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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 54 of 60

Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 54 of 60

Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth


Lesson Info

Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth

So some of her hair strands are kind of driving me batty, like this up here, so I'm gonna go here, I'm gonna go Control+Shift+N, I'm gonna call this Hair, so I'm gonna take a brush, very, very small at 100% Flow and Opacity and simply draw in some fly aways and these hair strands are too big, make the brush even smaller, I'm just drawing in some filler strands. Now what happens when you're drawing on a photograph? What is it about painting, that doesn't make sense? (student speaking too quietly) Sorry? More sharp. That too, what else? There's no noise, so whenever we're painting, so we paint like this, there's no noise in this, so you have to add noise and we have to make it a little bit more blurry, 'cause it is far too sharp and I could also do this with, you know, using a lower Flow brush, if I wanted to have filler that way too, this also works, it doesn't have to be super, super, super strong, nice and tiny. Bring this up here, add in a few fly aways, 'cause perfect hair doesn...

't happen for any of us, I'm gonna resample color, generally I resample color a lot more, I'm definitely skipping a couple of steps here, sorry guys, yeah, generally I resample lots and lots of color. So we go down here, get rid of these sharp edges and these edges that are too fuzzy. We have a great comment here in the chatrooms, Renee says, even though she says masking is boring, it's just watching her work is magic and majestic, I'm loving it. (laughs) I'm glad they're enjoying it, I have definitely increased my vocabulary on foul language from masking, so, (laughs) sometimes it can be extremely frustrating, it's totally not for everybody, but I'm really glad that people are enjoying it, so like I said, this isn't for everyone, but if it's for you, man, do it, the world is your oyster, when you start making stuff that just only seems to exist in your brain. So I'm gonna pull this out a little bit, let's see here, make this a little bit more fly away-y. ♪ Doo doo doo ♪ More fluffiness. (student speaking too quietly) Yeah, absolutely, what's going on? With how small you have your keyboard mapped out, of course a small movement of your hand is gonna translate to a big movement on the screen, Hm-mm. Does it ever become difficult for you to do the intricate stuff or do you just always blow up your screen big enough-- I just zoom in. Is that what it is? Yeah, in a way, I totally just zoom in, I found that it wasn't worth injury, when your hand screws up too much, that you're unable to edit, you're just like anything to never go through that ever again, so that's what I've found works for me, but it's not for everybody for sure. So one thing I wanna do with this hair layer is I'm gonna see if I put this on a Blending mode, if that helps at all, so it might make things better, it might make things worse, so if I put this on Blending mode, Multiply, gonna try Overlay, Overlay didn't do anything, Soft Light's even more useless, Multiply wasn't too, too, too bad, but what's happening though is we're getting a little bit too much overlay here and this is obviously too strong, I know that, but I'm not gonna leave it here, so I'm gonna put this back onto Normal and so I'm gonna first add Filter, Blur, I'm gonna Gaussian Blur it just a tiny, little bit, so one pixel's too much, let's try half a pixel, so that's a little bit better and without spending a ton a ton of time on this, I'm gonna say yes, that's good, I'm gonna go Filter, Noise, Add Noise, I'm gonna zoom in here and look at this and I'm basically seeing how the noise is looking on these lines. Now see here, four is too much, now we have all that pixelation here and it's non-uniform with what's going on with everything else in the shot, so when I was saying how if we add too much noise, see how it gets a little spotty and everything like that, it doesn't work anymore, so generally I find between one and three pixels for my sensor anyway is enough, so I think two or three is gonna look pretty good, three might be a bit much, 'cause we're still getting a little bit of that spottiness going on, so 2's probably good, we're gonna leave it at that. So now her hair, especially when we're zoomed out here looks not too bad and we haven't done any dodge and burning yet or anything, and that's gonna add to a little bit more of the believable-ness of the hair adjustment that we did, but if we had this just before and after to compare, like everything else, it's small, it's subtle differences, but it's small, subtle differences, that are gonna make or break any composite, it's not usually the big, heavy-handed adjustments, they're generally quite small, quite subtle and very gentle. So now that I have my clouds here, one thing I did yesterday was I blurred the sky just a tiny, tiny, little bit, so I'm gonna do the same thing here, because when I photograph the sky, there's gonna be a point, that's in focus, so I'm just going to go Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur and I'm probably just gonna go like one pixel, maybe 1. and I'm looking at it and like, no, 1.5 is too much, 'cause I'm looking at what's going on here, I'm looking at what's going on here, so one pixel blur was enough. And so this is kind of where we're sitting at, I might add a little bit of atmospheric depth here, a little bit of stuff going on in the distance, just to increase the separation of what's going on here, but really we're looking like we're in pretty good shape, so Control+Shift+N, just Control+Shift+New, I should have called this Atmosphere, learning to spell, (laughs) wow. Okay, going to make a nice soft brush, larger brush, I'm gonna sample a color that's from far away, that's gonna be of course, the atmosphere, gonna have a low Flow, gonna make it nice and soft, soft brush and this is going to be too much and I know that, so I'm gonna bring this down just a little bit and I don't want this going over top of my model, so I'm going to hold Control, I'm gonna click this Layer Mask, now what this is going to do and of course, is it's totally inverting my problem, so I'm gonna Control or Command+I my brush, or my mask rather and now see where it says, my mask here looks like this, so part of my stuff is totally getting washed out, so I'm going to correct that and bring this all out. So now it's gonna be kind of nice, whoops, don't use such a soft edge brush, because it floats over, (laughs) whoops, it's one of those days, (laughs) there we go. So it's a little bit much here coming close towards her, make the brush nice and soft again, I'm gonna take this away from Flow 100%, I'm gonna take it down to a six or and gonna paint black, just lightly bring some of that out. So it's a very subtle difference, it's a very subtle change, but like I keep saying over and over and over again, it's the little, tiny, subtle things that are gonna change everything. So from here, I have a sneaking suspicion, that if we can tackle some questions or if there's anything like that, otherwise we can jump from here, from masking, we can take a break and then smash color for the rest of the afternoon. Love it, I think we're really good over here, but I will ask you to reiterate the brush number that you've been using, Oh yeah. the brush numbers? So the brush numbers that I was using for smashing out all of the trees was number 45 to get rid of the trees, which actually was working pretty nicely, I was also using brush number for stuff, that has a harsher texture, so for stuff that's more in focus, I was actually using brush number 32 last, yesterday or the previous class to cut out the mountains and then for doing the hair, I was using brush number 59, but honestly, those brushes, 14, 24, 27, 39, 46, and 59, which of course are right here in your default slider bar are totally awesome, so if you're not sure what brushes, if your brushes are not set up like everyone else, there's this little wheely thing here, when you click on your Brush palette and these are all my brushes, you can just go Reset Brushes and that's gonna bring you back to this default, so yeah, brushes is a rabbit hole though, you wanna spend some fun time on that. (laughs)

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. :)