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Aligning layers with Difference

From: Photoshop Blend Mode Magic

Video: Aligning layers with Difference

So if any of you who are watching this have children, you know how challenging it can be to do a family portrait where everyone is bright and happy and bushy-tailed, looking at the camera directly and giving us a nice smile. Here is a portrait of my family and you can see that wasn't exactly the case. So that's why digital SLR cameras are awesome; just keep holding that button down until you get a bunch of shots, because then hopefully, you can just Photoshop them together. So let's take a look at these two source files. We'll take a look at the bottom layer by turning the top layer off. You can see Vivian is looking straight at the camera. I obviously was doing something correct, but the girls were, I don't know, watching a car drive by or something.

Aligning layers with Difference

So if any of you who are watching this have children, you know how challenging it can be to do a family portrait where everyone is bright and happy and bushy-tailed, looking at the camera directly and giving us a nice smile. Here is a portrait of my family and you can see that wasn't exactly the case. So that's why digital SLR cameras are awesome; just keep holding that button down until you get a bunch of shots, because then hopefully, you can just Photoshop them together. So let's take a look at these two source files. We'll take a look at the bottom layer by turning the top layer off. You can see Vivian is looking straight at the camera. I obviously was doing something correct, but the girls were, I don't know, watching a car drive by or something.

In this frame, the girls are looking awesome, looking right at daddy, going woohoo! But for those of you who are married, you can see that I'm getting the look by my wife. I've obviously done something wrong. So what we all want to do is we want to match the two layers up together and we want to do a composite. Well, before we do the composite, let's jump ahead a little bit and talk about matching the color between the two layers. You can see that the top layer has got a little bit of a warm color tone to it. If I turn the top layer off, the bottom layers are a little bit cool, not as warm.

So before we do the composite, we want to make sure that we match those tones. So I want Source 1 layer, the bottom layer, to match the tone of the top layer, and it just so happens Photoshop has a groovy little command to help us do that. I'm going to go up to the Image menu > Adjustments and choose Match Color down here at the bottom. And when you bring up the dialog box, you get to choose a source. Well, we are going to choose the document that I have opened, this document right here. And once you choose that document, you get the choice of layers as well if there are any layers in the document. In this case, we are going to choose Source 2. That's the layer that has the warm tone.

We'll go ahead and choose that. You can see already we get a little preview of what that's going to look like. I'll go ahead and click OK and now when I turned the top layer on and off, yes, you do see the subjects shifting their position a little bit, but the colors are not shifting from layers to layers. So, that's good. All right, so we got the bottom layer selected here. We are going to go get our Marquee tool, and we are going to spend hours making a very, very accurate selection. No, we are not. We are just going to make a regular plain old rectangular selection here and we want to duplicate this copy of these good pixels where she is smiling up onto their own layer.

To do that, we'll do Command+J, Ctrl+J. I want to name it as I do it though, so I'm going to do Command+Option+J or Ctrl+Alt+J and we'll name this layer Smile. Great! Now that I have got the smile up on its own layer, we are going to move it up to the top of the layer stack, and turn the Source 2 layer back on, where the girls are looking at the camera. I don't need Source 1 anymore so I'm just going to click on that and hit Delete on my keyboard, and I have got the two layers I need. It looks better already, right? Well we've got a little bit of a problem. We are going to have to mask out these edges but we also want to make sure that her head is in the correct position and the whole point of this video was actually to talk about the Difference blend mode and how it's built exactly for this type of exercise.

I am going to get my Move tool, V for Move, and I'm going to change the blend mode to Difference. And what Difference does is it shows you which pixels are different between the layers that are being blended. Anything that's the same, or as same as it could be, will be as dark as possible. So now, when I change the blend mode to Difference, I can see both set of eyeballs between the two layers, which helps me line these layers up. I can just roughly use my Move tool and move them into position, and then I can use my arrow keys on the keyboard to kind of get it close or closer. And what you are looking for is the position where the majority of the pixels are as dark as possible. So I'm thinking right about there is a good call. You can see most of the face is black and the eyes are perfectly lined up in the center, at least on the left hand side. It's a little bit off on the right, but it's close enough for this particular composite.

Great! So that's usually what the Difference mode is for and you can do special effect with it you can make your image look all funky and purple and whatever. But its primary purpose is to show you differences between layers. So now that we have got them in position, I can change the blend mode back to Normal and now it's just a matter of masking out the edges here. So I'm going to add a layer mask to the Smile layer, press B for my Brush tool, paint with 100% black. So I'm going to type 0 to make sure it's 100%. I'm going to type D and X to make sure my foreground colors are set to black and white.

I have got black as my foreground color and I'm just going to go ahead and paint around the outside edge of Vivian's neck here and around the hair as well, just to get rid of those seams of the bricks. I don't want there to be any noticeable seam there. And there you have it. A pretty simple composite taking advantage of two shots, and using the Difference blend mode to help us align them. Here is before, here is after. And my wife loves this little demo. Okay, anyway there is your composite, made a lot easier with using the Difference blend mode.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Blend Mode Magic
Photoshop Blend Mode Magic

46 video lessons · 25564 viewers

Michael Ninness
Author

 
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  1. 2m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. Using the exercise files
      52s
  2. 13m 9s
    1. The three kinds of blending in Photoshop
      1m 49s
    2. Blend modes, blend modes, everywhere!
      1m 38s
    3. Cycling through the blending modes
      2m 1s
    4. Three blending modes you must know
      5m 8s
    5. Blending mode keyboard shortcuts
      2m 33s
  3. 3m 13s
    1. Roughening or pointilizing edges with Dissolve
      3m 13s
  4. 34m 40s
    1. Removing halos with Darken
      2m 26s
    2. Bringing down hot highlights with Multiply
      3m 50s
    3. Tonal correction with Screen and Multiply
      3m 35s
    4. Combining adjustment layers with blending modes
      3m 58s
    5. Creating a composite from a single Camera Raw file
      5m 56s
    6. Creating a cast shadow with Multiply
      4m 50s
    7. Creating artistic edges with Multiply and Screen
      3m 39s
    8. From iPhone to Photoshop: Colorizing line art with Multiply
      6m 26s
  5. 14m 47s
    1. Removing dust spots with Lighten
      1m 36s
    2. Adding lightning to a sky with Screen
      3m 20s
    3. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      2m 27s
    4. Reducing halos when sharpening with Lighten
      3m 55s
    5. Creating a faint soft-edged line drawing with Linear Dodge
      3m 29s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Using Dodge and Burn with Overlay
      4m 34s
    2. Reducing wrinkles with Overlay
      6m 37s
    3. Using graduated neutral density filters with Overlay
      5m 32s
    4. Custom vignettes with Overlay
      3m 30s
    5. High-Pass sharpening with Overlay
      4m 16s
    6. Smoothing skin with High-Pass sharpening and Overlay
      5m 29s
    7. Textured patterns with Overlay
      6m 21s
    8. Textured type with Overlay
      2m 55s
    9. Creating a dramatic diffused glow with Overlay
      2m 49s
    10. Creating a subtle glow with Soft Light
      2m 57s
    11. Creating a medium glow with Soft Light
      4m 25s
    12. Simulating film grain with Add Noise and Soft Light
      3m 54s
    13. Recovering detail in over-saturated areas with Pin Light
      8m 30s
    14. Creating 80's pop art with Hard Mix and Multiply
      3m 15s
  7. 5m 7s
    1. Aligning layers with Difference
      5m 7s
  8. 12m 51s
    1. Reducing color noise with Color
      2m 13s
    2. Avoiding false saturation with Luminosity
      5m 33s
    3. Recovering detail in blown-out highlights with Luminosity
      5m 5s
  9. 26m 27s
    1. Getting better sepia tones
      5m 15s
    2. Using antique color effects
      5m 5s
    3. Combining multiple exposures
      4m 34s
    4. Replacing the sky in an image
      3m 44s
    5. Splitting edges when sharpening
      3m 15s
    6. Displacing type around contours
      4m 34s
  10. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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