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One of the most difficult things to do when you're photographing a group of people is to get them all smiling in the same frame. Let's take a look at these two images. I'm going to tap the Spacebar so that we can see them in Bridge. You can see that in this image, everyone looks great except for the girl who has her eyes closed. Well, she is in the middle of a mid-blink there. If I use my Arrow key and move to the next image, well, she looks great in this image, but the baby here doesn't look quite as good. So I need to combine these two images.
So I'll tap the Esc key to get out of there. We'll use the Cmd key or the Ctrl key in order to select both of these images, and then choose Tools>Photoshop, and Load Files into Photoshop layers. That's going to open up a single document and place both of these images as their own unique layers in the document. So now we can toggle on and off the images, but we see that the zoom on the camera or the camera position might have even changed between these two exposures.
So I would like to Auto-Align these two images together. In order to do so, I'm going to select both of the layers in the Layers panel and then I'll choose Edit and then Auto-Align Layers. I'll make sure that Auto is selected and I'll turn off the Vignette Removal and Geometric Distortion and click OK. Now we can toggle these on and off and you can see how they're much better aligned. So I need to mask these images so that everyone is smiling.
If we look at the two layers, it's this top layer right now where everyone is happy except we have the blinker there. So what I'm going to do just because logically it makes more sense to me, I'm going to move the good image to the bottom of my layer stack. So if I hide that top layer, we now have the good image of basically everyone except for the girl at the bottom. And then when I toggle on the visibility of the top layer, we can see that we have the image of her that looks good. So now this makes it very easy for me to think all I need to do is paint her in and the image will be fine, but in order to do that, I need to hide everything else.
So, on this layer 02, I'm going to add a layer mask, but by default, the layer mask would be white and we would see exactly what we're seeing right now. What I'm going to do is hold down the Option or the Alt key and click on the Mask icon which will then create a black layer mask which is hiding everything. Then we can zoom in using Cmd++. I'll zoom into 100% and hold down my Spacebar and then move over so that we're looking at the girl. And then with my Brush tool selected, I'll make sure I'm painting in Normal mode with 100% Opacity, and I'll make sure that I'm painting with white because my mask is black, everything on this layer is hidden including the good version of this girl.
So now I'll use a rather large brush and I'm using the Right Bracket (]) key in order to get a larger brush, and in fact, we should take a look at the Hardness settings. You can see I've got a sort of medium-hardness brush. I don't want too soft of a brush, otherwise, the edges are going to start to look fuzzy but I don't want a really, really hard brush because I do want a little bit of blending to happen between the layer on top and the layer below. So now let's just start painting and I'm going to paint in the top layer and we will be able to then see the good version or the version of the girl where her eyes are open.
You always want to make sure that you toggle on and off this layer to make sure that you don't have anything kind of weird. For example, you might have painted up a little bit too high here and you might not notice that there's kind of a little bit of a mistake up by his collar. So if that happens, well, I've painted away too much, so I can tap the X key and paint with white there in order to show that again. So you might just need to go back and forth between the two layers, maybe getting a little bit smaller of a brush there, and just make sure that all of the scenes, for example, like all the hair flows, that there's not something weird that you've missed around the collar or something, or that it's not overlapping and causing a shadow anywhere.
So let's just see, there's before and after, and you might want to toggle back and forth a few times. This is kind of an easier example because she's got so much really pretty hair that it's easy to blend these two together. Let's zoom back out and the last thing we'd need to do is go ahead and crop this image. That was a great technique if you've got, say, two images that are very close in alignment to begin with, but you might be taking two very different images and trying to put them together.
So I do want to show you the manual way to do this. So let's go ahead and close this file and I'm going to return back to Bridge and I'm using the same two images and we'll do the same thing where we load them into Photoshop as Photoshop layers. But this time, instead of using the Auto-Align feature, we're going to do this manually. So now we know that the image where her eyes are open, that's the bottom layer and I want to move that to the top so I'll drag that up. And that just allows me to know that it's this base image, it's the bottom image where everyone else looks good.
And really, on this top image, when I select it and make it visible, we're really only worried about this area here. So let's make this easier on ourselves, let's go ahead and make a big selection here, and then let's just delete the rest. So Select>Inverse and then making sure that we're on the topmost layer, I'll just tap the Delete key. So now you can more clearly see that what we're working with is just this portion of this top layer.
We'll zoom in a bit and scoot over here using the Spacebar to access our Hand tool and I'm going to decrease the Opacity of this layer. The easiest way to do that is by tapping the V key that'll just give me the Move tool, and then I can tap the 5 key to get 50%. So we can see that the two layers are not aligned properly. I've got the top layer selected, I have my Move tool selected, and now we can reposition these. But not only are the two layers not aligned, they're not the same size.
So I also need to transform this. So I'll use Cmd+ or Ctrl+T to get my transformation handles, I'm going to need to zoom out a little bit, so Cmd+ or Ctrl+-. And then holding down the Shift key to make sure that I constrain proportions, I'm going to need to transform the layer on top and make it a little bit smaller in order to fit with the underlying image. I can transform from these outer handles, but you'll notice that it always transforms from the center.
So one of the things that you might want to try to do is align one area, like say, for example, the top of her head, and then move this transformation point to the top of her head. That way if I move the transformation handle down at the bottom, you'll notice that the image doesn't move quite as much as it would as if the transformation is in the center. Then we can use our Arrow keys to just nudge her more into position to see if we have the size of the top layer matching the size of the bottom layer.
I think it's still a little bit off, so let's go ahead and transform that a little bit more and make a little bit larger. Now I can see that the top of her head, when I use the nudge keys, those are aligned. We've almost got the eyes aligned, let's bring it down a little bit more, and then we'll use our Arrow keys to nudge it over to the left and a little bit higher. So we're just trying to get the overall shape of the face in alignment, so maybe right about there, and again, just nudging those over. So obviously her mouth isn't going to line up and not everything is going to line up at the same time because she will have tilted her head a little bit and she will be smiling and so her eyes will be in a different position as will her mouth.
But once we've got it positioned as closely as we think we can, we'll tap Enter or Return and then we'll also tap the 0 key. That's going to bring that layer's opacity back up to 100%. And now I'm going to hide what I don't want on that layer by adding a layer mask, and this time, I'm not going to hold down the Option or the Alt key. I'm simply going to add the mask. I'm going to grab the Brush tool by tapping the B key and now I want to make sure that I'm painting with black and I'm going to paint out all of the areas that I don't want, which are basically all of the areas except for her.
Now when you're doing this, again, you're going to want to make sure that you toggle on and off the visibility of this layer to make sure that you haven't missed anything. So let's go ahead and do that. I'll toggle on and off the Visibility. You can see that I do have some areas that I need to touch up a little bit. You can see how different his collar is between this version and this version. So again, I'll come in here, get a little bit smaller of a brush by using the Left Bracket ([) key. Let's just paint in the collar so that that looks correct. Come down here.
Let's make sure that this shoulder lines up when we toggle this on and off. That'll be fine. Come down here to the hair. Do you see there's something going on down here in the hand? So we'll want to make sure that we paint that out as well. Again, just on and off, and one of the things that you might want to do is actually hold down the Option key and click on the mask itself, and that will show you the mask so that you can just come in here and just paint in those white areas that you know are way outside of the girl who has her eyes closed that we're fixing here.
Then click on the Eye Icon again and just toggle that there on and off. So she is a little bit larger in the second one. We can go ahead and transform that down a little bit if we want to or if we're happy with this and this is okay, we can go ahead and leave this exactly as it is. So there're two methods of combining multiple images together in order to make that image where everyone looks good and everyone is smiling at the same time.
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