There are several situations in which you might want to merge two photos into a single image. Perhaps you like the background of one picture and the foreground of another, or maybe a photograph of your cat would look better if she was playing in your living room rather than in your bathroom. Whatever the case, image editing software will allow you to merge two photos together.
There are several ways to combine two photographs, depending on the effect you want to create. Image editing software such as Photoshop or the Gimp are best because they offer such a wide range of tools. You can also use newer software, such as Microsoft Photo Fuse.
Clipping One Image
The first option when you want to merge two photographs together is to take the magazine-collage approach. You can cut the subject from one photograph and paste it into another. Scale and exposure are both important when using this method because if either is off, the resulting image will appear unnatural.
Look at the example photographs at the top of this article. The first photograph is a picture of a windmill against a washed-out background. The second is of a blue sky with clouds. I can merge these two photos together so that the windmill looks like it was taken against a more attractive background.
Open both your photos in the image editing software program of your choice. Then, using a selection tool of your choice (I’m partial to the free select tool, but there are other options), select the portion you wish to extract from the first photo. When you are finished, copy that subject to your clipboard and paste it into the second photograph.
You can also create a transparent layer below your first photo and simply erase the image around the portion you wish to extract. Whether you use the erase or the selection tool, you’ll probably want to zoom in so you can be more precise.
To merge two photographs together, you will need to play around with scale and positioning. This is made easier if you create a new layer in the second photograph so you can adjust it independently. You’ll be able to scale the layer so that it’s an appropriate size for the photograph, as well as adjust colors, opacity, sharpness, and other details before you actually merge the two photographs.
Once you are satisfied with the positioning, either merge the layers or flatten the image, and you’re done (see image 3 above).
Layer One Image on Top of Another
If you are not comfortable with the selection tools in your image editing software and the background of your first photograph is light-colored or neutral, you might be able to merge the two photographs together by using layer modes.
Select the entirety of your first photograph and paste it into a new layer on top of your second photograph. Then change the mode of the layer to “multiply” or “overlay.” From there you can adjust opacity to suit your needs. (See image 4 above). This worked on the windmill photograph because of the washed-out background.
There are plenty of other ways to merge two photographs together into one image. Collage software, for example, blends the edges of photographs so they sit seamlessly side-by-side.
You can also stitch two photographs side-by-side to create a panoramic image. This is a popular tool for landscape photography when you cannot fit an entire cityscape or landscape into one photograph.
Panoramas are typically taken with a DSLR camera and a tripod, according to Digital Photography School. You simply rotate the tripod, taking photographs so they overlap their edges, then put them together using image editing software. By lining up the edges, you can create a much longer image that encompasses the entire view. Keep in mind, however, that some distortion is necessary with this type of photography.