Blending photos together Photoshop Layer Masks Tutorial

Collaging – Merging 2 images with a layer mask. This is a very requested technique and will be the first in our series on creating collages and montages. You will learn how to seamlessly blend 2 images together, using the layer masks.

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Blending photos together Photoshop Layer Masks Tutorial

A really powerful tool for collaging and compositing in Photoshop is layer masks. When we want to combine photos, we combine layer masks and gradients, it’s laughably easy to create stunning looking composited that are actually very easy to do. Check out this tutorial to get your creative motors running.

For you long-time CAFE crew, this used to be the old tutorial with the lame looking clock and keyboard. Like almost every tutorial on the CAFE, I have completely rewritten it. Why? First of all, Photoshop has progressed and so have I. I now have better techniques and faster ways of doing things than I did 10 years ago and I’ve developed as an artist and photographer, and want things looking current. Yessir, the new PhotoshopCAFE is back, and fresh!

Step 1

First thing you will need is 2 images that will blend together nicely.

Make sure they are both in the same resolution (72 dpi for the web) and color-space (RGB in this case). Open both these documents in Photoshop.

These images are from Dollar Photo Club.

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Step 2

We will want to combine both images into 1 document.  Now select the move tool “V” key.

Drag one image into the other window and a new layer will be created automatically.  If you have the application frame on (shown), drag into the tab at the top for the second window, drag and release in the middle to combine the two images into one document.

Tip: To center the new image in the window hold down the Shift key while dragging.

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Step 3

blend-04We will now have 2 layers in the same document

We will add the Layer Mask

Click on the add layer mask button

This will create a new layer mask. A layer mask is transparent. When you paint black into the mask it allows the image underneath to show through. Where it is white, the underlying layer will be hidden.

Step 4

Press the “G” key to select the gradient tool. Make sure the foreground and backgrounds are set to black and white. “D” key. Select linear gradient and foreground to background.

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Now drag the gradient across the image.

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Step 5

You will now see the two images blend together and the mask will have a gradient in it as shown

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You can see the gradient in the layer thumbnail and the result on the image. Where it is white, the top image shows and where it is darker the back shows through. Experiment with different angles and start and end positions. Because a mask is non-destructive, you can experiment as much as you like with different gradients in the mask,

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Step 6

EXTRA CREDIT!

Try changing the blending mode to something different for a different result, in this case I liked what Screen mode did to the feel of the image.

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Step 7

You may also use any of the brush tools on the mask. Black will “paint away” the image and white will “paint it back”. Use a soft brush for best results.      

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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and let me know in the comments or forums if you want more on collaging and compositing techniques. This is one of my specialties.

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Colin Smith

Colin Smith

Colin Smith is founder of the #1 PhotoshopCAFE online community which has received over 30 million visitors. Colin has Authored/Coauthored 18 books. He has won numerous awards including 3 Guru awards. He’s been nominated for the Photoshop Hall of Fame twice. Colin is a regular columnist for Photoshop User Magazine. He’s been featured in almost every major imaging magazine, and is in high demand as a speaker at major industry events including Flash Forward and WPPI . He consults such companies as ABC Disney, Apple and Adobe

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Colin Smith

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is founder of the #1 PhotoshopCAFE online community which has received over 30 million visitors. Colin has Authored/Coauthored 18 books. He has won numerous awards including 3 Guru awards. He’s been nominated for the Photoshop Hall of Fame twice. Colin is a regular columnist for Photoshop User Magazine. He’s been featured in almost every major imaging magazine, and is in high demand as a speaker at major industry events including Flash Forward and WPPI . He consults such companies as ABC Disney, Apple and Adobe

  • http://www.photoshopcafe.com/ Colin Smith

    Completely updated this tutorial on combining and blending photos to create composites and collages.