I recently had the awesome opportunity to teach my first class: Photoshop & Elements - Creating Great Selections for Realistic Compositing. A challenging subject for sure, but I found that no matter how well you know something (and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable and competent in this subject), that it definitely requires a different skill set and lots of practice in order to demonstrate and verbally communicate what I normally know how to do so easily in the solitude of my head.
The class began with a lecture about the compositing criteria involved with taking individual elements from multiple source images and merging them into a single image while at the same time making it all look real. This is something that nature does effortlessly, but as digital artists it requires a bit more effort on our part.
After the talk, there was a live 2-hr model shoot where each student had the opportunity to shoot multiple images of the model. During the model shoot, everyone was instructed to take into account the compositing criteria in relation to the background image I provided for the project. To ignore the criteria is to bring on the wrath of the bad compositing Gods!! Just saying.
The following shows the 5 items that must be addressed when compositing:
With the photo shoot under our belt, the students choose their best model photo complete with crazy, flyaway hair to place into their new scenic beach background. Using the both "Quick Selection Tool" and the "Refine Edge Dialog Box", available in both Photoshop CS4 and above and Photo Elements 11, they began the "Selection" process, carefully coaxing out the models from their current background. WIth a lot of love and finesse the student's model's arrived successfully into their new ocean front view.
Compositing is a complex process and requires constant observation of the physical world around you. Combine that with with endless practice, constant repetition, technical know-how and artistic expression, and at some point it will all come together. But by no means can compositing be mastered in one class and as I told the students, "take home your images and do it again 10 more times. Or even more if possible, because with each new attempt, hopefully you'll learn something new that can be applied for next time.
I look forward to teaching more classes in the future and the ability to get better in my teaching skills. Photoshop is a program with infinite options and limitless possibilities and it's an ongoing challenge to myself to stay on top of the software's abilities as well as mine.
Greg - Pixelogist/Retoucher