photograph: a little photoshop magic – the bubbles edition

So, say you took a couple pictures of your son blowing bubbles, and you really like these two:

But you’re bummed because you like the close-up picture better, but there aren’t enough bubbles in it. What’s a girl to do? Well, you steal the bubbles from the right picture to put onto the left picture, of course:

Want to know how I did it?

It’s actually fairly simple if you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Be aware that this technique only looks good if the background in both pictures is the same. Since the bubbles in both pictures are in front of the grass, it works well here, but I wouldn’t take bubbles that are in front of grass in one picture and place them over concrete or a house in a second picture.

Start by opening up both pictures and placing them side by side. Then choose your quick selection tool. It looks like this:

Go over to the picture with bubbles in it and hover over one of the bubbles. You’ll see your tool as a circle with a + in the middle of it. You can increase or decrease the size of your quick selection tool by hitting the right and left paranthesis buttons (or using the drop down brush size menu at the top left of the screen). You want to make your tool just a little smaller than the bubble you are hovering over. Then simply click down once to select the entire bubble. It should look like this:

If the outline doesn’t include the entire bubble, click down on the portion of the bubble that isn’t included in the ouline. Your selection will expand to include it. If you accidentally get more that just the bubble selected, like the top one here:

…just hold down the alt (option) key and the little plus inside your quick selection tool will switch to a minus. Click on the portion you want to be removed from your selection, and it will remove it.

Once you have your bubble outlined, we want to refine the selection just a little. Go to select – refine edge.

Then enter the following numbers (you can play around with these to get the best result – but the most important part is that we are increasing the size of the selection just a little to make sure we have all of the bubble included in our selection):

Hit ok. Now we have a nice bubble selection. You can copy it, then click over to your other photo and hit paste. Or you can simply hold down the control key and drag the bubble from the right photo to the left one.

Once the bubble is on the left picture, you can click on it with your move tool and move it wherever you’d like it on your photo. Repeat with a few more bubbles, and you have a great composite photo. I placed a few of the bubbles right at the edge of my photo so it looks like they are floating right out of the frame – which I think makes the picture look a little more natural.

Pretty cool, right? Once you know what you’re doing, it will only take a few minutes to create the photo you wish you had taken in the first place.

One more bubble blowing picture tip: try using burst mode (or continuous shooting) on your camera to catch the bubble as it grows. You may need to set your camera to sports setting to get this to activate. Simply press your shutter down and hold it down for a minute, telling the camera to keep firing off shots as fast as it can. You’ll end up with a fun sequence of shots like this:

Linked up at:

Be Different…Act Normal

Craft Envy


  1. 1

    Denise says

    I could have done it in PSE, but I probably would have used a lot more difficult of a process. So thanks for the tutorial. 🙂

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