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Photo Montage/Collages

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  • Photo Montage/Collages

    As a favor to a friend, I spent the entire afternoon taking pictures of her sons grad. It was a blast... I have to admit. But now I'm home and I've level adjusted, cropped and touched up most of the images. What I'd most like to do is come up with a nice collage. I'm lousy at doing collages. The basics... yeah I can do but I'd really like to go beyond the basics. If you have seen an tutorials or have any new ideas... please pass em' along. Here's a site that has a unique approach -


  • #2
    Cool link Lisa! I like how they integrated text into the images.

    I do not know of any good tutorials, but I usually just create a large canvas and paste the images I want to use on seperate layers. Then it's just a matter of moving them around until I find a nice compostion and then start blending them together. One thing to consider is not just to fade 1 image into another, but also try experimenting with blending modes, blurring certain areas, etc... I also like to use colored backgrounds and borders from time to time.

    Please post what you come up with!


    • #3
      Food for thought...


      This is a promo for AutoFX's new Dream Suite II product (lots of example images).

      Many of these have no relationship to collage, but some of the ones that are "tiled" or "stacked" struck me as something a little different.

      A drop-shadow here and there... rotate some images a little... rough-up some edges... frame a couple + the usual blending techniques.

      Hope this gives you a little visual inspiration.



      • #4
        Thanks Danny .... and guess what? I have Dreamsuite Series 2. I have never really spent much time working with it. The interface is really lame. I threw together a quick film strip. I just need to come up with a neat background and a few of these effects.

        Thanks for the tip.

        Attached Files


        • #5
          This is kind of a neat effect. It's part of the film strip.

          Attached Files


          • #6
            Very cool!

            Very creative work, Lisa! I really like the depth and 'character' the drop shadow adds. Custom text is a plus, too.

            I sure wouldn't be surprised if friends of The Graduate are envious of the final product and she points them your way to create "special memories" of their graduation experiences. (Who knows: Future business opportunities?!)

            I have DS-1 and agree the interface is lame. Though ease of use isn't exactly a strong point with DS, there are some pretty nifty effects under the hood. You've inspired me to open and install DS-2! (Too many plugins... not enough hard disk space, not enough time to experiment and play! )

            Thanks for sharing your creation and inspiring the rest of us.



            • #7
              Lisa, These tutorials might be too basic for you, but perhaps one will have something that "clicks" for you. I just did a google search for "photoshop montage tutorial" and "photoshop collage tutorial". In no particular order:







              Good luck! Jeanie


              • #8
                <moderator hat>If you have links to individual tutorials, consider adding them to our new section for individual tutorial links in our links db</moderator hat>
                Learn by teaching
                Take responsibility for learning


                • #9
                  Wonderful links Jeanie. Thank you so much. They're not too basic. Each tutorial has it's own unique tip about layered masks or methods to fade the edges.

                  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.

                  I think the tutorial from is very helpful.

                  I'll give it a try. Many thanks.



                  • #10
                    I haven't actually done a montage (but I've got a couple of ideas for projects), so don't have "real-life" experience to share with you. (No, wait - I DID do a couple after 9/11! How could I forget!)

                    However, the way I would start would be with a big canvas, pull in the photos you think you want to use, and start arranging them. Then rearrange and rearrange again until you think you've exhausted the possibilities. (Essentially the same way you'd do a paper collage of pictures - arranging them before cutting them down.) Don't forget that you can flip photos horizontally (if nothing in the photo, like text, gives it away) if it will work better in the overall scheme. For example, if a photo "fits" better on the left, but the person is turned facing OUT of the photo, flip it so they're facing in.

                    As far as text, I think it's probably better to wait until after you've got the photos arranged to see where it fits best, but if you have a definite "title" that you know you want - then you might want to include it with the photos as you arrange everything.

                    Keep notes (or better yet, save) those arrangements you like, then choose the best one from those. You do NOT need to do the blending, etc while doing the arranging. At least for me, once I can see how the photos "fit" together, then the blending comes fairly naturally. And if the collection of photos doesn't make a nice square or rectangle, then choose a nice background pattern/design to fill in around the edges.

                    Hope this helps.



                    • #11
                      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:


                      • #12
                        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.



                        • #13
                          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.


                          • #14
                            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.



                            • #15
                              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.

                              Attached Files


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