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The Auto-Align Layers command

From: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

Video: The Auto-Align Layers command

In this chapter, we are going to be covering three commands; two of them are located under the Edit menu. The first, Auto-Align, layer takes multiple shots of the same scene and geometrically distorts those images so that the stationary elements align with each other. That way you can mask out any moving elements or you could mask together people in the same scene. I'll show you a couple of examples. It's an extraordinary command quite frankly. Auto-Blend layers is perhaps even more magical. What it does is once you get done aligning your layers then this command will automatically adjust the exposure of all the images.

The Auto-Align Layers command

In this chapter, we are going to be covering three commands; two of them are located under the Edit menu. The first, Auto-Align, layer takes multiple shots of the same scene and geometrically distorts those images so that the stationary elements align with each other. That way you can mask out any moving elements or you could mask together people in the same scene. I'll show you a couple of examples. It's an extraordinary command quite frankly. Auto-Blend layers is perhaps even more magical. What it does is once you get done aligning your layers then this command will automatically adjust the exposure of all the images.

So that the brightness and contrast and colors match each other and then it goes in there and automatically masks the images together. It's an extraordinarily intelligent command, not a command you'll use very often, but a technological wonder. Then we have a command that's essentially a combination of the two. Under the File menu, you go to Automate and then you go down to this command here Photomerge. Photomerge goes ahead and stitches together multiple images to create a seamless panorama. That's what it does from your perspective. From Photoshop's perspective it just applies the Auto Align layers command and follows it up with the Auto- Blend layers command and that's it.

Just those two commands working together ends up stitching together seamless panoramas. This is the command you'll use the most often but I want to show you what's going on under the hood in advance because you may find lots of uses for Auto-Align layers and every once in while you may find Auto-Blend layers useful as well. So, we are going to start off with a fairly mundane example here, it's called Colorado capitol.psd and it features the capitol building in Denver, Colorado. I took probably about five shots of this scene actually because there were cars and people in the foreground here and I wanted to get rid of them.

I ended up coming up with two shots that accommodated each other, that is, that accounted for each other's weaknesses. So, I've got this one called another shot on top here. Both of these layers should appear selected when you open the image, by the way. This image that we are looking at has this minivan in the middle of things with some blue gunk on the grill. I don't know if it's paint or tape or what it is but I don't want it in my shot. Then in the Background, if you turn that layer off for a moment, you'll see that we pretty much have all that area accounted for so there is no car in that exact same position.

However, there is another car over here on the left-hand side. If I were to go ahead and turn this another shot layer back on and set it to say 50% Opacity by pressing the 5 key. You could see well a couple of things. First, of all the cars almost touch each other so we are going to have to be careful about the masking. But here's the bigger problem, the images aren't aligned with each other. And that's because of course I didn't have a tripod. I'm just shooting these images with my Olympus E30, which is a great SLR, but we are relying on me to remain stationary and I wasn't quite stationary as you can see.

So, what we need to do, one of two things. I could just try to move these images and manually transform them, which would require possibly a little bit of scaling, maybe some rotation as well, maybe a little bit of distortion in order to get these images lined up, or I could just let Photoshop do it, and Photoshop is killer at this. So, as long as you have two images that were shot relatively close in time to each other, so that the lighting is similar and not too many objects are moving - if you've got a ton of movement or you don't have enough good geometric background information then the command will fail and we'll see an example of that.

But for now, it's going to succeed like crazy where these images are concerned. First, change the Opacity of another shot to 100% by pressing the 0 key. Now, I'll Shift+Click on the background so that both layers are selected; very important. There's two ways to get to the Auto-Align layers function. One is to go up to the Edit menu and choose the command so, that's pretty obvious. But there is this hidden way and I just want you to be aware it exists. If you have the Move tool selected then you'll see up here in the Options bar these little face icons right there.

If you click on them you invoke Auto-Align layers. What this option is doing here? I have no idea but there it is. Go ahead and click on it or just use the command from the Edit menu and then you're presented with a few different distortion options. What I am going to tell you to do is upfront just go ahead and click on Auto. Unless Auto goes wrong you don't need to worry about these other options that are available to you but just for the record here. Perspective allows Photoshop to go ahead and scale and rotate and distort the layers.

By the distort I mean a four point distortion so that it's moving the corner handles for each one of the images with respect to each other. Cylindrical and Spherical go even farther and they are primarily useful for panoramas. So when you're using the Photomerge function you might want to select one of these two and I'll explain that later. Collage allows Photoshop to scale and rotate the layers but it can't distort the layers. So, it can't do a four point distortion like Perspective can, and then Reposition, all it does is just move stuff around.

So, you'd only want to use Collage or Reposition if you're trying to protect your images and you don't want to apply any distortion. Then we'll drop down here to the Lens Correction options. You can apply automatic Lens Correction on the fly so if you have some Vignettes that you need to remove you could go ahead and turn that check box. If you're worried there might be some Geometric Distortion in the scene then go on ahead and turn on the second check box. I usually go ahead and turn on this second check box by the way. There are no vignettes to remove, nothing really of merit, anyway. But you never know about Geometric Distortion, it's usually worth giving that a try.

So, I'll go ahead and select Auto and Geometric Distortion and click OK and then you wait for Photoshop to do its thing. So, first it tells me it's aligning layer 0, which is the Background layer, and then it's aligning another shot, which is the top layer and we end up getting this effect right here. All right, I am going to press the M key to switch back to the Rectangle Marquee tool and let's take a look at what Photoshop has done. If I turn off the top layer to reveal the bottom layer. Check it out, look how well they aligned with each other. That's absolutely stunning.

I'll go ahead and zoom in so that we can see this a little more up close and personal. For example, take a look at that street sign right there. If I turn the top layer on. It just moves ever so slightly, you can see it just shift like a pixel and I am not even sure it's shifting. Sometimes, when you're zoomed out inside of Photoshop things appear to shift that aren't actually shifting. So, let's go to the 100% view size which is the best indicator and I'll turn off the top layer. You can see things move down just a little bit, turn on the top layer things move up. One of the reasons that's happening by the way is that Photoshop's not just trying to align.

Let's say the street sign and the ONE WAY sign and the pole and the streetlights and this little security camera and all that jazz. But it's also trying to align the background building and it's trying to align all of the leaves on all of the trees. So, it's a lot of work. What it ends up doing though is not paying attention to the cars at all. It can't find this white van in the layer 0 layer right there. So, it doesn't even try to align it. It can't find the back end of this blue car in the top image so it doesn't try to align that either.

So, it just throws out anything that's moving inside the image and attempts to align the stuff that's stationary. All right, having done that we are going to go ahead and blend these two layers together in the next exercise.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

192 video lessons · 44101 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 40m 45s
    1. Welcome
      2m 45s
    2. Making Photoshop your default image editor
      7m 43s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 10s
    4. Remapping OS shortcuts
      7m 37s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 31s
    6. The color settings explained
      6m 54s
    7. Loading the CS5 color settings in Bridge
      3m 5s
  2. 1h 11m
    1. Your creative range continues to expand
      1m 46s
    2. The Avatar project so far
      2m 38s
    3. Painting on a photograph
      7m 50s
    4. Adding texture and depth
      6m 14s
    5. Simulating chalky white paint
      7m 23s
    6. Masking and placing an image
      7m 20s
    7. Upsampling and Lens Blur
      5m 9s
    8. Blending blurry elements
      3m 48s
    9. Making a Smart Object
      6m 46s
    10. Placing an image as a Smart Object
      3m 22s
    11. Blending away a background
      5m 56s
    12. Applying Smart Filters
      4m 34s
    13. Creating a glow with Lens Flare
      3m 45s
    14. Blending and masking a glow
      5m 3s
  3. 1h 26m
    1. Using the image to select itself
      1m 53s
    2. Introducing masking
      6m 32s
    3. Making an alpha channel
      6m 54s
    4. Using the Calculations command
      6m 48s
    5. Add, Subtract, Offset, and Scale
      5m 54s
    6. Prepping an image with the Dodge tool
      6m 55s
    7. Fixing mistakes before they get too big
      6m 32s
    8. Painting in the Overlay mode
      5m 51s
    9. Exaggerating and selecting flesh tones
      7m 39s
    10. Smudge, Median, and the Blur tool
      6m 59s
    11. Masking low-contrast details
      6m 7s
    12. Creating a flesh-and-clothing mask
      5m 45s
    13. Masking and compositing the foreground
      5m 27s
    14. Finessing the final composition
      7m 39s
  4. 2h 24m
    1. Connecting the dots
      1m 40s
    2. The Pen tool and the Paths panel
      6m 32s
    3. Drawing a straight-sided outline
      6m 25s
    4. Editing a path outline
      6m 36s
    5. Adding and editing smooth points
      5m 35s
    6. Creating vector masks with the shape tools
      4m 59s
    7. Building a complex outline from shapes
      4m 26s
    8. Subtracting and transforming shapes
      6m 45s
    9. Cloning, flipping, and combining shapes
      8m 58s
    10. Roughing in non-symmetrical paths
      7m 41s
    11. Finessing a complex outline
      9m 15s
    12. Masking a layer effect
      8m 26s
    13. Isolating an image element
      6m 8s
    14. Smooth points and control handles
      9m 3s
    15. Stretching curved segments
      7m 49s
    16. Using the Rubber Band option
      9m 33s
    17. Drawing smooth points with the Pen tool
      6m 59s
    18. Shading an isolated object
      3m 45s
    19. Drawing cusp points
      7m 14s
    20. Setting points in the pasteboard
      9m 57s
    21. Using the Convert Point tool
      6m 42s
  5. 2h 57m
    1. Everything you need to know about blending
      1m 45s
    2. Photoshop CS5's blend modes
      7m 21s
    3. Cycling between blend modes
      6m 15s
    4. Darken and Lighten and their derivatives
      6m 3s
    5. The blend mode shortcuts
      8m 6s
    6. The Multiply and Burn modes
      4m 28s
    7. The Screen and Dodge modes
      6m 0s
    8. How opposite blend modes work
      8m 24s
    9. Why Multiply darkens and Divide lightens
      5m 23s
    10. Cleaning up a client's bad art
      5m 3s
    11. Dropping out a white background
      5m 56s
    12. Blending inside blend modes
      8m 3s
    13. Overlay, Soft Light, and Hard Light
      6m 26s
    14. Vivid, Linear, and Pin Light (and Hard Mix)
      6m 35s
    15. Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide
      7m 34s
    16. Great uses for the Difference mode
      6m 18s
    17. Promising uses for the Divide mode
      9m 6s
    18. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      7m 0s
    19. Blending an inverted layer
      3m 32s
    20. The "Fill Opacity Eight"
      7m 25s
    21. Making bad blend modes good
      5m 16s
    22. Making a knockout layer
      6m 53s
    23. Blending in the CMYK mode
      8m 3s
    24. Overprinting black text
      8m 29s
    25. Using the Luminance slider
      5m 24s
    26. Parametric luminance masking
      6m 21s
    27. Adjusting the behavior of luminance effects
      10m 8s
  6. 2h 2m
    1. Smart Objects = protective containers
      1m 35s
    2. Placing an Illustrator graphic
      6m 30s
    3. Vector copy and paste options
      6m 56s
    4. Applying Puppet Warp to vectors
      8m 9s
    5. "Gluing" vector art for Puppet Warp
      5m 50s
    6. Warping art onto the surface of an image
      8m 7s
    7. Blending a Smart Object
      4m 30s
    8. Blurring and blending a Smart Object
      6m 8s
    9. Making changes in Illustrator
      5m 57s
    10. Creating "true clones"
      7m 18s
    11. Double-flipping text
      4m 44s
    12. Applying effects to multiple layers
      3m 24s
    13. Updating true clones in one operation
      7m 36s
    14. Editing JPEGs as Camera Raw objects
      5m 49s
    15. Creating a double-exposure effect
      7m 15s
    16. Masking and shading transitions
      7m 47s
    17. Applying and repeating Camera Raw edits
      6m 9s
    18. Copying vs. cloning a Smart Object
      5m 18s
    19. Flipping a Smart Object and its mask
      3m 42s
    20. Adjusting multiple Camera Raw clones
      3m 53s
    21. Text that inverts everything behind it
      5m 34s
  7. 1h 59m
    1. This time, "smart" means dynamic
      1m 37s
    2. Introducing Smart Filters
      6m 28s
    3. Traditional High Pass sharpening
      5m 17s
    4. Smart High Pass in the Lab mode
      7m 57s
    5. Sharpening a high-frequency image
      7m 46s
    6. Retroactively reducing noise
      7m 31s
    7. Which filters are Smart Filters?
      6m 20s
    8. Shadows/Highlights as a Smart Filter
      4m 37s
    9. Nesting one Smart Object inside another
      7m 11s
    10. Drawing a mask from a nested Smart Object
      8m 7s
    11. Better Shadows/Highlights inside Lab
      9m 16s
    12. Tempering saturation values in Lab
      7m 0s
    13. Filtering live, editable text
      9m 2s
    14. Enhancing filters with layer effects
      4m 33s
    15. Applying a filter multiple times
      5m 0s
    16. Creating a synthetic star field
      7m 7s
    17. Making a stucco or drywall pattern
      6m 28s
    18. Land, sea, and clouds
      8m 30s
  8. 2h 50m
    1. Photoshop's advanced painting tools
      2m 3s
    2. Canvas texture and brush libraries
      6m 40s
    3. Painting with a predefined custom brush
      9m 21s
    4. Dissecting a custom brush
      11m 9s
    5. Designing and using a custom brush
      4m 54s
    6. Saving and loading brush presets
      5m 27s
    7. The ten styles of bristle brushes
      9m 47s
    8. Size, Spacing, and Angle
      7m 2s
    9. Using the Bristle Brush preview
      7m 53s
    10. Bristles, Length, Thickness, and Stiffness
      6m 53s
    11. Stylus tilt and mouse behavior
      5m 25s
    12. Stroking a path outline with a brush
      4m 0s
    13. Troubleshooting a stylus
      5m 49s
    14. Introducing the Mixer Brush
      7m 22s
    15. The Load, Mix, and Wet values
      5m 1s
    16. Cleaning and loading a brush
      6m 26s
    17. Shading a piece of graphic art
      6m 34s
    18. Shading with color
      7m 53s
    19. Mixing a photographic portrait
      6m 11s
    20. Tracing the fine details in an image
      5m 52s
    21. Crosshatching and brush size
      5m 53s
    22. Covering up and augmenting details
      7m 36s
    23. Painting in hair and fabric
      5m 54s
    24. Painting and scaling very fine hairs
      8m 7s
    25. Adding texture with the Emboss filter
      8m 31s
    26. Exploiting a "happy accident"
      2m 46s
  9. 1h 40m
    1. Artificial intelligence that works
      1m 22s
    2. The Auto-Align Layers command
      7m 25s
    3. The Auto-Blend Layers command
      3m 54s
    4. Masking auto-aligned layers
      4m 50s
    5. The Geometric Distortion setting
      6m 44s
    6. The Seamless Tones and Colors checkbox
      4m 8s
    7. Creating the best possible layer mask
      9m 18s
    8. Auto-blending depths of field
      5m 54s
    9. Finessing masks, accepting imperfections
      6m 29s
    10. Shooting and downsampling panorama images
      5m 54s
    11. Introducing the Photomerge command
      6m 40s
    12. Evaluating the Layout settings
      6m 47s
    13. Loading, aligning, and blending with Photomerge
      5m 36s
    14. Tracing and extracting seams
      7m 18s
    15. Adding a masked element into a panorama
      5m 55s
    16. Simplifying and correcting a panorama
      5m 58s
    17. Smart Filters and nondestructive cropping
      6m 43s
  10. 1h 18m
    1. The most mysterious of mysterious topics
      2m 29s
    2. Introducing HDR Toning
      6m 43s
    3. Reigning in clipped highlights
      5m 54s
    4. The Local Adaptation options
      9m 5s
    5. Nondestructive editing with HDR Toning
      8m 22s
    6. Using the HDR Toning Curve
      7m 2s
    7. HDR Toning vs. Shadows/Highlights
      6m 0s
    8. Merging multiple exposures
      7m 14s
    9. A first look at HDR Pro
      6m 24s
    10. Removing ghosts, correcting backlighting
      7m 11s
    11. Generating and editing an HDR comp
      7m 0s
    12. HDR rendered to completion
      5m 19s
  11. 1h 27m
    1. Processing hundreds of files in no time
      1m 43s
    2. Creating an action set
      6m 37s
    3. Making an action
      7m 7s
    4. Stop, Delete, and Record
      7m 12s
    5. Add, Undo, and Rerecord
      6m 40s
    6. Playing and testing an action
      6m 31s
    7. Playing and editing a specific operation
      6m 39s
    8. Permitting the user to change settings
      4m 58s
    9. Explaining an action with a custom stop
      5m 0s
    10. Batch-processing multiple images
      7m 22s
    11. Adding a Save As operation
      6m 34s
    12. Creating an action to save web graphics
      7m 59s
    13. Batching two actions into one
      7m 15s
    14. Saving and loading actions
      5m 30s
  12. 1m 19s
    1. See ya
      1m 19s

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