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Feature Image by: Tom Noske

6 Tips on Blending Images Together in Photoshop

This Photoshop tutorial from Melbourne photographer and filmmaker, Tom Noske will teach you how to blend different images together and create something entirely new. Follow these simple editing tips and make your own digital masterpieces.

1. Create Smart Objects to Match Tone and Colour

First off, it’s important to make sure that the layer for the new subject you are adding to your photo is set as a Smart Object. To do this, right click on your subject and scroll down to ‘Convert to Smart Object’. Then go to ‘Image’ and ‘Adjustments’ and start tweaking settings like Vibrance, Levels Hue/Saturation and Colour Balance. Your first goal is to remove as much of the highlight and shadow colour as possible, so that you can make your new Smart Object look part of the original photo you are adding it to.

Pro Tip: You can group these settings together and save them as a separate Layer Mask to ensure they do not affect any other parts of your image.

2. Dodge Your Highlights

Using the Soft Round Pressure Opacity and Flow brush, you can now paint the highlights and shadows back in to add contrast and make your new subject blend in more realistically with its surroundings. Hold down ‘R’ and rotate your image so that you feel more comfortable when making your brush strokes.

3. Burn Your Shadows

Go to ‘Adjustment Layers’ and choose ‘Solid Colour’. Select a dark grey or black tone (depending on your taste) and pin this layer to your new subject. Right click on ‘Hue’ and ‘Saturation’, then ‘Blending Options’, and then pull your shadows up from left to right on your Underlying Layer. Double click on ‘Colour Fill’ and use the colour picker, which will pop up automatically, to select a dark point in the shadows of your subject. Using this colour selection you can then use the same Brush tool and settings to paint in the colour onto your shadows and make your new subject blend naturally with the original image.

Pro Tip: You can quickly duplicate these settings and layers by hitting Command + J and pinning them wherever you want.

4. Edit Your Global Color Adjustments

Create a new Group and name it ‘Colour’. You can then add a colour lookup table (LUT) by going to ‘Adjustment Layers’ and ‘Colour Lookup’. Using the Load 3D LUT option, you will be able to load any LUTs you have saved (or install new ones). From here, right click on your ‘Blending Options’ and reveal the Underlying Layer until your highlights begin to reappear through your image.

Pro Tip: You can load as many different LUTs as you wish and adjust the strength of them to using the Opacity setting.

5. Tweak Your Global Tone adjustments

Create a new Group and name it ‘Tone’. You can then add a Curve adjustment layer and adjust it to add an enhanced shadow effect to your overall image to bring it all together and make it look real. You can do this by using the Gradient tool and drawing a line from the bottom of your image to the point where you want the shadow to stop. For a professional look you can also repeat this process to enhance the highlights and make your image more dynamic.

Pro Tip: For more intricate work, you can also use the Brush tool to re-emphasise your highlights.

6. Make Your Final Adjustments Using the Camera Raw Filter

Hit Shift + Option + ⌘ + E to create a merged version of your entire edit so far. Then you can right click on the layer and save the whole thing as a Smart Object. Then you can go to ‘Filter’ and click ‘Camera Raw Filter’ to make final global adjustments to your entire image, matching the overall colours and tones, and also add gradients.

Be sure to have fun and experiment as much as you like. Remember the goal when blending images in Photoshop is not realism, rather allowing your imagination to run wild and create images that reflect the unique way you see the world.

Watch the full tutorial in the video above, or find more photo and video editing tips from Tom here.