Photomerge in Adobe PhotoShop is one of the most powerful, yet underrated features ever. Why do I say this? I say this because you can take almost any cheap scanner and use it to stitch your art with Photomerge in Photoshop, no matter how large it is. And it’s pretty easy to use too!
Stitch Your Art with Photomerge in PhotoShop? Huh?
Allow me to go into some detail about Photomerge in PhotoShop. This feature was first introduced in Adobe Photoshop CS 3. The selling point is that this amazing feature will allow users to quickly create large panoramic photographs by “stitching” together smaller photos (pieces of a panorama). With each development cycle, Photomerge has gotten better at stitching and blending together photos.
Using Photomerge to Stitch Your Art
Stitching your art using Photomerge in PhotoShop is pretty straightforward process. The first step is to find your over-size piece and your tiny scanner.
For this tutorial, I will be using an old pencil submission from a few years ago. It was a page out of a Romano Scarpa and Guido Martina mouse story, “The Blot’s Double Mystery” (In the original Italian, “Topolino e il Doppio Segreto di Macchia Nera”).
Divide and Conquer
Your next step is to figure out how many times you’ll need to scan to stitch your art with Photomerge in PhotoShop. To achieve this, you’ll need to consider how you’ll break down your work.
For my pencils, which are on tabloid-size (11 x 17 in) paper and the art is within a 10.5 x 15.5 inch drawing area, I can get away with using two scans. (One scan for the top. The second for the bottom.) Since I’ll want a smoother scan, I’ll use three scans, creating a middle scan. One of the reasons why I’ll scan the middle is due to the fact that the more overlap between scans, the better the result.
Scanning the Pieces
I’ll scan in the pieces with my Epson scanner using Hamrick’s Vuescan. I consider Vuescan “pro-sumer” software. It has enough power to be used professionally, yet you can simplify the interface to the point where the average consumer can work it without difficulty. Any scanner software can be used. The key details you’ll need to cover are that you’re scanning at a resolution of 300 dpi (or greater), the scan is magnified at 100%, and the color space is RGB. Here are my scans:
Stitching the Pieces Using Photomerge in PhotoShop
The images will get passed along to PhotoShop. You may or may not want to rotate your scans. It can be done in either your scanner software or within PhotoShop. Image menu >> Image Rotation >> …
If you have a copy of Adobe PhotoShop CS 3 or later, click into the File menu, and select Automate >> Photomerge… This will bring up the following window:
We’ll next need to tell Photomerge what files we need it to work with. You can either click the Browse… button to select your pieces, or click the Add Open Files button, which will immediately drop in your scans (if they’re open in PhotoShop) into the big list beneath drop-down menu under Source Files.
We can keep Auto selected within the Layout section of the Photomerge window, on the left-hand side. Also check the Blend Images Together box. Finally, click the OK button.
The End Result
Photomerge will do its thing and provide you with a perfectly stitched together image.
My results look pretty damn good. The only anomaly that I notice is the space in the upper left-hand corner. That’s not a big deal to me because it’s way outside of my image area.
If you look inside your Layers Palette (Windows menu >> Layers, see image above), you’ll notice that Photomerge has created three new layers. These layers are the scans you fed to Photomerge in PhotoShop. If necessary, errors happen, and you can further adjust the results. You even get layer masks. That means, none of your data was destroyed. Pretty neat!
Taking a Closer Look…
Closely inspecting your image, you’ll notice how PhotoShop blended the layers to the pixel, without any overlap. Below I adjusted the transparency of the middle layer, and made the layer mask visible to show how Photomerge masked the layers.
Now that you have working knowledge as to how to stitch your art with Photomerge in PhotoShop, give it a try! See how it works for you!