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"Oh, Christmas Tree" a nostalgic Christmas composite

photoshop basics Dec 13, 2019

Hey, guys! Happy holidays to all. Today’s tutorial is more of an advanced one. There’s going to be tons of stock image adjustments as well, so then we’re going to use stock image websites like Pixel squid and Deposit photo. Now, I did complete the same composite last year so I will be flipping back and forth using it as a guide. You can always check out my previous tutorial along with many more with a premium subscription!

We’re starting with a base image with an empty room. I already prepared in advance so I have images masked & cut out. We start by just adding our already cut layer, I prepped a little girl with her cat and little brother.

To set the warm holiday setting, we just add our cut out of a flame and change its perspective to get things toasty! We continue with a rug, and a couch, table and a tiny gingerbread man. Most of my images are from pixel squid, which I love, it saves me so much time. It’s so much easier than trying to find the correct angled stock image.

A neat little touch that I’m going to add is the rustic frame with the picture of the little girl feeding a moose. This detail really helps tie the composite together, although it is a bit tricky to pull off.  I go ahead and drag my frame and fix its perspective. Then I copy my image and resize it to make sure it fits behind the frame, there might be excess coming out on the side of the frame. But that’s an easy fix, we just apply the mask and brush it away. I understand steps like this can become confusing, so if you feel you need the extra help, you can always access tons of tutorials and advice with a premium subscription.

A necessary step would be to add some nutcrackers on the sides of the fireplace, we just rotate the perspective and repeat to place one on the other side.

The little girl in the room is our centerpiece, so we need to adorn her with all the right Christmas props. Just like before, we use our ornaments from pixel squid. I went ahead and added Christmas bulbs, presents, and Christmas bows, and a cute kitty cat. Guys, just be careful with the shadows these images come with, you can always turn them off from the pixel squid extension setting. This stuff is a little receptive to feel to add as many seasonal props as you’d like! 

Now, let’s pull up our adorable white cat from our Adobe stock, he’s a little tricky to cut out so I use the crop tool but you guys are free to use any method you find convenient. To add a realistic texture to fur, I use the soft tool and make a copy and save as “PSD” file. I just go ahead and add the layer to our main composite with a quick little re-size. Now the napping cat can fit nice and snug on our red couch.

I do reference my previous composite from last year's lots so please bear with me. I used lots of trinkets to adorn the atmosphere, so I’m pulling up the snow globe pixel squid. At this point, I have really tallied many layers and it can be overwhelming. So, in order to keep things tidy, I go ahead and group layers that should be grouped; like the fireplace and the flame, table and its ornaments…etc. To view a full list for inspiration and ideas you can always view some of my other videos with a premium subscription, It really goes a long way!


Before we begin really fixing into the details like shadows and tones, I add a touch of realism that’s really special. In order to give our little girl a reflection in the mirror, I go ahead and copy her and flip her horizontally. I lower the opacity and white brush off her extra pieces so she fits in the mirror perfectly. I’m really working into the details but I understand it really takes time, I suggest you guys work into something like this when you really have the time to sit around and have fun! On the cardboard board box, I go ahead and insert a nutcracker, I just make sure to tilt him and resize him so he fits in. While we’re working on him, why not give him some special Christmas trinkets?! I resize both a candy cane and elf hat to keep him company.

What yells out holiday season more than Christmas bulbs?! I definitely think laying some on the red carpet will give the composite a better look. But, I only downloaded red &silver ones so they won’t stand out. That’s an easy fix, we pull up our image and click on colorize and play around with the saturation. It runs out our green doesn’t look very pretty. I’ll settle for the silver bulb because it looks better, but now you can change bulb color at ease!

Before we start on the Christmas lights, which happens to be one of the most difficult parts, I’m going to start adding some overlay solid colors to the fireplace. I invert the solid color and duplicate just in case we need it. We start to see a warm orange glow you would expect from a toasty living room fire, I add a little dodge on the floor next to the fireplace to make it look more realistic and group everything and apply a group blend to make sure colors are consistent.

Now approaching the last steps of our tutorial, we have some of the hardest tasks left to complete. I give an the atmosphere some vignette, Christmas lights, and overall color balance. If you’d like a step by step detailed walkthrough, then feel free to check out my premium subscription. This is what the finished Christmas products look like!

To help save yoU time so you can skip right to the fun stuff,  I have now created the Nostalgic Christmas Background Collection that does include this very background! Find it here. TARA LESHER EDUCATION BACKGROUND COLLECTIONS


Happy Editing and Happy Holidays,

Tara Lesher


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