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7 Easy Photoshop Tips To Make Your Composites More Realistic!


In this tutorial, you’ll learn the 7 easy Photoshop tips to make your composites more realistic!

Creating great composites takes a lot of practice but these 7 steps should be a great foundation of skill to master.

1. Apply Rim Lighting to a Composite

One reason why your composite might not fit together with the background could be the lighting in the scene. 

To better match your foreground to the background in a situation like this, you couldenhance the composite by applying rim lighting.

One of the most realistic ways of applying rim lighting to a subject that doesn’t have it is to get from an image with subjects illuminated by a rim light.

Simply use the Lasso tool to select the area with rim light and copy the selection.

Then, return to your working document and paste the selection.

Note: Utilize the Pivot point to fix the reference point on your composite and keep it in proportion.

Desaturate your layer by pressing Ctrl Shift U, Command Shift U.

Then use the Liquify Filter to fit the copied arm pixels into your subject.

Then, change the Blending Mode to Screen to keep only the highlights and remove everything else.

Choose Image > Adjustment > Levels and adjust the Rim Light layer’s brightness so that the only visible part is the arm’s highlight.

This step should blend in the copied arm. That is why it’s one of the most useful Photoshop tips to make your composites more realistic! 

Finish it off by applying a Layer Mask and paint it with black (#000000) to hide unnecessary pixels.

2. Minimum Filter for Removing Mask Edge Halos (Fringing)

When you’re creating a mask, it’s inevitable to end up with white fringing or halos around the edges of your subject. 

To remove them, choose Filter > Other > Minimum.

Adjust the Radius of the pixels, which determines the amount of the masks’ contraction.

The Preserve drop-down menu has two options: Roundness fits best for humans and animals, Squareness fits better for inanimate objects such as cars. 

PRO TIP: You can selectively apply the Minimum filter on particular areas by using the Lasso tool to freehand select the area and choosing Filter > Other > Minimum.

3. Match Ambient Color Between Two Images

Matching the ambient color can help wrap up your composite together. 

Creating a Solid Color Fill layer with the color set to 50% gray.

Then, change the Blending Mode to Luminosity can help you see the luminance values and the difference in hues.

If you’re having difficulty seeing the hues, create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and increase the saturation. With the two layers, it will show you the overall background and subject’s ambient color.

Note: Place both files into a single group so you can enable and disable both files with a single click.

From this point, you can start adjusting the color of your subject to match with the background using the Selective Color adjustment layer.

4. Matching The Perspective In a Composite

One of the essential Photoshop tips to make your composites more realistic is matching the perspective.

Let’s take this image, for example. It has receding lines, which all lead to one point called the vanishing point. To find out where it is, use the Line tool and follow along these lines. 

Once your vanishing point is determined, use a guide to mark the area along the horizon.

Disable your Subject’s layer mask to reveal the background and also determine where the vanishing point is.

Once determined, enable the Layer Mask again and use that guide to place the Subject’s vanishing point and overlapping it with the Background’s vanishing point.

Click here to learn more about how to match a subject into any background!

5. Mask Hair From Difficult Backgrounds

Masking hair from a busy background can be a Photoshop user’s nightmare.

But of course, this is one of the easy Photoshop tips to make your composites more realistic!

Utilize Adobe Sensei, an Artificial Intelligence (AI), to do the first half of the work for you by selecting your Subject layer and clicking on the Remove Background button.

PRO TIP: Professionals often disregard details that are too difficult to select but digitally paint them back into the image using the Brush tool. 

There are two ways of doing it:

Create a New Layer and paint every hair strand using the Brush tool.

Then, adjust the Shape Dynamics to set the Size Jitter control to Pen Pressure. Use the Eyedropper tool to sample colors from the Subject’s hair.

Create a Brush using actual hair and edit the adjustments in the Brush Tip Shape to flip the axis or rotate the brush.

In case you missed the tutorial, click here to learn how you can create your Custom Photoshop Hair brush!

6. Harmonize a Composite with Camera Raw Adjustments

Make your composite more cohesive by copying all your layers in one flattened layer.

You can do that by selecting all the layers and pressing Ctrl Alt Shift E (Windows) or Command Option Shift E (macOS).

Then, convert it into a Smart Object.

Next, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.

This is where you can treat your composite as a single image and adjust the colors, details, and luminosity.

7. Use The “Flip Horizontal” View To Spot Mistakes

One of the easy Photoshop tips to make your composites more realistic is to make sure to spot the mistakes early on.

Flipping your image can help you spot mistakes that you may have missed after hours of working on the document.

To do that in Photoshop, choose View > Flip Horizontal.

Note: You will not be transforming pixels but just altering your viewing options.

The older method involved transforming your pixels and was accessed by choosing Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal/Vertical.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, make sure to follow PTC on YouTube! And if you create something using this tutorial, then share it on social media with the hashtag #PTCvids for a chance to get featured!

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