Been getting a lot of request for help or tutorials lately but to tell you the truth, I’m not the best teacher. We learn from our mistakes has never been a more true statement. I’ve been doing this 15 years and only learned from frustration and years of determination to get the looks I wanted. And still you never know if others will agree with your vision.
I was a musician in my early years and I played by ear so now I play by eye. I can spend up to 12 hours on a single image and I don’t stop until I see what I want to see. Hard to teach that, anymore than a mechanic could give one tip on how to fix every car.
The problem I see with a lot of compositions is people taking an image without any thought on what they plan to do in Photoshop (CS6 not that rental crap.) You can’t fix bad lighting after the picture has been taken. You can adjust it but it will never have the same natural look.
Also people say you don’t have to have the best camera but if you plan on doing composite work, is a lie. The more detail in the image, the easier it is to cut someone out of an image. Being able to maximize the image and not try and work in blurred, pixelated horror really helps with detail. A good lens makes a difference as you’ll get more depth which brings me to a “How to tell when a composite is bad.”
- If you didn’t properly cut out the hair and it looks like a blurred Darth Vadar helmet or has left over color around the strands.
- You paste any image for a background at any size. I design thinking of poster size so backgrounds have to match camera quality. I never use a whole other image as a background (see copyright infringement). My backgrounds are made up of sometimes hundreds of different pieces of images. When I’m not shooting models I am out taking stock photos and images to use as textures.
- Background is in focus even though it’s miles away. In Photography we love that bokeh effect and matching that effect in Photoshop really brings out the depth in an image. (Sometimes it’s a life saver if you’re not happy with something in the background it will be blurred anyway.)
- Different hues and lighting. If your subject looks like they were shot on the beach and you put them in a night image, wouldn’t they be moonlit? Lighting is everything and if you’re planning to have a sun on the left in the background, your subject should be lit on the same side. Otherwise dead giveaway.
The secret is that everyone knows it’s Photoshop work (nobody has magic smoke coming from their eyes) but they can’t tell why if you get everything right. The see through it and just enjoy the image as a whole.
Not a lot of tips here right. Knowing what is wrong is step one. Design is problem solving. It doesn’t matter which tool you use in Photoshop or any other program. I used to read tons of tutorials and it seemed none of them were trying to do what I wanted. I hated my Photoshop work until I got better at lighting and better at Photography.
I sit at my desk all day and night working on images. No play time. I do graphic design 8 hours a day and Photography and composition 8 hours a night. Determination is key and don’t lose heart if people don’t like your work. On the other side, don’t stop improving because all you family and friends like your image. They have to.
Hope that helps.