Silk Purses 2: More Easy Options

After I finished the Silk Purses photo-montage tutorial the other day, I thought of some other ways to combine the same 2 photos. These are even easier, since there’s no masking involved; it’s just the rose photo layered in between or on top of the 2 lettuce layers. (If that sounds incredibly strange to you, you’ll want to check out the previous tutorial.) 

Step 1: Get your background layers ready

Once you’ve worked your way through the first step, where you make 2 copies of your background photo and apply separate effects to each of these 2 layers, you’re ready for this project! You’ll just need your main photo; in this tutorial, I’ll use the same rose photo as before, to show you how you can get many different looks from the same 2 photos. We’ll just combine them a little differently.

Tip: You can use just one layer for the background, but it’s still a good idea to have a copy of the original layer.

Another tip: I’d advise a Save As here, using a different name. You may want to use those background layers later, with another photo.

Step 2: Add your main photo

With the background layers document open, open up your main photo; drag or copy/paste it into the background layers document.

Rose photo brought into background layers document
Rose photo brought into background layers document. The rose showed up between the 2 background photos; just doing this creates an interesting look, since the layer on top of the rose is semi-transparent.

We could just leave it like this, but let’s experiment a little more.

Step 3: Change the layer order and opacity

Drag the rose layer to the top position, and change the opacity of this layer to 50%.

Rose layer moved to top; opacity changed to 50%
Rose layer moved to top; opacity changed to 50%. This is another simple change that instantly gives a new feel to the image.

Step 4: Adjust a background layer

Now let’s try changing the Blend Mode on the middle layer; I used Soft Light, but this is a great place to experiment with different modes. Change opacity to 30% (or to your taste) while we’re on this layer:

Soft Light Blend Mode applied to middle layer, opacity changed to 30%
Soft Light Blend Mode applied to middle layer, and opacity changed to 30%.

Step 5: Change the Blend Mode of the rose layer

With the rose (top) layer selected, and still at 50% opacity, change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge.

Rose layer with Color Dodge Blend Mode applied
Rose layer with Color Dodge Blend Mode applied; this lightens everything up without washing it out, and the glass texture is more visible now.

As you can see, you could stop after any one of steps 2—5, and have a beautiful image. I haven’t changed anything with the bottom layer; it’s at 80% opacity (the setting from the project in the first Silk Purses post), but you can change this, maybe add a new texture or lighting effect…

There are so many possibilities in a program like Photoshop, honestly, sometimes it’s hard to know when to actually finish! That’s a good reason, at least once in a while, to just keep it simple: a beautiful image layered creatively with a complementary background.

I’d really love to see what you come up with, using your own photos!

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