Creating a Composite

So today I'm going to be talking about how to create a composite image in post. In order to do this, we will need two images and copies of Lightroom and Photoshop. I like to choose an image of a person and then use a background landscape image to highlight the sillohette. So, let's start with these two:

I took the above shot at the canals in Venice, California with a fisheye lens and my plan was to combine that image with the one below.

This is just a very simple image shot in my studio and the result is straight out of camera. There's nothing too exciting about this portrait of my model, Josh. On it's own it's pretty standard, so I wanted to do something fun to make it pop. The first step is to convert the image to black and white in Lightroom. You don't technically have to do this, but I think it makes the final image stand out a little bit more, as we will be keeping the background image in color.

So, now we've got this, a very flat black and white image. The next step is to create a copy of this image and open the copy up in photoshop (this way the original image is preserved). At the same time, we also want to open up our backgroud image in photoshop. Now we have two images on two separate tabs. How do we put them together?

1. Go to the background image and select it with the move tool. Move the image and hover over the tab of our photo of Josh. Photoshop will then switch to that window, but you will still have the bacground image that you've moved.

2. Align the background image with our portrait image, hold down shift and release the mouse. BOOM! We now have two images on top of each other.

3. Now, our image of Josh has been totally obscured by our image of the canals. So, what do we do? Firstly, we want to create a mask so that we can decide what is visable and what isn't. Hold down the option key and click the mask button in the bottom right of the gray info bar (it looks like a little circle). Huzzah, Josh has reappeared, but we have lost our canals.

4. In order to show that bottom image, we want to paint on that black mask anywhere that'd we'd like it to appear. So, grab a brush and begin.

5. I decided that I wanted to keep Josh on a white background, but that I wanted to be able to see the canal image through Josh himself, so I painted with my brush only on Josh.

6. I reccomend using a brush at full opacity so that you can really see exactly where you are painting and be accurate. It may look like you've lost your model completely, as you will now just see the canals photo anywhere that you've painted on that black mask.

7. What do we do now? Well, the final step is to create an image where we can see both Josh AND the canals. In order to do that we just lower to opacity of the mask layer. This can be done to taste. Just do whatever looks good to you.

8. And that leaves us with our final image:

Josh now has some sweet facial tatoos and a cool patterned shirt. Easy.

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All images © Katherine Barcsay