In this tutorial you will learn the basics of image compositing – some rules for composition, cutouts, creating reflections and color correction. All this while merging a tower into a lake photo.

Greetings and welcome to another ArtCone Photoshop tutorial. In this tutorial we will be taking a look at some basic image compsositing skills and techniques to make a merger between the tower and the photo of the lake. Let’s begin by opening the lake photo. Right click on the image and save it to your hard drive to follow along with this tutorial.

Now open the tower image…

Select the tower image and with the Polygonal Lasso tool start to cut around the tower. To learn more about extraction techniques check out our in-depth tutorial about Extracting Images With Photoshop.

Once you finished outlining the tower hit Ctrl+C to copy, go to the lake photo and hit Ctrl+V to paste. A new layer will be created.

Make sure “Layer 1” is selected, then choose Edit> Transform> Perspective. Change the perspective of the tower to match the perspective of the lake. Press the tick sign in the top or hit enter to make the transformation permanent.

Now let’s do the Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal command. This is done to match the shading effect of the lake and the tower.

Ctrl+A to select all, Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste.

Alrighty, Go to Edit> Transform> Flip Vertical and position the “Reflection” right under the the tower.

With Edit> Transform> Skew increase the width in the bottom of the reflection, press the tick sign in the top (or hit enter), then with Filter> Distort> Ocean ripple, set the following settings:

set “Ripple size” to “1”,
set “Ripple Magnitude” to “2”, then press Ok.

Let’s do some motion blur to enhance the feel that the water reflection is being moved around by the water surface. Go to Filter> Blur> Motion Blur and set “Angle” to “0” and “Distance” to “5”. Press OK.

Now let’s to some old-fashioned brush work. Select the Brush tool from the toolbar and with the following settings start to darken the left side of the tower slightly:

“Mode” at “Darken”,
“Brush” at “30” (size),
“Opacity” at “25%”.

Make sure “Layer 2” is active, then do Layers> Merge Down (or hit Ctrl+E). Now “Layer 2” is merged into “Layer 1”. There is only one layer left now, right? Alrighty, let’s continue – Ctrl+B to open the “Color Balance” Dialogue box. Set “Green” to “25” and press Ok.

This color adjustment will make the new composite even more believable and such adjustments are usually practiced by photo manipulators in compositing ans it’s a quick fix for a lot of color problems. And our final image? Take a look below.