Photoshop: Compose fantastic images using non-destructive blending

Illustrator Jason Feeny shows how you can put Photoshop CS3/CS4’s Smart Objects function to good use to composite incredible images.

Image____________0

One of the many benefits of working digitally is the ability to compose and composite quickly and efficiently. Photoshop and Illustrator offer tools to make this ever easier and now, and with some new additions in Adobe Creative Suite 3 or 4, it’s better then ever.

My favourite new function in Photoshop CS3 (which is also in CS4) is the ability to turn any item into a ‘Smart Object’. This allows non-destructive scaling when using bitmapped images.

Before this function was introduced, designers had to duplicate images, save a master version, tinker with the duplicate until satisfied then fetch the master and scale it accordingly – or reimport the bitmap altogether.

In this tutorial I will explain my compositing process using both Photoshop and Illustrator to create high-res images for print. In this image I’ve used 3D renders created in Maya, but you can use any image you like – it doesn’t have to be 3D.

Image____________1

Step 1 Before you start composing, sketch out your desired layout on paper and prepare the elements individually. The finished illustration will very rarely look exactly like your original sketch, but it’s good to have a logical starting point. Leave the layout open for change, just in case you happen upon a pleasant accident during compositing.

Image____________2

Step 2 Once you have all your elements prepared and at hand, it’s time to get stuck in. Place all the assets you want in your drawing in individual layers, at full resolution. Convert each bitmapped layer into a Smart Object by right-clicking (Ctrl + click) on the respective layer and choosing ‘Convert to Smart Object’. It’s good practice to render all your bitmaps at a higher resolution than you feel you may need. This will allow you to scale up the size of a layer if needed.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags photoshop

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jason Feeny

Digital Arts Magazine
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?