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Merging photos in Photoshop

Several readers have inquire about how to simply merge two or more photos into one. This isn’t a very difficult task, but beginners may find they have cut off more than they could chew. Still, it takes only two layers and the good old layer mask trick: it’s simpler than you’d think.

1. Load the photo in Photoshop

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Sorry-photos. Two or more, depending on how many you’d like to merge. In the example, we’ll stick to two for the sake of simplicity.

2. Who’s above?

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Choose which photo you want to have on top. It’s not very important, but in this example this photo’s lower right half will remain visible.

Press Ctrl+A and Ctrl+C to select the whole image and copy it to the clipboard.

 3. Make it double

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Now click the other photo and press Ctrl+V to paste the previous picture above the current on a new layer. You can see the two layers on the Layers palette. Now the previous picture is above and it is the only visible one. We have to make a part of it transparent.

Click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. The upper layer row displays an empty layer mask field. The thin white border shows that this mask is active. You cannot see any changes in the picture yet, but anything you paint onto this mask will make its content in that particular area invisible, thus showing the layer underneath.

4. A temporary solution

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However, it is not a brush we need (although it isn’t a bad thing), but a nice, even transition between the two photos. You’d best select the Gradient Tool. Click the first field on its options bar, and select the black-and-white transition.

5. Aslant

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We need a transition of approximately 45 degrees in the middle of the image, so click this area and drag a line in the desired angle. This line indicates where the transition begins and ends. The “crossfade” will run perpendicular to this line. As soon as you release the mouse button, you can see the result.

6. From one to the other

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You have completed the merge. Click Layer/Flatten Image to merge the layers, and save your photo. Any questions?