How to Transform Images in a Composite in Adobe Photoshop

See how Vanessa Rivera brings an image into Adobe Photoshop on her iPad and blends it with new background scenery, creating a whimsical, dreamy composite.


Vanessa Rivera is a photographer and artist who merges photos of her family and objects from the real world to create fantastical compositions.

Take a one-minute look at Rivera’s technique; the steps are written out below.

Before You Start

Use this sample file if you’d like, or practice using your own. Save the Photoshop document to Creative Cloud Files or your preferred cloud service that you can access from your iPad. Then open Adobe Photoshop on your iPad and choose Import And Open to open the PSD file.

Step 1: Add to the Story

Rivera tapped the image icon and selected Files to import the fish photo.

Step 2: Fit into the Scene

Next, Rivera selected the Flip Horizontal icon and dragged the fish to the lower left corner. With the fish still selected, she used the Transform options to rotate, scale, and position the fish; then she tapped Done. 

Step 3: Direct the Focus

To blend the color of the fish with the scene, Rivera made sure the fish layer was still selected and tapped the Layer Properties icon. She chose Add Clipped Adjustment, and then chose Hue/Saturation.

Step 4: Blend Color and Tone

She then set Saturation to –65 to make the colors of the fish more subdued, so it would appear to be underwater.

Step 5: Add Some Light

The Hue/Saturation adjustment layer created a mask over the fish layer. To bring back some of the color dulled by the desaturation, Rivera tapped and held the Brush tool to select the Soft Round brush. She adjusted the brush size, hardness, and opacity, and set the color to black before brushing along the nose, eye, and orange spots on the adjustment layer hiding those parts of the mask to reveal areas of the original fish layer below it.

Tell Your Story

Transform photos from the world you know to create inventive, fantastical images.