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Creating a composite group shot

Shooting the perfect group photo is a difficult task, especially if you have a large family of squirmy kids. Fortunately, Photoshop Elements offers a solution: a powerful photo blending tool called Photomerge Group Shot. The next exercise will show you how multiple photos can be blended together into one with amazing precision. Gone are those family photos where someone has their eyes closed, someone else has looked away at the wrong moment, and you-know-who has just made an even odder facial expression than usual. Photomerge Group Shot lets you merge the best parts of several images into the perfect group photo.

  1. If the Organizer is not currently active, switch to it now.
  2. In the Keyword Tags palette, click the Find box for the Lesson 10 keyword tag.
  3. In the Photo Browser, Ctrl-click to select the three pictures of a girl sitting on a wall: 10_02_a.psd, 10_02_b.psd, and 10_02_c.psd.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll use these three distinctly different source images to make it easier for you to learn the technique but you would usually use the Photomerge Group Shot feature to create a merged image from a series of very similar source images such as you might capture with your camera’s burst mode.

  1. Choose File > New > Photomerge Group Shot.

Photoshop Elements will load the Editor workspace and start the Photomerge Group Shot process.

  1. (Optional) If you want to work with photos not currently in the Organizer (or you want to avoid switching to the Organizer first), you can also open the photos directly in the Editor. Select the image thumbnails in the Project Bin, switch to Guided Edit mode, and select Group Shot under Photomerge.
  2. Photoshop Elements has automatically placed the first image (10_02_a.psd) as the source image. Drag the yellow framed image (10_02_b.psd) from the Project Bin and drop it into the Final image area on the right.
  3. Use the Zoom tool to zoom in on the image so you can see all of the girl in the Source image and at least part of the girl in the Final image. Use the Hand tool to reposition the view if necessary.
  4. In the Photomerge Group Shot panel, select the Pencil Tool.
  5. With the Pencil tool(pencil_tool.jpg), draw one stroke from head to toe of the girl in the source image, as shown in the illustration below. When you release the pointer, Photoshop Elements will merge the girl from the Source image into the Final image—including her shadow on the stone! Seeing the magic of this tool in action will probably cause you some healthy mistrust whenever you come across an unlikely photo in the future. If necessary, use the Pencil tool to add additional image areas from the source. You can use the Eraser tool (reaser-tool.jpg) to delete a stroke—or parts of a stroke—drawn with the Pencil tool. The image copied to the Final image will be adjusted accordingly.
  6. Double-click the green framed image (10_02_c.psd) in the Project Bin to make it the Source image. Use the Hand tool to move the Source image in its frame so you can see the girl, and then use the Pencil tool to add her to the Final image.
  7. To see which part of each of the three source images was used for the merged composition, first click the Fit Screen button above the edit pane so that you can see the entire image, and then activate the Show Regions option in the Photomerge Group Shot panel. The regions in the Final image are color coded.
  8. Click the Actual Pixels button above the edit pane, or zoom in even closer, and then use the Hand tool to position the image at a region boundary in the Final image. Toggle Show Regions off and on while you look for imperfections along the region boundaries in the merged image. If necessary, you can use the Pencil and Eraser tools to add to or subtract from the portions of the source images that are being merged to the Final image. When you are satisfied with the result, click Done in the Photomerge Group Shot panel.
  9. The merged image needs to be cropped slightly. In Full Edit mode, choose Image > Crop to place a cropping rectangle on the image. In Guided Edit mode, click Crop Photo in the Basic Photo Edits palette. In Full Edit mode, hold the Shift key as you drag the handles of the cropping rectangle to constrain the aspect ratio to that of the original photo. In Guided Edit mode, choose Use Photo Ratio from the Crop Box Size menu to maintain the original proportions. Click the Commit button at the bottom right of the cropping rectangle.
  10. Choose File > Save and save the merged image to your My CIB Work folder as 10_02_Work, in Photoshop (*.PSD,*PDD) format, making sure that the Layers option is activated. If you are not in Full Edit mode, switch to it now, and then choose File > Close All and return to the Organizer.
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