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Combine Images with Layers

Lesson 18 from: Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Khara Plicanic

Combine Images with Layers

Lesson 18 from: Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

18. Combine Images with Layers


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Understand How Elements Works


Importing Images


Workspace Basics: Organizer


Workspace Basics: Editor


Tonal Adjustments in Quick Fix


Color Adjustments in Quick Fix


Apply Black & White Filters


Sharpen an Image


Fix Red Eye & Pet Eye


Straighten an Image in Quick Fix


Explanation of Photoshop Elements


Basic Cropping in Quick Fix


Guided Edit Overview


Guided Edit: Tilt Shift


Ways to Save Files


Layers & Simple Selections


Combine Images with Layers


How to Use Layer Styles


Make Selections with Layers


Make Selection with Lasso


Compositing with Multiple Images


Refine Edge Selection on Image


Use Refine Edge on Images


Create Gradient in Image


Gradient Map Differences


Options for Saving


Brushes Overview


Creatively Use Brushes


How to Change Brush Settings


Use Shape Tool with Brushes


Work with Multiple Shape Layers


Finish Image with Custom Shape Tool


How to Load Brushes into Elements


Add Layer Style to Image


Clip Image to Shape & Use as Template


Retouching Overview


How to Use Content-Aware Fill


How to Use Content-Aware Move Tool


Spot Healing Brush on Blemishes


Remove Frown Lines with Retouching


How to Remove Tattoos


Remove a Gap in Teeth


How to Whiten Teeth


Adjust Facial Features


Working with Type Overview


Match Type for Image


How to Manipulate Type Layers


Create Postcard with Type


Add Type on a Path


Organizing Images in Elements


Add Keywords to Images


Smart Tags Overview


Using Albums in Elements


Places Workspace Overview


Use Event Tags on Images


Timeline for Image Organization


Recommended Workflow


Lesson Info

Combine Images with Layers

We are going to continue exploring the magic of Photoshop layers. When we left off, we had been working with a rock, paper, scissors image that I created, which was kind of a silly little pun. And we had some layers in that image and those of you at home who were thinking about that might have thought, but how did you make those layers in the first place? How did we go from a flat image to an image with layers? So that is what we're gonna do next. And the answer is that we need to make what's called selections. We need to be able to separate parts of an image from other parts of an image. I'm here in the organizer and I'm gonna open a few images that we are going to combine into what's called a composite. I've got this starfish image, this seashell image, and this seashell image. I've got all three selected. I can choose all three by just clicking one and shift clicking the last one. (laughs) There we go. And then I wanna come down here and click the Editor button. That's gonna pop tho...

se three files open in the Editor. All right, maybe, oh, there we go. Was gonna say, I can show you an alternative way. Next time it does that, I'll show you the alternative option. Okay, so now we're back in the Editor and with the Photo Bin selected, in this spot in the left corner, that Photo Bin button, I can see the three images that we have open. We're gonna start here. This is this image with a starfish. And I thought it would be fun if we added some more elements to this scene. We're gonna be combining these seashells, we're gonna take them from their native habitat in this scene and we're gonna transplant them to join the starfish that's over here. We'll do this guy first. Now, what we need to do is be able to essentially just grab this seashell and just throw it over here. But, you'll notice that there's no option that just says, "grab seashell click". There's some things that are close to that but not quite, it's not quite that simple. We need to be able to tell Photoshop what part of the image we wanna keep and work with and what part of the image we want to leave behind. There's a number of ways we can do that. One way that we're gonna start with is with this tool right here. This the Quick Selection tool. If I click on it, you'll notice down in the Modify bar, the tool options down here, there's actually four tools in one. I happened to click on this one, because it was top of the stack at the moment. Let's call it the Quick Selection brush, but there's also this, which is just the regular Selection brush, we have the Refined Selection brush, and we have the Magic Wand. And I think we'll be seeing some of these throughout our course. We're gonna start right now with the Quick Selection brush. This tool allows us to basically paint a selection around what we wanna keep. It operates like a paintbrush might. The cursor that we see right now is representing a very small brush size. It's actually so small that we can't really see the brush and that's why we have those little cross hairs around it. There's two ways you can change the brush size. I can come down here, down to our Options bar, and I can click and drag this setting and then I can see the size of the brush represented here. But you'll notice that once I get past a certain point, it doesn't track anymore. This is handy, cause it's right here and it's easily accessible, but I don't really know how big the brush is. And you'll notice it's not accurately depicting a 29 pixel brush in this image. This little preview is not really handy for assessing size. Then you end up kinda being like Goldilocks, and you're like, oh, my brush is too small, so I'll drag it here. Whoa, that's too big. And then you go this back and forth all the time and it gets old pretty fast. What I recommend for changing your brush size is to actually use your keyboard. And the two keys that make that happen are the bracket keys. If you look at your keyboard, those are the two keys next to the letter P, for popcorn. The left bracket key makes your brush smaller. You can see, as I press the left bracket key, it's moving the slider towards the smaller setting. And if I press the right bracket key, it's increasing the size of the brush quite a bit. I can adjust it that way and then I'm able to see in real time what size brush I'm actually getting and gonna be working with. I don't want my brush to be quite this big, I think that's far too big. Something just kind of like this. And the way that this tool works is pretty simple. I'm just gonna click and drag. If I imagine that I have a paintbrush and I'm just, I've stroking over that object, I just click and drag around and when I let go, Photoshop puts this funny little line around the edges. Now, this line represents the selection, so everything inside the shape is currently selected and everything outside of this is not, so it would be left behind when we do this little transplant procedure that we're gonna do. This line has a very technical name. It's referred to as marching ants. And I didn't make that up, it's not just me being cute, that is actually what it's called because it looks like ants marching around. So the ants know what's good, right, they always find the good stuff if they make it into your house, so they know what's good here. This is the selection and they're marching around it to let you know what is selected and what is not. Now that I have this selection made, I can grab this Move Tool right over here, so that's this, looks like a plus sign, sort of. The Move Tool, the keyboard shortcut for that, by the way, is V. You can see that in the tag that pops up, not on command, but it does show up eventually. The V, that means I can just press V at any time. V for move-va-va-va, is what I always say. We'll put our cursor over here, on top of our selection and then I'm just gonna click and hold with my mouse. So I'm still holding my mouse, I'm holding my mouse, I'm dragging, I'm dragging, still holding my mouse. Don't panic about the fact that I don't see the seashell anymore. We are not concerned with the seashell, there is no seashell. We are concerned with our little cursor. I'm still holding my mouse down, I don't care about the seashell, I'm gonna go up here and I'm just gonna rest my cursor on this tab but while I still hold my mouse down. I'm gonna hold, then I'm gonna put my cursor into the image. I have not yet let go of my mouse. And now, before I drop it, I'm gonna add the Shift key. And the reason I do that is it keeps the object, in this case, the seashell, it keeps it from skipping out of orbit, as I call it. I'll show you here. I'm gonna hold Shift and then I'm gonna drop the mouse and boom, here is our seashell and look at that. It came in, we left all the sand behind, and this is actually gonna be great. Now, I said to hold Shift because if you don't, what tends to happen, not every time. It's not like a guarantee that it would happen this way, but often, particularly I think if you are new to working with this, what happens is, when you drop that object, instead of landing in the center like this, so you can see it and know where it is, it will bounce somewhere over here. And it'll be way off in outer space where you can't even see it. And then you'll think it didn't work and you'll repeat the process and it will happen again and again and then you'll end up with 20 seashells and you can't see any of them, but they are there. And if I put a Transform box around it, you could see it here, ever so faintly. It is here, but we don't see it, but we know that it is here because I just called up this Transform box, which we'll talk about shortly. But I also know that it's here somewhere because if I peek over at my Layers panel now, I see that we have this Layer 1 that suddenly appeared. How did that get there? That happened automatically when we arrived with that seashell. Let's repeat this process, I'm just gonna throw that away. Just by clicking the trashcan picture, it's gonna ask me, oh, are you sure you wanna delete it? Yes, and please don't both me with this question every time I delete something. Let's go back, we still have our selection active. Another way to do this that might be easier is let's take advantage of this Photo Bin. With the Photo Bin open, I can grab my Move Tool and I'm just gonna click again and drag. I'll put my cursor down here and then just drop it and it will land automatically in the center. That's an even easier way, as long as you remember to open up your Photo Bin first. There you have it. Now in our Layers panel, we can see our background and we can see our Layer 1 seashell. I'm gonna go ahead and rename this by double clicking on the text right here and I'm gonna type, Seashell. I don't know, maybe that's two words. That's something I'm not, suddenly I'm second guessing my spelling of seashell. It might be two words, I'm gonna leave it as one. And it's kinda large, I'd say. It's rather big for this image and that doesn't look very convincing at all. What we need to do is actually scale it down. This is a command that is so handy and so useful and you're gonna hear me say it all the time and do it over and over and over again. It's called Free Transform. We're gonna transform this by pressing Command or Control + T. And that puts this box around the layer and that allows us to transform it. Now, a couple of things that are worth pointing out is that, if you've ever used any, and I mean any, I think, type of other graphics editing program, whenever you scale something, you probably have to hold the Shift key, because that's just the way everyone else seems to do things. But in Elements, by default, there is an option to constrain proportions that's already turned on. And here's the funny thing. If you hold Shift down, cause you think you're doing a good thing and doing what's right, doing what makes sense, if you hold Shift, it actually cancels constrain proportions. You're better off in Elements, you're gonna hafta break your Shift habit, I guess. I have a Shift habit, you might have a Shift habit, but here we don't need Shift. It will automatically constrain the proportions and I can just drag inwards from the corner and it's not gonna let me squish or otherwise deform this shell. It's gonna stay the way that nature intended. All right, so, we'll put something like this, maybe. That size looks pretty good, I guess. If I wanna rotate this, I can hover my cursor outside the edge and then I can click and just spin it a little bit. So maybe something like that. When I'm happy with it, I'm gonna press this check mark, or you can press Enter on your keyboard. I wanna point out, down here though, let's point out something that's pretty important. We see that it is showing us that the current width and height of our seashell is approximately 34% of its original width and height. Let's go ahead and commit that. And let's say that we've gone about our editing and we've done some other things and then we come back and we're like, you know, I think that seashell needs to be a little bit bigger now. I think I overdid my scaling. We can go bring Free Transform back again by pressing Command or Control + T for transform, but look what happens. Now the width and the height no longer show 34% of the original width and height. Now it shows 100%. What does that mean? That means that this is the new size of the seashell. If we try now to scale it back up, we are not restoring the original pixel information. We are now inflating pixel information, which is another way of saying that the pixel fairy is coming. We're artificially inflating the size of this and that is something we don't want to do. If you make the seashell and then you decide later that you want to enlarge it, you're gonna be better off actually undoing that initial transformation and then just pressing Command or Control + T to bring it back up one more time, okay. We'll scale that down, back where we were, and I'll rotate it once again. We'll go ahead and click the check mark. Now let's take a peek in our Layers panel and see what is going on. We have the background layer, we have this new seashell layer, like we talked about in the last segment, we talked about transparency and why that matters, why that's important. And we can confirm what this checkerboard pattern means. If we hide this background layer, then we'll just see the seashell by itself. We can see that it is on this transparent background, represented by this checkerboard visual. And as long as it stays that way, then we can see everything underneath it, so it can interact with its environment.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Resource Guide
Class Images
Project Mockups

Ratings and Reviews


Just watching this class live. It's my first class with Khara; she is a wonderful teacher, moving at a steady speed but always being careful to let us know what she's doing in the moment. I would classify myself as intermediate in terms of PSE but I've learned lots of little things that will make further use even easier and more fun. I really appreciated her descriptions of the difference between PS and PSE and her encouragement in using Photoshop Elements and all that it can do.


I have only been able to watch portions of this class but every single part that I have watched has been technically clear and inspiring to me. Based on this experience and the thorough, 58 item list of lessons, I will surely be buying this class soon! Thank you Khara and Creativelive for making a class on this topic and making it be super!!

Ven S

Great course. You can tell she knows the programme inside out.

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