Creating Composites | Day 1

I have done basic composites before but this was the first time i have done one like this.


Concept: Tiny Owen was sat on Sophie’s hand.



I watched these youtube tutorials on cutting out in PS


Both of them used a method of copying the most contrasted RGB layer (Blue) and adjusting the levels on it to make the darks darker and the whites whiter.



Without the use of my studio I thought it would be a good challenge to try to do something at home because I’m not always going to have full control over where i am shooting so this was good practise making do with what I’ve got.


Equipment Used:

Nikon D750, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Nikon 35mm 1.4

Flashgun – Bounced 45 degree to the left off a white wall

White Sheet & box to sit on

2 children 🙂



My plan was to create an image where Owen was sat on Sophie’s hand.

We picked clothes that were bright for Sophie to wear so that she stood out from the background and dark grey clothes for Owen so that he was easy to cut out from the white background.

I took about 15 shots of Sophie, using the 50mm so that she was almost filling the frame. She was sitting in front of my white bedroom wall holding her hand out to the side and pulling faces.

Then i put a box on top of my chair with a white sheet over it so that Owen could sit higher up, i needed to get his feet dangling in the shot. I changed to the 35mm so that i could fit his whole body in the frame. The Sophie jumped around behind me making him laugh 🙂

Camera Settings – 1/200s  F8  320ISO

I used F8 because i wanted to make sure that Sophie & Owen were both totally in focus with no fall off, if i had used a shallow depth of field then there would have been areas on Sophie’s hand that were out of focus so that wouldn’t have worked when i put Owen on top.


Post Production:

  • Imported images into Lightroom
  • Chose the 2 i wanted to merge
  • Took them into Photoshop & cut them out from the background. The Youtube tutorial that i watched demonstrating how to do this was quite a laborious way, definitely the best way if there was difficult areas like hair etc to cut around but i had quite clear lines around the figures so i decided to use the MAGNETIC LASSO instead as this was quicker and did the job fine.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 17.39.16

  • Added a white background layer
  • Scaled Owen down with the TRANSFER TOOL and then positioned him on Sophie’s hand.
  • Then I added new layers and with the EYEDROPPER i sampled the colour from the shadows on Sophie and with the BRUSH TOOL painted new shadows underneath Owen, adjusting the opacity to suit.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 17.41.58

  • There was a very slight highlight on the right edge of Owen’s trousers which didn’t look right because that should have been a shadow area so I added an INNER SHADOW in the Layer Style options, playing with the opacity / spread / size until it looked right.
  • Once I was happy with that i added a CURVES layer over the whole image and played with the levels to brighten up the image and then finished off with some sharpening & contrast. And finalised by cropping it.


Soph & Owen Comp Final SML-2


Owen Crop



Getting the angle that he was sitting to match the shape of Sophie’s hand was tricky, also painting in the shadows took some time to do. I kept going back to the original image of him sat on the box and tried to re-create the same shadows on Sophie’s hand.

This was a good first experiment to see how long it took to get a person to look right in another scene.

Time taking the photos – 20 mins

Time watching tutorials – 20 mins

Time editing – 2 hours

For my next project…. i found this video on youtube from Photillustrator which shows a different way to cut out which i would like to try  –