Blending Photos into your Background
So there it is: the perfect photo for a background on your scrapbook page. But you have a dilemma – how do you blend the photo into the background without harsh edges? This is easier than you think. What follows is a short tutorial on blending. These instructions should work for CS and PSE.
To get started, open up your blank canvas and the photograph you’d like to use. Add a paper to your canvas – something to give a little texture and/or color. I’m going to use a paper from Audrey Neal’s Rainy Day Love kit. Does the paper have to match the colors in my photo? No, you can choose whatever will work for the rest of your layout.
I’d like to use my puppy as the background on my layout, but I don’t want all the extra pieces in the photo – the siding of the house, the grass, the fence. Place your photo on the layer directly above your background paper and adjust for size and position, as necessary.
Now, think about why type of effect you would like to achieve with the photo. Do you want it to almost disappear into the background? Do you want it to be black and white? Should the picture pick up the tones and patterns of the background paper? This is the fun part – we get to play with something called BLENDING MODES.
There are several ways to see the options for blending: 1. Go to LAYERS – LAYER STYLE on the menu bar, 2. Right click on the photo layer in your layers palette (if you don’t see your Layers Palette, activate this by going to WINDOWS – LAYERS), or 3. Look for a drop-down menu at the top of your Layers Palette. For illustrative purposes, I’ll be doing Option #3. The default mode is “Normal” – and, well, everything looks … normal! Make sure you have clicked on the photo or the photo layer so it is active and play around with the various blending options. We have not yet got rid of the photo edges, but this will give you a chance to see what some of the different blending modes can do. If the blending results are too harsh, try reducing the opacity or fill properties of your photo.
Here’s a few examples that I played with: Darken, Color Burn (with 50% opacity), and Luminosity (with 40% opacity). I like how the Luminosity mode makes the photo take on the colors of the background paper, so that’s the one I’m going to stick with.
Now, I still have distracting background items that need to be removed. To do this, click on your Eraser tool (if you don’t see your toolbox, go to WINDOWS – TOOLS to activate it), and instead of using the eraser, pick a brush from the drop-down menu. Select something that has soft edges, and make it pretty large. I’m going to make my brush nearly 700 pixels in size as I’m working with a pretty large photo.
Begin erasing away the edges of your photo. If you want more control on the softness of the blending, lower the opacity of your brush to about 40-50%. Using the larger brush size, erase the larger spaces of photo that you don’t want to see. As you get closer to your subject, reduce the size of your brush so you have more control. In the end, you will have something like this:
From here, you can clip, rotate, and create whatever you like. Continue to fine-tune the blending along the edges of your subject to your liking.
In the end, I changed the page to 8.5 x 11, added some wordart and elements from Audrey Neal’s Lovestruck collection … and voila.
I hope you’ll try blending. With a little practice you can achieve all kinds of looks – and with each blending mode, the outcome can be different.