This lesson is from our favorite illustrator Ciara Phelan about combining the analog process and digital photography, as a result of which we will get a bright and flirty collage.
Photomontage will be on the theme of summer fashion: soft, fresh textures with smooth lines that will contrast with bright vintage floral elements, pastel colors and vector shapes.
You will learn to use different tools to combine the scanned elements with photos and hand-made textures; use adjustment layers and masks to combine color palette and illustration composition.
I used a photo of a model from iStock, but it can easily be replaced with one of your photos. The same applies to vintage flowers that I took from my collection. You can also download watercolor and mascara textures, although I chose to create them myself.
The first thing we need to do is to separate the model from the background, so that it is easier to add other elements of the collage both in front of the model and behind it.
Open the photo with the model in Photoshop and using the tool Pen (Pen tool), (P), create an outline around the model.
When done, save this path. To do this, on the paths panel, call the drop-down menu and select Save contour (Save path).
Keeping the contours is a good habit, because they can be useful in the following steps.
On the layers panel, select the layer with the model and duplicate it (Cmd /Ctrl +J). Bind these layers together, to do this, select two layers at the same time and click on the first icon at the bottom of the layers panel Link layers (Link layers).
Go to the top layer and activate the saved path in the paths panel. Click on the drop down menu and select Create selection (Make selection).
Set the radius feathering (feather) 0.3 and click OK. On the layers panel below, click the icon. Masks (Mask).
Now we have two layers: a model with a layer mask and a model with a background.
You can begin to add elements of the collage in front and behind the model. This work is very old, so I decided to add flowers as an ornament, but, of course, you can choose something else if this image is the only element on a monochrome background (otherwise the technique that will be discussed further will not work).
Open the image you want to add to the collage and take the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand tool) (W). In the top panel, install Tolerance (Tolerance) 20 to capture most of the pixels. Uncheck parameter Adjacent pixels (Contiguous) for the Magic Wand to highlight the entire one-color background.
Now click on the background to select it (it is white in our image). The elements that we will use are out of selection. Invert the selection so that the flowers are highlighted (Cmd /Ctrl +I). Copy the selection and paste it into the working document.
Repeat this step with the other elements you want to add to the collage.
It’s time to have some fun and start adding selected elements to the collage, placing them as you like.
I concentrated the flowers around the model, as if she was standing in a small flowering area.
Since collages usually contain several elements from different sources, it is important to correct each of these elements using Levels (Levels) so that they all have the same contrast and saturation.
You can do this by adding to the layer that you need to change, Levels (Levels) in the correction panel (adjustment panel). You can adjust shadows and lights if necessary.
I like to add color spots to link the elements of the composition together.
To do this, open Illustrator and draw spread shapes using the tool Pen ( Pen tool) (N).
Copy these forms and paste them into a working document in Photoshop. In the adjustment panel, select Color / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and change the color to one that fits into your collage.
Some kind of texture on the image always looks good, especially if you add a vector to the collage, as I do in this work.
Using watercolor and mascara, I created arbitrary stains and scanned them in Photoshop to add depth to those spread blots that were created in Illustrator. These images can be found in the materials for the lesson.
Using the tool Selection area (Marquee tool) (M), select the area of the texture you want to use. Paste it into the working document above the layer with vector shapes.
While holding down the Alt key on the keyboard, move the cursor to the space between the two layers: with texture and vector shapes. When the cursor changes its shape, click to create a clipping mask. Thus, the texture will be visible only where there are vector shapes on the layer below.
I also added traces of paint to the background to make it more interesting.
To do this, repeat step 10, but instead of adding a texture to the layer, set the paint layer to overlay mode. Multiplication (Multiply). You can change the paint color by repeating step 8 and adding an adjustment layer. Color / Saturation (Hue / Saturation).
From this moment we start working on the details. To complete the composition, I added small twining stems that grow from the main mass of flowers.
To create them, I used the tool Pen (Pen tool) (N) in Illustrator, with which drew curled stems. Then copied and pasted them in Photoshop.
I used a graphic tablet for this, it is easier than drawing with a mouse.
Flora without fauna is boring, so let’s add wildlife using the method from step 5. I took Magic wand (Magic Wand), to highlight the image of a bird and a few bees, with which it revived the illustration a little.
There are final touches left. The background of the image is not perfect, so I decided to retouch it, removing scratches. The stamp (Clone Stamp tool) will not be able to provide a good and smooth finish, because the background is rough. To draw large areas, I used Brush (Brush tool).
To do this, create a new layer above the background layer. Take the tool Brush (Brush tool), set the opacity to 40%. Using Dropper (Eyedropper tool), select a color near the area that you are going to hide. Brush layered color, sketching scratches.
This may take some time, because you need to take color samples with a pipette several times (depending on the area where you draw).
Finally, I added a larger beam on the model’s head. It was an entirely personal choice, I thought her bundle was too small.
Use adjustment layers (adjustment layers) where necessary. They will give you the opportunity to toned the image, change the color, contrast and saturation.
Keep track of interesting images and old photos on sales, they can be useful to you.