrasty. But if I had dodge and burned using a curves layer, then my shadows would have gotten, would become a lot lighter as well. And I didn't want to affect my shadows, so if I'm using the dodge and burn tool, and I have it set to just highlights, it's not going to affect my darker spots of the image. But that's why. So it's a different look and a different feel. Once you start to really understand a lot of dodging and burning, you look a some fashion photographers. You can kind of guess which technique they're using just by how the pixels are looking on the face. But it doesn't mean that either one's right or wrong, it just seems like the right tool for the job at the time. So it is technically a destructive way to dodge and burn, but I created a merge layer on top, so that means that I can, if I screw something up horribly, I delete the layer and start again. But this does mean that I basically am creating a save point. Every single time I do a merge up, I'm creating like a save point or a limitation in my PSD file that I can only go back so far where I have to redo whatever I did on that layer if I want to go back further and edit things further back. So, pros and cons.

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. :)