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PTC Edits Your Photos #2 – Must-Know Compositing Tips


This is another episode of PTC Edits your photos for must-know compositing tips!

Click here to check out the first entry to this series

In this tutorial, we’ll be opening the .PSD document by Ferdinand Hartmann of a wonderful outer space concept.

Let’s get started!#

Match Luminosity

At a glance, you will immediately notice the luminosity difference between the subject and the background, the subject being brighter than the rest of the image.

Opening the Sarah Group, the subject has been applied with different layers to darken it. 

Opening the Sarah Group

To simplify the process of application, create a new Levels adjustment layer above the Group.

create a new Levels adjustment layer above the Group

Then, set its Blending Mode to Luminosity to only affect the brightness and not the colors. 

Press Ctrl Alt G (Windows) or Command Option G (macOS) to clip the Levels adjustment layer to the layer below it.

Press Ctrl Alt G (Windows) or Command Option G (macOS) to clip the Levels adjustment layer to the layer below it

On the Properties panel, adjust the white output level and drag it to the left to decrease the brightest pixels’ luminosity.

Adjust the white output level

Adjust the midpoint slider to add more contrast.

Adjust the midpoint slider to add more contrast

Match Ambient Color

One of the must know compositing tips is matching the ambient color. To do that, create a Solid Color fill layer.

On the Color Picker window, set the color to any gray shade as long as the Hue and Saturation remain 0.

On the Color Picker window, set the color to any gray shade as long as the Hue and Saturation remain 0

Press OK to exit the window. 

Then, change the Solid Color’s Blending Mode to Luminosity.

Increase the Saturation to better view how ambiance color doesn’t match based on which colors are prominent.

In this case, the rest of the image is blue, while the light source and its reflection are red/orange. 

On the other hand, the entire subject is red/magenta, and against a dominantly blue background, you can finally determine why the composite doesn’t look in harmony.

To correct this, click on the New Adjustment Layer icon > Color Balance

 click on the New Adjustment Layer icon > Color Balance

Click on the Clipping Mask icon to clip Color Balance to the layer below and only affect the subject’s layer.

This adjustment layer gives you the ability to adjust the colors from Shadows, to Midtones, and Highlights.

Set the Tone to Midtone and adjust the slider to add more Cyan.

Adjust the Yellow-Blue slider to add more Blue to it.

Adjust the Yellow-Blue slider to add more Blue to it

Repeat the same step to the Shadows and Highlights so the color adjustment looks even across all tones, one of the must know compositing tips!

You can delete the Solid Color fill layer and see the color result in real-time and add more tweaks if needed until the subject’s color fits well into the composite.

Add a Reflection

One of the must-know compositing tips is always to check if the perspectives and shadows are correct. In this case, the window reflects the shiny floor, but the subject does not.

For an easy method of adding reflection, select the Sarah Group and the Levels and Color Balance adjustment layers.

Press Ctrl J (Windows) or Command J (macOS) to duplicate the layers.

Press Ctrl J (Windows) or Command J (macOS) to duplicate the layers

Then, press Ctrl E (Windows) or Command E (macOS) to merge the layers into a single layer.

press Ctrl E (Windows) or Command E (macOS) to merge the layers into a single layer

Press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to transform the layer

Right-click on the layer > Flip Vertical.

Right-click on the layer > Flip Vertical

Place the reflected layer directly opposite the subject, the soles of the shoes should be placed side-by-side.

Then, place the Reflection layer right below the Sarah Group layer.

place the Reflection layer right below the Sarah Group layer

To make sure that the shoes’ soles are touching, choose Edit > Puppet Warp.

Click on the body joints, so when you move one part of it, the rest of the body does not move.  

These pins also allow you to manipulate these body parts, and click here to learn more about how you can use Puppet Warp to alter your subject’s pose!

Use Puppet Warp to alter your subject's pose

Add pins to the left foot and manipulate it so that the two soles meet.

Then, click on the checkmark to commit to the changes.

Once you're done, click on the checkmark to commit to the changes

Take note of the window reflection on the floor–it’s blurry. To match the reflection with the rest of the scene, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur

Then, on the Gaussian Blur Window, adjust the Radius of the blur until it matches with the windows.

On the Gaussian Blur Window, adjust the Radius of the blur until it matches with the windows

For a more realistic effect and must know compositing tips, reduce the layer’s Opacity or change the Blending Mode for a better result. 

Double-click on the side of the Reflection layer to bring out the Layer Style window.

Double-click on the side of the Reflection layer to bring out the Layer Style window

Under Blend If, adjust the sliders to enhance the appearance of the shadows.

Under Blend If, adjust the sliders to enhance the appearance of the shadows

To know more about must-know compositing tips, here’s a perfect tutorial to check out!

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

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