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38 Special: photographic special effects > Layer Masking for Collaging

Layer Masking for Collaging

Photoshop collage techniques could easily fill a whole chapter, maybe a whole book; but the technique shown here is probably the most popular—and one of the most powerful—collage techniques used today by professionals. Best of all, it’s easy, flexible, and even fun to blend photos seamlessly.

Step One.
Open the photo that you want to use as your base photo (this serves as the background of your collage).


Step Two.
Open the first photo that you want to collage with your background photo.


Step Three.
Press the letter “v” to switch to the Move tool in the Toolbox, and then click-and-drag the photo from this document right onto your background photo. It appears on its own layer.

Step Four.
Click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette (as shown).

Step Five.
Press the letter “g” to get the Gradient tool from the Toolbox, and then press Return (PC: Enter) to bring up the Gradient Picker (it appears at the location of your cursor within your image area). Choose the Black to White gradient (it’s the third gradient in the Picker, as shown).

Step Six.
Click the Gradient tool just inside the right edge of your top photo, then drag to the left. The point where you first click makes the top layer totally transparent, and the point where you stop dragging 100% opacity. Everything else blends in between.

Step Seven.
When you release the mouse, the top photo blends into the background. As you can see from the capture shown here, the top layer is totally transparent at the center, and the opacity increases toward the left until it becomes solid.

Step Eight.
Open another photo you’d like to blend in with your existing collage. Switch to the Move tool, and click-and-drag this photo onto the top of your collage in progress. Click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a Layer Mask to this new layer.


Step Nine.
Click the Gradient tool in the center of your photo, and drag straight downward (as shown here) to blend this new photo in with the other layers.

Step Ten.
Dragging downward (rather than side to side) leaves the top of the photo on this layer visible, blending off to transparency at the bottom and revealing the rest of the collage (as shown here).

Step Eleven.
If the image at the top seems too distracting, go to the Layers palette and lower the Opacity of this layer to 50%, to give the effect shown here.

Step Twelve.
To finish the collage, I added a new layer, drew a horizontal rectangular selection across the bottom of the collage, and filled this selection with black. I then went to the Layers palette and lowered the opacity to 60% to make it transparent. Last, I added some type using the font Serpentine (from Adobe) as shown here in the final image.



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