When creating composite images, I am often trying to unify multiple elements that were photographed at different times, in different locations, under different light conditions. One of the techniques that I use to establish consistency throughout the disparate elements is to use one of the source images as a color overlay for the entire canvas. In this example, I wanted to use the color from the wings layer to unite the other elements (such as the overly saturated table).
First, I selected the wings layer, duplicated it, and repositioned it at the top of the layer stack.
To resize the layer, I selected Edit > Free Transform > Scale (so that it would cover the entire canvas).
On the Layers panel, I changed the Layer’s blend mode to Color.
I selected Filter > Blur > Gaussian to remove detail, while still maintaining the color.
Then, I chose Edit > Free Transform, to flip the layer and reposition and resize the layer as needed.
Finally, I added a Layer Mask and used the Brush tool to paint with black to hide the color from areas such as the figure.
Note: If you want to use more than one layer as the source for your “color”, select the desired area (using the marquee tool or whatever tool works) and choose Edit > Copy Merged to copy the information to the clipboard. Then, choose Edit > Paste. Photoshop will create a new layer that you can reposition, resize, etc. as needed.
Before and after unifying the composite using color.
For more information about compositing images in Photoshop, be sure to check out my two training courses on Lynda.com:
Introduction to Compositing
The Art of Photoshop Compositing