Composite | C&C!

W.Y.Photo

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You want a small "halo" of partially transparent neutral or color-matching pixels inbetween the couple and the background in most cases when pasting them on. This can be easily achieved if you shot with a gray background but you can dodge and burn or reapply/erase the translucent pixels to match the background if necessary.

These extra pixels will give the illusion of a slight blending of colors and shades that naturally happens when a sensor records the light coming from a subject. You can see it by zooming in on any natural photo. Imitate this effect and you eliminate the cardboard cutout-feeling that is oh so common in composited images.

Edit: I recommend using the pixels from the original image of the couple rather than attempting to brush new ones in

If I get your proposal correctly, you mean a new layer between the couple and the background, few pixels width of the original photo with lower transperancy? How do you make such a selection to create this new "halo" layer? I always just played with the refine edge on these cases.. and maybe add some blur to the mask edges at times to make a more believable transition.

What you suggest seems very interesting... if care to elaborate or provide some link for this technique I would be greatful

No no. Sorry I explained that in a much more complicated manner than was necessary.. I simply mean you want the selection to be feathered outward from the subject being comped in rather than cut out pixel by pixel. I used a precise explanation because I feel that helps give insight into the actual process. plus if he has the image as a layer and is simply masking the rest out he can zoom in and make those adjustments quickly with a brush.

I wanted to explain specifically that the area that is feathered should be the background around the subject and not the subject themselves or else their outline would be blurred.

So, to recap, I'd select just outside them to get just a bit of the background of the original and then brush that out with a semi-transparent brush with a layer mask, right?

That's one way to do it. You can also select just outside them and then feather the selection before you make it.

If you still have trouble with how it looks after that you can go in and make the mask with a brush for precision. I do almost all my mask refining with a brush. I don't trust them pesky programs adobe offers!! :dob:
 
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MichaelHenson

MichaelHenson

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Okay, finally home from work and the softball game was rained out so I got a chance to do some more work on it...I followed W.Y. Photo's advice and feathered the selection before copying it into the background then used a brush to finish before doing adjustments to color, etc. Improvement? Thoughts?

R&LinParis4 copy by Michael Henson, on Flickr
 
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W.Y.Photo

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The Girl looks better and the guy looks worse. The only reason the guy looks worse is that weird dark splotch by his right ear.

What you've done around the guys suit is essentially what I'm getting at. If you compare the two (which I'm sure you have) you'll notice with your second try it looks slightly more natural. It's all about finding a perfect balance between blending of the images and sharpness. Keep up the good work and you'll get it in no time!!

People are some of the harder things to composite. (especially the hair! bleh!) I'd suggest honing your skills by compositing a variety of ordinary objects as well, that way you can learn a lot about how things that weren't originally in the frame should look by using a more simple editing process.
 
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MichaelHenson

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Cool. Thanks! Other than the splotch, I'm not sure what else needs adjusted/fixed on this. I guess I'm going to fix the splotch and show it to them and then just keep working on improving my eye.
 

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