Photoshop Compositing Made Simple: The L.E.N.S. System | Learn with wacom | Pete Collins | Skillshare

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Photoshop Compositing Made Simple: The L.E.N.S. System | Learn with wacom

teacher avatar Pete Collins, Photoshop Instructor, Photographer, Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      L - Lighting


    • 3.

      E - Elevation


    • 4.

      N - Noise


    • 5.

      S - Sharpness


    • 6.

      Picking the Right Photo


    • 7.

      Gathering Elements


    • 8.

      Quick Selection & Cutting


    • 9.

      Transform, Liquify, Mask


    • 10.

      Adding Your Elements


    • 11.

      Applying the L.E.N.S. System


    • 12.

      Finishing Touches


    • 13.



    • 14.

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About This Class

Ever wonder how to seamlessly merge and collage images in Photoshop — so seamlessly that the final photo looks real? Learn how to Photoshop like a boss (or, if you feel so inclined, even Photoshop your boss) with photographer/illustrator Pete Collins and Wacom.

In this one-hour walkthrough loaded with tips, tricks and keyboard shortcuts, Pete shares his signature L.E.N.S. system for compositing (merging different images in a realistic way), and how to fine-tune the four key components of an effective composite:

  • Lighting
  • Elevation
  • Noise
  • Sharpness

Be forewarned – you may get addicted to Pete’s class assignment, embellishing your loved one’s likeness into a fantastical figure.

Whether you're a beginner or Photoshop pro, this class will inspire you to look at images differently, make your own, and have a lot of fun in the process. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Pete Collins

Photoshop Instructor, Photographer, Artist


Photoshop Instructor, Photographer, Artist. For the past 4 years, I worked as one of the creative developers for KelbyOne, creating materials for both print, web and video. On-air talent for Photoshop User TV, Photography Tips N Tricks and the Grid, along with public speaker and trainer. Inventor, Illustrator and general visual MacGuyver.

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1. Introduction: Well, hey everybody. I'm Pete Collins. I'm a Photoshop Trainer and Teacher, Photographer, Illustrator. I do a little bit of everything, but one of the things I love to do is teach people how to be more creative and more effective with the tools they have. Okay in this class, it's going to be about creating composites, which is kind of a scary word, but all it means is pulling different photographic elements together. So, what you're going to do is take a picture of your loved one or whoever, maybe your boss, and add elements to really heighten the image to really tell a story about that person. That's our goal is to create a unique images that really highlight the characteristics of the person you're using. Today I'm going to teach you the principles of the lens system. It's something that I came up with to help you know a checklist of what's going on with your image. Lighting, elevation, noise and sharpness. If those are right, your image stands a really good chance of all working together and being a great image. Do you need to know any special things coming into this? Well, obviously being adapted to Photoshop is going to help. I'm going to teach you some simple ways that you can make selections and do some stuff in here even if you're a beginner. I think it will definitely jump start you into being able to use the program in new and exciting ways and create some great composites. So, I'm going to hopefully bring you along if you're just starting out. If you've ever put some different elements together, different photographs together, a lot of times it just doesn't quite look right and it's almost like there's a little noise in your brain going, "Something's wrong." Well, I'm going to show you how to think for that and how to fix those problems using these principles. It's going to make it a lot easier for you in the long run. 2. L - Lighting: Okay, so let's talk about the lens system. It's a system I came up with to figure out how to fool the eye. Because let's face it, all our eyes are geared to hunt for perfection. The way you can tell that is imagine you got a brand new car and it gets a little dent in the door. That becomes the only thing your eye focuses on whenever you're walking by the car because there's a blemish. Well, when you're creating composites, your eye is looking for perfection. So, you've either got to be perfect in putting all the elements together, or you've got to give the eye an excuse to believe what's going on there, and we're going to talk about that. I'm going to start with lighting because it's the most important thing you're going to have to deal with while doing composites. All right, so, now let's jump into lighting. If you take a look at this, lighting has a couple of different issues that you've got to pay attention to when you're adding elements together, and the first is color balance. You've got cool, warm, and neutral color balance depending on where your camera was, how it was set. Its white balance can affect the look of the element. Okay, so, we have cool, warm, and neutral set for our color balance for these different balls. The thing is that if you take one of these soccer balls and place it in a different setting, it's going to look different. So, let's take a look at this. Here we have the same soccer balls and now look what happens when I change the background. It's a neutral background right now. But if I go to a cool background, look at the difference with the warm soccer ball. Now, it really stands out. So, you always have to be aware of what your background and your overall warmth or coolness of the image is because it's going to make a big difference on those other elements whether they will fit into the scene or not. So, now besides color cast of lighting, there is a whole idea of shadowing and what's the light is doing, and this is the one that trips most people up. The color cast is pretty easy to understand, but shadows and how they work can really throw people off. The good news is I'm going to show you how to know exactly where the shadows go. So, if we come in here, here we have a couple of different examples of lights. We got a small light, small light, and a large light. But then we've also got our soccer balls here, and notice they're at different proximity to the light and you get a different shadow according to what's going on. If we look at the first one, we've got a small light source here, and the soccer ball is fairly close. If I get rid of these marks, let's start this again, if we take and you trace from the outer edge of the lightbulb to the outer edge of the soccer ball, that's the perimeter of the light that's covering the soccer ball. Well, if you do it from the other side, that's as far as the shadow can go. So, you've already got your parameters for how big the shadow should be. But there's another section to a shadow, it's the dark center, and you got to understand whether it's going to be a big dark center or a little dark center and how much it radiate out from there. Well, that's where you take just from the side, the outer side of the light source to the outer side of the soccer ball and same thing on this side. That's a terrible line. I'm going back here. There we go. That's going to show you the diameter or the perimeter of the inner circle, the inner shadow that's darker. So, if you understand how that works, any element that you place on the scene and you've got a light source there, you can map it out through physics and straight lines to figure out how big the shadow is. So, here we have on the second and the third one. Notice this one is similar but look at the difference in the circle. The darker circle in the middle is bigger than here because it's further away. That means that the angle of impact of the light is changing up here. But this is what a lot of photographers understand, maybe even if they haven't studied it, the bigger the light source closer to the subject is going to give you a softer light. So, here we have the outer edge of this light coming right across here and the outer edge of this light coming right across here, but then the inner shadow is just right here. Okay. So, the really dark part of the shadow is just in that center, but there's a large area between the dark part and where it fades out to the edge, and that's how you can see that it's going to be a nice soft shadow. This will help you on the next scene is will those shadows actually smooth out how they would actually work? You'll notice we've got the large dark center that starts to fade out. Same thing here, where it's a lot more compact here and softer on the edges there. So, that's a big important thing to realize is that it's all physics. Where the light source is? How big the object is? The outer edges of it will determine where the shadow should be. Okay. So, let's look at this in real-world setting. Instead of a soccer ball, sometimes that's easy, it's just ch-ch, but what about a person or an object or something like that where you really need to pay attention to the edges. Here we have this airplane, and we've got edges all around here. The good news is we've got a reference of what's going on around it. It's like it's in a hanger with multiple lights. Well, so what you could do in essence if you really wanted to light this well is you could come in, and you could say, "I would assume there's a light here, here, here, and here maybe." Or maybe moved them off the scene just a little bit, but figure out where the light's coming from in your background. Now you do the same thing. You trace the edges of this all the way to the edges of that, and that's going to determine where the line crosses the edge of your airplane wing and then hits the ground is going to be where the shadow begins for this light. For this one, where it hits the ground, it's going to be way over here. So, this is where it can get complex. If you have a lot of lights in your scene, you have to have multiple shadows going all over the place because remember you've got a shadow coming straight down here and going all the way over here. So, you've got one dark shadow for this light, one dark shadow for this, and one dark shadow for this and this light. So, if you've got four light sources, you need to have four shadows. If it's a person out in the sun, it's just one shadow coming across here. If it's a person with lights up above him, he's going to have a shadow this way and a shadow this way. That's how you can trace out and figure out where the shadows should fall, and you just need to pay attention to that. Notice that if you don't pay attention to that and you put your object, let's say you bought an object with this kind of shadow and you put it in a different background, here we have an image where the light is obviously coming from the upper-left, and it's raking across. It's a low light. But this shadow is set up for multiple lights above it, and so, as you can see right here, you've got the light, and the shadows should becoming this direction. So, let's say the sun is right here. That's where the airplane wing shadow should start, and that's where the tail shadow should end. So, you see that this shadow doesn't work for that environment. So, you would either have to get rid of the shadow, and then add different shadow, or find a different element that would work, or change the background. You can't have the shadows in the background not work together, and that's what throws a lot of people off. There's also another caveat to this. There's a lot of times people will buy stock imagery, and then decide they like the way it looks flipped the other way. Well, the problem is is you've got to make sure that you flip the background as well so that the lighting doesn't mess up or what a lot of people do is use two elements, and I'll take this one and flip it. Now those two elements have opposite lighting on them. You just got to be aware of that. If you do that, then you've got to put lights in to give the excuse for why they're lighted differently. That's really going to make a difference in your composite. 3. E - Elevation: Okay. So, we've talked about lighting, and hopefully that's going to help you understand how shadows work a little bit better. Now, let's talk about elevation. To be honest, I named it elevation but you could really think perspective. Elevation was an E and it worked better in the Len system than LPNS, so lens. But whenever I say elevation, you could think perspective and getting the elements in proper perspective really makes a difference. If you've ever seen a picture of a person in a thing and they just don't quite look like they fit in the thing, because their feet are off, their arms are off, or something like that, that's because they haven't gotten the perspective right. They haven't paid meticulous attention to how that element reacts with the rest of the scene. Let me show you an example. Here we have this chess piece here, and this is a real-world example that happened to me, and I wanted to be able to fit a chess piece on this chess board. What I really needed to do instead of using this piece, what I needed to do was use this piece. Notice how it fits a lot better on here and I can move it around and find the sweet spot where it really looks like it belongs in the scene. Well, I'm an artist and I tend to try to do things on the cheap. I try to create things if I can and this is what got me in trouble. Instead of going and buying a couple of dollars more buying another element like this, I instead thought, "I'm pretty good at Photoshop. What if I manipulate this pre-existing element that I've already bought and have it work in the scene?" So, what I created was this element right here. The thing is, it took me four hours to get to that level right there. It was a lot of wasted effort and it looks like crap. It doesn't fit in the perspective any better than this one hardly. So, if I had taken time to think about how much my time and energy is worth, spending a couple bucks to get an element that really fits in the scene versus trying to force an element into the scene, is really going to make your scene look a lot better. 4. N - Noise: So now let's talk about noise, the third principle in the system. It's one of these things have a lot of people overlook, but it can make a big difference in how well your imagery is accepted to the eye. Here's the thing, every camera, whenever it takes a picture, there's a certain amount of noise that gets embedded into the photo. If you take two photos from two different cameras, they're going to have a little bit different noise variable to them. Most of the time it's okay but it can become problematic. The more noise on this one versus this noise over here can really create what I call a hum in the brain, that something's not quite right. So, you really need to pay attention to the resolution of your elements that you're bringing together and the noise factor in them. Let me give you the example. Here we have this line of people, random photos of these different people and they all seem like they fit together. Imagined if this was a wedding shoot and your aunt Sally, decided that she would love to see cousin Jimmy be able to be in there. So, your aunt has a wonderful picture that she loves off of Facebook, that she wants you to now put into the image. Well, here's the problem, the image on Facebook doesn't look like this. First of all, the resolution of a Facebook image is usually 72 dots per inch or pixels per inch, PPI, you'll hear both of those. What that means is they take in one inch of the screen, they've got 72 dots of resolution, that shows how much information is in there. Whereas most of your cameras will shoot an image that most of the time you may see at 300 DPI or PPI. So, what that means is they've got 300 bits of information inside that one inch of the image. So, what that means is on Facebook, you've got a lot less information and usually a lot more noise. The image won't look like that on Facebook, what it will look like is this. Noticed all the noise and how it's been degraded, that's because Facebook compresses your image and packs it in there. So, now you've got cousin Jimmy here and your aunt wants him to match up with these folks over here, but it's never going to happen the way it is. Most people think, "I will use a de-noise program or some kind of filter to get rid of the noise." The problem is remember it's only got a certain number of information in there, you can't add more information into it, all these programs can do is take stuff away, so most noise cancelling programs out there just blur the image to make it smoother. So, what that means is you're actually going to degrade the image even more by running it through a noise filter. Unfortunately, for most people who are purest, the best way to make these match up is to degrade these images to match up with this image. So, what you have to do is you have to take and you have to run a noise filter on them. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going come up here in Photoshop and go to Filter and I'm gonna go down here to noise and add noise. What happens is you're going to have to dial up and down the amount of noise from almost nothin, you'll have to figure out where the noise factor is too much and eventually find that sweet spot where they're pretty much the same and then hit OK. Now they all look like at least they were taken by the same camera, they all seem to work together. They're little crunchy and a little noisy, but where there's things we can do in the finishing touches like adding a texture or other things, that give an excuse for why they're that way, that the eye will accept. We're going to talk about that, but noise can be a distraction or an attraction if you do it right using a lens system. 5. S - Sharpness: Okay, and the fourth principle in this system is sharpness. Sharpness really carries two issues with it. The sharpness of the objects that you're placing in there, but also the depth of field of the actual scene itself. We're going to talk about that in a minute, but let's first talk about the sharpness of the element. One of the things you're going to end up doing is you're going to end up selecting objects, people, out from their original backgrounds and placing them into something new. What happens is we learn a lot of techniques for creating great selections around folks. Early on, we usually figure out that if we look down here that this a type of white fringing, it helps if I use a white, white fringing around the edges is really a telltale sign that it's been composite or pulled out of something else. So we learn how to take care of that, but one of the things that we fail to do especially as you get better in making your selections is to realize that these objects are actually living in a 3D space in real-world, but we've compressed them to a paper thin element here and so all the edges are razor sharp. But a human being, a ball, all kinds of things, they're not razor sharp on the edge, they bend, and so they actually blur around the edges. So, what you almost always have to do once you've cut something out is go over and grab your blur tool and just run it around the edge and blurred down the edges so that they settled down and rest within the space because, otherwise, you get these sharp edge look like paper doll people and people like that doesn't quite look right it's because you've made too sharp of a selection. So, what you want to do really is going here and pay attention to all the edges and you go from something like that to something like that. Now, you notice the edges and everything feel a little bit better. There's still a couple little spots and I could probably go in or around his head and stuff like that would help smooth it out, but you need to be aware of how that affects how the element is going to play into the scene. One of the things that a lot of people get caught in is that they will cut out a person and they may have it on a white background. It doesn't look bad on a white background, but if you took this original one, well lets see, on the white background, you can't tell there's a lot of problems there, but as soon as you put it on a dark background you see obvious problems. So, when you're making selections and fixing all these things, look at it maybe at a black background, a grey background and a white background to see if there's anything that's standing out. It's a great way to make sure your selection really looks good no matter what's going on. Then finally, when you put it into a scene, you put the element into the scene, you have to pay attention to what the depth of field of the scene is. You have to try to create a realistic scene using what I call one of the unsung heroes of compositing and that's blurring, because what blurring does is it gives the eye a sense of what to focus on, but also it helps negate some of the weird sharpness issues if there's a higher depth of field to this background than to him, you need to address that. If I took a picture of myself with an f-stop of 2.8, basically, a very shallow depth of field, maybe my eyes and nose are in focus and everything starts to blur, and I put that in front of a picture of an entire cityscape and everything's in focus, something's going to look weird because they were supposed to supposedly taken with the same camera at the same time, they can't have two different depth of field going on there. You can work around that by adding blur to your imagery, one of my favorite things to do is just come in here and use Filter and I'll go to Blur Gallery and use something like Iris Blur. What I can do is I can take and move this blur, maybe rotate it around. I'm going to keep him pretty much in focus, but I'm going to blur out the background even a little bit more. Now, notice that's a little over the top because I'm trying to show you. But what's happening is now the background becomes less important in the story is told in a more convincing way and your eye starts to understand that. If I don't like the way Iris Blur is going, maybe I would do tilt-shift instead. Let's cancel this out, let's try, a lot of times my favorite is tilt-shift. I thought Iris Blur was going to be better, but I think for this because of the way the background is and everything going on, maybe something like this. Here's a little tip that I think works a lot is to have the blurb go with the position of the body, like he's facing this way. So a lot of times, if I just take this and adjust this and transition a little bit more, out here faded out a little bit more. But it really helps to sell the idea that he's in that space, and so, it adds that extra layer of believability because you've taken out some of those sharpness issues. Remember, the eye is looking for perfection and if you've got a very sharp object in front and the back is sharp as well, the eye is going to go. A camera can't do that, something's wrong, where she add blur the eye goes, "Oh, it's a funky camera took a picture." No problem, I accept it. So remember, sharpness can be a great thing, but blur oftentimes is even better when you're compositing. 6. Picking the Right Photo: Okay. So, we've talked about the lens system, but let's get down to the practical application of that. What I'm going to do is I'm going to take a picture of my son and I'm going to add elements to it and kind of make him a superhero. You could do whatever you want, but you've probably got already on your computer some great images of your kids, your brothers, sisters, family, somebody in there that you've got a couple pictures in there that it is perfectly expressing who they are, their character. This is a great way to find those images and then embellish them to really highlight the character of that person and really make it a unique photograph for them. So, the big question is, well, how do you decide what images to use? What I generally say is go after the ones that jump out at you and scream at you, "Yeah, I want to do something with these." Let's take a look in here. I've got some different images in here that I've cobbled together, and I'm using Adobe Bridge just to look at all these. What I'll do is once I get all these different images together, I'll just start scrolling through them. He looks a little serious there. I could do something with that but it would take me doing some small figures or something in here, maybe some army men or something crawling all over him could be an easy thing to do there, but I'm not really sold on his expression there. It's okay but he looks a little too serious. Then family photo, I could really have some fun with that, change out some heads and do some other stuff like that, but we'll save that for another day when my wife's not around. This one jumps out at me immediately because Daniel is our goofball in the family, and you can tell that by this picture. He's got a great expression, but there's also so much space around him that you can add stuff. It really lends itself to messing with him. Sometimes it just comes down to I really want to mess with them, I've got this great picture. So, that's definitely in my list of top ones to play with but I keep going. This is actually the same kid earlier in life, but this one has sometimes it stands out because of its body position or what it's doing. As soon as I saw this, I'm thinking, well, I can turn him into Tarzan or I could have him hanging off of something spectacular. Who knows? It already gets my juices flowing and thinking about how I could make this into something special. Then as we move along and come into this one, first of all, when it was small on my screen, it looked okay. But as it gets bigger, I see that the focus isn't that good and this would be a difficult image to work with because whenever you're dealing with compositing images together, you've got to decide you can go one way or the other. One way is you just take and cut out the background completely and throw it away, and you trim out everybody in there, and that takes a lot of work. So, you usually want to find an image that you don't have to do that much work. They're already kind of in a situation that they fit. The other thing, even if I cut these guys out, they're a little blurry and I would in essence be starting with not great stock. Now, sometimes that's all you got. If it's Aunt Martha and it's the only shot you've got of her and you really want to do something, well, go back to my lens system and you'll have to knock everything down to be board to fit with that. I'm going talk about a little extra thing later on, but that's how I would think about that. There'd be a lot of work, a lot of Photoshop if I wanted to go in that direction. Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to choose this photo right here to begin with, this is going to be for our project. What it is is I already know when I'm looking at this that I've got two options. One is, as a matter of fact, I'm just going to click over to Photoshop, and sometimes you might just want to do this on a piece of paper or something like this. Just sketch out some quick ideas of what you could do. You could maybe have a giant gorilla finger coming in and tickling him because he's got that look like he's being tickled, or you could come in and think maybe I could turn them into an astronaut or something like that. You just start brainstorming what you could do there, and I've already decided that I don't necessarily just want to limit this image to him being in this field. So, I already know that what I'm going to have to do is I'm going to have to cut him out and I'm going to use him in a different place. So, that's the decision making process right there. I am finishing up deciding which picture and then I'm deciding how I'm going to go from there. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about how to bring the elements together. 7. Gathering Elements: Okay. So, now we're going to think about how to gather and put elements together. But before I do that, one quick thing about choosing your images. Some folks may have a little trouble deciding where they want to go. One thing that may be helpful is think about the person and write down three to five characteristics that you might like to highlight about that person. Then, when you're going through looking at the different elements, you could go, "yeah, that one really shows this type of character," and will be the springboard for creating that image that really shows him off in whatever light you would like to show them. So now, once I've decided on this image here, I'm going to go ahead and pull it over into Photoshop. I know that I want to cut it out, and we're going to talk about that in a minute. But then, I want to think about what I want to do with this. I think I want to make him larger than life. I want to make them like a superhero, because what kid doesn't want to be a superhero? In dad's eyes, they are our superheroes, and so I really want to heighten him because he's the youngest. He's the smallest of the family, and I want to make him big. So, what's going to happen is, I'm going to try to find elements that heighten that. So, what I do is, I go searching stock photography sites, especially like Adobe Stock, Fotolia, or something like that, and find images that are going to work with that. I don't necessarily buy them, but I start looking around us. I start shopping around to see what images might work with this. It may take a little playing around. What you can do with stock imagery is, you can download a comp what they call. It's not a composite, it's a low-res version of the image that you can download for free. Then, try it out, but it's going to be very pixelated, but at least you can see how it works and, that's a great way to save on not purchasing images that you can't use. Remember, you get it in there, and you realize the lightings wrong for that, and I can't flip it around. You can't use it. So, definitely, check that out. But, so I did some shopping around and I found this image on Adobe Stock. It's a wonderful toy skyline of Chicago, and it just reminded me of, when I looked at him right here, I almost thought a little bit of Godzilla or something. So, I was thinking, "let's find a great background that we can plop him in." Then, since I'm going to make him a superhero, I want to add at least a Superman cape or something like that, and this is where one my favorite websites really helps things along, and it's called PixelSquid. It is a compositor's dream. What it is, is you can go in, and I'm going to bring it up. You can go in, and here it is right here. You've got all these different things to choose from. You can search, and if I do just a simple search of superhero, it will pull up a lot of superhero images. Okay. So, now I've got some different stuff here, and look, I've already got a cape here. It already gives me a lot of great ideas there. That's where I can start with PixelSquid. They've got thousands of imagery there. One of the great things about this is, let's say I want to use that whole can. I'm going to click into it. A lot of times, when you're buying stock photography, you've got to find that right angle. Sometimes, you'll find the perfect image, but the thing is not quite right. Remember, perspective is huge. You've got to get it to be just right. Well, if you look at this, in PixelSquid, you can rotate this around to whatever direction you need, so that it can match up with your composite, and that is very helpful. So, once you get it, I need the hand like that. I can download it, or I can add it to Photoshop, and that is what's amazing with this. So, here's the great thing, I've got this plug-in, PixelSquid in Photoshop here. If you look down, I've got all these superhero things I already put in there, Star Wars and lots of different stuff. But if I keep going down, here's that Hulk hand. Now, if I just simply click on it, it will take a minute, download, and now it appears right here on my composite, or what's going to be my composite? This is where it gets really handy. It's because now, before I ever commit anything, I can come over here, and I can rotate the hand just like on the website, and I can see how it looks on the background before I ever committed to it. So, being able to have the object that you can reference to and manipulate it around, get the right angle in the composite, will save you a lot of time and a lot of headache. 8. Quick Selection & Cutting: Okay. So now, let's have fun and let's just do the project. I'm going to walk you through it and let you see all the steps I would take to get the image from Sam sitting in the field to where I'm going to have him a giant Godzilla-like superhero. So, the first thing you're going to need to do is remember I decided that I don't want to use this background, so I'm going to have to cut Sam out from the background. I'm going to have to make a selection around Sam. One of the easiest ways to do it wasn't always here in Photoshop, but a few years back, they added this tool called the Quick Selection Tool which is right here. Is the fourth one down, and if you click on it, now what you'll see is there's an icon with a little plus sign on it. Anywhere I click, it's going to start choosing those areas and try to put them into a selection. If you ever see in Photoshop these old dotted lines called marching ants because they look like ants marching around, those are showing the boundaries of the selection. So, what's happening now? I just drew down the side of this and it's smart enough to know where the edge is. It doesn't always get it 100 percent right, but in just a little bit, I've gotten almost all his body. Now, you can see how it went down into the grass here. Well, the good news is if I just hold down Alt or option, my icon changes from a plus sign to a negative sign. Now, I can just come back in and say, ''Hey, no, no. I didn't want that area and I'm subtracting it out.'' It's a learning tool. What happens is every time you add or subtract, it goes, ''Oh, you want more of this, less of this.'' There's this neat algorithm in there that figures out it gets better almost each time you do it. Okay. One of the things you might want to do is zoom in. If I use Command Plus, I can zoom in, Command Minus will zoom out. You can see when a zoom in, I missed a little area there so I'm going to tap on it, and then I need to get rid of this area so I hold my Alt or option button down and I cut that out. I missed a little bit of the ear, and I'll tell you what. My brush is a little big right now, so I can make it smaller by just hitting my left bracket and make it a little bit smaller. If I need to make it bigger, right bracket. But I want to come in here and just paint right across that ear just to make sure you get it, and then there's a couple little things right there, and we're pretty good. Let's double-check all the way around. I missed a little part right there, but this is so much faster and easier than you'd use to have to trace all the way around the image by hand, and it's called quick selection for a reason. Now, here's the other thing that you need to realize is once you've made the selection, you can refine it by coming up here to Refine Edge. The problem is, with Photoshop, a lot of times a new window will be scary and especially if it's got a lot of sliders and stuff like this. What this is basically doing is it's showing you what it'll look like if you cut this image out right now. You can see that there's some places that it didn't get and some areas that are jaggy and not looking very nice in other places. Well, before I even start there, remember I said you always want to check your selections on a dark and then a light, you can change the background from I can go from on black to click here and I've got it on white. So, depending on what your final background is going to be, it may help to change what the background's going to look like. This one's perfectly clear. So, it really is up to you how you want to do it. I like to use the black background a lot because it usually shows those funky little jagged lines. Okay. So, once you get that, now here's where the secret sauce happens. If I just click on this smart radius right here and then I come along and I just draw right along the edge where I want it to be cut out, watch what'll happen. It'll think about it and clean it up, and I can adjust how much or how little, but it really usually does a very nice job of cleaning up a lot of that extra little goobery stuff that you've got going on. Let's get this down here and a little bit right there. One of the things you might want to think about is if you're trying to get the hair, you really want to zoom in and just do a quick brush around the edge of the hair, and watch what happens where before it was cut off, watch. It'll start get some of those wisp in the hair, and it's really wonderful to make it look a little bit more realistic. So, in just a little bit of time, you're able to make a very nice selection of your person. Now you've got an option of do I want to output to a selection where it just puts a selection around it or I could put it into a new layer. I tend to just do a selection but it's up to you. Also, real quick, you can add a little smoothness to it. You can really go overboard and try to make it extra smooth. You can add a feather. If I would really crank it over, it'll start to make it softer on the edges but that gets a little too squishy. So, you've got the opportunity to change these around a little bit. The one that I do use a lot more than any of the others is Shift Edge. If I go one way, it tightens it up. If I go the other way, it loosens it up a little bit, it moves it around. So, those are just fun little options in there that can help refine it a little more. Just get in there and play, and the best thing to do is take it all the way to the right, take it all the way to the left and figure out, "Oh, somewhere in the middle is probably best. Just play with like that and you'll figure it out. Okay. So, I'm just going to hit okay. Now, if we zoom back out. Okay. So now, I've made the selection of Sam, but I need to be able to take him out of the picture. So, I'm going to hit the keyboard shortcut Command J, and what that's going to do is it's going to make a copy of Sam and throw it up on a new layer. So, if I hide the background layer, I've just got Sam sitting right there, and that's the first step. Just cutting him out is really going to make a big difference. If you do it right, it'll save you a lot of work on the backend. So, making quick selection using Refine Edge is a lifesaver in creating great composites. 9. Transform, Liquify, Mask: All right, so now we've cut out our character here, my son, and we want to place him into that background that we found earlier. So, the easiest thing to do is, you just go in if you've got Adobe Bridge or however you want to. You just click on, double-click on the image and it pops up in the Photoshop. So, now I've got these two tabs here and if I go to the second tab, there's Sam, what I've already done the work on. I can just simply hit V, which gives me the Move Tool right there and now, I can take and move him around but I'm just going to simply grab him and drag him over and while I'm still holding on to him, I go over to the other tab and now, I bring him back here. Now, here's a little tip for you. If you hold the Shift button down, when you release, it'll drop it right in the center and that's always helpful because sometimes when you drop it, it's over in the corner, it doesn't land where you want it to, so you just got to be aware of that. Okay, so now it's looking pretty good. We've dropped him in but he doesn't look like he's interacting with the background. So, we're going to have to do some things and one of the first things I'm going to do is, I'm going to make a copy of him because I always like to have a backup. So, once again Command J, I don't even have to have it selected, whatever's in that layer, Command J and it's going to make a copy. So, I've got one, two over here because I may want to do some things to Sam. I tell you what, it's going to be easier if I turn off the background. Let's make Sam's head a little bigger because, let's face it what kid doesn't have grand ideas, but this will also give it a little bit more character and bit more flavor. So, what I want to do is I want to come in and if I screw up, I can always go back to the other layer there. But I'm going to grab my Lasso Tool and I'm simply going to come around here and trace right under his chin and I made a quick selection around his head. Notice how easy it is with this pen on the screen, I can just go right through there. So now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to cut his head off. This is fun depending on how a sadistic you are, it's fun. I'm going to hit Command X or Control X on a PC and it is going to cut it. Okay. Now I'm going to hit Command V, and it's going to paste it. But you notice it pasted it off to the side. Here's another shortcut. I'm going to undo if I do Command hold down Shift as well and V, it pops it right back in place. So now, you can see he's got that nice slice across his throat but that's okay because I've got the head now on its own layer, I can free transform it. So, you can come up here and you could, I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut Command P, or you could go up here to edit, transform and you'll see the transform handles pop up right here. I can spin him around which is always nice. Do a lot. I'm not going to say that because my wife always gets onto me for making random comments about my kids but anyway, I love them and it's a lot of fun doing that. But here's what I want to do, instead of just simply, I can grab a part of it and I can warp them around like that. What I'd like to do is I like to right-click on it, and choose Distort. The reason why I do that is because now each of these handles can move independently. So, what I can do is I can take his head and make him a little bit bigger, but I'm keeping the neck fairly close to what's going on before. You can tuck that in just a little bit and we drop back down. He is looking a little bit too forehead heavy. Here's the other side of this. While it still selected, if I right-click again, I can go down and choose another type of filter and I'm going to do Warp. What this does, is now you've got this cross, this grid here, I can grab, and pull, and warp things around. So, now I can make it a little bit less forehead heavy and bring him up like he's really coming out of his neck and in some ways. You can go overboard, you could do some major ballooning and stuff like that. It's completely up to you and this can get addictive to sit in here and decide how much and how little. So, let's do something about like that. I'm going a little less forehead and then once you're finished, you can either hit this Check button or just hit Return. You know what I'd seen once I've finished it, is his eyes look a little goofy. So, I can do a couple of things and one of the things that I would choose in this particular instance, because I like the head shape. I would go to Filter, Liquify. Now, Liquify is a super powerful tool to be able to push pixels around like they're liquid, but you got to know a couple little tips. One is, whatever area you're wanting to work on, it usually want to make your brush slightly larger than that. So, what's going to happen here, is I want to make this eye, I want to move this around a little bit. So, I'd choose my Forward Warp Tool and I'm going to shrink it down using my left bracket and what I'm going to do is, I'm just going to grab and start to move this down a little bit. I'm going to do the same thing with it, just a touch and notice not a lot happened, I did. You just want to use small subtle adjustments there. Let's say, I decide that this ear is sticking out too much. Well, that's pretty good but let's make it just a little bit bigger and instead of just grabbing in middle and doing this, the Liquify Tool, I talk about oftentimes, think of it as a marshmallow. I want to tuck this in but what I want to do is bump it with the edge. So, I'll come in here and I just give a little bump, give a little bump, and it just tucks in the edge of it instead of affecting everything in there, and so it's a great way that you can do some subtle manipulations in there especially if you need to fix something or you could go big time. If I really wanted to have fun, I could do something like the Bloat Tool here. I just simply put it on his nose and hold it and it gets bigger and bigger and he starts to look like a little pig. Use at your own discretion. I will warn you that once you start playing with Liquify, your whole family is going to hate seeing the pictures you make of them when you first start out because it's a fun tool and you will abuse the power that you now have. So, just be aware of that. All right, so I'm going to get rid of the piggy nose and I'm just going to hit Okay. So now, we have him looking pretty good right there. He's got a little bit more character too. His heads popping out a little bit more of a caricature. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to join these two back together. The head and the body. I'm going to put into a folder I've selected both of them while holding shift and now I click on this and now they're grouped together. I could rename it but let's face it. I'm pretty lazy and you probably are too, I forget to name these things all the time. So, I've just got the group here but the nice thing is now, I can hit Command T and they're all going to act together and I still want to take. I think I want to distort him down, just a little bit more on this side, then maybe rotate them over just a little bit. All right, simple little tweak but it makes his feet smaller and his head bigger and that would be a great place to start. Now, I've got him in here. I've got him on the background and I'm going to bring him in. I lied his, head looks a little funky so I'm going to bring them down just a little bit more. There we go, he's not quite so potato heady. All right, he's in front of this and this is going to be where a lot of people might want to get lost here. Here's a very simplified way of understanding how masks work. Because what you're going to need to do, is you're going to need to hide parts of Sam so that it looks like the building is in front of him. So, in essence, you're going to just take in and get rid of sections of Sam, but you're not doing it permanently. What you're doing is you're going to come over here, in the third icon from the left, looks like a rectangle with a hole in the middle. If you click on it, you'll now see this white little panel over here. Anywhere, I draw with a black paint brush, it's going to hide it. It doesn't cut it. It doesn't get rid of it. It just hides it. So, I can come in here and get rid of that whole leg just like that. Now, that's pretty cool but what if I don't want it like that, I made a mistake? We'll simply switch to your white and paint it all back in. It's not permanent. It's not like erasing and it's gone, it's just hiding it and showing it. It's concealing it and revealing it. The best way to remember this is black conceals while white reveals and so, it's a great way just to remember okay, I can hide stuff and if I mess up I can go back and switch it out. So now, what I want to do is I simply want to bring Sam to where I think he's going to look the best probably something right about there, and I'm going to hit my paint brush. I'm going to be pretty sloppy right now. I'm going to get black and I'm just going to, I know I want this building in front and I think I want that building in front and I know that one right there, those are the three main buildings right here. So, what I'm going to do is now I go back to white and I'm going to make my brush a lot smaller and I'm going to zoom in as much as I can, so that it's workable and I can see what's going on. So, now, what I'm going to do is to simply draw and bring back in the parts of Sam that are going to be in front that, I mean that are going to show up behind that building. So, in essence, tracing along the edge of that building so that it looks like it's obscuring Sam's legs. Now, even if I mess up a little bit, it's not a big deal because this is all a mask and so here, I need to come down here and mask that out. Now, if we look from here, it don't look too bad. I need to go in and make a few little tweaks. One of the things you can do is change the softness of your brush so that's a little softer edge. I'm just going to do one little tweak to make it a little softer using my Shift and left bracket, and then I'm going to come in and just paint right down that edge. All right, I went too far, X and I'm just going to clean it up, right up the side of the building. Okay, so that's all there is to masking, is you're simply just painting away areas that you want to hide with black and you're bringing them back with white. In no time at all, because it own its own layer, it can now, you can adjust that and only show the parts that you want to. So, now if we zoom out, you can see he's starting to look pretty good inside those buildings. Now we're going to bring in the helmet and the cape and we're going to start doing some neat stuff but that's a great starting place for you right here in the compositing. 10. Adding Your Elements: So, now we've placed Sam in the buildings and to be honest, during the break, I went and tweaked him around a little bit better because he was looking lopsided. You're going to be able to take more time while you're working on it at home to get it just right but so here's just like a cooking show. I've taken in its little bit better more refined image. You see now that he's got large head and his feet are sitting in behind the buildings. He's starting to look pretty good, but remember the lens principle. I still don't have the lighting, I still want to have some other stuff going on in there. But one of the things that I thought about when I looked at this was that his face was a little too bright. So, what I did is I added a brightness and contrast, so I just lowered the brightness a little bit on his face so that it would kind of settle into the scene a little bit more. Let me show you what I did. Just simply come down here and the fourth icon, if you click on it, you've got all these different filters that you can choose from, layer styles that you can choose from. So, what I'm going to do is I'm just simply going to brightness and contrast and here I have, if you look over here, you'll notice I have his head on one layer and his body on the other layer because I didn't merge them together. So, I just want the brightness to affect his head. So, whenever you hit that and it pops up, you've got this little icon right here and if you click on that, it's telling Photoshop only apply this to the layer directly beneath. So, now when I adjust the brightness of before, if I adjust the brightness and contrast, it takes care of the whole scene where is if I click on that, now it's just going to affect his face. So, that's very handy that you can tell the adjustment layer there to only affect the one beneath it. So, what I'm going to do is I'm just simply going to darken it up just a little bit and then I hit OK, and I'll move on from there. So, now I've got him in place and we want to start adding some of the fun elements, we want to turn him into a superhero. So, that's where PixelSquid comes in handy, I want to choose a Superman Cape. Look lo and behold, I just happen to have it right here. So, I click on that and it's going to add it and it's going to bring it in and this is an interesting little character here because I'm assuming that that's the back of the cape but watch what happens as I spin it around. It kind of looks like that's the back of the cape. So, it was actually the front of the cape but it looked like the back of the cape. So, it got me a little confused but the nice thing is you can spin it around. Now here's the deal, these images usually come with the shadow on the ground here. You can get around it by tilting it up to a certain point and keep it like that, or what you can do is you can say, "I want to open it," click this right here and say, "I want to open it as a PSD file," and what it's going to do is it's going to download it and it's going to take a minute, and you're going to see it pop up right over here, when it does, there it is. So, now what happens is you have all these different layers in here that you can play with. This is just simply the cape, but then you've got shadows, you've got the background, you've got all these other options in there that you can play with. I don't want any of that, I just want the cape. So, I would just click on that layer right there and now I can drag the cape over to this with no shadow on it. Now here's the thing, I've got to make sure that I have the cape setup the right way when I do that so that because I can't transform it once I brought it in like that, it's going to stay in this position. So, you've just got to be aware of that. So, instead of having you watch me manipulate this all around, here I've got the cape that I've brought in but we still got the problem that the cape is now in front of Sam. Easiest thing to do here is just drag it in the layers panel and down behind Sam and it's right there in place. Now once you have that cape in place, we're going to have to think about the lens system later, there's no lighting or shadowing, it looks fake sitting behind him, we're going to take care of that in a minute. But I also wanted to add in Thor's helmet, yes, I'm cross-purposing different elements here but I've got Thor's helmet. All I did is, let's choose his helmet, all I did was bring that in and rotate it around in PixelSquid and got the size that I wanted. Here's something you need to think about. When I put the helmet in there, when I first did it, I thought, "Let's do a really big helmet," but the problem was the helmet went off the page. You've got to decide whether you want stuff to extend beyond the borders or not and how that's going to work with the composition, just something to think about when you're doing all this. I decided it was better to have a little smaller helmet that stayed inside and gave a little breathing room because what happens is when you get too close to the edge, what happens is that it's called visual tension. Your eye just wants to either move it down and move it up, it's just not comfortable with it right by the edge. So, I decided to bring it down just a little bit more to give it a little more room to play up there. So, there we have the cape, we have Sam inside the city, cape and the helmet. Now we need to start working on the lens side of things. So, that'll be the next step. 11. Applying the L.E.N.S. System: Okay, so now we've got the cape, we've got the helmet, we've got him in the city, but we need to make it look like it's supposed to be there. It looks like he's interacting with the stuff there. Because remember, you're taking two-dimensional objects and you're placing them into a scene that supposedly has three dimensionality to it. Sounds good, we'll just keep rolling with that. But it looks like it's in a 3D space. So, what you want do is you especially want to pay attention to the lighting because that's really going to sell it. So, here we have one of the reasons why I like to choose backgrounds that are pretty flat lighting, or not real harsh lighting, is it gives you a little more flexibility. It kind of like an overcast day and he's sitting there, so everything's pretty flat. If there'd been bright sun coming in from the side, I would have to make sure there's brightness on this side of his face and big shadows over here. I don't have to do a lot of that, but there is some shadowing going on. For instance, we talked about the cape just doesn't quite look right. First of all, it looks a little too bright red, so what I may want to do is I may want to darken it up. All I have to do is click on this, go to brightness and contrast, remember to click on that icon and just drop the brightness down just a touch. Okay, that already helps settle it down a little more. Here's a little tip for your eyes. Bright things come forward and dark things recede. So, as a compositor, you need to realize the brightest things are going to be coming out of the page in essence, and darker things are going to settle back. So, because that cape was brighter than his shirt, it felt like it wanted to come in front of that shirt. That's an important thing when deciding how dark something is, or even whether to add a vignette or whatever. Because it settles things down when you darken them up. All right. So, now I'm going to create a new layer just by clicking on the second icon, it's a new blank layer. I'm going to go over and grab my paintbrush and I'm simply going to paint in some shadow areas. Now, if I do it with my setting as it is, I'm just going to start painting and it's going to give me a big black smudge. Let's zoom in so you can see this a little bit better. That's not going to help me out too much here. I want to be able to have a little control and be able to layer things in there. So, I'm probably going to want to drop the opacity down. But really, I don't want to get too far down. Let's do opacity down, let's undo that, let's do opacity down, let's do 50 percent, 49 is even better because that's where it stopped. But I'm going to use flow. A lot of people don't even know what flow is. Think of it as the nozzle of the hose. When you're outside going to water your lawn, how much you crank it open, the amount of flow comes through the hose. Well, the same thing here. If I drop the flow of this paintbrush, it dials down how fast the paint comes out. Whereas opacity really sets the ceiling for how dark it can get. So, if I've got this set for real low flow, what's going to happen is as I draw, it's pretty light, but if I keep drawing and I draw over it again, it'll get darker, and darker, and darker. So, it's a great way to really have a little bit more control over your brush than just simply dropping the opacity. Really, a low flow will give you a lot softer, more subtle line. And a lot of people don't know how to use it. So, what I'm going to do here is, that was really a side note because for this, I've figured out for my shadows I'd like to do, I take this and make the opacity 10%. Instead of dragging back and forth and getting it just right, keyboard shortcut, I just hit one. If I wanted 20%, I'd hit two, 80%, eight. You'll see the opacity changes. I'm going to go to 10%. With that, what I can do is I can start to paint, and you see how it is just a nice soft little edge there, and I can start painting that in. Now, right now if I click on my brush, you can see my hardness is about 75%, that's super hard. But for shadows, I tend to want them pretty soft. So, I'm going to dial it down to about 22%, sounds good. So, now it's a little softer on the edges. What I'm going to do is follow the contour of his body and create, in essence, a shadow of his body onto the cape right there. This takes a little work getting it right and working in here. Every time I lift up my pen, it will then apply the next layer of 10% opacity. So, I'm layering up little by little and I'm just creating this nice little shell of shadow on there. Here's the thing, notice that all my drawings are going behind Sam. That's because I'm working on layer eight when Sam is up here on layer one, and Photoshop reads from top down. So, what I probably want to do is bring this in front of Sam. So, I'm going to bring it up above his head, and you'll notice it darkened up this sleeve over here. Well, the problem is it's now a little too dark there. So, I can fix that by just applying the mask. I just hit that third icon. Now, I've still got my paintbrush, and it's set at 10 percent, I can just come in and do a couple quick swipes and tone that down. If I go too far and it starts to glow or whatever, switch it back to white, and I can bring back in that area and really blend it in till it looks natural. The final thing that I would do with that cape is, it looks a little chunky right now, but the good news is that I can come over with all those marks, I can just go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur, and I can dial up or down the amount of blur on that. Look, here's the beginning, and you can see those lines. But if I crank up the radius, it starts softening and looks like it's matching the shadows of the rest of the building and stuff around it, it's a softer shadow. So, not only do you have to find the right direction of the shadow, but you got to make sure it matches the softness of the shadows around it. So, Gaussian blur is a great way to do that. So, that's how I would do the cape back there to make it look like it's working. But then also we've got the helmet here, and the helmet looks like it's floating above the head, doesn't it? It's like sitting up there going, uuuh! It happens a lot because the helmet is actually darker than his ear and stuff there, and so this area in here especially is trying to come forward. Well, I'm going to create a new blank layer underneath the helmet layer just so that everything I'm doing is underneath the helmet, and once again, set for 10 percent. I'm just going to come in and follow the contour of this helmet and start to apply, let's darken the ear just a little bit. I'm just going in here quickly to show you how you can start to add that shadowing in there. One more little mark in there. Then, I'm going to apply the Gaussian blur. Now, here's the thing, if it's the last thing I've done as a filter, if I hit it again, it's just going to go ahead and give me that same readout from the last one. It's going to apply the same Gaussian blur to it. Which is great, then every one of your shadows will have the same amount of blur to them. Then once again, if there's areas in there that maybe you want to dull down a little bit or highlight, you can just simply use a mask and dull those down a little bit more or cut out a little area. Once again, the shadow should follow the contours, the perspective, elevation of the face that it's interacting with. So, it shouldn't be a straight line across his eye, it should actually dip down in. So, those are just a couple of quick things that you're going to want to do to start adding in the lighting so that it's going to settle in and it looks like the helmet actually fits on his head. That's before and that's after. I'll zoom in just a little bit more, show it to you one more time. Remember, this is quick demonstration. You want to take a little time to work this out so it looks exactly right because this is so important. But it's really going to help solidify and make those things rest on your image. That's before and that's after. So, now remembering the LENS system, one of the things that I didn't do earlier, because I just forgot, is the sharpness of Sam. He had a little softness to him, but for him to feel like he's in that depth of field, I probably want to do a quick blur around the edges of him to make sure the sharpness is okay. And he's kind of playing in that zone with the rest of the buildings and stuff like that, especially his feet tend to be a little sharp down there, but that maybe a little too much, let's go back one. So, let's just take a second to look at everything and make sure that the sharpness is okay. Once you decide that's okay, lighting you've got down, elevation, all the perspectives, PixelSquid made that easy, we got the helmet and the cape looking just right. Finally, noise. We don't really have a lot of noise, there's a couple little changes, differences in noise because they're taken from different cameras. But what we're going to do in the finishing touches is going to fix all that. One quick thing that I'd like to add in here is one of my favorite new things is Google just gave for free, everybody can download the Nik plugins. So, what I like to do is at what part of the beginnings of the finishing touches, is I want to add everything together so that it feels like it belongs together. What I talked about in the LENS system, is creating visual spackle. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take all these elements here and I'm just going to hit Command+Alt+Shift+E, and we call it the claw. So, it's Command, Option, Shift, and E. It takes all those layers, compresses them, and creates a new copy up above all of them. So, if we look over here, I've made two of them. So, now I can hide all this work that I've done over here, and I've got everything where I want it to be for now, and I've got an original, and I've got one that I can play with, and if I mess up, I can go back and play with it again. But now, I just simply go over to my filters, I come down here to the Nik Collection, and I go to Analog Efex Pro. It's free for everybody, you can go track, and you can go play with this, go download it, and it's a great little thing. What it's going to do is it's going to take a minute and it's going to churn, and it's going to open up a new window. The reason why I like Analog Efex Pro is because it gives you kind of that old film feel to it. Now, you can make a lot of adjustments in here, but I'd just like to go to something like Classic Camera, and it'll take a minute, it'll load all that up. That's all I did, Classic Camera, and then I hit okay. Now, watch the difference, when I load this stuff up, it'll take a second. The before, it's looking okay, but it still feels like they might be a little too sharp in some areas and it's not settling down quite right. But once you apply these textures, it smooths everything else out and it feels like they all belong together. So, here you have it. Now, I've just simply added that effect to the image. So, that was before, and look how much more cohesive the picture looks afterwards. Before Analog Efex or whatever, what most compositors would do and still do, depending on your workflow, is come in here and add a hue and saturation layer on top of it, like I showed you in the warm balancing thing. Just dropping the, click on that so it's the one below it, drop the saturation will help them all settle down. But you do lose some of that saturation in there. So, you can do it one way or the other, but my personal favorite at this time is to just add the Analog Efex Pro. I've got a great base image that I'm going to show you how to finish it up and put it on a wonderful background that you can use and give to other people. 12. Finishing Touches: So, now we've got pretty much the finalized image, but we want to add a couple extra finishing touches. So, what I'm going to do is I've got this stock image that have of a notebook on some word, it could be a picnic table, it could be whatever, but I like to take my composites and put them in an environment which once again, reinforces to the eye. "Oh, this is an old photograph," or "This image was on something and I can give it a little bit of a break." Because what happens if you present a crisp image like this, the eyes are like, "Okay, I've got to make sure everything's perfect in here." As you start to add things like the analogue effect here and even more so in the next step, the eye goes, "Oh, no big deal. Yes, that's a little off, but it should be because it's an old photograph or something like that." You're fooling the eye and you're giving the eye an excuse not to be so critical about the image. Let's face it, we could all use a little less critical in our lives. So, what I'm going to do is I'm just selecting that one layer, it's that final layer and I'm going to drag it over to this layer right here. It's huge. So, what I want to do is I want to shrink this down and so I hit Command T or Control T, but the problem is my handles are beyond the page. Well, there are couple of things I could do. The one I'd like to do the most is I just simply hit, right up in here you've got the readout of what's going on, there's a little link chain right there and if I click on it, now it's darkened and I start dragging it's width or height, it will shrink down the whole thing in one shot so that now I can bring it into where I can start manipulating it right here on the page. Now, the second thing I want to do is I want to drop the opacity just a little bit. Well, actually a lot, so that I can make sure I cover up the book, but then I want to make sure that I get the right look to everything. So, let's do right about there. All right. So, now once I do that, it's fighting me just a little bit. I'm going to squeeze this over. Yes, I like when it dances like that. If you can't get it to dance like that, you should because it's cool. I'm going to hit return, and I'm going to bring back up the opacity. Now, the thing is we want this to look like it's interacting with the notebook. So, what I'm going to do is hide this for a minute by just poking the eyeball and remember, our good friend, quick selection. I'm just going to come drag it across the notebook here and make a quick selection, but there are a couple of areas that it went too far. Like, I don't want these little nubs right down here at the end of it. Let's get that right there. This right there. Then, I want this because it's been scoffed and torn, I want to knock that out. So, once I get that looking pretty good, I'm just going to simply turn back on that layer and notice the marching ants are still there. Since I've gone ahead and lined everything up, all I've got to do is use my keyboard shortcut Command J, jump up, and I've got a new layer. Watch what happens when I hide the second layer here. It's now matching the constraints of the notebook. Here's the tip that's really going to make you excited about doing compositing and it's something that a lot of people don't realize the power that's right here in Photoshop. Now, that I've got this layer, if I just simply double-click on it, a lot of people know you can add drop shadows and all that good stuff to it, but they avoid this area right here like the plague. It's called Blend If. The reason why is because it's just weird, Blend If, what the heck are they talking about? It's got grey and if you don't know what it is, you tend to leave it alone, but watch how powerful this is. What it is basically saying is, "On this layer, I've got black to white and on the underlying layer, I've got black to white, and I can dial up how much they interact according to the colors or the tones from one to the other." The problem is that when you grab one of these and move it along, it can be pretty clunky, but there's a trick if you hold down Alter option. In Photoshop and Lightroom basically, Alter option button is like the steroids button, it makes things do better. Hold down Alter option and I just grabbed one edge of that slider and it splits in half, and now I've got more control. Watch as it starts to blend in the background with the image. I haven't done anything else, but move that slider over and automatically, it looks like it's laying on top of that book. I played around. When I first went in there, I usually go to the top layer first. Didn't work real well, but for this one, it was the bottom layer and using the dark area. Watch what happens if I do this way. First of all, real clunky, but if I break it in half, it's going to knock out the white areas and start showing stuff through the white areas there. Not that effective. So, just really Dow this up to the amount that you want. So, it looks like it's part of that beat up grungy notebook and just simply hit OK. That's it. You can do that with any picture you find a great crumpled piece of paper background or whatever, you put that picture on top and use Blend If and it'll look like it's part of that paper. And it's just a wonderful way to finish things up and give it that unique touch that you can't really get other ways. There's some blending things, masking that you can do, but that took no time at all because you just simply knew the secret of using Blend If. That's what I wanted to leave you with. Is that little knowledge that you can do things in easier way and they actually are much more effective. 13. Conclusion: Well, guys. Thank you so much for joining me for this class. I hope it's been fun and inspiring for you, realizing that compositing is really not that scary once you understand the principles. Now, I hope you'll go out there and have fun. Play with it, make sure you check out PixelSquid, and come up with your own great composites. Don't forget, we'd love to see them right here at the project gallery. Once again, I'm Pete Collins, and thank you so much for being with me. Take care. 14. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: