Photoshop Help Resources Tutorials


Using a Layer Mask to merge two photos

Combining Pictures

This is one of the most frequent questions we get in the Photoshop Forums and Photoshop 911. Here's a fairly simple solution that will work in almost all versions of Photoshop after version 4, and in all versions of Photoshop Elements.

The first step is making sure our photos are compatible. We'll do this by opening both images, and selecting
STEPImage > Image Size
In this dialog, make sure the resolutions are the same, and make a mental note of which file has larger dimensions. You'll want to drag the smaller image into the larger one.

Combining images

STEPClick in the image to move, HOLD and DRAG that image into the larger file. It will arrive there on its own unique layer. Now you can close the moved file, you no longer need it.

Before moving further, take a quick, visual survey of the images and make any adjustments that may be necessary -- color adjustments, levels, sharpen, etc.

Set the Mask

In the first set of operations, we'll set a mask, and then use a radial gradient to open a nicely feathered "window" to allow parts of the overlay image to show through.


Make your browser windows more narrow in order to read here, while seeing the diagram at the same time.

STEP#1 The Mask: Click the layer mask button at the bottom of the layers palette, (#1)

You'll see the Layer Mask appear (#2) and the double lines framing it will indicate it's selected. If not, then click on it to select it.

STEP#3 Gradient Tool: Tap "g" or select the Gradient tool from the Tool bar. Address the Options Bar at the top of your window, and make sure the second icon in "Gradient Styles" is clicked -- to make it a Radial Gradient.
In the Gradient Pop-Down arrow, make sure the gradient is Foreground to Background method -- and tap the letter D to reset your colors to Black over White; then tap X to set White over Black. White must be the foreground color.

STEP#4 Deploy the Gradient:
Click in your image at the point you want to show the MOST of the added photo -- and drag to the point where you want the photo to diminish.
      Note, I've clicked (#4) just about the center between the faces because I want them to be revealed the most.



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