advanced photoshop

Expert Compositing

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Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

Follow Photoshop methods and techniques for designing fashion-based illustration

Expert Compositing

Step 1 – Create your workspace

Expert Compositing

Create a new file (Cmd/Ctrl+N), 235mm wide by 302mm high at 300dpi. Our background will be made using a gradient. Activate the Gradient Tool and in the gradient editor choose a #e2ebdb colour in one Color Stop and #69adbf in the other. Then drag the Gradient tool line from the bottom edge to upper edge.

Step 2 – Select the model

Expert Compositing

Open the supplied file Model.jpg from the disc. Then open the Channels panel and select the Blue channel. Ctrl/Right click then duplicate this channel. Go to Image>Adjustment>Levels and make a small adjustment to increase contrast. The main goal is to keep edges of the hair natural and not cut off. Go to Image>Apply image then choose Blending: Overlay.

Step 3 – Paint to your channel

Expert Compositing

Paint in your model with a black brush and background with a white one, using different sizes of a hard brush. Carefully keep edges as they were in the original image. Hold Cmd/Ctrl, click on the thumbnail of this duplicate blue channel and create a selection of all black areas. Turn on the visibility of the RGB channels and open the Layers window. Drag your selected model into your working file.

Step 4 – Transform elements

Expert Compositing

Go to CG textures then search and download the large sized 12107 grass file. Drag this into your working file. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T then Ctrl/right click a control point and choose Perspective from pop-up options. Narrow the upper control points then, without pressing enter, Ctrl/right click again and choose Distort. Click the upper-middle point and lower it. After this choose Warp and adjust like in the example presented, using points to create Bézier curves. Your goal is to make a curved surface.

Step 5 – Add pearls

Expert Compositing

Open the Pearl.psd supplied on disc and drag your layer into your main image. Cmd/Ctrl+J and make a few duplicate layers of this. Use Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to resize your layers and arrange on top of the grass layer, making sure that the bigger ones are closer and smaller ones further away. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool to select grass shapes and duplicate these from the grass texture layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Place these new cut out layers above your pearl layers. Add Layer>Layer Style>Inner Shadow to the biggest pearl layer, setting Opacity at 75%, Angle at -75 degrees, Distance at 20, Choke at 0 and Size at 109.

Step 6 – Add flowers

Expert Compositing

Go to CG textures then search and download the 24670 flowerbed file. Use the Pen tool to make a selection of your flowers then drag them into your working image. Since two flower bushes are needed, duplicate your new layer and reposition the duplicate using the Transform tool. Now you need to apply colour corrections. Select Image>Adjustment>Levels and input the following values: 0 / 2.00 / 220. Then apply a Hue/Saturation layer, setting Saturation at -50. Finally, apply a Color Balance adjustment layer, adding the following values: +8 / -31 / -28

Step 7 – Decorative thorns

Expert Compositing

Create decorative thorns by first adding the Pen Path Tool to a new layer. Select a 30px hard white brush. In the Paths Panel, Ctrl/Right click your path thumbnail. Select Stroke from the options with Simulate pressure deactivated. Choose Select>Load selection and use a soft brush at 15px, with the Always use Pressure for Opacity option activated from the Brush option bar over head. Add shadows to the edges of your line, using a #b7b7b7 coloured brush on a new layer. Open  Thorns.psd from the disc and paste them in, arranging them on the stem you’ve created.

Step 8 – Animal collage

Expert Compositing

Open the Fawn.psd, Yellow Rose.psd and Horns.psd from the disc. Select and drag them into your working image. Activate the Fawn layer and apply Color Balance, setting values to +48, -22 and -36. Active the Horns layer and again add Color Balance, setting values to +66, -63 and -34. Create a new layer beneath your Yellow Rose layer and apply a # 977166 colour to create a shadow. Do this by applying a soft brush with Always use Pressure for Opacity option active.

  • Very good composition of art work and very well written tutorial. If you have any video version of this tutorial then will be more effective for the photoshop learners.

  • theodoorthomas

    Really great work! I would love to see a video supporting this so I can include it into the list of Photoshop compositing tutorials over at

  • Stunning step by step techniques. Love your best compositing photoshop tutorial. I think it’ll help you all kinds of photo shop expert.

  • This is really nice tutorial about illustration design. Every part over here explained in a very nice way. And this works tells this is happened by very professional hands. Best part in here included value which can be very helpful for beginner designers. Great work.