Photoshop tutorial: Combine photos in Photoshop to create a 'stop motion' still

Create a stop-motion still with these practical tips from Tigz Rice.

Intro


‘Stop-motion’ still photography is going to be another of this year’s visual trends. For this form, you combine photos to show a character moving through a scene – indicating motion or them doing an action and building a narrative.

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To build these images, you follow a process similar to those used to create stop-motion films by the likes of Aardman – shooting a series of photos from exactly the same position, but moving objects between them. But instead of turning them into a film, you combine the photos in Photoshop to create a still that tells the story.

In this tutorial, photographer Tigz Rice covers everything from setting up and taking your images to aligning them in Photoshop and merging them together using layer masks.

Step 1

STEP 1

First, you'll need a selection of images to work with that show movement or tell a story. You'll need these photos to be taken from exactly the same po-sition, so use a tripod if possible or find a surface to put your camera on whilst you're taking your images.

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You can move and position characters and props manually for each shot. If you’re working with something or someone who can move on their own (whether a toy train, person or animals), use your camera’s continuous shooting or sports mode to take several photos in quick succession.


Step 2

STEP 2

Once you've taken a series of images you're happy with, bring them all into Photoshop. Locate the first image in the sequence, which we will use as the main document for our multi-exposure. Rename this layer 'Image 1'.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Next, locate your second image in your sequence and click + drag the file into the original document whilst holding down the Shift key, to place the image directly on top of ‘Image 1’. Rename this layer 'Image 2'. Repeat this step and rename accordingly with the rest of the images in your sequence.

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Step 4

STEP 4

If your images aren’t perfectly aligned, you can use Photoshop's Auto-Align Layers feature. Highlight all of the layers in your Layers panel and go to Edit > Auto Align Layers.

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Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

STEP 7

Now our images are aligned, let's start merging some of the images together. Click on the eye symbols next to the layers in the Layers panel to turn visibility off on all layers except ‘Image 1’ and ‘Image 2’.

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Step 8

STEP 8

Select ‘Image 2’ and click on the Add Layer/Vector Mask icon, which should bring up an additional white rectangle next in the Layers panel.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Press Cmd/Ctrl + I to invert the layer mask, so the white rectangle changes to black. ‘Image 2’ should now be completely invisible.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Select the Brush tool (B) and set the foreground colour to white. With a soft edged brush at 100% Opacity, brush over the area of the black layer mask where the object is to reveal it on top of the image below. You should now have two visible instances of the object in your image.

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Step 11

STEP 11

Now reduce the same brush to 10% opacity and use it to smooth out the layer mask, particularly around reflections and shadows caused by adding in the second object.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Click on the eye icon next to Image 3 and repeat steps 8-11. Do this with all remaining layers in your Photoshop document.

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Step 13

STEP 13

Once you're done, click on the right-hand submenu and Flatten Image. The image is complete.

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