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Compositing Simple Swaps and Group Shots in Photoshop

Lesson 15 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Compositing Simple Swaps and Group Shots in Photoshop

Lesson 15 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

15. Compositing Simple Swaps and Group Shots in Photoshop


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Why Composite ?


Logic Checklist


What Not To Do When Compositing


Shooting for Composite


Changing Backgrounds and Light


Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


Lesson Info

Compositing Simple Swaps and Group Shots in Photoshop

I'm going to start swapping this limb like we talked about so before we had this wonderful pose with this sort of hand that looks really crazy we're going to pretend like her face looks not crazy too and what we're going to do is swap this hand so pretend like this this is exactly how she wants to look on her wedding day and this hand is not how she wants to look on her wedding day so we have our blank shot if you guys recall we shot this we didn't have her arm there that way we can use this as the blank image to add in and we also have this shot so what is the problem here with these two pictures if we were to just use them the problem is that her hand is contained to this area whereas the other hand moves up through here and I don't have anything to replace that with if I don't have a background shot so if I don't have a background shot than I would have to clone that or I would have to reconstruct in photo shop and that does not sound like fun so I'll show you what it looks like if ...

I take this hand and move it so I'm gonna do that with the lasso tool or l on my keyboard is the shortcut and I'm just going to select really generally just this whole arm just cause you never know what you're going to end up sticking on there what you'll need I almost never will go around specifically like tracing something I try not to do that it just frustrates me I'm not very good at it if you're making a selection and need to add to that selection you can hold shift and you can drag and draw and that will add to your selection just the same holding alter or option you can get rid of stuff from your selection so if you happen to close your selection too soon you can always add or subtract from it so now I'm just going to copy it command see and then paste it command v hey they go okay now if I hit v on my keyboard without hitting any of the control commands then that brings up my move tool and now I can move this around so what's going on here if I put that in place then obviously we have a lot of hand where we don't want hand one way of taking care of that is to just like more so we can just use this as the background shot if we want to we can just select all of this area and replace it let's pretend like we can't let's pretend likes something changed it just wasn't gonna work we have this background shot toe work with so before we even bother with this arm I'm just going to go over here to this blank shot of his chest and I'm going to choose my lasso tool and I'm just gonna go like this make a big selection there copy it and paste it and now with my move tool I could just move that into place that might not be exact he might have moved just a little bit but we don't even know yet because we need to lower the opacity on this layer so you can see layer to hear we'll say that's the chest then we can lower the opacity on that layer so we can move it and see where it matches up and where it might not so what zoom in just so we can see some anchor points here and the anchor points would be the tie the vest different things like that now he moved just a little bit but that is not a big deal we know that we don't need this area we know we just need right in here so that's more important to me to get right right about there not so much up here all right so zoom out a little bit and we'll take that opacity up and I'm going to blend this first so something that I see a lot of people trying to do is to put this in place the chest then put the hand in place and then say well I haven't blended the chest yet but let's just see if we can get all the work and then we'll start racing the hand and try to make it all blend but I just want to make sure each part has done perfectly even if it doesn't even get used in the end so I'm going to create a layer mask on this layer on the chess player and I'm going to choose my brush tool by right clicking I could make that size lower you can also use your square brackets on your keyboard to make it bigger or smaller but I'm going to go ahead and make it about three hundred pixels and I'm on black my capacities at one hundred percent so now I can just start to a race and I'm on a really soft fuzzy brush I was on zero percent hardness so I am just erasing racing and I'm making sure that I can't see her hand anymore I don't mind if I see her arm here in her wrists because that was all fine and good there that's good see you guys can see a lot more detail so let me know if something's really wrong over there but okay so I think that's pretty good unless I messed up his collar no that looks good I see a finger hold on let's go get the finger do you see it I see the finger okay now in this case I just brought back some of the best so I just want to make my brush a little bit smaller and go in there and get rid of it all right so we're kind of well blended over here is going to fix the tie area because I'm feeling really picky today all right so we've got him all nicely composited there we have a new chest on his body so we can see what that's done not too much just sort of blended the hand away and now I'm going to be able tio click on my arm layer now the army has been covered by the vest so I just need to move it up top to the top of my layers here and now I'm going to the same thing of lowering the opacity choosing my move tool and then matching this up now there are a couple of ways I could do it one could be with the tie here to make sure that that all matches up but the other thing is that I just want to make sure that her arm is following the same line that the original arm followed so I'm going to come right back here and let's see if we can't just take a look at that arm and get it to match pretty well we'll try that to start I think maybe it does it belong belongs down here ok that's much better there we go oh I think we got it okay so let's take the opacity up layer mask brush tool by hitting b on my keyboard I can take that size up just for easier work here you can see still zero percent hardness and on black and you can switch to black by hitting x on your keyboard black white black white by hitting x and I'm going to start to a race now the question is how much do we erase and how much to believe and this is a question just the personal preference so I'm erasing on her arm we can see a couple things aren't matching for example right here we have her arm that's sort of not quite right especially over here but we can erase that more but right here the question is do we continue to a race and reposition it or do we just budget and see what we can do about this I like to fudge things obviously so that's what we're going to do now I want to click on the actual layer and this is the last piece of I would say compositing that I use very frequently which is the warp tool so I'm going to go toe edit transform warp and what this is going to allow you to do is to click and drag the pixels and move them around kind of like liquefy except that it actually shows you what the layer looks like in relation to the background layers so warp I didn't actually click it edit transform warp okay I'm gonna zoom out a little bit so I can see this now we have all of these boxes on the outside edges and the crosshairs inside so I can click anywhere on the edge here and just start to move that arm into place so you can see that kind of popping in the right area there here we go ah ha it fits literally I just need to race down here now because the dress doesn't match up anymore so that's something that we can do one of two ways now we could just move this back we could readjust the arm again so then that all works out but I would rather just erase it now what the problem if I started racing the problem is that I have a very big fuzzy brush so it's going to look like that so I'm going to start to dig into her arm here in a really really weird way I don't want to do that I'm going to step back and instead what I want to do is re adjust here I'm going to adjust my size to make it smaller and I'm going to adjust my hardness so like I said this is one hundred percent hardness brush I've never taken a picture of a subject that was actually in focus one hundred percent so I never use one hundred percent hardness and the way that I know what hardness to choose is how sharp is the thing that I'm a racing against so in this case it's the arm it's not totally and focus I'd say we're out about like eighty five maybe a percent there so I'm going to choose that and then when I go into a race this you can see the edges really hard which means that I can now sort of erase in a lot more of ah a nice way there although I raised too much so we're going to bring it back with white just get that to pop in so what I'm doing here is making absolutely certain that everything is blended before I ever move on to another step so I think that it's pretty pretty well blended at least for the sake of talking about this at the moment that look okay for now don't judge me too much okay good all right so I'm going to leave that one alone then and say that we fixed her all up even though we did not fix her all up and now let's move into bridge and find some of the other images that we worked on here should we do a group photo or should we not yogurt photo ivan do a group photo because you know isn't it is what I like I think a lot of people do struggle with is the need to actually swap eyes and head as um uh yeah so I think it be a great thing to show people okay here we go okay we have the blink and the not blink blink in the not blink I moved sorry about that okay so let's open them up which ones were they this one and this one okay so we're gonna open these images up all adjust these a little bit because they were a little bit dark so I'm just going to take the exposure up so we can really see what we're doing maybe take the shadows up a little bit that looks fine oops I didn't do it on both of them I regret that okay so back to zero and take this back down okay now I'm going to select all and do the same thing to make sure that we do them both in the same way that we need to adjust them open images all right so our opening these images and the first thing that I want to do is locate the problem and then locate the solution so we've got a problem over here okay we're going to replace his eyes and we're going to do that by getting you out of the way navigator and finding this image so the eyes are open over here and we're going to take them now I'm not going to do something where I like zoom in here and I'm like okay let's get this I like this and then try to plop it inside his his skin that's weird and difficult so we're not going to do that instead I'm just going to select his head I mean we're just going to be like plot there we go okay copy and paste that a weird thing to see okay just wait till I finish it you're gonna have tons of your head everywhere okay so we could leave it like that and see if any of our family members notice but let's not can you put me on everybody's yes that'll be that'll be our band project your head on everybody's body we'll think of a name tonight okay so I'm going to create a layer mask there and just the same way we're going to want to focus on matching this up lowering the opacity on that layer so we can see that we're kind of off here that looks pretty good okay if his head moved ever so slightly I moved ever so slightly slight changes are just fine take that opacity back up which is very entertaining and we're going to click on the way or mask and we're just going to move right in here so I'm going to go ahead with my brush tool and what I want to do here is I would just want to start to a race on black but you can see that my brush is still really hard and I want a soft fuzzy brush and I determined that based on what exactly do I want to blend do I want to race against something or do I just want to do a really really soft transition so I'm just erasing and everything and seeing how it all fits in just like this now we can make his eyes blinking we want it's too much fun I tell you e I do this with my family members all the time but I just think it's so entertaining okay so now you might say well his eyes were a little bit bigger in the first one okay fair I don't want to make your eyes smaller and smaller until they shrink into your head so let's go ahead and fix it and so to do that I'll go in to edit transform now we can either do free transform or just transform it depends on what you want to do here so if we do free transform then we can make them bigger I don't want to do this drastically but I do want to do it in proportion so what I don't want to do is grab the side and start to adjust like this and then they're oh man this is just so much fun uh so I don't want to do that although it's very tempting so instead yeah yeah well that'll be the alternate version all right so instead what I want to dio is click on the layer not the layer mask and goto edit free transform but instead of just clicking and dragging I wanna hold shift and click and drag and that's going to maintain the aspect ratio and then we'll just move them back into place there then say okay so now I don't know if that's exactly where it was supposed to be that's pretty good okay so we've got some new eyes in there I think you're looking rather fancy so that's pretty good now I don't I didn't notice any other blinkers but I think it's you know a good thing to really take a look at that ok you guys are in the clear then all right so we've got some I swapped there and now everybody although you don't look very happy to say well we didn't get a smile so we can't replace that way weren't hugging yet oh yeah let's do that shall we okay so what I want to do now is let's take a look at the other group shots that we did okay oh that's so cute okay the's are good these are good oh yeah that was funny too but okay so let's see which one should we go with which pose here not that one I don't think it's kind of sad looking maybe that one like that okay so we'll open that up and I'm not going to be showing right now howto actually cut somebody out of a background and make that look good I just want to show how it would match her proportion up to the shot here so we're going to be doing a whole segment on moving people to a different background that we will save for another time and place okay and this is so cute I wish I was in it all right let's open that up and we're gonna put you over here and so I'm going to very quickly with the simple tools that we've already talked about with the lasso tool I'm just going to select just like this some big area copy it wrong one hadn't faced it no my pasting is like really slow okay wait could go for this or we could fix it so let's go ahead and free transform again so ed it free transform hold shift make you a little bit smaller in there okay so let's say you know I see that most people are cut off at the knee so it's something to keep in mind need about there I would say that's pretty good now it's lower that opacity so we can see how this is going all look that hand just matches right up there oh so excited okay good so we're going to put that in just like that I'll say okay and we'll take that opacity back up which is wonderful now I'm going to this very quickly which is with a layer mask because you can cut almost anything out just with away or mask and that's perfectly possible so let's go ahead and get rid of what we don't need so what everybody show through who needs to show through now what I love about layer masking is that I am able to a race too much and then go back and bring it back where we need teo so here I'm just going to keep racing rather just get rid of the hand to be honest there and then we'll fix that later I'm just gonna toggle between the size a little bit you know let's just say that this is perfect and uh you don't see any problems good on you we're going to bring your hand back okay here we go so now it's just a matter of toggle ing between the hardness like we talked about earlier to get in around the detail parts of this hand so I would probably make my size smaller take that hardness up quite a bit switch to black and then try to get in and cut around the fingers now the thing they're going to notice immediately upon doing that is that it doesn't look good anymore it almost looks better with that back around in there than if we were to cut and I don't have the patience to cut right now but I'm going to cut just very roughly yeah yeah that works create okay all right so that's good okay good enough and again I would just keep going with size and bringing stuff back like this little fingernail that I erased and erasing like inside this portion even smaller okay so now the problem here is that if I zoom out enough you're like oh yeah sure that was totally believable she fits there it's fine if you're going to be pickier with me then you we need a shadow here so let's just talk about that very very briefly here how we want to add a shadow in now I'm going to talk about this more at length especially when we're talking about blending fabrics to create a dress when we're talking about levitation stuff like that but for these purposes let's just go ahead and use the basic tools that we've already been talking about so I'm going to use my lasso tool and I'm just going to select right where her hand is just kind of threw here to create a natural shadow do I know where the shadow needs to be done exactly but I concern eyes based on all of these people and where their shadows are I know that the light was right here I know the shadows are right on the other side so anything below her hand or sort of under her right here would be a little bit more shadowed so let's go ahead take a look at the selection and we talked about feathering before that's not something that we've done a ton of yet so let's go ahead and feather this selection because if we don't and if we were to create that adjustment layer with curves then what we're going to dio is create this really hard edge looks awful we don't want to do that we can pin it if we want we don't want to do that in this case because then it's only sticking to her hand whereas we want the shadow toe on ly b on the on the coat so we will unpick that in fact we're going to undo it all together so let's go ahead and erase that and just draw in a new shadow so we want the shattered to kind of come through here really close to her hand and the thing to remember about shadows is that believability iss so important with a shadow now her hand is actually coming away from where it's touching on the sleeve there a little bit wherever it's coming away from whatever you're touching or whatever it's close to it's going to create a softer more spread shadow so if you're really close than in fact I can see it on the hand right now the shadow's going to get harsher and darker so I'm just kind of moving and creating a larger selection around the bottom here and getting a little bit closer in up at the top so it's feather this by right clicking and choosing refine edge and we'll take that feather slider up that was too much so forty pixels not good we'll take it down I'm in the teen range I think will be really nice something like I don't know twelve pixels that looks really good so we'll say ok and that has softened the edges so now all I want to do is create my adjustment layer but what we know about adjustment layers is that you can move where they are within your layers palate I don't want to make her hand darker I just want to make underneath her hand darker so I'm going to go ahead and click on my background layer and create my curves adjustment layer right above that that way the hand is isolated up top we don't have to worry about making it darker and we can start to create a shadow right through there now if you decide that you don't like that shadow there are several things that you could do to fix it one is that you can come in here and use the layer mask that has automatically created for you you can go ahead to your brush tool and you can start to erase that shadow if you don't like it you can lower the opacity on that layer so if it's too harsh you can get rid of that and you could just reshape it basically by painting it away or bringing it back so zoom out that doesn't look half bad I would say no this is my favorite application of the brush tool which is to just smooth the background out so I'm going to go ahead and create a new layer with this page flip icon so not only does that duplicate layers it also creates a whole new layer with the brush tool going to sample right here and I'm going to make the brush size bigger take that hardness down brush size up no but smaller and I'm gonna paint on a new layer so I'm just painting that color in over here over here we'll just color this backdrop in now I know that I have made a mistake I can see that I have colored over top of people but that's why I put this on a new layer because by working on a new layer I can now create a layer mask on that layer take that size down of my brush and then switch to white or black because not white because I just said that wrong okay so now I can erase it off of wherever we don't want that color to show through so I'm just talk going back and forth bringing it back taking it away we definitely don't want it on anybody so definitely not there okay and there we go we'll fix that we'll fix it don't you worry okay so I'm going to just lightly a race over here and bring it back in a race and bring it back and get rid of that thing because that's awful okay so I have sort of a group shot going on here I don't hate it it needs to be fixed up a little bit but at least we're all in it right I mean that's the real important thing here so you've got everybody in the group shot so we have our subject added in now this would not work so well if I shot her not on the same backdrop and that's why we were able to just quickly pop her into the shot so the moral of the story is if you were ever creating a family photo always use the seamless backdrop no that's not the world the story I'll teach the real moral leader but but today it was extremely high double toe have that they're so lets see do we have any other images in here that we wanted to take a look at no don't don't do that okay so let me just take a really quick scroll through oh we have the jump let's take a look shall we wear these too because of my silly mistake now it requires that we spot ahead and remove rene from the picture it wasthe east here I'm gonna open them up select all and the reason why I'm going to this process again and again is because this is the most basic compositing process that I know I'm not using anything fans see I'm not using any tools that are hard to pronounce or in some weird box somewhere else and something that I don't understand but instead I'm just using very very very simple tools so here what would we want do we want to replace her head let's do that first shall we so we can lasso tool select her head I always select way more than I need just cause it's easier to a race than have to move mohr of her head into the picture copy that will paste it in here so I'm going to put her head in place and I'm going to do this so quickly this looks really great so I'm just going to be like that I'm gonna put her head in please I'm so sorry I feel really bad about this um ok so I'm going to put her in please layer mask take that opacity off fresh tool on black and now I can start to erase him still a one hundred percent opacity that's all good oh I raised too much so let's just be okay I brought it back she's in the clear okay so we've got a new head great and now that we have a new head I want teo get rid of the distracting background okay so we have our veil over here and I just want to select a big portion of that and again because of this background super super simple copy and paste it here we go so let's take a closer look v for the move tool and I am just going tio move this generally into place lower the opacity is that really good or am I just seeing things well it could be adjusted slightly you can use the arrow keys to adjust and that makes things a little bit easier sometimes and let's see let's take the opacity back up we will create a layer mask zoom out a little bit so we can see brush tool take that size up right square bracket will make it bigger and we want to be on black so now I can start teo see there there she is we don't want that and so I want teo get rid of it the only thing that we're really looking to do here is blend the edges right where it meets her body that way we don't have a harsh line going through an image and that's something that I have struggled with in the past when I'm when blending edges and things like that is all miss an edge and then print something at fifty inches on dh then realize you've to print it again terrible feelings so anyway zoom in I look for the edge and I do a lot of this toggle ing the eyeball just to see exactly where it's blending aiken see that's where it's blending right there so if I zoom in again on that and then toggle you can see exactly where it's not working right through here and again the warp tool is what I would use so that it transforms warp and just a little nudge up into place and say ok good so we fixed her all up I think in this one we've got the veil oh no hold on I'll make this right oh no I made it wrong where is that hand coming from where is it oh I didn't take enough I'm like oh my gosh what is that I can fix this with the crop tool okay oh no you're still in that square ratio let's not do that okay there we go oh no you're still on it wonder one clear okay I'm just gonna I'm gonna fix this the easy way who needs compositing anyways okay there we go okay okay now I'm done I swear alright e well I love g chae says brooke is so entertaining I'm tempted to buy this course for its entertainment value other people in your life what I love all right so we don't have a lot of time left ask maybe one or two questions and folks I just want you to know we do have a lot of questions in here I see them we're going to be doing more photo shop over the next couple of days and we're going to be diving into a lot of the topics that you're asking about so we're gonna hold the questions until then but this was an amazing introduction not just for compositing but general photo shop alone it was great so thank you very much one thing that we didn't talk about was the tablet that you're actually using I have a lot of questions about that yeah we had jason marino and a couple others say what size welcome does brick use I've been thinking of getting one for christmas but not sure smaller medium is the best one to get yeah when I got my first one I got a medium size and I found that I my arm got tired because I would have to move my arm too much when using the tablet and then I couldn't travel with it so this is a small size I think this is the into us five let me just take a look uh into us pro small yeah with some chinese symbols on it or something so I can't read that that's awesome and charmed pixels photography just on that same topic I was wondering do you suggest using a tablet versus using a mouse they say I'm finding more and more difficult to get an accurate selection for smaller things with the mouse and wondering if the tablet doesn't make a difference it makes a big difference for me and I used a mouse for a long time like four years they used a mouse or a trackpad depending on where I was working and I found that with using the mouse I could do it I could erase things and so like things and it was ok but then my hand really really hurt at the end of the day because I would have to do so many tiny little movements with the mouse that it just it's an uncomfortable position for me so I edit like twice as fast because of the tablet so I definitely recommend it especially for the price it's you know it's it's one of the less pricing equipment that you could purchase and one more actually right along those same top or that same topic jonathan eleanor and one other how long is the editing process all this photo shop work terrifies me so the question is obviously you showed us a very quick and dirty kind of version here how long do you actually work on a lot of your images I used to feel like I would not be taken seriously if I said that I spend thirty minutes editing a picture but to be honest the editing the compositing for an average image of mine is about thirty minutes and then I spend the next hour and a half doing things like color and white and stuff like that I would say about thirty minutes to an hour is average for compositing unless it's really complicated that I just don't know how to do or maybe it's a really difficult selection or something like that but it really turns into the simplest formula when editing a composite and I think that the reason for me is because I'm not good at learning new things very very well so I stick to the same tools they're really simple tools they're really easy to understand and because of that the composites just come together really nicely I think it's certainly depends on the edit I mean I've spent you know thirty hours before editing a composite just the compositing part that's largely due to my computer freezing because of the file being so big but but it depends but I'd say an hour let's say is average yeah but that's just for the compositing noth arrest

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Logic Checklist
Must Have Shots
Favorite Photoshop Tools
Lighting Effects
Practice Files - Cutting out Hair from Background
Practice Files - Building a Dress
Practice Files - Swapping Hand
Practice Files - Levitation
Adorama Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Logan Fox

I'm so thrilled to have come across this course and to have been introduced to Brooke Shaden. As a bit of background I do photography as a hobby, and always had an appetite to composite my work. It's only after watching this course that I can finally put a name to a craft that I love, that being 'fine art photography'. Through my own personal journey I've read various books, followed online tutorials both paid and free. When I came across this course I did hesitate. I wondered 'is it going to teach me anything new'... 'would the standard of the course be up to scratch'. Well, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is by far is one of the best courses I've come across to date. As a solo photographer myself I've found it difficult at times to be both photographer and subject at the same time. From the outset what became clear was that Brooke is just like me in this respect which made the course so 'relevant' to what I do. Brooke shows throughout the course what can be achieved with a little planning and some creative approaches to situations that can be difficult to pull off when on your own. She is such a joy to watch and listen to, I loved her sense of humor and great how the audience were involved in some of the shoots. All I can say is, if you're in to photography and interested in compositing your work, you should give this a go, you wont regret it!


I'd like to show my gratitude and gratefulness to Ms Shaden and other wonderful people at CreativeLIVE for sharing your vast knowledge without making a fuss. Not everybody has a super computer and a top-notch camera, not everyone has a studio to work in and not everyone needs to know everything as perfectly as some instructors and professionals do. I, for one, have gained so much insight and have been intrigued by Ms Shaden's present and past lessons, she makes the most difficult and surreal subjects unfold so easily and effortlessly. Ms Shaden has made me believe no matter where I be and no matter what i have, as long as i have a good story to tell, and the right vision, I should be able to handle it with a working camera and any version of Photoshop. Unlike many other instructors who kill us every 5 minutes to buy their flashes or gear and support this or that company and agency, Ms Shaden has spent the whole time teaching and teaching and teaching and I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person, but you, Ms Shaden, are awesome and nobody can unawesome you :)


Brooke has a wonderful way of not only making it all look so easy, but actually be easy. In a plain and down to earth manner, she can make both beginner and advanced pro comfortable with the material covered in this class. From a simple starting point to a polished post-production finished work of art, she takes us on a relaxed and joyous journey. I am a former professional commercial photographer returning to the art after a 30 year absence. When I left, there was no such thing as digital photography. Now, to be able to embrace such concepts and techniques as taught by Brooke, without any difficulty to me, says that this course provides great value and time well spent. Well done Brooke! Well done Creative Live!

Student Work