Get more bang for your buck
Discover how to create the perfect blend in Photoshop
01 Fire up Photoshop
Download the start files from the disc, or using the link below. In Photoshop CC or CS go to File>Open, browse to the folder containing the five start files, shift-click to select them all, then press Open. Once they’ve opened in Photoshop, press Ctrl+Tab to toggle to Firework1.jpg.
02 Select a firework
Select the Polygonal Lasso tool and make a rough selection of the firework on the right, as shown above. Once you’ve made your selection, press Ctrl/Cmd+C to copy the selection, and toggle to Cityscape.jpg, again using Ctrl+Tab. Hit Ctrl/ Cmd+V to paste the firework onto the cityscape.
03 Get blending
With the Layers Palette visible (Window>Layers), click on the word ‘Normal’ at the top and select Lighten from the Blending Mode dropdown menu. This has the effect of retaining all pixels in your selection that are brighter than the pixels on the layer below, while hiding any that are darker.
04 Position as needed
This effectively hides the darker bits of sky behind the firework to reveal the brighter lights of the cityscape. To position the firework, select the Move tool and drag it to wherever you want it to go. Next, toggle to Firework2.jpg and repeat steps 2 and 3, positioning it as shown above.
05 Where there’s smoke
The firework in Firework3.jpg is shrouded in smoke, which is lighter than the background of the cityscape. This means that when it’s pasted onto the cityscape, it will stay visible when the Blending mode is set to Lighten. As a result, the edge of the selection is clearly visible.
06 Soften your selection
The way round this is to soften the edge of the selection before copying and pasting it. To do this, make the selection as normal, hit Refine Edge in the options bar at the top and drag Feather to around 100 pixels, then copy and paste as normal. You might also need to do this with Firework4.jpg.