• Compositing is a technique of combining images by Selecting and Masking them together to form a new image. It is complicated by the fact that each image needs to be adjusted for colour, tone, saturation, contrast and lighting in order to appear natural and blend into the image in a believable way.


To Edit -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




  • See Colour Manipulation
  • Saturation maps -
  • Colour effects - Cinematographic, Onion Effect,
  • Making and adding backgrounds from textures -
    Using textures and the big advantage of shooting against a grey background and using a blending mode,
  • Matching foreground to background -
  • Frame Compositing where everything was shot from a tripod in the same place. This is the easiest and most realistic technique, but is hardest to photograph.
  • Element Compositing brings different elements together. 3 types -
    - Can use stock images.
    - Project specific compositing where images are shot for a final result.
    - Other techniques used together e.g. 3D modelling used,
  • Use a ‘Comp’ or rough composite from stock photographs or a sketch to work out a plan before shooting.
  • Start with a background and analyse the lighting, and try to reproduce this on the subject when they are shot. Try to match perspective, camera height, lens, aperture etc.
  • Use Edit > Auto Align Layers to ensure the layers match. The Automatic option usually works best.
  • Roughly arrange things together first. Use the Rotate tool ‘R’ to rotate the image to see how it looks from all angles. This helps you see the image as it really is.
  • Start with the thing furthest away and step forwards.
  • Work in black and white to arrange things and then colourise afterwards.
  • Don’t clone or mask things so that they look blurred, aim for detail.
  • Bleed the light around the edge of an image, such as skin, where it is lighter in the background to integrate a subject into the background. (Phlearn)
  • Add an edge glow to emphasise lighting by brushing on a light colour. Better effect by selecting the subject and fill a black layer mask with white on the selection. Inverse the mask and make it a couple of pixels bigger. Fill the new mask with black. This will give a fine white outline on the inside of the subject mask. Blur the layer mask but ensure it is clipped to the original mask so that it does not go outside the image. Can duplicate this layer and add a larger blur to make it less defined. Mask out where this is not needed and break it up a little.  (Phlearn > Beginners Guide to Compositing > Perfect Composite > Video 3, 4 min)
  • Add random shapes and blur to simulate light variation. Radial blur can also be good. (Phlearn > Beginners Guide to Compositing > Perfect Composite > Video 3, 25 min)
  • Match definition in the different elements by sharpening or blurring until they look right together.


Creating Shadows


Adding a Figure to a Background

  • Use a rough cut and paste for the figure then erase back, using a 10% flow next to the hair. (Experimental Portraits 27, 16m)


Blurring a Background

  • How to Blur Background When Hair is Difficult to Select in Photoshop - 01,


Add a Sky

  • Use Multiply Blend Mode when the sky is white- 01,


Fog & Mist

  • Nik > Colour Effects > Graduated Fog.






Courses & Tutorials

Light Rays

Links From