How to Create Awesome Composite Photography in Photoshop?

Composite photography is widely used. Nearly every single image ad you see is a composite. It is actually easier to create a fictional scene in post-production than to capture something in real life.

Not only that, but a composite also allows controlling the environment completely where you can add and subtract different parts as desired.

Today, we will teach you how to compose a photograph in Photoshop. By the end of the article, you will be able to make find-art composite photography.

How to Create Awesome Composite Photography in Photoshop?

A composite photo is simply a picture made up of many different images. This is obvious in its name. ‘Composite’ means an object made up of some elements or parts.

What are Composite Photos?

A composite photo requires time and a thorough plan to succeed. It may be anything from adding a missing detail to creating a picture of a cat riding a rocket into the moon.

Composite photography is like making a collage. Most of us have cut various pictures and put them together to form a new one.

You do the same in Photoshop for composite photos. The difference is that you have more control. You can change the color, size, scale of images, and many more. Basically, these Photoshop techniques are advanced collage work.

When to Use Composite Photography?

Composite image photography has been heavily opposed in some photography contests. It is evident in competitions like the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

In short, you must know when you can use it and be as transparent as possible in your use of composite photography.

Things to Do Before Composing a Photograph in Photoshop

Step 1: Come up with an Idea

Concepts are everything in composite photography. You are only confined by what you can envision.

The hardest thing may be to manage what you have in mind and convert them into a fixed frame. The easiest way to do so is to separate your vision into different types:

  • Subjects
  • Background
  • Extras
  • Atmosphere

The most crucial details are the subjects and background. Once you have a simple idea, you can put other things into it. It is all about creating a story through the power of imagination you have.

Step 2: Select Photos with the Following Characteristics

Collecting images for a photo composition is not as simple as you think. There are several things you need to consider when collecting images:

Appropriate Resolution

Make sure the background is detailed enough to zoom into it and work with the elements. This is also applied to the subjects you choose. Can it be scaled up to match the background without it pixelating?

Similar Perspectives

Perspectives are said to be the most influential factor in creating a composite photo.

It is best to have the final background in your head (or the subjects). Therefore, you can capture the subjects (or the background) with the same angle later.

For example, if you are taking pictures of someone as if they were shrinking into your palms, maybe you are looking down on them. This means you need to stand up on a ladder to imitate the angle.

Similar Lighting

Looking closely at the lighting is the most common way to detect a photo composition. For example, there may be a basement without windows, but the subject has harsh orientation light.

Meticulous in determining the light direction in all the images you use in your composite image photography will go a long way. Of course, once your skill is perfect, you can get rid of 100% defective lighting.

Similar Color Temperatures

The color in your images will also profoundly affect your composite. Each photo may be shot in a different light. And each type of light has a different color temperature.

Usually, it will require a slight change to the color temperature to match. You often have to make the subjects look colder or warmer.

Similar Color Temperatures

A Step-by-step Guide to Create Fantastic Composite Photography in Photoshop

We will now go through a step-by-step guide to create fantastic composite photography in Photoshop. We will also introduce a few quick and easy techniques to apply to different situations.

Step 1: Select Subjects and Background

First, we need to plan the final image. We want to composite yoga practitioners with an extreme place. So we find a yoga pose first.

Select Subjects and Background

The yoga image looks straight at the subjects from their body height. This means we need to place them on the same level or slightly higher. This cliff will work great.

Step 2: Cut Out the Subjects

Now, let’s start the editing process. First, open the subject image in Photoshop.

Cut Out the Subjects

After that, we need to duplicate the background. To do so, right-click on the original image (the ‘Background’ layer) in the Layers panel. Then choose ‘Duplicate Layers’.

Now, we will separate the subject from the background. There are many ways to do so. In this guide, I will use the Quick Selection tool (the brush icon with a dotted circle) on the toolbar.

Click on the subjects for the ‘marching ants’ outlining them. Do this for both people.

Next, we need to invert the selection by holding Command or Ctrl + Shift + I. The ‘marching ants’ will now also go around the image border.

Press the Backspace or Delete key to cut out the subjects. Below is how the duplicate layer should look. You can hide the original by tapping the eye icon in the layer panel.

Step 3: Move the Subjects Onto the Background

Now, open the background image in Photoshop. You will see separate tabs of the two files.

Move the Subjects Onto the Background

With the subject image selected, double-click and hold the subjects. Then, drag it to the tab of the new background.

Step 4: Position and Resize the Subjects

Now, you want to resize the objects. To do so, press Command or Ctrl + T to open the transform box and resize the objects.

Position and Resize the Subjects

Make sure the subjects have a reasonable size. In this example, we need to ensure everyone’s height is realistic.

Next, use the Move tool to place the subject correctly. Here, we put the women on top of the cliff.

Step 5: Create a Layer Mask to Match the Tones

Now, you need to create a layer mask for the subjects. We will use it to fine-tune the subject colors.

Click and hold the subject layer and drag it over the ‘Add a layer mask’ button at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Create a Layer Mask to Match the Tones

How to Create Awesome Composite Photography

After that, click the ‘Color Balance’ icon in the Adjustments panel. This will open up an adjustment layer for color balance.

Next, drag your layer mask onto the new adjustment layer. If a pop-up appears, press ‘Yes’ to replace the layer mask.

Since the background is blue and cold, I will add a bit of blue tint to the subjects.

This makes a subtle difference. However, it produces a much more realistic composite photo.

How to Create Awesome Composite Photography

Final Thoughts

Composite photography can be a daunting task. The most important thing to remember is that it is not as simple as you imagine. As you start experimenting, you will quickly realize how much attention this process takes to get a successful result.

Creating simple photo composing is a great way to build your skills with Photoshop quickly. Start with small projects like the example we gave you.

Later, you can add more elements to your photos. And soon, you can do fine-art composite photography in no time!