Creating a Composite Image in Photoshop

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

After several people asked how I created the image from my WW post this week, I thought I'd post the steps here. I must warn you that I am not a Photoshop expert and there is very likely a better way to do this. This is just the way I have learned and it works for me. 

For my original image, I asked my son to jump across our couch which was situated in front of several windows with late afternoon light streaming in. Here's what that image looked like after a clean edit in Lightroom.

In Photoshop, I opened both the image of him and the sky image I wanted to use as my background. I floated the image of my son in a separate window so that I could easily move between the two.

Next, I used the quick selection tool to outline him, being careful to make sure my edges were clean. Here's the rough draft. You want to be careful to not have any of your unwanted background selected.

Then I used my move tool to drag him over to my sky background.

This is what I got once I dropped him where I wanted. 

 I pulled the edges of the selection to resize his image and adjust the angle to my liking.

Then, by double clicking on him, I merged the two images. (Here you see some rough edges where I wasn't as precise as I should have been because I was lazy in recreating the process for this tutorial. Sorry, I had whining children at my heels. Make sure your selection is precise or it will be noticeable when you merge your images.)

Next I added the sun flare layer by going to File> Place and selecting the flare overlay I wanted to use from my hard drive. I placed it over my merged image and resized and moved it where I thought it would look best. Then I tried different blend modes (available in the layers palette in the drop down menu above your top layer) to see which looked best. For this imaged I used "soft light".



I then flattened my image and ran an action to add some pink haze and soften the finish. 

 I finished up tweaking the edits to my liking, added my watermark and resized it for the web. 

Here's my final edit:


 The most difficult part of the process is the quick selection mode, which is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. It helps to have a clean background with contrast to work from. Trying to select a dark item from a dark background or any item from a busy background can be very tedious!

I have only done a couple of composites but they can be lots of fun to play with. Give it a try!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. There are many video tutorials on you tube that can be helpful as well.

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Tish said...

Melissa, this is great!! thanks for sharing how you did this!! this is something that has been intimidating for me, but your tutorial is fabulous!! i want to try this soon!! what fun photos you can create!!

Gina @ Kleinworth & Co. said...

Love your tutorial- you did a great job!

Amanda Jillian B said...

Cool! I was wondering how you made the shot =]

Aimee said...

Thanks for sharing this! I have a picture I wanted to do something similar with but I didn't know how.

Kim Cunningham said...

So great! Thanks for sharing the how! It is an amazing image.

Elena Ferdinand said...

That is the best edit! I absolutely love it!!!!

Mindi said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial! You make it seem much less intimidating. i just started editing in LIghtroom after receiving it for Christmas. Now to start saving for Photoshop! :)

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