(from April 3, 2004 collage chat.
Click here for
the chat transcript)
This is a beginner tutorial for creating a collage
in Photoshop. This tutorial is a very basic overview and only
covers the beginning stages of building a collage. There are many
ways to complete the steps outlined below, but I have tried to
provide what I feel are the easiest methods,
Also, the settings I have provided below are what worked on the
photos I used for this tutorial, but because photographs are so
different, you may need to adjust these settings to find a look
you are happy with. Collage design is totally unique, and doesn’t
have a “set” way of doing things. I am giving you
this tutorial as a starting base, but you will want to play with
the various settings
To find a look that is right for you! Be creative and have fun!
(Shortcuts will be provided in parentheses for actions that are
used a lot-it does make life easier to learn them!)
1. Choose your photographs. Although there is no standard, I work
with 3 or 4 photos at a time in a 12x12 layout. In an 8x10 size
I would use 2 or 3 photos.
2. Open a NEW document in the size you wish to create your layout.
I recommend a white
Back ground for easier viewing.
3. Move each photo onto your background and make sure they are
on separate layers.
4. Arrange your photos into a position that you think will look
good as the final product. It is best to do it this way so when
you do the next few steps you will see how the layout is progressing.
5. Once you are happy with the positioning you will go to the
first picture that you want to blend and click on the layer.
6. Here is the “blending” step that you will use on
all of your photos. (This is one of the steps that there are many
ways to do, but for this project it really is easier to do it
1. Select the LASSO tool (L)
2. Draw around the portion of the photo you would like to keep
3. Go to SELECT>INVERSE (shift+ctrl+I)
4. Enter QUICK MASK MODE (Q) (when you enter this mode the area
you selected should turn color, mine turns red but it can be blue,
green, etc., if it doesn’t turn color you are not in Quick
Mask mode and should repeat the above!)
5. Go to FILTER>BLUR>GAUSSIAN BLUR and apply a radius of
approximately 60 (use what looks good to you, I usually use 60).
Once the blur is applied you should see the colored mask feather
around the edges. This is where the mask helps you see what you
are doing and what the final picture will look like! SO if the
blur is too much for your taste you can lower it and see it change.
6. Return to STANDARD MODE (Q)
7. Hit DELETE. You will see the area outside of your selection
go away and you should be left with a nice soft edge. If you still
see some hard lines around your photo, hit delete again, you can
keep hitting delete until you get to the right look!
8. DESELECT (CTRL+D)
9. Repeat the above steps for all your photos.
7. Once all of your photos are “blended”
take another look and see if you are happy with the look of the
layout. Make any changes to positioning now! If you are not happy
with your blends go ahead and redo the steps above, maybe increase
your blur, but remember, you will be learning other blending steps!
This is just the first step to get you started.
8. Once you are happy with your layout, click a layer with a photo
on it in your layers palette, then click on the check box to left
of the other photos, this should give you a little link icon.
(See above sample box-the link icon is next to layer 2). When
you have the links on then go to LAYERS>MERGE LINKED.
9. You should now have one layer with a photo and your white background
layer. This is where the fun begins!
10. DUPLICATE this layer and hide it immediately! You don’t
want to have to do all that lassoing over do you?
11. DUPLICATE the layer again and place above the original.
12. Go back to your original photo layer and if you think it needs
to be brighter or you need to add contrast then go ahead. Then
you will go to FILTERS>BLUR>GUASSIAN BLUR and use a radius
of about 5 or 6 to give this layer a soft look.
13. Go back to your duplicated layer that is above your original
and use the blending modes on your layer palette to give this
layer a look you like. (I most often use overlay)
14. Reduce the transparency on this layer so that the layer below
shows through, you should begin to see a soft glow on your picture!
Again, the last few instructions are more dependent
on the look you like, I am a fan of soft layouts so this is how
I do it! But play with the blending modes to see what you like.
You can duplicate the layer again and use another blending mode
to totally change the look! Some of my collage layouts have the
same photo duplicated 4 or 5 times to get the right look! The
blur on the lower layer is also an option, if you like a more
rigid photo then skip that step! The trick here is to learn and
test what everything does. Best way to learn this is through trial
15. When you have done the above and have a look
that you like. Then you can begin to play with the colors. For
a monochromatic look you can add a new layer at the top of your
palette and use the paint bucket to fill it with a color you like.
Then use your blending modes to see how it changes your photos!
(I use color dodge a lot here!)
OK-so there’s your beginning, but be assured
there is a lot more to learn. From here you can use the channel
mixer to make color changes, curves to sharpen things, add filters
to create textures and my favorite? BRUSHES!!!!!!!!! Collages
are time consuming, and memory hogs, but well worth it. A regular
layout may take me about an hour, but collages, usually take me
about 2-3 hours. So don’t expect to “knock out a quick
one!” so to speak.
I hope you all have fun with this! Check back
on the site for upcoming chats and tutorials on collage/montage
For a printable version of this quick class, click here