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Introduction to Character Composites

Lesson 3 of 14



Introduction to Character Composites

Lesson 3 of 14



Lesson Info


So the first thing I want to do with this image is cropped. Now, I believe in using your keyboard shortcuts as much as possible. So I'm gonna walk you through that. We're gonna hit the letter C on your keyboard for Crop, which is going to bring up this little border thing here. So crop is on the left hand on your toolbar here about four little doo doo doo thinking meticulous. I don't know. Buttons down four or 51234 It's the fifth anyway, So we are going to change the aspect ratio of this because this image is nice as a vertical, but I really want to make it a horizontal shot. So we're gonna grab the crop tool. And right now, here I have clicked your original ratio. So that means that my image is going to stay, um, as an eight by 12 perspective or whatever the real word is for it. But anyways, this means I don't have to hit anything on my keyboard to change the aspect ratio. Uh, this is going to stay exactly the same. So this is actually kinda handy because you can change it to 1 to 1 ...

square four by 55 by 72 by three, etcetera, etcetera. I think we're two by three. Um controls you anyways, so we are going to crop this. And if you take this down far enough and then just pull your mouse away, it automatically will flip for you. I used to do this all the time. When I was doing Cropping is I would like, rotate everything afterwards. It was a mess. I'm so glad that we don't have to do that anymore. The other thing I want to correct with this image is that he took the image crooked. This is what happens sometimes. I don't hold my camera very a study very often, especially when in the studio. I'm excited. I'm working on something and I'm stoked. I tend to get a little wobbly with my lens. So what I'm doing right now is I'm just paying attention. Two his shoulders and I just want his shoulders and the hat that kind of straighten up. You can also adjust it a little bit by hitting the over buttons on your keyboard. If you want to get a little bit more precise with it. So I'm trying to make sure that the distance between the hat and the edge of the frame is similar to the distance to the bottom of this little frizzy, frizzy part on the last suit to the edge of the frame. So I just wanted to be similar, and it's looking pretty good. So if we want to accept that, we just hit enter on the keyboard and we have cropped and straightened our subject.

Class Description


  • Style a compelling character.
  • Extract subject and replace background.
  • Use textures and brushes to bring the subject into the image.
  • Add a realistic atmospheric element.
  • Color grade in Adobe Camera Raw.


We can’t always shoot portraits in our dream locations. Sometimes we go to amazing places on vacation, or we find some great stock imagery online, and we want to transport our clients to somewhere special. For some artists, the most interesting places to create come from within.

For Renee, character portraits lean heavily on a compelling subject, something rooted in reality. In this class you will be guided through her process to style, pose, and hand paint texture and light to emphasize a portrait of a cowboy.

Take your studio portraits from clean and simple to compelling and eye catching!


  • Beginner and Intermediate Photographers
  • Portrait photographers interested in compositing
  • Beginner and Intermediate composite artists
  • Artists interested in advancing their styling choices


Adobe Photoshop 2019 (20.0.6)
Adobe Camera Raw


  1. Introduction

    Introduction to the class and overview

  2. Lighting and Concept

    A quick guide to where the concept came from for the image and the lighting used.

  3. Cropping

    Changing the aspect ratio of the image to make a more pleasing composition.

  4. Bringing in the New Background

    Picking a proper background image and using the transform tool to fit it to the new crop.

  5. Masking

    Using Select Subject and different hand masking techniques to create a seamless blend between subject and background.

  6. Creating Depth

    Using a variety of techniques to create visual depth between the subject and background replacement.

  7. Painting Wet Rain on Costuming

    Creating different layers of brush marks to make the illusion of wet costuming, of someone standing in the rain.

  8. Creating Rain Drops

    Creating realistic raindrops and atmospheric depth from static pixels.

  9. Rain Touch Ups

    Final touch ups on the costume to finalize the look of standing in the rain.

  10. Color Grading

    Color grading using Adobe Camera Raw and smart filters.

  11. Sharpening

    Using Smart Sharpen gently sharpen the image.

  12. Saving

    3 different ways to save your image, including save for web.

  13. Summary

    Quick walk through of the layers and progress in the composite.

  14. Outro

    Quick final notes and thanks!


Steve Vick

Great hands-on course. I love Renee's straight forward approach. This is the tool, this is what we are going doing with it and here's how to use it. For me it is the fastest and most practical way to learn. No fluff, no long-winded stories... just doing! In some of the other courses I viewed, I find myself skipping ahead waiting for them to get to the point. But this course has a great pace. I will certainly look for more from this teacher. Thank you.

a Creativelive Student

I've been compositing for a few years, but masking a subject always presents its challenges. Renée gave a series of tips that were very helpful, including information about how to use the "burn" tool to enhance a mask. That's something I'd never done before. Can't wait to try it! The part of the lesson that explained how to make the subject look as though his clothes had been in the rain was also an eye-opener. The method is simple, but the results are outstanding. I had tried making my subjects look as though they had been rained on, but it never looked real. Now I know how to fix that!

Julie Holbeche-Maund

Brilliant Class. I love Renee attention to detail and her explanation of what she is going and why.