Deke’s Techniques 198: Aligning Variations to Make a Perfect Composite in Photoshop

198 Assembling multiple variations into a single comp

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke will show you how to take all those Warhol variations you’ve learned about last week and combine them into a perfect composite.

What? You say you didn’t create a set of Warhol variations? No problem. You could work with one photo apiece of your six children. Or you could start with six different photos of your favorite kid, leaving your other five to wonder where they lost your love. No matter, this technique works with any set of identically sized photos or illustrations.

But for the record, here is the awesome collection of aforementioned Warhol variations to whet your appetite. (Of course, when I asked him to make this graphic, Deke being Deke decided to try yet another variation for the following.)

As you’ll see in the video, Deke’s technique for making this grid takes place meticulously, yet effectively, and involves three basic tools:

1) If you start by selecting your desired component images in Bridge, you can choose Tools > Photoshop > Load Files to Photoshop Layers to do just that. Which is to say, Bridge will flatten each of the selected images and load them all onto separate layers in a single Photoshop file. This is particularly useful for Deke’s version of the exercise because each of these images had previously been a multi-layered file on its own.

2) The Canvas Size dialog box allows you to expand the canvas based on a percentage. So given that Deke wants a grid that’s three images wide and two images tall (opposite of the above), changing the width and height of the canvas to 3 and 2 percent respectively (with the Relative check box turned off) ensures that the canvas will fit all images exactly with no overlap or clipping.

3) Photoshop’s Move tool allows you to align any layer to a selection. This means you can use Command+A (Ctrl+A) to select the whole image then align each layer accordingly using icons in the options bar (Align Left Edges, Align Bottom Edges, etc). The result is that you never have to move anything by hand and expose yourself to the possibility of being so much as a single pixel off.

As long as each image is the same size, you can use this technique for any set of images, variations, or photographs. Deke’s Techniques: giving you practical composite-making advice regardless of your own creative vision.

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