Collages in Photoshop CS5
This is a tutorial about how to create collages in PhotoshopCS5, the method should work equally in CS4, but I am not sure about earlier versions of Photoshop, the finished collage will look like this:-
The finished collage
It is constructed from these five images:-
These five images are the originals before they have been cropped to put into the collage, you will see how they change as we progress through the tutorial.
The first stage is to create the background for our collage, and for that I have used Image 1. I made the conscious decision to shoot this with the subject more or less in the middle of the shot with a view to using it as the background; but this doesn’t really matter as it can be moved around later.
Open Image 1 and then make this ‘Background‘ a layer, do this by right clicking on the Background layer in the layers panel and choosing Layer from Background; you can at this point rename the layer, or do as I did and leave it at the default ‘Layer 0′ in Screen 1 below. Making the background into a layer will enable us to move it around later if necessary, you should now have something that looks a bit like Screen 1 below:-
Your background image may be different from mine, but the result will be just the same.
At this point I always save the collage, with the filename ‘**** collage’, as a PSD file just in case I make any mistakes and need to go back to an earlier iteration of the collage; saving as a PSD file is good practice as this preserves all of the layers in order that one can work on a project over a period of time without having to recreate work done previously.
Now we can start to bring the other four images in to begin building up our collage. Open image two so that it is in a different Photoshop tab in order to do any editing or cropping that you may feel necessary, as in Screen 2 below:-
Once you have made any adjustments to your image select the Move tool by pressing V or selecting it from the toolbar, then click on the image and drag it to the tab of the collage, hold there until that tab opens then drag onto the image there and let go, this will automatically create a new layer (Layer 1 in my case) with the image in it, as in Screen 3 below:-
Don’t worry that it may obscure the part of the background layer that you want, this will be attended to next. Now we move this layer so the second image is placed where we want it to be, in this case the bottom right corner. Now we want to sort out the overlap issue, so press Ctrl T (sorry don’t know the shortcuts for MACs) or Edit > Free Transform from the menu. Holding down the Shift key click on a corner and resize the layer until it is no longer overlapping, and is the size that you want. Care is needed here to ensure that you release the mouse button before the Shift key, or you will end up with a distorted image. Once you have done this you should end up with something that looks like Screen 4:-
At this point I recommend saving the image, and again after every image inclusion, this way if anything goes wrong it is easy to go back to a ‘right’ version of the image without too much trouble. The above explanation holds true for the next three images also, so I will just include the Screenshots to show what I did rather than repeat myself ad infinitum:-
By the time you have edited and included the images in the collage file you should have an image with five layers that looks something like Screen 10 above.
The next stage is where things really begin to get creative, I next concentrate on each individual layer, selecting each in turn, that is except the background (layer 0) and working with Free Transform (Ctrl T) on each in turn. Once I have selected Free Transform I choose the warp option from the tool bar, circled in red in Screen 11 below:-
Grabbing the corners of the selected layer I drag them to fill the gaps in between the layers, trying not to distort the subject too much; although a little distortion, I think, adds to the overall effect. Once this has been done for each individual layer you should end up with something that looks like Screen 12 below:-
As you can see there are some well defined edges of the layers showing, and we are going to tackle this problem next. Select all of the individual layers, then choose Edit > Auto-Blend Layers, and in the dialogue box that results choose Stack Images, and leave the Seamless Tones and Colours box checked, as in Screen 13 below:-
If you have followed this closely almost all of those well defined edges of the layers should disappear, leaving you with the almost finished product as seen in Screen 14 below:-
There are a couple of well defined seams forming a triangle with the central duck, but I think that these serve as a focus to lead the eye into the image, which is why I did not go further to remove them. All that remains to be done is to save this image as a PSD file before anything else, then right click on any of the layers in the Layer Panel and choose Flatten Image, and finally Save As a jpg file, or any format that you may prefer.