Niki Jacob - Advertising Art & Design Instructor

Compositing with Photoshop

Even before the digital era of photo manipulation, techniques used to create a composite photo existed. In this assignment, you are going to learn how to use multiple photographs to create a single image.

Follow the tutorials provided to learn the skills you will need to generate your own composite image.

The Rule of Thirds

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is a popular method of dividing up a design or photo into thirds by creating a grid that is three columns wide and three rows tall. Designers and photographers will frequently use grid layouts as guidelines for their work; in graphic design, breaking a canvas up into evenly-spaced rows and columns can help with common issues like aligning text, positioning photos, and generally arranging all the elements in a way that helps guide the viewer’s eye to ingest the information more easily (like reading a book). In photography, visualizing a grid overlaying the picture similarly helps direct attention and focus so the viewer doesn’t feel lost.

The Rule of Thirds in a PSA Poster
The Rule of Thirds in a Website Graphic
The Rule of Thirds in Photographs

Making selections

In order to make a composite photo, you need to know how to make selections. After making the selection, you can cut the image out and paste it into another file, or you can mask the image to isolate it and only make the parts you want to see visible.

ASSIGNMENT: Your Turn – Go to the Shared Medford Ad Art drive. Find an image, delete its background and place a sketch you did behind it!

Matching Colors

Just placing a bunch of pictures together to make an image isn’t going to make a good composite. There are other things you need to do, like matching colors and adding shadows.

ASSIGNMENT: Your Turn – Go to the Shared Medford Ad Art drive.  Find an image and make one-half black and white.

Adding Shadows

ASSIGNMENT: Your Turn – Go to the Shared Medford Ad Art drive.  Find two images and create a shadow like the one in the tutorial.


In order to start this project, you MUST find the 5 pictures.


  1. 5 images, look on for free stock photos or look in the shared drive for images I already found.
  2. Create 3-5 thumbnails on how you would like to see the photographs combined into one. 3″x5″ in size each one.
  3. Create two marker roughs. The approximate size should be 5″x5″ or 5″x7″ in either portrait or landscape views. Roughs must be outlined in fine tip sharpie before turning in.

Using Photoshop

  1. In Photoshop open one image and cut and paste at least 5 pictures in different layers to create one finished piece
  2. Use at least one image for a background.
  3. Use the rule of thirds.
  4. Match colors of different images to make them appear to belong together.