Fast and Dirty: Montage

Although I'm pretty sure Deanna (comments: Photoshop question) has figured this out, I thought I'd hog your bandwidth and put up a Fast and Dirty lesson in montaging images in Photoshop. Or, as we call it in the Old Country: How to Put Random Shit Together and Still Make it Look Good for Titles and Banners.

A montage is a group of images and effects used to produce a new image. You most often see montages as banners on webpages, like this:

montage that prompted question

It's best to work on an 800x600 canvas in Photoshop (or any other image-manipulation program that utilises the <voice of God>Power of Layers</God> such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Macromedia Fireworks, Paint Shop Pro etc) This is the standard idea of the lowest resolution users might have on their monitors. Sorry 640x480 users, you are cursed to a horizontal scrolling life.

File>Open the images you have gathered in Photoshop. Either drag (using the Move tool) or copy/paste your images into your 800x600 canvas. (Select All>ctrl+C>ctrl+V)

The scan lines layer was made by rotating lines created from this tutorial from

Each image needs it's own layer, and each layer needs to be named so you know what you're looking at in the Layers palette.

Now you can highlight each Layer and work on that image. I have decided to work on the figure layer first. Using the Magic Wand tool, select the white background and delete it. This tool works well with this image because of the high contrast between the background and the figure. I then applied an Outer Glow (Layer>Layer Style>Outer Glow). Click OK to set the effect.

Next I highlighted the clouds layer in the Layers palette. Using the Marque tool, I dragged a rectangular selection where I wanted to lighten the image.

Using the Levels palette (Image>Adjustments>Levels) move the righthand light triangle towards the right to lighten your selection. Click OK to set the effect.

[NOTE: the levels on the clouds layer is a "distructive" effect in that it alters the cloud image and so you're limited if you want to change this. A good alternative would be to, once you have selected the area of the cloud layer you wish to affect with the Marque tool, click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and select Levels from there. This produces a Layer over your clouds image which, while giving you the same effect, will not be destructive to your cloud layer image.]

I went back to my figure layer, and using the Marque tool, trimmed the bottom of the terracotta bust to line up with my newly lightened horizontal.

To apply the Drop Shadow, I had to make some room. Using the Marque tool again, I dragged a selection around the image about 5 pixels in from each edge. I then inversed the selection (Select>Inverse) Highlighting each layer in the Layers Palette in turn, while the selection was still active, I pressed the Delete key to remove the excess art of each layer. I also added a new white backBackground layer (New Layer/Fill with White) so I could see the drop shadow when I created it.

Highlighting the original white background layer, I apply the Drop Shadow (Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadow). Click OK to set effect.

To create the coloured boxes similar to the ones in the original banner, create a new layer (click New Layer icon at the base of the Layers Palette), name it boxes and move to the top of the Layers palette.

Using the Marque tool once again, and holding the Shift key to constrain proportions to a square, drag to the size you want. (hold down the Space Bar to move your selection into place as you drag it) Select a colour in the Foreground colour chip at the bottom of your Tools palette, and using the Fill Bucket, click inside the selection to colour your square.

To create another square, while your original square is still selected, using the Move tool with the alt key (Move+alt) drag your second square into place and apply colour by clicking inside the selecition (while the "ants" are still "marching") with the Paint Bucket tool. Repeat again for the third square.

Applying Text in Photoshop automatically creates a new layer.

Select the Type tool from the Tool palette and click on your canvas. The new text layer will automatically be created and titled with whatever you type on your canvas. You may have to drag this layer to the top of your Layer palette stack to see it. Use the font/size dropdown menus in the Option menu to create the type of text that suits the image.

When you're all done, save your montage (File>Save for web).

You now have a one layered image you can use as you normally would on a website and/or title page.