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How to Insert Images in Photoshop The Easy Way

Follow the 5 simple steps in this Photoshop tutorial to learn how to add an image layer to an existing image.

When you know how to insert an image in Photoshop flawlessly, you are on a fast road to making some very interesting and original works of art!

Inserting one image onto another is a relatively simple skill and one that you’ll need for editing photos or creating graphic designs.

Follow the 4 easy steps in this Photoshop tutorial to learn how to add an image layer to an existing image. 

Adobe Photoshop

Download a free copy of Adobe Photoshop to follow along with this simple tutorial.


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How to Insert Images in Photoshop (5 Simple Steps)

Step 1 – Select your Images

Choosing compatible images to insert into your chosen background is a skill.

If you want the final image to look realistic, you will need to focus on choosing compatible images which have similar tones and hues.

It will be difficult (if not impossible) to blend an image taken in broad daylight into a nighttime background, so take your time selecting the images to use. 

Don’t worry about the size of the images. As long as their quality is good, their size can be adjusted once inserted into the background layer.

Step 2 – Open Background Layer

When you have selected images, Open the background layer first as a new document in Photoshop.

Go to File > Open and find the document you wish to open as a background layer. 

It is important to open the background layer first, as it will be easier to insert images to fit the background, rather than fit the background layer behind the subject. 

When the background layer is open you can insert the next image.

Step 3 – Insert Image

Insert a new image into the Photoshop document.

You can do this by dragging the image from your desktop onto the Photoshop document or navigating to File > Place Embedded and select the image file from your computer.

photo editing

The image will open as a new layer in the Layers Panel, positioned on top of the background.

It can be useful to name each layer in the layers panel so that they will be easier to locate when you are editing.

Step 4 – Convert to Smart Object

To protect the quality of the layer it is wise to convert it to a smart object.

When converted to smart objects layers will retain their quality no matter how much you increase or decrease their size.

Navigate to the Top Menu bar and select Layer > Smart Objects and from the drop-down menu select Convert to Smart Object.

file menu

Check in the Layers Panel to see if the image layer now has a Smart Objects Icon.

Step 5 – Resize and Rotate

99% of the time the new layer will not open at the size you want, so you will need to change the size.

To change the size, navigate to the Top Menu bar, and in the drop-down menu under Edit select Transform > Scale, or to use the Keyboard shortcut Press T.

Shift Key

The new image will now be framed by the blue borders of the bounding box.

To increase or decrease the size of the image drag the edges of the bounding box with your cursor. 

When you drag the bounding box a dialog box will appear with the dimensions of the width and height of the adjusted layer, this is useful if you have a specific measurement you wish to achieve.

When you are happy with the size release the cursor and use the move tool to position the layer into the desired position.

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Viola, complete. 

Now you know how to insert and adjust the size of an image in Photoshop, you can add as many image files as you like.

How to Cut an Image in Photoshop

Combining the ability to insert an image with the ability to cut an image will give you endless editing freedom to create.

Cutting the image layer will allow you to remove areas of the image that you don’t want to display. 

Step 1 – Create a Selection

Use a Selection Tool and make a selection around the area you wish to keep.

Step 2 – Invert Selection

To remove the background and not the subject you need to inverse the selection.

Navigate to the Top Menu bar and in the drop-down menu under Select choose Inverse.

For a more in-depth look at inverting selections, Learn how to invert selections in Photoshop.

Step 3 – Cut

The area you wish to cut out will now be surrounded by marching ants.

Navigate to the Top Menu bar under Edit select Cut, or alternately use the keyboard shortcut by Pressing Command X (for Macs) or Ctl X (for Windows).

Your image file will now be cut.

Alternatively, you can hide unwanted areas of an image file by creating a Layer Mask – Learn how to Layer Mask in Photoshop.

Shotkit Writer & Photoshop Expert

Judyth is an experienced studio photographer and glass artist. When she isn’t Photoshopping comedians into the bellies of sharks, you can find her cooking delicious treats for her guests.

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