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Combining images

From: Up and Running with Photoshop Elements 10

Video: Combining images

Now that you understand layers and Selections, the subjects of the last two movies, you're ready to combine two images into one composite. So here I have a costumed character. I'd like to eliminate the area around the character, and instead use as the background this image, which I have opened in the project bin. I'll double-click this thumbnail so you can see the image that I want to use as the background. The first step is to put both of the photos into one image. To do that I'll select the image of the costumed character, and I'll drag up and into the image of the canal, and release.

Combining images

Now that you understand layers and Selections, the subjects of the last two movies, you're ready to combine two images into one composite. So here I have a costumed character. I'd like to eliminate the area around the character, and instead use as the background this image, which I have opened in the project bin. I'll double-click this thumbnail so you can see the image that I want to use as the background. The first step is to put both of the photos into one image. To do that I'll select the image of the costumed character, and I'll drag up and into the image of the canal, and release.

Now if you look in the Layers panel, you can see that in the image of the canal I have two layers: the original Background layer, and on top of that a brand new layer that was made automatically that contains the image of the costumed character. This comes in with the name of that file. I am going to change that name to something more meaningful by double- clicking it, and I'll type costume instead. With the costume layer selected, I'd like to either delete or hide all of this background so we can see down through to what's on my preferred background layer below.

Once way to do that would be to select all this background and delete it. I'll give that a try using the Quick Selection tool set to its default of Add to selection. I'll move into the image, and a click and drag over the area surrounding the costumed character. If I miss a little bit, I'll go up to the options bar and choose Subtract from selection. I'll come in, I am going to make my brush tip smaller by pressing the left bracket key a few times, and then I'll subtract this area from my selection.

And over here I need to add a little bit, so I'll switch back to the Add to selection icon, and I'll drag over this area to include it in the selection. When I like the result that I have, I have two choices. I could just delete all the selected area by pressing the Delete key or the Backspace key on my keyboard, like this. And nnow what I've done is make all of that area transparent so we can see down through to the background of the canal below, and you can see the gray and white checkerboard that represents the transparent pixels here on the layer thumbnail. If I were in a hurry, I'd probably go with this.

But I think there's a better way to do that, and that is to apply a layer mask that will hide the area surrounding the costumed character, but not actually delete it. That will give me more flexibility if I want to change my mind about what the composite looks like. So I'm going to undo by pressing Control+Z on the PC, or Command+Z on the Mac, and I am going to Invert this selection, so that rather than having the surrounding area selected, I'll have just the costumed character selected. I'll go up to the Select menu, and I'll choose Inverse. Now I'll go back to the Layers panel, I'll make sure that I'm on the costume layer, and down at the bottom of the Layers panel I am going to click this icon that looks something like a washing machine, and this will add a layer mask to the costume layer, like this.

The layer mask, which you can see over here in the thumbnail on the costume layer, is filled with white in the selected area, the area that corresponds to the costumed character, and it's filled with black everywhere else in the nonselected area. And that black paint is hiding the content of the costume layer. So we can see down through to the background layer below, but I haven't actually deleted that content, and that gives me a lot of options. If I decide that I want to bring back some of that surrounding area, I can do that by adding more white paint to his thumbnail.

I'll go over to the toolbar, and I'll check that my foreground color is white. If it isn't, I can use this double pointed arrow to switch the background and foreground colors. And the only colors I am going to see here are white and black, because I'm working on a layer mask. If you see any color here, then go back over to the costume layer, and make sure that you've clicked on this layer mask thumbnail and not on the regular thumbnail. So with the layer mask thumbnail highlighted, I'll come back over to the toolbar again, and I'm going to get my Brush tool. I'll move into the image, I'll make the brush relatively large by pressing the right bracket key on my keyboard.

As I've said before, the left and right bracket keys are up near the P key on your keyboard. I'll make that brush soft by holding the Shift key, and pressing the left bracket key on my keyboard, and when I'm ready, I'll paint with white on the layer mask. And where I paint with white on the layer mask, I'm bringing back into view the content of the costume layer. So I might bring all of that back. If I go too far, like this, and I really didn't want to bring this part back, I can just switch to black paint. Coming back over to the toolbar, clicking that double pointed arrow so that black is the foreground color, and painting with black on the costume layer mask, which again, hides the surrounding area around the costumed character.

So I think you can see that the layer mask route is the more flexible of the two methods for creating a composite. But if you're in a hurry, you may prefer to just select an area, and delete it.

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Up and Running with Photoshop Elements 10

29 video lessons · 5495 viewers

Jan Kabili
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