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How to combine Photos in Photoshop

Learn how to combine different photos into a single image in Photoshop.

It seems that this is an area where beginning Photoshop users get confused a lot. I have seen a lot of comments on my tutorials and received a number of requests fro people who are confused or lost. This video will help you combine photos using 3 different methods.

You will learn

  • How to combine Photos by dragging to tabs in the application frame
  • How to turn off application frame and combine by dragging into image windows
  • How to display multiple images in a tiled display
  • How to resize images to fit
  • Quick and dirty way of cutting out a photo
  • How to match the colors of 2 different images

I hope you like this video and find it useful! Don’t forget to subscribe to our free membership and become part of the CAFE Crew.

How to Combine Photos in Photoshop

Hey Cafe Crew, it’s Colin Smith here from PhotoshopCAFE and this week I’m going to show you how to combine two photographs together inside of Adobe Photoshop. It seems like this is an area that people trip up a lot, so I’m going to do a tutorial on it right now and just answer all those questions once and for all; how do you combine two photos. I’ll show several different ways.

Method 1 (CC only)

Step 1

The easiest way to do it inside of Photoshop CC is to click and hold on your mouse button (or wacom pen) the photograph that you want to bring into the other one.

Combining photos to a single document in photoshop

Step 2

Then move your cursor right up into the tab of the document that you are going to copy the photo into. The destination document will appear after a second.

keep holding down the mouse button

Step 3

Mouse or your cursor,  over the top of the new image. (still holding down the Left Mouse Button) Hold down the Shift key, (shift will center it)

Shift to constrain as you resize

Step 4

And now release. We’ve now got both the photographs there inside of two layers on top of each other so we can combine them.

combined images in Photoshop CC

Method 2 floating windows (all versions)

Choose the window menu and Application Frame on the Mac.

application frame in photoshop on MAC

In Windows: Window>Arrange>Float All in Windows

Floating photoshop windows

I turn Application Frame off, notice that the document windows are floating and I can take a photo and drag it into the second one; notice we’ve combined them.

Method 3 tiled windows (all versions)

Step 1

Choose Window and then we choose Arrange, and then just change this to, say, 2-up Vertical. Now we can see the two documents side by side.

choose arrange>tile windows

Step 2

Click and drag on one, we go to the other one, hold Shift for centering and release it. So let me just go back here. We’re going to go back to Arrange and then we’re going to go Consolidate all the tabs and now it just takes everything back to where it was.

tiled windows in photoshop

Making a quick composite in Photoshop

Composite: When you combine more than 2 images in Photoshop to make a new image.

Now we’re going to create a little composite really quickly, combining these two photos.

Step 1

Combine the 2 images into 1 using the methods above.

laters panel in photoshop

Step 2

Ctrl/Cmd+T, brings up the Free Transform, but notice that the photo that we put in here is so much bigger we can’t see those handles.

If I zoom out, eventually, you’ll see those handles. There’s a quick way to do that and that’s just hit Ctrl/Cmd+0 (zero) and it will zoom out until you see those handles.

Step 3

And now I can go on the corner, hold down the Shift key and drag it out proportionately. If I also hold the Option key, it will drag it up from the center.  Enter to apply it.

free transform

Step 4

We need to artistically combine these two photographs together.So we could actually just paint it out for a mask. That’s one way of doing it, but I’ll show you another way.

Grab the Quick Select Tool and drag in the area to select. quick select tool

making a selection

Step 5

Choose Select>Inverse Selection, (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+I)

inverse a selection

Step 6

Click on the new layer mask icon in the layers panel. This will keep the selected area and mask out the non selected are on the top layer.

add a layer mask

masked image

Step 7

Notice we got a little bit of a hard edge. We could just do a little cheat thing to fix it.  Make sure the layer mask is selected.

layer mask

Open the Properties panel (window>properties)

Choose the feather slider and push that a little bit. This will soften that edge.

feather the mask to soften the edge in Photoshop

Now, in the real world, I would use Select and Mask (see tutorial)  but I’m just trying to show some basic principles here.

Matching colors on layers

The colors don’t match. One layer has a warm color cast and on the other side there’s a kind of a blue color cast. So here’s how you will deal with that.

Step 8

Select the background, because we want to change this.

So how do we match it? Here’s a quick way? We go to Image Adjustments and then go down to Match Color.

Step 9

Choose our source. And our source is going to be our working image which is likejacksons.jpg

match color dialog box

Step 10

And the layer that I want to use now is actually going to be Layer 1. That’s the one that I want to grab the colors from.

match color

Step 11

Notice when I do that, it applies the colors from this layer onto the other one.

the color from one layer is copied to another

Of course, right now, it looks a little bit strong, so we just want to bring it back with the Fade slider.

fade the color

Pulling layers together with color

Here’s another little tip that you can do when you’re doing this kind of work and you want to kind of combine things together. What we can do is we can actually just add a color over the whole thing.

Step 12

So if we’d just go to the add adjustment layer button and choose solid color. Let’s give it a nice kind of an orangey glow.

solid color choose color for overlay

Step 13

Change  to color blend mode.

color blending mode in photoshop

Step 14

And then pull the opacity most of the way down.

color overlay

There we go and notice what it does by dripping this color down on to the other two layers, it merges them all together and gives them this kind of a nice feel.

I also have a free tutorial on Blending photos together in Photoshop

Check out all the other free videos here at the CAFE and when you are ready for deeper learning, see our almost 200 premium courses!

Great to see you here at the CAFE



Layer Blending Modes. Free eBook by Colin Smith

As you can see, Layer blending modes play a big part in this kind of thing. Grab your free PDF ebook right now. We were going to sell this for $9.99, but figured we would give it away instead and see what happens 🙂



7 responses to “How to combine Photos in Photoshop”

  1. Hi Colin,

    I was wondering if I wanted to add smoke or steam to an image is this the way to do it by combining two photos? Or is there an effect in Photoshop itself that can add smoke or steam to an image?

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