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In Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Essential Training, Ted LoCascio teaches casual photographers how to organize, edit, and share their digital image libraries using this powerful software package from Adobe. He tours the included Adobe Bridge application, used for importing and organizing photographs, and explores every feature of Elements itself. He demonstrates how to navigate the Elements workspace, which is used to correct and improve images, combine them into projects, and produce slideshows, photo books, web galleries, and more. Ted also explains how to get the most out of each editing mode, and shares tips for correcting, retouching, and sharpening photographs. Example files accompany the course.
Now I would like to show you how to create collage effects by combining two image layers non-destructively using layer masks and gradients. I'm currently in the Adobe Bridge application and I'm viewing the exercise files folder. I'm going to go ahead and scroll down here in the Control panel to the Chapter 12 folder. I'm going to double-click on that and then double-click on the seasonal_change.psd image. That's going to open up this image here in the Elements' Editing workspace.
All right, so here we're in Full Edit mode and you can see down here in the Layers palette that this is a layered file. We actually have the fall image at the top, I'm going to turn off its visibility for a moment, and then the winter image underneath. It was being hidden by the fall image. And then of course a white background, okay, which is acting like a white canvas for us. So I'm going to turn these layers back on. What we would like to do is to be able to create a transition between these two images to create a type of collage effect. Basically what we're doing here is we're creating a type of image that suggests seasonal change. All right, so we're being somewhat artistic here, we're being very creative. This is a bit more of an advanced technique and I would like to share it with you now.
So what we're going to do first is move the fall image using the Move tool over here. I'm going to click and drag that image off to the left. By the way as I'm mentioning this, if you're working with the Move tool, you may want to turn off the Auto Select Layer option and the Show Bounding Box option, because Show Bounding Box can tend to get in your way as you're selecting things on a layer. An Auto Select Layer can sometimes select the wrong layer, the layer that you don't want to work with and we're going to be shifting between different selected layers here a lot in the Layers palette. So I would recommend turning these two options off, because they are usually on by default, okay.
Then I'm going to select the winter layer, I'm going to click and drag that image off to the right. I'm going to go ahead and move the cursor over again, hold down Shift as I'm doing this to constrain my movements so that it doesn't move up or down. Dragging it off to the right until the berry here touches to meet the edge of the document window. All right, so now we have them pretty much in position. I think I might move the fall image over just a little bit more. Again holding down Shift and then clicking and dragging to the left. All right, they are in position now, we can see the hard edge of where the fall image ends and we want to soften that.
Okay, and we can do that using a Layer Mask and the Gradient tool. Now in Elements, you can't apply a Layer Mask directly to an image layer. Unfortunately, you can't do that. So we're going to use a workaround. What I'm going to do is select the winter layer and the reason I'm doing that is because I'm then going to choose an adjustment layer and I want it to appear above the winter layer and below the fall layer. All right. Anytime you choose an adjustment layer, it's going to add it above the selected layer in the Layers palette. So that's why we switched which layer was selected. If I click on the down facing arrow here, we can access the adjustment layer list and we could choose anyone of these three. Levels, Brightness/Contrast or Hue/Saturation. They all come with Layer Masks and if we choose any of these, it's possible for us to create the adjustment layer and not make an adjustment. Okay, and nothing happened to the image.
So lets go ahead and choose Levels. I'm just going to click OK. We didn't make any adjustments at all and that's exactly what we wanted to do because we didn't really want to make levels adjustment, all we wanted was access to this, the Layer Mask, okay. What I'm going to do next now is group the fall image above to the adjustment layer underneath. I can hold down the Option key and hover my cursor between the two layers and then click to create that group. So I now have a clipping mask between these two layers, the adjustment layer and the fall layer apart of the clipping mask. So that means anything that I draw inside of this mask now is going to potentially hide what's above in the fall image.
If I were to fill this with black, it would hide this image entirely. Okay, let's go ahead and do that. I'm going to hold down the Option key and press Delete and you can see I have filled it with black and I'm now hiding that image entirely. Black conceals and white reveals. All right, so if I press Command+Delete to fill with the background color, we're back to seeing our image. All right, background color is white. Black conceals, white reveals. All right, knowing that, this means that should I paint inside here with a brush or apply a gradient, I can hide or show specific areas of the fall image.
Since I want to create this blend between this image and the image underneath, it makes sense to work with the Gradient tool. So let's go ahead and access the Gradient tool, that's over here in the Tools palette. Then we have to refer to our options up to the top. I am going to click on this down facing arrow to access our default gradients. It's defaulting to the foreground to background color, which is currently black to white. But we want foreground color to none or foreground to transparent. That's why we're seeing this transparency grid in here. That's the one we want to choose.
The reason we want to choose that is because this allows us to click and drag in several different directions within the same mask, whereas foreground to background does not allow us to do that. So little bit more freedom here with this particular gradient. All right, now that we have that chosen, I'm going to go ahead and just click and drag in the bottom right corner with the mask selected over here. Click on the bottom right corner where the fall image ends and drag up towards the leaves to about the center of them. When I led up, you can see what it has done, it's created this blend where it's disappearing into the bottom of the photograph. That's exactly what we want.
We can also drag in another direction, since we're using this type of gradient inside of the mask and I'm going to select over here. I'm going to go over here on the edge of the fall image hold down the Shift key, click and drag towards the leaves. Okay, holding down Shift constrains my movements, so I have a perfect horizontal line. When I led up, I have another gradient added inside of the mask. So essentially two gradients blending together in order to create this transition of the fall image into the winter image underneath. All right, now that we have done that, we have made this semitransparent so we can see through to the image underneath and we can see the hard edge of where the winter image ends. So we need to do the same thing for the winter image in order to reveal the white canvas in the background. Let's select the background layer and create another adjustment layer.
Again, it could be Level, Brightness/ Contrast, or Hue/Saturation either one. Let's go ahead and choose Levels as we did it before, click OK, not making an adjustment at all we just want access to this mask. Let's go ahead and create our clipping mask. Hold down the Option key, click between the two layers, there is our group. Now, we can use the Gradient tool in this mask, do the same thing to the winter layer. I'm going to use the exact same gradient. I still have the gradient chosen with the Gradient tool. I'm going to go ahead and click and drag from the bottom corner of this image up towards the berries in the photograph. That's looking pretty good. The next thing I want to do is click right over here, we can still see that hard edge just slightly, I'm going to go ahead and click just passed it on the right, hold down Shift to constrain my proportions and drag in to the right. Okay, constraining my movements.
All right, so now we have this really nice soft blend. Okay, we can see a little bit of the white canvas poking through underneath, but I think that creates a type of lighting effect. It looks really very nice. So we have this really cool image, suggesting seasonal change or the transition from fall into winter. We created this by using adjustment layers solely for the purpose of accessing their masks. To create clipping mask with the images above. Then use the Gradient tool to create this gradient blend between the images. Okay, foreground to transparent blend inside of each layer mask.
So really cool technique. It's kind of advanced but I think it's worth learning because you can create all kinds of really nice collage effects using this technique.
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