Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Combining photos, part of Photoshop Elements 11 Essential Training: 4 Creative Effects & Projects.
This chapter focuses on getting creative with your photos in the Expert edit workspace in Elements Editor. Combining photos is the basis for lots of creative looks that you can get in the Expert edit workspace, so in this movie, I'll show you a couple of ways to combine one image with another. I am working here in the Expert edit workspace in the Editor. Expert edit is a part of the program that gives you the most creative freedom, and that most resembles Elements' big brother, Adobe Photoshop. If you are not familiar with the basics of this workspace, I cover those for you in another course in this series, Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: Editing and Retouching Photos, so you can take a look at that course too.
I have opened some files from the Organizer into the Editor, and then I clicked the Expert button to switch over to the Expert edit workspace. The files that I opened show up down here in the Photo Bin at the bottom of the Editor. If your Photo Bin isn't showing, then click the Photo Bin button in the taskbar at the button of the screen. That's something you'll do often as you work in Expert edit, because this Photo Bin area shares a space with the Tool Options, so it disappears from view each time you click on a tool in the toolbox, and you can always bring it back by clicking the Photo Bin button again.
I'll start by choosing the photo that I want as the background for my composite. I'd like to use this photo with the red flowers, so I'll select it in the Photo Bin by clicking on it, and then I'll double-click on it, and it appears up here in the document window. Over in the Layers panel, which I opened by clicking the Layers button at the bottom of the screen, you can see that my composite currently has just one layer in it. Now I want to add another photo. So, there are a couple of methods to do that. One is the simple drag-and-drop method. As long as I have photos open in the Photo Bin, I can select any of those photos, like this photo of the ring, and then drag from the Photo Bin up into the document window, and release my mouse, and that photo of the ring comes into the composite right in the center.
And over in the Layers panel, you can see a brand new layer was created automatically that contains just the photo of the ring. The name of this layer comes from the file name of the ring photo. I'd like to use more meaningful names in my Layers panel, so I'll double-click that layer name, and I'll type a more meaningful name, like ring. To reposition this photo in the composite, I'll go to the toolbar, and I'll select the Move tool, and then I'll click inside of the photo, and put it where I want it in the composite. I'd like the photo to be a little bit smaller than this.
It's not a good idea to size a photo up in an image, because that can cause its pixels to get stretched out, and the enlarged photo may look blurry, or pixilated, but you can always make a photo smaller. To make this photo smaller, I'll click on one of the corner anchor points to constrain proportions as I click and drag in toward the center. When I am happy with the size, I'll click this green checkmark to commit that change. And I can always click inside the photo and move it again to reposition the resized photo. If I don't want to see that bounding box around this photo, I'll click on a different tool in the toolbox than the Move tool.
Now, sometimes you may bring a photo into a composite that is larger than the background of the composite. Let's see what happens in that case. I'll come back down to the taskbar, and click on the Photo Bin button again, and then I am going to select this photo of the champagne glasses. If you look closely at this thumbnail, you'll see that these champagne glasses have stems and bases, but if I click and drag the champagne photo from the Photo Bin into the document window, it comes into the composite without its stems and bases, and that's because it's much taller than the background image.
So, I want to make it smaller. If I go to the toolbar, and I click the Move tool, I can't see all of the anchor points, particularly those over on the right side of this large image. So what can I do? The trick is to hold down the Control key on the PC, that's the Command key on the Mac, as you press the 0 key on your keyboard, and that zooms out on the composite just far enough that you can see the corner anchor points, even of a large photo like that that I just brought into this composite. So now I can click on this bottom right anchor point, and drag in to make the champagne photo smaller.
I want to be able to zoom in on my composite as a whole, so I can see how big to make the champagne glasses, so even before I click the green check mark, I can zoom in by holding the Control key on the PC, or the Command key on the Mac, as I press several times on the Plus key on my keyboard. And now I see that I need to make the champagne glasses even smaller, so I'll continue to drag from that corner anchor point toward the center, and then I'll click the green check mark to accept that change. I'll move the champagne glasses into place by clicking with the Move tool inside of its bounding box, and drag it.
Finally, I'll click on another tool to hide the bounding box, and I'll come over to the Layers panel, and I'll click on the default layer name, and I'll type something more meaningful, like champagne. So that's the drag and drop method. Now, there will be times when you know you are going to bring images together, and you are not sure how big you want the images to be in the composite. For the most flexibility as you scale images down, and then maybe make them bigger if you change your mind, you can use a different command to combine images, and that is the place command, which I'll show you now.
I will go up to the File menu, and I'll choose Place. I'll navigate to and select another image, and I'll click the Place button. Now, I know that this photo of the cake is much taller than the background photo, but because I used the Place command, the cake photo was scaled down automatically to fit inside the background photo space, and I automatically get this bounding box with anchor points. I don't have to select the Move tool in order to make the cake photo smaller. So I'll click and drag on the corner anchor points, and make the photo a lot smaller, and I'll click the green check mark.
Now, if you take a look over in the Layers panel, you'll see there is another new layer; this is the layer for the cake. I'll give it the name cake. And notice that this layer has a special icon on its photo thumbnail. This icon indicates that this is a smart layer. One of the advantages of a smart layer is that you can make its contents small, and then larger again, and then small again as many times as you want without risking degrading the quality of the photo, and that's not necessarily the case if you use the drag and drop method of combining photos, which creates a regular layer, rather than a smart layer.
So, because this is a smart layer, if I get the Move tool in the toolbar, I could make the photo really small, click the check mark, and then change my mind, and make it really big, and click the check mark, and it still looks fine. I'll put it somewhere in the middle, and then I'll move it into place in my composite, and I'll click the green check mark. Now, there is one caveat about using a smart layer, and that is that you can't use any of the pixel-based editing features or tools on a smart layer, which means you can't apply a filter, or use commands from the Enhance menu, or use pixel-based editing tools, like the retouching tools, or the brush tools, or even the dodge, or burn, or sponge tools.
I'm going to select the Dodge tool, for example, and with the cake layer selected, I want to use the Dodge tool to try to brighten the background a bit, but when I click and try to apply the Dodge tool, I get this message telling me that this layer has to be simplified; in other words, converted into a regular layer. To convert it, I'll just click OK, and that removes the smart object icon from the cake layer. Now that it's a regular layer, I can use the Dodge tool, or the Burn tool, or any of the pixel-based editing features on this layer.
So that's how to combine images in the Expert edit workspace to make a unique composite that you could use as an invitation, or announcement, or anything you want. Now that you know how to bring one image into another, in the next movie, we'll take things a step further, exploring how to blend composited images together using layer masks.
- Building slideshows with text, graphics, and music
- Creating a photo book
- Making a photo calendar
- Outputting a photo greeting card
- Customizing a photo collage
- Adding and editing text
- Combining photos
- Adding filters and preset effects