Breaking Down my Welcome Composite

Breaking Down my Welcome Composite

From conceptualization to completion, a Composite will generally take several weeks to create, which is why I like today’s Case Study.

Let’s break down my Welcome Composite to see why it took so long to create.

For me, the time it takes to create a Composite is super important, and many times means the difference between it coming to life vs. remaining a concept on a piece of paper in my notebook.

From start to finish of my Welcome Composite.

The Welcome Composite Concept

Do you ever wonder how a photographer comes up with a concept for a Composite?

You know, that spark that ignites the concept a photographer creates?

For me, the concept for this Photillustration began when I came across Robert Cornelius’ work, and was inspired by his use of lighting and color.

As I was going through Robert’s work, I wanted to see how I could utilize his lighting and colorization, and BOOM!!!

A cemetery scene POPPED into my head that looked a lot like this.

My Composite Drawing

The next step, after I can visualize a Composite idea, is to take what’s in my head and put it on paper, so I can break it down.

Drawing my Composite out, helps me know what I need to complete it.

Admittedly, my conceptualizing drawing skills leave a bit to be desired, but I’m the only one who ever sees this part of the process.

drawing of my photillustration composite i call welcome

This Composite drawing acts as my map to understand the different elements that create an awesome Composited piece.

I consider things like composition, cast members, supporting cast, supporting elements, actions, lighting, and colorization.

The drawing portion of my Compositing process is my time to mentally dump everything I can, so I can organize it into an actual Photillustration.

Breaking Down my Welcome Composite

The Photo Composite I call “Welcome” was created using approximately 36 images, and took me around 12 hours of Photoshop and Lightroom time.

a break down of jason ulsrud's photo composite called welcome

#1, 2 Main Subject: I met Brian at Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop and interrupted him during lunch to see if he’d be in a Composite I was working on. As you can see, I couldn’t have found anyone better for this Composite, and he said “Yes”.

#3, 4, 5 Dirt Images: I photographed Brian in his backyard on a cloudy day, and he was wearing a clean white v-neck t-shirt, which needed to be dirty.

#6 Lantern: I used a stock image of a lantern, which provides my main light source.

#7 Shovel Handle Texture: I used a stock image of wood texture to create an old handle look on a brand new shovel handle.

#8 Dead Girl: The dead girl is my step daughter and was photographed in my back yard. Big thanks to my wife for tying her up. LOL

#9 The Rose: As I was laying everything out during editing, the area where the rose is was empty and needed something. I asked my wife what she thought, and she said, “Rose”.

#10, 11, 12 The Ground: I used 3 different images to create the grassy ground and the flowers in the foreground.

#13 Cross Headstone: This is one of several photos I took of headstones to be used for this Composite.

#14, 15 The Tree: I used two different images of tress I shot out near a lake I live by to create this tree.

#16, 17 Headstones: These are the same headstones, which I flipped to use twice in this image.

#18 Girls Headstone: This is one of several photos I took of headstones to be used for this Composite.

#19, 20, 21 The Girls: These are Brian’s daughters, which I photographed on their back porch for this Composite.

#22 More Headstones: This is one of several photos I took of headstones to be used for this Composite.

#23 The Owl: This is a stock image of an owl I cut and flipped the head so it would be looking into the frame instead of away.

#24, 25, 26 Field & Trees: This is a shot I took on my way home from lunch the day I was editing this Composite. I needed some trees for the far background and thought this would work.

#27 Moon: Since I have no good close up shots of a moon, I used a stock image of a moon for this Composite.

#28 Stars: This is a simple stock image I have for stars.

#29 Sky: This is a simple blue layer I added to create the dark sky.

#30 Mike Ghost: This is a quick image I took of Mike to be used for a ghost.

#31 Taren Ghost: This is a quick image of my wife I took for my ghost. Notice she’s the only one to disapprove of what’s going on.

#32 Emily Ghost: I needed another ghost so this is the same girl who’s playing the dead girl.

#33 Me Ghost: I wanted to be a ghost hovering up over the girls to scare them.

#34 Dirt Pile: The pile of dirt is an amateur shot of a pile of dirt I thought would work well since it didn’t need much detail.

#35, 36 The Hole: Almost forgot the hole that’s being dug. I used shots I took of a dirt wall that’s near where I meet on Wednesdays for a networking group I attend.

My Compositing Process

For me, it’s super important I reduce the amount of time as much as possible between the concept I create in my head and the completion of the final Photillustration.

The longer that time goes, the less likely it is I complete the Composite.

I hope this Composite Break Down gives you some insights into what it takes for me to create a Photo Composite.

If you’d like to know more about my process, simply comment below, or shoot me an email at jason @

Comments (4)

This was a really great breakdown of your creative process for creating a composite. I was following you all the way! Thanks for sharing it.

You bet Celia… I’m always amazed to see the before and afters myself, and just LOVE the process of creating something from nothing.

Great break down and a fantastic composite!! I really love all your attention to detail. I’m so very pleased to have sparked this creation into existence!!

Thanks Robert, and I feel honored you took the time to comment on my Compositing. Thanks so much….

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