In Hot Water - compositing and fine details
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In Hot Water - compositing and fine details

Hello guys!

Today we’re going to be editing this image from my idiom series! This is a simple composite, so if you’re a beginner, this is a great one to start with!

We’re grabbing some stock images from,, and This is where we get out our smoke and fire from; in the video tutorial, I’ll walk you through what kind to look for and grab.

I go through my standard routine to cut out our subject and place him in our background. Then, I flipped him over and resized him before adjusting the image size. You can see exactly how I do it in my full tutorial available through my premium membership.

Now it’s time to get things cooking! We grab our fire stock and adjust it on our background, blending, warping, and masking before finishing off with more contrast. When we add in our contrast, it brings more of our black background that came with our stock, so we’ll go back in and mask where it’s needed. 

We’re going to add in some more flames using our fire brush. You can play around with the different brushes, colors, and blending modes to get to a final product that looks realistic but still has some character.  

 I wasn’t totally in love with the brush fire overlay, so I went ahead and grabbed some more stock and added it to our fire composite.

Things are starting to heat up now!  

We will go through a similar process with our smoke, using a filter and masking the parts that need less intensity. After that, we’re going to add a little more smoke to our pot, but we’re going to use a brush rather than stock this time.


This is one of the funniest parts of the tutorial! You can see how fun it is for yourself in the full video tutorial, available through my premium membership.

Now that we have our composite ready to go, we can mess around with our camera RAW, adding a vignette effect and some clarity.

We’re going to add our catch light for his eyes and just a bit of color to his cheeks to give it a more of a “toony” look. Then, I will top that off with a texture, filter it, and reduce the vibrancy and saturation before masking it and taking off a little more from the center.

Using a curves layer, we will add some contrast and burn a few of our areas that need to be a little darker. But, again, make sure you zoom in; we want to ensure we’re getting all those little details!

We will finish with a Color Balance layer, adding a bit of red and blue to our shadows and some yellow and red to our highlights. A little tip I recommend is to go and turn your layers off and on to see the difference your layer made. It helps when it comes to double-checking that everything looks right!

That wraps up our tutorial. I hope you enjoyed it! This was a fun one to make. I recommend checking out the full video through my premium membership.

Happy Editing!

Tara Lesher

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