Essential Compositing Tips & Techniques In Photoshop®

Lesson 5/9 - How To Apply Ambient Color


Essential Compositing Tips & Techniques In Photoshop®


Lesson Info

How To Apply Ambient Color

So we have this composite here, and it's a very simple composite. It's just the dancer, and she's in the subway, and she's dancing. And this deals with ambient color. So when you're compositing images together you have to think about how light works in the real-world. There's this light coming at me, it's hitting me, and it's bouncing, and it's hitting the objects that are around me. You can see that in the composite in the original image of the dancer here. And I'm gonna disable the background just so you can see what's going on. And actually, I'll maybe even create a solid color just so we can see it better. So I'm just gonna place that solid color lay in the background. This is just to help us see better without having those transparency squares there in the checkerboard there in the background. So there's light obviously when this image was first shot. There was light coming down hitting her shirt here and bouncing back up. Notice that there's some pink there on her sweater. That i...

s because the light just bounced from her shirt onto her sweater. If she were really in this subway scene, the same thing would happen. There's coming down, bouncing all over the place, and we need to get some of that light onto her to make her fit better. So there's a lot of ways of doing it though. One of the easiest ways, and one of the ways that I always try first is by selecting the background, pressing Command + J, Control + J on the PC. Click and drag that layer above the model layer. Then I'm gonna fit that to screen so we can see what's going on. Then I'm gonna go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur, and we're gonna blur this image until we have no detail, just the colors. And don't worry so much about the radius values that I'm using. The values will be different on almost anything that I do with the images that you work with at home. So just learn the techniques. Don't worry so much about the actual values that I'm using. Just know that you have to blur it so that you lose detail but still keep the color. So in this particular case, around the radius of 47.2 works. Then I'm gonna press OK. And I'm gonna clip this layer to the layer below it. Once again, the key to our shortcut is Option + Command + G, Control + ALT + G on the PC. So now, this blurry layer is affecting only the layer below it. We only want to bring in that ambient color. So we're gonna have to change the blending mode. The blending mode that we're gonna use is the color blending mode. This allows us to keep only the color of this, we're gonna just call it blur layer just so you know what that is. So this blending mode allows us to only keep the color of this blur layer. And there you go. You see that color over her. Obviously, that's a little too much. So what we wanna do is bring down the opacity just a little bit, maybe right about here. Now the colors are looking a little dull, so maybe we wanna enhance them a little bit. So we can create either here saturation or vibrance adjustment layer. In this case, we'll go with vibrance. Then we can increase the vibrance a little bit. And notice now, that if we zoom in into her sweater here, she has that color that that background is, that should be bouncing off the walls. So that's before, and that's after. So it's a really simple technique that you can use just to make sure that your subject fits better with the background that it's interacting with, especially in a background like this. That she's enclosed. The walls are really close to her. Maybe this wouldn't be applicable if she was maybe standing on a beach or something like that. Although, there is still light bouncing around that you probably do wanna get in there. It really becomes noticeable in a scene like this where there's obviously a colorful wall, and there's light bouncing around.

Class Description

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

In this class you’ll learn:

  • How to use adjustment layers to check the luminance, saturation, and hue of a composite.
  • How to make composites come to life by adding ambient color.
  • How to use familiar tools in unconventional ways to help you create realistic composites

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5.1

Compositing in Photoshop with Jesus Ramirez 


Arlette Hatcher

A great course full of useful information and helpful tips. I would really recommend this course to anyone interested in compositing in photoshop. Will look for more like it in Creative Live. Thank you.

Nicole Wilde

Holy moly! I've been compositing for a few years and although I know the basics of matching direction of light, shadows, color, etc. this course blew my mind with how much info and new, valuable tricks are packed in. I love that it's all substance and no fluff, and the substance is super useful. Before I even finished watching the entire thing I posted on my FB page about it, and a few fellow compositors are now purchasing it as well. Thanks so much Jesus, this was the best money I've spent in a long time!

Alfonso Perez

Let me just say if you were like me and were debating whether to get this class or not, thinking "man, is it worth it?" Let me say this: YES IT IS! Get this class!! Wow I've been using photoshop for a couple years now and I learned soooo much from this class! Jesus Ramirez does an awesome Job on explaining his techniques and teaching you! Whether you're a beginner to a pro, you will definitely enjoy this class!