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Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows: Recomposing a Scene

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Jeff Carlson shows you how to use the Recompose tool in Photoshop Elements 8, which can help shift objects that you choose while retaining a workable background.
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Recomposing a Scene

When you’re taking photos, especially photos of groups, it’s not always possible to line people up the way you’d like them to appear. The Recompose tool can help by shifting objects that you choose while retaining a workable background. Like the Photomerge Scene Cleaner, the tool lets you paint areas of an image to choose which objects to retain and which to merge or remove.

Unlike the Photomerge tools, however, the Recompose tool doesn’t sport its own interface. It’s a cousin to the Crop tool, and performs its magic when you adjust an image’s borders.

To recompose a scene:

  1. Choose the Recompose tool from the toolbox, or press C (Figure 6.68). The image gains control handles as if you were using the Crop tool.
  2. Figure 6.68 The Recompose tool.

  3. Drag a handle to resize the image (Figure 6.69). The tool calculates which areas can be removed or compressed.
  4. If you like the end result, click the Commit button to finish. If the effect needs more attention, click the Cancel button (or press Esc) and continue to the next step.

    Figure 6.69 We want to bring the man and baby closer together. Drag a handle to recompose the scene. In this case, however, the man’s face is compressed.

  5. To gain greater control over which areas are preserved, use the marking tools in the options bar. With the Mark for Protection brush, paint areas that should remain intact (Figure 6.70). Use the Mark for Removal brush to specify areas that should definitely be removed.
  6. Figure 6.70 The Mark for Protection Brush preserves its painted pixels.

  7. Drag a handle again to resize the image (Figure 6.71). You may need to fine tune the marked areas to get a smoother result.
  8. Figure 6.71 Areas marked for protection are left unharmed, while the background gets compressed.

  9. Click the Commit button to apply the edit.

Figure 6.72 Highlight Skin Tones marks people (or people-colored things) for protection.

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