Table of Contents
01. Select the right picture
First, you need to select the right picture. Images, where your subject has a nice silhouette, are better. By this I mean you should be able to tell what’s on the picture just by looking at the silhouette. Because of this, pictures taken from the side are preferred, where you can see the
nose, lips, jaw at the edge.
Here’s an example:
02. Mask your subject
Masking your subject can be done in many different ways. I’ll go over quickly the method I used for this picture. First I duplicated the image, then made a rough selection with the quick selection tool. With the selection done I select the top layer and add a layer mask.
At this point your layers should look like this:
Now double click on the mask and refine it with the help of this dedicated workspace. With the original image below, you should be able to see the parts which need refinement.
For a more in-depth guide on masking check out our blog about masking: How to mask in Photoshop Like a Pro
03. Adjust your image
With the help of the channel mixer adjustment, turn the image in black and white, by enabling the monochrome option. You can turn the image black and white with other methods as well, use the one you prefer.
I further adjusted the image with the help of curves, and brightness contrast layers.
04. Prepare the Second Image
For the second image, I prefer a picture that has a bright part that can be blended with the background. In most cases, this ends up being the sky.
I ended up choosing this image. With the help of the adjustment layers, I turned this picture black and white as well. In order for the sky to blend in with the background, it needs to be 100% white. To achieve this make a rough selection of the bright part of the sky, then go to Select>Modify>Feather. In this window enter a number so you end up with a huge feather(this number depends on the size of your image).
Once you have a nice big soft selection create a levels adjustment layer, and lower the rightmost number until you get a perfect white sky. Merge these layers(the forest, and its adjustment layers) by pressing Ctrl+E
05. Adjust the images for the blending
Now that you have both pictures prepared the image with the environment above the image of your subject
Set the blending mode to multiply, and align the environment, as you see fit. Now copy the mask of your subject to the environment, by holding down alt, and dragging it to the layer. Now the environment should be enclosed inside the silhouette of your subject.
06. How to Blend the Images
This next step is where the magic happens, and where you can spend a lot of time fidgeting. First, just in case save your mask. Ctrl+click on the mask layer to make a selection. Now go to Select>Save selection and name it however you wish. This way we can fall back if we mess up the mask in this next step. To blend together the images select a big soft brush and set the flow very low(I set mine to 10%) In the subjects mask layer paint over the parts you wish to hide, and in the environment layer mask paint over the parts you wish to show up. In this example, as you can see in the masks I painted over the middle portion of the subject, so the forest shows up there, and in the environment layer, I painted over the face and jacket so you can see them.
Play around with the brush inside the mask until you are satisfied. You can always roll back the original mask by going to Select>load selection, and loading the selection you saved and painting over it with white or black, whichever the case might be.
07. Refining the image
At this stage, you are pretty much done, but you get bonus points for extra adjustments. You can merge all the layers together by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E. Go to Filter>Camera raw filter, and play around with the adjustments. You can also place a gradient map above it, and give it some color.