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Combining images with layer masks

From: Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows Essential Training

Video: Combining images with layer masks

One thing lots of people like to do in Elements is to join photographs and graphics together in order to make new compositions. The first step in doing that is to open multiple files and I've done that here in these floating document windows. When I go to drag one image into another I think it's a lot easier if they're in floating document windows, than if they're in a new tabbed document arrangement. I have also zoomed out on both document windows, so that I can see all of both photographs here in my Full Editor workspace. The first step is to select the Move tool.

Combining images with layer masks

One thing lots of people like to do in Elements is to join photographs and graphics together in order to make new compositions. The first step in doing that is to open multiple files and I've done that here in these floating document windows. When I go to drag one image into another I think it's a lot easier if they're in floating document windows, than if they're in a new tabbed document arrangement. I have also zoomed out on both document windows, so that I can see all of both photographs here in my Full Editor workspace. The first step is to select the Move tool.

I'm going to go to the toolbox and I'll click on the Move tool there. I'd like to drag this plant image into the lizard image. So I'll click on the title bar of the plant image to make sure that's the active image and then I'll take a look at the Layers panel. You can drag one or more layers from one image to another. The plant image just happens to have only a single layer and that single layer is automatically selected in the Layers panel. If I had multiple layers here that I wanted to drag in I would click on one of those layers and then hold the Ctrl key and click on the other layers to select them all.

Then with Move tool, I'm going to click-and- drag from the plant image into the lizard image. When I see the border around the lizard image highlighted, I can release my mouse and that drops the plant image into the lizard image wherever I release my mouse. I actually would like to have those two images centered one on top of the other. So I'm going to undo that and show you how you can center images when you drag one into the other. I'll go up to the Undo button at the top of the screen and click there.

So this time with the Move tool I'll click on the plant image and I'll drag, and when I get over into the lizard image I'm going to keep my mouse held down and going to press the Shift key on my keyboard and then I'll release my mouse, and then I'll release the Shift key. And now the two images are perfectly aligned in the lizard file. Now I'm going to close the plant image- I don't need that any more- by clicking the X on its title bar and I'm going to make the lizard image bigger by selecting the Zoom tool. I'll make sure that Resize Windows to Fit is checked and then I'm going to click one-to-one to set that image to 100% and expand the document window along with the image.

I'm going over to the Layers panel and I see that I now have two layers. The plant image is on the top layer. That layer, Layer 1, was made automatically when I dragged the plant image into the lizard image. I am going to name that layer by double-clicking the default layer name and typing plant, and then I'll press Return or Enter on my keyboard. Notice that the bottom layer, the one that contains the image of the lizard, is named Background and that layer is locked. If you have a layer like this in a file, you'll find that you cannot change the stacking order of the layer.

You can't erase that layer to transparency. You can't move that layer and some other things. So you may want to change that layer into a regular layer by double-clicking its name Background and you can give it a new name or you can just leave it as Layer 0. I'll type lizard and I'll click OK. Now the plant layer is above the lizard layer. So it's completely obscuring the content of the lizard layer. What I'd like to do is to hide part of the plant layer, so I can see down through part of the plant layer to the content of part of the lizard layer below.

I'd like to use a layer mask to do that, but there's no direct way to add a layer mask in Photoshop Elements as there is in the full-fledged Adobe Photoshop. But there is an easy workaround and that's what I'm going to show you now. First of all I'll make sure that the lizard layer, the layer on the bottom, is selected in the Layers panel then I'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'm going to click this black and white circle icon, which brings up a menu of adjustment layers. I'll be talking more about the individual adjustment layers in another chapter, but for now I'm going to choose the Levels adjustment layer, although I could do this with any of the adjustment layers right here.

I'm going to ignore the Adjustments panel for now. Instead I want you take a look at the Layers panel. There is now a new layer above the lizard layer that is a Levels adjustment layer, but right now I haven't made any change to the Levels. So it's really not affecting the content of the image. The reason I put it here is because I want to make use of the layer mask on this Levels layer. A layer mask like this comes with all the adjustment layers. I'm going to use the layer mask on his adjustment layer to blend part of the plant layer in with part of the lizard layer.

The next step is to clip this new Levels adjustment layer to the layer above it, the plant layer. To do that I'm going to hold down the Alt key on my keyboard and move my mouse over the border between the plant layer and the Levels layer, and notice that there is now a new icon a double circle icon. When I see that icon appear I'll click right on the border between the plant and the Levels layer, and then I'll release the Alt key. I have now clipped the plant layer to the Levels layer and you can see that the plant layer has been indented a little, and there is a little icon to the left of the plant layer thumbnail that indicates that the plant layer is now clipped to the Levels layer.

Now I'm going to make sure that I still have the Levels layer selected, so that I'm working on the layer mask associated with the Levels layer. I know that I am, because that layer mask has a double border around it. I'm going to go over to the toolbox, and I'm going to select the Brush tool. I want to make sure I have black as my Foreground Color. If I don't I can just click the double arrow here to switch from white to black, because the only colors that will be available to paint with our black, white, or shades of gray, since I'm working on a layer mask.

Just to show you how the layer mask works before I actually do my final blend, I'm going to paint with black on the layer mask. I'll come into the image, I'll make brush tip bigger by pressing the Right Bracket key, and then I'm going to paint. Notice that wherever I'm painting on the Levels layer mask, I'm able to see down through to the lizard on the layer below. What's happening is that the black paint on the Levels layer mask here is hiding the corresponding part of the plant layer that's clipped to this Levels adjustment layer.

So painting on his adjustment layer mask is one way that I can hide parts of the plant layer, but it doesn't make for a very blended or appealing image here, so I'm going to undo that by going up to the Undo button at the top of the screen and clicking. Instead of using the Brush tool, I'm going to use the Gradient tool to add a black to white gradient on the layer mask on the Levels layer and that will make a nicer blend than just painting on that mask. So I still have the Levels adjustment layer selected, I'm working on the layer mask, and I'm going to go over to the toolbar and I'll select the Gradient tool.

By default I get a Gradient that is the foreground color black to the background color white, and I can see that Gradient up here in this first field in the Gradient bar. I'd like to make a Linear Gradient, one that goes from one side of the image to the other. So I'm going to these icons right here that determine the shape of the Gradient and make sure that the first one is highlighted. Now I'm going to come into the image with the Gradient tool. I'm going to click on the left side of the image and I'm going to click-and-drag a Gradient line over toward the right.

I'll stop in about the middle of the image. The length of the line that I'm drawing as well as its direction will determine what the Gradient looks like on the layer mask. I can do this as many times as I want, so I release my mouse and see if I like the result. If I want to try again, I'll just click over on the left and I'll try drawing a little bit longer line this time. Notice that the lizard that's on the bottom layer is now starting to show through and is blending gradually into the content of the plant on the top layer. The reason for that is that the layer mask is black on this side, hiding the content of the plant layer.

It's white on this side, revealing the content of the plant layer, and the shades of gray in between gradually blending this area of the composite. I can show you what that mask looks like by going over to the Layers panel, holding down the Alt key and clicking right on the layer mask, and you can see it now here in the document window. Black that's hiding the plant layer, white that's revealing the plant layer, and gray that's partially revealing the plant layer causing that nice blend. I'm going to hold the Alt key and click again on the layer mask thumbnail on the Levels layer in the Layers panel to bring back the image.

Well let's say I want a little bit more of the lizard show. Then I can get my Brush tool and with black paint, I can come into the image, where I'll reduce my Brush Size by pressing the Left Bracket key, and then I'll paint over the lizard hiding more of the plant layer in the area where I'm painting, but I'm still keeping that nice blend to the right of the lizard. And now if I show you the layer mask by holding the Alt key and clicking on it, you can see where I have painted with black hiding more of the plant layer, allowing the lizard to show through in that area.

Then I'll hold the Alt key and click again on that layer mask. So that's how to bring one or more layers from one image into another and then to use a full layer mask to make professional looking blended compositions like this one.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows Essential Training

106 video lessons · 8498 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
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  1. 10m 20s
    1. Welcome
      1m 13s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 35s
    3. Launching the Welcome screen
      3m 12s
    4. Touring Elements
      4m 20s
  2. 29m 45s
    1. Working with catalogs
      3m 16s
    2. Getting photos from your hard drive
      2m 49s
    3. Changing thumbnail display options
      4m 35s
    4. Getting photos from a camera or card
      9m 43s
    5. Getting photos from a CD/DVD or an external drive
      4m 46s
    6. Getting photos from a scanner
      4m 36s
  3. 43m 15s
    1. Touring the Organizer interface
      5m 44s
    2. Viewing photos
      5m 11s
    3. Selecting photos
      2m 58s
    4. Rotating photos
      2m 39s
    5. Renaming photos
      2m 7s
    6. Fixing photo dates
      2m 0s
    7. Hiding and deleting photos
      5m 24s
    8. Stacking photos
      8m 9s
    9. Moving files
      4m 43s
    10. Backing up catalogs
      4m 20s
  4. 52m 4s
    1. Applying keyword tags
      8m 33s
    2. Finding photos by keyword tags
      3m 41s
    3. Finding photos with the Keyword Tag Cloud
      1m 56s
    4. Applying Smart Tags
      4m 29s
    5. Automatically tagging people in photos
      7m 54s
    6. Applying star ratings
      2m 48s
    7. Organizing photos in albums
      4m 10s
    8. Organizing photos in Smart Albums
      6m 44s
    9. Finding photos with Text Search
      4m 31s
    10. Finding photos from the Find menu
      5m 10s
    11. Finding photos in the Timeline
      2m 8s
  5. 29m 18s
    1. Working with photos in Full Screen view
      11m 12s
    2. Viewing slideshows in Full Screen view
      4m 10s
    3. Comparing photos
      5m 22s
    4. Using Date View
      3m 41s
    5. Mapping photos
      4m 53s
  6. 56m 46s
    1. Applying Photo Fix options in the Organizer
      8m 22s
    2. Touring the Quick Fix workspace in the Editor
      6m 12s
    3. Applying Quick Fix controls
      11m 10s
    4. Using Quick Fix tools
      11m 2s
    5. Working in Guided Edit in the Editor
      4m 45s
    6. Fixing group shots in Guided Edit
      5m 57s
    7. Applying the Scene Cleaner in Guided Edit
      9m 18s
  7. 1h 12m
    1. Touring the Full Edit interface
      5m 5s
    2. Opening files in Full Edit
      2m 13s
    3. Working with tabbed documents
      6m 57s
    4. Using tools
      6m 11s
    5. Setting editing preferences
      4m 22s
    6. Adjusting color settings
      4m 18s
    7. Using Undo History
      5m 56s
    8. Zooming and navigating
      6m 30s
    9. Creating a blank file
      5m 58s
    10. Photo resizing and resolution
      9m 59s
    11. Using the Recompose tool
      3m 8s
    12. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 49s
    13. Saving files
      7m 47s
  8. 17m 36s
    1. Understanding layers
      3m 28s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      4m 51s
    3. Combining images with layer masks
      9m 17s
  9. 19m 54s
    1. Understanding selections
      2m 27s
    2. Manual selection tools
      7m 6s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      6m 27s
    4. Modifying and saving selections
      3m 54s
  10. 1h 0m
    1. Cropping and straightening
      3m 49s
    2. Applying a Shadows/Highlights adjustment
      2m 54s
    3. Applying adjustment layers
      7m 53s
    4. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      4m 12s
    5. Merging multiple exposures
      6m 33s
    6. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      3m 54s
    7. Adjusting with Color Curves
      3m 39s
    8. Removing a color cast
      3m 21s
    9. Correcting skin tone
      2m 34s
    10. Reducing digital noise
      4m 4s
    11. Sharpening photos
      7m 42s
    12. Working with raw photos
      9m 52s
  11. 24m 50s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tool
      7m 52s
    2. Using the Detail Smart Brush tool
      4m 26s
    3. Dodging and burning
      2m 18s
    4. Healing wrinkles and blemishes
      5m 17s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      3m 41s
    6. Removing red-eye
      1m 16s
  12. 31m 3s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 8s
    2. Adding effects
      3m 16s
    3. Running automated actions
      1m 51s
    4. Using layer styles
      6m 6s
    5. Using shapes
      8m 12s
    6. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      3m 13s
    7. Converting color to black and white
      3m 17s
  13. 9m 29s
    1. Creating text
      5m 8s
    2. Editing text
      2m 59s
    3. Warping text
      1m 22s
  14. 38m 50s
    1. Making a photo book
      8m 26s
    2. Making a photo collage
      9m 0s
    3. Creating a slideshow
      11m 25s
    4. Stitching a photo panorama
      4m 3s
    5. Preparing images for the web
      5m 56s
  15. 33m 54s
    1. Printing photos
      2m 58s
    2. Printing contact sheets and picture packages
      4m 58s
    3. Sending photos by email and Photo Mail
      5m 57s
    4. Burning photos to CD/DVD
      1m 17s
    5. Ordering prints and books
      1m 59s
    6. Signing up for Photoshop.com
      3m 15s
    7. Sharing photos online at Photoshop.com
      7m 40s
    8. Backing up and synchronizing online
      3m 40s
    9. Getting inspiration from Adobe.com
      2m 10s
  16. 26s
    1. Goodbye
      26s

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