I need professional help on a project I am attempting...

Hi Experts,
I am going to attemp to do something that I have never done before. I am using Photoshop 7 for this project. I need to be able to create a final image by combinig up to 4 or 5 seperate images. I am fairly new to Photoshop - So I thought it would be best to ask you (especially since I cannot even find what I am looking for in the help pages there). The final image needs to contain 2 seperate face images but both will be very simi-transparent in the background of the finished image. I then want to have either 1 or 2 other images that will probably be either in the foreground (and not transparent) or just overlapping the facial images that will be a bit higher on the page. The final image will have the simi-transparent images behind the other images that will not be transparent. This is for a (sort of) wedding card I am preparing. Oh.... and also I will be needing some text along the bottom of the image (possibly). I understand that this is done with layers - to which I have never used before!
Since I know nothing about this way the program works... I will need (more or less) a step by step set of instructions to guide me through this. And because I expect you to have to spend more than average amount of time assisting me with this project - I am going to go all out and offer 500 points to the person I choose to help me.
So, If you know this program well and feel you can help me through this - post your comments - and from these comments - I will choose the person that will get the points and help me.
Oh....If there is more you need form me - please ask.
Thanks Experts !!!

Who is Participating?
dbrckoviConnect With a Mentor Commented:

To do it you would have to select the background and delete it.
The main problem is how to select only the background, and not the person

Photoshop offers many ways to do it. I'll explain most usefull:
First open some image with person and a background. If you have Win2000 and up, there should be Sample.jpg in MyPictures directory.

 - lasso tool (L)      (very unprecise)
To use this tool for cutting background, just draw a freehand line all around the person, when you reach your starting point, release the button.
If you drew precisely enough, the person should be selected.

If you missed somewhere (for example if you forgot to include persons ear in the selection) you don't have to start all over again. Just continue to the end.
To fix missed ear, hold Shift, the lasso cursor will get a small + sign. Now draw a line around the ear you missed.
The region you drew will be added to your selection. To remove part of your selection, hold Alt.

Now press Ctrl-Shift-I to invert the selection, and press Del.

 - Magic wand tool (W)
To me it is the most usefull tool in Photoshop.
When you click somewhere on the image, it will select all pixels which have the same or similar color to the pixel where you clicked.

To cut out the background from the sample.jpg, follow these steps.
 - select lasso tool
 - under the menu bar, there should be a box where you can enter tolerance value. Type 32 in there.
 - check Contiguous checkbox
 - now click anywhere on the white line in the image. Almost the complete line shoud be selected
 - to add blue regions to the selection, hold Shift and keep clicking on those regions untill you have complete background selected
 - press Del

The tolerance value, tells magic want tool, how similar some pixel should be to get selected. The tolerance set to 0 means, only identical pixels will get selected.
The higher the tolerance, more pixels will get selected, but if you set it too high, you might get pixels you don't want selected.
When Contuguous check box is selected, only the region surrounding the pixel where you clicked will be selected, but if you uncheck it, every pixel on the image which fits in the tolerance will be selected

Using Quick Mask Mode (Q)
 - press Ctrl-D to deselect everything
 - press Q to enter in Quick Mask Mode
 - select Paintbrush tool
 - use the Paintbrush tool on the person
 - fill the complete inside area of the person with the red mask
 - if you miss somewhere, you can use Eraser Tool to erase the spot whick you missed
 - when you have the whole man "masked", press Q again
 - the region where you drew the mask, should now be selected

These are 3 most usefull irregular selection methods which I know.
Each of them is good for something, but none of them is good for everything.
Which one of them you should use, depends on the image.

For example. If you want to remove a red wall behind a blue car, then use Magic Wand.
But if you have a blue wall behind a blue car, Magic wand will most likely select some pixels on the car also.
In this case, Quick Edit mode would be the best.

You will get the best results, if you combine all of the tools together.

Just experiment a bit with the tools, and keep in mind that holding Shift adds something to the selection, and Alt removes something from the selection.
Also don't forget that each tool has a set of options (under the menu bar) which can make selecting something a lot easier.
MimerQConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I can explain how to create layers with different images.

Open Photoshop and create a new document in the size that you want (Ctrl + N)

Then open one of your images and user the Move Tool (Shortcut: V) and drag the images to the document that you created.

Now you can see that the images is in a layer above the Background layer. (If you can't see the layers press F7 or Windows > Layers)

Open all the images you have to use and drag them to your document. After the you will have several layers that you can edit in different ways.
To change transparancy on a layer there is slider in the layer windows (Above where you can see all your layers) named Opacity.
Yuo have to select the layer that you want the effects to affect.

To create text select the Type Tool (Shortcut: T) and click and write the text. It will appear in a new layer and you can move the text around with the Move Tool

SlayerXConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I know about the transparent layer mask with makes it possible to do what you hav e mentioned. If your new to photoshop, like myself always play around with it and see what you come up with. Experiment with photos too.
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There are few important things about layers, which might or might not be obvious.

 - Layer order is important if your images are overlapping.
    In Layers Window (F7), you wil have the list of all of your layers. First layer in the list is the first layer on your image ( "closest" to you ), the second layer in the list is behind it, etc.
    When ever you create a new layer (pasting something for example), it is placed on top of everything else.
    You can change the layer order simply by clicking on a layer in layers window and dragging it where you want it.

 - Another important thing with layers is: allways be sure which layer you are working with
   In the Layers Window, there is allways one layer selected. This is the currently active layer, and all the drawing, erasing, etc. is applied to this layer.

 - To delete a layer, right click on it in layers window and select 'Delete Layer'

 - Some functions in Photoshop work only on a complete image, and can't be used on separate layers. For example: resizing and rotating.
   So if you want to perform souch poerations on a single layer, the simplest way is to:
                   - select the layer in layers window
                   - press Ctrl+A to select all pixels in that layer
                   - press Ctrl+C to copy that layer into clipboard
                   - press Ctrl+N and press OK to create new image (it will automaticaly be the same size as the layer in the clipboard)
                   - press Ctrl+V to paste the layer, delete the background layer if you don't need it
                   - do what ever you want with it there and paste it back to your main image when you're finished, using the same steps as before
                   - delete the old layer from the main image if you don't need it

 - when you are saving your work, allways keep one copy in PSD format, becouse if you save it to BMP or other similar format, all layers will be combined into one single layer,
   which makes it harder to edit later
He's right, I ususally save 2 copies in case.
duvallAuthor Commented:
I hate to sound stupid but I cannot even seem to get the layers to blend together..... It seems all I see is the one or the other seperately. I do not know if I am going to be able to do this or not. I guess you have to treat me as if I know nothing and give me all of the steps. The "new" document only shows a very small box in the middle - I cannot even see it (any image) although I have copied 2 images into it as layer 1 and layer 2. I may give up if I can't make better progreess...........
duvallAuthor Commented:
OK...........I got the images to where I can see them. I need to know how to remove the background from one of them? I only want to see the body of the person - no background.
I thought I mentioned about, experimenting with photos or bascially using the tools, it shouldn't be hardat all to do that.
FahdmurtazaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Yes dbrckovi & Slayer have provided you with nearly 100 % of the information you need and its now upto your creativity I think !
Fahd Murtaza
duvallAuthor Commented:
Can someone tell me HOW (if it is possible) to darken the skin tones on one image so that the two seperate images (when combined) will have similar skin tones??? I have tried every filter and cannot get one image (that is very fair) to be a bit darker to help match up with the second image I am using with it???
Image -> Adjust -> Levels
Image>>Adjustments>>(Many of the options to select from) choose appropriate like brightness/contrast.
Fahd Murtaza
Use the  Adjust-Levels as mentioned,  it shows the preview of your image well you either daken or lightened the photo, you can make ajustments at a certian point to bring out that effect. You should try it.
duvallAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the delay. I have given up on this project but still want to learn how to do this sometime... But I cannot leave this question open forever.... ha ha. I am going to split these points amongst you for your efforts. I may come back at a later date and resume this - but do not have the time to persue it now. Thanks for the help!
You can ask for it asking it just here. Our points are just prepaid till then, LOL.
Fahd Murtaza
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