Vanessa Rivera removes a background from an image and blends the selected object into a surreal composite in Adobe Photoshop on her iPad.

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

Add the unexpected

Rivera was working on an underwater composition and wanted to add to the scene. With the background layer active, she tapped the image icon, tapped Files, imported the chair, and tapped Done.

Import photos selected, chair with wall background in the middle, transform image options at the top.

Provide clarity

To see the Chair more clearly as she worked, Rivera selected the Overlays layer group, and tapped the eye icon to hide it.

The chair on the left shows the overlays layer is visible, muting the photo and hidden on the right so the chair is clearer.

Perfect the selection

Next, Rivera selected the chair layer and held down the Select tool to show the hidden tools under it. She chose Quick Select, set the brush, adjusted the softness, then brushed over the chair to select it. She switched between Add to Selection and Subtract from Selection and adjusted the brush settings as she refined her selection.

The Select tool makes a quick selection of the chair in Photoshop on the iPad.

Mask and reveal

With the chair selected, Rivera clicked the mask icon to hide the chair’s background. She selected the Brush tool and painted with black on the mask to hide any remaining blemishes. Alternatively, she brushed with white to bring back detail that was inadvertently masked.

The selection tool makes a quick mask of the chair to isolate it, the brush helps clean edges of the mask.

Transform to fit

Next, Rivera repositioned the floating chair in the scene. She selected the Transform tool and dragged the bottom handle to rotate the chair to the right. Then, she dragged a corner handle to scale the chair proportionally. Finally, she dragged a side handle to condense the width of the chair slightly and tapped Done.

Transform images tool in Photoshop on the iPad rotates the chair -14.71 degrees.

Add a splash of color

Rivera wanted to add a pop of color to the chair. With the chair in position, she tapped the Layer Properties icon, selected Add clipped adjustment, then Hue/Saturation. This added an adjustment layer above the chair layer.

Yellow chair floats in the underwater scene, layer properties for Photoshop on the iPad shows Add Clipped Adjustment selected.

Tidy up the details

To change the color, Rivera adjusted the Hue and Saturation sliders. The color changes were applied to the entire chair layer. Fortunately, adjustment layers also function as masks. Rivera painted this mask with a black brush to hide the color adjustments from the wood portions of the chair.

The chair is now red, layer properties for Photoshop on the iPad shows Hue set to -25 and Saturation is set to 35.

Make the ordinary extraordinary

Take some pictures, grab your iPad, and combine everyday images into otherworldly composites.

Final composition of little girl setting on the arm of the red chair in the underwater scene hangs from a ceiling.

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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