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Photoshop Compositing Secrets Unlocking the Key to Perfect Selections and Amazing Pho

Photoshop Compositing Secrets Unlocking the Key to Perfect Selections and Amazing Pho

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Published by: Azman Bin Jaeh on Sep 10, 2012
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I mentioned this earlier, but adding the athletes into the composite is probably the easiest part of all this. Once your background

is looking good, it’s just a matter of a few selections and you’re done. Now, none of these athletes were photographed in a studio.

These were all taken during live games, so our backgrounds aren’t nice to work with. But you’ll see that the Refine Edge dialog still

totally rocks here.



Chapter 12 Sports Template


Now, you’ve got the player selected

from the background with a layer

mask. Open the background image

we created in the previous tutorial

(you can download the final image

if you didn’t follow along) and use

the Move tool (V) to drag the foot-

ball player in and place him on the

left side (I’ll rename each layer as

I drag it in to keep them straight).

Here’s the catch: we want to make

sure to position this layer above the

top ellipses (so his hands and head

will appear above them), but below

the bottom ellipses (so his feet will

be hidden). Take a look at the Layers

panel here to see what I mean.


The photo is probably too large

for the background, so press Com-

mand-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up

Free Transform. Because it’s so

much larger than the image area,

you won’t be able to see the Free

Transform handles. So, press Com-

mand-0 (zero; PC: Ctrl-0) to auto-

matically resize the window, so

you can reach all four handles

(as seen here). Then just click on

a corner handle, and drag it in

to resize the photo. Don’t forget

to press-and-hold the Shift key to

keep it proportional.



Chapter 12 Sports Template


All right, that’s one photo. Do the

same for the other four photos. Select

the players and drag them into the

final composite. Arrange them so all

the players are facing toward the cen-

ter of the image. I didn’t have much

of a fringe problem on these, but if

you do, make sure you refer back to

Chapter 1 to see how to get rid of it.

You’ll tend to have fringed edges if

you have a dark uniform with a bright

sky or grass behind it. One more

thing: try to mix it up a little. Notice

how some of the hands and heads

appear over the top ellipses. That

helps give some depth and an almost

3D quality to the image. Also, the

photo in the middle is above every-

thing else (I had to move the text at

the top below his layer in the Layers

panel, so he would appear over the

text). The photos on the far right and

far left come next, and all the football

players are in front of the two soccer

players. This helps the soccer players

look like they could be the same size

as the football players, but they’re just

farther away from them. It’s important

to think about those little details,

because they help make the final

composite look more dynamic. You

can just drag the layers up and down

in the layer stack once they are all in

the image to see what looks best.


Oh yeah, all of the download images

have a hidden layer with the layer

mask on it already. So they’re selected

for you, if you want to save time and

follow along. See, I care.



Chapter 12 Sports Template


Now, if you look at the soccer player

on the left, his face is in shadow.

We need to fix that, so click on his

layer, then click on the Create New

Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom

of the Layers panel and choose

Levels. In the Adjustments panel,

drag the shadows (left) slider under

the histogram to the right a little

to 12, drag the midtones (center)

slider to the left to 1.19, and drag the

highlights (right) slider to the left to

209. You’ll see that this also lightens

everything below him, so Right-

click on the layer and choose Create

Clipping Mask to clip this adjustment

to just the soccer player.


The only problem now is that the

left side of him is too bright. So,

click on the layer mask to make

it active, then press Command-

(PC: Ctrl-) to Invert it and hide

the adjustment. Press B to get

the Brush tool, make sure your

Foreground color is set to white,

and with a medium-sized, soft-

edged brush, paint across the

right side to bring the lightening

back, until both sides match.



Chapter 12 Sports Template


Okay, since the three football

players are in front of the soccer

players, they should be throwing

a shadow on the soccer players.

The way the football players are

lit, you can see that the light was

coming from the left side of the

image, so we are going to create

a shadow on the right side of the

player on the left and the player in

the center. Start with the player on

the left by clicking on his layer, then

Command-clicking (PC: Ctrl-clicking)

on the Create a New Layer icon at

the bottom of the Layers panel to

create a new blank layer beneath

him. Now, we’re going to need the

selection of the football player, so

Command-click on the layer mask

we used as his selection to bring up

the selection. Because we moved

the layer to the left, your selection

will also include the blank right side

of the layer, so grab the Rectangular

Marquee tool (M) and, while press-

ing-and-holding the Option (PC: Alt)

key, click-and-drag around that area

to remove it from the selection.



Chapter 12 Sports Template


With your selection in place, go to

Edit>Fill, then choose Black from

the Use pop-up menu, and click OK.

We’ll need to blur it a little, so go to

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, set the

Radius to 8, and click OK. Now, since

it’s a shadow, we’ll need to lower

the layer’s Opacity to fade it a bit.

Here, I lowered mine to around 45%.

Then, because the light (from the

sun) is coming from the top left,

we want to make the shadow cast

down and to the right. So, go into

Free Transform again, move the

shadow to the right, and change

its angle. Now, we don’t want the

shadow falling on the background,

so grab the Eraser tool (E) and erase

that area away. Do the same thing

with the football player in the center,

and make sure you rename your

layers to keep them organized. The

shadow next to the center player’s

head was a bit too dark, so I set the

Eraser tool’s Opacity to 10% and

erased some of it away.



Chapter 12 Sports Template

STEP 10:

There’s one last little finishing effect.

Notice how bright the athletes look,

from top to bottom. These were all

taken outdoors in the middle of

the day. Well, one thing about this

composite is that we don’t show

their feet. In fact, we want to draw

people’s attention away from their

feet and legs as much as possible.

Remember, that’s one of the keys to

compositing when someone’s legs

or feet are in the photo—take the

attention away from them. Now,

when someone looks at this, we

don’t expect they’ll even think it’s

real, right? But anything we can do

to take their focus away from the

lower half of the athletes’ bodies

(circled here) will help.

STEP 11:

Click on whichever layer is the top

athlete in the image to target it

(here, it is the football player in the

center). Then, click on the Create a

New Layer icon at the bottom of the

Layers panel to create a new layer

above the athletes, but below the

ellipses at the bottom, as seen here.



Chapter 12 Sports Template

STEP 12:

Press D to set your Foreground color

to black. Press G to get the Gradient

tool, then in the Options Bar, click on

the down-facing arrow to the right of

the gradient thumbnail to bring up

the Gradient Picker. Click on the sec-

ond gradient from the left in the top

row (Foreground to Transparent), and

then make sure you have the Linear

Gradient icon selected (the first icon

on the left). Now, click-and-drag from

the bottom of the image upward to

about halfway from the top to cre-

ate a gradient that’s black, but fades

to transparent. You’ll see it darkens

the lower part of the bodies. If it

doesn’t look right, press Command-Z

(PC: Ctrl-Z) to Undo, and try again.

Remember, you just want to darken

the lower part of their bodies, but the

gradient shouldn’t go much higher

than their waists. And, because the

gradient layer is below the bottom

ellipse layers, they look the same—

we’re only darkening the athletes.

STEP 13:

Now, this made the football player

on the left really dark. In fact, he’s too

dark. So, let’s add a layer mask and

mask him out. Bring back his selec-

tion again, and remove the right side

of the layer from the selection like we

did in Step Eight. Then, Option-click

(PC: Alt-click) on the Add Layer Mask

icon at the bottom of the Layers panel

to mask just that selection. The edges

of his pants are a little bright, so just

grab the Brush tool, and with your

Foreground color set to white, brush

over those edges.




Chapter 12 Sports Template


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Chapter 13 Single-Photo Composite



Chapter 13 Single-Photo Composite

The single-photo composite is a great idea when you only have one photo to work

with, but you want it to look like there’s more going on in the image. You’ll see this

used a lot with sports photos, but I’ve also seen it used with regular portraits and

even product ads. The idea is to make a copy of your original photo, make it way

bigger, and fade it into the background. Because it’s faded, most people don’t really

pay attention to the fact that it’s the same photo. Let’s take a look.





Chapter 13 Single-Photo Composite


Open the background photo. I’m

using a texture downloaded from

iStockphoto (www.istockphoto.com),

here. I found it by searching for

“back ground texture.” If you’re into

compositing, though, definitely keep

your camera (it can even be a point-

and-shoot camera) with you when-

ever you can. As you come across

a cool-looking texture on a wall or

floor, just grab a quick photo of it

and start building your own back-

ground image library.


Click on the Create New Adjustment

Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers

panel and select Hue/Saturation. In

the Adjustments panel, turn on the

Colorize checkbox and then set the

Hue to 49 and the Saturation to 8

to remove most of the color. By the

way, this step is totally adjustable,

depending on your background

photo—sometimes it may work to

leave more color in the photo and

sometimes you’ll want to add color

saturation. It really depends on the

image, but in this example, I was

trying to match the background with

the pale gold color in the uniform

of the faded version of the football

player we’ll be placing here.

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