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Building composites

From: Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

Video: Building composites

In the last movie I showed you how to use a layer mask to combine two images into a composite. I'd like to show you another example in this movie one that presents a couple of more challenges and the opportunity to show you how to solve these challenges. What I'd like to do is to take this large image of my friend John and combine it with this image of a lake. There are two problems; one is that the lake image is smaller than the photo of John and I can confirm that by looking at the Document information field at the bottom of each image.

Building composites

In the last movie I showed you how to use a layer mask to combine two images into a composite. I'd like to show you another example in this movie one that presents a couple of more challenges and the opportunity to show you how to solve these challenges. What I'd like to do is to take this large image of my friend John and combine it with this image of a lake. There are two problems; one is that the lake image is smaller than the photo of John and I can confirm that by looking at the Document information field at the bottom of each image.

This photo is 697 x 463 pixels and this photo is larger, it's 800 pixels x 536 pixels. So a mismatch in size can be the result of different dimensions or of different resolutions. The second problem is that when I try to mask away part of the John image, it's going to be difficult to select or even paint away these fine hairs. To solve that problem I'll show you how to use a gradient on a layer mask.

But first let's combine the two images. I'll make the lake the active image by double-clicking it in the Project Bin and then I'll click on the John photo in the Project Bin, and I'll drag up and into the document window for the lake. I want to be sure that my cursor is all the way inside the document window and then I'll release my mouse. Now in the layers panel, the lake photo has a second layer which was made automatically and contains the photo of John. Notice that in the document window, I can't see the entire photo of John and that's because as I said, it is bigger than the lake image.

So I'm going to use a command called Free Transform to reduce the size of the John photo. With the John layer selected in the layers panel, I'll go up to the Image menu, and I'll choose Transform, and Free Transform. That creates a bounding box around the John photo and you can see that there are anchor points on that bounding box. Unfortunately, I can't get to the anchor points at the bottom of the bounding box because the John photo is so big that it goes beyond the limits of my screen. So here's a little trick when you get into this situation.

I'm going to press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+0, that's Command+0 on a Mac and that zooms the combined image out just enough that I can reach the anchor points on the bounding box. Before I use those anchor points to make the image smaller, I want to make sure that I'm not going to distort the image. So I'll take a look at the options bar for the Transform command to make sure that there is a check mark next to Constrain Proportions. Then I'm going to go down to the anchor point on the bottom-right corner of the bounding box.

I'll move my mouse over that anchor point and I'll click and drag towards the center of the image. That makes the photo of John smaller without distorting its proportions. If I want to move the photo around, I can do that too by putting my cursor inside of the photo and dragging. So once I've got it just what I wanted and it's the right size, I'll click the green check mark and that commits the transform. The next step is to add a layer mask to the John layer. In the layers panel, I make sure that the John layer is selected and then I'll go down to the bottom of the layers panel and I'll click the Add layer Mask icon, the second from the left.

That adds a white layer mask and as you know where a layer mask is white, it reveals everything on the layer to which it's attached. So we can still see everything on the John layer. But as you heard in the last movie, where a layer mask is black it will hide the content of the layer to which it's attached and where layer mask is gray it will partially hide those contents. So what I'd like to do is to hide the area of the sky so we can see down through that area to the lake on the background below. But the problem is that if I try to make a selection around John's hairs or I try to use black paint around the hair, I am going to have trouble isolating those thin wispy hairs.

So instead, I'm going to use a gradient on this layer mask that goes from black on the left to white on the right, with graduating levels of gray in between and this will make a nice soft gradual transition between the two photos in this composite. I go over to the toolbar and I am going to click on the Gradient tool to select it. I will take a look at the foreground and background color box. I'd like to have black in the foreground color box and white in the background color box and as you know on a layer mask, the only colors you can have are black white or gray.

In this case I have the opposite. So I'm going to switch the foreground and background color boxes either by pressing the X key on my keyboard or clicking this double-pointed arrow. Now if you look in the first field in the options bar for the Gradient tool, you will see that there is a black-to- white gradient with black on the left and white on the right. I also have the first gradient shape icon selected to create a Linear Gradient, which I think is going to be the best shape in this image. You can always try these other shapes out if you want.

Now I am going to come into the image and I'm going to click somewhere near the left side of the image, the exact spot doesn't really matter, and I'm going to drag to the right. The length and direction of the line that I drag will affect the results that I get. I don't have to be too careful here because I can give this more than one try. So I'll release my mouse and as you can see, I've added a black-to-white gradient on the layer mask. Where that gradient is black over on the left, we can see down through the John layer to the lake on the layer below.

In this area, there are graduating levels of gray, allowing us to partially see down through to the lake below. Then over on the right there is white on the layer mask which is revealing the content of the John layer to which this mask is attached so that you can see the mask. I'm going to hold down the Alt key on the PC or the Option key on the Mac and click right on that layer mask thumbnail so that you can confirm that this mask is black and then gray and then white. So it has that gradual fading effect on the john layer.

I will Alt+Click or Option+Click again on that layer mask thumbnail to go back to the image. Now at this point, I can fine tune the results by using the Brush tool with black, white or gray paint. So I'll select the Brush tool here in the toolbox and first I'd like to reveal more of the face on the john layer. Now remember that white reveals and black conceals. So I want my foreground color to be white. I click this double-pointed arrow or I press X on my keyboard to switch the colors so that white is the foreground color.

Then I come into the image, I am going to make my Brush bigger by pressing the Right Bracket key and I want the brush to have a very soft edge so that I don't see a clear line where I am painting here. So I hold the Shift key and I'll press the Left Bracket key that makes the brush soft although you may not see a difference in the brush tip diagram on the image. Then with this white paint, I'm going to paint over the face bringing back more of the detail and clarity in the face.

If you take a look at the layer mask thumbnail, you can see where I painted with white, red over here. You remember that there is gray in this area of the background. If I want to see the background a little more clearly I can add some more gray here. To do that I'll switch back to black paint by clicking the double-pointed arrow or pressing X on the keyboard. Then I am going to go up to the options bar for the Brush tool and I'm going to lower the Opacity of the brush and that will allow me to paint now with black but rather with a medium shade of gray. I'll click and drag to the left to somewhere around 50 and then I'll move into the image and with a soft brush, I'll paint in this area hiding a little more of the john layer so that I can see the background a little more clearly.

Each time I paint with gray, I make that area of the layer mask a little bit darker so the effect is cumulative. That combination of using a black-to- white gradient and then fine tuning with a soft edge brush gives me a nice soft transition between the image of John on the top layer and background on the lower layer. Now you can't achieve a gradual transition like this by selecting and deleting part of a layer. But a layer mask with a black-to-white gradient allows you to combine images softly and gradually like I've done here and do so in a nondestructive editable way.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

120 video lessons · 15393 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 11m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Photoshop Elements?
      3m 47s
    3. Touring the workspaces
      5m 55s
  2. 54m 16s
    1. Working with catalogs
      5m 22s
    2. Importing and using the exercise files
      5m 13s
    3. Importing files from your computer
      7m 31s
    4. Importing photos from your camera
      8m 57s
    5. Importing photos from iPhoto (Mac only)
      4m 44s
    6. Importing files from external drives/CDs/DVDs
      4m 44s
    7. Scanning photos
      6m 50s
    8. Dividing scanned photos
      5m 51s
    9. Importing from watch folders (Windows only)
      5m 4s
  3. 39m 10s
    1. Touring the Organizer
      6m 41s
    2. Viewing thumbnails
      6m 15s
    3. Rotating photos
      52s
    4. Renaming photos
      2m 55s
    5. Fixing photo dates
      2m 28s
    6. Hiding and deleting photos
      4m 6s
    7. Stacking photos
      4m 22s
    8. Moving files
      2m 43s
    9. Reconnecting missing files
      4m 53s
    10. Using Help
      3m 55s
  4. 54m 22s
    1. Rating photos
      3m 58s
    2. Applying and organizing keyword tags
      7m 4s
    3. Searching by keyword tags
      3m 35s
    4. Tagging with People Recognition
      11m 3s
    5. Using Smart Tags
      5m 57s
    6. Creating albums
      4m 41s
    7. Creating Smart Albums
      6m 28s
    8. Searching by text
      5m 28s
    9. Using the Find menu
      4m 19s
    10. Using the Timeline
      1m 49s
  5. 30m 14s
    1. Viewing slideshows in Full Screen view
      4m 21s
    2. Working with photos in Full Screen view
      9m 20s
    3. Comparing photos
      5m 56s
    4. Viewing by date
      3m 18s
    5. Mapping photos (Windows only)
      7m 19s
  6. 38m 36s
    1. Applying Photo Fix
      9m 0s
    2. The Quick Fix interface
      7m 9s
    3. The Quick Fix controls
      5m 22s
    4. Adjusting lighting in Quick Fix
      3m 46s
    5. Adjusting color in Quick Fix
      5m 39s
    6. Using the Touch Up tools in Quick Fix
      7m 40s
  7. 43m 43s
    1. Guided Edit basics
      8m 13s
    2. Making an Out of Bounds image
      10m 17s
    3. Perfecting a portrait
      7m 43s
    4. Adding realistic reflections
      5m 26s
    5. Applying a LOMO camera effect
      2m 0s
    6. Making pop art
      1m 31s
    7. Using Style Match
      8m 33s
  8. 1h 20m
    1. Full Edit workspace overview
      6m 51s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      4m 51s
    3. Using tools
      7m 40s
    4. Arranging panels
      5m 18s
    5. Setting preferences
      3m 41s
    6. Using Undo History
      6m 39s
    7. Zooming and navigating
      7m 4s
    8. Creating a blank file
      5m 19s
    9. Photo resizing and resolution
      8m 9s
    10. Cropping and straightening photos
      7m 15s
    11. Recomposing photos
      8m 15s
    12. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 27s
    13. Saving and formats
      5m 46s
  9. 35m 4s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 17s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    3. Using layer masks
      7m 43s
    4. Using layer masks to combine images
      6m 27s
    5. Building composites
      8m 16s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Selection basics
      3m 22s
    2. Manual selection tools
      3m 19s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      7m 24s
    4. Refining selection edges
      3m 30s
    5. Saving selections
      3m 23s
  11. 1h 21m
    1. Color managing
      7m 14s
    2. Applying Shadow/Highlight adjustments
      2m 42s
    3. Using adjustment layers
      8m 24s
    4. Masking adjustment layers
      7m 38s
    5. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      6m 8s
    6. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      5m 56s
    7. Adjusting with Color Curves
      4m 14s
    8. Removing a color cast
      3m 37s
    9. Reducing digital noise
      4m 7s
    10. Sharpening photos
      7m 32s
    11. Processing multiple files
      7m 59s
    12. Working with raw photos
      15m 57s
  12. 18m 34s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tools
      6m 16s
    2. Dodging and burning
      2m 29s
    3. Retouching blemishes
      4m 29s
    4. Content-aware healing
      2m 31s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      2m 49s
  13. 25m 53s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 36s
    2. Adding effects
      2m 34s
    3. Using layer styles
      7m 23s
    4. Using shapes
      4m 46s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 19s
    6. Converting color to black and white
      3m 15s
  14. 11m 25s
    1. Creating text
      7m 1s
    2. Editing text
      4m 24s
  15. 1h 25m
    1. Creating a photo collage
      8m 38s
    2. Fine-tuning a photo collage
      8m 3s
    3. Creating greeting cards
      8m 34s
    4. Creating photo calendars
      9m 28s
    5. Creating CD/DVD jackets and labels
      7m 43s
    6. Creating a photo book
      7m 44s
    7. Fine-tuning a photo book
      7m 11s
    8. Creating a slideshow (Windows only)
      8m 0s
    9. Fine-tuning a slideshow (Windows only)
      3m 23s
    10. Creating a flip book (Windows only)
      2m 47s
    11. End to end: Making a scrapbook page
      8m 15s
    12. End to end: Completing a scrapbook page
      5m 24s
  16. 49m 27s
    1. Printing photos
      8m 38s
    2. Contact sheets and picture packages (Windows only)
      6m 40s
    3. Sharing photos by email
      6m 38s
    4. Sharing photos by Photo Mail (Windows only)
      5m 8s
    5. Sharing to Flickr and Facebook
      4m 43s
    6. Saving images for the web
      6m 48s
    7. Signing up for Photoshop.com
      2m 55s
    8. Sharing online albums at Photoshop.com
      5m 4s
    9. Backing up
      2m 53s
  17. 38s
    1. Goodbye
      38s

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