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Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World

Lesson 19 of 31

Remove Green Screen from Child Image

Karen Alsop

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World

Karen Alsop

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Lesson Info

19. Remove Green Screen from Child Image

Lesson Info

Remove Green Screen from Child Image

Well I believe we had some questions about the background plate, and what I've done is opened up the background plate, which has many, many layers to it, and as I said earlier, it was about five hours work to get to this point, but I wanted to take you through a few of the little steps to create the more painterly feel that resulted in this sort of look here. Now there's a lot of layers here, I'll just drop them down for you. I have broken them up into foreground, middle, and background. This is just for my organizational purposes, but there are, as you can see, quite a few levels adjustment layers, we've got flamingos in there, we've got different objects broken up into different areas here. Each layer, each individual layer actually has adjustments on them, so just to show you that first, this flamingo here, if I turn it off, is that one at the front, now I'll zoom up on this one here. I've created a more painterly feel even on the flamingo by adding levels adjustments, colors, so tu...

rning that on and off, it's going slowly because it is a very big file, it's saved as a large document file, so when I turn layers on and off, it sometimes can delay. But you can see that's the original color, and turning it back on with the adjustment, it's more of a pink color. So there are several different things, levels adjustments, like exactly what I did with the rabbit, creating shadows and highlights to add to the light in the scene. The main thing that I wanted to show you that I'm not going into detail with the other elements, like the rabbit and Alice, is how I added this kind of surreal sort of light, and that's taking place right at the front here. I've got a curves adjustment layer that you can see the thumbnail there is actually showing the picture through, I'll show you how I applied that, and I have a dappled light layer. Now this one here, if I turn that off, the light and shade sort of disappear, and if I double click that to show you what it is, because it is a smart object, it is clouds. It's just clouds that I've photographed, there's light and shade in them, I've de saturated it down and brought up the shadows, brought down the highlights, and then I've applied that as an overlay, and in overlay mode, to give it that sort of dappled light effect over the top, they're very subtle effects, but it also brings the whole image together. So by applying that sort of light layer above everything else, everything that I've put together in there is brought together because the light is cascading over those areas that I've joined together. So when I created the background plate, and put the water in, the trees, the path, they're all separate areas, but by putting overlay clouds over the top and joining them with this light that's cascading over the top, it helps bring it together and gives it more of a painterly feel. The other layer here is the curves adjustment layer, and if I turn that off, you'll find that the scene flattens out a touch. Again it's going slowly, there we go. It flattens out, so this curves adjustment layer, I will apply over here, just because it's going to go a lot faster if I do it on this particular flattened layer. So to create a curves adjustment layer that's bringing in the highlights, what I do is I go to channels, I select the reds, and this is something I do right at the end of my images as well, this just helps to bring in that soft, painterly light feel. It's selecting all of those highlights there, selecting the red channel. I click on the selection tool down below, it selects all of that, turn everything back on by hitting RGB, go back to my layers, and in here I create a curves adjustment layer while everything is still selected, and then I play with the curves. I'll overdo it so you can see the effect. That is a little trick that I do at the end of my images, it helps to lighten it up, it helps to give that painterly feel. I'll probably do that right at the end as well, but I've already applied that to the background plate, so I've already given that background plate that particular look. So I might do that again just to go through the steps. I'll turn that off, so back to the flatter look here. Go to channels, this is right up the top, this is the top over all of the other layers, select the reds because usually, you can select a different channel, but I find it works best when you select the reds. Use the selection tool down below, let that process through, it's selecting, it's taking its time because the other file's open at the same time. This is one thing that I was talking about with large document format, I'll just go over that, the background plate is saved as a large document format because it is larger than two gig. Photoshop files you can save PSD files up to two gig, once you get to two gig, you'll get an alert saying, sorry I can't save that, it's too large, so you've got another option to save as large document format, and that you can save to any size. So most of my images are generally ending up as large document format files because they're so big, but when I get to the end of creating my image, I then save another flattened version of my file that I can bring back into Lightroom. You won't be able to view a large document format file in Lightroom, it won't show up, you will only be able to open that in Photoshop. So if you're having that issue, I know I've seen some people online get scared because they've gotten to a certain point and they haven't been able to save their file because it's alerted them as to the file size. Just go to the dropdown and select large document format. We had a question from Caroline Dunaway who said, do you ever use stock images to composite in? I do, but I try and avoid it. So the reason that I would use stock is if there is a certain thing that I just can't get to, I can't photograph. An example of that was creating a image for a jazz artist that I talked about earlier with bees, and at the time that she needed it, the bees were in hibernation in Australia, and I wasn't too keen on getting a bee suit on either. I'm a little scared of them. So I used stock for that, but that particular image, also I can't enter in any competitions, like WPPI and AIPP, so wherever I can, I do try and use all of my own images, because that gives me the flexibility of entering the competitions, but it also makes me feel better. So when I use stock, I don't feel like it's my image, it still is, I've created it, it's an artwork, but I just love taking every single part, maybe it's the control freak in me, but I love taking all of the images myself, and having control over the end result. So that is my way of doing it, but there are some wonderful stock sites out there, Adobe Stock, that you can get images that you just can't get out there and photograph yourself.

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


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!