90. Copy Data into a Selected Area
Before You Begin
70 About Making Selections
86 About Copying, Cutting, and Pasting Data Within a Selection
Sometimes you want the data you paste to conform to a particular shape, such as an oval, heart, eagle, or frame. You can even paste data so that it conforms to the shape of some text. The secret behind this trick is to create a selection in the shape you want and then to paste data into that selection using the Paste Into Selection command. The Editor resizes the data as best it can to fit within the selection. If the data doesn't fit in its entirety, you can move the data within the selection to display exactly the portion you want. You can even resize the data further if that better suits your needs. For example, you could create a circular selection and paste your son's face onto a volleyball, or paste your daughter's face into a heart shape. The possibilities are endless, and limited only by your skill to create a selection in the shape you need.
To create a selection in an odd shape, such as the shape of a deer, I open an image that contains a deer and make a selection (often using the Magnetic Lasso to trace the object's edge). I then move the selection into the other image as described in 81 Move the Selection Marquee. Sometimes I just go ahead and copy and paste the deer into the other image (because that action creates a new layer automatically), keeping the deer selected so that I can then fill the selection shape with something else.
If you want the data pasted into the selection to blend into the layer below, retaining that object's reflections, shadows, and texture, paste the data onto a new layer and adjust that new layer's blend mode. Try using Hard Light, Soft Light, or Overlay for best results; don't forget to adjust the layer's Opacity as well.
When you use Paste Into Selection, the Editor pastes whatever is located in the Clipboard into the area you select. Thus, you can use these same steps to paste data from any Windows program into a selection. One thing you should keep in mind however: Whenever you use the Paste Into Selection command, data is pasted into the selection on the current layer. This makes manipulating the pasted data later on in your editing session a bit difficult. So, before you paste, be sure to first create a new layer.
Select Data to Copy
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode. In the Layers palette, choose the layer that contains the data you want to paste and use any of the selection tools to select what you want to copy. Because this data will be adjusted in size to conform to the shape of the selection in the other image, you can make a quick and easy rectangular or elliptical selection if you want.
Make any necessary adjustments to the selection to ensure that it contains only the portion of the image you want to paste. You can even move the selection marquee if necessary; see 18 Move the Selection Marquee. You will want to eliminate any unwanted background from the selection.
Copy to Clipboard
Select Edit, Copy to copy the selection to the Clipboard. To copy all visible pixels within the selection, choose Edit, Copy Merged instead.
To paste data into a selection in the shape of some text, use the Horizontal or Vertical Type Mask tools as described in 190 Fill Text with an Image.
Select Destination Area
Open the image into which you want to paste the selection and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. On the Layers palette, choose the layer that contains the shape you want to select and use the appropriate selection tool to select it. You can then paste the selection onto a different layer using this selection shape, or you can paste new data over top of the data already in the selection.
The Magnetic Lasso tool works well for selecting the area you want to paste into because it's great at outlining a shape. See 75 Select an Object by Tracing Its Edge.
Paste into Selection
If you want to paste onto a new layer, create that layer now. Then select Edit, Paste Into Selection to paste the clipboard data into the selected area on the current layer.
Now you can use the Move tool to adjust the location or size of the data within your selection and to distort it to fit the shape of the selection better. See 99 Move, Resize, Skew, or Distort a Layer for more information on using the Move tool. If you want to use the Move tool to rotate the data, see 89 Rotate the Data in a Selection or Layer.
View the Result
When you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
Here I used the Rectangular Marquee tool to select a rectangular portion of a photo of a St. Patrick's Day parade. I wanted to make a flyer advertising this year's parade, so I pasted the parade people into a shamrock shape. I added some text and a green background. To the shape, I applied a Radioactive Outer Glow layer style. I also expanded the selection and used it on another layer to create a black border around the shamrock shape, to help it stick out more against the marbled green background.