Compositing photos in Photoshop
Combine your photos in Photoshop to create a truly special composite images.
Creating a photo composite out of your own images is a great way of creating striking images that would be very hard, or perhaps even impossible to create in one individual capture.
Follow our step-by-step tutorial and you will be combining your photos together in a professional, seamless way in no time.
We’re going to take a look at how to cut out a model with the Pen tool and how to place her into the new canvas.
It isn’t as simple as just dragging and dropping it in the new canvas. You need to edit the models edges so it is seamless, no dodgy hair cutouts can be accepted if you want your composite to be truly seamless, so to achieve this we’ll take a look at the Clone Stamp and Smudge tools.
We’ll also look at re-sizing with the Free Transform tool and adjusting the lighting to ensure that the components match.
Step 1. Set up the Pen tool
Select the Pen tool from the side bar, in the top options bar set the tool to Paths. If unfamiliar with the Pen tool then fear not it really is a simple tool to master. Zoom into your image.
Step 2. Pen tool – lesson one
Each time you click the mouse with the Pen tool an anchor point will be placed, straight lines are simple just trace the object clicking anchor points along the edge. To create an arched line click and hold the mouse down…
Step 3. Pen tool – lesson two
…with the mouse button held down move the mouse around, see the line arch. When the line is arched enough let go of the mouse and Alt click onto the last anchor point dropped to finish the point off.
Step 4. Finish the Path
Don’t try to include every stray hair, we will edit this later. Keep the space between anchor points fairly small for greater line control. To finish the path make sure your last anchor point ends on the first one placed.
Step 5. Cut out completely
To save the Path go to the Paths palette and click onto the top right arrow, select Save Path. If the saved path layer isn’t already highlighted then click onto it, return to the canvas and trace the internal shapes we do not want to copy to the new image.
Step 6. More line alterations needed
Once the path has been completely finished you can still edit the line shape if needed. Select the Move tool and Cmd/Ctrl click onto an anchor point, lines will become visible, move these bezier lines to alter the curve.
Step 7. Transfer the model
When satisfied with your Path go to the Paths palette, Alt click onto the Path thumbnail to make it an active selection. Click onto the Background layer in the Layers palette and with the Move tool selected drag the model into the new image canvas.
Step 8. Free Transform to size
Click onto the model layer in the new canvas and press Cmd/Ctrl + T to activate Free Transform, holding down Shift to keep perspective drag one of the corner arrows inwards to decrease the models size, position to fit the canvas, hit Enter.
Step 9. Remove any old background traces
Zoom into the model, lock the layer by pressing the Lock Transparent Pixel button at the top of the Layers palette. Select the Clone Stamp tool, in the top bar select a small soft edged brush, 20% opacity. Alt click on a background free area of hair.
Step 10. Cover up then unlock
Paint over the areas where the old background can be seen between flyaway hairs, covering it up with the sampled areas of clean hair. Unlock the layer when done and select the Smudge tool.
Step 11. Pull out stray hairs
In the top bar select a tiny brush of 1 or 2 pixels, 90% Strength. Work around the models hair edge pulling out hairs making it look more natural, never exceed a brush size of 3 pixels. Use the Blur tool on the pulled out hair edges to soften for realism.
Step 12. Colour tweak with Levels
Click onto the building layer and click on the create new adjustment layer icon at the base of the Layers palette, pick Levels. Move the middle and right sliders to alter the layers colour intensity, try to match it to the models.
Step 13. Add a Gradient Overlay
Add a new layer under the Levels one. In the side bar double click on the foreground colour, pick a light blue. Select the Gradient tool, in the top bar set it to foreground to transparent. Draw up your canvas half way, set its layer blend mode to Overlay, opacity 50%.
Step 14. Burn out the bottom
Click onto the building layer, select the Burn tool, in the top bar set to Midtones, 50% Exposure. Paint over the bottom of the layer darkening it up to match the model. Duplicate the model (drag it over the create new layer icon) and press Cmd/Ctrl + L.
Step 15. More Level tweaks
The Levels dialog box will appear, in the drop down menu select yellow, move the right white slider left to reduce the yellow, evening out the colour balance in the picture. Lastly add another Levels Adjustment layer to the top, even out tones once more matching things up nicely.
Step 16. A little something extra
If your image still needs a bit more va va voom then why not add a Photo Filter Adjustment layer. Add it to the top of the stack, here we have selected the Warming Filter (LBA), set to 50% intensity. It has given us a slightly futuristic feel, matching the building and the models dress in tones. A nice way to merge everything together seamlessly.