Home Photoshop Collages Transform Images In A Collage in Photoshop 6
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Transform Images In A Collage in Photoshop 6

Traditionally, a collage is artwork composed with diverse media such as string, fabric, or twigs. Itís a favorite with kindergartners. In electronic publishing, however, a collage is assembled with parts of other electronic images. Itís popular with desktop designers.

Photoshop has excellent tools for creating collages. Last month we discussed using the eraser tool to separate an image from its background. This month weíll use this image to compose a collage.

Paste & Position Layers

To start, open one or more images isolated from their backgrounds. We used the eraser tool to glean two pictures, a zebra and a bear, from sample files provided with Photoshop. (For details on technique, refer to the June 2002 Quick Study.)

Next, open a new file with a transparent background. Specify size as 600 x 600 pixels. Save it as collage.psd. Open the Layers palette by Selecting Window, Show Layers. Sometimes, depending on file type and other things, Photoshop locks the background layer of a file. This prevents you from editing it. You will know itís locked if you see a little lock in the Layers palette. To unlock it, right-click on the layer, select Duplicate Layer, and click OK. Drag the locked background to the trash can icon in the Layers palette and youíre good to go.

Return to your image without a background. Choose Select, All, Edit, Copy. Then go back to the collage.psd file and select Edit, Paste to insert the picture.

The move tool. Practice positioning your image around the canvas with the Move tool, which is the arrow-and-cross icon in the upper right of the toolbar. Keep in mind that a layer must be selected before you can move or manipulate the image it contains. To simplify layer selection, check the Auto Select Layer box in the Move tool menu. Then the correct layer will be automatically selected, whichever image you click.

Building basics. Itís easy to add another image to the collage by right-clicking the first layer in the Layers palette and selecting Duplicate Layer. Again, use the Move tool to place the image strategically on the canvas.

Add and subtract. For practice, add several more duplicate layers and spread the images around the canvas. Or add another image to the mix by selecting Layer, New and pasting in a new source picture. If, as you proceed, you donít like what you see, simply delete the layer by dragging it to the trash.

Transform Effects

Under Edit, Transform, youíll find multiple ways to alter collage images. Click an image and select Edit, Transform, Flip Horizontal. Now shift the newly reversed image to a different position on the canvas.

To resize a picture, select Edit, Transform, Scale. Pull on a side or corner handle to enlarge or shrink the image. To accept a change, double-click. Press ESC on your keyboard to cancel a change.

Another handy tool is Rotate. It lets you change the angle of the image without disturbing its smooth edges. Again, use a side or corner handle to effect changes. Accept changes with a double-click; use the ESC key to cancel. Also under Transform are the Skew, Distort, and Perspective commands. Use these three tools to elongate, shorten, slant, squeeze, and otherwise tweak an image.

The eye icon in the Layers palette is a toggle switch that lets you render a layer invisible and visible again. Use it whenever you need to focus on editing a layer.

More on moving. Achieve a sophisticated effect by moving images partially out of view, off the canvas. To promote an image to the foreground, simply drag and drop it higher on the Layers palette.

The Layered Look

You can also use layer styles to enhance collage images. Select an image youíd like to style, then choose Layer, Layer Style and select the effect you wish-a drop shadow, for example.

To add a background to the collage, select Layer, New Fill Layer, then choose a color, gradient, or pattern.

When youíre finished, save your work. In the .PSD format, you can add, remove, or edit layers at any time. However, for print or Web publication, the collage must be saved in a conventional electronic format such as TIF (Tagged Image File Format) or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group). To do this, you must discard the layers by selecting Layer/Flatten Image. Then use the Save As command.

Have fun collaging. You may feel like a kid again-and look Ma, no glue.

Home Photoshop Collages Transform Images In A Collage in Photoshop 6
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