How to Blend Photos in Photoshop Elements

I often design photo art images that I then print onto fabric to use in art quilts, art bags, and other types of stitched art. You can see more of my textile art here in my photo gallery.

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how easy it is to blend three images into one photo art image using blending modes, a layer mask and the gradient tool. If you want to follow along, you can download the free images that I use in this tutorial by clicking the links underneath this video.

Note: This tutorial is presented using Photoshop Elements 14.

Download the files

Photoshop Collage Tutorial
Download rust texture from Image After

Photoshop Collage Tutorial
Download text image from Morguefile.com

Photoshop Collage Tutorial
Download rose image from Morguefile.com

Follow Along

Open the images in Photoshop Elements and crop them so that they are all the same size and resolution. Click on the Crop tool, open the Tool Options, and change the settings to 1500px wide x 1000px high x 200ppi resolution. Crop each of the photos to size.

Make a new blank file the same size as the images, and make sure that it has a white background color and place it alongside the images. This is our working file.

Copy and paste, or drag the rust image onto the working file. This image should be on a layer above the white background layer.

Click on the rust layer in the layers panel, and from the Blending Modes drop down menu, select the Difference blend mode. You can see that this changes the colors on the rust image.

Copy and paste, or drag the text image onto the working file. This image should be on a layer above the rust image.

Click on the text layer in the layers panel, and from the blending modes drop down box select the overlay blend mode. This allows the text to be visible but makes the background on the text image transparent allowing the underlying background to show through. Reduce the opacity to 30%.

Copy and paste, or drag the rose image onto the working file. This image should be on a layer above the text image. Now that all the images are in place on the working file, close the files to reduce the clutter on your editing screen.

Click on the rose layer to highlight it. Now we’re going to add a mask to this layer and then apply a gradient to the mask. This is going to allow portions of the layers beneath the rose image to show through.

Click on the “Add Layer Mask” icon and you’ll see that a mask has been added alongside the rose image. Click on the mask to highlight it. You’ll know that it’s highlighted because there will be a border around it.

Select the “Gradient Tool”, open the Tool Options, and choose the “Black to White Gradient” in the Gradient Editor.

With the layer mask highlighted, drag the gradient from right to left, starting at the far right edge and ending around the beginning of the flower petals. You can now see that a section of the layers below are revealed, each layer blending into each other to create a blended photo art image. You can play around with the length of the gradient to show more or less of the layers below.

When working with layer masks, remember this – black reveals and white conceals. This means that when I used the “Black to White Gradient”, the portion of the gradient that’s black in color, reveals what’s on the layer beneath it, and the portion of the gradient that’s white in color, conceals what’s on the layer beneath it. And the gradient itself, makes a smooth blended transition from black to white. The end result is a beautiful blended photo art image.

To complete this image I’m going to apply a filter to the rose, just to give it a more creative look. Click on the rose image on the layers palette to highlight it. On the main menu click Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges. This adds a strong outline to the rose petals which I think looks nice.

You can use this technique to blend combinations of images of all sorts, so I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and happy photoshopping!

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