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Sketching for Composites

Lesson 22 from: Adobe Photoshop Compositing: Essential Techniques

Aaron Nace

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Lesson Info

22. Sketching for Composites

Lesson Info

Sketching for Composites

start off with like a little bit of a quick recap from what we actually covered yesterday in our class and we can kind of talk about what our plan is for today so for those guys who joined us yesterday you'll know we did an awesome photo shoot with uh james are subject here and he's actually a soccer player which really helped out in getting these key shots and the idea was we we're building these composite background so this this compositing class I wanted to teach compositing on multiple different levels I wanted to teach you know how to photograph a person in the studio on a green screen and then how to composite those people into a background but I wanted to up the ante a little bit and I wanted to actually be able to create these backgrounds as well so compositing is you know it covers a ton of different categories and we're going to talk about building these background so that's just going to stark images building these backgrounds you know like each image out of time howto take ...

things cut them out of their backgrounds how to place him in the images and how put everything back together so the stadium you see on this image here that we actually photographed on the green screen we're going to be creating that completely from scratch today by building a bunch of different elements and putting them together then we're going to show you guys how to take images of james and we're going to put those into their wouldn't choose our hero shot here together with the audience decide what goes in the final image and then we're going to choose other supplementary images yesterday we photographed I think we did five or six different little mini photo shoots in addition teo james jumping in the air so we've got images like the back of his leg and that's basically what's going on like right over here these air other images where weaken basically make it look like there was more than one soccer player on the field and then we've got other images we photographed from james a little bit further kind of running around so well dark in those down it shouldn't be too apparent that it's the same person and this way you guys get a real feel of how you can create atmosphere and a lot of depth in in an image like this and in the composite with actually only having photographed one subject yeah so I'm really excited about today we're gonna go ahead and start off pretty much the whole day is going to be in photo shop and in in light room so I'm going kind of breakthrough this composite let's go ahead and turn off this channel mixer you guys can see forever to watch the broadcast yesterday and for the studio audience a big tip when you're working with compositing is start off in black and white because color is like a huge huge beast it's it can really complicate things and if you can get your image right in black and white you have a really good chance of getting it right in color but if it's not right in black and white it'll never look good in color so start off in black and white because you can see this you know this image let's just go ahead and you know take some of these little guys out things like that this image looks let's go ahead and hit effort full screen it looks pretty good in black and white you know our composition and everything like that that can be changed around but at least you know they're lights here on our subject match the light that's going on here in the background and in black and white this image does work so that's what we were looking at most of yesterday so if I bring back our let's don't take my channel mixer layer and I'm going to turn that off in that that's basically what's turning our image black and white right now so if I turned that off we can see the which it doesn't quite look right anymore but it's because we haven't done any adjustments with our color just yet so we've only basically tried to make this look right in black and white so there are plenty of things we're going to be talking about with color today I'm gonna show you how to color correct everything and make sure that your subject does look correct in your background with basically just dealing with color but we're going to get to that in probably segment too or three so starting out from basically just going to be working in black and white all right so we're gonna basically exit out of this image and we're gonna start building our background so let's go ahead and start opening some of our stock images basically thes air images that I pulled from photo lia dot com and it's an awesome stark website any stock once you use you should be able to find you know a tana different images that air you know basically anything you want to build and in this case I was just typing in things like you know a stadium and lights we've got you know like a fifty yard line here and I'm not going to be using every single one of these images but I do want to go ahead and start loading some of these in so we can choose choose to create our image all right let's go ahead and see about starting off with the sky somewhere right around here I've got a ton of stocking which is this is how I prefer to work I would love you know like the most possible amount of resource is I can start with that the more the better we've got some soccer goals there we go there's our there's our sky so we're going to open that up and this is basically how we start starting over this guy and I'm gonna show you some of the things that I'm trying to keep in mind when I'm going to create a composite so darling stock images online whether if you guys take your images and you're building your own backgrounds from images you guys take this totally valid or you could just use stock images but the first thing I wanted to make sure the size of my image in the size of my document is going to be appropriate for my final image because I don't want to start working on something that's you know five hundred pixels by powder by five hundred pixels if I'm shooting a subject with a twenty one or twenty two megapixel camera so we're just going to go to image and then down here to image size all right here we go let's go ahead and take this down to pixels and we can see fifty six hundred by thirty seven hundred pixels and this is about twenty one megapixels or so so first thing I'm doing is always checking my image size just to make sure we're good with that so we're gonna hit cancel their this is a pretty good sides if I need to upscale something I can totally do that and again we can we can crop and move things around as needed as well okay so starting off with this a lot of time I'm going to be building like reference images and things like that so finding images online like this is you know this is this type of soccer image like you've probably seen this type of image before like it's a people have done the similar types of images to this and so basically I'm looking at other sports photographers websites and tim chatter is a really great example he's in great sports photographer so to create this image I looked at a lot of his work and said like okay how can I kind of reproduce or get inspiration from what he was doing and then build something similar here so we've already got our background built but let's go ahead and close that down so we're just gonna accept out we don't need to save it because it's already saved but basically this is where we start up someone hit f for full screen now and we're just going to create a new layer all right and basically I'm just going to use my brush tool and we're going to just start sketching around so this is how I start off with my images usually just with this sketch so building out you know lets go ahead and change my brush settings a little bit we're going to show you guys really briefly how to build a custom brush here in photo shop so there's a couple settings that I use to help with the sketch because right now it doesn't really look that's not really that nice doesn't look like a nice sketch all right so let's go to our window and then down here to brush sketching is a huge part of this by the way like it's it's really really every pretty much every single composite out image I do starts off with the sketch so really quick just showing you guys a couple things you could do with your brush I am using a walking tablet here and if you guys have any questions here in section one this is a wonderful section to ask about the walking tablet the settings I used for the tablet itself and the brush all right so we're gonna click on shape dynamics here I'm going to turn that on and here on our size we're going to turn this to pan pressure so this means the software I press the smaller my brush is going to be so I could make it larger so I could show you guys that and the harder I press the larger my brush is going to be let's make this a little bit softer there we go so we get something that it kind of ends like as I lift my tablet back off it ends a little bit smaller so something just a little bit more natural there all right the next thing I'm gonna click on is transfer and I'm going to turn my flow jitter onto pen pressure as well so as I let go there we go as I let go it's going to have just a little bit more it's going to become more transparent towards my engine all right let's just bring our spacing up together all right really quick cool so we can just say it's a little bit more of a natural brush then what we started with all right now that I've created that brush super quick we're just going to go right here to our menu brush menu and I'm going to go down to new brush preset alright and we're just going to call this sketch so I can come back to this brush at any point in time all right there we up so we've got basically are our field or you know where whatever our background is going to be this down here is going to be this is going to be right right now it's a wheat field but it's going to grass it just a little bit this area here I wanted to be a stadium so we're going to build in like a stadium here basically and it doesn't really matter the shape I've got a bunch of different images to choose from when it comes to the shape sorry when it comes to the actual stadium that we're going to be using so it's not really important that I decide on this right now this is just a sketch to kind of give us a good idea of what we're actually going to wind up doing all right and I know that I want my soccer player here in the foreground and I know he's gotta be lit by stadium lights so we talked a lot about that yesterday basically on you know the fact that I need thio create these lights in the background because these lights are really what influences the lighting on my subject the stadium lights which you know create these like you know big bright clothes there we go that's a break club do you see yourself just don't have to be getting good it's just going to give you like a pretty good idea of what you're actually going to be doing with an image all right we might even put some birds in the sky today because I was like yes we'll just use the same birds we used on day one for that image all right we're gonna have our grass here we're gonna have a couple lines in our grass depending on depending on where we actually decide we can totally change our composition so yesterday we photographed are subject to a certain composition and with a certain angle in mind and we might go with the same one or we might decide to change that up a little bit either ways totally cool with me also yesterday we talked about possibly bringing in a goal like a soccer goal as well so we might have that kind of coming in the sides here we go something like that just to give the soccer players something that he's actually going to be kicking into so you can see this is like it's a simple sketch there's nothing really that complicated going on here um we'll have our soccer player here I'm sketching but there's a little bit of leg okay all right so our soccer player is going to be here kicking a ball and hardball is probably going to be right about there in the foreground so we couldn't just kind of place him wherever we want to and all right so something like this there we go and once we get all of our elements and then we can kind of refine this and make it look a little bit better so I would really encourage you guys to do this sketch and like this is the extent of my sketching ability like I'm not better it's good I tried with this this's as good as it gets but you can tell a lot with this sketch on dh I would just like to talk about this like I'm going to talk about what you can analyze out of sketch because I know yesterday everyone you guys already saw the background you already saw what we're going to be compulsively mitu but that background didn't exist a couple of days ago this had to happen before the background ever was going to be created so I want to talk about how important the sketching processes and I with this workshop I really wanted to teach compositing and a huge party compositing especially what we're doing is building a composition and oftentimes you're building that composition in photo shop you're not going to be building that composition you know like in your camera because you're photographing each of these elements separately so you have to build it in photo shop and the better idea you have of your final image when you start off the better chance you have of actually making that happen that make sense all right cool and I find for me it's it's a total visual thing the best way to get that there is a sketch and you guys can see this sketch is it's really not that good but I can tell a lot about this kid I can tell a lot about what I have to shoot and what I have to acquire for stock images first I can see my lighting I've got my four large stadium lights here in the background I have a rough idea of my perspective if my horizon is right about here I've got that much sky then that means I'm going to be shooting at a little bit of a lower angle right I know that I'm not going to be shooting you know with the camera up high shooting down below or I'd be able to see a bit more ground so with this sketches you could actually tell a lot about what you're actually going to be doing in an image we just catch for instance a lot of time you khun figure out pretty much approximate shutter speed and approximate focal length as well so for this image for instance I know I'm gonna be fitting a lot into this image and I couldn't tell what I'm actually shooting it's going to be anywhere between twenty millimeters and thirty millimeters thirty five minutes maybe which we talked about yesterday basically this is I can tell a lot with just my sketch that's actually gonna wind up applying to my final image and all these things are the really words keep in mind at this stage because I know like okay I need my background I need that stadium what I can see here I need to create these lights I need something that's going to pass a zoo you know like a floor or a grass field for a soccer field I know what I'm going to need my goal and then I know what I need for my soccer player in about what I need him from so again that's why I create these sketches and anyone who's gonna be doing any type of compositing work especially building these composites completely from scratch like we did here I would really really recommend going through this process so does anyone have yeah so how you sketch it out like I'm like initial like sky do normally like I guess when you're like getting the concept urgently do you liketo start on paper like on a blank canvas or do you like to get like a very background image to kind of sketch out on that's a really good question in this case this kind of helped out because this this background gave me a little bit of perspective I already see the horizon line it kind of sets the mood for the images well so this is super helpful sometimes I just start early I start off with them it's just created a white background I have hundreds and hundreds of documents like this where I'm just creative white background photo shop sometimes I'll sketch on paper it just kind of depends on my mood I'll put on my headphones from my favorite music and I'll just kind of sketch alone and I do a lot of like freeform sketching for instance when I was coming up forward the concept for this photo shoot like I just do this just kind of sketch around in photo shop and not not really know what I'm making here but sometimes like things just appear out of the line work that I'm doing literally I just create lines like this and you know somewhere around the line somewhere around the middle of it something is goingto kind of come out and you know I don't know ever really ever when I start you know like I was actually gonna wind up coming out of these sketches but you know what I'm kind of building these together you'd be amazed just like your brain tends to connect lines and you know like shapes and things like that and you know sometimes like right now I'm starting to see like a child's bedroom or something like that now there's like a pillow here maybe someone's like sleeping in bed and you know there's like a window here we've got like curtains here and they're kind of like blowing in on the sides there create like a little bit of atmosphere we could like create some light coming in here on the child's bedroom maybe there's like a scary monster something my head always goes to scary monster hanging in the corner of the bedroom and you know here's a child or something else or maybe the child is steak and the mother is caring for the child if you wanted to create like a happier story or something like that but you know in you know then we want to sketch out like you know like other cool details here maybe there's like building on the story like if the child is sick maybe there's some like building blocks or something like that here on the floor you know mom's trying to comfort the child we've got like a heart rate monitor maybe it's a child has got you know cancer I don't know why I just said that but kids get cancer too so it happens um yeah it was like a heart rate monitor here child like you know signed up for this and then um you know we could type title this like michael jordan is about to come to visit the child for make a wish foundation I don't know whatever it is but just doing this sort of thing is like it's a great way to kind of like build a story you know for for whatever image but like obviously when I started talking about this like I had maybe there's some mobil's here things hanging from from the image when I started sketching like this I had absolutely no idea what this is going to turn into but like you know just doing this that's that's just kind of what it turned into but again that's like my sketches never really get better than this it's you know I love photography and I love photo shop but I you know I never really wanted to be a digital artist but doing stuff like this intensive just you never know what's gonna come out of your hand and it's just really weird like what's in your mind so you know that might be one sketch and we might you know start another one and for instance in creating concepts for we're going to teach on creative I've I really my initial concept was I was goingto basically try to composite like a huge battle ship scene with like one battleship firing cannons at another battleship and then I like proposed the idea and I realized that would be like hugely expensive and insanely complex and probably like way more than a three day workshop so maybe in the future we will have me back and we can create that anything image but that just came out of a sketch you know something like this again I just start off like this and I never really know where it's going to go and sometimes it doesn't go anywhere but other times it it's just you know kind of turns into it turns into my images so pretty much every single image of mine that you guys have seen over the last couple of place they've all started like this and I again I don't know what this is maybe that kind of looks like a mountain mountain top maybe there's you know some people kind of hanging out here in the foreground often times these these images were kind of just we'll come out of my subconscious and it's just maybe stuff that I've been thinking with or maybe a visual representation of things that I'm kind of working through in my own personal life and I find that usually the images that I actually care about and used the images that are usually you know like good whatever those air usually images that for some reason I have like some vested interest in in creating those images like the baxter image I showed you guys yesterday with the child game you're kind of playing with his friend baxter that was like I read calvin and hobbes and where the wild things are a kid and I always kind of felt like that was that was like my story I was like a you know that a kid who had imaginary friends and stuff like that so yeah I just wanted to create that so I put the work in and I made sure that I figured out all the details but again the backstory image to the island of morale image that we showed you all of it started out just like this in photo shop with just a simple sketch and yeah so I hope that help give you gets a little idea behind what what I do in kind of a process of how I come up with my ideas because honestly like I don't sit around and just like try to think of what would be cool I just let my hand do it and then I kind of figure out you know okay that looks good keep going from there do we have any questions you know we do out of the question that was really good timing so mad panda one of our regulars would like to know do you always when you're doing these pre sketches isn't always on the computer or to use an old fashioned sketchbook and hang out with some coffee and yeah I love sketching sketching by hand I actually I actually prefer to doing you know here here on the computer I like on the computer where like it's more environmentally friendly maybe just create a ton of new layers because when I do this I don't expect to get like a great idea in the first first you know skechers second sketch or whatever like it's pretty common that I'll do like I don't know twenty thirty for you these in a row because obviously you can see like they take almost no time and I'm just like moving my hand around so I do on the tablet whenever like I'm you know whenever I've got my set up in front of me but yeah like if you're in a coffee shop and you're just kind of like you know bring a notebook and a pencil with you in it it takes nothing to just like banging couple of these out and sometimes I'll create something and you know like this one this kind of looks like a mountain like mount fuji which I think you know just I've seen in my head I'm like thinking mount fuji and I'm like okay I've seen amazing images that japan would mount fuji in the background and like you know cherry blossoms in the foreground it's like really nice pinks in the foreground with like you know all the amazing like like blues and things like that fading off in the atmosphere so I might take one part of this and then like I'll make this layer invisible and then my next sketch will you know will be centered around the mountains so like you know the next sketch is like okay now I'm going to develop that whatever I saw in the first catch that I like I was just kind of build on from that over and over again awesome cool to technical questions for you regarding the welcome tablet folks are really intrigued love using it could you talk a little bit about your settings if you don't mind of course also about which tip you're using of course yeah okay let's go ahead and start off with the tip question for those guys who were using a newer style walking tablet this's a walk um into us pro small which is it's actually amazing it's a wireless tablet as well so there's a little usb key I don't know which camera would be best for picking this up here ok if you look in the side there's a little like slot in this little usb key actually pops out of the side of the walking tablet and you just pop this into your laptop or your computer whatever and it's a completely wireless tablet at that point us be the rail a usb cord will work to keep it a wired tablet and also you khun charge the tablet with that this is the second model and they used to be a bluetooth the connectivity with the walking tablets and they changed it with the into a pro and it's it's flawless it really doesn't work really well so if you are picking a new one up I would recommend this into us prokes the wireless capability on this is is really awesome so this is the tablet that I use I've used you know everything I started out with like you know back in like the year two thousand the early stages the walk on the tablets and I've always been kind of drawn to the small tablets you guys might have noticed is I keep the active size on my tab bring it up like this you guys can see I keep the active size on my tablet actually relatively small so like this area right here this is the top left of my screen and this right here is the bottom right of my screen so I actually deactivate most of my tablet I just have an active area it's about the size of a business start on what that has me do is when I'm using my welcome tablet I'm really just I don't really take my hand off the tablet all I'm just doing risk movements here with the tablet and I find it allows me to work extremely quickly just being able to like you know retouch you know something the top left of the image right there and the bottom right of the image right there and I really don't ever move past that so why don't you see it's actually like it's super warn right here okay and then the rest of it is like absolutely pristine so like that's where my hand goes and that's where the tablet goes it's totally worn away in the states so again that's a personal preference but I find that deactivating part of the tablet just keeps it super simple and I don't really have to move my hand I'm gonna show you guys how to do that basically just go into your preferences and I'm on a I'm on a mac right now so the system preferences where you're walking this if you guys are on a pc just go to your school you're walking tablet utility drivers or whatever software downloaded with that so here in the system preferences suman opens all right come up in just a second with the system preferences basically we're just going to tick click on the walking tablet which is right down here okay and we have a couple of different options you can actually choose the functions here basically with the button's on the side of the actual tablet which I don't really use personally I find the keyboard shortcuts are just kind of method that I prefer you can use this a touch as well like you can use it as a match as a mouse using like touch displays and things like that I don't really use that as well I just I used the tablet as a tablet and most of the time I have a which is the apple mouse that I just rest on here so I use this as a mouth pat I think these tablets come with like welcome mice as well but I just used the apple the standard apple one instead of instead of walking one but yeah I use this is a mouse pad and then I've got my holder here so whenever I'm you know browsing the internet or whatever I use this as a mouse pad if I needed working photo shop I put my mouth over the right hand side because I don't have this area activated grab my pen and work right here but my pen back grab my mouth and I'm going to go so as far as the couple of the sevens you don't want to keep in mind tip field I keep a little bit towards the firm side I find it gives me a little bit more control over what I'm actually doing in photoshopped this double click distance for everyone out there I would really recommend turning this to off it's it could be a real pain if you have this set on you you basically calculates a little bit of a delay when you want to double click so like if I were to try to turn a layer offer on and photo shop like I wanted to turn later on and then move my cursor the actual like the cursor would stay on the altar show you what it does if I turn this large and I go back in the photo shop I hit that in the light there's a delay like I don't know if you can see it but it's like the actual hand stays on that icon for like a half a second even after I moved what's on my hand so I'm turning that double quick distance off just turns that the layoff which it can be it can get really annoying so make sure to turn that off ok we talked about this earlier in the class but my walking tablet has two buttons on it like the forward button and the back button the ford but I keep a za right click so if I need to know when I'm in photoshopped let's say I'm using my brush you so I've got my brush who I wanted to change something I click here and I've got basically access to my right click menu I could change my sighs and my hardness if I wanted to and we're going to go there all right the this the backwards but I've got sent to a keystroke and keystroke is there is going to click on there there we go it's option commands the which is the keyboard for undue or step backwards in photo shop so I'll just show you kind of how that looks going back in photo shop I'm going to do a couple of these drawings if I want to hit undo I just hit this back button three or four times and I've erased all that stuff so it's pretty common that we're going to make mistakes and photo shop and I don't want to have to hit undo here or whatever so I just hit this back button a couple times and we're going to go so if you guys see me doing an undue super fast and it looks like I'm just a wizard and I didn't even touch anything just this little button here mikey pour my tablet all right the next thing we're gonna go through is our mapping so clicking on this mapping this is where you can actually decide to make your screen or your portion of your tablet area a little bit smaller so I've got it set just the top left corner you can just click on portion here and basically just click on these arrows and just define this would be the full area and this is usually how I've got it there so it's just the top left all right takes two seconds to do that and you're good to go with using your tablet so I find using a tablet is it's a huge huge part of photo shop it's just really makes a big difference but it will take a little bit of time whether it's a couple of weeks or a month or two to get used to actually using this instead of a mouse but after that time like people like two people who were used to using tablet say they can never ever go back to a mouse because it is just it's that big of a difference so I would really recommend using tablet all right it's to answer the second part of that question the tip that I'm using this uh this little base here opens up and we've got a few different tips that you can actually use with your welcome tablet there these guys that are like felt tips you have one that's like a ball point pen this one is spring loaded and then you've got five or six of these just like regular shiny blackness and those are the ones that I used for the standard walking tips they're just they're all black nice and nice and shiny plastic and I you can see that they're all fully here and they all look brand new it's because I'm still using the same tip that I started using a year and a half ago I really some people are like I'm going through my tips super fashion you replace things like every two months and I have no idea how hard you're pressing cause that's insane but I've really never replaced tips I mean use photo shop more than literally anyone else I've ever met in my life and I'm still I've been using the exact same tip for a year and a half so if you find yourself replacing tips more often than I am maybe just press a little bit less hard you're good to go all right did that answer most questions on the tablet I think I've answered all the questions I figured I would just like go through the whole recap and perfect very thorough thank you all right cool okay so that's it you know just like a quick little insight into how I develop my concepts and just like you know using these sketches and just kind of like letting those dictate where you're going to go with your images show let's go ahead and delete those and this is you know kind of the same thing here like it's this is this is going to dictate what we're actually gonna be building in inner image today

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