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This is my third and final post in the series on compositing images using Adobe Photoshop – the first post can be read here , and the second post here

My two previous posts have centred around creating fairly simple composites, a background image and two foreground images composited together to create a simple yet believable fantasy image.

For my last post though I will focus on showing how I created a complex composite image, using a mixture of real photographs, computer generated images and complex brushes.

Here is the final fantasy image – The Midnight Hour – with Jessica Truscott

finished version


What looks a fairly simple and believable image started out as four actual photographs (Model and birds) five computer generated images (background, mansion, skeleton, skull and zombie) and three photoshop brushes, the moon, the mist and the sparkles in the models right hand.

Here are the images in separation

composite full

By far the biggest challenge when compositing images – aside from getting the lighting and the colour between all images correct, is the loss of the shadow on the ground when you cut the image out. We all create shadows on the ground and a shadow in an image is what creates depth and realism.

Creating a ‘realistic shadow’ underneath a person can be time consuming at best – nigh on impossible at worst. Many well known photoshop photo manipulators actually refrain from showing the feet of a cut out in the final image for this very reason.

In almost all of my fantasy images I DO show the feet, but I use mist, fog, or other tricks to blur and disguise the fact that there is not a correct shadow in place.

If you take the mist away from the final image both the model and the house are clearly cutout – but put the mist back in and not only do you have realistic atmosphere but the mist also conveniently hides and blurs the areas that have no shadow when they SHOULD have shadow – and you end up with a convincing fantasy composite image.

I hope you have enjoyed my short series on compositing images and have learnt a little bit to give it a try yourself

best – Colin