Photoshop Composite Masterclass: Learn from a Pro | Tom Kai | Skillshare

Photoshop Composite Masterclass: Learn from a Pro

Tom Kai, Photographer and Graphic Designer

Photoshop Composite Masterclass: Learn from a Pro

Tom Kai, Photographer and Graphic Designer

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9 Lessons (1h 20m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Where to find Images

    • 3. Import + Workplace Setup

    • 4. Compositing our image

    • 5. Color Grading

    • 6. Special Effects + Details

    • 7. Final Tweaks

    • 8. Exporting + Alternative Crop

    • 9. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Learn how to create a stunning composite in this Photoshop Composite Masterclass, where you can learn from a pro! At the end of this course, you will have created your own composite using some very simple methods and have the know-how to create many more!

I am Tom Kai, A professional photographer and graphic designer with an incredible passion for creating. I've been working in the creative field for the past 10 years and in that time I've learned a lot of useful information that I want to share with YOU! I am excited to have you in my "Photoshop Composite Masterclass: Learn From A Pro" If you want to see more of my work, I encourage you to check out my website HERE or feel free to follow me over on instagram @therealtomkai or you can just click HERE

This class is designed for those starting out using photoshop or those who may already be familiar with the program and want to learn how to make professional composites in a simple and easy way! Being able to create composites in photoshop is a fantastic skill to have for both photographers and graphic designers because today, many companies are looking for skilled compositors to create stunning ads and marketing campaigns that are out of this world, and this course is designed to give you just that skill and the edge you need to land some great clients! This course is in depth enough for those familiar with Photoshop, but also beginner friendly as I walk through my whole process, I am sure you will be able to follow along. I will be walking you through some shortcuts and tricks that I've learned over the years that have helped me improve my own workflow and the quality of my composites. 

This course is made using the most up-to-date version of Photoshop as of September 2020, however the principles and skills taught in this course can and will apply to other versions as well. You can also download a free trial of Adobe Photoshop from

In this course you will learn:

  • Where to find good quality, free-to-use photos for compositing
  • How to import and set up your photoshop workspace 
  • How to composite multiple images into one creation
  • Color Grading to unify multiple images to have the same color and lighting
  • How to add special effects and details to your composites
  • How to properly export your finished piece for various places
  • Tips about Photoshop that you may not have known before!
  • Shortcuts that can save you hours!

If you liked this course, I encourage you to check out this other photoshop course that I made!

Also head over to my website to get your own presets that I made! They're cheaper than a cup of coffee! So head over and check it out HERE

Meet Your Teacher

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Tom Kai

Photographer and Graphic Designer


Hello there! My name is Tom and I have been in the creative field for the past 10 years! Over that time I have come to be very well versed in the whole adobe suite but especially photoshop and lightroom! 

I work mainly as a graphic designer and photographer but I also spend a lot of time helping clients and companies revamp their branding, create stunning advertisement material and provide them with a fresh set of creative eyes to solve their creative problems. 

Here on skillshare I will be teaching you what I wish I was taught a decade ago when starting out, from the basics of tools and their hidden features, to the more complex aspects of various content creation both for yourself and for potential clients. 

I encourage you to take a look at my soci... See full profile

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1. Introduction: I don't know about you, but sometimes I have an image in my head that I want to create but I'm just unable to capture in a camera. So what do I do in those situations? I hop in to Photoshop and create it myself. Today, I want to welcome you to Photoshop Composite Masterclass: Learned From a Pro. My name is Tom Kai and I've been a photographer and graphic designer for almost 12 years now. I'm from the United States and I travel around shooting photos and designing for various clients and companies specializing in fashion, lifestyle, and commercial photography. To see my work, head over to my website at, or look me up on Instagram @therealtomkai. When I first started using Photoshop, my workflow was inefficient to say the least. I wasted a lot of time using the wrong tools, doing the wrong techniques, and I lost out on potential clients because of how I was doing things, but as with everything in time, grow and learn, and that's what I did. I learned better techniques, better ways of doing things, and in the past decade, have really mastered using Photoshop to create stunning composites. Today, we're going to have so much fun. We'll be combining the six images to create an out-of-this-world composite that would simply be impossible to capture in a camera. I will be walking you through the whole process from where to source your images, compositing techniques to special effects and final color grading. I will show it all to you. This course is for anyone who wants to learn how to make out-of-this-world composites and manipulations in Photoshop, whether you want to do this professionally to make money or just as a hobby to express your creativity, this course is for you, and I'm super excited to share with the all that I know. I hope that you decide to enroll in this course and if you do, I will be seeing you in the very next video. 2. Where to find Images: Before we get started with creating composites in Photoshop, there's one important thing that we need and that is photos. Now obviously the best thing to do is to go out and take some photos yourself, but if you're unable to like right now, I'm unable to go out and take photos. What am I going to do? I'm going to find some online. Let me hop into my browser real quick and I'm going to show you three places that I use to get all of my photos. All right, so the first website that I get my images from is It's an absolutely fantastic resource to get photos. I've gotten some of my best photos from here that I've used in my composite. You can scroll through on their homepage. They have some featured photos, which are really awesome, but they also have a lot of different categories that you can choose from. If you specifically want to look for animals or architecture, nature, anything, you can just click that and scroll through and find some really good quality images to use for your composites. The next website I use a lot is This is a fantastic resource, and one reason I like this site in particular is because they also have free stock videos that you can use. I use that a lot in what I do. But when it comes to photos as well, they have really high-quality, really fantastic photos that are easy to use for composites. This one here would be fantastic for a composite as would a bunch of these other ones that I'm seeing here. Let's go to our third website here. The third website I like to use is pixabay. One thing that sets pixabay apart from all the others is you can get some really unique images. For example, if I wanted to just search ufo, I'm not able to do that on these other websites. They don't have good illustrations or images of ufos. But for example, here's a really interesting little spaceship. You can scroll down, find a few others. There's some more out of this world kind of images that you can use and create some really interesting composites, more sci-fi related. These are just some of the resources that I use to get my images. The images that we're going to be using today are these. I have this full moon image and all these images I took from unsplash. Then we have a mountain image, we have a landscape image, a nice Vista here, and then we have an image of the sky, we have some grass, and then we have a nice little house up on a hill. Again, if you haven't already, make sure you download all these images, I will include them with all the files that you need for this course. Download everything and get ready because the next video, I'm going to show you how to import these images into Photoshop, how to set up your file, and I'm going to show you how to set up your whole interface. Let's hop into the next video and let's get going. 3. Import + Workplace Setup: I hope you've loaded up Photoshop because we are getting started now. When you're loaded up, your screen should look very similar to mine. I'm using the most up-to-date version of Photoshop, so make sure you are too. First thing we're going to do is we're going to click "Create New". We want to create a brand new document, so let's go ahead and do that. For this particular image, I'm going to be making this 16 inches and I'm going to have the height be nine inches. This is a ratio I'm going to go with. I'm going to make the resolution just be 300, I want it to have really good resolution. I'm not going to care about anything else. I'm going to keep the color mode, RGB, I'm going to keep an 8-bit and that is it. Let's do create. It's going to take one second for Photoshop and we are ready. Now your screen might look a little bit different from mine, so let's go ahead and set it up to look exactly like mine because it's going to make your lives easier as you follow along. All you're going to do is go up here and let's do "Reset Essentials". There we go. If you're loading up Photoshop for the very first time, this is what your screen is most likely going to look like. This is the reset version of the essentials of workspace. First of all, I don't need this Learning tab here, so let's just close that. I don't need the libraries here, so let's do close on this as well. Now it's looking a little bit more similar to what we had before. Let me just zoom out of this a little bit, very nice. Now over here, I don't really want to have the Properties tab here, so I'm going to right-click and close that, I just want my adjustments here. Then I'm going to drag the layers up. As for the color swatches, gradients or patterns, I'm going to keep it on the color wheel. If you don't have that, if you have a hue cube or a slider, make sure you have color wheel check, and then you'll have this. This is really fantastic and lets you choose any color. You can adjust the hue, you can adjust the saturation of that color, and you can also adjust the brightness. You can add more white to the image or more black to the image. It's really, really customizable and I really like it. Now next, you might recall there was some brushes over here on the side. It makes things really easy if you can just have your brushes here, you don't have to open up anything else. You just click which parts you want to use and you can start using it in your composite. What we're going to do is we're going to go to "Window" and "Brushes". You see it pops up here on the right. All you do is you're going to click this and drag it until you see the blue line on the left, and then you let go. Then you can adjust this to be two wide column or three, four, as much as you like, you can even have just one wide. I generally tend to have mine be two wide. I find that's what works for me with my monitor, for you it might be different. You might have a bigger monitor and you can spread this out wider, or you might have a smaller monitor and you can keep it a lot narrower. The good thing about this is you can just scroll down and look at all the different brushes, and again I will include any and all brushes that I use in this composite for you to download and install. In order to install new brushes, all you do is you click these three lines up here and you're going to do "Import brushes", and you're just going to click on the folder with the brushes, and it's going to import all of it in for you. Is going to be very simple. Now that we have our workplace setup, we need to import our images. Let's go ahead and do that really quickly. Let's do "File", "Place Embedded" and navigate to the folder that I've included in the downloads of all the images that we're going to be using. We're going to import these one by one. All you do is you pick one image, click "Place", Photoshop will take a second to place these because these are fairly large images, and just hit "Enter". I'm going to do that again, "File", "Place Embedded", then we have our next image. I'm going to go ahead and do this really quick for all these images. I have all six images here. If we turn each of these off with this eye icon here, we get back to our first one. I highly recommend that you name your layers as soon as you put them in here. Let's go through these really quickly. I already have these names and just going to take out the title of who it's made by. We have cabin, we have grass, we have moon, we have mountain, we have sky, and then we have vista. Let's go ahead and make sure we're organized right from the beginning. There we go. In the next video we're going to get started with our composite. We're going to lay out this image, we're going to cut out what we need to cut out and get the general layout done of our image and the composite. Let's keep going and let's get into the really fun part of this. Lets start compositing our image. 4. Compositing our image: We're finally ready to get started with compositing our image. You will see shortcuts on the screen as I use them. Make sure to use those. Follow along as the best you can. Feel free to pause the video or go back if you miss certain parts and go over it again because learning takes time and different people learn in different ways, so make sure you learn in the best way for you. Let's get started with our composite. What I have in mind for this is I want to have a floating island above this with that little cabin on. Let's go ahead put our vista on the very bottom layer and let's start playing around with this. I'm going to do control or command T to get into our transform tool. I'm going to transform this to be pretty centered there, very nice. Next, let's go ahead and get our mountain image. I'm going to hit L on our keyboard to get our lasso tool and I'm just going to get a general outline of this part of the mountain because that's what I actually want. We're just going to click this mask down here. There we go. Then we're going to hit control or command T again to transform our image. If we hold down shift, we can have this snap to certain points. We want this to be upside down. Very nice. This actually works out really well, because as we see the light is coming from the left side of our image. We can see on these mountains here, and it's going to be on the left side of this as well. That's actually working out really well. I like that. Again, you can keep moving this around. I highly recommend you use control or command T to move things around instead of just clicking and dragging, it's a lot simpler. Let me just resize this to the point where I'm happy with it. I do want it to be centered. Then let's go ahead and get some of our grass, very nice. I'm going to be compressing this ever so slightly. Let's do control command T bring that in and if you hold down shift, you can click on this handle and compress that up. I want it to be somewhat like that and that's going to be on top of the mountain layer. We can drag our layer above. This is going to be on top, and then we are going to want to have our cabin. Let's pull the cabin layer all the way to the top because that's going to be on top of both of those. Again, I'm just going to use a lasso tool for now just as I'm working getting the layout in my head and putting it down pencil to paper so to speak. Again, we use our masking tool here. Let's do control or command T on our cabin layer and let's resize this. Nice little cabin It's going to live on this floating island here. Again, scale is important. You want to make sure that you're either creating the wow factor that you want. You don't want things to be too unrealistic even though this is unrealistic, but you don't want it to be too out of this world. You can compare it to other landmarks in our image. If we zoom in with Z, we see some trees here. That is the scale we're working with. But in my imagination, this is a little bit closer to us than those trees, so it's fine if the house is a little bit bigger. We will be dealing with the moon and the sky layer a little bit later, because we're going to be replacing the whole sky in the back here. For now, I just want to work on this. Getting this cutout properly and making it look good. Let's hide our cabin and grass layer and make sure we're on our mountain layer and let's hit Z on our keyboard and let's zoom in here, shall we? I'm going to zoom in all the way here, and again on the mask layer, all you want to do is hit B for your brush and make sure that your brush is not too hard. We don't want a hardness of zero. I'm going to go for something around 85. Very nice, and I'm going to bring the size all the way down to about 45. If you paint in black, if that's the foreground color, you just going to paint on the mask. If you mess up, you can always hit X, paint in white and paint back the mountain. What I'm going to do is, put a small enough brush. I'm just going to go around, get a nice close edge to this to make sure that we get this mountain set apart from the background that it's originally on. There are plenty of other tools you can use to do this. You can select and mask and then you can use the pen tool. However, I find from mountains there is so many jagged edges that it's a lot simpler to just use the brush and take the time to go around it, because even if you use a pen tool you're going to have to go around this image. Very painstakingly, you will have to go around it and it's going to take the same amount of time. I might as well get a nicer edge by doing this with a brush, because it's going to look a lot more natural. In some cases, the pen tool can leave little bits of artifact thing around. A little pixels that it may miss and either way you're going to have to go back and mask out some white edges that might be left behind. This isn't too bad, it's not too difficult, it's pretty easy. Now I do recommend that if you don't already have one to get a drawing tablet, it's going to make this a lot easier to do because you can just use your tablet and pen that you have to go around your image. But if you don't, a mouse will work just fine. Now we're getting to this part of our image where it's the edge of our mountain. Again, you can use your creative freedom here and then just create your own little jaggedy edges here to make it look as natural as possible, that it's a floating island. Don't worry about the colors being off. I'm fully aware of that. We will be fixing that very soon. Let's go back to our other side. If you're in the pen tool and you hold down space, this hand comes up and then you can just drag yourself around the image. I'm just going to go ahead and create a few jagged lines here. Make it look a little bit more natural and match in your little cliff face in there, very nice. That's looking nice. Now, let's get rid of this bottom area here. Usually there's many different ways you can use a paint bucket tool or you can just use your brush. Again, just paint that, get rid of that. We're not going to be needing this area here. Just take your time. This is a part of the process where you really do want to take your time because having good clean edges is really going to make or break your composite. I've seen a lot of people create composites where the edge work is a little bit sloppy. They use a select tool and the edges are jagged or they have a little white halo around it because they didn't use the proper settings on their paint bucket tool and it takes the immersion out of it. It doesn't make it look like one unique piece. What we do is we just take our time because time will pay off. Let's go ahead and finish this up here. Very nice. Let's hit Z on our keyboard and let's zoom out. That's looking good. I like how that's been masked out. Very nice. Next, let's turn on our grass layer, make sure we're on our grass layer, and let's make a mask on it. Very nice. We're just going to get creative here. What I'm going to do is go on the original. I want to compress this a little bit more. Let's do control or command T to get our transform tool, and let's hold down shift and let's compress this a little bit more. Very nice. Just hit Enter to commit those changes, and then let's drag this to approximately where we want this to be. I'm thinking somewhere around there. Let's make sure we're on our mask layer. With our brush tool, we can come in and start creating some shapes. Let me just get a basic outline, and don't forget since we're painting in black we can paint all of this back with white later on. When it comes to this stuff, it gets messier before it gets cleaner. I might want this to come up to the edge here. Very nice. Then here it will be around there. I do want it to have a little bit of a curve here, because we're implying that this is the top of this little floating island that we've created. You want to make sure that it's going to come up high enough on our image. You can always toggle the layer on and off to see how close you are. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to actually clear out everything else, the sky and the extra grass just to see what we have right now. I'm just going to cut really quick to the point where I'm going to have everything blacked out. To the point where I'm going to have the sky and everything erased and we will be right back. There we have it. I've gone and erased all of the sky and extra bit of grass that we had. Now we have a little bit more of an easy thing to work with here. Again, we're still on the mask layer, I haven't done anything else. I just zoomed out a little bit. Well, let's hit "B" on our brush and let's refine this edge a little bit further. We can come back and do some changes later on, but I just want to have a pretty good base to work with. Very nice. I think I'm happy with that for now. We can still go in here, hit "Control/Command T" and compress this even further if we would like, which I might do and pull that up a little bit. There we go. Again, you can really play around with this. One important reason why we place our images as embedded, like we did in the previous video, is because they become smart objects. We can resize this as much as we'd like and it will never lose its quality. It definitely makes the file size a lot bigger once you're working with it, but it's worth it in the long run because you can go back all the way to the very beginning of all the changes that you made. You can also apply filters in a smart way, but we will get to that very soon. For now, let's go on to our cabin layer, and we want to mask this out as well. Now I do want to keep this little fence stone wall that it has in front of it. Let's go ahead and do that. Make sure we're on the mask layer of our cabin. I'm going to go in with our brush. If you hold down Shift, you can get a straight edge on your brush. That's a really good tip to know if you want to mask out something with a very straight edge. Very nice. I'm just going to mask around these stones very loosely because that's not too important right now. But I do want to keep this stone wall in here. Again, let's hold down Shift, let's get that straight line. You see this as a little bit angle now, so you can come in again later and then refine that edge. Again, if you go over someplace, hit "X" on your keyboard, go back to white color and you can paint that back. Then you hit "X" again, hop right back into using the black paint. Let me go ahead and do this edge here. Very nice. I got a little bit too much of the roof there. We want that back. Then let's go ahead to the top of the roof. As you see, it's very easy to mask things out. Sometimes going over the edge a little bit actually makes it better. Because if you end up having a little bit of a white edge like here I'm purposefully doing it, it's not going to look at in your final edit. You want to get really close to your edges and going over ever so slightly is not the end of the world. Very nice. Let me go ahead, make the brush big and I'm going to paint away this sky that came with this image as well as other bits of the background. Let's go ahead and do that. I'm not going to cut this time. But I hope that you are also following along, masking out everything that you need to. Again, if it's taking you a little bit longer, that is totally fine. Just pause the video, mask out each individual section and then when you're ready, you can come back and then we can continue together. It is not a problem. I remember when I first started out, it took me a long time to mask images out because I didn't have the exact feel for where I should be putting my edges. Especially if you're using a drawing tablet, knowing different amounts of pressure to put on it can be a little bit difficult and having the whole hand-eye coordination but we are done with our little cabin image. Now that I'm looking at it, it's a little bit too big. So let's do Control or Command T and let's resize this a little bit more. We can pull that down a little bit, something like that. I'm happy with that. We have the placement of that done as well. Now let's go over to our moon and sky layers. I want to put those in this image and replace the entire sky that we have going here. What are we going to do? For now, let's hide all of these layers. We just want to have our vista layer showing, and we're going to pull our sky layer to be underneath the vista. That's what we're going to do. Now on our vista layer, we're going to see how good of a job our auto select tools can do. If you hit "W" on your keyboard, by default it might go to your objects selection tool but if you hold it down here, we have quick select and magic wand. Let me go into the quick selection tool. You can just paint and draw in the whole area for the sky. Hopefully, Photoshop is smart enough to recognize where the edges are. Now we see here it didn't get it exactly. Let's just hit "Z" on our keyboard, we can zoom in. If you go back to W, you get back into your quick selection tool. If you hold down Alt, you see that plus turns into a minus. Let me put it here, you might be able to see it better. There's a plus in the middle of that icon. If you hold down Alt, it goes into a minus, and that means it's going to subtract from the selection that you have. I want to subtract this mountain out and get my edge to be a little bit nicer. Very nice. Then I'm just going to go through this really quickly and add and subtract everything that I have to, to make this look a little bit better, have a better selection. Like I said, it pays off to spend your time to do these little details because you don't want this other sky in your background, especially when your purpose is to not have it there. We're going ahead refining our edge here. I definitely want to keep the highlighted parts of our image, of the mountains actually because lighting is super important. That looks like it has done a good job. Let's hit "Z" on our keyboard. Let's zoom out. Then we're going to hit "Control Shift I" to invert our image and then we're going to hit the "Mask tool." As you see, our sky has magically disappeared. Now what we're going to do is we're going to turn on the layer of the sky that's underneath that. Look at that, we have a new sky with our image. Make sure you're on the sky layer now and let's hit "Control" or "Command T" and we're going to resize this. We're not going to hold down Shift to stretch it. We don't want to do that. We're just going to drag it to fit the width of our image. Now we can drag that up ever so slightly to the point where you feel like it's going to look good. What I might actually do, is I might compress the image to vertically ever so slightly, just like that. Then if you hit "Enter", there we go. We have a new sky to our image. Very nice. Now what we want to do is we want to get our moon, which is on the top layer. We want to pull that down to be above our sky layer, so if we hit "V", then you get into this move tool and you can just move things around freely. We don't need to do the transform tool right now. Let's see if a blending mode can do the job. Now usually screen can do a really good job here. Lighten can also do a good job. Let's do screen for now but on the moon layer, let's create a brightness contrast layer. Make sure we clip it down. If you don't like the Properties tab being here, I would recommend you click it to be on the side there. Again, let's go into our brightness contrast and then we can adjust the brightness and contrast right here. I'm going to pull the brightness up a little bit, have the contrast be high as well and I'm going to go into a curves layer for that. I want to bring the blacks of the image to be darker. There we go. That's all that we needed to do, and now our moon is perfectly masked out and we can have this be wherever we would like. For now, let's turn back on in these other layers because now we can place our moon where we think it would look best. Again, we have the light coming from the left. Again, it makes sense to have the light being reflected off the left side of the moon. Let's go ahead and just have that be over here. Very nice. Now one more thing that I'm looking at this image now, I am thinking that I want to change is the rotation of our house. As we see, the light is hitting the house from the right side but it has to hit it from the left. Let's go to our cabin layer and then we just go to edit, transform and then flip horizontal, and our image has been flipped horizontally. Now we can just reorganize this, rearrange this ever so slightly and that's going to make a lot more sense for the image. You might want to bring that a little bit more centered. Very nice. Perfect. In the next video, we're going to start bringing all these different pieces together. We're going to start doing some color grading over our image to start blending these images together and really making it look like one image to get rid of this different purple haze, this different other coloring that we have. We have some pink, we have some purple, we have some yellow, orange. We want all of this to be one color space. We want all this shading and lighting to be one. Let's go into the next video and let's keep going with some color grading. 5. Color Grading: Our image has been composited. It's not looking too good right now, is that the colors are really off. It looks very Photoshopped. Let's start with fixing that. Now when it comes to color grading, I tend to work my way from the back to the front. That means, I do everything in the background first and then I deal with my main image. For now, let's turn off all these other layers. I want to make sure we have our vista layer, our sky, and moon layers active. That's what we want to have. Now what I'm going to do is; I'm going to group the sky, moon, and the adjustments I made to the moon into one, and we're going to hit ''Control" or "Command G'' on our keyboard to group them together, and let's rename that as a SKY. That's our sky layer, and then we have our vista layer. We can do ''Control" or "Command G'' on that layer as well and we're just going to call that VISTA. Very nice. We can close that layer. I want to do here, on the sky layer, we want to figure out exactly what colors we want for our sky. I'm pretty happy with this, but I want to do a few adjustments. Let's go ahead to go into brightness/contrast, make sure we apply that to the layer below and that's going to apply it to the whole folder. I want to bring the brightness down ever so slightly, and under the hue/saturation, I want to change the colors a little bit. I want to bring it a little bit closer to the cyan type of blue. Very nice, and I might play around with this saturation a little bit, bring that up ever so slightly and the lightness we can put that down a little bit. If we talk about the before and after, it's a very subtle change, but I think I like the change that's happening. Now we want to match this vista with this sky. This is a very blue, dark purply type of sky, and we want to match that with our image. First of all, this is nighttime and this whole image has to be darker. Let's go ahead open up our brightness and contrast, and we're going to clip that down to our vista and we're going to bring the brightness of that down. Very nice. Then let's do our hue/saturation. Clip that down as well. This time we're going to just do our saturation. Because when it's nighttime, the saturation of everything goes very much down. We're going to bring the saturation down, we're going to bring the lightness up very little bit because I'm going for that little bit of a faded look in our image, and the little trick that I like to use, is I like to fill a layer with a certain color. Let's clip this down. If you hold down ''Alt'' on a layer, this little symbol comes up, if you hover between two layers. All you have to do is click, and now this layer is clipped down below. If I were to paint with a brush, it's only going to paint on that layer. This is exactly what we want. What we want to do is we want to make sure we have our Paint Bucket tool, so you can hit ''G'' on your keyboard. It's going to bring up the Paint Bucket tool and I'm going to sample one of the colors from our sky, and we're going to apply that to our foreground, to our vista here. We're going to change the blending mode. It depends on your image. You might want to play around with this but you can do anything from light on our screen. Obviously, you'd put the opacity down to color dodge to overlay, soft light. I'm personally feeling more of the soft light for this image, but I'm also going to pull the opacity down. Let me pull that down. Very nice. Now we have a little bit of that purple from the sky in our image, might even put that a little bit up. Let's go to around 30 percent. There we go. Now we have the purple of the sky in our image. Very nice. Let's go ahead, and let's start applying this to the whole image. Now a little thing that I like to do is on the layer at the very top, I go ahead and with a brush, it's that "B" on your keyboard. I'm going to make this big, and I'm just going to paint a big swatch of that color. It's going to be a sample color that I can pick from. You can rename that, and just call that Purple Sample. If I ever need to sample this exact color that I used for this layer, I can get back to it because let's say I'm working on another layer, and I tried to sample another color and it's not going to be the exact same color. You see I just sampled another color, and now if I were to paint move that, that's a completely different color. We have this one sample so I can always go back and have the same color. Let's turn the sample layer off and now let's look at our mountain and grass layers. I really want to bring these two layers together. First, I'm going to deal with the mountain layer. It's going to be a very similar process. I have to bring the brightness of this down. We're going to do brightness/contrast. Let's bring that all the way down, down to about minus 80, and for this one, I'm actually going to take the contrast up a little bit to about 27. Now, let's draw on hue/saturation layer again, and we're really going to want to desaturate this almost entirely. I'm going to go to about minus 82. I'm going to add the color back in myself and then we can pull the lightness down a little bit. Very nice. I'm going to do the same thing I did before. I'm going to clip a layer, and with my Paint Bucket tool, I'm going to paint that purply color that we had before. Then again, I'm going to see what blending mode looks good. I like how overlay looks for this one. I'm going to choose overlay this time. Again, I'm going to put opacity down, and I'm going to see what looks good, what's going to match up the best with our image. Something around 40 percent looks good. Again, you can hit ''Z'' on your keyboard or click the ''Zoom tool" here to zoom out and take a look. That is looking very nice. I'm looking at shading and everything to this very soon, don't worry about that. But now let's deal with our grass. Again, very similar process. We're going to go and add a brightness/contrast layer above that, clip it down. Again, we're going to darken that very much. We're going to add a hue/saturation layer, desaturate that. We still want there to be a little bit of green in there, but we might actually change the hue of this to be more of a yellow. Let's bring that closer to the yellow side. I may add a touch of lightness to it. Yeah, I like that. That's looking good and we must not forget our purple layer. Again, clip a layer down above that. Use your Paint Bucket tool of ''G'' and fill that in, and we're going to do a soft light blending mode this time. Then if we zoom in, we can see before and after, it's adding some green to that, but I'm going to bring the saturation of that down to about 57. If we look at the before and after of these edits on the grass, that's the edit, and then of the mountain, that's the change that we've made, so really blending this into this image. But we're not done just yet, we still have our cabin to do. Let's go ahead and zoom into our cabin and it's going to be the exact same process. Let's go and do a brightness/contrast layer. Clip that down, bring the brightness down to about minus 115. That looks to be a good level. I'm going to do a hue/saturation layer. Don't bring this down too much for the saturation because I do like the redness in that building. Very nice, and I'm going to add the signature purple with our Bucket tool. I'm going to change the blending mode of this down, I'm going to have overlay on this one and change the opacity down to about 53 percent. If we zoom out, look at that, that's blending in a lot better, if we look at the before and after on the cabin, we've really done a lot just to have this blend in a little bit more. There we have the basic color grading for this image. In the next video, we're going to add some special effects to this and some details. We're going to add some trees into this, some clouds, some birds, some vines coming down here, as well as some shading and highlights onto our image to make this look a little bit better because what's color grading does a lot to bring it together, it still is very much set apart from each other. You still see all this stuff is very place looking. We don't want that, and this next step is where we're going to fix it. The next step is where this really comes together and really starts to look like one image. Let's keep going and let's go to the next video. 6. Special Effects + Details: All right. We're ready to start adding some detail and special effects to this image. I want to start with this middle section here, so let's go ahead and zoom in. If you're not already using your zoom tool, just hit "Z" on your keyboard and we can zoom in. What I'm going to do is I'm going to group all these layers together individually. So I'm going to group all the layers that I have for the cabin, hit CTRL, Command+G. I'm going to rename that cabin. You can just click and hold Shift and then click the other layer and it's going to select everything in between. So CTRL or Command+G, double-click that and rename this to be GRASS. Very nice. Then we have our mountain layer here, which I'm actually only going to rename to be ISLAND. It's easier to comprehend that way. I'm going to also do that for these other layers. So it's totally fine to have folders within folders, if it helps with the organization. I know that's what helps to me, so feel free to do that. If not, that's totally fine. I'm going to do that for our SKY as well. So we can toggle every layer individually on and off. Very nice. Let's start with our grass here, shall we. Very nice. I want to paint a little bit more grass in here, I want to add some more detail in. So let's go ahead and find our grass brush, which is right here. If you don't have this, make sure you download it in the course materials and install it. All you hit is the three lines here, you click "Import Brushes" and select a brush that you want to import. With this brush, let's make this a little bit smaller. This let you paint in different blades of grass. Well, that is not all that we want to do with this. Let's do brush settings. We're going to go ahead and change up some of these Shape Dynamics. So let's check Shape Dynamics and let's go onto that layer. We want that to be an angle jitter as we paint and we want each one to be different angle. We're going to have that be at about eight percent. Size jitter, let's have that be at about 11 percent. this is going to really vary are blades of grass. Then let's look at a scattering. We can scatter these a little bit. You see that's looking a lot more like legitimate grass, which is very nice. Let's see, do we want to do anything else and we don't need texture, we don't need to brush it, only color dynamics. Let us look at smoothing. That's not really doing anything for us, so we can just leave it. But now if I'm painting, if I just tap it, it's going to paint multiple different strands of grass. I'm going to zoom in all the way here. Hit "B" on your keyboard, and we can go back to the brush settings here. Make this a very small, something like that. We're going to select a nice green color that we see at the top of our grass here. I'm just going to want to start to paint in these blades of grass. Again, vary the sizes and the colors. It's good to have little clumps of grass as well. There we go. Then if you zoom out, you'll see we're adding a little bit more detail there, which is fantastic. Now we do not want to have this edge here that we see of the background. All you do is you make the brush are really small and you keep painting till you don't really see those edges. Those definitely take a couple of passes over it. But you just take your time, build up the layers of the grass. You'll see that it's actually going to really work out very nicely. Again, we're only doing one side of this so far. We still have to do the other side. We will definitely get there, so just hang in there. Take your time if you have to pause, whilst you do this, feel free to pause it or watch this over and over again to make sure that you doing the technique properly. Now let's get a different lighter green in here. It's got a few larger pieces of grass in here. If we zoom out now, that's starting to look a little bit more natural, which is exactly what we want to have. Again, this is always going to be zoomed out like this. It's on a phone screen it's going to be even smaller. The detailed doesn't matter too much, but we do not want it to be this flat edge that does not look natural. Let's go ahead and do this side now. Make sure we hit "B" and our keyboard here. Then let's start painting in all of this grass here. You can hold down and drag if you want. But I tend to just click and drag a little bit to get little different clumps going here. It's got a few different colors, different sizes of grass going in here. Then really just take your time again, like I said, build up the layers to try and get rid of that edge that we have in the background here as much as possible. Let's get a nice dark color here. Dark green. There we go. This does not have to be perfect by any means. In fact, the less perfect that you make it, the better it's going to be. Don't be afraid of imperfection and don't be afraid of picking different colors multiple times, like blend it together. We're going to be ready to zoom out here in just a second. Very nice. Let's zoom out. Now we see the grass on the left side I actually ended up making it a little bit taller than the one on the left. Well, that's not too bad. We can always adjust this and bring it back. Let's go ahead and we can hit "E" on our keyboard to get eraser tool and we can use the same brush as an eraser. You can go in and erase some of the things that we do not necessarily want. Like we make some of this a little bit too tall. I'm going to go ahead and just erase it down a little bit, some of these. It's good to toggle between the brush and the eraser as you blend between these. Very nice. That is looking good. But now I also want to have a little bit of grass in front of this brick wall here. Let's go on top of the cabin let's make a new one. We're going to sample some of this color here. We're just going to paint some grass in front of that just to bring this cabin into the environment a little bit more. Let's make sure we get some of these really bright pieces of grass as well. Again, a little bit goes a long way so you don't want to go overboard with this grass stuff here. I'm just going to do a little bit of that. I might even go ahead and erase some of this. If we zoom out, yeah, that's blended in a little bit better. Now we also want to add some grass going down here as well as some vines. Again, we're going to make another layer on top of the grass layer. We have this, let's lean this. Let's do grass FX and then we'll do top. It's a grass sits on the top. This is going to be grass effects on stone, so we know that this is the graph that's on the stone and this is going to be the grass FX, there we go, edge. This is going to be this edge here. Now again, we're going to zoom in and hit "B". We're going to use our brush. Sample the green. I'm going to use a pretty large brush for this. We just want to bring the grass and gone over the edge here just a little bit. Now I'm going to try and do the whole edge at once. Let me zoom out a little bit. Sometimes it does help to edit while zoomed out because you can see the whole image a little bit better. Let me get a good green here and I will be adding some vines as well. It's also another brush that I will include for you guys to download and use because that's going to make this looks really, really cool. We're adding some more grass here. It's got some highlighted pieces in. I guess that's not looking too good right now, is it? Let's go ahead with our eraser grass blade. Let's go ahead and erase some of this. There we go. We're softening up some of these a little bit. Again, if you're not happy, you're going to say CTRL, Command+Z. Then fix some of that. I'm going to lower the opacity on this a little bit. Then what I'm actually going to do is on the layer below this, I'm gonna get a brush that is soft and I'm going to zoom in just a little bit. I'm going to pick a nice green here. On a very low opacity, let's go down to about eight percent. It's going to paint in a little bit of green onto the rock there. We can put the opacity of that down as well. This is going to add a little bit of like a mossy look to that section going over the edge. Very nice. Now what I want to do is I want to add some edge highlights and shadows to this whole thing. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to select the island all the way up to the very top layer, hit control command G, and I'm going to rename this Island Whole. There we go. I'm going to make a layer above this and clip it down. Next, we're going to take our brush and make sure it's a pretty soft brush. I'm going to make the hardness of this be around 20 percent would be nice. What we're going to do is on a higher opacity, we're going to go 100 percent. We're going to sample the highlight of a mountain in the back. It's close to white, not completely. I might want to bring it a little bit close to that. But if we paint now, we have a little bit of highlight that we can paint onto our image. We're going to start and just get the edge here. We're going to turn the opacity of this down, so don't worry about it looking a little bit too harsh right now. For now, we just want to get some highlights into our image. Take your time. It's these shadows and highlights that you add that really make your image to look good. It's looking good. Since we are applying this to everything, it can apply it to the blades of grass individually as well. We're going to add a little bit of that to our grass. Let me make the brush a little bit smaller as well. Again, I'm painting too much here, so I'm going to go with my eraser tool but they'll pass three upon the eraser and fix that very nice. Got a little bit over the edge slide going across the top and then a little bit is bound to slip over from the other side. Touch the tips of the grass here. Very nice. If we zoom out, see, we have a little bit more of an edge light and I might want to add a little bit more to this side actually. Very nice. So it's looking a little bit on the higher side, but let's bring the opacity of that down. Don't need to do any kind of blending. We'll just bring the opacity down to about 46 percent and that looks pretty good. Very nice. I'm going to add another layer of highlights here. Again, the same color but this time I'm just going to have the opacity down at about 18 percent. You see we're painting like so. But I'm going to put the hardest down to zero. I want this to be a very soft brush. I might even put opacity down to about 10, 11 percent. Now I'm going to zoom in again, and add some more highlights to certain parts of our image. I want to go across this whole front area, as well as the side of our floating island here. If we zoom out with our zoom tool and toggle it on and off, you see we're just adding a little bit more depth to our image. Very nice. Let's add some shadows to this now, shall we? In the same folder here we're going to add a new layer, clip it down, and on our brush tool, we're just going to turn it into black. That's all we're going to do. We're going to keep the opacity very low, and we're just going to start painting in some of the shadows here. Very simple, easy. Now let's zoom to a little bit onto our cabin here. I'm going to make the brush smaller. Now I'm going to bring this side of the cabin into some more darkness because the sun is overreaching and over on this side. We want to make sure that we're matching the light of our environment in our image. Very nice. I will add some glows in the windows of this cabin. Look at that. Just with a little bit of shading and highlights on this, that's made that look a lot better. I really like how that's looking. Let's continue. I want to keep focus on this middle area here. I want to add some highlights to our windows here. I'm going to keep working on the island whole folder to make another new layer. Let's clip it down, and what we're going to do is let's zoom in. Put the Pen tool, we're just going to simply draw in the squares of the windows. There we go. If you want to move around any of these specific pegs, hold down Control, click one of these, and then you can move them around independently. Let's go ahead and do that. I'm going to do the two windows that are at the front here. We're going to have a little bit of light coming through because someone's at home, someone is chilling, someone is relaxing. Let me move this, very nice. Then all you do is you hit control command enter, and that turns out path into a selection, which is exactly what we want. Now we're going to hit G on our keyboard to get the paint bucket tool, and we're going to choose a nice color for a light that's coming from inside. You don't want to go too bright with this. There we go. Let's hit control command D select, and let's zoom out. That looks like a pretty reasonable type of color. If you're not happy with the color, when you're zoomed out, you can hit control or command U on your keyboard. It's going to bring up a hue saturation that's only going to affect the color of that layer. You see if I drag around the hue, it's changing the color that's inside that building. You can double-click the word to bring it back to zero. But here you can mess around with it. If you want to make it lighter or darker, you can. So I might actually bring that down a little bit. The saturation down ever so slightly as well. That is a great little feature to know, but that doesn't look good enough, does it? I need to add a little bit of a glow from the inside. Let's double-click the layer of our light. What we're going to want to do in this layer style, we're going to want to do an auto glow. If you check that it's already done something that doesn't look too good. We're going to want to go and change things. So first things first, the color I want it to be a very warm color, not necessarily white, but something like this. A warm, light yellow, let's hit okay. Let's bring the spread out from there, as well as the range. If you don't see what you're working with, you can always just hit okay here for a second and then zoom in so that you see what you're doing. Then you can double-click on the outer glow here and it will take you right back to where you were. Let's go ahead and keep playing around with this. Let's bring the spread out. We can bring the size. Let bring the spread back in. You see, we're starting to get that and glow coming out of the window. Let's have the size be around 51 pixels, and then the spread be around 26 percent. Again, you can always zoom out and take a look at what this looks like. Let's hit okay. Then let's zoom out to see what that looks like. That looks a little bit too much in my opinion. Again, you can click the outer glow and you can put down the opacity of that. I'm going to put that down all the way to about, let's try 15 percent. Yeah, that looks a lot better. That's awesome. Let's keep focused on this middle area. I want to paint in a few trees around this. Again, let's do the layer above, except this time we're not going to clip it down below. Next, we're going to use the tree brush, make sure you have that downloaded and that is just what it says. It's a tree, you can paint a tree. Let me put the opacity of this up so you can actually see it. You click it and it paints in a tree. Let's make this very small. We're going to paint in some trees going around this. You can vary the size again of this. Again, you'd only go too crazy with this. I'm just going to add a few little trees. You can zoom out to see how that looks. Yeah, that is all I'm going to add. Again, you can go in and erase parts of it that you don't like, which I'm going to do. This layer, I'm going to name that trees. There we go. I'm going to do the same shadow highlight kind of thing that I did everywhere else because that only makes sense, right? Let's make a layer above, clip it down, and let's get our brush, go back to a soft brush. Get the opacity down to about seven percent, something very low. Then we're going to want to sample that mountain color again. Then if you paint, I'm going to paint in a little bit of the highlights going onto these trees as well. Because we want this to look somewhat realistic even though that we painted in these trees. If you want to make these little stumps here look a little bit more natural, you can zoom in, and then what I'd like to do is create a mask. Then with a brush makes sure the opacity is back up. It doesn't matter what brush. I'm just going to use a simple hard brush. When you're painting in black, just paint out some of the stump as if there's grass growing around it. It really gets rid of that hard edge and blends the trees in a little bit better. Like that looks a lot better already just from that little erasing of the tree trunk. Let's do that on this other side as well. Awesome, that's looking pretty good. I like that. This middle section is coming along really, really nicely. Next thing that we want to do is we want to add some vines going down the size of this island. Let's go over here to our IV brushes. We also have this, so feel free to download it and we're going to make a new layer above here. We're going to zoom in. Very nice. Let's find a nice IV that's going to look good. Now this is going to be way too big, right off the bat. We're looking to get something around the size of a 100 pixels. If you paint like this, you see it is going to be an IV that goes down the side of your island. Let's find something that looks very nice. I do like this very first one that we had. Let's make that back to a 100 pixels or so. Let's find a color that's going to work well. There we're going to have a few going down there. Again, you don't want to go too crazy with this. Little goes a long way. It is more than recommended that you switch up the type of IV that you're using. Let me get a different kind of green, something a little lighter maybe. Not bad. Just a little bit of detail is going to look very good here. Let's look through our different brushes here. Again, you can get really customizable with this and very individualized. If you have your own particular type of IV that you like, feel free to use that, you don't have to use the exact same ones that I am using here. We've got a nice green. We'll have a little bit going across here. I want another vertical one, this one looks like it's a vertical one, to go down here. Now that is a little bit hard to see. But we're going to add a little bit of highlight and shadows to this as well. So again, let's go layer up, clip one down. We're going to go into our brushes and get a soft brush that we had before, but I'm going to change the hardness to about 30 percent on this. We're going to sample the highlight of the mountain here, and we're going to paint on top of this. We're going to put opacity down and just a little bit of extra highlights going in here. You can play around with different levels of opacity. If you want it to be very bright, you can. I'm going a little bit brighter for this one. I'm going brighter now and turning the opacity down later. Something like that. This light here isn't going to have a lot of highlights, so instead here, I'm going to add shadows. I'm fully aware that I'm doing this on one layer, but that is completely fine. So this is just a little bit of extra detail that you can add to your image if you would like. Let's zoom out and let's turn opacity of that down. All the way down to about 20 percent, toggle the on and off. So there we have our central island. That's looking pretty good. I'm pretty happy with that. Let's continue and add some birds and clouds to this image. Let's go over to our Inspired Clouds Folder. Again, you can download this and have it for yourself. What we're going to do is we're going to make a new layer. We're going to call this Clouds and let's name the one below it Vines, just so that we stay organized. Now on the clouds layer, we're going to play around with some clouds. You want to make sure you have white as a top layer and you see if you paint, you can make a cloud. That's exactly what we want. But we don't want it to be too harsh. So let's go ahead, make the clouds a little bit smaller and let's put opacity of them down to about 80 percent. I might even want to put that even lower to about 59 percent. Yeah, that looks a lot better. Let's go ahead, add a few little clouds in here and there. We're going to have two layers of clouds, clouds that are behind the island, because I want to have some going behind it, and I'm going to have some that might go in front of it. Let's go ahead and add in a few more clouds here and there. Some clouds will look better than others. So again, play around, find what works for you because what I think it looks good might not work for you. Go ahead and add that there, but I do want to erase that a little bit, that particular cloud there. So it's got a big brush. Put the opacity down. What we're going to do is just erase some of this until it matches the opacity of that other one. Very nice. Let's see what other clouds do we have. I don't like that one. A lot of this is trial and error. So if you have to pause, play around with a few different brushes, do it. It's going to help you out a lot. I think that's enough clouds. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to go all the way down. I'm going to make a layer above the sky layer and if I paint clouds here, it's going to go behind this island. So I want to have a few very small clouds, very low opacity, maybe 22 percent, just in the background there, living in the distance. It adds a little bit of depth to the image. Very nice. There you go. That's how we can add a little bit more depth to your image. Lastly, I also want to add a few birds to this. Birds can really bring life to your image and it's a little bit of my signature that I do in a lot of my edits. So what you're going to do is open up the birds folder of brushes. Here you have 11 different bird brushes you can choose from. Like the name implies, let me put the opacity up, you can paint a bird in. So what I tend to do is I choose a darkest color of my image, that looks to be the darkest, and I make the brush very small. I'm going to have some flying across the moon here. Might have a few going around this island and I might have a few going over here. They're flying away in a little group of, let's have a group of four. There we go. Groups of threes work well. So I have a group here, a group here, and a group here. So that is a lot more pleasing to the eye. That is looking really nice. I like how that's come out. Now let's pay a little bit more attention to our background here. Let's go down to our vista layer and then let's make a layer above that. Very nice. I'm going to clip that down. So I want to add a little bit of a shadow going up here, gradient. Let's go into our gradient tool. By default, I have it set to this one here. It's a second preset here and what that does, it uses the foreground color that you have set here and it goes to transparent. That's exactly what I want to do. I'm going to keep that color because that's the darkest color that we have in our image. So let's hold down shift and we're going to drag up. That adds a little bit of a gradient. But I'm going to bring the opacity of that down to about 59 percent. There we go. Another thing I'm gonna do is I'm going to add another layer above that, clip it down. Then what I'm going to do is the same thing except this time with our gradient tool. We're going to have white on the other side of that and we're going to go down from the top. So that adds a little bit of a haze into the back. That's what we want to do but we're going to bring the opacity of this down a lot, all the way down to about just seven percent. Something like that. Just add a little bit of atmosphere to our image. Very nice. That is looking good. We have some atmosphere in our image. Now I'm also going to add a little bit of sunshine coming in from the left. As you see, we have light hitting this on the left. That's something I've been focusing on this whole time. So let's go ahead and do that. So on the layer on the very top, we're going to get a brush tool. Going to choose out a soft brush and make it fairly large. It might help to zoom out a little bit. So what we're going to do is we're going to pick the highlight color that we have here on the mountains, and we're going to have this coming in from the side. I'd want this to be a big light here, kind of like a lens flare. We're going to go and look at a few different blending modes. Overlay looks pretty good. But if we use overlay, we have to make this a lot bigger. Let's go ahead and do that. Let's bring the opacity down and I might even go ahead and do some other type of blending mode. Yeah, I'm going to keep what I have with overlay. But I'm also going to add another layer and I'm going to add the lens flare. So let's go ahead and let's navigate over to our lens flare brushes. Here we can play around with some actual lens flares. These are really good and add a lot of depth to your images. So let's make this a little bit smaller. We do want to use a highlight color. We can just paint in a lens flare going across our image. Let's be smart with where we put this. Let's go with that. Again, you can erase what you don't like. So I'm going to erase part of the top here and a little bit of this here. There we go. A little bit of lens flare going across our image here. Not bad at all. There you have it. We've done some special effects and details to our images, really making it look like one image. So next we're going to go ahead and do some final tweaks to our image, another round of color grading. Because after I finish my image, I go back and do another round of color grading just to make sure everything matches and that it looks good. So let's go ahead and let's go and do some final tweaks to our image. 7. Final Tweaks: We're ready to make some final tweaks. Now you see there's still a few problems with this image. It's a little bit too dark and I want to bring some of that back. Let's go ahead and do that. What I want to do is I'm going to combine all the layers that we have made until this point and put that into one new folder, and I'm going to call this final edit. We're only going to make adjustments to this folder as a whole now. At this point you can get rid of the purple sample color that we had before, or you can keep it if you would like. That is entirely up to you. The first thing that I want to do is I want to add a brightness contrast layer to this. All I'm going to do is I'm going to bring the contrast up to about, let's go to about 54. It can be exactly the same as me or you can do it a little bit differently if you would like. That is entirely up to you. Next, I'm going to add a curves adjustment layer. Again, click that down. I want to bring some of the blacks up here. I want to crush it a little bit. I'm going to bring that up to about that point there. Maybe even a little bit further. Let's go to about there, get that faded look into our image. Next, I'm going to do something that not many people use, and that is a color lookup adjustment layer. Again, make sure you click that down below. This pretty much sets presets to your edit, that is essentially what it does. Let's go ahead and load up the one that I want to use today. The one that I'm going to use today is actually called Kodak 218, Kodak 2395. It's this one here. As you see, that changes the colors in our images ever so slightly. That's looking a lot better than it once. So let's look at it before these adjustments and after. Look at that, that's night and day difference. It looks so good. So let's go ahead and on the layer that is at the top, let's make a new layer. We're going to use our gradient tool. I want to have a grading coming from the top now as well. But I'm going to sample this blue and I want it to be ever so slightly darker of a blue. Let's bring that down and we're going to bring opacity of that down to let's go 45. There we go. So we have a little more gradient coming from the front. Another thing that I want to do is I want to get a blur in the background. It's too in focus for me right now. So let's combine all these layers into one. So Control+G or Command+G, put them into one. Then you do Control+J or Command+J to duplicate that, and then Control+E or Command+E to flatten that into one layer. Now what we're going to want to do is right-click on that and we're going to do Convert to Smart Object. We want this to have a smart filter applied to it. So what we're going to do here is we're going to filter. We're going to go to Blur, Gaussian Blur. So now we decide how blurred we want the background to be. We can go really overboard with this. Have a 30 pixel blur. We don't want it that much. We want this to be very subtle. Maybe around 2.5 pixels. Let's see, maybe three pixels. I wouldn't go more than three. I'll do the middle of that, I'll do 2.7. If we toggle that on and off, and you can see the sharpness of our image. What I'm going to do is on the layer of the Smart Filter. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to create another mask. Using the paint bucket tool, I'm going to paint all of that in with black. So now we're back to our original image. It's fully sharp and that's what we want. But what we're going to do is we're going to go back and paint out what we want to be blurred. So let's go, hit B on our keyboard to get brush, and let's pick a soft brush. That looks good. Let's go relatively large brush, 500 pixels will be fine and hardness can be zero. As for opacity, let's put that down to about 35 percent. If we paint in white on our image, on our mask actually, we're going to start to paint in some blur into the background of our image, which is exactly what we want to be doing here. We're just adding some blur. So if we toggle this on and off, you can see the sharpness here, especially on the mountains. We want to make sure that we don't paint over our islands. So when this is on, you can go back with the black and paint sharpness back in because we want to keep our island nice and sharp. Very nice. That looks fantastic. I'm really happy with how this turned out. In the next video, I'm going to show you how to export this image properly for different places. Whether you're putting it onto your website or onto Instagram or something like that. I'm also going to show you some few different versions you can make out of this one image. So let's keep going and let's show you how to export this image. 8. Exporting + Alternative Crop: We're done with our edit. We're finally ready to save our image, to export it, and get it going to some other places; to your website, to Instagram, you want to show off what you made. Let's go ahead and do that, shall we? Let's go ahead and do File, Save As, and choose where you want to put it. I'm going to put it into where I have my course here and there are a few different ways that you can save this image. Obviously, you want to make sure that you're saving your Photoshop file along the way to make sure that you can get back to it. But there are a few different formats that we have to pay attention to. We have JPEG that we use, as well as PNG, and I'll also touch upon TIFF. The most common one that people use is JPEG, you'll see this on the Internet, everywhere. Everyone uses JPEG. Let's go ahead and save this as a JPEG. Let's just replace what I have. Again, you can change the file size. I'm going to have maximum quality and that's 4.6 megabytes. Now that is large, what if you want to save this for your website? You can not have images that large on your website. You want to keep images on your website under one megabyte. If you can keep it to a couple 100 kilobytes, that is the goal. Let's go ahead and save this for your website. You're going to do File, Export, and this time you're going to go to Save for Web Legacy. What this does, this saves this specifically for the web. You can zoom out. As you see, if I save it as a JPEG here, it's already under one megabyte, 999 kilobytes, and it's not losing any quality. This is at 100 percent image size. But let's try and put that down to just 50 percent image size. Hit enter on that, and we're down to 333 kilobytes. If we zoom in, the quality is still the same. We've not lost any quality, which is fantastic and that's going to make your website load a lot quicker and if you have multiple images on your website, it's going to thank you for it. Let's go ahead and hit "Save." Again, I'm going to name this Work File and I'm going to call this for web. There we go and then you hit "Save." Now this is saved for web, but there are few other ways you can save it. Now when it comes to Instagram, I personally save my images as PNG files. I find that that keeps the quality the best for me when I upload to Instagram. Again, let's go to File, Save As and this time we're going to select PNG from our dropdown and I'm going to save that. We're going to keep the file as a large file size. It's the fastest saving and I want it to just be a large file size. I want to keep as much quality as possible. Let's hit "Okay," it takes a second and now it's saved as a PNG file. That's what I use for my Instagram. But what if you want to print your images? Now when it comes to printing, most printing shops or printing websites, any service that does printing, they're going to ask you for TIFF files, T-I-F-F. The downside of TIFF files is that these are massive file sizes. You're not going to want to put these onto your website, but let me show you how to save those as well. Let's go to File, Save As, and in the drop-down we're going to select TIFF. We're going to hit "Save." Now you have a few options here. If you want image compression, you can, but I don't want any image compression. I am going to keep the pixel order by order and layer compression. I want layer compression to be RLE. It saves it faster, but it has bigger files. That's what you want. Let's hit "Okay." It's going to include all the layers which we want it to do because sometimes print shops might go ahead and adjust certain layers to make something fit better or to adjust the whole image. But I will tell you that the TIFF image that I just saved is 560 megabytes. That is a massive, massive file size. But don't forget this canvas is 16 inches by nine inches. If you print this, this a fairly large print and you want it to have as much detail as possible. That's great for printing. You want to make sure that if you're sending this off to print anywhere, whether it's for yourself or for a client, that you do this. TIFF file will really help you out with that. Now one more thing that I want to show you is what if you want to have this image be cropped for Instagram? Now the ideal cropping for an Instagram is a four by five ratio and you want it to be vertical. Horizontal images take up less real estate on Instagram and when it comes to social media, you want to take up as much space as possible. Let's go ahead and do that, shall we? Let's just hit C on our keyboard to get our crop tool here and let's go ahead and get our four by five ratio. It's already built in to Photoshop and we have the crop done just like that. This is so quick and so easy. It's going to crop it to the height of your image. We don't want to go any higher because you see our sky one above that. Let's hit Control Command Z to undo that and then you can just hit check up here or hit Enter on your keyboard. Then Photoshop is going to take a little second here and look at that. We immediately have an image ready for Instagram, good to go and crop. That is another way you can get a few different crops going, a few different variations in your final edit. In the next video, I'm going to go over some final thoughts for this course moving forward. 9. Final Thoughts: There you have it. You've made it through my Photoshop composite masterclass, learn from a pro. I hope that you've learned a lot today. Tips and tricks that you can apply to create your own out of this world creations. I highly encourage you to create your own composites using what I taught and drop it down to the student submitted project section, I'd really love to see what you've created. I would like to mention that I'm selling presets right now for a special introductory price over on my website, so head over to to get your presets today. These are perfect to use in Lightroom to apply cool styles to your photography or edits that you do. If you've enjoyed this course, I encourage you to leave a review and ratings as that helps me out, and feel free to check out my teacher page, to check our other Lightroom and Photoshop courses that I've made, ranging from beginner courses all the way to mastery level courses. It's been a pleasure teaching you today and I hope to see you again in a future course. Take it easy.