Jul 31, 2014

PHAN WEEK: How to Composite Photos in Photoshop

Composite Photos in Photoshop

There are many reasons why you may want to composite photos together in Photoshop. At times you may want to replace someones face because they had their eyes closed in a group photo. Other times you may want to create a fantasy image or something that couldn’t exist in real life.

In today’s episode we show you how to add fish to an image of a girl in a bathtub. The compositing process is simple as long as you keep in mind how color, light and depth work. We show you how to make it look as though the fish are actually suspended in the murky water.

Add Bubbles and Details Above the Fish

To make it look as though the fish are really under water we add detail on the top of the water and over the fish. The perfect pieces of detail for this image are the bubbles that already exist in the photo. Using the Clone Stamp Tool we copy areas that contain bubbles, change the blending mode to Screen and then adjust Levels and Hue/Saturation to make it look as though they are transparent.

After creating the bubbles we add them over top of the fish to make it look as though the fish are underwater.

How to Add Depth to Underwater Fish

The water in the original photo is a bit soapy and murky, meaning we can’t see all the way though it. It makes sense that anything in the water will be slightly obscured by the water. We also want to make it look as though the fish go out of focus as they get farther from the camera. To achieve these effects we use a Field Blur and apply a different amount of blur to different areas of the fish.

After adding the blur to the fish we use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and the Colorize function to make it look as though the color of the water is effecting the color of the fish.

Learn More About Compositing

To learn more about compositing from Phlearn be sure to check out our bestselling PRO Tutorial – The Beginners Guide to Compositing.


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Westley Jerdon

    Last week I got to shoot video for The Wild One Tour inside the Phlearn studio.. It was amazing to be in the studio! Phlearn has allowed me and my work to go farther than I ever thought. I owe you all so much to where I am and even who I am! So thank you so much Phlearn and thank you Aaron!

  • user image
    Anthony Augusta

    I get so engrossed in these tutorials, I can hardly wait to do them myself

  • user image
    charles sweigart

    Phlearn’s Phan Week is just Phucking Phabulous as is the new web site. I Pheel just like I’m one of the Phamily now.

  • user image
    ram casty

    First of all, Congratulations! Your now on CreativeLive!

    Great Tutorial!

  • user image
    Jamie Bulloch

    Great stuff, well constructed and extremely well explained.. Fabulous ….????

  • user image
    Carolyn Lajara

    Hey Aaron, I finished this image and I just feel like its missing something and I would love it if you can edit my image in an episode and just like add to it, color it, anything so it can be better! Thank You!


    (also couln’t find the place to submit an image so I’m hoping that link above works)

  • user image

    Hey Aaron, so I finished this image and I feel like there is something missing. I would love it if you could edit my image on phlearn and just add to it, color it, whatever it takes to make this image better! Thank you!

  • user image

    Love your videos Aaron, you really do make learning fun, glad to have found these, and your pro videos! If I had a teacher at school with your attitude to learning my mind would have been open to what they were saying. Keep up your excellent and helpful work 🙂

  • user image
    Drex Mempin

    This really helped!!! It’s like waiting for years until I finally learned how to make my dreams come true. hahahahaha… Like, literally!

    • user image
      Drex Mempin

      I’m a proud phlearner. hahaha… This far from being the best and probably needs more work/corrections but this is waaaaaay better than all my previous composites. Aaron, you really helped me improve in no time. 🙂

  • user image
    Henning Fischer

    Thank you for all your great advice. I am finally growing as an artist and am happy with my results.

  • user image

    Hey Aaron, thank you so much for this tutorial, you inspired me to create this image.
    Thank you so much

  • user image
    Robert Gloss

    Great tutorial–the only thing I’d add is that if people choose to rotate things like duplicated bubbles, they should make sure that their highlights are consistent with the light source.

  • user image
    Monique Nelson

    I’m a huge fan of your site and your videos – this one was as amazing, as ever! One thing I have been searching to find anywhere that I wanted to suggest as an idea for your videos is a hair compositing video. For example, a woman with hair covering her bare chest…

    Thanks for all your great help!

  • user image
    Brittany Kirkegard

    So I am following this step by step and as soon as I highlight all of the layers to switch to multiply.. I can’t. If more than one is highlighted my blending drop down box goes grey. I have no idea.

  • user image
    Mitch Jimenez

    This tutorial was a huge help in a project I’m working on. I decided to test composites on an older shoot I did with a model and blend them into recent stock photos I took of an Octopus. I tried applying what I learned here about layers and blending modes. Phlearn is a fantastic learning tool! Thank you so much for all you do.