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In this course, author Jan Kabili introduces the photo organizing, editing, and sharing features of Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, the less expensive version of Photoshop that’s ideal for casual photographers who want to achieve professional results. The course covers importing, organizing, and finding photos with the Organizer. It explains how and when to use each of the editing workspaces—from the simple Quick Fix and Guided Edit workspaces to the Full Edit workspace for enhancing your photos—including making photo corrections, retouching, compositing images, and adding text. The final chapter offers creative ways to share photos with Elements, including print projects like greeting cards, calendars, and books, emailing photos, and posting them on Facebook and Flickr.
When you want to gradually blend one photo into another in a composite, try using a Gradient on a layer mask. This will give you a softer blend between the images than using a selection with a layer mask. I'd like to bring a second photo into this photo of blue wildflowers. I'm going to use the Place command as I showed you in an earlier movie in this chapter. Going up to the File menu, choosing Place, selecting this photo of yellow columbines, which are the State flower of Colorado, my state, and then clicking the Place button.
That brings the yellow flower into its own new layer on top of the blue wildflowers. These two images are the same size and I don't want to resize the yellow flower layer, so I'll just click the green check mark to finish bringing it in. What I'd like to do is to hide the area on the right-side of the yellow flower photo so we can see down through this area to the blue flowers below, and I'd like there to be a gradual transition from blue flowers on the right to the big yellow flower on the left. For that I'll create a layer mask and add a White to Black Gradient on that mask.
To make the layer mask, I'll go to the Layers panel, I'll make sure the yellow flower layer is selected, and I'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and click the Add New layer mask icon. In an earlier movie on the basics of layer masking I explained that when you make a new layer mask, you see this layer mask thumbnail that's filled with white. Where a layer mask is white like this, it completely reveals the content of the layer to which its attached, so that means we can see everything that's currently on the yellow flower layer in the document window. But if I were to add black pixels to this layer mask, in the area of the black pixels the yellow flowers would be hidden and we'd be able to see down through to the Background layer below.
And gray pixels partially hide, so they partially would let us see down to the layer below. To get a gradual flow between white, gray, and black pixels on this layer mask I'm going to use the Gradient tool. The Gradient tool is right here in the toolbar. When I select the Gradient tool and go up to the Options bar, I should see a white to black gradient there. If you don't see that, there are a couple of things to check. First of all, because you're working on a layer mask, the only colors you should see in your foreground and background color boxes at the bottom of the toolbar are white, black, or possibly gray.
If you don't see white as the foreground and black as the background color, then click this tiny icon right here to the bottom-left of the Foreground and Background Color Boxes, which sets those colors to their defaults. If you still don't see a white to black gradient appear in the Options Bar, then reset your Gradient tool by clicking this arrow and choosing Reset tool. In the Options bar, I'm going to go over to these icons which represent shapes of gradients. The default shape is a Linear Gradient, I'll make sure that one is selected.
I'll move into the image and I'll click and I'll start drawing out a gradient line. The starting point, the length, and the direction of this line determine what my gradient will be like. It usually takes a couple of tries to get it just right, so I'm just going to guess at where to end this, somewhere over here, and then I'll release my mouse. That's not bad for a first try. The dark part of the gradient is hiding what's on the yellow flower layer over here on the right so we can see down through to the background below. Then there are gray pixels on the layer mask that are partially revealing the content of the yellow flower layer.
And then over on the left, where the layer mask is white, the yellow flower layer is fully revealed so we don't see the blue flowers below. Now I really don't like the shape of this particular gradient so I can try again, and each time you draw a gradient line, it's like starting from the beginning, so you can do it as many times as you need to. I'd like there to be more white pixels on the left so that more of the yellow flower is showing. So I'm going to start a little bit more over to the right, and drag, and I'll actually drag outside the document window a bit and then release my mouse.
I like that result a lot better in this image. Now let's take a look at that layer mask so we can see what it's doing. I'll hold the Alt key, that's the Option key on a Mac, and click on the layer mask thumbnail, here you can see that there are some black pixels way over on the right and these are completely hiding the yellow layer. And over on the left there are white pixels which are completely showing the yellow layer, and then there is a gradual ramp of gray pixels between the black and the white, those gray pixels are what's creating that nice soft transition between the two images.
I'll Alt or Option+Click again on that layer mask thumbnail so we can see the document. The beauty of using a layer mask like this is that the mask is so flexible. One thing I can do is to unhook the mask from the photo on the yellow flower layer and move the mask separately. So if I wanted the mask to be further over to the right, so more of the yellow flower layer is showing, in the Layers panel I would click on the small link between the layer mask thumbnail and the photo thumbnail on the yellow flower layer. Now I'll get my Move tool in the toolbox, and when I click and drag in the image, I'm moving only the layer mask, not the actual photo, so I can move the mask a bit over to the right if I want, or not, I can put that back, or press undo, and it goes back where it was.
And if I want to link the mask back to the flower, I'll just click in the place where the link was right there. Now if I were to move this layer like this, the flower and the mask go together. I'll undo that. And even more importantly, I can paint on that layer mask to reveal or hide more of the yellow flower layer. So I'll go over to the toolbar and get my Paint Brush tool. I'll make sure that the foreground color is set to white, and then I'll paint on the layer mask thumbnail, adding to that gradient that I already have there.
I'm going to make by brush tip a bit bigger with the Right Bracket key, and I'm going to paint on this area so we can see more of this yellow flower. I'm not painting on the flower, I'm just adding white pixels to the layer mask. I can also paint here with black pixels. I'll go over to the bottom of the toolbar and I'll click the Double Pointed Arrow to switch the foreground and background color boxes so that black is my foreground color, and then I'll move into the image and I'll paint with black on the layer mask over here. Now what's happening is that as I add black pixels to the layer mask, and you can see them over there on the layer mask thumbnail, I am hiding more of the yellow flower layer so that we can see down more clearly through that layer to the blue flowers on the Background layer beneath.
I can also paint with gray pixels. To do that, I'll click once on the foreground color box, in the Color Picker that opens, I'll select a gray color like this, and I'll click OK, and now when I paint, I'm partially hiding the yellow layer so that we can partially see down through to the colors on the flowers on the layer below. If I decide that I don't like this result at all, I can fill the entire layer mask with white again and create a new gradient. To do that, I'll make sure I have that layer mask thumbnail selected in the Layers panel, and then I'll go to the Edit menu, I'll choose Fill Layer, I'll set the Use menu to White, and I'll click OK, and now I'm back to square one.
I did that because I want to show you that gradients come in more than just a linear shape. If I click back on the Gradient tool, I can choose to create my gradient on the layer mask in any of the shapes that you see up here. For example, there's a Radial Gradient. If I select that icon, and before I draw with that, I want to get black and white as my colors, so I click the default color icon at the bottom left of the foreground and background color boxes, and then I'll come into the image, I'll click in the middle of the flower, and I'll drag outward to create a Radial Gradient, which you can see over here on the layer mask thumbnail.
The center of that gradient is white, and so that's where we see the most of the yellow flower, and then it fades through gray, partially revealing the blue flowers beneath. And of course I could touch up this gradient with the Brush tool, just like I did a few minutes ago on the Linear Gradient. The flexibility of a layer mask combined with a gradient makes it the perfect way to gradually blend multiple photos together in a composite, but using a layer mask isn't the only way to blend photos together for a composite, in the next movie I'll show you how to use layer opacity and Blend modes to blend multiple images together.
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