C ompositing can help you create an image you may not have been able to do in camera and it’s a skill I highly
recommend mastering. Compositing is all
about using layer masks and after learning
this method you’ll rarely, if ever, use Photoshop’s Eraser Tool again.
MASK TRUMPS ERASE
The Eraser Tool is destructive and destroys
pixels without being able to save your
changes and fix them later. Think of a layer
mask, which is nondestructive, as a magical cloak you can come back to and reveal
what’s underneath while working on your
Photoshop file weeks, months or years later.
My composites, which involve people, are
done by photographing the subject separately from the background—usually in a
studio setting, but not necessarily so. The
key is making sure the light on the subject
is similar to the intended background, so
that both look like they belong in the same
environment. After opening the image in
Photoshop, I remove the subject by using
the Quick Selection Tool and adding a layer
mask. With this technique, I can remove the
subject with precision and accuracy using
my Wacom tablet. I can easily clean up the
edges of the subject, making it seem like
they were in the shot to begin with.
Take note that you can’t add a layer mask
to your initial background layer and have it
work properly unless you make a copy.
Make a copy of your background layer
by selecting it and pressing COMMAND+J.
This new layer is the one you’ll be using.
Next, create a new layer, fill it with a neon
green color, and place it in between the
background layer and your background
copy (fig. 1). This will help you see what
you’re doing and will make more sense as
you continue. Use the Quick Selection Tool
(fig. 2) to select the subject by clicking and
dragging within and along the edges of the
subject. Make sure not to select too much of
BY DAMiAn BATTinElli
The key to successful photo compositing? Using layer masks.
after the capture