photokaboom

Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements > Collage >

Make a Collage

If you've never moved a photograph from one photograph to another, you may want to go to Move Something from Photo 1 to Photo 2.

For ideas about your collage, go to the tip called Make a Collage.

Pathways

In this tutorial, there are several pathways, depending on what you're doing.

You can move through a pathway by following the "jump to" links.

Therefore, it's best to use the tutorial online, rather than from a print version.

The "go to" links take you to other tutorials.

Choose the Type of Background

Your first choice is what to use for the background—a photograph or a blank canvas.

Jump to Photograph as the Background.

Jump to Blank Canvas as the Background.

Use a Photograph as the Background

The photograph can be of a scene, a drawing, a scan of some fabric, or ?

Open the photograph that you're using as the background.

Jump to Prepare the Other Photographs.

Use a Blank Canvas as the Background

There are two steps.

Step #1 - Choose the Color

A blank canvas can be any color.

If you want a white background, skip ahead.

If you want another color, use the Color Picker.

Double click the background color icon in the lower-left side of your screen to open the Color Picker.

If you haven't already done so, go to Color Picking.

Step #2 - Open the New Window

To open the New window, go to File > New > Blank File, or press Ctrl + n.

Then, do the following.

1) Enter a name for your collage, say, Collage.

2) Select the size.

Look in the Preset box menu, or enter your own values, such as 12 x 8 inches.

3) Select the resolution, such as 300.

4) Select the Background Contents.

You have three choices:

a) White

b) Background Color

c) Transparent

If you choose transparent, you can't save the collage using the JPEG file format.

You must save the collage using a file format that supports transparency, such as GIF (pronounced jif as in jiffy) or PNG (pronounced ping).

5) Click OK.

Jump to Prepare the Other Photographs.

Prepare the Other Photographs

You now have a background, either a photograph or a blank canvas.

Next, open the other photographs that you'll be placing on the background.

If these photographs already have the optimum exposure, contrast and color, go to File > Place.

Otherwise, adjust their exposure, contrast, and color.

Compare the photographs.

You probably want them to have consistent exposure and color.

For example, if one of them is brighter than the others, it may standout to the detriment of the other photographs.

Once you've edited the photographs, jump to Merge Many Layers.

File > Place

You can import a photograph directly from a folder onto the background photograph or background canvas.

Make sure you're at the Collage file.

Go to File > Place.

The Place window opens.

Navigate to the photograph you want to import.

Select the photograph and click Place.

The photograph will appear in the layer stack of the Collage file.

Change the Size & Location

You can change the size, and can move, the photograph.

Resize

To resize, do the following.

1) Press Ctrl + t.

2) Click one of the corner boxes, hold, and drag.

3) Be sure to click the circle with the diagonal line, to cancel, or click the checkmark, to accept, the changes.

Move

To move the photograph, do the following.

1) Select the Move tool.

2) Click the photo, hold, and drag.

After resizing and repositioning the photographs, jump to Layer Order.

Merge Many Layers

If you have more layers than just the Background and Background copy layers, merge all of the layers into a composite layer.

A composite layer contains all of the layers of your photograph.

Go to Composite Layer.

Next, after making the composite layer, jump to Entire Photographs or Portions?.

Entire Photographs or Portions?

Are you using the entire photographs as part of your collage?

Or, are you using only portions of the photographs?

If you're using the entire photographs, jump to Importing Photographs onto the Collage.

If you're using just a portion of each photograph, jump to Make a Selection.

Make a Selection

You'll probably be using portions of photographs in your collage.

Crop or make a selection.

If you made a composite layer, make sure it's active (highlighted).

Square or Rectangular without Feathering

If you want square or rectangular portions of the photographs, without feathering, use the Crop tool.

Go to Crop Tool.

After cropping, move the photograph to the collage.

Jump to Importing Photographs onto the Collage.

Square or Rectangular with Feathering

If you want square or rectangular portions of the photographs, with feathering, use the Rectangular Marquee tool.

If you want feathering, select the amount in options bar/Tool Options, before making the selection.

Rounded corners can be produced by using a large feathering amount.

After making the selection, move the selected area to the collage.

Jump to Importing Selections onto the Collage.

Round or Oval with or without Feathering

If you want round or oval portions of the photographs, use the Elliptical marquee tool.

If you want feathering, select the amount in options bar/Tool Options, before making the selection.

After making the selection, move the selected area to the collage.

Jump to Importing Selections onto the Collage.

Other Shapes

You can use the other selection tools.

If you haven't already done so, go to Selection Tools.

You can also make selections using the Cookie Cutter tool.

Go to Cookie Cutter Tool.

Importing Photographs onto the Collage

You have your collage open in Photoshop Elements.

You also have one or more photographs open as well.

You want to import, move, one of these photographs into the collage.

Do the following.

1) Go the photograph that you want to import.

2) Select the Move tool.

3) Click, hold, and drag the large image of the photograph on your screen—not the layer.

Composite Layer

If you've edited the photograph you want to move, make a composite layer.

Go to Composite Layer.

After you've made the composite layer, do the following.

1) Click the eye icons of the other layers to make the layers invisible.

2) Click the composite layer (highlighted).

2) Select the Move tool.

3) Click, hold, and drag the large image of the photograph on your screen—not the composite layer.

More

If you haven't already done so, go to Move a Layer.

Too Small or Big? Wrong Location?

The imported photographs may be too small or too large.

They may be in the wrong location as well.

Jump to Resizing the Photographs & Former Selections and Moving the Photographs & Former Selections.

Importing Selections onto the Collage

Photoshop Elements 10 & Earlier

1) Click the arrange icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.

q

2) Select Tile All in Grid, or another more appropriate tiling scheme.

q

3) Select the Move tool.

4) Click inside the selection border, hold, and drag the selection onto the destination photograph.

If you haven't already done so, Moving Selections.

Photoshop Elements 11 & Later

1) Press Ctrl + k to go to Preferences.

2) Select Allow Floating Documents in Expert Mode.

q

3) Go to Layout at the bottom of your screen and select All Floating.

q

4) Select the Move tool.

5) Click inside the selection border, hold, and drag the selection onto the destination photograph.

If you haven't already done so, Moving Selections.

Too Small or Big? Wrong Location?

The imported former selections may be too small or too large.

They may be in the wrong location as well.

Jump to Resizing the Photographs & Former Selections and Moving the Photographs & Former Selections.

Resizing the Photographs &

Former Selections

You’ll probably have to change the size of the photographs and selections that you moved onto your collage.

Go to Transform.

Transform is far more convenient than going to Image > Resize > Image Size.

If you haven't already done so, go to Change the Size.

With Transform you don't need to enter the value for the size you want.

You can just eyeball the size as you make the adjustment.

Be sure to click the circle with the diagonal line, to cancel, or click the checkmark, to accept, the changes.

Next, if you need to reposition the photographs, jump to Moving the Photographs & Former Selections.

Moving the Photographs &

Former Selections

You can use the Move tool to shift the imported photographs and former selections around the collage.

1) Select the Move tool.

2) Click the layer for the imported photograph or selection that you want to move.

3) Click, hold, and drag the photograph or former selection, or use the arrow keys.

If you link layers together, the photographs in the linked layers will move together.

Go to Linking.

Now, jump to Layer Order.

Layer Order

In the Layers panel for the collage file, you can click, hold, and drag layers to new positions in the stack.

Imagine the Layers panel to be like a stack of glass shelves.

Your collage looks like what you would see if you were standing over the glass shelves, looking down through the glass shelves.

Next, jump to Opacity.

Opacity

You can fade a layer by lowering its opacity.

Click on the layer.

Adjust the opacity in the Opacity box.

The Opacity box is at the top of the layers stack, to the right of the Blending Mode box.

It probably has 100% inside.

q

As you lower the opacity, more of the lower layers show through the layer you're adjusting.

Layer Styles

There are many layer styles, such as drop shadow, that you can apply to each layer.

More

Collage Templates

If you're going to reuse the layout of a collage, make a template of it first.

Go to Collage Templates.

Multiple Opacities

Normally, a layer has a single opacity.

However, by using selections, you can create a layer with more than one opacity.

Go to Multiple Opacities.

Saving the Collage

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.