I just finished a tutorial on image compositing at phlearn.com that i’ve been working on for a while: “Photoshop compositing – Essential tools and techniques“. It’s about 7.5 hours of working through two different composite images, the first one with multiple exposures of the same scene and the second one combining a studio image with a couple of stock photos to make up a whole new one. The teacher, as always on Phlearn, is Aaron Nace. Aaron does a great job and explains everything in a very educational way.
Frame compositing – floating candles
The first part is a frame composite. A number of images with a model and candles in different positions are combined. I found this one pretty easy, but using blend modes to create a natural glow around the candles was a challenge. I learned more than i expected.
Cinemagraph bonus lesson
This first part also includes a bonus lesson on how to create a cinemagraph of the candle image with the candles flickering.
Arctic soldier – element compositing
In the second part, you use a few different background images and a studio image of a soldier to create a videogame-like image of a soldier in a winter landscape.
You start out working in black and white under a black and white adjustment layer to put the components together and bring the image together and get the luminosity to a point where it looks realistic. There’s a lot of work with adjustment layers and masking.
Custom brushes included
The material includes two custom brushes for Photoshop. One is a fog brush which is great for creating fog and random patterns. The other one is a brush for painting snow.
This tutorial introduces a concept that’s very helpful when it comes to image compositing – check layers. These are tools to unify the luminosity, hue and saturation and they make the work a lot easier. I think check layer may also have been included in another Phlearn compositing tutorial i have done before, but the concept became much clearer this time.
After the image is brought together, you work on creating atmospheric fog and snow and directed lighting and then you wrap up by color toning everything to make it more believable. I have to say i’m quite satisfied with with the end result.
Different ways to do each step
One thing i appreciated was that you get to see a few different ways to do each step in Photoshop. This gives you a great toolkit for your future compositing projects.
Finally – a warning
In the soldier tutorial, you end up with a huge file. It’s well over 4 GB in my case and my computer struggled a little at times. Aaron explains how you can reduce the file size by changing the file from 16 to 8 bit. If you’re considering buying this tutorial, make sure your computer can handle it.
I have no affiliation with phlearn.com. I just happen to think their stuff is great.