How to Create a Simple Composite in Photoshop

In this video tutorial, watch as I show you how to create a commercial composite portrait in Photoshop. This is a full tutorial showing the process from beginning to end in real-time.

In the video, I start with, as always, the Pen Tool! You cannot be a composite artist without using the Pen Tool at least once in your images. It gives the best paths and selections. If you watched the previous video on cutting out, you will also see me using the refine edge brush to extract the hair. Once the model is cut out from his background, it is time to bring in a background image. You should always choose a background that works with the story of your character. The model I had looked to me like a banker, so the obvious background image was a bank or business environment. 

As the video continues, I start to show you how to color-match, tone-match, and blend your cut-out model into his background. My foundational tool of choice is Curves, the most powerful adjustment layer that we can use in Photoshop. With Curves alone, you can pretty much composite any two elements together. Once the blending is complete, we then move onto styling. This is where we give our image some personality and leave a little bit of our own stamp on it. For me, this is usually dodging and burning, mixed with some color grading. By using these together, you can get some unique looks.

This tutorial is great for anyone who wants to learn the simple steps it takes to create a simple two-image composite. You can then take these techniques and build upon them.

Clinton Lofthouse's picture

Clinton Lofthouse is an Advertising/Entertainment photographer, creative artworker and Photoshop expert from the U.K. Specializing in composite and photomanipulation imagery.
When he is not chained to his desktop PC editing, Clinton likes to put on Synthwave music, wear Aviator sunglasses and pretend to be in an 80s movie.

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1 Comment

The artist clearly knows exactly what he is doing, but confuses commentary with teaching. A very old but still useful teaching rule is: say what you are going to do, the do it, then summarise what you have done. The video is a commentary, where one word mis-heard or one short cut missed leaves the viewer lost. I gave up at colour adjustment - a new layer is clipped to the model in a moment and then we grind through each colour. If you are unsure about compositing the real need is to understand what the curves will do and the steps to add the adjustment layer. Show it - then tell us what you have just done. Does this add too much time? Then just show one colour in detail, summarise what has been done and then say something similar is required for the other two.