Compositing Images

Create Unique Stock Photos


When stock photos first began appearing online, they were curated by account representatives and very expensive. Some still are, but most are available for free or nominal cost. Two downsides are that you become your own curator and the image you choose is likely to show up everywhere.

With improving search engines, personal curation is better. But for more unique images, you may result to photo filters, retouching, and compositing.

Photo filters are easiest, since they apply an effect like sepia, blur, or high contrast vibrance to an entire image. With photo editing, you can replace specific colors or alter expressions. Compositing uses advanced photo editing with silhouetting to combine multiple photos into one image.

Rain man compositing
Click to reveal dual-photo composite with color harmonization and background blur. (Source: Freepik)

By replacing the background, compositing can result in a truly unique image. Color cast and lighting angle are two challenges of compositing. Closely examine photos to determine direction of lighting. It may be necessary to flip an image to match. Other times, lights may come from multiple angles.

Paint roller compositing
Click to reveal composting with color change for paint texture and primary subject. (Source: Freepik)

Photoshop Neural Filters help to make composites more natural. Depth Blur can soften backgrounds with a bokeh effect. Smart Portrait has aging options and can alter facial expressions. Harmonization fixes color cast anomalies by applying colors from one layer (background) to another layer (foreground). Output results to a new layer.

Masking and other Photoshop tools may be necessary to complete your project. You may prefer crisp details, but they increase image size. Selectively blur non-essential photo areas. Gaussian Blur and Tilt-Shift Blur are useful for this.

Skeptical compositing
Foreground expression change and background blur, desaturate. (Source: Freepik)

Tight cropping also allows you to focus on the action or subject expression you require. As you can see, image compositing can produce images that reflect your individual needs.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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