The Difference Between Flow & Opacity


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

The Difference Between Flow & Opacity

So who can tell me the difference between flow and opacity? Cool. So, flow and opacity work like this. 100% flow, 100% opacity. Let's deselect it Nothing's on crazy blending modes. There you go, all right. 100% flow, 100% opacity. We're getting a 100% of everything. If I go, and instead of 1% opacity, I will go 4%, so nice and low. This I draw once, we don't really see much of a difference. I draw again, I draw again, I draw again, I draw again. So now we're starting to see, see all this unevenness going on here, right? But the only way that we get more color, is if we click and drag again. So, for anybody who has any painting experience, this is kind of like painting with acrylic paint. You paint a layer of color you let it dry, you paint another layer of color, you let it dry. There's no blending, all right even if you're using a very low opacity. In this case here, we can see all the unevenness that's coming from using a low opacity. All right, so if we zoom this out. Let's say we g...

o 100% opacity and even just 4% flow. I am gonna paint, and this is gonna act like an airbrush. And our blending is very smooth and very soft. And our history is showing a lot less strokes. So that means that if you wanna go back, your computer isn't filling up your scratch disk as quickly because you're using less strokes over and over again. So, flow and opacity, I tend to leave my opacity at 100%. I don't really ever touch it. And then I just, I only adjust my flow. So, when I am working, in this case here, with this image. Open. So we're zoomed in nice and close. Brush. I am gonna make this nice and small. Depending on the type of surface I am working on, we'll just slowly... X to make that a little bit higher, so we can see what's up. Do you ever mix up right and left a lot? I am one of those people so there's a 50% chance of getting it right I will probably get the other one. (laughing) So now the case, I am just lightly bringing this along and I am using the smaller brush, and because I am using a lower flow if I happen to go over the edge a tiny little bit, it's not gonna be the end of the world. I can always just go Control + Z, Control + Z, whichever. (laughing) I get teased a lot for the Z and Z thing. We can just slide this in here a little bit. I would just go around the entire dress getting rid of that little tiny halo there. And I would go around her face and her hair and all that because when you do a quick selection, even when you're using channels, you're probably gonna have a little bit of this. So it's just spending the time, and whenever I feel like, oh, my God, I spent to much time on an image, I hang out with some of my painter friends, (chuckles) and I'm like never mind. (laughing) In the time that they do one painting, I have done six composites so I'm like eh. It's not so bad. So if you're ever feeling sorry for yourself because you spend too much time compositing, hang with a photorealistic painter or a sculptor. Or a musician, God, musicians they spend a month on a song only to have somebody tell them it sucks. So, really in the world of art, composite artists, we got it kind of good. So, yeah, that's generally the gist of this crap. Over, and over, and over. So you know we zoom out and we're like, yeah, we're at her waist. We're a quarter of the way there. (laughing) 1/4 of the way finished. All right, so we zoom in, and, you know, I might like draw in and fill in some of the hair. Or I might not, whatever. It doesn't really matter to me. So, that's kinda where I'm looking at this, and like: Okay, this is looking not too bad. Right? Like I said once again, I would probably go in and clean this up. If you're familiar with frequency separation, I'll probably cover this a little bit more in detail, but sometimes if I find that I have a haloing that I didn't notice earlier and I'm towards the end of my composite, I will do a technique that is very common in beauty retouching. Pardon me. The technique is very common in beauty retouching, which is frequency separation, where I separate the color from the texture of the image. So I can manipulate them separately. And so, if I find I have a little bit of halo going on, I will do frequency separation. I'll leave the texture alone, and I will pull the color in on that halo, and then if I have to manipulate the texture a little bit to blend it a little bit, I will. So, if you're not sure what frequency separation is, watch PROtique's video, (laughing) which has been really great for live course or you can go onto and they have an article called, The Ultimate Guide to Frequency Separation. And they're both really awesome. They're both great ways to learn. PROtique, of course, is an incredible instructor. You can apply that to composite images if you're trying to make mistakes that you didn't notice before and you want to be able to correct it without having to delete a bunch of layers and go back. So, that's another way that I'll, sometimes, get rid of those halos, if I'm not noticed. Especially if I am doing late night retouching. Sometimes I miss things. (laughing)

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.