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Making composites using multiple photos is one of the things that scrapbookers, designers or anyone who is an artist at heart loves to do in Elements. You can make a collage semi-automatically in Element's Create mode, but I like the flexibility and control of compositing images myself here in the Full Photo Edit workspace, and that's what I'm going to show you how to do throughout this chapter. The skills that we'll use in this chapter build on layering and layer masking skills that covered earlier in the course. So if you're really interested in compositing you may want to go back and make sure you've watched the layers and selections chapters of his course.
Here is an example of the kind of composite that you might make putting together photos, text, and even graphic shapes. I'm going to close this finished example now and show you how I would start bringing one photo into another to create a composite like this. So I'll click the X to close this photo, and I'm starting here with the base layer that contains a single photo, I'm going to bring in another photo, but first I want to say that in terms of preparation don't worry about trying to resize photos to match one another before you combine them, that's easier to do once you've brought images into each other as you see in this movie.
There are several ways to get one photo into another. The way that I'm going to recommend is to use the Place Command, because when you use that command after you bring a source photo into a destination photo like this, you can resize the source photo over and over without degrading its image quality, and that's not the case if you use other methods you may have heard of, of bringing one photo into another, like copying and pasting, or dragging with the Move tool, so let's see how to use the Place command. I'll go to the File menu and I'll go down to Place. I'll navigate to the photo I want to bring in, this purple flower photo, and I'll click the Place button.
The purple flower comes into the base image with this X over it indicating that it's floating here, waiting for me to accept it at this size, or to resize it first. I want the purple flower to be smaller than this, so I'm going to resize it. To do that I'll just move my mouse over any of the corner anchor points and drag toward the center. I don't have to select any special tool in the toolbox first and I don't have to worry about distorting the image, because by default Constrain Proportions is checked up here in the Options bar.
So I'll get the photo just about the size I think I might want it, and I don't have to be too careful about this size, because I'll be able to tweak the size many times without harming this photo. I'll click the green checkbox and the X on the photo goes away. Now if I look at the Layers panel I can see that the purple flower has come in on its own layer, and because it's on its own layer I can resize it again or I could move it around without affecting the base image, which is on its own layer too. To move the purple flower into place, I will make sure the Move tool is selected in the toolbar and then with that tool I'll click inside the bounding box that surrounds the purple flower and I'll drag it where I want it in the image.
Now here's the really good part, notice in the Layers panel that the purple flower layer has a small icon at the bottom right of its layer thumbnail. That icon means that this is a special resizable layer, so that means I can resize its contents at any time, making the purple flower tiny by clicking on one of its corner anchor points with the Move tool, and dragging in, and then clicking the green checkbox. Or stretching it out to anywhere up to its original size, like this, without making it pixelated or blurry as it would be if it were on a regular layer.
Well you may be saying it looks pretty pixelated now, and that's true, but as soon as I finish resizing it and click the green check mark, right away it looks good again. So that's the big advantage of using the Place command to get one image into another. One caveat about using this method is that the special resizable layer that I brought in acts slightly differently than other layers. I can't do many pixel level edits on it, so that means that I can't paint on it or fill it with color or add effects to it without simplifying this layer, and once I do simplify it, at that point it stops being a special resizable layer, but that's okay because once I've got it the size and position that I wanted I don't mind simplifying it.
So let's say I'm happy with this size and position, and I go to get my paintbrush over here and I try to paint on this layer, I get a warning that I have to simplify the layer before it can be edited. I can do that either by clicking OK here or if I Cancel out of here I can go over to the Layers panel at any time right-click or Ctrl+Click on the purple layer and choose Simplify Layer. And now if I get my paintbrush and I try to paint on the layer or I try to add an effect to the layer I can do all of that, but if I do make it small and then big again it will look at least blurry and perhaps pixelated.
There are other methods of combining images other than the Place command, like copying and pasting or dragging one open image into another with the Move tool, but neither of those methods gives you the ability to resize a photo multiple times which is so important when you're trying out layouts and arrangements of different photo and pieces of art in a composite.
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