Epic Composites

Spanning a course of three full shoots starting from the photoshoot all the way through the final bits of editing, you’ll get to see these distinct ideas come to life from concept to execution. This course is aimed at anyone who has a beginner level understanding of Photoshop all the way to experienced pros. Robert teaches in a way that can easily be followed along at each stage. He presents his thoughts as he works to show you not just the tools of each process, but the reasons behind why he is doing them.

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About the Class

This is the type of video that even as a professional, you’ll pick up a few things you didn’t know was possible. This 8 hour class spans 20 fun-filled lessons separated into multiple videos! You’ll be able to take a trip with Robert to the studio where he captures his images before taking them into Photoshop. He’ll talk you through the things to consider on the shoot to make it easier for you in post production. Taking these well thought out steps ensures a smooth process in getting to your final vision.

You’ll get to witness three unique shoots and the entire process for each. From a sci-fi action scene to a couple of beautiful of concept pieces that are all vastly different, you’ll get to explore a unique set of tools and workflows for each.

Be sure to download the files from each video and be sure to follow along!

Through the process you’ll learn what it not only master the most used tools by composite artists, but you’ll understand the how and the why behind it! There’s so much you’ll learn in making two images blend perfectly together like the pen tool, selections, color grading, layer management, painting with light, blending modes to name a few. To see a detailed list of everything you’ll learn, be sure to scroll down to see our Chapter Reviews!

About the Instructor

Robert Cornelius

I don’t “capture moments” or “save memories” – I prefer to CREATE them instead. I’m a photographer (as you should hopefully know by now), but I am nothing without my magical Photoshopping powers. I’ve been taking pictures professionally since 2008, and Photoshopping like my life depends on it since 2003.

When I’m not bringing some kind of crazy concept to life, I enjoy being active, cycling, running, climbing, going to the gym, long walks on a moonlit beach, and all that good stuff.

Work Examples

What’s included

7:54 h
Entire Tutorial

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Files to Download and follow along

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Chapter Reviews

1.1 Preferences

Length: 7:11 min

This is where all the magic really begins. Robert gives you an overview of the keyboard shortcuts he uses and modifies to make the composite workflow faster. We’ll also look into his Photoshop preferences for workspace settings, menu options, and how Photoshop performs.
These time saving settings will provide more efficiency in your work so you can get back to enjoying the process of creating!

2.0 In the Studio

Length: 7:32 min

Knowing what to edit starts at the source, the photoshoot itself! This is the first of three photoshoots you’ll get to follow along with. Robert does a great job verbalizing everything he is thinking of so you can take that information and make better decisions on your shoot! He is going to be photographing an epic sci-fi inspired battlescene which he will be then taking into post production after!

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Taking the intricate outfit into consideration when formulating the lighting of the subject.
  • The choice of backdrops used when photographing the subject for the purpose of cutting them out and placing it on your final background image in Photoshop.
  • Mixing variable colors of gels with purpose.
  • Planning the studio space to make compositing easier.
  • Watching Robert shoot and how he interacts with the subject. You get to see the build up of small adjustments to get to the final photo. He addresses issues with poses to consider for a perfect composite.
  • Robert constantly speaks his mindset through the shoot to answer questions before you even know them. He talks about the different parts to shoot to make sure all areas are covered.
  • Creating lens flares and gelled lights on set.
  • Seeing the point at which the final shot is captured, what makes it perfect, and the reasons why shooting more than required is useful.

2.1 Masking with the Pen Tool

Length: 34:28 min

The pen tool is a foundational tool for anyone doing any composite work. Robert continues off from the shoot by bringing in a few images into Photoshop to demonstrate on.
This tutorial goes through advanced tips while still being easy to follow for beginners. He takes into consideration the shortcuts and settings needed to work the pen tool properly. You’ll get to see it in action as it is used across all the common range of angles and issues so you know the process works.

What else you’ll learn in this video:

  • All the less spoken of shortcuts and settings of the pen tool to make it work with the least effort possible.
  • The decisions required when you’re creating your path and run into the most common situations and the most least likely ones too. Getting to see it in action in a real world situation with every major possible situation really lets you sink it in.
  • Things to keep in mind that you’d only know through hours of using the pen tool.
  • Creating multiple paths and refining existing paths to make sure your work is clean.
  • Once your paths are created, how to manage and use them with your image.
  • These little tips and tricks build up and show just what makes Robert a seasoned professional. Being able to save hours of time by hearing these tips and settings is a great feeling.

2.2 Adjusting the background and placing the model

Length: 25:59 min

Continuing the Photoshop fun, we get into it and start with our background and making it perfect for our model!

Here’s what you’ll learn in this video:

  • Building up the background with consideration of how the model was photographed.
  • The method of taking the shot of your subject and adding it into your background image.
  • Size and perspective considerations to make sure they both fit together well visually.
  • Analyzing the lighting of the background to make sure what does and doesn’t work with how the subject is lit.
  • How to fix visual issues so that they blend better together through hand painting, masking, and adjustment layers. In the process you’ll learn techniques and tools in Photoshop that can be applied to every composite.
  • Creating the illusion of depth between the subject and background for visual interest.

2.3 Adjusting Rimlight

Length: 20:37 min

The rimlight that accents the model in studio needs to be finessed to match the scene perfectly. It’s not an easy task as you need to consider angle and size of the background light sources. These methods for blending these two together will take your composites to a believable level while making it as easy and realistic as possible. We go through different methods to add and enhance these edge lights.

What else you’ll learn in this video:

  • Analyzing the scene to see what needs to be modified further.
  • The workflow and technique of modifying just the edges of the subject to match the accent lights realistically.
  • Creating multiple layers of the subject and using advanced layer style techniques to create edge lights.
  • The importance of modifying angle, opacity, and distance settings based on the angle of the background light source.

2.4 Adding Glow

Length: 12:15 min

As if the image isn’t looking awesome enough, we’ll go into adding beautiful glow selectively in the image.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Adding layers for the purpose of creating glow.
  • Opacity and flow settings in order to create a realistic glow.
  • Looking into seeing what areas should have more glow and how that adds depth to the image.
  • The method of hand painting the glow in many areas of the image for a painterly effect.
  • Combining it with unique layer styles and creating the right settings to make a real glow.

2.5 Painting in Details

Length: 41:24 min

A majority of Robert’s look comes from painting in details, whether that’s dodging and burning to carve out the image more, enhancing details like textures, and analyzing why to adjust these things and what they do for the image as a whole.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • The layers and settings needed to paint details and modify lighting.
  • Lightening and darkening elements for added depth.
  • The different blend modes for painting details.
  • Painting edges and seeing how far to go based on the light source.
  • The workflow and order of painting in those details. Painting both on the background and subject to make visual connections.
  • Tips for keeping things in perspective while adjusting these details.
  • Enhancing rougher details to make them stand out even more.
  • Eye retouching to bring more attention to them.
  • Layer settings to make painting on either the object, background, or both an easy process.

2.6 The Weapons

Length: 26:53 min

The image is brought together convincingly well at this point. But the thing we’re missing is making the weapons actually work! Yes, that is possible without actually destroying your studio.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Creating multiple lasers with a hot glow using hand painting methods and transformations.
  • A look into a layer style for the laser to make it look realistic.
  • Masking and placement of the laser in relation to the subject’s weapon.
  • Transformation methods and settings to modify the shape of the laser.
  • Settings of auto-selection tools to make it easier to create quick selections.
  • The process of experimenting to see what looks right and why things may not line up.
  • Adding in particles to blend in the base of the blast with the laser.
  • A look into the little details that take it to a professional level.
  • Modifying the colors of the lasers after drawing them in to balance the colors of the scene.

2.7 Adding Texture

Length: 19:40 min

It looks like the image is nearly perfect, but we’re about to kick it into another gear by adding the power of textures in the image to make it complete! Textures really sell the story by creating a sense of atmosphere. It’s a quick way to bring life right into your photos. We add dust, lasers, and lens flares!

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • How blend modes of the texture layer adds depth to an image.
  • Process of masking to guide the direction of the viewer and weaving the texture into the scene.
  • Transformation methods to move and manipulate the texture layer easily and fit it into place.
  • How to isolate and work on a single layer in a full layer stack. This will allow you to easily modify one at a time and not get lost in your stack.
  • A show of how Robert’s layer organization works when modifying multiple elements.

2.8 Final Adjustments

Length: 29:44 min

We’re pretty much done with the image. Now we need to add the icing on the cake and go around to take a hard look at what we’ve done and make any necessary changes.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Analyzing what parts don’t work well with the composite and then taking the necessary steps to correct it.
  • Using gradients to adjust intensity of parts of the image.
  • Exploring the shadows/highlights adjustments menu to adjust how much detail we’ll bring out of the subject.
  • Additional glow in order to blend the scene even better.
  • Sharpening methods to add more emphasis to the subject so it stands out from the backdrop.
  • Adding haze and noise to separate the background even more so they can look more cohesive.
  • Creating color balance by using Photoshop’s color tools to modify individual colors or the overall feel of the image.
  • The purpose of modifying colors and what to look for to bring out the feel of the piece.
  • The organization of the layer stack and how to manage all the layers for the purpose of being able to revisit your previous steps.
  • Settings to create the illusion of movement on your subject.

3.0 – In the Studio

Length: 9:14 min

We step back into the studio for our second shoot! We talk about the dreaded flying hair and shooting full length images, which is usually very hard when done incorrectly. We’ll be shooting for the purpose of seeing how we can blend everything perfectly.

What else you’ll learn in this video on top of everything in the first shoot:

  • Choice of backdrop for the purpose of cutting out hair and fine details.
  • Directing the model for the purpose of a moving shot.
  • Things to consider about the outfit when shooting.
  • The process of shooting and adding wind on set to create movement in the hair.

3.1 Masking with Channels

Length: 17:40 min

Channel masking is another foundational method of masking in Photoshop. We’re going to mask out the subject from the background and account for all the fine details.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Understand what channels are and knowing how to access and pick the right channel for the image.
  • The workflow of modifying the channel to create a perfect selection. Including all the brush blend modes and opacity settings.
  • Taking your perfect channel and applying it to an image.
  • Combining the pen tool in areas where the channel didn’t work perfectly and what situations that would occur.

3.2 Placing the Model

Length: 7:34 min

With our images shot, we will be taking our model and background and putting them together. In this video, we’ll be taking the model and placing it into the background image and aligning them to the right proportions. We’ll be bringing in multiple layers to blend in shadows of the model.

3.3 Adjusting the Background

Length: 29:42 min

Continuing the Photoshop fun, we get into it and start with our background and making it perfect for our model!

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Analyzing the background to see what distractions need to be removed. Making quick selections to manage them.
  • Clever ways of temporarily modifying the background so it is easy to make detailed selections in Photoshop.
  • Adding in clouds and blending it in into the foreground.
  • Modifying the placement of the subject with the background.
  • The purpose of quick masks and where they fall into the workflow.

3.4 Retouching

Length: 28:06 min

Now that we have a good placement of our background and subject, we’ll go through and look at what needs retouching.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • The methods and techniques for Liquifying.
  • What to look out for during the retouching process of a composite.
  • An issue with shooting on white is sometimes you get a white glow on the edges, we’ll be showing you how to remove it realistically.
  • Adding more hair from another image on the model and the workflow to blend it realistically with the original image.

3.5 Painting with Light

Length: 29:01 min

We have our amazing composite image coming to life. One thing that really sells it is being able to fine tune the small details by painting with light and shadow so the model and background really blend in well together.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Using the highlight/shadow Photoshop menu to bring out details.
  • Painting the little details with light to make them stand out.
  • Knowing what to look for when it comes to painting in these details.
  • Retouching of the eyes, lips and other details to make them so they stand out even zoomed out. Taking reference from paintings to make them look illustrative and storytelling.
  • Removing blemishes from skin and optimizing colors of the makeup.

3.6 Adding Textures

Length: 26:27 min

It looks like the image is nearly perfect, but we’re about to kick it into another gear by adding the power of textures in the image to make it complete! Textures really sell the story by creating a sense of atmosphere. It’s a quick way to bring life right into your photos.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Modifying texture files to create new textures and options from it.
  • How blend modes of the texture layer adds depth to an image.
  • Creating movement from these textures.
  • Transformation tools to completely transform textures for the purpose of visual effect.
  • Adjusting the color and brightness of each texture.

3.7 Final Adjustments

Length: 34:43 min

We’re pretty much done with the image. Now we need to add the icing on the cake and go around to take a hard look at what we’ve done and make any necessary changes.

What you’ll learn in this video:

  • Creating glow and additional depth in different parts of an image to enhance the compositional balance of the scene.
  • Adjusting global contrast and sharpness to the subject.
  • An explanation of what color adjustments will be done along with the reasoning behind it. This will help you understand each step along the way.
  • Applying different levels of blur for enhancing depth.
  • Taking hair from a different image to fix any issues.

4.0 In The Studio Part 3

Length: 8:47 min

We watch how this beautiful concept is made with three different lights. You’ll get to see how the balance of the main, accent, and fill work to complete the look Robert is after. As with the other shoots, you’ll see the distance and positioning of the lights and the build up of them.

4.1 The Whole Process

Length: 46:47 min

As with the other shoots, we’ll jump into post processing. This time we’ll be doing the entire process in one video. We’ll continue building on top of previous techniques and showcase how they also work on a completely different concept. Watching the concept come to life through the buildup of small steps is pure magic.

What you’ll learn in this video beyond the previous videos:

  • Liquifying elements to get the exact shape you’re looking for that fit the composition.
  • Combining multiple fire elements to enhance each other.
  • Cleanup of hair on the model.
  • Using additional elements to create atmosphere and depth around the subject.
  • Carving the image with light to match the primary light source even closer.
  • Adjusting the color of the makeup to compliment the concept.
  • Enhancing the color of the shadows to create a complimentary color grade.
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