Family portrait ideas: how to combine your images into one portrait
01 Set whites and blacks
Open Bridge and go to the ‘family-profiles 01-04’ DNGs (or select your own images). Hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click the thumbnails to highlight them all, then right-click and choose Open in Camera Raw.
In the Basic Panel, use the Whites and Blacks sliders to set white and black points for each. Hold down Alt while dragging to see clipped pixels. We used these settings: 01: Whites +15, Blacks -14. 02: Whites +27, Blacks -15. 03: Whites +28, Blacks -18. 04: Whites +14, Blacks -15.
02 Order the layers
Click Done, then back in Bridge, make sure the four files are still selected and go to Tools>Photoshop>Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
Once opened, go to Window>Layers and drag the layers around so that they are all in order with the furthest person on the lowest layer and the closest person on the top layer. We’ve reordered our layers here, to run 3, 2, 1, 4.
03 Blend the layers
Click the eye icons to hide all but the bottom two layers. Highlight the second layer then go to the Blend Mode drop-down menu at the top of the Layers Panel and choose Lighten.
Next, grab the Move tool and make sure Show Transform Controls and Auto-select Layer are checked in the Options bar, then highlight the bottom layer, click the bounding box and drag it to the right.
04 Position the heads
Use the box to rotate or resize the bottom layer (hold down Shift while resizing) and hit Enter when you’re happy. Next, highlight the layer above and again use the bounding box to position the layer, then hit Enter to apply.
Reveal and highlight the layer above, change the Blend Mode to Lighten and use the Move tool to position and transform the layer, then repeat for the top layer.
05 Paint the blocker layers
Hide all but the bottom two layers again. Highlight the bottom layer, then click the Create New Layer icon. Grab the Brush tool from the Tools Panel and hit D to set your foreground colour to black.
Paint roughly over any unwanted areas on the bottom layer that are showing. Reveal the other layers one at a time and add more blocker layers between them, again painting with black to stop the lighter tones from showing through.
06 Convert to mono
Highlight the top layer, then click the Create Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and choose Black & White. We used the Darker preset from the drop-down menu at the top of the settings.
Next, create a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase the contrast. Plot an S-shaped curve with one point dragged down on the left of the line and another dragged up on the right.
07 Retouch the details
Create a new layer, then grab the Spot Healing Brush tool. Make sure Sample All Layers is checked in the Options bar then zoom in close and use the tool to remove marks, blemishes and lines.
Now make another new layer, grab the Clone Stamp tool and again set Sample: All Layers. Hit 2 to set the Opacity to 20%. Hold down Alt and click to sample a clean area of skin, then clone over bags and wrinkles to soften them.
08 Dodge, burn and crop
Hold down Alt and click the Create New Layer icon to access the New Layer options. Set Mode: Overlay and check the Fill with Overlay-neutral color box then hit OK. Grab the Burn tool and set Range: Midtones, Exposure 20%, then use it to darken areas around the faces and background.
Switch to the Dodge tool and paint to lighten the eyes. Finally, grab the Crop tool and crop in tighter to lose any rough edges.
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