How To Create A Diptych With Photoshop CS6
How To Create A Diptych
Step 1: Open Your Two Images In Photoshop
The first thing we need to do is open both of our images into Photoshop. If you already have your images open, you can skip this first step, but I’m going to start off in Adobe Bridge CS6 where I’ve navigated to a folder on my desktop containing my two images. To select them both, I’ll click on the first image thumbnail on the left to highlight it, then I’ll hold down the Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key on my keyboard and click on the second thumbnail. This selects and highlights both images at the same time:
Selecting both images in Adobe Bridge CS6.
To open them in Photoshop, all I need to do is double-click on either of the images. Each photo will open in Photoshop in its own separate document. By default, only one of the images is visible at a time, but we can easily switch between them by clicking on their tabs just below the Options Bar in the upper left of the screen:
Each photo opens in its own tabbed document. Switch between them by clicking on their tabs.
Step 2: Resize The Images To The Same Height
Before we combine the images into a diptych, we first need to make sure both photos are sized to the same height so they’ll line up nicely when displayed side by side. If they’re not, we’ll need to resize one of them to match the other. We can check the current dimensions of each image using Photoshop’s Image Size dialog box.
First, I’ll switch to my photo that’s in landscape orientation (the photo of the girl standing in the woods) by clicking on its tab:
Making the landscape-oriented photo active.
To check the photo’s height, I’ll go up to the Image menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Image Size:
Going to Image > Image Size.
This opens the Image Size dialog box. In the Pixel Dimensions section at the top, it’s showing me that the height of this photo is 2380 pixels:
The Image Size dialog box showing the photo’s height of 2380 pixels.
I’ll click the Cancel button to close out of the dialog box without making any changes, then I’ll switch over to my second photo by clicking on its tab:
Making the portrait-oriented photo active.
With my second photo now active, I’ll once again go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Image Size:
Going again to Image > Image Size.
This time, the Image Size dialog box is telling me that my portrait-oriented photo has a height of 3200 pixels, making it the larger (in terms of height) of the two images:
The second photo has a larger height value of 3200 pixels.
This larger image needs to be resized to match the height of the smaller image, so while still in the Image Size dialog box, I’ll make sure the Resample Image option at the bottom is selected (checked) and that the interpolation method at the very bottom is set to Bicubic Automatic, then I’ll change the Height value at the top from its original 3200 pixels to 2380 pixels to match the other photo (Photoshop automatically changes the Width value to maintain the photo’s aspect ratio). Click OK to have Photoshop resize the image and close out of the Image Size dialog box (quick note: when we’re changing the actual number of pixels in an image, as we are here, it’s technically known as resampling an image, not resizing, which is why we need to have the Resample Image option at the bottom of the dialog box selected):
Resizing (resampling) the larger image to match the height (in pixels) of the smaller image.
Step 3: Select And Copy The Resized Image
Now that we’ve resized the image, we need a way to move it into the same document as the other image. For that, we can simply copy and paste it. To first select the image, go up to the Select menu at the top of the screen and choose All. Or, press Ctrl+A (Win) / Command+A (Mac) on your keyboard to access the Select All command with the shortcut. A selection outline will appear around the image:
Going to Select > All.
With the image selected, go up to the Edit menu and choose Copy, or press Ctrl+C (Win) / Command+C (Mac) on your keyboard:
Going to Edit > Copy.
Step 4: Paste The Image Into The Other Photo’s Document
Switch back over to the other image by clicking on its tab:
Switching back to the first image.
Then go back up to the Edit menu and this time, choose Paste. Or, press Ctrl+V (Win) / Command+V (Mac) on your keyboard:
Going to Edit > Paste.
Photoshop pastes and centers the image in front of the other:
The images now appear together.
If we look in the Layers panel, we see that each photo now sits on its own layer in the same document:
The Layers panel showing each photo on its own layer.
Step 5: Rename The Background Layer
Next, let’s rename the Background layer so Photoshop will let us add another layer below it to use as the background color for our diptych. All we need to do is name it something other than Background, and the quickest and easiest way to do that is to press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key on your keyboard and double-click on the word “Background”. Photoshop will automatically rename it Layer 0, good enough for our purposes:
Changing the name of the Background layer to “Layer 0”.
Step 6: Add A Solid Color Fill Layer
We’ll use one of Photoshop’s Solid Color Fill layers for our background since they make it easy to choose whichever color we want. Click on the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon.
Choose Solid Color from the top of the list that appears:
Choosing a Solid Color Fill layer.
Photoshop will pop open the Color Picker where we can choose the color we want to fill the layer with. I’m going to choose black by entering a value of 0 into the R, G and B input boxes. If you’d rather use white for your background color, enter a value of 255 into the R, G and B boxes:
Choosing black from the Color Picker.
Click OK to accept the color and close out of the Color Picker. Photoshop adds a new Solid Color Fill layer named Color Fill 1 between the two photos, as we can see in the Layers panel:
The new Color Fill 1 layer appears between the two image layers.
Step 7: Drag The Solid Color Fill Layer Below Layer 0
Since we’re going to use the Solid Color Fill layer as the background for our diptych, we need to move it below the two image layers. To do that, click on the Color Fill 1 layer in the Layers panel, keep your mouse button held down, and drag the layer below Layer 0. A white highlight bar will appear below Layer 0 when you’ve dragged close enough:
Dragging the Color Fill 1 layer below Layer 0.
Release your mouse button when the white highlight bar appears to drop the Solid Color Fill layer into place:
The Color Fill 1 layer now appears below the two image layers.
Step 8: Select The Top Image Layer
Click on the top layer in the Layers panel to select it:
Selecting the top image layer.
Step 9: Select The Move Tool
Select the Move Tool from the top of the Tools panel along the left of the screen:
Selecting the Move Tool.
Step 10: Drag The Photo To The Left Or Right Of The Other Photo
With the Move Tool in hand, press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and drag the photo on the top layer either left or right to move it beside the other photo. Holding the Shift key down makes it easy to drag in a straight line. I’m going to drag my top photo to the right of the other.
But here’s the problem we run into (we’ll fix it in a moment). To move the photo beside the other, we need to drag it into the gray pasteboard area that surrounds the visible portion (the canvas area) of the document. Why is that a problem? It’s because we can’t actually see anything that’s in the pasteboard area. This means that as we drag the photo further and further off to the side, less and less of it remains visible as more of it is hidden by the pasteboard:
Dragging the photo beside the other means dragging into the pasteboard area.
Don’t worry about losing sight of the image for now. Simply continue dragging it off to the side until it’s directly beside the other photo (and completely out of view). If you’re dragging your photo off to the right as I am here, you’ll see your photo snap into place once the left side is close enough to the edge of the visible area. If you’re dragging to the left, it will snap into place once the right side is close enough. When you’re done, you should see only one photo in your document. The other one is still there, it’s just hidden for now by the pasteboard:
With the other photo now entirely in the pasteboard area, only one image remains visible.
Step 11: Reveal All
To bring back the hidden photo and view both of them together, go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Reveal All:
Going to Image > Reveal All.
Photoshop instantly extends the canvas area so that both images are now visible:
Both photos are visible once again.
Important! We’re going to add a little space between the two photos in the very next step, but at this point, the edges of the images should be touching with no space in between. They need to be flush up against each other side by side. If you dragged your photo too far and created a gap between them, with the Move Tool still active, hold down your Shift key and drag the photo back towards the other until the edges of the two photos are touching and the gap is closed.
Step 12: Add Space Between The Photos
Now that we’ve made sure there’s currently no space between our two photos, let’s add some space! The reason we want to start with no space between them is that we’ll need to know exactly how much space we’ve added, and in Photoshop CS6, we can use the new HUD (Heads-Up Display) feedback for the Move Tool to tell us exactly how far we’ve dragged the image.
With the Move Tool still active, once again press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and begin dragging the photo either left or right to add space between the two images. The space will be filled with whichever color you chose for your Solid Color Fill layer back in Step 6. In my case, it’s black. As soon as you start dragging, a small HUD box will appear giving you live feedback on exactly how far you’ve dragged. The reading may be in inches (in) or pixels (px) depending on how you’ve set up the Rulers in Photoshop’s Preferences. In my case, it’s showing me inches. Here, the HUD is telling me that I’ve dragged my photo 0.2 inches to the right (the top number is the horizontal movement, the bottom is vertical), and we can see the black-filled space appearing between them. Make sure you remember the exact distance you’ve dragged because we’ll need that information in a moment:
Remember (or write down) the size of the gap between the images. In my case, it’s 0.2 inches.
Step 13: Reveal All Again
Since we’ve moved the photo a bit off to the side, some of it is hidden again by the pasteboard. Go back up to the Image menu and choose Reveal All to bring the hidden area back into view:
Going back to Image > Reveal All.
Both photos are now fully visible with a border between them:
The images now with the first part of the border added.
Step 14: Add Canvas Space To Create A Border Around The Images
Finally, let’s finish off our diptych by adding a border around it. We’ll use the information the HUD gave us to create a border exactly the same thickness as the space between the photos. Go up to the Image menu and choose Canvas Size:
Going Image > Canvas Size.
This opens the Canvas Size dialog box. First, make sure the Relative option is selected (checked) and that the center box in the Anchor grid is also selected so that the extra canvas space will be added equally around the outside of the photos:
The Relative option and the center Anchor grid box are both selected.
Then, take the amount of space you added between the photos in Step 12 and enter twice that amount into the Width and Height boxes. Make sure you also have the correct measurement type chosen (Inches or Pixels). In my case, the HUD told me that I dragged my image a distance of 0.2 inches, so I’ll enter twice that amount (0.4) into the Width and Height boxes and I’ll make sure both are set to Inches. The reason we need to enter twice the amount is because half the Width value will be added to the left of the canvas, the other half to the right. Likewise, half the Height value will be added to the top, the other half to the bottom, giving us a border around the diptych that’s exactly the same size as the space between the photos:
Entering twice the distance of the space between the two photos for both the Width and Height.
Click OK when you’re ready to accept your settings and close out of the Canvas Size dialog box, at which point Photoshop adds the extra canvas space around the images, giving us our border. Again, the border is the same color as the color we chose for the Solid Color Fill layer back in Step 6:
The final diptych with a border added.