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Photo Compositing Collage, montage, masking, selections, combining, etc.

Photo Montage/Collages

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  #11  
Old 05-25-2002, 02:34 PM
hal90000 hal90000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by OhThatGirl2001
... I guess for me it's more of a designing issue. How too - I've got the basic (only basic). I'm trying to design a grad collage and I'm totally drawing a blank how to compose it. I'll keep working on it. ...
Hi, I've been creating/designing wallpapers/montages (on a leisure basis) for a few years and I just discovered this very interesting site. Here are some personal tips and ideas, based on my own experiences so far:

There are basically two aspects of creating good-looking or visually pleasing montages: A technical one and an artistic one. I suppose most users on this site are more occupied with the technical one, so I'm not going to dwell too much on the artistic aspect, even though I believe it's at least as important as the technical one.

From an artistical standpoint, I prefer to think of montages in terms of themes. I believe that's better than simply arranging images on a canvas. When creating a montage which is based on a theme, you also give the montage more meaning and depth. On the other hand, you could also do it the simple way, which may actually turn out to be a more elegant solution sometimes, and focus on a single (or few) element.

Also, there are more than spatial relationships to take into account: You've got color, a dimension which I personally feel is often neglected, you've got depth of vision, fonts, attention to detail, etc. Give your montage the desired feel and atmosphere by learning typical colorization/coloring techniques (split toning, duotoning, recoloring, color remapping, etc.)

The selection of the proper font (if any) is very important: Pick the wrong one and you may easily ruin the entire montage. Therefore, having many fonts available is very handy and gives you greater artistic freedom. Also, keep the 'classic' rules of composition, balance and design in mind: You may want to follow them or deliberately break them for an original or out-of-balance touch.

Furthermore, you can add interest to your montage by paying attention to details and decorative stuff. For example, get hold of some nice brushes or create your own. Same goes for textures, gradients and styles. Using a 'palette' of customized styles and textures also save you a lot of time. For a more creative touch, try out things like art history brushes (a Photoshop feature which may not be available on your program), noise, motion blurs and soft focus.

After I've come up with a theme, I start doing some rapid prototyping, to see how good the idea works out in practice. You shouldn't pay too much attention to detail during this process, it'll only slow you down. Consider it as a visual brainstorming process, and experiment until your montage resembles something that's worth spending more time on.

After the prototyping phase, I start on the draft phase: Creating drafts with more details and fully extracted elements. I seldom hit the nail the first time, so several drafts are made during this phase until I'm 90% satisfied (I always feel that there's room for improvement, so I never feel completely satisfied anyway). After I finish my final draft, the one which I've decided to develop into the final wallpaper, I usually wait a couple of days to see if there's something wrong (i.e. technical errors, artistic flaws) about the montage before I publish it. Because when you work intensely on something for a longer period, you tend to get very personally tied to what you're creating, you may no longer see your work in perspective, and it may be difficult for you to consider your work from a more 'objective' standpoint.

One of the most difficult things about creating montages is, at least in my opinon, making successful extractions. There are many ways to do this, and the 'best' method to use often depends on the circumstances. I'm not going to start explaining some of these methods in detail here, but in most cases I prefer using luminance masking, channels and paths. But whatever technique you use, it's important to choose a flexible approach that offers you a wide range of options. And in most cases you don't want to affect or destroy the original image, because you often need it for creating masks, mixing layers, altering blending modes and blending ranges, etc. Work with layers, adjustment layers and duplicates, and save your work often. Experiment with the snapshot feature in Photoshop for instant comparisons between drafts (even if you don't have PS, many other photo editing programs feature layers and blending modes).

If you're willing to spend some money, then I'd strongly recommend the Photoshop 6 Wow! book, which deals with a wide range of techniques, including retouching, restoration, composition, lighting, highlights/shades, transitions and gradients. Knowing how to manipulate the lighting/highlights, and create the desired transitions between elements can be particularly helpful when dealing with realistic looking and/or artistically pleasing montages.

Some of my wallpapers are available on my Jennifer Connelly fansite:

http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~madsb/jc/wallpaper/
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  #12  
Old 05-25-2002, 02:52 PM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Exceptional first contribution. Welcome aboard.

Is the HAL9000 monkier a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke's "2001 - a Space Odyssay" star? If so you probably knew the three letters in the alphabet following HAL are IBM.

Anyway the tribute to Jennifer C site is exceptional, too. I'm inspired by your works as well as your words. Hope you become a regular on these forums. Many will benefit from your experience and expertise.

~DannyR~
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  #13  
Old 05-25-2002, 03:21 PM
hal90000 hal90000 is offline
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Reply to Raphael

Thanks for the invitation

Yes, HAL9K is a tribute to the supercomputer in 2001, one of my favourite sci-fi movies of all time (and the book is good too. I added a zero because 'hal9000' is a popular name which is usually taken). I know about the HAL->IBM coincidence, but it was not a deliberate choice by Clarke.

I'm glad that you enjoy my site, thanks. Running such a website gives me a great opportunity to be creative, be it programming, design, or writing.

I hope to become a regular user here, because there are so many interesting topics and techniques being discussed. I've been looking for a 'meeting place' like this for a long time, to share experiences and exchange ideas with other creative people.
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  #14  
Old 05-26-2002, 11:08 AM
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OhThatGirl2001 OhThatGirl2001 is offline
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Thank you for the great tips and inspiration. Your site is wonderful! Guess what ... I've been there before

I appreciate the time you've taken to explain that a montage is more like a theme (design concept). I could not agree more. That's probably why I am never happy with just a mix of images put together. As mentioned, I think I have the basic skills to compose a montage: selections, pasting, feathering, vingnette, etc. However, that I believe is only a very small element that I want to achieve.

I have Photoshop Wow 6 - and find the series wonderful. I am waiting now for Wow 7. I'm also hoping to find Painter 7 Wow.

In the meantime, welcome aboard. This is a wonderful place for learning, sharing and making new friends.

Lisa
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  #15  
Old 05-27-2002, 10:00 AM
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stuart h stuart h is offline
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Hi Lisa

If I can add my tuppence worth (ok I'm from England...)
When doing collages I try not to lose sight of the act that the overall COMPOSITION has to work. With multi-image-based pictures I find they can quickly degenerate into a formless mess, unless you look for some way of imposing or containing them within a structure. What I tend to do is discuss with the client which image(s) carry the greatest emotional charge for them & make them central to the work. I then build the other images around them, flipping, scaling, blending etc all the time considering how the images relate to eachother & the overall image. I dupe each photo layer & use masks to fade them. This means at any stage I can re-order/orientate the photos.
Also, when adding "extras", don't forget the color blend mode. This is a great way for keeping the tonal range together.

I like what you did with laying the shots into the slide. Neat!

Here's a recent example of one of my collages attached.

Stuart
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File Type: jpg gloria cg.jpg (32.1 KB, 107 views)
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  #16  
Old 05-27-2002, 04:32 PM
hal90000 hal90000 is offline
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Hi Lisa,
First of all, thanks for your compliments.

I hope I'm not mistaken if I say that your biggest challenge is not a technical one, but an artistic one? (You've already got the Wow book, and I think that's a very good starting point, technically speaking. )

Have you read any books on art or graphics design? Perhaps you could find some inspiration there? Another suggestion would be to check out the numerous magazines about digital photography: They feature interesting portfolios and cover a wide range of techniques (from novice to intermediate level). Some magazines also have CD-ROMs with stock photos and sample images. Unfortunately, some of these magazines are a bit expensive: In Norway, for example, a magazine with CD-ROM often costs about $15-20.
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  #17  
Old 06-07-2002, 04:41 PM
rondon rondon is offline
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nice thread .. stuart h.. your post is timely as I have a niece who graduates next week and was thinking of doing a montage of her life thus far.. your comment of 1st placing the most pertinent photos and then blending in the others sounds like the way I'll go... Thanks
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  #18  
Old 06-08-2002, 09:51 PM
estudivan estudivan is offline
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Sample Composite

Attached is a sample composite I did to commemorate the anniversary of my brother's death. The image is actually a composite of 4 different images and uses layer masks, adjustment layers and blending modes to smooth the transition from image to image.

The background image was taken the day that we dropped his ashes from a friend's airplane (my brother was a pilot). The rainbow in the background image was photographed in, not placed there through photoshop which really added a special effect.

The other images were related to organ donation which we did when he died as a way to create something good from the situation.

Much of the methods employed here are standard photoshop techniques, alot of playing and applying real life feelings.

Let me know if I can answer any questions.
Earl
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File Type: jpg scottorgan.jpg (92.1 KB, 61 views)
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  #19  
Old 06-08-2002, 10:08 PM
rondon rondon is offline
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Real nice Earl.. lost my brother just a few years ago... working with the images seem to keep them alive doesn't it... well pretty image
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  #20  
Old 06-08-2002, 10:25 PM
estudivan estudivan is offline
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Thanks rondon, the images sure do help remember. His boys and my mother seemed to really enjoy the image. It's amazing where you can wind up sometimes when you sit down and start playing with photoshop or other graphics programs.

Earl
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