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…

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!

PV NET’s Announcement of My Upcoming Class

I just got this email announcement from PV NET regarding the class I will be teaching there beginning January 12th. They send out announcements like this periodically to several thousand residents in the Palos Verdes area. By the way, their computer classroom can only accommodate sixteen students, so if you are thinking about taking the class, I would not wait too long to register.

Happy Holidays!

Start off the New Year with a BRAND NEW class from Don Stouder!

   December 20, 2011
Start off the New Year with a BRAND NEW class from Don Stouder!

Exploring Photoshop Elements 9/10 on Your Laptop (January 12th, 2012 – February 9th, 2012)

Have you recently purchased PSE 10, and want to learn more about the program’s new features? Would you like to work with your own pictures as you learn the program? Are you using Photoshop Elements on an Apple laptop? If one or more of the above apply to you, this brand new course from Don Stouder just may be the course you have been waiting for. As the title implies, it will be taught using Photoshop Elements 10 installed on a laptop. The class will cover both using the Organizer and the Editor in PSE.

For more information

Click here to register!


310•544•5395 or

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Use the Magnetic Lasso with Caps-Lock On

I still find the Magnetic Lasso in Photoshop Elements to be my selection tool of choice at times. There are times when the newer semi-automatic selection tools don’t work as well for me. Recently I learned that if I used it with Caps-Lock turned on, the cursor becomes a circular brush with a + sign in the center. Zoom in sufficiently to see this symbol, and it is much easier to trace along the edges of your selection. Try it. It really does improve your tracing accuracy. This also works in Photoshop.

Preview of a New Course at PV NET

I am teaching a new course in January at PV NET called “Exploring Photoshop Elements 9/10 on Your Laptop”. The class starts on January 12th. CLICK HERE to register for the class. This short video should give you a better idea how the class will work and the general topics we will be covering.

Photoshop Elements 6 – Still Learning

Well, again there has been some time since my last post. I have been working on updating my class handouts for the fall term. I am looking forward to the start of classes. Both schools now will be using PSE 6. Last year the South Bay Adult School was using PSE 6, but the Torrance Adult Center was still using PSE 4. It is going to make things easier for me, plus I hope better for the students. My handouts have been a mixture of PSE 6 and earlier versions depending upon the topic. There will still be some differences in the content between the two schools, SBAS will be getting new Vista PCs with DVD burners. This opens up the potential for new classes, as well as additional topics in my current courses.

As I was working on my updates, I came across a change between PSE 6 and earlier versions in how the Feather command treats the edge of your image. Adobe has added the Refine Edge command in PSE 6 and CS3 (Professional Photoshop). When they this they also changed how the Select > Feather command works. In previous versions of PSE, there was no feathering done at the edge of the selection that was created by the edge of the image itself. In PSE 6, this not the case. See the figure below which shows the result of feathering a selection by 40 pixels in PSE 6.

Select - Feather 

PSE 6 Select > Feather 40 Pixels

In earlier version of PSE, the marching ants or dotted lines would go along the edge of the image and not round the corners as shown. Using the PSE 6 Refine Edges command the feathering along the edge of the image is the same as older versions  of PSE. This is shown in the figure below.

Select - Refine Edge - Feather

PSE 6 Select > Refine Edge > Feather 40 pixels or Select > Feather in older PSE Versions

You may not notice this difference with small values of feathering, but with larger values you introduce the appearance of vignetting if you say darken the sky. There is a lot more to using the Refine Edge command, and it can be very useful in improving your selections. I will be exploring this command in one of my class exercises. By the way, I learned about this difference from a recent issue of the British magazine, “Digital Photo”.

Here is another tip I learned recently. Unfortunately, I do not know its source. You are probably aware that one way to add some snap to your photo is to make a duplicate layer and then change its Blending Mode to Overlay. Well according to my all too cryptic notes, you can gain the same impact without as much damage being down to the underlying pixels by doing the following:

  1. Create a New Adjustment Layer (I generally use Levels, but any Adjustment Layer will work)
  2. Close the dialog box without making any changes.
  3. Change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Now as with the basic duplicate layer technique you can fine tune the effect by adjusting the Layer Opacity. Occasionally, what I will do in addition is go back into the Levels Adjustment Layer and make some adjustments using the sliders.

Are the results using this modified technique better than just changing the mode of the duplicate layer? I would be interested in your comments on this and  other techniques you use to give your images that added impact.

Until next time,


Back From My Cruise With Lots of Photos

Well, I just realized that it has been quite some time since I updated my blog. That is not how bogs are supposed to work. At any rate, I just returned from my Norwegian Cruise Lines Western Mediterranean Cruise. Everything went well and I came back with a load of pictures. Fortunately for my students there are a several that make great starting points for class exercises. They have real problems that Photoshop Elements (PSE) can fix. I have another guest lecture gig coming up in mid-December that I am looking forward to now.

For any of my students who happen to read this, I still do not know my fall schedule for either school. My web site still shows the spring schedule. Once I do, I will update the web site and also send out my usual email for those on my distribution list.

One of the reasons I have not added a new entry here is that my discussion of converting catalogs from older versions of PSE to PSE 6 attracted some comments that I tried address. Even with the number of excellent books available for PSE, none really discuss the details of working with the Organizer mode of the program. I really believe there is a market for such a book. What do you think?

Using the Gray Eyedropper in Levels to Correct Color – With a Twist

Those of you who have taken my photo editing classes know that I am a big user of the Levels command and its use on an Adjustment Layer. In the more advanced class we learn about how to use the gray eyedropper to help correct the color balance by clicking on something in the photo that should be a shade of gray. But what if there is nothing in the image that is neutral gray? How many of us shoot a test shot with a gray card in the scene?

I learned a new twist to this technique from the free e-magazines available from I think it was in Issue No. 2. By the way, this web site has a wealth of information and is an excellent source for free actions that run on PSE. The article that I adapted my approach from discusses  several techniques to correct color.

I have been using the approach outline below that is based on the discussion in the above article to work with some of my problem photos from my cruise. Here are the basic steps.

  1. Duplicate the Background.
  2. On the Background Copy layer, click on Filter > Blur Average. That layer now takes on the color cast of the photo. Well balanced photos will be gray.
  3. Select the Eyedropper Tool from the Tool Box and sample the Background Copy Layer, setting the Foreground Color Swatch to the sampled color.
  4. Delete the Background Copy layer.
  5. Open the Levels command on an Adjustment Layer.
  6. Click on the Gray Eyedropper in the Levels dialog.
  7. Click on the Foreground Color swatch – the top square at the bottom of the Tool Box. The color cast should be removed.
  8. Click on the Auto button within the dialog box to set the white and black points for proper contrast.
  9. If required you can use the middle sliders in the Levels command dialog box to fine tune the brightness, contrast, and color of the image. However, I have found that for a large number of my pictures, the Auto button is all I need.

I do not use the above steps for all of my photos, only those that have a definite color cast. When they do, I have been using it recently, instead of adjusting the sliders on the red, green, and blue color channels. Below is a before and after example. This photo was taken of the Italian countryside on the way to Florence through the tour bus widow.



Here is the original. A definite green color cast is evident.


  IMG_1885_edited-1 Blog Ex

Still not that great of a photo, but at least it is worth keeping now.

Try this technique and see what you think. It is working pretty well for me.

Until next time,