I need a to do following thing in Photoshop:

I have shot series of photos from a tripod, so they all have the same background. I even took a photo of background itself. Then, there were people moving around the scene. I need to be able to cut only the people from photos (there are shadows, which are harder to cut), in order to paste them into one layer. What I want to achieve, is that effect, where you have people multiplied in one scene.
As I mentioned, there are shadows, so manually selecting from layer masks does not work well for me.

Can you please point me to some tutorials, or maybe describe to me, how (in PS) to select only those parts of an image or layer, that are different than background layer? (I don't know, how this process is called, so I could not find it in google.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Selecting the parts that aren't the background is the same as selecting the people. In other words, the only way to do this is to either select the people manually, or use masks to brush away what you don't want. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 3, 2014 at 20:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ But is there no way to automatize or simplify selecting people from background? I have the background, and the people, and what I need is the difference between the two. It could be done mathematically. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tschareck
    Jun 3, 2014 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no way to do it automatically in Photoshop that I know of. But it wouldn't take long to simply brush out the various layers with layer masks. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2014 at 8:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ A possible solution courtesy Graphic Design Stack Exchange: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/31337/… \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2014 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


If the people and shadows are darker than the background, you can use Darken layer mode (and possibly a rough mask to limit the effect to the people in the upper layers.

You could try Difference or Subtract layer modes, take the result of that and use Apply Image to create a mask.

Or you could use image stacking: select all layers, Layers > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object, followed by Layers > Smart Objects > Stack Mode (and have a play with various stack modes - try Maximum for a start)

The above techniques do not cut the people to paste onto a layer, they just make it possible to blend in darker (or different) objects from multiple layers.


I think using Mike's suggestion of creating masks using the difference modes might be the only way to do it. What you want is the content of one layer that is not is another, which is what the difference mode highlights.


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