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Creating a Simple Composite

Composites are fun to do.
The easiest ones to do involve combining images which are simple shapes and backgrounds with similar tonality.
Here is an example.

First, you want to start with a background image.
In Photoshop simply open the image you want to use as a background.

background image

Next use the place command to add each image you want to add to your composition.
placed images

Notice that each image you've placed is located on a layer above the background.
Now select each added image layer one at a time and add a layer mask icon from the bottom of the layers window.
You will see another window appear on each layer showing the layer mask.
When you place your cursor, on the image you can make changes to the image directly.
To make a layer mask, you need to make sure your cursor in on the window to the right of the image.
You will note that it is highlighted when you do.
Use a brush and black paint to paint the area you want to remove.
Switch the black paint icon to white, if you want to erase an area you've removed.
Here I started with a large brush to make the initial mask on each layer.
I also reduced the opacity on the layer I wasn't working on so I could better see what was happening.
To finalize the mask you need to reduce the brush size and magnify the portion of the image you are working on.

Creating the layer masks

Once you've created the masks on each layer, adjust the opacity back to 100 %.
Now you can check and see you how the contrast is between the images you added and the background.
If you need to make a change, deselect all layers except the one you want to modify.
Add a levels or curve adjustment as needed, then merge that layer with the layer you are changing before you turn the other layers on.
If you want your images to look natural, you need to make sure the images blend well together.

Checking image contrast

Next you'll want to deselect the background layer and go the the layers palette flyout and select merge visible.

merging visible layers

Now turn on all layers and your composite should look like this.

final composite
The completed composite
I hope this gives you a start on an adventure with composites.

October 20, 2007

by Digital Artist
Virginia Bacon

All rights reserved by Virginia C. Bacon ©2005-2012