Photoshop Retouching Tips

by William Lulow

Even though I am by no means a Photoshop “expert,”(most working photographers probably use only about 10% of what the program can do), I have been offering a course in Beginning Photoshop Techniques through the Scarsdale Adult School, here in Westchester, NY.  As with many Photoshop techniques, there is usually more than one way to achieve a desired effect.  Today, I want to explain how I go about putting an element from one image into another. The Program is Photoshop CS4.

As with photography in general, it always helps to have a pretty good idea of what you want to do BEFORE you go and do it. In this case, the two images you intend to merge, or elements within them, must be, in some way compatible. If they are not, then it behooves you to try to make them so.

Duggan_PuddleWalkR   AbbeyRoadCrosswalk

For example: here is a photograph of a little girl (originally shot by Sean Duggan – which I picked up from the internet) and a shot of mine of the famous Abbey Road crossroad in London.  I wanted to drop Sean’s little girl into my Abbey Road shot. The main problem was that Sean’s little girl was way too big to fit into the crosswalk. These are the steps I had to take to make it all work:

1. First, I had to select the little girl so that I could resize her and make her smaller. I did this by using the MAGNETIC LASSO tool to make a decent selection of the girl.

2. Next, I used the TRANSFORM choice under the EDIT menu, then went to the SCALE choice which brought up a scaling box. I reduced the little girl’s size until I thought it would fit in the crosswalk. I then SAVED the selection.

3. I then brought up the Abbey Road shot and arranged both images in the 2-UP mode under the WINDOW menu. I then had both images aligned top and bottom within the canvas. I SELECTED the girl, which I had saved as a selection and used the MOVE tool to simply drag and drop her into the Abbey Road shot.


This merge worked fairly well because the size of the girl vis-a-vis the size of the overall shot let me do a rough select of the girl. If the shot were to be used in a larger size, I would have had to make a much cleaner selection of the girl, probably with a clipping path.

This was a pretty easy retouching job. Others, of course, are much more difficult and take quite a bit of time and expertise. As with most photography techniques, they become easier with a lot of practice.  If you are not proficient with this program, it’s probably a good idea to have it done professionally.

Note: This was a lesson given during my course at the Scarsdale Adult School in Beginning Photoshop.