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Layered Composite

Lesson 19 from: Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics

Khara Plicanic

Layered Composite

Lesson 19 from: Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

19. Layered Composite

Next Lesson: Brush Basics


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Tips for Success


How To Undo Mistakes


Adobe Workspace


Using The Brush Tool


Using The Zoom Tool


Adobe Preferences


Correcting Exposure


Lesson Info

Layered Composite

So this whole layer section is one project which I think will be nice so we can really focus. We can really dig in. We're gonna talk about layers. We'll talk more about effects and all that stuff, and we're going to make this ridiculous composite of like an apocalyptic disaster, I guess. So where do we start? Uh, I'm gonna open up all these images, so they're just here and ready. And I guess first, we're going to start with this mannequin and selecting the man who can. Now, I'm not going to spend time doing all of that here because we just did it and we have so much more to learn. But I made the selection and saved it for you. So you already have it here. That's why this mannequin that has no other layers is still saved as a PSD because it's got a selection. And I made the selection by doing just what I just showed you. I used the quick selection brush, and I brushed it, and then I refined it and arrived at the selection. So once you have a selection, you can save it by choosing from t...

he select menu. You choose save selection and you can give it a name and that will save it over here. If you care for these behind the scenes things behind the curtain, here's what's happening. Your selection is being saved in the channels panel. Remember when we talked about color and we talked about having a red, green and blue Channel? Here's where they are. They live in the channels panel, and if I hide all of this, we can see, like the Blue, the green and the Red Channel and they all come together to form the composite. Oh, and it has a misspelled name. Let's rename that. There we go. So here's where yours will still have People at home will still have a misspelled mannequin. Lucky you. Um, here's where that selection lives so and you don't have to actually like, do anything with that. Just know. I guess that that's there. That's where it's going when you save it. So under the select menu, I made the selection I hit save a spelled mannequin wrong, and it put it in an elephant channel, Um, for you at home. What you're going to do is go to select menu and now, since I've already saved that selection for you, you're gonna go to select load selection, and then you're yours. Will say mannequin spelled wrong. Um, but you'll see it here. So under channel, you'll confirmed that it says mannequin with incorrect spelling. If there were more than one selection, you would have a list there, so you can actually name things. You can create multiple selections and save them. So you'll just load that and click OK and check it out. Boom! She selected. So let's copy and paste her over into our park apocalyptic Armageddon. Commander Control. See? And we'll go over to our apocalypse and paste Commander Control V there is Okay, so I'm going to use a move tool and move her into position. And let's talk about what's happening in this document. Where did she come from? Why is she movable? Okay, so obviously we got her from the other image. We pasted her here. Um, she's movable because she's in her own layer. That is crucial if we, um, go back to this image where she is and she's not in her own layer. She's part of the background. So if I just grabbed her and moved her. Naturally, there'd be a hole, just like in real life. If you cut out something from a printed photo, you would have a hole behind. Um, so that's how layers work. So she would be leaving a hole here and then whenever I was done moving her and de selecting her, that's it. Like she's still in the background. I can't move her anymore. Well, I just moved the whole background anyway, we'll back that up. So that's the value of layers. Why do we care so much about layers? Because they allow us to move things around and separate them to control the different aspects of our image independently. So when we are talking about the layers panel we're looking at like the side view. So if you think of it like a sandwich over here is where from the side you see, like the bread, the lettuce, the tomato of the onion and then the next piece of bread or whatever. When we look here in our image area, we're looking down on the sandwich from above, and so we're seeing the whole thing, so that can be helpful to keep in mind. But the value of layers. Is there flexibility? And, like now I can move her around without a hole in the image. Okay, so I'm going to position her here Ish, I suppose. And let's add some realism to this, because this is looking phony as all get out. Uh so Well, I forget what all I'm doing to her. We're gonna add a color overlay to sort of just blend her into this environment a little bit more. So that's a layer effect. So we saw that a little earlier, but now we'll talk about it. So from the bottom of the layers panel, that's the effects icon right here. So so far, we've talked about the adjustment layer icon. We saw a brief look at the camera button that's for later Mass. And now we're talking about the effects. So we'll click right here and the other different effects we can apply. In this case, we're gonna apply something called the color overlay, so I'll just click on that. And here's the settings for the color overlay that we can choose from. Not a lot, which is sort of refreshing, right? Blend mode, capacity and the color itself. That's that's what we can control. So, um, the blend mode is, uh, like normally, if this was just set to normal, it would look like this. But we're going to change the blend mode to multiply and will reduce the opacity. Teoh 25 ish or so percent or whatever you think looks good. Don't remember what I did Kind of digging that. And then you can change the color here. So we click the little box and I just kind of wanted, like the brown from this image or the yellow, like something a little bit darker to sort of just tie her into the image a little more and not make it look like I pasted her from a different image. So I'm using the eyedropper. Um, when you roll over your image with your mouths, it'll turn into the eyedropper and you can just click a color. So then we'll click OK to confirm the color, and I'll click OK to confirm the color overlay. So now we see in the layers panel. We haven't effects here. Um, and then that is telling me we've done something to that layer and down below. It's showing me the effect, Um, and specifically which effect the color overlay effect so I can turn it on or off to see the effect that it's having hereby toddling the eyeball on enough. I can collapse this drawer so you can kind of tuck it up with the layer or expand it to see. But these this effect is applied on Lee to the mannequin layer, so it's not anywhere else. Let's rename this layer while we're here. So that's another thing we can do with Layers is renamed them. So where it says layer one, I'm going to double, click and type mannequin and press enter. Ah, that's a good habit to get into, because very quickly you can end up with more layers than you can manage, and it's hard to tell them apart. Okay, so she's looking pretty good. Next up, we are going to bring in some other objects, so I'm gonna go over here to this running man image now. I did not save this selection for you because it's like super fast and painless, so I figured it would be good practice, so I'll just select it quickly by choosing the Magic wand and remember that this tool makes selections based on color and similarity. So I'm gonna turn contiguous on because I don't want the want to jump over and choose any highlights that maybe on him and I'm going to keep the tolerance pretty low. Maybe all started 15 and see what happens. And again, I'm going to select the background and then in verse it to get the running man. I guess so we'll click somewhere on the white background, and it actually I think, nailed it. So I'll just invert it by choosing command shift I for control shift I. That's the same thing as coming to select menu and choosing inverse. So now I've got him selected. All commands see control, see and go back to the Apocalypse and Commander Control V to paste him in Now, so far as we've been doing this when we pasted the tiger onto the surfboards and the fish into the cup and whatever else we did, everything just kind of fit nicely. I mean, we had a warp the tiger a little bit, but mostly it all just fit perfectly. That was all by design, because I was sparing you from the harsh reality, which is that never happens. What really happens is things come in and there hopefully to big right, so we need to transform them if they're too small. Then you have a problem because that means you don't have enough pixels to be able to use that image the way you may have been hoping. We'll talk about that later when we talk about resolution and image size. But for right now, here's what happens. We pasted him in. He's this size, but I want him smaller, so we're gonna transform him. I also want him running the other direction. So while we're transforming his scale were also gonna flip him the other way. So all of those transformational things are handled with the Transform command and the keyboard shortcut is Commander Control T. And this is that's That's definitely one to commit to memory because you use it all the time. So when you press commander control to you, get the box, and now I can hold shift and drag inward from a corner to scale him down, and I don't remember his exact size that I went with, but let's just say like this Also, while I'm here, I'm gonna flip him. So I've entered this transform box. But now to flip him, I have to specify that. So within this box, all control, click or right click and choose flip horizontal. And now he's running the other way. And I'll just move him over something maybe, like here. And, um when I'm happy with it, I would press the commit button, and we'll leave it at that for now. Yeah, so he's in, he's there, and we're going to deal with this branch and his leg and that interaction by masking it. So we did the mask when we put the giraffe in front of that color block. So this is the same thing in this case, we want him behind the tree, so we need to make it look like the trees in front. So we're gonna hide him from the tree. So I'm gonna turn him off for a moment by toggle ing this eyeball off, and I'll target the background layer because that's where the tree is. And I can select the tree quickly. Maybe, uh, this may not be the way to go with the quick selection brush, maybe. And actually let's do it a different way because we already saw that technique also with the giraffe. So let's do this. Let's go back to the guy will rename this running man and we'll just add the mask and we'll paint it by hand because, honestly, that's how you end up doing this most of the time. So with him selected will click that little careful button the mask button. Okay, and nothing happens. He's still here that he's still like in front of the tree. But in the layers panel we have this white thumbnail, so this is like a blank mask. So it's almost like if you were going trick or treating and you put on a mask and it was just clear you wouldn't be hiding anything. So what we're gonna do is paint on the mask now, using black ink. That's it. So I'm gonna get my brush. So switching to the brush family and choosing the brush itself, not the color replacement brush that we used earlier. And I want to make sure I have black as my foreground just because I've added the mask that you'll already have black and white here. But if you happen to have white in front. You can just press the X key to exchange those two colors, your foreground and background. So we want to paint with black, and I'm gonna zoom in so I can see we talked about how you do that earlier. So I hope you are practicing. I'm making my brush smaller by using the left bracket key next to the letter P. We'll talk more about brushes later, and I'm just gonna paint and my brushes. It's a soft edged brush, which should probably have a hard edge, but we'll talk more about that later. So basically, I'm painting, um, the tree back in front of him by hiding him essentially. So here's what's happening. If I hide all the other layers, that's what that's what's happening. I've just hidden him from the areas where the tree, uh, waas eso. That is by painting on this mask right here. So if we want to view the masked by itself, it looks like this. So he's wearing a little Halloween costume mask, or he's gonna commit a felony and rob a bank. That's his mask, and it's just going Teoh block him from appearing in front of the tree. So now he's interacting with his environment a little bit more, and it's bugging me that I did that with the soft brush. So to make your brush harder edged, we'll talk more about this when we talk about brushes. But you'll use those same left and right bracket keys, but also the shift key. So if I hold shift right bracket, I get a harder edged brush, which will give me a cleaner edge here. Now, if I make a mistake and I go outside the lines like this, I could just press the X key to exchange my colors right here. And then I can paint with white and I fix it. Okay, so your mask goes both ways. You can paint with black toe hide things, or you can paint with white to bring them back. That's what's great about masks. That's why we use mask instead of just erasing instead of just erasing his foot. Because what if I decide later that I want to move him? Um, I would not want him to be erased, so that is something to keep in mind. All right, now I'm going to copy the same color overlay effect. That's on the mannequin Lear. We're gonna copy it and paste it to him, so he will have the same thing, and I don't even have to recreate it. I'm gonna hold Ault or option and just click right here on color overlay. Drag it and drop it on him. And now he has the same effect added to him. Okay, let's see what else we have in our layers. Panel Over here, we have some layers happening that are not being visible. So we have ah, label called box on the label called Clown Feet. So we're going Teoh, just do some more of the same. So this is review a little bit. Um, we should also point out that thestreet acting order of the layers makes a difference. So right now, the boxes sitting in front of the clown leads. If I want to put the clown legs in the box, I need to come over here and find the clown feet layer and drag it and drop it on top of the box layer. Now we have another problem. Now the legs are sticking out of the edge. So guess what? We'll just mask them. I'll go to the little care home. Ask button, click. I will press X to get black color in my active, um, swat right here. And then I'll just groups not hit that button. I'll just pain. So I mean, I'm not gonna spend too much time being super precise, but I'll just paint to make it look like those legs are in the box so they're not erased, but they are hidden. Same with the box down here. It's sitting in the dirt, and I feel like it shouldn't I shouldn't be seeing all of it so perfectly. So I'll target the box layer click to add the mask and just kind of come in here and follow some of these rocks down here. That would baby be, I don't know, blocking it and interfering with the box. So, however, that's I don't know that there's technically or I feel like that was too far over here, so I'll press X to get white so I can paint it back. I like that. Okay. And then we're gonna apply the same effect. So hold down. Alter option Click. Drag it, drop it on the clown feet and drop it on the box Looks pretty good. I'm like in this so far. What else do we have in here? Um, we have this balloon and a string, so let's see what that's all about. We'll click and make the balloon visible and also the string. So are running guys holding? He's holding this balloon. So we're gonna select the balloon layer and we're going to transform it, flip it around. So again, Commander Control T is very repetitive, all of the stuff, but it's It's all the same thing. Commander Control T brings up the transform box now to flip it. Remember, we have to now specify. So we right, click or control click. There's all different types of transformations Weaken Dio by president commander controlled T. We get what's called free transform, and that's just kind of your basic transform scale kind of stuff. But now we can specify to specifically ah, warp something, adjust the perspective, etcetera, or, in this case, flip horizontal. When we're happy with it, you have to commit it. Photoshopped won't let you move on until you approve that. So you click the little check mark or you compress enter. And now Here's a problem we should address. He's not in the spot where he works out with this balloon. So we have two options. We can move the balloon so that it's in his hand or we could move him. And I'm gonna actually move him just because I want to show you how to deal with this mask situation. This is why we mask and we don't just erase. We hide. Okay, So I'm gonna target him if I press V to get the move tool. Ah, which, if you can't remember how the V tool is for the move tool. Just think. Move of Ah. So get the move, the virtual. And then if I just move him, this is what happens. He moves with with the mask. And obviously, if I repositioned him, that's a problem. So what I'm gonna dio is in the layers panel. You'll notice there's a link connecting him. He's here, and this is his mask. We want to keep the math. Werth is, But we want to, um, link them. So I'm gonna click that little link between them now I can move him. I mean, within reason, I may have to adjust the mask. But now I can pull him around and I'm gonna have to redo the mask anyway. But you see the difference. Okay, so if you need to move something separate from its mask, you unlinked it. So I guess I'll put him there and then I'll click to select the mask again because now I got to redo it. So with the mask active, it's not enough to select the layer. You have to actually get the mask itself. So when you see a highlight around it, we can come back over here and I'll get the brush tool and I'll paint with black and just paint. I'm not sure where All see it. Now, if you go out of the lines, you just press X to get white, and then you just paint it back. That's why we hide it. We don't erase it. So we're something like this, and I'm not being super careful in the interest of time up and now his arm. See that? That looks funny. So I'll switch back to get his arm, and usually what I end up doing is coloring, like a little too far, just so I can see and then I'll fix it. Another option would be to just lower the opacity. Uh, in this case, you'd have to lower the opacity of the background, so that might That might not be so useful, but I'll just fill that in and his head to needs to be behind the tree. So aren't we glad we moved him? He was in a good spot before, but anyway, now he's, um, behind over there, and we need to apply that overlay effect to the balloon to, because that's not looking like it belongs in here. So anyone of these color overlays I'm gonna hold down, alter or option, and click drag it, drop it on the balloon layer. So we're getting so close. Couple more super easy things. For example, this drone who we're gonna put a drone. Because, of course, that the apocalypse there would be a drone somewhere. Now what super cool is we're gonna take advantage of blend modes. So this drone, like when I look at this, if you told me had to select it, I'd be like, Oh, that's going to be annoying the deal with this the spinny part because it's like, sort of trans like it's a soft edge. It's like transparent, but not. Anyway, we're not even gonna mess with it. So I'm just gonna copy this whole thing. Selected all, Commander, control a marching ants around the whole thing, Commander Control, See, to copy will go back to the apocalypse and I'll just paste it. Commander Control V like everything in real life. It's too big is not working. Let's fix it so we know how to scale it. Commander, Control teeth hold shift. If you don't hold shift, you'll get a squish thing like this. Um, so hold shift and scale it down. Now, I should point out there's something called smart objects which we did not take advantage of. When you when you're not using smart objects, then you just want to keep an eye on the fact that we downsized this drone once we committed next week. If you come back to this file, you can't take the drone and make it big again, because by transforming it, we've thrown away all that extra information. So just keep that in mind. You can confirm that right up here in the width and height, we're scaling it down to 43% of its size. But when I hit return, let's say now we come back and win a transforming again. If I press commander control T, this is it's 100% size. Now see up here in the within the height. What I'm saying is you wouldn't come back. And now if I try to enlarge it now, it's 200% of its size. So it does. Once you transform it, that information is gone. So just know that and we can talk about smart objects later. But right now we're going to make this fit into this seen by just changing the blend mode. So in the layers panel, where it says normal, we're going to click Multiply, which is a special blood moon which will just drop the white out. Okay, so just like that boom, the drone is in. And the final piece of this whole silliness is, of course, like a crashing plane in the background. So again, I'll just select the whole thing. Command or control a copy. Commander Control, See? Target this image again, Commander Control V paste it in. Commander controlled t transform. You see how the keyboard of like where? That now I'm gonna hold shift again and drag down, and I'm gonna put it maybe here something ish like that, and I'll just, uh, commit that. Then we're gonna change this to a blend mode called luminosity. So click this drop down, we'll choose luminosity. It looks pretty good, but it's on top of our mannequin, and there's some other problems. So we have to change the stacking order cause it does matter, just like in real life. If you put like your bread and then you put your tomato and then you put another piece of bread and you put a piece of lettuce. If you look down from above, you'd see the lettuce covering everything on your sandwich. Right? So the stacking order matters. So we're going to change that by taking this plane crashed layer and dragging it underneath? Well, really, Like everything. I guess it doesn't really matter. So I'm just gonna drag it down in my layers panel. And when I see this little line, that tells me that I can click to insert it behind something. Um, now I'm going to clean up the edges by adding a mask just like we've done so Adam, ask and I'll use my paintbrush. I'll make it bigger and I'll make it softer. I can tell when I look up here and we'll talk more about this when we talk about brushes. But I can tell that this brush has a hard edge and that will look like that, which is not what we want. I want a soft edge, so I'll do shift left bracket. We'll talk more about that when we get to brushes. But now just kind of brush brush away some of this to blend it in more with the scene. So something like that looks pretty good. Okay, that's it for what we're gonna add into this image, um, to other final little things is we're gonna add some fire quickly and then, like one, uh, adjustment layer, rethink and we're all good. So fire, we have to draw Ah, path. OK, so we're going to do that the easy way using the line tool. So there's some shape tools here. The keyboard shortcut is you, and one tool is called the line tool that will use now in order for the fire to follow the path we have to choose up here in the options for the line shape tool, we have to specify path, not shape, not pixels path. Then we click. We, uh, click and drag to just make a path just a line. Just click drag, Let go We're going to create a new layer to contain the fire And now we just choose filter render flame And it's gonna warn me that this will take a while So let me just hit okay? And then we'll talk about it. But you can tweak all of these settings. I happen to create something called I Have a Preset That I called Apocalypse. So I just played with these settings and it's a total wild guess But, um, you play with it and then you trial and error and all of that and eventually you get lucky and it works out. Um, but it could take a while because, of course, this is a big file, and it's rendering a lot of flames. Come on, photo shop. There we are. There are the flames. Now we want to change the blood mode of these flames and I forget what I chose. Maybe like multiple e something like that, and I think I faded it down to I don't think it was multiply. Um, it was overlay. Of course. Those are the usual suspects. Overly. So what are these blend modes? They're just different ways. That photo shop blends one layer with another. Um, there's math. It's a lot of math, but when you play with them enough, you get a hang. You get the hang of, like, what's gonna happen in certain situations? Like, for example, the drone. We we changed the blend mode for the drone to multiply multiplies a blend mode that just drops white out, just gone. So if you took a photo of something on a white background, you can put it anywhere. Just change the blend mode to multiply. White backgrounds gone, however, it does make it somewhat. I still sort of like translucent. So if we grab the drone, where are you? Drone. This is why you name your layers drone. If we grab the drone and move it someplace, you see how it interacts on her face. That's weird. And it's I mean, if I wanted it to cover her body for some, like if it was like in front of her arm. It wouldn't work in this blend mode because it's, like, kind of see through. So if I wanted it anywhere else in this image, I have to actually select it. But because it was just going to be here and it kind of worked out, we could just sneak by by changing the blend mode. You just get a feel for how the blend modes work and, um, and being able to play with them. Okay, this blue line that we're seeing is from the path that we drew that lives in the path panel. So to just not see it anymore, I can just click away from it in the path panel that always bugs me. Um, I don't like seeing my past when I'm done with, um so we can go to the past panel and hide that. All right, And finally, let's add one layer to just, like bring this all together and connect it So we're gonna click the top layer in the layers panel because we're gonna add an adjustment layer and adjustment Layers are always added on top of your currently selected layer, and I want this one on top so we'll just highlight whatever layers on top Come down, click the little yin yang, and I'm gonna add a solid color adjustment layer. And I'll just choose. Remember even what I chose orange or brown or something like that. And we'll change the blend mode to maybe multiply and then just reduce the opacity so it just kind of stains it altogether amplifies the smoky fogginess of it all. And there we have it.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts
Photoshop Resource Guide
Practical Photoshop Basics (PS action file)
Word Art
Course Files

Ratings and Reviews

Kim Williams

I tuned into this class hoping to glean what I cold since it was free. I ended up purchasing the class because it is FILLED with so much great information in a fun and easy to understand format. Khara is an amazing instructor - I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Worth EVERY penny. Thank you Creative Live for offering such great material, at even more amazing prices.


What an unbelievable teacher Khara is. I have wanted to learn photoshop forever but was intimidated, overwhelmed, then I watched this course. OMG I learnt so much, more then I imagined. I am so excited now to start using Photoshop, I can't wait to try out everything she taught us. With the skills we learnt over these two days I think this course provides everything I need to know to feel and more. She was outstanding, the absolute perfect teacher for someone who has never ever used Photoshop. Also great moderation by Kenna. Thank you for this awesome, amazing, wonderful course. I am sure anyone who watches this course will agree it is incredible. I couldn't recommend it more. This course was just Smurfy!

Roz Fruchtman

I would highly recommend Khara Plicanic's Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics. The name of the class, implies that the class is for beginners, but that's not exactly true. Most of us learn Photoshop by the features we need to know at any given time. As many will agree, there are a number of ways to get to the same end. I can only speak for myself, but... I would bet that many of us don't know all the strategies that are taught in this class! Check it out, I doubt you'd be disappointed! Khara brings a fun and relatable approach to everything she does. She is very entertaining, while being a superb instructor. Last, but not least... This class brings with it a ton of useful bonuses. Warm Regards, Roz Fruchtman aka @RozSpirations

Student Work