How to Combine two images to striking effect
1 Outline your subject Using the path tool and the ability to refine your selection – as seen in last issue’s tutorial – to isolate your subject. Create a new layer with a mask rather than deleting your background. The mask should sit at the top of all your layers.
2 Find a background
a complementary image for your main subject: open it, press ç+A to select it, then ç+C to copy it to the Clipboard. Switch to your main image and press ß+ç+n to create a new layer, then ç+v to paste your background.
3 Layer up Drag your background to the bottom of the list of layers to put it behind your subject. You should now be looking at your subject, isolated on a chequerboard background. The next step is to make your background show through.
4 Graduated masks Select your subject’s layer, then click the Mask Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Press g to select the gradient tool. Drag from the area of your subject you want to be more opaque to where it should be fully transparent.
5 Tweak the gradient Click the gradient in the toolbar. Select the left point and set its opacity to zero. Set the right point’s colour to white. You can drag the points at the end of the gradient’s line to change its length, and the bar in the middle can be moved too.
6 Move the background Now that your background shows, you can move it around to create the most pleasing composition. Select your background in the Layers panel and press v. You can now drag your background around, or resize it.
7 Add a plain background If you save your image as a JPEG, the app will automatically apply a white background to your image. If you save to a format that supports transparency, such as PNG, first add a new layer, filled with white, at the bottom of the stack.
8 Turn layers on and off Affinity Photo facilitates further experimentation. You can create as many alternative backgrounds, using different gradient masks, as you like. Uncheck the box next to a background layer to make it invisible so you can try something else.
9 Export When you save as a JPEG, all your layers will be merged, so it’s worth first saving a layered version in the app’s own file format. Be warned that this may take up hundreds of megabytes. For all other uses, choose File > Export.