First, you need to have a solid basics in photoshop (or any other software that allows you to work with multiple layers). It is essential for working non destructively and also with multiple elements. Photoshop manipulations can have 100s of layers and 10s of complex groups of layers.
Second, you need to reach into your creative side of the brain and think what theme, what idea, what environment, what details you will be needing to complete the final image. It does not have to be superbly precise but more or less you should set a direction or a theme, which can be altered or improved while you are putting it all together. You will need either stock images or your own photos. I prefer to use my own photos for the main subject, which in my case are models and stock images for completing the details. This gives me not only a greater connection and understanding of the mood, concept and idea behind the shoot (most of the time I shoot certain poses specifically for a photo manipualation, just like I did with this image that you can see below), but also I know exactly what lens and what angle my photo was taken at, which leads us to the next valid point of a successful photoshop manipulation.
Third, you need to understand and follow three fundamental rules of successful composite photography:
3. Colors & tones
You have to match the perspective, focal length and the angle of all the items that you place on your image. If you do not, human eye will detect it and render it as fake or not believable. The model has to match the ground, all the elements need to be following the same lines towards the vanishing point. It is good to match the depth of field too, or in other words make sure that the plane of focus is uniform across the image.
Fourth, you will need a lot of patience because all good things take time, and believe me when I tell you that good photo manipulaton can take days to finish. Yes, I said days. The photo you see here is over 600 photoshop layers heavy, took me nearly 40h to complete. I am extremely detailed when I work on any of my images, whether it is portrait retouching or architecture photography, and I want to make sure that when I am done, the photo will look good not only on tiny iphne screen on instacrap. Here you can watch a full workflow in photoshop to see how much work went into details during creation of this composite.
Fifth is to never give up even if you are failing.My oldest photoshop manipulations are terribad and that is fine. There is no progress without an error, and no discovery without failures. It is all a learning process and if you do not start you will never get into it. Look at the best work out there, the best concept artists and so on and look up to those who are better than yourself. That is the only way to grow and succeed. Have fun!
Contact me directly for one-to-one online photoshop tutorials via desktop sharing.
Portrait photography service, Tokyo - website
Photography workshops in Tokyo: http://www.ryuurui.com/photography-workshops.html
Hire a photographer in Tokyo: http://www.ryuurui.com/hire-a-photographer-in-tokyo.html
Photo blog: http://www.japan-in-photography.com/
For more tutorials and how to videos check out my photoshop and photography tips and tricks YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEOVGZ2rpLhR7gSPvaexxxQ
Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙)