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Secrets to Creating Compelling Photo Collages

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Although collage is an old art form, tools such as Photoshop CS2 give it a new twist. You don't need to get out paint, brushes, scissors, and glue to make art. Instead, everything you need is on your computer. With a handful of photos, Photoshop, and the desire to experiment, you're well on your way to creating collage art. Helen Bradley gives the how-to's for creating a collage in Photoshop by using photos and other techniques, and how to use some design and Photoshop tricks to make sure the result is balanced and pleasing to the eye.

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Collage and photomontage are art forms in which multiple photos, drawn and painted images, and even 3D objects are combined into a piece of art. Although collage is an old art form, tools such as Photoshop CS2 give it a new twist. You don’t need to get out paint, brushes, scissors, and glue to make art—instead, everything you need is on your computer. With a handful of photos, Photoshop, and the desire to experiment, you’re well on your way to creating collage art. In this article, you’ll learn how to create a collage in Photoshop using photos and other techniques and how to use some design and Photoshop tricks to make sure the result is balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Determine a Theme

A good starting point for a collage is a photo of an object or person. Choose an image that you like and that you’ll enjoy working with. Statues and portraits are a good choice, as are heritage photos (see Figure 1). It helps if the subject has clean edges that will enable you to cut the object from the photo without leaving gaps that have to be covered or blended later on.

Figure 1

Figure 1 All good collages start with one good photo. Choose one you’ll enjoy working with as your subject.

Determine the theme for your collage based on the main photo. It might be a heritage theme, a farm or country theme, or something more urban. Then locate other photos or images that are consistent with the theme and that complement it. For an urban theme, for example, consider buildings, signs, and cars. For a heritage theme, you might want to use images of flowers, lace, or vintage objects.

To manage the project files, make a folder and copy all your photos into it (see Figure 2). Assemble more photos than you’ll actually need so you can choose the most suitable ones to include in the collage as you work.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Create a new folder and copy all the images you’re considering using in your collage into it.

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