How to make a complex selection in Adobe Photoshop.

Taking elements from multiple photos and using them to create a new image allows you to create beautiful and startling juxtapositions. It’s a technique that visual artist Temi Coker uses to great effect in his work. In this easy-to-follow tutorial, see how Coker isolated elements from two images to create a brand new composition in Adobe Photoshop.

Photo composite of man’s face surrounded by orange flowers, orange reflection shows on his cheeks

Watch a one-minute look at Temi Coker’s process—the steps are written out below.

Before you start.

Use these sample images or practice with your own.    

 

Step 1: Prep your subject

Start by separating the model from the background. Coker used the Quick Selection tool; then he chose Select And Mask. Once in the Select And Mask workspace, he set the View Mode to Overlay and used the Refine Edge Brush to enhance the details of the model’s hair. He then output his selection to a Layer Mask.

Choose the Quick Selection tool, then Select and Mask and use the refine edge brush to select the model in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2: Add more elements

Next, Coker dragged the flower image onto the model, rotated the image, and moved it into position. He chose the Quick Selection tool and used Select Subject to separate the flowers from the background. He then chose Select And Mask to clean up the selection. 

Add a flower layer to the model and move it into position to create a photo composite

Step 3: Get clear details

In the Select And Mask workspace, Coker brushed over the flowers with the Refine Edge Brush tool to remove the remaining bits of background. To get a better view of the composition while working, set the View Mode to On Layers.

Paint the spaces between the flowers with Refine edge brush to remove bits of background

Step 4: Arrange the design  

Coker duplicated, rotated, flipped, resized, and moved the flowers layer two more times to create an arrangement around the model. He then added a Curves adjustment layer and modified the tones of the model.

Duplicate, rotate, and resize the flower image, and apply photoshop curves adjustment layer to refine the photo composite

Step 5: Add more warmth 

Coker added a new layer above the model layer. He then set the Brush tool to a color he selected from the flowers, and brushed the sides of the model’s face along the edge of the flowers. He blended this effect by option-clicking (or alt-clicking) between the new layer and the model layer to create a clipping mask, and set the Blend Mode to Color Dodge.

Brush color around the flowers, set photoshop blending mode to Color Dodge, and blend layers with Clipping Mask
Brush color around the flowers, set photoshop blending mode to Color Dodge, and blend layers with Clipping Mask

Keep your creativity blooming.

Experiment with the variety of tools in the Select And Mask workspace. You can make complex selections in a snap. 

Duplicate, rotate, and resize the flower image, and apply photoshop curves adjustment layer to refine the photo composite

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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