Have you tried Composites?

June 24, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Composites (Using Blend Modes)

Sometimes you may want to add a little digital artistry to some of your images. One can do this effectively by composite (blending two images together) work. Before I go any further, this post requires at last a intermediate understanding of Photoshop. There are many educational programs, such as through Creative Live that can get you up so speed very quickly with nationally recognized speakers. Blend modes is similar to taking your background layer, and placing another layer on top of the background. There are many choices, and the link I have provided below can help.

The image above was made on a black background, and certainly is ok as a stand alone image. But what if we wanted to make the background a little more interesting (not distracting).  We could use a textured background so that it may not look so much like a studio shot made 100's of times before.  Textures are readily available in the internet, but one source of high quality textures can be found here: Brooke shaden free textures.  So I have started out by loaded the image as well as a chosen texture into photoshop. As a rule, black and white textures are typically better than colored textures, since they will not cause a color cast on your subject.

We want to:

  • Select the texture layer
  • Select it (Control/Cmd A)
  • Copy it (Control/Cmd C)
  • Select our model layer (background in this case)
  • Paste the texture on top of the background (Control/cmd V)

Now of course we have what looks like a stone wall. Fear not.....

Switch your blend mode to 'Soft light' and your model will once again appear. You may try other blend modes such as overlay, lighten, etc to see which mode is most appealing to you.  If you have never used blend modes, Blend modes explained may help. In truth, cycling through each mode can be very effective. We now also have the texture on the skin, which is not very attractive unless we are going for a horror type effect. We can fix that.

  • Add a layer mask to your texture layer
  • Choose your brush tool and make sure that color is set to BLACK (since the layer mask is white)
  • Brush over your model to remove the texture on her skin and wardrobe

This can be tricky though, how do you know that you have completely removed the texture from undesired areas? While the layer mask is highlighted, hit the backspace (\) key.

This will mask in red the areas that you have brush over. Areas that you missed will still remain the same color. If you make a mistake and brush over some of the background, select the (X) key, and this will change the brush color to white allowing you to paint back in what you may need to, such as the background on your image.  The square brackets [] will increase and decrease the size of your brush for detail work.

Composites can bring a different life into your images.  If you are interested in a more comprehensive set of lessons on composites, send me a message through my website and I will send you a code for a free CreativeLive class.





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