When I started this blog, I wanted a header image that was a blend of tech and life. The overall blog colour is predominantly green so I chose the green keyboard image and one of my photos of a local Highland scene as shown below.
As you can see, the image quality wasn’t great and the blending of the two images was also poor. So I decided to try to improve the image quality and the blending.
I find all image editing software fairly unintuitive and it’s only when you’ve been using a program for a while on a regular basis that you really get to know how to use it. If you’ve ever tried to learn Photoshop or the GIMP, you’ll know what I mean. At the time I started this blog, I just couldn’t master the art of blending two images together. In fact, in the end I resorted to just creating a panorama of the two images as shown above, which seemed to work, and I left it at that. Since then, I’ve looked at a number of free utilities for blending images. Most were very poor but eventually I found FotoMix. I also found that there’s been an explosion in YouTube tutorials covering image editing, even for the commercial image editing program I’ve used for years, Serif PhotoPlus – I just can’t afford Photoshop and I wouldn’t need all its features anyway. So let’s have a look at these two options for merging images.
There’s a nice walk-through on using FotoMix here so I won’t repeat that in this post. I used my loch scene image as the background and the green keyboard image as foreground. Under the Composition tab, I moved the keyboard to the left end of the image. I then used the Fade Brush with Maximum Fade 100, Brush Size/Shape 15 to blend the images. Then under the Touch Up tab I used Blend Brush with Brush Strength 7 and Brush Size/Shape 15. Under the Finish tab, I saved the composite image as a gif as shown below.
I found a quirky YouTube video on blending two images with Serif PhotoPlus and that helped me to master the technique in PhotoPlus. It’s probably a similar procedure in other photo editing software. I opened both images in PhotoPlus, then copied the green keyboard image to memory and pasted it into the loch image as a new layer above the loch image. The tool used to create the blend is the Gradient Fill Tool and I chose the options as shown below
As you can see on the YouTube video, blending is carried out by selecting lines on the upper layer which act as gradients from transparent to opaque above the lower layer. If you’re not happy with any blending action, just undo and try again. A bit of trial and error here till you get it right.
So there are two options to blend images together. FotoMix is free and pretty good. I’ve actually used the blended image as the new header for this blog. Quite a bit better than the old header I think you’ll agree. But if you do want a good low cost alternative to Photoshop that does blending among many other image editing processes, then Serif PhotoPlus is pretty good. I picked up the current version, PhotoPlus X5, for £32.99 on eBay.