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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.
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