sandor beres's picture

Learning compositing and photo-manipulation

I am a relatively experienced graphic and web designer, but I have been employed for some time, making the composition and photo manipulation.
I often had to take a smaller compositions in web and graphic works, so the basic techniques are already in place for me.
Now, this area has been completely enchant me, seeing the many talented composition artist.
Could you give me your advice on how I could learn specific compositional knowledge? I just finished the "Photoshop Compositing Secrets by Matt Kloskowski" book, I found very useful, you can offer similar readings?
Sorry for my amateur questions, and thank you for your help.

On of my initial works:

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Bob Bell's picture

Hi mate, great job on the Gorilla one ;)
I can recommend Corey Barkers 'Down and Dirty Tricks' books and also Glyn Dewis "The Photoshop Workbook". Also check Glyns YouTube channel for a tonne of compositing tips and tricks.

Aaron Nace over at is up for sharing his secrets too, be sure to check out his YouTube channel to get plenty of excellent compositing know how.

Hope this helps :)

sandor beres's picture

Bob, thank you very much for your helpful advice; Qualitative knowledge appear :)

Dennis Dunbar's picture

While there are lots of books available with tips on compositing the basics come down to masking, color correction, and file structure.
The first recommendation I would have is to master the Pen Tool and learn how to make great masks. You can test the masks out by putting a layer filled with a contrasting color behind your subject which will make it easy to see where the mask is working and where it needs some massaging.
Then work on building your files with a sound file structure, using Clipping Masks and Layer Groups to both organize your layers and leverage your masks.
Next work on mastering Color Correction as you'll need to shift the color and tonality of your various layers so they all fit into the context of the image you're creating.
After that master Blending Modes as they'll often do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
HTH Dennis Dunbar

sandor beres's picture

Thank you for your feedback, Dennis!
I appreciate this!

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

My opinion is that compositors ( :) I don't know if it's a valid term for people who do compositing) should study light in 98% of the time. The rest is just tools.

Dennis Dunbar said you have to master the Pen Tool. I agree the Pen Tool is a great tool. However I rarely use it. Many times I just use the brush tool and I rarely I photograph people against a seamless background when doing composites. There are many tools and many ways to get the job done and I'm sure you know that much better than I do.

Most of the bad composited photos suffer from light misunderstanding and most of them are perfectly cut out. However they do look fake.

Your job with the gorilla is very good and very convincing at first sight. At second sight I can see a few problems. Most of the composites I see nowadays have visible flaws from first sight so you did a great job. The last shadow from bar doesn't match a real life shadow. A real life shadow would be thinner and lighter. It would also be a little to the right. The shadow on the face is straight while it has to follow the curves of the face. But again your composite it better than most of those I see on the market.