The World of Digital Image Compositing


From Photography to Art


My personal photographic journey took me to a new destination this week as I was introduced to the world of digital image compositing. Image compositing is the art of combining multiple images to create a single piece of digital art. It allows you to explore the artistic possibilities that would be too complex and expensive to attempt to create in a single studio session.

I was fortunate that my exploration of digital image compositing has been guided by Karen Alsop, a highly recognised and acclaimed Australian Photographer and Digital Artist, through her Story Art workshops which are currently being held in numerous countries around the world as part of her hectic 2016 schedule.

The Art of Compositing

In preparation for my workshop I spent weeks immersing myself in the basics of photoshop and watching numerous video tutorials Karen has posted on her Story Art web page to ensure I had the basic skills required to go to that next level. The workshop itself was everything I had hoped it would be. We spent the first day understanding the fundamental concepts of digital image compositing and watching Karen demonstrate the photography process with a couple of young models that would later be transported as residents in a doll’s house.

That afternoon we were presented with three young models for us to photograph as subjects for our personal project. Again, we were guided to pay particular attention to the lighting of the models to ensure that it matched the quality and direction of the lighting in our background image.

Keeping Things in Perspective

Equally as important, we covered the concepts of ensuring that our subjects were photographed in the same perspective as our background image as it would look quite odd if the background was photographed from ground level but our subjects had been photographed from above. You quickly realise that this process is not simply about taking a bunch of photos and blending them together in Photoshop.

In order to create an image that is believable you must pay meticulous attention to the lighting and the perspectives to ensure every element feels as if was taken as a single photo.

Planning & Visualisation

While the process of composting is based on a substantial amount of post processing in Photoshop, the creative process begins well before you even pick up the camera to take the first photo. It all begins with the visualisation of the type of art you are hoping to create and mapping out the various images that will be required to bring your story to life. This required me to shift from the comfort zone of my technical knowledge of photography and my camera and return to my early days as a budding graphic artist, before I chucked it all in and joined the Navy. I soon had an image in my head of the type of art I was hoping to create and soon after my shutter was firing.

From Photography to Art

Day two of the workshop is where we began to bring it all together. We transformed from photographers and became digital artists. Walking into the classroom first thing in the morning, we were each presented with a work station set up with professional grade Eizo monitors and Wacom Pen Tablets to ensure we had the tools to best master the process of reshaping our photographs to art. We began by combining all of the photos into a single image and adjusting the position of each element to create the overall feel.

It is here that we began to employ our new post processing skills to match the tones of the individual elements, adding shading and shadows to blend them into the scene, Adjustment layer after adjustment layer until our image began to come to life, and slowly, around the classroom, smiles began to emerge as our efforts were realised and our visions began to reveal themselves.


Story Art Composite



Karen’s Story Art workshop has opened a entirely new direction for my photography and the images I am hoping to create. It actually serves to refocus myself on everyday photography as I work to build a collection of stock images of skies, flowers. landscapes and everyday images that can later be used in a composite. The opportunity and creative possibilities are endless… begins a new chapter!



Brian Bird
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