Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Combining two frames to improve the overall image, part of Photoshop for Photographers: Compositing.
Here we're going to take a look at how we can combine or composite multiple frames together in order to improve the overall expression and even composition of the photograph. You could see that we've these two images here; image 02 I really like except I'm not very interested in the expression, also this one is slightly soft or out of focus, but then image 01, I really like the overall look yet I don't have enough of the image. I need more. So what we want to do here is composite these two images together.
So let's take a look at how we can do that. First go ahead and hold down the Command key on a Mac or Ctrl key on Windows, click on one of the images and then the other. Next we'll navigate to the Tools pull down menu, here we'll select Photoshop, then we're going to choose Load Files into Photoshop Layers. What this will do is it will create a new document in Photoshop and it will load both of these files into that Document. Once we have this created in Photoshop, press F to go the full screen mode so that we can start to work on this project.
All right, well here you can see we have that background layer and then the image above. Well, the image above is obviously much too big so we need to change the size of this. Yet in order to determine how to change the size of this, we're going to change the blending mode to Difference. Difference is a great blending mode because it'll help you see things with this unique perspective in regards to how aligned these are. All right, well next press Command+T on a Mac or Ctrl+T on Windows then hold down the Shift key and click and drag to make that smaller.
As you do that you can see that as you get closer to a look, where you're seeing less overlap, or less color, or brightness coming through you are getting closer to a good match Now it's going to be impossible to get this exactly perfect because these images were captured differently. So here we'll go ahead and just decrease the size of that a little bit more, but you can see that I'm getting pretty close, and again that's Difference blending mode. It's a great tool, when it comes to working with compositing. Next press Enter or Return then change the blending mode back to Normal.
Now if the Difference blending mode just kind of throws you off because it's a bit too confusing, you can always just lower the Opacity and by doing that you can try to line things up that way as well. It's just that in my own workflow, I find that Difference helps me to kind of get there much more quickly, so I can really focus in on what I'm seeing. All right, well next let's go and take the Opacity back up to 100% then what we need to do is to mask this in. So here we'll go ahead and click on the Add Layer Mask Icon, then we'll grab our Brush tool. We want to choose a Brush which has a really nice soft edge, so no Hardness.
Regards to the Opacity; we'll take this to a pretty low Opacity, about 20% or 25% will work well. You'll want paint to with black. What that will allow you to do is just start to paint away the edge because right now, we have this really harsh edge around this photograph. Here we'll start to paint that away and as you paint back and forth you can blend these different seams together. If you want to work more quickly, well just increase your Opacity and you can see how we can remove that edge even more quickly. And as we make our way through our photograph just removing or softening this edge here, you want to keep in mind that you really want to look around the photograph, so you want to kind of look at all different areas of your picture to make sure that you are blending this well together, that you're not overlooking anything.
Go ahead and go down here to this area and make my brush a little bit smaller in this part. I'm just going to bring that down a little bit there. And in doing that I'm looking to try to blend together what I am seeing there on the background, so we just have some nice blending there. We want a--going to have that nice and soft, so I am going to bring in some of the out of focus characteristics that we had in that background layer, and just a little bit of what we have in this new layer here as well. So again, just going around those edges.
Lot of this masking work is, well it's a little bit about just kind of being patient, it kind of building it up little by little. All right, well here we'll zoom out a little bit and see how we're doing. If we click on the eye icon you can see here's before and then now here's after. Again, our before and after, it's looking really nice. I'm only noticing that I have some issues in my background in regards to the overall kind of brightness of that background. One way to clean that up, if you have a neutral backdrop like we do here, is to create a new layer, go ahead and click on the New Layer icon.
I'm just going to name this color. Then with our Brush tool selected, hold down the Option Key on a Mac and Alt Key on Windows and then click on good tone in your background. When you hold down Option or Alt and click it samples that color, then if we have a relatively low Opacity, you can go ahead and start to paint that color over the background. And this can be a nice little trick that you can use to kind of even out the Brightness value of your background, which is what I want to do here with this photograph. So I'm going to could go through this and try to make this a bit more even all the way around. I kind a like this little bit of--I don't know what you call that but a little bit of a taupe color or maybe just an off-white color there.
And by placing this on the top layer as well at a low Opacity, it's going to help to kind of build up nice evenness for this type of a photograph. If we ever go too far because this is on its own layer, we can always undo this. Here I am making my brush smaller and just painting around the edge of the hair I really want to get these two images to blend together nicely. So again, it's all about having that patience and just going through those little different areas of your photograph. Then I am going to make my brush bigger and I'll take the Opacity way down to about 10%, and then I'll paint over part of the garment down here, softening that up, bringing in some of this color, and again, all of this is just kind of building up this overall effect which I'm trying to create with this image.
All right, well great. There you have it. If we click on the eye icons, we can see here is our before, and then now here is our after. To finish off this project, what I'm going to do is apply one more adjustment layer here just to modify the color and tone. I'm going to use a technique which I highlighted in one of my other training courses and that is to use the Levels. If you click on the Levels Adjustment Layer icon you can go to your Blue channel; this is a great way to add kind of interesting color here. I'm going to bring some blues into the shadows and also a little bit of yellow into the highlights, again just bringing out some interesting colors here in this photograph.
All right, well now that we've done that we've seen how we can combine multiple frames together in order to create a compelling and engaging photograph. And really without the second frame, this image wouldn't work at all. As a matter of fact, if I were to have just seen this photograph by itself, I would have deleted it. It's out of focus and the expression doesn't really work for me, but fortunately I saw this picture first and had that idea of how we could combine these two images together and the reason why I highlight that is that as you learn how to work with these techniques yourself it actually might change the way that you capture and also edit your photographs, because it'll give you insight into different ways that you can use your photographs in order to build new compositions.
- Combining facial expressions from two images
- Creating a better group portrait with Photomerge
- Removing a subject from the background
- Changing the scale of a subject
- Enhancing the color and tone of a composite image
- Masking together multiple exposures
- Filling in background gaps
- Correcting overexposure
- Replacing the sky in an image
- Creating reflections
- Building in shadows