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Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World

Lesson 27 of 31

Levels Adjustment Layers: Shading & Rim Lighting

Karen Alsop

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World

Karen Alsop

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Lesson Info

27. Levels Adjustment Layers: Shading & Rim Lighting

Lesson Info

Levels Adjustment Layers: Shading & Rim Lighting

This is almost there, but there are some things that we can do to bring it together now over the top of our image. So I'll show you a few little tips, some of them we won't keep, but I'll just go through a few different steps that I would normally take. So we've got our light cascading around our subjects, and as I said before, if you've got heavier light in the background, if your subject is in the scene more like this one is, you wouldn't do it quite as much, but there's still some light that would spill around. But over the top, the more that you put over the top as well, the more that it will all blend together. There are a few little things you can do. There's again, so much that you can look at here with adjustment layers, one of them is a color lookup adjustment layer, and it comes, here there are all these particular color adjustments that people have created to look like different film types, different coloring, and they're sort of a set of adjustments on their own that are gr...

ouped together, and applying these will give you different looks. So if I apply one of these over the top of the scene, it's good to play with. You can try so many different ones, and you can have it turned up, or you can tone it down, you can make it look like it's edgy amber, I think that's going to load in a second, or fall colors, and I tend to just go through a few of these, and maybe tone them down, change the opacity of them, find one that I really like, and if it's just the color that I like, let's just go through this one. See that one's too full on as it is, but sometimes you might find, I like the color, but I don't like how it's applying all those darks and lights, it's too strong. You can change that color lookup adjustment layer to color mode, and what that will do is it will only apply to the colors, and it's still showing up like that, but it will only apply to the colors, but not the darks and the lights, it's not actually gonna change your curves. So there's all these little things you can do to get the color you want, but by finding something that you like, horror blue is probably not the one that we want, and then making some adjustments, what that's doing is every time you apply something, you're adding color to all of your elements, and it's helping to blend them all together. You might also try a gradient map adjustment layer, and what this one does is it applies certain colors to the highlights, to the midtones, to the shadows, so you can actually apply, it's like a slip toning effect almost. So you might want to warm the scene up, so you go with something like that, you then could turn the opacity down, so you've got all these adjustments. So normally when I get towards the end of an image, I start playing with these adjustments, having a look at how they work over the top, just to bring my image together even more so that it's blending and it looks like it was all done in one shot. So that, primarily are the main things that I do on Photoshop. There's one last thing that I need to do before I finish it off, I need to create a copy of this, I need to do a couple of adjustments on the copy, the thing that I did earlier with the curves and the channels, I will apply on this particular one. I also need to bring one of my layers to the top, this dappled light layer that we talked about earlier, the one that's applying dappled light over the top of everything, bringing that over the top of Alice and the rabbit and the scene will help to blend it together as well. So you might like to play with textures, I don't use textures very often, just on some of my images, but there are many amazing artists that use textures, and using textures and overlays will help to bring your image together as well.

Class Description

Karen Alsop is known for creating beautiful fantasy worlds through her unique compositing techniques in Adobe® Lightroom® and Adobe® Photoshop®. Whether you're a wedding, portrait, landscape or commercial photographer, this class will show you how to create beautiful and distinctive images you can offer your clients to expand your business.  

Join us for this class, and you’ll learn how to: 

  • Shoot with your composite in mind: lighting, posing and angles.
  • Choose background and subject images that will work best in the composite.
  • Learn Adobe Lightroom and AdobePhotoshop techniques to create a fantastical atmosphere.

Karen’s emphasis on creativity and imagination in her process has helped her to make a product that competitors have a hard time recreating. Karen’s beautiful, intricate work is not simply the result of vast technical skill, but rather is the careful integration of a number of elements. She puts subjects at ease and inspires them with artful direction; incorporates them into fantasy landscapes using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop and then effectively prices and markets the final product.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

The Story Art Journey eBook

Planning a Composite Video Tutorial (Large download - 1.2gb)

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Photoshop Brushes

Photoshop Hair Brush

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Judy Mitschelen

I've found many great instructors at CreativeLive and Karen ranks right up there at the top! With her relaxed, thoughtful manner of presenting, I was immediately hooked. Her organization, clear explanations and demonstration, and on target response to questions are superb. This course covers an amazing range of skills and tricks of the trade. Whether you're interested in getting better shots to work with, better workflow at the computer, or better output at the end, Karen covers it all.


Karen is very talented and a great teacher and I enjoyed every minute of the course. But what I found to be the best part was seeing what an amazing person she is. The video of compositing the disabled children to make their dreams come true had me in tears. It has inspired me to use my talents to help others and not learn photo manipulation for self enjoyment. God bless you Karen.

Endigo Rae

This was such an amazing class! Karen is so talented, inspiring, and such an amazing teacher. Very forthcoming and open about all of her techniques. I'm so looking forward to jumping into compositing, I feel like this is definitely something my soul desires to explore and Karen has made it so easy and accesible through her beautiful course! Thanks so much Karen and CreativeLive!