Compositing 3D Render into Real Photo Scene

This tutorial will show how we can composite 3D rendered images into a real photograph environment. We will be using the layer masking technique very often and also explore some simple brush settings.

Preview of Final Image

The texts and images are copyrighted to 10Steps.SG and their respective owners. You CANNOT copy the whole tutorial, either in English or translate to another language.

Download the Tropical Forest image from Shutterstock. You can also use another similar image for this tutorial. Open up the forest image, go to Image > Image Size and set the width to 1000px, make sure it is checked to scale proportionally. Now save this as a Photoshop document and we shall work on it directly.

Duplicate the “Background” layer and rename the copy as “Forest”. Using the Lasso tool, briefly make a selection on the farther area like what I did below.

With the selection active, go to Select > Modify > Contract. Set the radius to 50px and hit OK. Go to Select > Modify > Feather. Set the radius to 30px. Then go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Set the radius to 20px and leave the rest of settings as default. This step is to create a a front focal point and clearer separation between the foreground and background.

Create a new layer and rename it as “Background Shadow”. Using the Brush tool, size 150px, Soft-Rounded and color #000000, paint a huge black area as shown below.

Set the Blend Mode of “Background Shadow” layer to Overlay. We have the background set up. Now let us proceed on to download some 3D renders!

Download the Render Pack 2 from Phanox. Inside the package, there are plenty of cool renders but I chose the three white ones to use. Open up the one shown in the screenshot and position it against the tree stem.

Rename the 3D render layer as “Render 1”. Select the layer and apply a Layer Mask to it. The white color in the mask means solid and black is the hidden area. So click on the mask, using the Brush tool with a comfortable size and color #000000, paint the shape of tree stem to reveal it. This is to make the render seem to go behind the tree instead of floating in front.

Duplicate the “Render 1” layer. Select the duplicated copy, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation. Set the Lightness to -100 so it looks completely black.

Using the Eraser tool, size 300px and Soft-Rounded type, erase the unwanted areas and retain only those near to the border of the tree stem. This step is to create shadow that the render cast on it.

Let us move on to make some reflections. Duplicate the “Forest” layer, rename this copy as “Reflection” and reorder it to be at top most in the Layers panel. Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Set the opacity of this layer to 30%.

Zoom in to the render and using the Eraser tool, remove all unwanted except those parts that you want the reflections to show on it. It is better to keep the reflections only on the white body parts and erase those on the pink so there is a contrast of surfaces.

Create a new layer and name it as “Inner Glow&quot. We only want some inner glows at the top portion, so using the Brush tool with size 15px, color #ffffff and Soft Rounded type, briefly paint around top border of the render. Set the Blend Mode of this layer to Screen.

Using the Smudge tool, blur the white border you have drawn to soften the outline. You may need to erase some parts where you find them too bright.

Using the same method, draw the inner glowing lines to borders of the pink body parts.

Duplicate the “Render 1” layer. With this copy, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation. Set the Lightness to -100 so it turns completely black. Reorder the layer so it is behind the original “Render 1” layer. Shift it downwards like what I did below.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to 8px. Change the opacity of this layer to 40%. And now you have a 3D render that blends pretty well into the photographed environment.

Let us repeat the processes for few more 3D renders for a better composition.

Open up the Brush Panel and key in the settings below.

Create a new layer and name it as “Energy Lines”. Using the Pen tool, draw several curves and stroke them with the brush settings you have just created. Remember to check on the “Simulate Pressure” option. Also I am using different brush sizes to stroke each path individually.

With “Energy Lines” layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to 4px. Change the opacity of this layer to 80%. Apply Color Overlay layer style and set the color to be #fff8ad. Apply Outer Glow layer style, set the color to #799d42, size to 20px and leave the rest of settings as default.

Download the Smoke Brushes Set 2 from Falln Stock. Set the foreground color to #fff8ad. Pick one of the smoke brushes and paint a smoke at the opening of the render pipe. Change the opacity of this layer to 80%. We are almost there. Now we shall work on the overall mood of the composition.

Make a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer at the topmost of Layers Panel. Set the contrast to 20.

Make a Curves adjustment layer and set the RGN curves similar to what I have done.

Make a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer. Set the hue to 50 and saturation to 25.

Make a Solid Color adjustment layer and set the color as #ff0099. Change the opacity of this layer to 5%.

Lastly, make a Levels adjustment layer and key the values 0, 1, 220. We have come to the end of this tutorial, hope you have enjoyed it. Happy Good Friday!

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32 Comments | Write a Comment

  1. Loria says:

    $author Awesome Blog Post! Can’t wait to read more content like this.

  2. tenerife repulojegy says:

    Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design. Appreciate it

  3. Ridho says:

    Thats Grea…..really-really great..

  4. deden says:

    wooowww coooolll man… great… great.. awesome… thanks for share.. i like it… 😀

  5. i like this 🙂

  6. Nobody says:

    Great Tutorial Thanks!

  7. luchito says:

    great job…
    great site…

  8. Jana Faltys says:

    Great great great..I will use this method also for my architectural renders. Thanks. J.

  9. CPO - Drupal says:

    WOW!! nice, thanks.

  10. yohanes says:

    hebat sekali, aku suka kren. salam kenal dari ku.
    i’m indonesian

  11. whale says:

    some question,
    i got stuck when creating energy lines,
    where is simulate pressure option?
    and what is the “shape dynamic” settings? my energy lines look like a line of circle …
    thank you

  12. carlos says:

    Hello jhonson, thank you for answering my request. I have a little time designing but I have learned very much with his tutoriales. Bye, from PERU – Latin America.

  13. James Qu says:

    Great tut! the shadow rendering is very realistic. Thanks for putting all the steps together!

  14. Avilash Chatterjee says:

    it’s really cool man….. am bookmarking it

  15. carlos says:

    Hi again jhonson koh! He is your admirer of PERU, the problem that exists is that the names of the herramienas in PHOTOSHOP and in the programs in general, his translation in the translators of the web is not since it should be, it is because of it that is made to us many problema.porfavor podrias translate your tutoriales into the Spanish, I know that it will be very difficult but not impossible. Other one consults, to do videoes tutoriales takes you a lot of time? Because serious a little easy mas for all. Regards from PERU and thanks for sharing what you know.

    • Johnson Koh says:

      I am trying to find time for doing video tutorials, but it is definitely in my long-term plan. Every tutorial roughly took me 2-3 days from brainstorming to the actual execution. That will be even longer if I were to include the videos in… Let me source for a good partner that I can find for this portion. Thanks for the suggestion still.

  16. Richie says:

    This is cool stuff. I always wondered how to attach such 3d elements into different environments. This might be the best solution yet. Thanks John.

    {There is a typo just above Image no. 23 – It must have been RGB Values} 😀

    Great tutorial, btw

  17. Lena Tailor says:

    Amazing tut… Definitely need to book mark this…

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