The Photoshop Elements Secret to Fixing Group Shots
Group shots can be a challenge. Everyone has to be looking and smiling at the right time. If one person isn’t, then you have to shoot it again. The real problem comes from the fact that you really can’t tell if everyone has their eyes open or is looking the right way from the small LCD on the back of your camera. So you get back and upload your photos only to find out that not one of them has everyone looking and smiling the way that they need to be. No sweat, with Elements’ Group Shot feature. As long as you have a few photos to choose from, you can create the perfect group photo afterward.
Here’s a group shot where some of the subjects (the girls circled on the right) are kind of squinting for the photo.
If you’ve ever taken group shots before, you’re guilty of photographing until your group threatens to riot or otherwise destroy your gear. Chances are, you took more photos of the same group before such threats ensued. So here’s another shot where the girls on the right look great. But, we can’t use this shot, because now the girl on the left has her eyes closed. No problem. We’re going to use the Group Shot feature to give us the best of both worlds and combine these photos.
At this point, you should have both photos open in the Editor. So, go under the Enhance menu, under Photomerge®, and choose Photomerge® Group Shot.
Note: A quick rule of thumb when using the Group Shot feature is to pick the best photo of the group as the first photo selected. See, Elements uses the first photo as the bottommost layer in the Layers palette. You’ll see in a few steps, that makes it easier for us to go back later and restore the best parts of the photo with the Eraser tool.
Tip: Using More Photos
Even though I’m only using two photos here, you can use the Group Shot feature with up to 10 photos of the same group. So, if everyone is looking the wrong way, not smiling, or has their eyes closed at some point, you’ll have a better chance of fixing the photo with more than two shots.
A dialog will open (shown above) asking you to go back and select from two to 10 photos from the Project Bin or to select Open All. Since these are the only two photos I have open in the Editor, I just clicked Open All and Elements opened my images in the Photomerge Group Shot window.
The first thing you need to do here is set up the photos as a source and a final. In the example here, I wanted the good photo where the girl on the left had her eyes open (but the two girls on the right don’t) on the Source side (if it wasn’t, I would’ve just clicked on its thumbnail down in the Project Bin). Then, I went to the Project Bin and clicked-and-dragged the thumbnail of the photo where the girl on the left had her eyes closed (but the two on the right looked fine) to the Final side. So basically, what I want to do is take the girl on the left from the Source side (the one where her eyes are open) and use it to replace the girl on the Final side (where her eyes are closed).
The rest is pretty easy: Click on the Pencil Tool button on the right-hand side. Then, paint on the area in the Source image that you want to appear in the Final image. In this example, I painted over the Source image where her face is. Elements will think for a moment, and magically replace the girl’s face in the Final photo with the one from the Source photo.
Tip: Change Your Brush Size
Sometimes the default brush size is way too small and it takes you a while to paint in your source image. If that happens, then increase the Size setting in the Pencil Tool section to something larger.
At this point, if things look good (and trust me, things don’t always look good here, although it may work on the first try), then click the Done button at the bottom right of the window to return to Expert mode. Your merged photo is in a new document with two layers (the original on the bottom and new merged photo on the top) in the Layers palette (use the Crop tool [C] to crop away any excess canvas).
Tip: Use the Eraser Tool to Fix It
If the Group Shot merge doesn’t work perfectly, you can finesse it by painting with the Eraser tool (E) on the top layer to reveal the layer below. You’ll want to zoom in really close, but it’s a good trick to fix any flaws that remain.