This lesson is exclusive to members

Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

Automatically align layers in Adobe Photoshop CC

Daniel Walter Scott

Download Exercise Files



We’re awarding certificates for this course!

Check out the How to earn your certificate video for instructions on how to earn yours and click the available certificate levels below for more information.

You need to be a member to view comments.

Join today. Cancel any time.

Sign Up

Hi there, in this video we're going to look at aligning images. Why am I doing it? In this case I photographed my desk, and I need the exposure level for my desk, so I can see all my weird sound boards that I use to help make the sound on this microphone nicer, but because of that exposure level I can't see anything on the screen. So I had to change my exposure so I can see the screen, but the background's too dark. What do I do? I mask one out, and blend them together, but because they don't align, I shot this hand held, you can see, they don't line up. I'll show you how, in this exercise, how to magically line them up so they're perfect. With a click of a button, we can mask out the lower exposure with the higher exposure. And the world is a beautiful place. Let's get started. 

So there's two ways of doing this. There's the caveman way, which we'll do first. So we're going to go to 'File', 'Open'. Open up the 'Auto Align 1' and '2'. Then I'll show you another way. Both ways are useful. This one here has got my low exposure for my screen, and this one's got my high exposure, and all I'm going to do is go 'Select All'. Copy, go to this one and paste it, so I've got them on top of each other, but they don't line up because I was hand holding this And what I adjusted? My exposure, edge, we're good around. 

So the Auto Align feature is, select the top one, hold 'Shift', click the last one, we're just doing with two, you can do it with a thousand. Actually probably not. Photoshop would freak out, but you can do it with ten or a hundred maybe. Select all the images you want to align, go up to 'Edit', and there's one down here called Auto Align Layers. Leave it at 'Auto', seems to always work at Auto. Let's click 'OK'. Magically, put in the top one off. The one underneath, you can see the screen's lined up perfect. Cool, huh? Now we'll mask these two to join them up in a second. I just want to show you the other way. So that's the caveman way, and if there's just a couple of images that's what you need to do. 

There's another way, under 'File', let's go to 'Scripts'. And we looked at this earlier on, remember we looked at loading lots of stuff into a stack. The cool thing about it is, say I want to load Auto Align 1 and 2, but let's say there is a hundred. You definitely want to use this automatic feature. Auto Align, but also Attempt to Align them as well. So it's just going to do both processes in one go. It's going to put them all into one file instead of our copy and paste, and it's going to try and align them. Kick back, relax. 

So with just two images it doesn't really matter which way you go, I've got loads of them. It's easier using that script. Now we're using it for exposure levels, it could just be that you have to kind of move around to get the entire front of a building, let's say, or instead of doing exposure you're doing kind of focal length, you're trying to get different kind of focuses along. However way you got here, what I need to do is I need to-- I'm going to put this one at the top. The dark one, and I'm going to grab my-- because what I want to do is actually have the screen which I can see in this one, but it's too dark back here, appear on this image, because this one, I can see all the background, so I need to combine them too. 

So with 'Auto Align 2' selected, I'm going to grab my 'Quick Selection Tool'. I'm going to drag a box around here. Pretty good job, I'm going to click in here as well. Did a pretty good job, I'm going to go in, there's a little bit here that probably needs a little bit of love. So I'm holding down 'Option' key on a Mac, 'Alt' key on a PC just to kind of fix that up. You could use the Lasso Tool, the Polygon Lasso Tool, which has a straight edge. However you do your selection, I'm going to add a mask. And hey presto, they're kind of both combined. So the top one is just the screens. This bottom one here kind of fills out the outside. This top one here, what I might do-- that's it, that's the end of the tutorial. I'm just going to go through now and show you what I do when I'm trying to blend the two, I'm going to add levels. Just to the layer, just to the layer underneath, and now I'm going to kind of try and make it look more believable. They were too dark there, there's too much details. I'm just kind of, finding, fine tuning, what looks real, but still legible, whereas before, remember, totally illegible. Exact same screen, different exposure, I can see more. 

A couple of last little things I want to do to touch it up, but you can go now. This is just me messing about to fix this up. So the easy way would be to grab the Crop Tool, and just kind of shrink it in there, crop all those kind of transparent pixels out, and nobody would know. Except for that bit. But let's experiment with our cool new tools. I'm going to use the Lasso Tool. You saw me earlier on using the Magic Wand Tool to grab the edges over here, and you probably noticed the little white bits appeared in the corner. I kind of ignored it, I shouldn't have, I'm here to repent and show you a better way. We're going to use the Lasso Tool. The Polygonal Lasso Tool, which is the straight edge version. I'm going to draw, I'm just going to kind of manually do it, so I'm going to click once, click twice. And I'm making sure I overlap it in a reasonable amount. 

Click once, come all the way back to the beginning. And where it gets close to the beginning you see that little circle appears. That means it's a complete selection. Now to add to the selection I'm going to hold down the 'Shift' key, and I'm going to maybe start down here. Once you've started adding you can let go of Shift, because if you don't, really wants to do straight lines. So just Shift to get it going. Click around here, we'll do it one more time. It's a bit of a weird one, that one. So 'Shift' to get going, I'm going to click once, then let go of Shift. So it is adding but it's now trying to do straight lines. You can see how overlapping I am there. 'Shift', to get started, any which way you like to do a selection. And then we're going to go to 'Edit', 'Fill'. And I have no idea how good or bad this is going to be, let's just see. Not bad-ish, pretty good job though. 

That's pretty crazy, my whiteboard has now just got magically bigger. It's reusing some of the numbers. My microphone got a little bigger. The desk is not too bad, it's a little bit weird perspective. This is good, something weird's happening down here. The blanket that I've got pinned to my whiteboard. Why? Because if I don't, that whiteboard somehow vibrates. So on the microphone, instead of me sounding crystal clear, I sound like I'm recording in the bathroom. I missed a bit there. You get the idea. 

The last thing I want to do is maybe the edges here. There's a little white, you can kind of see it coming through here. The cool thing, remember, we've got our sweet new trick. When we select on the Mask, Select & Mask, what I'm going to do is shift to the edge. We've always gone in, I'm going to get out, just to kind of expand it out a little bit. And up here let's have a look at it on the layers. 'Show Original'. Just expanded a bit more. I even feather it, haven't feathered it, haven't feathered anything a long time. Ah, there we go. Click 'OK', go to that kind of really strong edge there. That is not a particularly good photo, I shot it right now. It's the desk I'm sitting at, just as an example. I want to tidy up these, I have these cables now, I made this desk. And while it looks kind of cool, I like it, I made it. I made a big ridge exactly where the mouse goes, which doesn't make it useless, but it makes it a terrible desk for anybody using a computer. 

Anyway, Auto Align, you might be thinking in your head, “I can think of ten other good ways in my situation to be using it.” I use this for exposure, it could be focus links, it could just be, you've got images you just need to line up. Some people do it where you've got like a staff picture. And you say, "Hey, everybody, say cheese." And most of them look, except for Sandra. Sandra's not looking at the camera, but in the next photograph, Sandra is looking but Dave isn't. I don't know who these people are. So what you can do is you can line them up, and then mask out Sandra's face on one of them, and have it so both Dave and Sandra are looking at the same time. All right, my friends, that is going to be it. Let's get into the next video.