Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World


Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World


Lesson Info

Make Selections in Photoshop™

So, I will open this now in Photoshop. So just to reiterate what I do here, is I can do some basic editing first in Lightroom, and those edits will carry through to Photoshop. Because the rabbit is white, there's some detail perhaps lost. So if I bring down the highlights a touch, and bring up the shadows a touch, it brings more detail into the fur. So you can do that and I often do bring down the highlights and bring up the shadows with my subjects as well. It helps to blend them all together in the composite. So when I'm editing a regular portrait session or wedding session my editing style is not to change the highlights or shadows. It's to give it quite a bit of punch. Whereas when I'm doing this, I like to sort of flatten out the image before I bring it into Photoshop so that I can add the light and shade as I want to match the scene. So by pulling down the highlights, bringing up the shadows, it helps you to blend it into the scene a little better. So I'll crop this out. I'm goin...

g to bring that whole rabbit in. So edit in, open as a smart object, for anyone that's just joining us, open as a smart object means that you can keep all of those changes. So, when you open as a smart object in Photoshop, you've got access to the raw image. You can double click it. You have to double click it on the picture otherwise it doesn't work. So it will load up in Camera Raw, and it will give you access to all of the changes that you, you may even use a brush to change exposure on certain parts or you may use a gradient tool. So you've got all of that flexibility with Camera Raw and Lightroom to make changes with your raw file, that are non-destructive, that will then reflect back into your image in Photoshop. So, let's just do a very quick firstly cut out, around our rabbit. And the tool that I'm using is this one here. Quick selection tool. That works well when there's a high contrast area. So areas of big differences between the dark's or the lights or the colors. This tool works well. But it's still not perfect. So if you zoom in after this extraction you'll see that it's not a nice smooth cut out. So I'll show you that and I'll show you what I would do to rectify that if this is the image that I choose. So, I'll inverse that selection. So the rabbit is selected out. If I just choose mask. So this, so I had my rabbit selected, if I choose mask, down here, it masks the rabbit there but zooming up, you can see the edge artifacts. It's not a really nice smooth cut out. You can see the black around the edges, all of that. So we can do something in between that that helps us cut things out like that. So I'll go back a step. Got my selection. There's a thing called refine edge in Photoshop. So, refine edge will only show up if you're on a masking tool. So I'm on a different tool over at the side, it's not showing up at the top. But if I choose the square marquee, refine edge will show up the top there. Now this gives me more control over my selection. It's still not necessarily gonna be perfect that's why I prefer to shoot on green screen. I get more flexibility but it does help, and especially around the hair. So one thing that I often do when I'm cutting something out is I shift the edge in by however many pixels that I need to. But you can see that as I shifted the edge in I'll zoom up on that. I'll turn those other things off too so you can see how everything is effected. If I put it back to where it was, close to 'cause I'm on the slider without the, without my keyboard so I can't press zero but, that is the selection as it was. If I bring the edge in by 100% you can see it cuts out some of the black. So, we'll do this using the green screen as well so it cuts out the green. So that's one step to getting a better cut out. But it's very rough at the moment. One other thing that I do in refine edge is I usually feather by north .5. That just gives a touch of softness. You don't want to feather too much when you're refining edge because you can't really go backwards very easily. You can always soften things off with your mask later on, but by just feathering it by north .5 you're softening it a touch but still getting the detail of the fur. So you don't want to lose that detail. You don't want a very soft sort of cut out in your composite. It's not gonna look real. You do want edges. You do want fine hair. You do want to see all of that. Another thing you can do is to use this smart tool which is next to edge detection here. And it's quite clever. What it does is it pulls out, it works out which bit is the black and which bit is the hair. So I'm painting along the edge here with that, and it sometimes takes a moment to do something and it's a smart tool so it's doing a lot of processing. If it pauses and doesn't seem to be working I generally just run another line across, and then wait for it and then it does it. So you can see it started to work out where is a hair and where is the fur and where is the black and it does help to differentiate between the two. The other weird thing we should do is our view mode is currently on white. So we're looking at at how if we put this rabbit, this cut out rabbit on white, but we can change our view mode to lots of different types so that we can see how it's gonna look on black, how it's going to look on just with the transparency there. Okay. So you can see it in overlay mode. So it gives you different options. On black. On white. Black and white. On the layer so I you have it a layer beneath, I don't I'm just working on this rabbit image, but if you have a layer beneath you can see how it's going to work. Reveal marching ants. So I usually scroll through these and check how it looks on a few different settings to make sure that my cut out is really well done. So I'll go back to on black. And we will go back to here. Now I don't have, I don't want to go around the whole rabbit right now with this tool. I'll do that if I know that he's, that she's going to be the right one. But you can also make some adjustments here on smart radius. Again it's a smart tool. It sort of picks out the detail between the fur and the background. And you can smooth things out as well. But remember I said this tool, this way of extracting is not really the smoothest way of extracting. It's not, so there's another method that I use generally with animals, that I find is a whole lot quicker and gives me more control over the fur and edge of the fur. So I'm going to press okay at this point. We will go through this again when we do the green screen extraction. I'm going to press okay. Not worry about the rest of the edge here for right now. But bring this into Wonderland, by dropping it in. Okay. I'll resize. By pressing shift when you resize it retains the proportions. If you let shift up it will distort and you don't want that. So you want to retain the ratio of your image. Bring the rabbit down in size. I will hide the other one. So at the moment, he's the opposite way to the way that I want him to be. So I will flip him. So edit, transform, flip horizontal. There we go. Now he's running the right direction. So that works pretty well. He isn't cut out very well but again I said I want to make sure that this is going to work. I do need to do a very quick check with the outfit. I hid this group before. You can see now I'm starting to get a lot of images. They're all called the same thing because that's what I named them in Lightroom. This is the point where I would start renaming groups. Renaming images so that I don't get confused. I've got this rabbit here in group. So I would rename this rabbit mock up. That way when I'm looking through my layers I'm not getting totally confused as to which bits which. But down here, if I just grab this outfit... One way you can duplicate a layer, that is a new thing that I've come across and I really love it, is if you hold down alt or option on the Mac, and you click on the layer you want, you just drag that layer to wherever you want. So I'm gonna drag that up above the mock up. There we go. And hide that. That gives you a duplicate layer and you can place it wherever you want in your layers panel. So it's actually, because I'm working on this device, and I don't often have a keyboard with me, any shortcuts that mean I can do that with one hand are really beneficial. So that's just alt or option and then drag that layer that you want to duplicate. So my main purpose here is just to make sure that if I am using this particular rabbit, and the legs are facing a different direction, am I going to be able to warp the costume on adequately? Because the body is going to be turned. So the legs are running, but the body is gonna be turned this way. So I just want to make sure that that works. And it may take a bit of warping puppet warp but, I think I can do it. (laughs) we can do anything in Photoshop. So I'm gonna go with that because I really do like the rabbit running this way. I like the way his legs are. I'm not dressing him right now. That was just a test run. But I do think the head can't be too directional, 'cause if the body's this way I think the head needs to be straight on. So we'll have the legs turned, and we'll have the head facing this way. So I've got my rabbits body. And I know this is the body that I want to use. Let's zoom up. I don't know if you guys can see this but if I zoom up really closely, it's very fine. There's a very fine line down the edge here. That would generally happen each time you extract in this method and bring that into another scene. And sometimes you don't notice it, and later on you'll be working with you file and you'll see all these are lines, and they'll start to annoy you, and you won't know which layer they're on 'cause you got so many layers. So one little tip here is to get rid of that straight away. And a quick way of doing that, is, this is my, I'm gonna name this one so I know, rabbit feet. This is my rabbit feet. I want to be able to see where my mask is. I have a forward slash is the short cut but I have it again assigned to my tablet here, and it brings up the overlay as my mask. So every time I bring something in that I'm going to keep I use my brush. I go with a hard edged brush usually. Full opacity, full flow, and I paint from the top, and I press shift, to make a straight line, and I press shift again and all I'm doing is I'm going along the edges, and I know that that will get rid of that line, that very faint line. So it's just one thing to remember, because it will annoy you later that it's there. And it definitely happens with all the green screen extractions as well. So, make sure you can bring up your overlay with the forward slash and then you go through shift, shift. So holding down shift will create that straight line so you don't have to do that manually like that. Shift, and good.

Class Description

Karen Alsop is known for creating beautiful fantasy worlds through her unique compositing techniques in Lightroom™ and Photoshop™. Whether you're a wedding, portrait, landscape or commercial photographer, this class will show you how to create beautiful and distinctive images you can offer your clients to expand your business.  

Join us for this class, and you’ll learn how to: 

  • Shoot with your composite in mind: lighting, posing and angles.
  • Choose background and subject images that will work best in the composite.
  • Learn Lightroom® and Photoshop® techniques to create a fantastical atmosphere.

Karen’s emphasis on creativity and imagination in her process has helped her to make a product that competitors have a hard time recreating. Karen’s beautiful, intricate work is not simply the result of vast technical skill, but rather is the careful integration of a number of elements. She puts subjects at ease and inspires them with artful direction; incorporates them into fantasy landscapes using Lightroom® and  Photoshop®; and then effectively prices and markets the final product.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2