13 Replies Latest reply on Dec 19, 2016 7:04 AM by bantumlum

    Compositing in Photoshop

    Giordano - ACP Italy Adobe Community Professional

      Compositing in Photoshop



      Compositing Time Lapse  - my work: © Gaetano Giordano




      1. introduction
      2. Importance of Observation Point
      3. Choosing images or shooting in the camera
      4. Color temperature and white balance
      5. Understand and emphasize the lights
      6. Paint light and shadow
      7. Blending elements





      One of the first distinctions that we can note is that the compositing is divided into four main categories, with their various facets, which are distinguished by destination and difficulty in being realized as techniques in play vary while maintaining the basic logic of depth of field, color temperature, light and shadow, and which aim to a single result ... be credible!

      Basic can be defined as Photo Compositing, Advertising, Illustrative and Fantasy precisely on the basis of the objective that the post producer set out to achieve and to make you immediately grasp the differences I show you some very famous work where are applied four techniques, from Photo Compositing used as you can imagine from the word itself to replace the background behind a model after the shooting in the studio with a environment like a room, a street or any one so as to attribute to the shoot an artistic value added or to emphasize the emotional state that the author wants to attribute to an image.

      Annjulia Small - Philadelphia large .jpg

      Photo Compositing - credit: Joel Grimes


      Following we find the advertising technique used in the most varied ways, and which usually has the intent to emphasize particular qualities, advantages, attributes of a product

      and that requires a more complex processing than the previous since the combined elements are more numerous.

      The complexity of processing the image reaches the maximum in the third and fourth technique such Illustrative and Fantasy since in addition to the large number of items in the game is added the peculiarity of the effect that is given to the image by processing the final result up to be visibly comparable to a drawing or illustration.

      Josh Rossi.jpg

      Illustrative technique - credit: Josh Rossi


      Between the last two is a short step actually, technically speaking, but they are the ability of an individual compared to another to make a difference.

      Now before we get into the real technique there is a premise that I consider important to do and far be it from me to want to make a training course in a meeting of meditation,but it is good that you have very clear that people like Joel Grimes, Dragan, Calvin Hollywood are not the result of a good selection, liquify filter, texture and accentuates through Photoshop,but rather the way they look at life, and that's why the first thing I recommend you to do is to get some good observers because those will be the basis for a composition.

      This evening at the Pub with friends while observed at the table in a corner of a boy and a girl are arguing, while the street light coming through the window and lighting them and the shadows of the glasses and the bottle become longer on the table, watch what is happening outside in road through the window behind them ...

      Always observe carefully or you will not know what to do with three photos cropped, but having said that we dive into the technique itself.


      Importance of Observation Point


      One of the first things you learn when you design that is a paginated, the brand of a company, a website or a compositing is that first of all you must have a clear idea of what you want to do after you go to the executive and the first step is to choose the point of view of the scene that is when you look at a picture of what you do is actually look at a scene from the point of view of the photographer who has taken, but I do a more concrete example.

      Imagine the scene that we want to represent is set within a room, a living room, where a girl plays with dog and behind the TV is on ... good! The first thing to determine is where am I? I'm watching the scene stood leaning against the door? or I sat on a chair in front of them? Or do another example where the situation is in the street, where I am? I'm walking on the edge or on the sidewalk are in my house on the second floor and I'm looking out the window?

      The importance of the observation point is crucial because it will determine the angle and perspective of any item will be inserted in the context.

      A very useful tool that is provided by Photoshop is called Vanishing Point and that allows us to outline the sense of perspective, and although in reality in most cases will have a minimal impact on the end result is good at the beginning devote five minutes to better determine the scene, in some cases it may be much more than just fine-tune the prospect, but a crucial help in complicated situations and especially when combined with the filters Grand angle  and Lens Correction.


      Choosing images or shooting in the camera


      Determine causes and conditions necessary for the realization of a compositing start our creative process strictly following a workflow step by step starting from the first point that of course is to choose the first image.

      We start, first step I choose the image that will give life to my Artwork and the choice is absolutely subjective because in some cases it starts from the photo of a room (for example) found in the network or taken by ourselves that inspires and fascinates us in other cases, we start from the picture of a subject or model, and around which we want to build a story.

      In both cases the photo of departure and that arises our idea will be the master image that will affect all the work as surely the choice of images to follow that will help us in compositing, but let's be more precise; if the input image is a room photographed from a certain angle and perspective it goes without saying that people, the dog, the cat, objects and whatever our imagination suggests there must have the basic condition to be photographed to 90% from a same type of angle and perspective of the image Master and to avoid this as much as possible to make use of artificial perspective distortion.

      Even more so if we are the authors of the pictures is crucial to have a clear idea of these variants in order to photograph our model from a proper angle, putting on his knees in order to photograph her from the bottom or standing, but at 45 ° to the left than the subject or on a scale and taking down.

      Preparation can make abysmal differences and more accurate is your choice on the network or in camera and the result will be amazing ... and absolutely CREDIBLE!

      Step Two: we make a perfect selection of the subjects that are going to get into the scene with pinpoint accuracy, and possibly creating a clipping mask, but nothing prevents you from adding it later.

      Step Three: we insert the main subject in the scene by scaling the size and positioning it at the point that interests us and all with close attention to perspective and depth of field so much that I have recommended to the beginning; additionally we consider the fact of applying a mask to hide parts of the subject that naturally would not be visible, but we make an example: if the subject is sitting on a chair and in front of him has a small table it goes without saying that with the use of a mask we hide parts of the legs which in reality would find themselves behind it after which we can (if necessary) to apply a slight distortion to further enhance the fusion between subject and the room ... but as I said, it would be better to make the right choice at the beginning and avoid having to resort to this, but if necessary it can act with reasonable ease on inanimate subjects / objects as a table, bedside tables, piles or bottles while it is absolutely not recommended distort human beings or animals.

      Color temperature and white balance

      Finally, our subject is within the scene, but except for one case in a million where color temperature and white balance are perfect, generally speaking the next step is surely to balance these values and there are several methods that can help us in this, but alas no automatism so any of these is to be used as a measuring meter will be our eyes.

      We keep in mind that usually the optimal balance is achieved in several steps and according to the destination of our compositing, which as we saw earlier is divided into Photography, Advertising, Illustrative and Fantasy; so we'll make the balance in three steps and that is essentially the first with the color balance of the individual elements to follow up with a balance of the whole image overall and finally acting on the dominant color of light and shadow using Camera Raw or Lightroom.

      Understand and emphasize the lights

      Here is our Compositing who need to acquire credibility that the subject is illuminated and therefore produces shadows on themselves and the environment on the basis of the scene or of the place where it is, but before we do that the next step will be to reconsider the scene that is the image Master ... How?

      Let us examine the existing light sources such as a window through which filters the light of the outside, that it's generated by the street lamps in the late evening or from a beautiful sunny day and what we can do is to increase this part working on exposure or draw literally a light beam or in the case the subject for example is in the first floor to the top of a long corridor adding a synthetic light behind it so as to give dramatic image thanks to the radius tool in Camera Raw.


      Paint light and shadow


      Paint light and shadow.png

      To determine and emphasize the light before you work on the subject allows us to have a clear idea of the visual intensity and direction so that we can, at this point, paint the parties affected by it on our model and their respective shadows on it and projected in the scene.

      Firstly we create shadows in the scene and the method is unique and I remember you very quickly: select the subject  > Effects " shadow "  >  I select a shadow from the level + right-click and " creates level "  > Edit menu " transforms / distortion "  > Blur and adjust the opacity level.

      By having the light in the scene well-defined and the lengthening shadows on the floor we move literally to paint the subject and even here there are different ways to achieve the result, but the one considered by far the best is to use the curve ... as we see!

      After adding a level curves just above our subject and clicking on the parabolic line I will drag my point down with the result that the entire image will become dark, below by clicking on the mask that is generated automatically whenever I add an adjustment layer and with the keyboard shortcut ALT + Backspace (APPLE + Backspace on Mac) and the color black in the foreground fill level; below while maintaining the mask selected you will take the brush tool and white color in the foreground (click on X) and you will begin to draw the first lines on the face, shoulders and legs and then move the slider "blurs" from the panel properties making these shadows credible and once painted the subject in its entirety and where necessary of course you can adjust more precisely the curve.

      The same procedure will be performed for the lights, and then I will create a new level curves and carrying the handle generated on the curve, after the click, upwards and this time will illuminate the entire image, the following are the same steps used to define the shadows.

      Blending elements

      Everything at this point should be visually compact, but there are still some tricks that can help us make it even more credible and one of these is called "

      Accentuates Passage "... proceeding as follows!

      Using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E (Ctrl + Command + Shift + E on Mac) will be generated an image that combines all levels same as the final image and ensuring that we have the top layer selected so that it's positions in the foreground automatically or if we had forgotten, , don't panic!  Click on the image generated and drag it in the most top position.

      At this point from the menu FILTER scroll down to the bottom and below the item OTHER > INCREASES PASS which will convert our image in a kind of 50% gray level where all edges are highlighted. Subsequently, acting on the blend modes we select " Overlay or Soft Light " depending on how convinces us more; blend modes that trust me that it is truly amazing what you can do with them beyond that specific case. the radius in pixels of the effect that we want to follow a simple indication, if you work on the image of a person do not exceed 4.0 pixels and even more so when the subject is a woman while if the image does not include human subjects you can also get a 6.0 / 7.0 of radius; Also remember that after you apply the effect you can still manage opacity.


      Thanks for your attention and I hope will be helpful,


                      Best Regards

          Gaetano Giordano - ACP Italy