photoshop creative

8 steps to mastering the Recompose tool

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 21, 2014

Drastically alter a photo’s composition in Elements

1. Image election

Ideally, images for recomposing should have strong subjects with nondescript backgrounds. If the background has too much detail in the original image, the final background may end up being unrealistically distorted. The image we used here is perfect to practice on so let’s give it a whirl!

2. Guided workspace

Photoshop Elements provides three different modes for photo editing. The Recompose feature is available in both Guided and Expert. Using Guided mode is a far easier choice if you’re not so experienced on Photoshop. You will find the Recompose tool in the Touchups menu set on the right.

3. Protect the valuable pixels

In this exercise we want to retain the top and bottom boats, moving them closer to each other while removing the boat in the centre. With the Recompose guide open, click on the Protect button and highlight the boats to keep. The interface will she a green highlighting of the area you paint over.

4. Marked for removal

Next press the Remove button and paint over the centre boat. The tool highlights these pixels in red so they can be easily distinguished. Be sure to paint over the reflection of the boat as well as the lines leading into the water.

5. Careful refinement

Use the zoom slider at the top of the screen to get a closer look at the bottom boat. It’s critical that the green highlighting is tight and clean around the top of this boat. Use the eraser tool next to the protect button to remove spill over. Reduce the brush size for further refinement of the highlight edge.

6. Recompose!

Now grab the bottom transformation handle of the image and pull it upwards. Elements slides the bottom boat upwards towards the top and removes the centre boat in the process. The transition edge might look a bit rough in the preview, but click the green check mark for the tool to render the final effect.

7. Clean up

Click the Done button at the bottom of the Recompose guide. Then open the Scratches and Blemishes guide. Use the Spot Healing Brush to paint along any visible seams created by the recompose tool. When you are happy with the image press the Done button to return to the main Guided workspace.

8. Crop it out

Use the Crop Photo guide to activate the Crop tool. Pull the bounding box to choose the new pixel dimensions and trim away the empty area now at the bottom of your image. Press the checkmark and enjoy the fruits of your Recompose labours!