Merge Layers Without Jagged Pixels

by John

Q: I stumbled across a tool in Elements 6 the other day and now cannot find it. It is a tool that softens the jagged pixel edge of a layer when you place it on top of the background - EG if you were replacing one head in a group shot the tool would smooth the edges around the new head as you placed it into the background image.

A: It sounds like you are describing Anti-aliasing.

When you make a selection of an object (like a persons head) in a photograph and move that selection to another place it might have jagged edges.

The best way to prevent that is to have Anti-alias checked in the Options Bar.

This is the Options Bar (located near the top of the Elements window) for the Elliptical Marquee tool. Notice that Anti-alias is checked.

If you don't have Anti-alias checked, the pixels will give a jagged look to the edges of your selection because the pixels are solid squares of color.

What Anti-alias does is partially selects some of the edge pixels so that they aren't solid but have some transparency to them. This helps smooth out the edges.

In the images below the face on the left was selected with the Elliptical Marquee tool with the Anti-alias box unchecked in the Options bar. The one on the right had the Anti-alias box checked. Look at the difference between the two photos along the outside edges and you'll see the one on the right is much smoother.


It's unclear from your question how you brought the new layer into your photo, but whatever process you used look for something that allows you to use anti-alias and it should smooth it out.

Good luck John.

Until next time,

Click here to post comments

Return to Photoshop Elements Q & A.

Search This Site:

Sign up for my newsletter
BECAUSE… You get

  • 4 Step-By-Step Videos showing Tips being used 
  • One-Page Printable Cheat Sheets of Tips

Get My Photoshop Elements Books for just $3.99 from Amazon

More Content… follow me:

"Just a note to say I LOVE your site! There seem to be a few PS Elements tutorials sites, but yours is by far the clearest and easiest to understand. Thanks!" - Ellie

"Watching your tutorials even about things that I think I know I ALWAYS learn something new. A big thank you!" - Douglas

"I am thrilled to find such useful and easy-to-understand information for using Photoshop Elements. I can't wait to use your tutorials (especially with my scrapbooking obsession)" - Judy in MS

Good day Rick, "I very appreciate ALL, ALL of your tutos. Very very clear and useful tips, tricks and techniques of how-to in PSE9. A great great work!" - Hoan

"Love your tutorials on YouTube. Very clear and helpful. Thanks a bunch." -

"I love your videos! They have been such a BIG help. I bought the Dummies book, and it's OK, but I do better by watching instead of reading. Kudos to you!" - Cheers, Kathy

"Thank you for this site! I found it through one of your videos on YouTube.
Again, thank you so much!" - Vanessa

"This is really a truly generous and very admirable website!" - Cheers, Jonas

"Hi Rick! First I've got to say thank you for all the information you share. I can't wait to see the "tips and tricks" you are working on because it sounds like those will help things all come together.
I've gone thru several of your tutorials and learn so much. I can't praise you enough for your time and patience." - Vicki.

"Your website is a great service and I thank you!"
 - Kind Regards, April

"A big thanks to you and your website, and the
 information and help I get from it, its much appreciated." - Rob

Rick - "Many thanks for your advice, that I will take. A big thank you as well for you outstandingly good tutorials. You do seem to have an amazing knack of making quite complicated tasks seem easy and straightforward. I am a fan!" - With Best Wishes, Tony

"Much more helpful than PS Elements 9 for Dummies book.... Thanks so much for your site..truly easy to follow." - Karin

Hi Rick. Just wanted to say a big thank you for all of the great information contained in your tutorials. I've stumbled around PS9 for quite a few weeks now and can't believe quite how easily you explain the different aspects. It's way, way more powerful than I imagined and now, for me, usable too. A big, big thank you from the UK. - Guy