STEP 5: USE "BLEND"Technique

As the goal of this technique is to create a photomontage by combining digital photos into a single image, some parts of the images either have to be cut out (using Cut) or hidden from view, by using a mask. While Cut can be used to selectively remove (permanently) parts of an image — it is a destructive command — that is, it tosses out or destroys the part of the image that is cut so that you cannot get it back later if you want it. For this reason, I suggest that you create a layer mask for each of the images that you bring in as a layer. Layer masks allow you to mask and then later unmask them should you change your mind about what parts of an image are to be visible.

■ To create a layer mask, click the chosen layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer. Choose Layer ^ Add Layer Mask ^ Reveal All. This creates a layer mask icon on the layer in the Layers palette. Figure 27.3 shows the Layers palette after an adjustment layer was added to the first layer.

After you create a layer mask, you can click it to make it active; then paint on it with the Paint brush by using black to hide parts of the image. If you want to add back part of the image, just paint it back by using the Paint brush and using white. When painting a layer mask, you can vary the Opacity level in the Options bar to get fine control over smooth blends, as shown in Figure 27.4. Notice how the door has been blended into the underlying rusty metal — you no longer realize that it was previously a square image. Later if you need to paint back some of the door image, just change the foreground color to white and paint the mask back to once again reveal the image. If you had used Cut, the portion of the image that you cut would be gone for good. ■ To make one layer lie on top of another layer, click a layer in the Layers palette and drag and drop the layer where you want it to be. To avoid having to select each layer by clicking it in the Layers palette, click in the box next to Auto Select Layer in the Options bar when the Move tool is selected. This enables the Move tool to select a layer based upon the image that you click. Figure 27.5 shows the results of dragging the door layer in the Layer palette up one layer. Compare this image with that of Figure 27.4.You can see how effective a combination of the blend techniques can be — the two images now look like they were taken as a single photo.

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■ Another way to blend an image with the one next to it is to use the Clone Stamp tool (S). After selecting the tool, click an image to set the source image; then click where you want to paint the source image and begin painting. You can change the brush size to suit the cloning requirements. Figure 27.6 shows the results of using the Clone Stamp (S) tool to paint the image on the right across the door image.

To summarize: You can "blend" images by adjusting the layer order by painting on a layer mask to hide part of an image or by using the Clone Stamp tool to paint part of one image onto another part of the image. When you vary the Opacity level as you paint on a layer mask or with the Clone Stamp tool, you can get even smoother "blends" of images.

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