Part 2 of our incredible composition tutorial!
Pasting in small embellishments is an excellent way of adding extra interest and diverting the eye from any questionable cutouts! The process for this is simple – use your favourite selection tool to cut out the object and then copy and paste these onto a new layer. Use a different layer for each element and give each one a shadow using the technique from step 4.
The Transform tools enable you to make your composited elements merge seamlessly into the image. We used the Warp tool to make the garland sit on the model’s head and also added more flowers, scaling and rotating to suit.
As you start to build up your elements, think about the overall colour. You can access the layers and use Hue/Saturation to alter the tones and play with different effects. Use you judgement and see what works best.
Shadows help anchor elements but you also need to look at the light direction and make sure it is uniform. Illuminate the things on the image from one direction using Darken/Lighten Centre. Click in the middle of where your light comes from and it will do the rest. If you make a lot of composites, think about investing in a plugin.
Merge all layers, duplicate the new layer and fill with black. Using a large soft Eraser at 64% Opacity, erase around the edges. Now up the Opacity to 100% and erase around the edges. Now up the Opacity to 100% and erase around the point where you can see most light.
To make your image feel really photographic, play with the blur and focus options. Pick the Blur tool from the Toolbar, set to 10% and use it to fade out some areas and leave others sharp.
Take a good look at your image. Do you see enough shadows and highlights? Do you know where they should be? Use the Dodge and Burn tools to make your image more realistic. Emphasise shadows and lighting on each of the elements in turn.
At this stage it is about the fine-tuning. You should have decided on the colours you want to use for your elements but now you need to call upon Levels or Curves to make them pop. Go for contrast and don’t be afraid to push things. You can always undo if it goes wrong.
Duplicate the layers and merge by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E and use the High Pass filter with a Radius of 5px and the blend mode set to Overlay or Soft Light. If it is too much, play with the Opacity.