Cloned Self Portraits

LAST SUNDAY MORNING, I WENT OUT TO RECAPTURE some images that I had missed the day before.  (Including this one).   I was standing near this foot bridge that crosses the creek and I remembered that I had been itching to attempt a cloned self portrait.   I have seen it done before by Tim McMurdo and also by Viveca Koh.    So I set up the camera and took some self portraits at different points within the scene.   When I got home, I downloaded them into the computer, got them all opened up in my Photoshop Elements and then started reading Viveca’s Post on Cloning.    I was all set to go until I got to the part about layer masking.   I use Photoshop Elements 7 for my processing and I did not have the capability to layer mask.  (I do now and I’ll get to that point later in the post)  I had to figure out a way to do it without the ability to layer mask.   I came up with a little something and thought I would share it with you.

These were the shots that I had taken of myself.

Open all of the images that are to be used in Photoshop.  For my purposes and the way I was going to make this happen, it was going to be easier to work starting with the image where I am the farthest away from the camera and then add the closer images from there.  So the first image (the one with my hand on the cable) would be the original.    Although, one can complete this action using all of the images at once, I found it to be easier to work with only two images at a time in the work area of Photoshop.

As an option, you may create a duplicate layer from your original.   The reason for this is that the original remains untouched by the changes.

Now load up the second image into the work area and click on the top toolbar;  Select – All

Then Click on the top tool bar Edit – Copy

Click on the original image to bring it to the front

Click on the top tool bar Edit – Paste.  A copy of your second image will appear as a new layer on the original image.     You can either close or minimize your second image now.  The choice is yours.

For the next step, it is a little trickier if you are not using Layer Mask.   Since I did not have it at the time, I used a combination of the Quick Selection Tool and the Selection Brush Tool from the left sidebar in order to obtain a border around the subject (me).

Once you have obtained a desired border, on the top tool bar click Select – Inverse

Click  the delete button on your computer keyboard and everything except the subject you highlighted will be deleted from the screen leaving only your second subject appearing on your first layer.   Then you can deselect the subject (Shortcut CTRL D)   Since I was originally working with no layer mask capability, I used one of my other favorite tools in Photoshop Elements, The Healing Brush Tool, which is found in the left sidebar.  I have previously posted a video tutorial from Sean Armenta on the Healing Brush here.

I used the Healing Brush Tool as a blending tool in order to ensure that there were no harsh lines between the two layers.   Once done, complete these steps for your remaining images, flatten the image, process to your liking and then save.      You saw the final product at the top of the post.

I just couldn’t let it rest though because that’s how I am.   I never held out any hope that I would be able to use Layer Mask in Photoshop Elements 7.   I had searched around the web before with very little luck in locating ANYTHING.    Well I can’t say whether it wasn’t there or I was just not seeing it.   I went and looked today and almost immediately, I found a free plug in to add layer masking capability to Photoshop Elements 6, 7 and 8.    So I added the plug in and went back and revisited the process using layer masking (which is very cool), added a couple more images to the mix and came up with this.

Then of course, I had to take it a step further.   I added the wood grain of an image I took one day of my back gate to the mix.   I created a Montage using a tutorial on that subject by Beckham Digital that I have posted here before.   This is what I came up with.

I certainly hope that some use can be found from this information.

Take It!
Run With It!
Make It Yours!


20 responses

  1. Nice write up man. these things are always interesting. Maybe have to try it one day.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    • Thanks much! I’m not certain it’s something that I will do regularly. It was fun to play with though!

      October 19, 2011 at 10:00 PM

  2. Absolutely Fantastic! You really mastered the technique.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    • Thanks Tim!

      October 19, 2011 at 10:00 PM

  3. Looks like you had fun, multiplied!

    October 20, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    • For certain!

      October 20, 2011 at 1:45 PM

  4. Great tutorial Mike! It’s good to have a version of this technique for users of Photoshop Elements without layer masks (something I didn’t know as I’ve not used Elements), but well done for finding a plug in to get around this. I’ll update my post with a back link to yours.

    I like the final result too 🙂

    October 20, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    • Thanks for your kind comments Viveca. It took a bit to find a way to make this happen without layer masking but in reality, I’m glad I found the plug in. 😀 Much easier. Thanks for the back link!

      October 20, 2011 at 1:44 PM

  5. Mike…thanks so much for writing this tutorial. I had read Viveca Koh’s tutorial which I was dying to try out but I too use Photoshop Elements. This is perfect. Now I just have to go out and take some pictures.

    October 20, 2011 at 4:55 PM

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  11. Wendy

    I think I need to get Photoshop Elements! This looks so cool!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    • I am using version 7 still but I will likely son be upgrading to version 10 because it processes RAW.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:48 PM

  12. Anna Soffia Oskarsdottir

    Mike I found your multiple masking layer, but could not get it into right place in my windows 7 system. But I realy love your tutorial – and your multiplication 🙂

    May 8, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    • Yeah. I’m sorry about that. I can’t even explain to you where it goes now because last night, my computer crapped out on my and I had to completely wipe it and start over. None of my photo processing stuff survived the crash! 😦

      May 9, 2012 at 2:36 AM

      • Anna Soffia Oskarsdottir


        May 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM

  13. Pingback: Cloned Self Portraits: How I Do It | Viveca Koh Photography

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