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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
So, if you've ever tried to take a family portrait, you can know how challenging that can be to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time. Well, the great thing about shooting digitally is that you can just hold the button down and get a bunch of shots and hopefully you have enough to work with to get the perfect composite when all is said and done. So, let's take a look at this example. We've got two layers here. On the top layer, the children here looking pretty decent. They're looking either at the camera or looking forward. But the mother here isn't looking too happy in that shot. So, let's turn the top layer off, and you'll see in the next frame. She's looking really great, but the children are looking off in the distance and so forth.
So, what we're going to do is combine these two layers to get the perfect composite that we want. So, to do that, I'm going to go ahead and select the layer that's got the image of the mother here that's looking good. I'm going to press M for the Marquee tool. I'll go ahead and make a pretty loose selection of her head here. We don't need to really be too careful here, just make sure we get enough of it there. Now what I want to do is I want to lift that up and copy it onto its own layer. And there's a keyboard shortcut for that. I can do Command+J for jump. Think you're jumping a copy of this selection up to its own layer, Ctrl+J on Windows. And you can see there it is, layer 1.
I can go ahead and turn off the bottom layer. And we'll turn the top layer on by clicking on its eye where it should be and then we'll move layer 1 above Source 2 by simply dragging its thumbnail unto the top of the list here. Okay. We're done, right? Well, not so much, right? We've got the seams and we want to make sure that we mask this out so that it blends and looks realistic. Now, the first thing we probably need to do is make sure that the two faces are in alignment across those two layers. So, I'm going to get my Move tool, and I'm going to press the letter V on my keyboard to switch to the Move tool.
And what I want to be able to do is see both faces at the same time. So, real simple. We'll just change the layer opacity of layer 1. Actually let's go ahead and rename this layer. I'll go ahead and double-click on the name. And we'll name it Face. Great! Let's change the opacity of the Face layer by just pressing the number 5 on our keyboard. Now I can see both sets of eyes and I can use that to help me position where these two layers should be. So, I'm just going to nudging it into place with my Move tool here, and then if I need to, I can move it 1 pixel at a time by using my arrow keys on the keyboard to get it really close.
So, that's looking pretty good. Once I have it into position, I can then press the 0 key to go back to 100% opaque. Next what we want to do is add a layer mask to the Face layer and start masking out the edges so that we see a seamless composite. So, to do that, we'll go to the bottom of the Layers panel. We'll click on the Add Layer Mmask button, and we want to paint it with black with our Brush tool. So, I'm going to press the letter B and grab the Brush tool. And we'll see that we have our brush cursor here. I'm going to make my brush a little bit bigger by holding down Ctrl+Option or Alt+Right-click with your mouse if you're using a PC, to get the brush just right.
And I want to paint with black to hide this portion of the layer. So, black is not my current foreground color, so I'm going to go over here and click on this little double arrow at the bottom of the Tools panel. And then I'm just going to start painting with black on that layer mask around the edges of her head there to do a nice blend between masked and unmasked. And I'm just paying attention to make sure I don't get any of her facial details, as I'm painting around the edges there. Since the eyes are in alignment, I can just go ahead and trim right around through to the hair on the outside edge.
And you can see, this does not have to be a really long complex project. It would actually be pretty easy, especially if you're just using similar frames from that same series. Everything is going to be in the same position once you get those faces lined up. So, there you have it. Here's before, and there's after. It makes a fun little animation there, if you do it really fast. But you can see doing a classic family portrait where everyone is looking at the camera can be really simple as long as you've got enough frames to play with. Put each of all those frames on their own layer, select the portion you want to keep, and then just mask off the edges by using a layer mask and painting with black or white on that layer mask.
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