Beginners Guide to SFX
$34.99 $24.99

Episode Categories

How to Start a Photoshop Composite Image

Jan 13

Subscribe to Phlearn

Where to start with a composite?

It can be very difficult to know what elements to start with when making a Photoshop Composite Image. The best way to do it in my experience is to start with the element you can’t really control, and work towards the elements you can.

Today’s Episode Timeline

  • 0:30 -Rules on building a composite
  • 2:00 – Matching lighting in a composite
  • 3:00 – Putting together the background
  • 3:30 – Adding a sky
  • 4:20 – Adding a light source
  • 5:30 – Sketching on top of our background
  • 6:20 – Showing Amelia’s Foam Work!
  • 7:30 – 3d Modeling Vs. Building Props
  • 8:30 – Working from what you can’t control
  • 9:30 - Blackjack teaches Photoshop

First Things First

For this composite, we are starting with the background and building up from there. There are a lot of complex things going on in this final photo, and getting them all to work together is very hard.

By starting with the background, we know how the entire image is lit, and we can model and photograph everything else to make sure that it does match. This also helps for choosing what angle to photograph your subject.

What Are Your Ideas?

I will be making this image into  a Phlearn PRO! What ideas do you have for the final, you can be famous!

  • Michael Benford

    Aaron – it might be cool if you added a villain/Amelia’s captures into the scene. maybe you see them in the background around a fire (introducing another light source) it could be like a small primitive tribe of people with spears and primitive weapons or even get crazy and do an abdominal snow man creature

  • Tia GliUseless

    It would be cool if the rope, in the final image, would look like it was a vine, or lianas (bad terms probably, but i don’t know other ones to say “a rope of wood” in english lol), it’d gave the image more sense and atmosphere in my opinion (there could be also leaves or flowers growing on it… I Don’t know exactly what you have in mind, but the wole thing make me think to a sort of birth or also ”The Sleeping Beauty”  theme :D )

  • Mariah Texidor

    Now that the important stuff is said lol jk, I think a good idea for the photo would be, going off of both Michael Benford and Tia GliUseless, would be like if she is a hostage, but its because she is a magical being and tries to use some sort of power to slowly unwrap her self and control the tribe or villian or another character. Concept: Escape with the power of the mind kind of.

  • Shannon Wimberly

    bat wings wrapped around her……

  • Judy

    I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!!

    This is off topic for today but…
    Can anyone tell me why I’m getting so much grain with the Canon 5D Mark ii at relatively low ISO settings?  Everything I’ve read said you can shoot with an extremely high ISO and have very little grain.  I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. 

    This was taken in my living room with only lamp light.
    100 mm macro lens
    ISO 800

  • Aaron Nace

    this sounds awesome!

  • Judy

    Someone just shared this link with me.
    …maybe it will help others.

  • Reem

    Mmm something about being hanged upside down that makes me think fish! She could be a mermaid that got cought by Eskimos and they want to eat her for lunch :D
    Or maybe not Eskimos just Indians :D
    Sorry Amelia but I like the idea of people trying to cook you :D

  • Peter Cornelisse

    Great idea and the ultimate excuse for hanging upside down…

  • Yo Mama

    It was a huge relief to see Amelia on camera after you said that hanging her upside down didn’t work.  Glad she’s safe!

  • Paul Liebrand

    So what did you get out of the video Judy?  Come to realize that you just need to shoot at a lower ISO to reduce your grain?  That is what I was going to tell you.

  • Jeni

    So, are you going to make armor for the cat? lol

    Serious question though, is this image going to have a “captured” feel to it or an “animalistic” feel?  Like if she’s captured, I like the idea that someone mentioned about having a villain in the background.  If it’s animalistic, I like the idea of bat wings or something emerging from a cocoon.

  • Roman

    I don’t think the noise is a problem in this picture. Unless you are making images for stock websites. In that case you need more light ;)
    If you can use longer exposure time by 1/3 or 2/3EV, you can over expose end correct exposure in post (RAW file recommended!) Camera creates more noise in shadows then in high lights so – more light=less noise ;)

  • Roman

    Aron, If you want to take picture of Amelia upside down go to local indoor rock climbing club. I believe they will rent you harness and help you with safety side of the project. You don’t want her to brake her neck…

  • Judy

    I guess I was just surprised to see so much grain with this camera at 800 ISO.  I haven’t tried to edit RAW yet because my ACR is too old for the 5d
    images .  I’m buying Lightroom soon and will try your suggestion.
    Thanks for taking the time to help.  :)

  • Roman

    Why don’t you upgrade ACR? If you want to buy Lightroom3 i suggest you to wait for LR4. You can try Lightroom4 beta for free from Adobe website.

  • Carl Revell

    These last couple of Phlearn episodes have been very cool. Not Photoshop or photography specific. More of a thinking through the process series which of course is very important, interesting and beneficial for us Phlearnaholics to see too.

    I’m so keen to see how this whole shoot develops.

  • Anonymous

    I think the theme is out of this world. I would place so kind of robotic or alien like animals. Maybe on great robotic spider and some smaller creatures. Lots of cold metal with blue glowing lights.

    I got one other concept that’s based upon the cocoon thing. If Amelia is evolving into something new, stunning beautiful (not meaning she isn’t already) there could be some creatures gathering around here in curiosity. Like they are not sure whats going on but curios about the out come.

  • Stefano Tealdi

    I can’t wait to see the final image!!
    p.s. I love your cat :D

  • Cesar

    Depending on your theme, A. should be ready to be sacrificed and drop into a hell pit. But before this, you come and save her while dealing with biological beings.

  • Anonymous

    Since the idea was inspired from snow and winter, I wonder about making the distance more reminiscent of Springtime. She’s trapped in the cold winter, waiting for Spring to make its way to where she is.

  • Nick Bedford

    Can’t wait to see this image.

  • Amelia Fletcher

    haha great plan roman! i dont think aaron is going to be able to get me upside down by himself

  • Roman

    With harness and belay device he can do it ;)

  • LNDavies

    That was my thought…I definitely would use harness gear to be on the safe side!!

  • Karissa Hosek

    hahah i love your kitty :) my mom would do stage design for church and use that foam all the time! she had a wire that would get hot and would cut the foam easy and quick, she also used a projector for doing outlines and would sometimes use a spray can to eat away the foam to give it a cool texture
    looks like this image will be pretty awesome can’t wait to see it complete!

  • Tammymcgeephotos

    So excited to see this one come to life! I see her wrapped in gauze/cheese cloth like a cacoon.

  • yamaha83

    hey Aaron, you may have done it this way. but why not make just 3 or 4 of the foam props and use puppet warp to be able to make a bunch all a little different?

  • Hayden Lihou

    Did you ever complete this?

Free PRO Tutorial
Sign up for our newsletter and instantly receive a free PRO Tutorial!
Over 20,000 people
are already signed up.
Random Tips

Pick up a Color Wheel and use it to create a color palette.