In this tutorial, we will learn how to place one image inside another to create an interesting compositional effect using the simple, but nonetheless very powerful Paste Into function. With Paste in, we can select an area in one image, and then copy and paste another image directly into the area we have chosen.
In this case, I will use Paste in to place a photo in a frame, but remember, like all Photoshop lessons, this lesson is not aimed only at getting the desired effect. As soon as you figure out how this function works, you will no doubt find it with many creative applications.
I will use Photoshop CS6, but this tutorial is also compatible with Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud). For Photoshop CS4 and earlier versions, or for examples of using this function, see our first lesson.
Materials for the lesson:
Couple in the park (extra charge)
To get a similar effect, you need two images. Image from Shutterstock containing frame.
And here is the second image that I will place, actually, in a frame (a couple in an autumn park with Shutterstock):
The final composition will look like this:
Step 1: Select the area where you want to place the second image.
Start with the image on which you will place the second image, and select the area in which it should appear. The selection tool you need will depend on the shape of the area. In my case, I start with the image of the frame where I want to place the second image. The frame is a rectangle, so you might think that the Rectangular area tool is used; nevertheless, we should not forget that my frame is tilted, therefore it is better in this case to use the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso).
Tool Polygonal Lasso “Hidden” behind the Lasso tool, and to select it, click on the tool Lasso, and hold until the context menu appears. From the menu select Polygonal Lasso:
The Straight Lasso tool allows us to select an area with straight sides – we just click at the points where our line should change direction. Each time we click on a point, Photoshop creates a straight line between the new and the previous points. We continue to click, creating lines, until we return to the starting point. To close the area, as I said, just click on the starting point.
Selecting the area inside the frame with this tool is quite easy. All I need to do is click in each of the corners of the frame. I will start in the upper left corner, then move to the upper right corner, then to the lower right corner, then to the lower left corner. You will not see the familiar line of “moving ants”, as we select the area with the Polygonal Lasso tool. Instead, you will see a thin line connecting the selected points:
To complete the selection of the area, I will again click on the very first point in the upper left corner. And, now, you can see the selected area highlighted by the standard line of “moving ants”:
Step 2: Select and copy the second image
Switch to your second image (the one that you will place inside the selected area), by actually opening the image, or clicking on the tab with it if it is already open:
We need to copy this image to the clipboard so that we can paste it into the selected area. First of all, we need to select an image. Open the menu Allotment (Select) and select All (All). Alternatively, press Ctrl / Cmd + A on the keyboard.
A line appears on the image showing the selected area:
When the image is selected, open the menu Edit (Edit) and select Copy (Copy). Alternatively, press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl / Cmd + C:
Step 3: Paste the image into the selected area.
Switch back to the first image by clicking on its tab:
The area we have highlighted is still visible, and to paste the second image there, open the Edit menu and select Special insert (Paste Special), and then Insert in (Paste Into):
This is how the image appears in the selected area. In my case, the image is clearly too large, but we will learn how to fix it a bit later:
Before moving on, let’s look at the panel with layers to figure out what happened. Please note that we now have two layers. The original image is our Background layer at the bottom, and as soon as we selected the Paste In command, Photoshop created a new layer above it, and placed the second image on this layer:
Why is the image visible only in the chosen area? This happened because Photoshop used the selected area to create layer masks for the second image. We can see the mask on the thumbnail of the layer mask. The white part shows where our image is visible in the document, while the black part is hidden from view:
Step 4. Resize and move the image using Free Transform.
If your image is too large for the selected area (as in my case) and you need to resize it, open the menu Edit and select Free Transformation (Free Transform), or hold down the keyboard shortcut Ctrl / Cmd + T:
This opens a free transform window and shows the reference points (small squares) around the image. Note: a free transformation window appears around the real image, and not just its visible part. If you do not see the window Free Transformation full, open the menu View (View) and select Fit the Screen:
This will instantly reduce your image so that everything, including the Free Transformation window, will fit on your screen:
To resize your image, hold down the Shift key and drag to any of the four corners of the window Free transformation. Holding down the Shift’a saves the proportions of the image during the transformation so that you don’t accidentally distort the shape. In this case, I pull the lower right corner, but any of the corners will do. Make sure (important!) That you release the mouse button first, and then Shift already. If you release Shift first, you will lose the original aspect ratio of the image:
To move our image, simply click on any part of the free transformation window and drag it. Shift is not necessary here. Do not click on the point in the center of the image – you move it, but not the image:
If the image also needs to be rotated, move the cursor over the edge of the window. Free Transformation. When you see a rounded double-sided arrow, click and rotate the image. In this case, I turn it counterclockwise so that it better coincides with the angle of the frame:
When you are satisfied with the result, press Enter / Return, and exit the mode. Free Transformation:
Step 5: Add Inner Shadow Effect
To complete the effect, I want to add an inner shadow to the edges of the image so that it looks more like a real photo inside the frame, and not as if someone had just inserted it inside the first image (which I actually did). To add an internal shadow, click on the layer style icon in the bottom of the panel with layers:
From the list that appears, choose Inner Shadow:
Next, a dialog box opens that adjusts our inner shadow. I will reduce the opacity from the standard 75% to 40% so that the shadow does not look so intense. I set the angle at 135 degrees to give the impression that the light comes from the upper left corner, but you can choose the angle as you like. Finally, I will set the size and distance to 10px. The Size option controls how far the shadow extends from the corner, while Distance controls the softness of the edge. The values you need will largely depend on the size of the image, so here you can experiment a little:
Click OK to close the dialog box. This is what I got after adding the inner shadow:
That’s all! So we put one image inside another with the function Insert in (Paste Into) in Photoshop!
Author: Steve Patterson