When working with images that are a composite of multiple photos, one of the most important factors is making sure everything follows the same lighting and perspective. Despite your best efforts to shoot photography to match a known background – or select two images that appear to match – even the slightest difference becomes obvious.
However, with a new tool introduced to Photoshop CC this month, we can fix the issues using subtle perspective edits to deliver perfect composites.
This tutorial will cover how you can use the new Perspective Warp feature in Photoshop CC to alter the perspective of an object to fit perfectly into your composite.
Once you’ve mastered this technique, you can also use it to change the perspective of buildings, move walls, or far more complex shapes by work-ing with three or more perspective planes.
Time to complete
Photoshop CC (14.2 update, released January 2014)
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Open the image of the foreground object you are going to composite in Photoshop.
For this tutorial, I shall be using a model tank. Before we do anything else, take the time to correct exposure or white balance issues.
Using the Magic Wand tool, select the background around your model – here the brown cardboard around the tank.
Alt + click on the icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a negative mask.
You may need to work manually with a black/white brush on the mask to define the bottom of your model – here where the wheels meet the ground – as it can quite shadowy in this area.
Open your chosen background image in Photoshop.
Drag the model with its cutout mask into your image. If you have any layers, think about where your model will sit in your layer structure.
Here, I’ve positioned the tank behind the grass in the foreground of the image to create a sense of depth.
Before we edit your model, we’re going to turn it into a Smart Object by right-clicking the layer and selecting Convert to Smart Object.
This will allow us to edit non-destructively and make changes to our perspective warping later on if we need to do minor adjustments.
Right now my tank isn’t quite sitting correctly with the perspective of the road in the image. Your elements probably have the same mismatch.
To correct this, go to
Edit > Perspective Warp and make sure you have Layout selected in the Toolbar (the Layout button is located at the top left of the interface).
Create your first perspective plane. Click and drag with your pen or mouse to create a rectangular grid along one side of your model that’s towards the viewer.
I positioned the left edge of this grid along the front corner of the tank and follow the lines on the tank’s armour up the side towards the front of the tank.
Now lets create our second perspective pane for the other side of the model that’s towards the viewer.
Click and drag another rectangular grid as last time, but bring the edge close to the left hand side of the first plane. You’ll see the lines go blue. Let go and this will clip the new perspective plane to the first one.
Now alter the second plane to match the perspective lines along the second side of your model (in this case, the rear end of the tank).
Your two planes should now look something like this.
On the Toolbar, select Warp. This will now let us change the perspective of our tank.
First, hold down Shift and click on the central perspective line to straighten the plane. This will turn it yellow and lock the plane so both top and bottom points are linked.
You can also do this to any other plane lines you want to be a true vertical.
Now, using your pen or mouse, move your perspective points until you’ve reached the desired perspective to match your image. Once you’re happy with the results, press OK.
Now your model is sitting in the right place, its time to blend it into our image. Press
Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N to bring up a new layer and input the settings shown right to create a layer for dodging and burning.
Rename this layer something like ‘Shadow’ – I’ve called mine ‘Tank Shadow’ for obvious reasons – and drop below your model layer.
Using the Burn tool at about 10%, burn in shadows around the bottom of the tank to match the light source of your image.