Aperture and Lightroom fans will need an external image-editor for more advanced image enhancement and manipulation – particularly if it involves combining multiple images as layers. But your external editor doesn’t have to be Photoshop, or even Elements.

Perfect Photo Suite 8, just out, has a new version of its Perfect Layers plug-in which makes it even easier to created layered images from within Aperture or Lightroom.

Perfect Layers 8 basics

I’m going to try this out on my picture of a forest scene, but adding and blending in a picture of some clouds.

01 Launch Perfect Layers 8

Perfect Layers 8 basics

I’m using Aperture to show how this works, and I’ve already created an album containing my two source images. You’ll need to do this first because you can’t select images in different albums or projects.

Next, I select both images and then right-click on either one, choosing Perfect Layers 8 from my ‘Edit with plug-in’ sub-menu.

02 How it works

Perfect Layers 8 basics

Perfect Layers 8 has a new way of handling multiple images, which now open in separate tabs in the workspace. I want to add the sky image to the forest picture, so I select the sky image tab first and use the Layer > Copy layer command…

03 Pasting layers

Perfect Layers 8 basics

Next, I select the forest image tab and use the Layer > Paste layer command. The sky will be added to the forest picture as a new layer – it’s that simple

04 Transforming layers

Perfect Layers 8 basics

The sky is an image I shot long ago on an older, lower resolution camera, so I need to use the Transform tool (circled) on the toolbar on the left side of the screen, then drag the sky layer’s corner handles to resize it. If you hold down the shift key at the same time, the proportions will be retained as the picture changes size.