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What is a Composite Image?

A composite is an image made from the combination of a variety of pictures. Using layers, the photographs are combined to merge into a single image that appears to the viewer to be whole.

There is an important difference between a collage and a composite image. In the case of a collage, the images are more paired together as a collection of stand-alone images that may follow a theme or story. Composites are images that have been created using elements from a variety of different pictures. These elements are then seamlessly integrated to create a unified image. See below an example of an image composite (head swap) created by our team:

Composite Image Head Swap
Image Composite Head Swap

Composite images can be relatively simple combining only a few images together. They can also be extremely complex and involve the use of hundreds of layers and images. The complexity of the image depends on of the desire of the photo editor.

Composites are used in all forms of photography. They can be a cost-effective way to create images for advertising campaigns, portraits, etc. For instance, a company may wish to have their outdoor clothing displayed on models who are walking through a forest during a rain storm. It may be cheaper to shoot the models on a blank screen and then composite in images of the forest, mist and rain then to wait for a specific day to achieve this type of look.

Compositing requires the use of a program like Photoshop, or Corel Paint Shop Pro X9. You need to have knowledge of layer masking, clipping tools and other more advanced Photoshop skills to create beautiful composites.
Compositing images takes a great deal of skill. To see a demonstration of some of the most complicated composites currently in creation check out this YouTube video by Erik Johansson.

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