You can use the Auto-Align Layers command to make a composite photo from a pair of nearly identical images that may contain some unwanted areas. For example, one shot of a group portrait is ideal except that one of the subjects has her eyes closed. In another shot her eyes are open. Using Auto-Align Layers and layer masking, you can combine these shots and eliminate the flaw in the final image.

  1. Open the two images you want to combine.
  2. Create a new image (File > New) with the same dimensions as the two source images.
  3. In the Layers panel for each source image, select the layer that contains the image content, and drag it to the new image window. The Layers panel for the new image now contains two new layers, one for each source image.
  4. In the Layers panel of the new image, arrange the new layers so the layer that contains the content you want to correct (portrait with eyes closed) is on top of the layer that contains the correct content (portrait with eyes open).
  5. Select the two new layers, and choose Edit > Auto-Align Layers.
  6. Select Reposition Only, then click OK. Photoshop finds the common areas in each layer and aligns them so that identical areas overlap.
  7. Click the top layer to select only that layer.
  8. Add a blank layer mask to the layer:
    • Click Add Layer Mask in the Layers panel.
    • Choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.
  9. Set the foreground color to black, choose a brush tip and size, and zoom in if necessary to focus on the part of the image you want to correct.
  10. Using the brush tool, add to the layer mask by painting over the top layer. Painting with black completely masks out the top layer, while grayscale creates partial transparency to the layer below, and white restores the top layer. See Masking layers. Continue editing the layer mask until you successfully blend the two layers to create one unified image.


    Make sure that the layer mask thumbnail, not the image thumbnail, is selected in the Layers panel during the masking operation.

  11. To allow further editing, save the layered and masked version of the image, and make another copy that you can flatten to produce a single-layer version with a smaller file size.