In the second phase of this tutorial we continue to explore expert compositing skills
We now look at relighting our scene using Photoshop adjustment layers, enhancing believability.
We’ll also explore how to dodge and burn creatively, match light with colour casts and ultimately create a dynamic atmosphere.
By the end of this tutorial you will be placing objects in a scene effectively, to tell your compelling story.
Add a Hue/Saturation layer on top of your background layers and set Saturation at -55. Use a Color Balance layer, setting Midtones at +2,0 and -8. Desaturate the model to -51 using Hue/Saturation, then change model tone using a Color Balance layer. Set this layer’s Midtones at +8,0 and -26. Lighten your mode using a Curves layer with Output set at 63 and Input at 142. Only the model is affected by these changes, so clip the layers to the model layer.
Inserting the window frame will pull the image together and make our composited glass layers look even more real. Insert the supplied ‘Bar. psd’ and place it in the far-right of your image. To directly affect the bar, hit Cmd/Ctrl+U and set Saturation at -70. Add Curves to make it darker, setting Output at 85 and Input at 127. Now stretch it the length of the image. Next, we’ll create a shine on the window frame from the sun.
Now we need colour influenced by background lighting. Create an empty layer and set the blending mode to Overlay. Pick a light, warm yellow (ffe09e) and paint with a large soft-edged brush set at 30% Opacity. Apply this as if the sun were in the middle of the two buildings to the left of the model. Don’t make this effect too bright, just add some warmth to the image. We can also add some colour to the buildings to the right of the model.
To mimic gunfire, we need to create a new Overlay blending mode layer. Choose a soft-edged orange brush at 30% Opacity and paint the first layer. Choose another orange (# ffd67d) and paint next to the helicopter. Pick a slightly lighter orange than before, make the brush diameter smaller and paint again. Do this one more time with a colour close to white and an even smaller brush. Now lower the brush opacity and paint in some light streaks.
To add more highlights over the entire image, first create a blank layer set to Overlay blending mode. Pick a soft-edged brush at 30% Opacity and paint over the top of the helicopter with the same orange colour as before. Bleed the orange a tiny bit onto the model, then focus the majority of this new colour on the helicopter. Also paint over the window frame. To be more precise, erase colour that bleeds into the dark part of the window frame.
Next we’ll apply to the model to show she is being shot at. Create another blank layer set to Overlay above your model, then Cmd/Ctrl-click the ‘Girl.psd’ layer thumbnail, making a selection. Go back to the layer you just created and paint highlights on the model’s left side using the same orange colours as the previous step. This makes it seem as if the gunfire is reflecting on her face, arms and legs.
Next we’ll even out the model’s skin and take away some of the grain in her clothing. Duplicate the image of the model then apply Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 2px to the original model underneath. Add a layer mask to the duplicate model above, then paint with a black brush at 70% Opacity over the skin. You don’t want to paint over the eyes or lips because you want those to stay sharp. Only paint over parts where sharpness will not be affected too much. When you are done, merge these two layers together.
We can now dodge and burn our model and the background elements. To do so non-destructively, we need to create a new layer set to a Soft Light blending mode. Then we paint with a white or black soft brush at 20% Opacity. Zoom in close, light up some of the dark areas and darken some of the aspects that look flat. You can create shine by brushing white down the middle of the nose and brightening up some of the flatter highlighted areas.
A mirror’s reflection is very sharp as opposed to a window’s, which we are trying to re-create here. A window’s reflection seems almost as if you have double vision. Our minds don’t really pick up on that too often, but replicating this subtle effect enhances the realism of your reflection effects. Copy each image in your background, lower the Opacity to 30% and shift it a tiny bit up and to the right.
The background needs to be obscured to create the right look, so we’ll add fog effects. We do this by creating a new layer and, with a black brush at 10% Opacity, paint over the images surrounding the model. Do the same with a white brush, but in front of the helicopter gunfire. The helicopter will start to look more obscure. Also apply a white brush at a low opacity to create some lens flare on the window frame halfway down. Add a couple more highlights around the image where needed.
To finish, you will need to add colour back into the model’s face, as well as the background. Create a new layer above the model, with the blending mode set to Overlay. Using a soft brush at 10% Opacity, paint a light red on her lips and a green around her pupils. Add a layer above the background images, fill it with a light blue (#6abbf9) and set this layer’s blending mode to Multiply. Also set this layer’s Opacity at 80% and erase where the colour affects the image too strongly.
This is a bit of a tricky technique, but will improve the look of your image. The glass shards need to blend into the image more, so we are going to play around with blending modes. First we need to merge all of our glass shard layers together. Next, duplicate your model layer and place this over the flattened shards layer. With the Magic Wand tool, select the shards and inverse your selection. Select the model layer above and press Delete.
Once you have all these pieces of the model aligned with the shards, you will want to apply the appropriate blending mode to unify them all together. You can play around with the range of styles available, but we found it best to copy this model shards layer to provide two options. The top layer’s blending mode is set to Overlay, the bottom to Screen at 60% Opacity. Remember these go over the actual glass shards layer.