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Introduction to Compositing

Lesson 1 from: Adobe Photoshop Compositing: Essential Techniques

Aaron Nace

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Lesson Info

1. Introduction to Compositing

Next Lesson: Composite Build-Ups

Lesson Info

Introduction to Compositing

well I wanted to start this off with just like a brief power point kind of like introduction to compositing the reason being compositing like we said is like it's really complex like theirs there's so many different types of compositing and there's so many different things you could do with compositing it's it's a really it's a functional tools toe basically like anything you khun if you can think of something you can make it happen with an image in with photography through compositing a lot of times it's like it's something you kind of you can rely on in the case of like let's say you don't have enough money to go on location you can photograph someone in the studio and then make it look like they're on location we're going to do that today a little bit more like the fantasy based so like if you guys have seen my work or you know like I'm super like about big fantasy nerd and I love creating things that don't exist in the world so that's what we're gonna be doing today but if you guys...

are you know like wedding photographers out there or you know like just regular portrait shooters or editorial you can go out and photograph backgrounds around around the city you're fine stock images online and things like that photograph your subjects in the studio using the techniques that were going to show you guys today and then composite those together so it's it also it's a huge time saver and it could be a big money saver as well so they're just you know they're a couple hurdles to get out of the way when it comes to compositing and that's what this workshop is all about so by the end of the workshop everyone should be applied like okay cool I know how to do this I know how to shoot on a green screen I know how does cut someone out I know how to match my lighting I know how to make it look like they're actually in the proper location and then that's going to open up a world of possibilities you could really just do whatever you want with compositing so this yeah basically like a brief introduction to compositing I'm going to kind of talk about some of the benefits of compositing some of the reasons why I do it and then show some examples and some buildups as well like you can see how images start straight out of camera and how the end so just like a really quick example this is a very this is actually about a third of a gn image that I did it it's extremely wide the final version this is called a dark force and this is it it's a proto auriol on floor dot com and I'm totally pimping up third but it's just a great example of compositing I was like a huge star wars dork growing up and you know like anything star wars I'm a big fan of so I was like man I want to create my own tattoo wait like I want to create my own world and like obviously I don't have a huge budget like I don't you know I have weii did this entire photo shoot for like three hundred dollars you know like everything on this photo shoot and the idea behind it I took some vacation photos a couple of years ago when I was traveling around in utah and that's basically what makes up the landscape I stitched a few of those together thiss rock here in the background is actually basically just a regular rock that I took a picture of scaled it and change the color to make it look like it's far away the lights in the background here those are lights I live in chicago so I photographed some buildings that night and then just use some blending moments which I'm going to teach you guys in this workshop and just stripped away the buildings and just left the lights and then we photographed this guy in her studio again just on a seamless background and we went to the fabric store and bought rags like it was just like ripped him up and covered him dirt and wrap them around and he's got a mask on and then a couple props we got it like a army surplus store so able to create this image with you know a few hours and photo shop and then you know like a half a day in the studio in the photo shoot and literally the only thing that you know we're limited by is our imagination with these sort of things so that's that's why I love compositing it makes photography by itself to me is amazing and it's fun and there's so many complexities but when you add in the ability to like okay we are going to do photography but then we're going to we're going to take all these different pieces and you know images that were taken a completely different times different parts of the world and we're going to bring them all together we're going to make him look real to me that's just it's cool like it's fun I don't know what else to say it's it's probably the reason why I've stayed as enthusiastic about photography as long as I have because it just opens up the world of possibilities all right so why composite basically two huge reasons behind it it's really really practical as long as you know how to do it right and that's what this class is all about so lesson picture perfect husband perfect pictures can be salvaged I'm like really simple example if you guys you know like we'll take like a family portrait or something like that or shooting at a wedding and someone happens to be like sneezing or blinking or like you're making a silly face and one of the images you take a couple photos it's really you know the most simple type of compositing is really like replacing someone's face you know so like the camera's on a tripod you take a couple pictures of family and then you replace someone space with a you know a different picture that you took that was a little bit better and you know there's I think I saw a commercial on like about microsoft had like software that did that automatically so like everyone's kind of familiar with you know that type of compositing but it's it's really in my opinion that's the exact same genres that is the image we just showed you this dark force I mean they're it's taking one picture in a different picture and blending them together so this is a little more complex but kind of same idea so that's a really great way thie other great with reason practical is it's a really good way to get around the budget constraints like I said that image that I just showed you the dark force we shot that you know from start to finish everything cost us about three hundred dollars you used a friend of ours and dressed in rags for the images that's not gonna work for every single photo shoot you guys have but it's is long of the ideas they're in the concepts there and like the creativity is there you can really do a lot and get around budget constraints which like you know emerging photographers and you know like we don't have huge budgets like I never did I started photography I was in like my you know shooting my living room at my parents house and like I remember buying my first like seamless backdrop and you know it was like sixty dollars and without ever don't we go out and do whatever I want it looks like I have a professional studio on it did it really did you know you get your lighting right and you can put you can put a seamless factor up just about anywhere I've seen him in garages I've you know you put about doors even like on a cloudy day put a seamless backdrop outside and put a couple of lights on it totally works and no one's gonna be able to tell the difference if that's what they see so that's it just one of the really really cool things that you can kind of just get away with whatever you can think even if you don't have a ton of money and I really never did have a huge budget I'm growing up and so that that was like a way for me to express and still create the pictures like I wanted hollywood level pictures like I wanted amazing stuff but I never had the money so compositing was just like it was it was kind of the only choice I had with that and but I think for most people especially you know starting out photographers they're so creative and they have such amazing visions and they just need the tools to be able to make those happen without the excessive budgets so the other reason is imaginative it's like anything you can think of really could be creative and we're going to talk a little bit about preproduction today because that's a huge part of it and you know when when creative live contacted me recently and they were like all right we want you to come back and teach compositing was like awesome this time I want to really I want to really focus on some of the things that are super important with compositing and most people think of compositing is just for a shot you know they're thinking ok I've got these pictures and everything is gonna be done in photo shop but in reality the really good composites require photography as well and photographing images for composites is really what makes that difference so that's what I want to talk to you guys about insuring today it's we don't talk a lot about pre production and kind of the ideas and the things that go on behind the scenes and before you ever get into photoshopped if you do a really good job through your photography process you're photoshopped process should actually be really simple and that's I've spent years and years getting good a photo shop and I love your shop but I still think that you know as much as you can do before you get into photo shop it's it's just going to make the images even better you know you want to start off with a good his pieces as you can and then end up you know it's like making a pizza right you don't want to like you want to start with good ingredients and then you get to a good pizza you don't want to like try toe you know start up with like rotten tomatoes and stuff like that still expected good pizza in the end you want to make sure that each of the pieces is good and photography is a huge part of that with with compositing so I'm gonna teach you guys that through these three days all right so here's another image I did just an example I went out this a friend of mine we went out in the woods and photographed her on a log with cem cem lights on her and I took the image apart and put it back together and put some butterfly wings and made her into a fairy flying over from hying over a lake and it took an afternoon and it was just like boom do you like getting paid for this there was literally no other reason I like what I see if I could do that so we went out and did it and that that was part of it and it was a learning experience and yeah that's what I would I would really encourage you guys to do this you know with with your photography because it can just open those doors creativity all right so different types compositing they're in my opinion there too like basic types of photography and different types of compositing that go together the first is frame compositing and the example I gave earlier of you know let's say you take like a family portrait and you know cameras in the same place and you replace someone's head you know what johnny's making a stupid face or something like that frame compositing that's basically basically the camera's going to the same place and you're just taking a bunch of different pictures and putting them in together some examples and like production and hollywood and things like that I recently saw it like a katy perry music video where she's like there's a tiger in the music video it's a horrible it's just absolutely awful it's not good at all but katy perry's like face to face for the tiger and how they did it basically they had the camera on you know basically attract that was going to repeat the same motion over and over again so katy perry acts out the motion with like a stuffed animal or something maybe there's nothing there and then they do the same thing and they bring a tiger in and they composite those shots together so it's basically like you know you you get you can use this type of frame compositing to get around things like a danger which is like the katy perry situation like you can't obviously have a tiger and a person like you know they're not going to risk katy perry's face with a tiger right there there was someone else's face but not hers so you can use that to get around there also like time restraints I have created really really cool pictures by just setting up a camera in the same place and just taking frame after frame after frame and then in photo shop using later masks which is relatively simple keeping some things in the frame and taking some things out of the frame and using that technique you khun basically pick and choose everything that you want in an image and it's this is the most simple type of compositing in my opinion so frame compositing I usually used in combination with element compositing and we're probably going to be doing that in this class again so element compositing this is like where you really open it up to anything element depositing is basically you know capturing different elements and putting them together so is anything from stock images which we're gonna be doing a lot with stock images during this workshop this's even things like I would consider three d like that's and that's something I would really love to get a discussion going on about three d during these next three days because in my opinion that's it's gonna make a huge dent in the photography world the next coming years it's starting to white come to prominence but in the next few years I think it's going really really change the scope of photography so stock images other times you're going to be photographing images on your own let's say again the in the dark force image I photographed every different piece of that image you know like some of it was done on vacation some of it was done in the studio some of it was you know like done shooting a chicago skyline so these are all different times a day all different you know different images and you know some of those images were taken a year apart but we were able to combine them all together and I'm also going to teach you guys a lot of kind of the important things to look for and like so how did you take a picture you know from a year ago and combine it together with picture from today and make it look real that's what we're going to teach you guys that's what's like they're really just a couple of elements you need to pay attention to and as long as he nailed those couple elements which we're going to get too soon you can really make those things look riel and so that's that's what the workshops all about so that's why it says focus of the class because that's what we're gonna do all right so here's just here's a good example of frame compositing so this is the first typical president this's something we shot in our studio about a year ago and well this is actually really fun way had a completely different photo shoot this day and our model ashley it's just like super cool good friend of ours and it was getting towards the end of day and I was like I would just wanted to do something else you know like we have three hours left hanging out in the day I was like can we put sparklers in your face way had some sparklers laying around is around fourth of july it was like I guess so so we did this we took a picture we we lit it you know like relatively interesting I think we pulled the reference image online you know like trying to find like a cool lighting and we put sparklers and you know this image and I was like all right that's kind of cool but I want to make it really cool I want to make these sparks look like they're blowing in your face so we actually way took basically what was going on here and then we got a leaf blower which we have a few women in our studio leave floors are essential it compositing in my opinion in photography so we got a leaf blower and just off to the camera right we actually we lit a sparkler and way turn the leaf blower on and we find it in your face and that produce this image which is this's a composite it's a framed composite so in this case you know we're not taking a landscape that I shot in utah a year ago this is these are all just the cameras in the exact same place and we're taking image after image after image and then putting them together so a lot of the times it's going to be you know for like making sure your model safe like her eyes open in this picture but her I wouldn't actually open we actually we totally did this is really liked by the way the sparks hitting like right below her ryan coming around that's not photoshopped that actually is all real that she was really brave for all that we didn't know it was gonna be that hard but so the the actual you know the leaf lo wasn't blowing the sparks in her face but while that was happening she didn't have her eyes open right so it was like I didn't know that they were going to really do that but I did know that I didn't want her eyes open while we were blowing sparks in her face so they see this just a really quick sample of you know frame compositing where we took a couple pictures you know with her doing like this with their eyes closed you leave blowers blowing sparks in her face and then we just had her open her eyes and turned off the leaf blower and took a couple more pictures with the same lighting so quick layer masking you get this with her eyes open and you get the sparks in the face so it looks it looks even more dangerous that looks more edgy and it looks a lot cooler because there's no real like trickery going on here you know like I'm not doing anything crazy we're not going to go through this composite today but literally it's just a series of layer masks making one layer visible and another layer invisible one photo visible in some places and another photo visible in other places so really cool effects that you could do with simple frame compositing okay so this class is going to focus mostly on element compositing because I feel like it's so important learn and it's it's not that difficult once you get over a few key elements and that's what we're gonna be going over the class today so practical benefits again you can shoot on a seamless background and replace that background and that's it's a big one guys and I know like I said when I was first starting out I was shooting in my parents living room like that's that's all that I had I had a couple speed lights and I had like a you know like a four five hundred dollars camera I was shooting with an olympus camera at that time it had like a you know a hot shoe mounts and it was you know not full frame was like a micro for thirds camera and I had like a roll of seamless that's that's literally all I had is in terms of gear and I was still able to produce you know just about whatever I wanted it's you know nowadays it's a lot more polish and refine because I've done it more and you know thankfully we have like I find that the more tools you have it makes your job easier but it doesn't really make things possible where there's they were impossible before like I'm a lot of the images that I create today I could still do with speed lights and you know basically appoint shoot with the hot she melts like it's not like okay I need to get the full frame camera and then I'm gonna be able to do that stuff it's like might come out a little bit more polished but you I did most of my creative work like most of my like cool cool stuff that I was super excited about during my learning process was done the all the photography gear I had was worth less than a thousand dollars including my camera and my triggers of my lights and everything so shooting on a seamless and seamless like you can put it in the living room you put it in the garage put it outside on a cloudy day you know today we're going to be shooting on a green screen it's basically just a it's a cloth that's colored green and you can rent these things too so you know find a local camera store and if you need to you can rent these things for the day so I don't want everyone thinking that like okay you need all these like big fancy lights and equipment and stuff like that to do this sort of work because you really does um yeah it saves a lot of money and I think it's something that most people are actually going to use again whether it's going to be editorial or you know like wedding photographers or just portrait photographers whatever it is being able to photograph someone on a backdrop and then replace that backdrop with something completely different um it's it's just very it's helpful it's really it opens the door to a lot of possibility and against the greater benefit it provides an imaginative outlet anything you can think of you khun basically create

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Fantasy Composite
Soccer Composite
Adobe® Photoshop® Keyboard Shortcuts
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


This was the Best Creative Live course I have had the pleasure to watch. Aaron was so informative and explained each technique very well. He was so pleasant to watch because he was so humble and was so happy and excited about what he was creating. What an excellent teacher. I hope he does more seminars.

Curtis Roberts

Fantastic Course! I've watched (and purchased) many courses from Creative Live, and there are many good instructors; excellent instructors, in fact. Aaron's course on compositing essentials is one of the best. In addition to being a technical expert, he is a great teacher; a real talent. Great information and good illustrations/explanations. He does go a little fast when using Photoshop, and while I was trying to find the short-cuts keys, I would find he was three more points down the trail ahead of me. (That's part of why I bought the course ;-) )

Juli Miranda

I love the class he is generous, clear an super fun!! i highly recomend it. A lot of trics and cool information. He is Great teacher and super high level photoshoper... So greatfull. thanks!

Student Work