Combining Two Photos on One Page in Photoshop Elements

Create a single document with two or more photos and text

If you're new to Photoshop Elements, you're likely just beginning to see how versatile and powerful the program is, and just how many techniques are available for accomplishing nifty and creative tricks. One such feat is combining two photos on a single page, which comes in handy if you want to show a before-and-after version of an image or a similar side-by-side comparison.

You can accomplish this task and even add a little text to the images as well. This tutorial uses Photoshop Elements version 14, but the steps also apply to newer versions.

Open Photos and Create a New Document

Creating a new blank document in Adobe Element

To follow along, right-click on the links below to save the practice files to your computer. Open them in Photoshop Elements Editor (expert or standard edit mode):


The two photos should appear at the bottom of the Editor window in the Photo Bin.

Then create a new, empty document in which you'll combine the photos. Go to File > New > Blank File, select Pixels as the value, enter 1024 x 768, then click OK. The new empty document will appear in your workspace and in the Photo Bin.

Copy and Paste the Two Photos Into the New Page

two images on the canvas and shown in the Layers panel in Photoshop Elements

Copy and paste the two photos into this new file using these instructions:

  1. Click on painteddesert1.jpg in the Photo Bin to make it the active document.
  2. In the menu, go to Select > All, then Edit > Copy.
  3. Click the Untitled-1 new document in the Photo Bin to make it active.
  4. Go to Edit > Paste.

In your layers palette, you will see that the painteddesert1 photo has been added as a new layer.

Now, click on painteddesert2.jpg in the Photo Bin, and Select All Copy > Paste into the new document, just as you did for the first photo.

The photo you just pasted will cover the first photo, but both photos are still there on separate layers, which you can see if you look at the Layers palette (see screenshot).

You also can drag the images onto the photo from the Photo Bin.

Resize the First Picture

Top image scaled in proportion to second image

Next, you'll resize and position each layer to fit on the page:

  1. Select the Move tool. It's the first tool in the toolbar. In the Options bar, make sure Auto select layer and Show bounding box are both checked. Layer 2 is active, which means you should see a dotted line around the painteddesert2 image, with small squares called handles on the sides and corners.
  2. Move your cursor to the lower-left corner handle, and you'll see it change to a diagonal, double-pointing arrow.
  3. Hold down the Shift key, then click on that corner handle. Drag it up and to the right to make the photo smaller on the page.
  4. Size the photo until it looks like it's about half the width of the page, then release the mouse button and the Shift key. Click the green checkmark to accept the change.
  5. Double-click inside the bounding box to apply the transformation.

Holding down the Shift key constrains the proportions of the photo to those of the original. Without the Shift key held down, you will distort the photo.

Resize the Second Picture

screenshot showing the bottom photo is scaled to match size of the top photo in photoshop elements

To resize the second picture:

  1. Click on the image in the background; it will show a bounding box. Click on the lower right handle, and drag to resize this image to the same size as the one you just did. Remember to hold the Shift key down, as you did before.
  2. Double-click inside the bounding box to apply the transformation.

Move the First Picture

screenshot showing the faded image moved to left edge of the canvas in photoshop elements

With the move tool still selected, move the faded desert scene down and to the left edge of the page.

Nudge the First Picture

screenshot of the faded photo moved 20 pixels to the right
Vanessa Sands

Now, you'll fine-tune the photos' placement:

  1. Hold the Shift key down, and press the right arrow key on your keyboard twice to nudge the image away from the left edge.
  2. Click on the other desert scene and use the move tool to position it on the opposite side of the page.

Photoshop Elements will attempt to help you with positioning by snapping the photos into place as you get close to the edge of the document or another object. In this case, the snapping is useful; sometimes, though, it's annoying, so you might want to know about how to disable snapping.

The arrow keys act as a nudge when the Move tool is active. Each press of the arrow key moves the layer one pixel in that direction. When you hold the Shift key down, the nudge increment increases to 10 pixels.

Add Text to the Page

screenshot of text added above the image and the text format menu is shown in photoshop elements

All you have left to do is add some text:

  1. Select the Type tool in the toolbox. It looks like a T.
  2. Set the Options bar as shown in the image above. The color is not important; use any color you like.
  3. Move your cursor to the top center of the document and click in the space just above the gap between the two images.
  4. Type the words Painted Desert and then click the checkmark in the Options bar to accept the text.

Add More Text and Save

screenshot of Before and After text blocks are placed below the images in elements

Finally, switch back to the Text tool to add the words Before and After below the photos, as shown in the image above.

If you want to reposition the text before accepting it, move your cursor slightly away from the text. The cursor will change to a Move tool cursor, and you can press the mouse button to move the text.

You're finished, but don't forget to go to File > Save and save your document. If you want to keep your layers and text editable, use the Photoshop PSD format. Otherwise, you can save as a JPEG.

Crop the Image

screenshot of a before and after image in photoshop elements

If the canvas is too large, select the Crop tool and drag it across the canvas. Move the handles to remove unwanted areas. Then click the green checkmarks or press Enter or Return to accept the changes.

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