Photo Layering

Written by Charles Peacock
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Photography and image design used to be limited by the physical tools available in graphic design houses and photography studios. Things like cropping, enhancing and layering images had to be performed mechanically using things like chemicals, lenses and cutting tools. Digital imagery not only rendered these tools obsolete--it also revolutionized the possibilities or photo and image manipulation.

One of the most interesting types of photo manipulation is known as "layering." Layering involves combining multiple images (either as a whole or in parts) into one master image. Through this process, one can superimpose a person onto a background or add a blue sky where one was not originally present. While layering was possible in the past using mechanical and chemical photo processes, Digital layering is far more sophisticated and filled with possibilities.

Using Computers for Photo Layering

Personal computers and computer imaging software have vastly expanded the possibilities of photo layering. Photoshop, the gold standard in digital imaging software, has long made it possible to combine images in ways that were previously unimaginable. Most Photoshop layering tricks revolve around the use of masks, which make it possible to fine-tune which parts of each specific image are visible and invisible.

Photoshop masks can be created using all sorts of different variables. The simplest way to make masks is to create them around a specifically designated area of an image, using the lasso or box select tool. Once you have selected a portion of the image, you can designate whether this portion will be visible, invisible, or even partially transparent.


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