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Photoshop Compositing Secrets: Unlocking the Key to Perfect Selections and Amazing Photoshop Effects for Totally Realistic Composites

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Photoshop compositing has really blown up over the last few years. You see composites everywhere from magazine ads and covers, to movie posters, to athletic portraits, to, well, just about any kind of portrait. It really is everywhere. Clients and customers are very aware of Photoshop now and know what can be done, so they’re requesting more from photographers and designers. As time goes on and the creative boundaries of photography and Photoshop continually push the envelope, even our own judgment and tastes have risen to new heights, because we know (and see) all of the possibilities. The good news is that, today, it’s easier than ever to get into compositing.

For starters, the photography and lighting side of compositing has become much simpler to work with. Once you have the camera, lens, and memory card, experimenting is basically free. You can take as many photos as you need in an attempt to get the right one to work for your composite. Not only is the photography part easier, but the Photoshop part of the equation has changed big time. See, one of the key areas of compositing starts with a good selection. If you don’t make a good selection, your composite is never going to look real. Before Photoshop CS5, selections used to be a royal pain in the a$$. But with the new Refine Edge technology in CS5, selections that were nearly impossible (or really time consuming) can happen in about 3–5 minutes. To me, that’s a game changer in both the quality we get from our composites, and the time we have to invest in them.

The hardest part of the entire compositing process is, honestly, the creative side. No amount of technology will change that, though. But, to me, it’s my favorite part and I hope it becomes yours as you read through this book. Let me first say that I love photography and I love capturing a beautiful photo right out of the camera. Whether it’s a landscape or a portrait, there’s something wonderful about making a great photo that looks awesome as soon as you open it on your computer. Hit Send, and you’re done. That’s a good feeling. However, I love Photoshop, too. I really do enjoy the creative process of making art on my computer. Compositing lets me combine my two passions and put them together to create photos that simply wouldn’t be possible (or would be really difficult, at best) without both photography and Photoshop combined.

As you read through the book, you’ll see I’ve covered the gamut when it comes to compositing. Compositing is many things to many different people, so I really tailored the projects so that everyone, no matter what type of photography and imaging you’re into, would get something from the book. I’ve covered everything from ultra-grungy/edgy composites with dramatic lighting and Photoshop special effects, to real-world family/professional portrait composites that no one would ever know were composites, and everything in between. And you’ll see the setup info, the background, the selection process, and the final compositing techniques that made it all happen.

Compositing has truly become a passion of mine over the years. I hope, as you read through this book, that it becomes yours, as well. Enjoy!
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