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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 18 of 60

The Difference Between Flow & Opacity


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 18 of 60

The Difference Between Flow & Opacity


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 Fstoppers.com 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 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. :)