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Essential Compositing Tips & Techniques In Photoshop 2021

Lesson 5 of 13

Matching Brightness in a Composite

Jesús Ramirez

Essential Compositing Tips & Techniques In Photoshop 2021

Jesús Ramirez

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Lesson Info

5. Matching Brightness in a Composite
Learn to match the brightness of multiple photos to create one cohesive image.

Lesson Info

Matching Brightness in a Composite

next, I'm going to show you how to match brightness and a composite. This is actually very similar to what we looked at with atmospheric perspective. But instead of placing a subject in three D space, I'm trying to match her brightness levels to the background so that, it looks like is the same image. I also have this Grady int layer here, and this layer simply contains a Grady int that has all the colors of the rainbow. If I double click on the foreground, the color picker will come up, and from here I can click and drag over these colors, and you can see that the only thing that changes is the hue. See that the hue, the hue is what color we're talking about. Is it red, green, blue or any of the other colors? Saturation is the intensity. Is it at maximum intensity, or is it at the lowest intensity, which makes it gray? And the brightness, of course, is how bright or dark the color is. In this case again, the only thing that changes is the hue. The saturation and brightness remained th...

e same throughout all these colors, and you'll see why that's important in a moment. One of the things that I like doing. When compositing is creating what I like to call check layers, they allow me to check various aspects of my composite. One of the easiest ones to make is the black and white adjustment layer, which makes the image black and white. This is what you saw me do earlier in the atmospheric perspective example. But this is actually not my prefer method. This is the easiest method, but not my prefer method. Although this one works pretty well. This is my second favorite method. I see a lot of people using the hue and saturation adjustment layer and then reducing the saturation down to zero. And to be frank with you, this is okay. This will work for you 99.9% of the time and you will see no problems. But let me show you what my favorite method is, and I'll explain why my favorite method is the vibrance adjustment layer. And I'd like to bring the saturation down to zero on this adjustment layer. And the reason that I prefer the vibrance adjustment layer over the human saturation layer is that it gives you slightly better results. Let me show you what I mean by that. I'm going to enable the ingredient adjustment layer. And from here you will see that the human saturation adjustment layer makes all the colors in that rainbow the same shade of gray. And that's because if you remember, all these colors have the same brightness in the same saturation. And actually let me select the adjustment layer thumbnail, not the layer mask, so that when I open up my color picker, I can actually select the colors and not the white inside of that layer mask. But as you can see, the saturation and the brightness is the same on all these colors. So have you removed the saturation? You're left with the same gray. But if we enable the vibrance adjustment layer known is that all these different colors have different shades of gray. And why is that? Well, the vibrance adjustment layer, you says the HSB color mode, which is the same color mode that you saw earlier in the color picker hue, saturation and brightness, but the human saturation adjustment layer you says the H S l color motor, the hue, saturation and lightness components, so you can think of this color mode as more numerical. In other words, it just takes a look at the values, and it spits out the corresponding gray. The vibrance adjustment layer uses the HSB color mode, which was designed to more closely resemble the way the humans perceive color. So if I disable this layer, you'll see that we have blue here and yellow here to the human eye. Blue seems darker than yellow yellow seems writer, So the HSB color mode tries to interpret color of the ways that humans do so when creating a composite. Any one of these adjustment layers, well, the saturate the layer, and they will all make good check layers. But I recommend using the virus adjustment layer just because it it's more closely resembled to what your eyes would see without color. But having said that, you can use any one of these and you'll be fine. But again, I just wanted to explain why I prefer the vibrance adjustment layer. Also, I should note that the black and white adjustment layer is actually somewhat similar. You can see that the blue is also darker, and the yellow is brighter, but in this case we have if the magenta being bright as well. So I don't necessarily like that, but I think it does a better job than human saturation. But anyway, I'm going to stick with Vibrance, and I just tapped in the back space key to delete those layers. And now that I have my black and white adjustment layer here, my check layer, I can delete this green and later because we don't need it. And now let's focus on the composite. So now we can see this composite and black and white. And like I said before, if you can make the black and white image look good, then you'll definitely be able to make the color image look good as well. So with my model layers selected, I'm going to go into the new adjustment layer icon, and I'm going to select levels and click on this icon to clip it to the layer below. And just like before, all I need to do is adjust these controls to make sure that her brightness levels match the background, and I'm really looking at this area that is closest to us, so I can just click and drag this centrepoint, which controls the gamma and maybe dark in some of the darker pixels and brighten some of the brighter pixels. And then I can make the darkest color just off black there and the brightest color. I'll make an off white something like this before and after. If the black and white image looks good, then the color image should look good as well. Of course, if your image is not looking the way that you want you confined to in this accordingly, before and after in the next video, I'm going to show you how to match saturation.

Class Description


  • Easily color match images.
  • Use perspective to make images fit their background.
  • Use familiar tools in unconventional ways to help you create better composites.
  • Realistically combine images from multiple sources into one single image.


Join Jesús Ramirez, the expert instructor from the very popular Photoshop Training Channel (PTC) on YouTube, as he teaches you the concepts for creating realistic composites in Adobe Photoshop 2021.

Composites are more than just merging images together. To make a realistic composite, one needs to consider light sources and perspective. By using Photoshop 2021 you can create worlds and scenes with your photography that would take extreme budgets to capture in camera.


  • Beginner photographers who want to learn how to combine two or more images together.
  • Beginner designers who are replacing backgrounds from photos to fit their designs.


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (ver 22.0)


Jesús Ramirez is a digital graphics expert, speaker, and educator specializing in Adobe Photoshop. With over 15 years of professional design experience, he has worked with clients such as Adobe, Microsoft, Motorola, and Conde Nast. Jesús is best known as the founder of the Photoshop Training Channel (PTC), one of the most popular Photoshop YouTube channels in the world with over one million subscribers.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Atmospheric Perspective

Matching Brightness

Matching Saturation

Matching Ambient Color

Select and Mask

Masking Difficult Hair

Blending Modes

Custom Brushes

Putting It All Together

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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This course teaches what you need to know about creating composites. As alway Jesus delivers in a clear, precise and fun way. You can just tell this guy has a great personality and he loves what he does. I greatly enjoyed the course and would strongly recommend it. A big thumbs up!!!

a Creativelive Student

One of the best courses I've done on CreativeLive and that's a high bar! An incredible mix of in depth guidance but also some simple photoshop tips along the way, I had so many 'wow' moments, learning things I had no idea you could do in Photoshop. Really a good pace too. Quite a short course but so many good lessons to revisit. Great work!

Javier Tinoco

Great course by Jesus Ramirez. This course teaches you several techniques regardless of your experience level. I've learned a lot from this course and I will recommend it to anybody wanting to start with PS or would like to expand their knowledge.