Have you ever taken a series of group or family photos only to find that you didn’t manage to get that one perfect shot? You captured great pictures, but either one person is looking in a different direction than the others or someone else blinked right as you clicked the shutter. Learn how you can combine the best of two images into one seamless photo using Adobe Photoshop.

Headshot of Dean Dapkus

My name is Dean Dapkus and I’m a creative director at Adobe. I enjoy creating digital and traditional art and am happiest when I can combine the two in new ways.

Before You Start

Here is the Photoshop document with the images you can use to follow along. Of course, you’re welcome to use your own group photos. I’d love to see what you do with them.

Step 1: Look Through Photos

Instead of keeping photos stored as digital files on my computer, I decided to sort through them to find some I could print and frame to enjoy on a regular basis.

4 photos containing a man, woman, and little girl in a red shirt in different, fun poses

Step 2: Pick Two

Ultimately, I decided on two images I wanted to combine. Both photos are sweet—and I particularly like the little girl’s smile on the right. Overall, I prefer the composition on the left because everyone’s shoulders are mostly level and the man’s glasses don’t show a reflection. After bringing both photos into Photoshop and placing them on separate layers, I decided to move the little girl’s face from the image on right (image 2) to the one on the left (image 1). Read on to find out how I did this.

2 photos of a man and woman holding a little girl between them, the girl is looking in slightly different directions in each

Step 3: Line Them Up

Each photo was taken from a slightly different perspective, so the sizing doesn’t quite line up between the two. To fix this, select both layers, choose Auto-Align Layers, and leave Projection at Auto. After Photoshop analyzes the photos, it resizes and aligns them so they match more closely. As a result, the canvas size and angle for each one changes and the bottom image shows some empty space around it. That’s okay, you’ll crop the image in the final step.

Left: Auto-Align Layers set to Auto, image of woman, man, child has white space around it; Right: Image has less white space

Step 4: Select Your Favorite Part

Now that the two layers are more closely aligned, select the top layer, choose the Object Selection tool, and drag across the girl’s face and hair. Click the layer mask icon to hide the background and keep the selection of the girl visible. Now everything from the top layer is hidden, except for the girl’s face and hair, and the bottom layer shows through.

Object Selection tool icon is upper left, photo has orange callout around the girl, Layers panel shows mask on top layer

Step 5: Get a Good Angle

The new composition looks pretty good, but there are a few things you can do to make the selection blend better with the bottom image. Select the top layer and use the Move tool to slide it to the right to make it easier to see the face you are replacing. Next, make sure the head’s scale and angle are the same in both images. Use Free Transform to scale and rotate the image until her hairline and chin are aligned horizontally, and the angle from the middle of the mouth through the base of the nose are the same.

Free Transform tool, Width and Height are 90%, Angle is -9.7, lines show angle from chin through nose on little girl

Step 6: Tidy Up

With the Move tool still selected, reposition the masked face exactly where you want it. Click the layer mask thumbnail and paint with a black brush to hide parts of her hair and face to blend it more naturally with the photo below it. Paint with white to reveal anything you want to bring back. The image on the left shows the areas I concentrated on; the one on the right shows the final result.

Before and after image showing areas of the girl’s hair and neck that needed to be tidied up after blending

Step 7: Focus on What’s Important

Once you are happy with the final result, select the Crop tool and drag across the image. Use the handles to center the photo the way you want it and press Enter or Return when finished.

Crop tool is upper left; crop marks around square image, the woman, child, and man are centered in photo

Hang It Up

Combine the best parts of your favorite family or group photos and then frame it or add it to a photo book for you and others to enjoy. Tag @AdobeCreate so we can appreciate each other’s work.

Final photo displays in gold frame on a green mantle against a green wall

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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