Copying a Selection From One Image to Another Using Photoshop Elements 15


This is a topic that is always one that generates a lot of discussion and in various photo editing forums and Facebook groups. It continues to be a popular topic, not only because it is something that we all want to do some time, but because recent improvements in photo editing programs and new programs are beginning to employ AI-enhanced tools to make the selection. And it is the quality of the selection that will make or break the final result.

In this tutorial I will go through the steps to select the image in the first photo and then copy it to the second photo. I start with using the Quick Selection tool of PSE 15, and then fine-tune the selection with the Selection Brush tool. I do mention the Refine Edge tool, but I have chosen to leave a more detailed discussion of it for another time and dedicated tutorial.

Below are the two initial photos. I want to copy the little girl into the picture of the sky to make it appear she is standing on clouds. True, it is not very creative, but the steps are there waiting to be used for someone with more creativity and skill than I have. This process includes several steps, so the tutorial is longer than most of mine.

Photo Examples 13-127

Photo Examples 13-197

Here is the final result.

Photo Examples 13-127_edited-1

With a little more work, I could have faded her feet out a little to add to the realism of the effect, but hopefully you get the idea. But to reiterate, the better you make your selection, the better your result will be.

CLICK HERE to access the PDF tutorial file.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please star-rate it here and share it with your friends on social media. Also, do not hesitate to add your questions, alternate techniques, and tips, as well as your examples to the comments here.

Until next time…

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Yet Another Way to Improve a Sky


There are a many ways to darken a sky to make it more dramatic. That’s good, because they often show up in your photos as something less than hoped we for or remembered, being too bright and lacking color.

This technique is somewhat different and does require Photoshop. It is not possible to use it with Photoshop Elements. Fortunately, there are many other techniques that work well with Elements. Here are the steps.

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Duplicate the background layer – always a good idea.
  3. Make a black and white adjustment layer.
  4. Adjust the color sliders as desired to darken the sky. Usually, the blue and the cyan sliders have the biggest effect.
  5. Change the Blending Mode of the B&W Adjustment Layer to Darken. You will probably see some color coming back in the non-blue areas.
  6. Reduce the layer’s Opacity to 40-50%. If you go too far, the sky quickly returns to its original brightness.
  7. At this point I may often add a Vibrance or Saturation Adjustment Layer to further enhance the sky. Also, in some photos, adjusting the other sliders in the Black and White Adjustment Layer will add additional impact to the photo.

Dark Blend mode Ex

As you can see from the comparison here, the change is subtle, but effective. In this photo the water was also affected.

I learned about this technique from www.postprocessingmastery.com. It is worth checking out this site to learn more about this techniques as well as others.

Try it out on some of your photos and share them in the comments below.

Check Out My New Photoshop Elements: The Organizer eBook


As many of you know, I have been using Photoshop Elements from its beginning, which must be over ten years now. I began using its Organizer when it was first introduced in PSE 3. To manage my images before that, I used  Adobe’s Photoshop Album, which became the Organizer with PSE 3’s introduction.

Over the years my photo and video collection has grown to over 33,000 items. PSE’s Organizer is not perfect (no software program is), but it has served me well for a long time. Although there have been many excellent Photoshop Elements books over the past ten years, almost all of them devote most of their coverage to its editing capabilities. Michael Slater wrote what I feel to be the definitive book covering the Organizer (Organize Your Photos With Adobe Photoshop Elements 3), but it was written when PSE 3 was first introduced.

I decided last summer to write an eBook strictly devoted to the Organizer. I have been using and teaching it for the past ten years. Don’t get me wrong, my intent was not to replace Slater’s book. I do not cover every detail and feature within the program. Instead, I have tried to focus on those things that I have used over and over throughout the years, and which I feel are the most important.

That being said, my eBook ended up taking longer to complete and grew in size more than I had envisioned. It ended up containing eight chapters, consisting of over 160 pages and 200 illustrations. Please click on the following link to find out more about my eBook and how you can purchase it.

Photoshop Elements: The Organizer

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat or Dupe a Layer


As you have discovered by now, there are multiple ways to perform the same command in Photoshop Elements. And for almost all of them, there is a keyboard shortcut. This quick tip addresses simply duplicating a layer.

The long way from the Menu bar is to click on Layer > New > Layer Via Copy. Doing it this way names the new layer a copy of the original layer, e.g. Background Copy.

The commonly used shortcut key for this is Ctrl+J. This results in the duplicate layer being named Layer X, e.g. Layer 1.  This shortcut is also great for copying selections to their own layer.

If you want to give the duplicated layer a different name from the default, you must do that as a separate step. But if you use the shortcut key, Ctrl+Alt+J, a dialog box appears (as shown below) giving you the option to change its name, as well as Bending Mode. This is true whether you are duplicating a layer or copying a selection to its own layer.

Ctrl Alt J

If you like this tip and would like to see more, please rate it at the top and also click on the Like button below. Also, please add any comments you have about this post in the Comments section below.

Exploring Blending Modes


Whenever you create a new  layer or duplicate a layer, you can control how the two layers will interact. You use the Blending Mode to do this. Often you will use the Normal blending mode, which basically stacks the two layers with no interaction between them. But there are 24 more in Photoshop Elements. One quick way to cycle through them and see their effect is to first select the Move Tool. Then click on Shift+ to work down the list of blending modes, and Shift- to work up.

As an experiment, stack two images, for example a portrait over a textured background. With the portrait on the top layer, and the Move Tool selected, cycle through the blending modes as described above. The figure below shows an example. In this case, the Blending Mode was Hard Mix. Remember you can vary the effect by adjusting the top layer’s Opacity.

Hard Mix Blend Mode

Happy Holidays!

Control Plus and Minus in the Photoshop Elements Organizer


I have used the keyboard shortcuts, “Ctrl++” and “Ctrl+-“ routinely to zoom in and out on an image incrementally when I am in the Photoshop Elements Editor. In fact these are two of the first keyboard shortcuts I teach my students. I just learned today that the Ctrl++ and Ctrl+- do the same thing in the Organizer. Remember, the interpretation of the Ctrl++ , is press the Ctrl key “and” hold it down (that’s the first + sign), then press + (the second + sign).

I don’t feel so bad that I never knew this before. Using the slider in the Organizer and the two square icons at its ends makes zooming in and out on the thumbnails quite easy.

Pressing Ctrl++ repeatedly incrementally makes the thumbnails larger until you get to that point where single photo fills the available area in the thumbnail view. Going the other way, repeatedly pressing Ctrl+- makes the thumbnails smaller until they get to the minimum size the Organizer allows.

As near as I can figure out Ctrl+0 and Ctrl+Alt+0 do nothing in the Organizer.

I would like to say I discovered this on my own, but I can’t. I saw it while internet surfing today.

Photoshop Elements Tips 1


One of the goals for my blog is to pass on some tips and hints I have come across for doing things faster or better in Photoshop Elements. I read a lot of magazines and books on digital photography. Most of my students don’t have the time to do that. What I hope to do here is pass on some of these tips.

I do introduce a few keyboard shortcuts in my classes, but I generally leave it to the students to discover others on their own based on their needs and interest. Here are few hints to get going. I will add others in future posts.

Quickly Zoom to Fit on Screen or Actual Pixels (100%) 

To quickly set Fit on Screen, double click on the Hand Tool. To quickly zoom into Actual Pixels or 100%, double click on the Zoom Tool.

Quickly Select the Move Tool 

You can almost always quickly select the Move Tool by holding the Ctrl Key. Once you let go of the Ctrl Key Elements reverts back to whatever tool you were using. 

Easily Explore Blending Modes

 To quickly and easily cycle through layer blending modes to see how they affect the image, do the following. Select the Move Tool, and then select your layer. Press and hold the Shift key, and press the + key. Each time you press the + key the Blending Mode is changed. Pressing the minus sign key reverses the direction. 

Enlarging the Preview in the Filter Gallery

The Filter Gallery is great for playing with various filters and seeing how they interact with each other. Bring up the gallery by clicking on Filter > Filter Gallery on the Menu. To see a larger preview than what is shown initially, click on the triangle button facing upwards, just left of the OK button. This hides the list of filters and enlarges the preview of the filter you are currently working with.

Removing Stray Pixels in a Selection

Sometimes when making a selection with the Magic Wand, some pixels are not selected and are seen flashing on and off. To select these pixels, click on Select > Modify > Smooth and enter a Radius of 1; then click OK. The stray pixels should now be selected. 

Controlling the Magic Wand

The setting selected for the Eyedropper Tool also affects how the Magic Wand samples colors. The Color Picker has the following Sample Size options – Point Sample, 3×3 Average, and 5×5 Average. Thus, if the Color Picker is set to 5×5 Average, the Magic Wand will use that larger range of pixels to make its selection. So, if the Magic Wand is not working as you expected, check the Sample Size options you have set for the Eyedropper.  

Sample Colors Anywhere on the Desktop 

One of the uses of the Eye Dropper Tool is to set the Foreground Color. Normally you click somewhere in your open image to select that particular color. However, you can sample any color that is visible on your screen. Select the Eyedropper Tool, click on your image somewhere and drag the mouse to anywhere on your desktop, for example an open document. Once you are over the desired color, release the mouse button.