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Compositing Examples

Lesson 20 from: Retouching & Adobe Photoshop Techniques

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

20. Compositing Examples

Lesson Info

Compositing Examples

Okay so I'm gonna move on to compositing in a totally different way a different approach to this and I'm going to say this and I will label all these layers and this will definitely be one of the photos that you guys can have and anybody out there who purchased it will be ableto access to say that class for us up okay, perfect. All right, so I'm going to give you an example from my fashion realm I was hired okay if you guys ever seen the de beers ads where like the ring is glowing and the girls in silhouette well, those are illustrations often or their photos that are just heavily photoshopped and one of my client says to me I want it is the jewelry client I wants that looks like it appears at but that doesn't look like we're ripping them off so I want that effect but not exactly go do something like a crap okay, here we go um so what I came up with was compositing because what is really really important in that jewelry photograph is that that jewelry is lit perfectly and it's showcasi...

ng the jewelry and so the way that might look good on the model might not look good on the jury so I actually well shoot that same image twice and put the two of them together how you might think of this would be let's say that you're doing a picture and I mention this yesterday of a guy and he's silhouetted holding a guitar and maybe it's a high school senior for example you shoot one where he's silhouetted but you want to show the guitar it's like this bright red gorgeous guitar so then you can light it with a soft box and put the two together and it makes for an interesting photograph I've seen this done a bunch of interesting ways it's just a way to highlight something in the frame so I'm going to grab the two from the actual look book that I did for this designer ended up shooting a campaign as well but this is the the lookbook yes can you just explain for people what a lookbook is sure thank you uh look book is like a catalogue four of ah designer when they come out with a new set of clothing each season in this case it's jewelry designer and she comes out with a new set of cool jewelry this is what she shoots air that's what she makes its haven't guard fun body cage stuff, which is a little bit of everything and she's greatly commissioned by you know like will I am black eyed peas and you know they have her make stuff nicki minaj on dh so it's really quite often guard but instead of doing a full catalogue because you wouldn't have it had a long of this stuff it would be basically a reference catalog called a lookbook alright, so have these two images here and what I did for this you and hopefully again I realize you're not going to shoot exactly this extrapolated to how it would apply to you, but I had the model standing there and I shot one frame where the light looked beautiful on her face or it looked really cool and dramatic. And so what? This is lit with something called a peak of spot projection it's basically like a for now um it's just you can put a shape in the front of the light and focus it and project a pattern or a shape on the girl's face. So here it's a circle and I had to back room lights one on her arm and letter I'm over here to give you a little bit of highlight give her a little bit of pop so when she got into a good pose I'd shoot it and I was on a tripod and then my assistant would switch my pocket wizard basically so that it fired the other lights and the other light was a big soft box so I had one word let the jewelry well and then one where it let the model well and I knew in post that I was going to put the two of them together if you look at my website under advertising, you can see the campaign that we shot. This is the easiest cut out that we had. I actually did export to the clipping pads because she had a full body pieces that were interlocking rings, that we're about a half inch tch or a quarter of an inch. If I had to cut those out, I would die, so I sent this off teo asian clipping pass, and they charged me ten to twelve dollars an image, and they probably had to cut out in each one, eight hundred circles little rings so knowing when to outsource versus doing yourselves important, too, if you're ah working professional, so I'm looking at this and I know because it's an area of high contrast, if I wanted to, I could go back into my on one perfect mask. I could do a selection that way. What what I'd prefer to do is if I don't have software, for example, I'm going to use my quick selection tool and just click and drag, and like I said, because it's an area of high contrast, it does pretty well, I'll do a general kind of drag across the body first, and then I'll go in for detail, and if it grabs anything that I don't want all I need to dio is if I hit the altar option key, it changes the option into a minus so anyplace that click it will subtract from the selection so I click around a little bit more and it does it pretty quickly, and the key for this particular example is trying to get her told still, as I switch between the due to different lighting setups and notice, it goes over here so I can click and refine it and I would go in I'm not going to get exact right now, so I don't take forever doing this and just going to get rough, perfect, all right? And so I could make a selection of this or I can copy and paste it. Let me just get this one last what I missed, all right? So I'm going to command j into a new layer so you can look it might need a little tweaking, but it's pretty close and so your option of making the selection it's going to depend on what it is going to open up that other photographs that I took put the two side by side and then using my move tool, get ahold, shift, click and drag and drag it over close this for now and then as I zoom in, I just basically need to line them up if something doesn't line up exactly I can blend it, or I can also use my warp tool. So as we said before, command tea, right, click warp, and then I could always, you know, raise the shoulder up to match a little bit or pull the shoulder over whatever is necessary, I can go ahead and add well, air mask, zoom in and then, like, down here, you know, that obviously doesn't blend well so I could paint it by hand if I wanted teo group a hi rapacity brush. I know that I want a harder brush because I don't want it to be feathered, and I'm just gonna paint it by hand for now, but I would do it more carefully. It's, like, see, obviously that's not how I want it. All right, so backing up, um, I just basically painted black to get rid of that area of the frame that I didn't want. Somebody just paint black for this sick here and you see, the general idea did a few more tweaks. What I ended up doing is actually smearing her arm from this side to the other side so that they had the same highlights on the hands. Few more things like that, but this is another form. Of compositing. So try to think outside the box and how that might work with lighting or with flash or, for example, maybe you only have a couple of light, so you like the scene and then you let the subjects in the foreground and you put the two together depends on maybe how much equipment you want to carry. Would you introduce color gel effects into a composite, and how so would use blending modes or any particle tips for that I have in the past added color gels, because if you have maybe the front light is jelled yellow and then in your composite you could make it look like there's a yellow light. It looks more realistic. I just find that a lot of people, when they use gels, it starts to look cheesy, so I just say, just be careful of that. You wanted to be more subtle you don't want like the entire side of the face to be jelled. It would be more of a highlight with a subtle gel, and then the blend well that you'd want to use is if you paint on a subject or painting in the surroundings to make it look like something like, okay, the entire left hand side has blue light hitting it when you paint blue your blend mode. The way that you can make the color kind of stick is tuned the blend mode to color because if you do soft later over light when you do so it also changes the contrast it's actually affecting the luminosity and contrast of the photo versus just color it just picks up the color so it's easier to fake it that way I seem to do one more composite thing and then we'll move on from composites and I'll probably just end that last few minutes with um an example of where I knew what I was doing in photo shop before I did the shoot great all right so I photographed um in this gorgeous place in new york called the metropolitan building and I was closed this alright so the metropolitan building looks like this okay how cool is that it's beautiful and so the fame of the magazine that I was shooting for that particular issue the theme was duality and I'm trying to think all right so if I'm shooting here in this beautiful building what can I do with duality I wanted to make the theme work from me instead of me working for the theme on I didn't want to have to shoot something in studio because it didn't fit and I won't love this location so what I decided to do is that in every single shot I'd put the model in there twice and so I needed to keep in general uh, the easiest way to do this and I think I made it harder on myself. The easy ways to do this it's every camera on a tripod lock it down, lock your focus yes, you do do your auto focus your manual focus you put it on to manual so you can't move it when you're trying to take the shot and then try to do it quickly set light doesn't change with the model in the foreground I had her switch clothing and then had her go into the background. So in every scene she it looked like there were two of her kind of like they were twins. And so this is when I knew before I did this shoot exactly what the thing was going to be. I also had to know because I had to tell my wardrobe styles we need twice as many clothing because otherwise so it's it's prepping beforehand, but this is when photo shop is an essential part of my creativity, so I didn't make it easy on myself and I'm shooting I shot kind of at a different angle um and I did it cropped in photo so you can fake it by blending I went a click and drag this over, and the easiest way to do this would be to decrease the capacity kind of dragged it over decreased capacity zoom in and try to line it up roughly what I'm going to look for is when I changed the size how can I get it so that the angles are roughly correct like the size of the bed or the size of the borders out here so I can kind of click and drag a good example would be all right let's see if I can line up these two circles fell onto realistic second line of dc circles make it a little bigger okay it's close it's still small but should rewrite I want a liner up back here and we'll go back two hundred percent capacity and then it's just blending so I would go ahead adam asked grab my black brush and as I said this is not the way you'd want to do it but I thought it through an example is saying like yeah I wasn't thinking the way I should have you know um and so I'm going to have a few tweaks and I'm going to have to make along the way it's all about making it close enough um my favorite shot that I did from the editorial um was there was a hall of mirrors and so I had different reflections in each different mirrors and different clothing changes and then one of her in the foreground where she stayed um kind of consistent so I'm just blending and so I knew I'd have to get rid of this. And maybe maybe I need to get rid of the whole bed you know all of this over here and look, you know there's a pillow something like that but if you blend on here to the shadow probably won't notice I'm going quickly so then I would zoom in here and I'm just looking all right, so what do the other things I need to do to fake it? Well, I need this pillow to look realistic I need to make a selection around her and so in the end it's all about being just believable enough it doesn't have to be perfect and so I would probably spend a little bit more time but even even this far um zoomed back at the um kind of viewing distance or how you view it if I have kind of chris blinds you know you wouldn't notice you wouldn't recognize and so I did that I'll show you the other one I don't have to do the entire retouched but I could just show you um what I did and that would take this for the reflections and then I had kind of this shot as the main shot so it have different reflections in all the different mirrors and composited it together so you can imagine other scenarios where either you're duplicating somebody or have them different places in the scene um depends on the type of photography dio getting a little bit creative okay, so the question from sue sue is can you work with different size and resolution files, or is that gonna be problematic? You can work with different size and resolution files. The problem that you would run into is if your main the photo that's kind of your base or your plate, if that is bigger and you drag something smaller that's supposed to fill the frame if that means if you have to take the image that you dropped and make it larger, you're actually stretching pixels and degrading the kuala, but if you are putting lots of little elements small in that frame, it doesn't matter as long as you're not stretching something larger than its original size, a really, really good plug in that is awesome. If you ever run into the situation where clients wanted a shot and they wanted to be huge and you shot on your twenty and you can't get it to thirty by forty inches, or maybe you're doing that composite where? Well, I love her face to be huge in this, but it wasn't big enough because I shot her small in the background. I wish it were the main element in the front, uh, the tool used to be called genuine fractals, and now it's called perfect resize safe to have it here, perfect resize, good so when you click I'm and I use this uh I don't use it now so much but back when I was shooting you know, twenty five days I used it all the time uh someone to click uh let's do do you want to do a batch would say all right so what you can do is you can select a file you pick what your sources could you pick a particular image that he's grabbed one randomly so anything that's good j pick easy tio dio uh all the suitors quickly I'll show you and so what it lets you do it says okay so you pick your photo then you go over here and say how big do you want it to be and you can increase it by percentage or to a specific number of pixels and with or length and you want to make sure you have your constrained proportion selected because if you don't then it might make the length really big but it won't change the height suits have a stretch picture um and if you've ever had to increase something by size you may have heard of the recommend you increased by like one percent one percent one percent one percent or ten percent at a time because then it kind of inter plates up and we'll give you a more realistic upsides versus just say doubling the size of an image well, this is a very, very complex awesome algorithm that I have doubled the size of photos literally doubled the size and had no problem uh so if you've ever maybe of old photos that you shot that are beautiful or somebody comes to you the small image you know four by six that they wanted to scan and make larger this is the program that you would want and it will help you get larger images from the originals awesome and that's an on one product doug be photo says he loves that hall of mirrors can you talk more about how you did the reflections how there was set up how to use a tripod transform the images to create the reflections definitely um and I did again and moved my tripod you know I'm not supposed to I told you I made it hard on myself. Uh this hall of mirrors it's in long island city in case you ever go to new york I will warn you the rate per day is called several thousand so just don't be surprised you don't expect to show up and shoot it. Um but what I did is I shot the exact same way as I said before I just made sure that my tripod height stayed the same and whatever I do is that half her shoot in this image the way ended up fully retouched if you go to my website lyndsey other photography dot com it's it's in there it's one of the recent one of the recent shoots that I put up and it's also in my block recently and so I'd have her for a main image and I'm just looking at my tripod saying okay that's good location for her head here and then in the other image okay that's a good location for her head in this one so for example let's say that I want this mirror er and I took I probably took and like you can actually you can actually see me in my tripod down here you can see me squatting uh so let's say that I wanted this mirror and I had her move so there was a reflection here and then one in here and then a reflection in this mirror but through that mirror romantic whole bunch so if I command j put in a new layer and then using my move tool drag and drop it over so when I zoom in they aren't perfectly lined up but I did move my tripod until do you mean think you can see me okay uh so if I back off of my capacity a little bit on the new layer that I just pace it over I can kind of see the edges so I can move it around and try to roughly line it up and I have the same tools again if I do the command tea right click work, I can move it so the edges line up exactly. And so that's what I'm looking for is when I don't see that kind of little halo, I know that they're lined up exact, and when you enter, go back to my full opacity and then what I'm looking for are those edges and adding a lair mask, zooming in, grabbing a soft brush and just kind of blending and blending to being close enough so that it looks good enough doesn't have to be perfect. And I did that for I think in the end shot, it was five different mirrors I ended up getting the reflection for it was one of my favorite shoots that I did in recent history is really, really fun. I might have to blend like that edge variety for it after, but right, louisville people love this shot in the chamber. So a quick question from katie winter flood when compositing do do your skin retouching after you have composited the images? Um, I'll do the retouching first, okay? And this is if anybody is a graphic designer out there, you're probably more familiar instead of clicking and dragging photos it's placing photos when you place a photo, what it does is it puts it within your frame, but it's referencing back to the original file placing it for composite is much better than copying, pacing and dragging and dropping because what you could do is you can put that photo in there and then it's referencing back to the original so if you go ahead and open up to the tip of the original file on you like you know now that I'm looking at this I want to go ahead and smooth out the skin a little bit more maybe do a little bit of a liquefied open up that tiff to the edit hit save it'll update in the composite is well, eso is different and it's filed place right here and just a different way. And but why? When I was in college, I took a graphic design class and replaced everything because you're taking elements within elements and logos and photos you want to be able to access them outside of the original file just as a little follow up since you just mentioned tiffs can you explain again because we have folks asking today about when or why used tips versus psd cds I did it doesn't matter to me for me personally my work flow it doesn't make any difference thie only time that it makes a difference is when I was doing displacement maps yesterday it has to be a psd file for your actual map um most the time I use uh it kind of depends certain files that I have certain image browsers and things online concede tiffs but can't cps d's okay, so sometimes I'll choose a tip just because I know for example, one of the people that I send to look at manages to add it I know that they can open a view a tiff, but if they don't have photoshopped they might not be able to open the psd. Thank you. Um let's see louis henry for composites do you make, uh, different setups for every light detail or to use the same light for all natural versus studio? Okay, since it's not my specialty I'll tell you I used to just do the same thing because I know it works and it's comfortable and people that are a composite experts will change the lighting setups, but most of the time I have the exact same lighting setup. The difference is if I know that it's going to be a really dark scene instead of having my main light kind of centered and bright, I might move it off to the side to create more shadows and then pull down on the lesson. Maybe instead of having the soon called full power compared to the background, it might be three quarters it might be instead of being at f sixteen and might be a eleven or something like that so I can control the mood of the shoe but how I lead from the front but I always have those kind of two back lights and one main light and if I know it's going to be a softer scene instead of using a beauty dish I'll use a soft box it's the same setup with like little tweaks little ones write a question from cam e with a c in atlanta who's wondering it so generally is this the technique that you would use with newborn photographers who composite babies when you see them holding the head up in reality it's a few different images where the parents holding the head and the arms and the other okay so the compositing is exactly the same but the lighting is it uh what I'll do I did this a ton I was not the best baby photographer in the world would put it that way uh and so whatever I do is I would shoot a soft box on the subject and I wouldn't use multiple lights because what would happen if if they're moving around then the light is going to hit different places so I would just have soft back from the front and then I would have a black background because I could basically eliminate it paint it black or something solid avoid any types of patterns because when the angle changes and you're going to have to blend it in uh but yeah you khun then I would definitely do the same thing I composited nonstop with family photography nonstop because there was always that little kid who didn't want to behave, so I made sure the whole family would look at him, say something cute, make him laugh, and then he got composited in on dh, so the key is just making sure is well, for something like that, you have a clean slate. In other words, if you're going to composite him in, if every shot he was sitting there in the foreground, and then you try to composite him on top of himself, you have to erase behind him in order to blend him in, if that makes sense. So that's something else for compositing, you want that kind of clean slate that you can add things onto. So let's say you three are a family and then there's the dog in the foreground that won't pay attention do a shot with the dog, not in it at all. And then if you get another shot with a dog that looks good and you want a composite with another family photo it's, easier to cut and paste for since the dog was sitting there just laying there and looking the other direction have to actually clone him out, so giving the blank slate works with families with children works the pets anything really cool? Okay, maybe one last question. Kaz mob has a question about compositing group like you do with the band picture isan important to take individual pictures from a slightly different perspective. All right, so what I did for the band perspective there for the band shoot, as I mentioned, I try potters in the same height and that my focal length stayed the same, so I actually shot a fixed focal length flynn's, so that the entire time I shot ineighty five so the entire time it was the same compression on them. Uh, I also knew that I didn't want to have to worry about feet, but I shot just below their names, so if I wanted to make one guy look taller or shorter, for example, if I'm putting him in the background, I need to be able to see more of his knees and more of his legs because he'd be further back so you'd see that russia's, the people that are closer up in, like, crop mid length, so I gave myself more room than I thought I would need a shot, everybody more or less kind of around the knee length so I could put some people in the back, smaller but seeing more of their body and then some people in the foreground.

Class Materials

bonus material

Keyboard Shortcuts
Retouching Checklist
Beauty and Retouching
Creative Techniques

Ratings and Reviews


Fantastic Photoshop course. I knew Lindsay was great at Photography, Lighting, Posing and Public Speaking, but I am really blown away by her mad (great) skills at Photoshop. Lindsay really is a fantastic teacher. She turns what might be a more or less dry topic into a fun and entertaining topic. Thank you Lindsay and thank you CreativeLIve. You have a real superstar with Lindsay Adler.

a Creativelive Student

This is a great workshop for photographers wanting to learn and hone in on their retouching skills. As a photoshop user and photographer of 10 yrs I have been able to take away some further techniques to help better my skills and more or less tailor them. I would suggest you have some adv beginner knowledge of photoshop because I don't think some of the techniques you will be able to keep up with unless you buy it. There are two things that I wish she did better in her teaching and that is to teach new users to label all their layers and what they are as you are working. As you can see Lindsay ends up with 20 layers and unless your the one doing the editing you will have know idea what is what when you have to go back to it. So its best to teach this in the beginning so people get into the habit of organization early. Also I wish she used a Wacom. It really does cut your editing time in half and you have more solid movements in precisely selecting areas of a photo. From a photographer to other photographers. Use a wacom. You can start with a basic baboo for $89 and when the apple wireless mouse cost $69. Time is money, and a wacom truely save time! I used to use a mouse and my trackpad and once I switched I was like OMG what was I thinking before! So I wish she just emphasized that point more. Overall I think it was $99 well spent.

Christian G.

Not only is Lindsay very knowledgeable and a very good teacher but I REALLY TRULY appreciate her no-BS, straight-forward style.. No time wasted on long tangents talking about herself (or what have you), on cute remarks or on off-the-mark humor. She has showed us many great techniques, has presented to us various creative/different ideas AND she has also really been able to explain "how she thinks of a solution", how there is a bit of trial and error, "even" at her level.. All in a all, a truly excellent course and worth every penny!! Thank you Lindsay and thank you to the CreativeLive team for a great course!!

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