Create A Collage Of Warped Photos

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1 Create A Collage Of Warped Photos In this Adobe Photoshop tutorial, we re going to learn how to create a collage of warped photos. Now, don t go letting your imagination run wild here. When I say warped, I don t mean sick, twisted and shocking, unless of course those are the types of photos you want to use. What I m talking about is photos that we ll be bending, curling, distorting and reshaping using Photoshop s Warp Tool. I should point out here that the Warp Tool (not to be confused with the Text Warp tool) has only been around in Photoshop since version CS2, which means you ll need Photoshop CS2 or later if you want to follow along using the same techniques I ll be using in this tutorial. There are more complicated and time-consuming ways to create the same effect in older versions of Photoshop, but the Warp Tool makes things incredibly easy for us and is also really fun to use, as we ll see! For this tutorial, I ll be using three photos in my collage, plus the image I ll be using as the background, for a grand total of four photos (who says math isn t easy?). You, of course, can use as many photos as you like. Since Halloween is fast approaching, I thought I d go with a Halloween theme for my collage, but again you can use whichever photos you like. Step 1: Open The First Photo You Want To Add To Your Collage Open the first photo you want to add to your collage. We ll go through all the steps necessary to complete our work on this first photo, and then it s simply a matter of repeating the steps with each additional photo you want to add to your collage. Here s the first photo I ll be using: Open the first photo you ll be adding to your collage. Step 2: Rename The Background Layer With the photo newly opened inside Photoshop, if we look over in the Layers palette, we can see that we currently have one layer, named Background, which contains our image: Photoshop s Layers palette showing our original image on the Background layer. 1

2 Hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) and double-click on the name Background to have Photoshop rename the layer Layer 0. We need to add a new blank layer below this Background layer, but there s a small problem. Photoshop treats the Background layer differently from all other layers (which is why the name is written in italics). There s things we can do with other layers that we can t do with the Background layer. One of the things we can t do is add any layers below it. The Background layer must always remain the bottom layer in the Layers palette. Fortunately, there s an easy way around this problem. All we need to do is rename the layer to something other than Background, and the easiest way to do that is by holding down your Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key and double-clicking directly on the word Background. Photoshop will automatically rename the layer Layer 0. Step 3: Add A New Blank Layer Below Layer 0 Now that our Background layer is no longer named Background, we can add a layer below it. To do that, hold down your Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key and click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Hold down Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) and click the New Layer icon. Clicking the New Layer icon adds a new blank layer, and by default, Photoshop places new layers above the layer we currently have selected in the Layers palette, but by holding down Ctrl/Command as we click on the icon, we tell Photoshop to place the new layer below the currently selected layer. As we can see now in our Layers palette, the new layer, which Photoshop has automatically named Layer 1, appears below Layer 0. The Layers palette showing the new blank layer added below the original layer. Step 4: Add Additional Canvas Space Around The Image Since we re going to be bending and warping our image, we need to give ourselves a little extra room to work, which means we need to add some extra canvas space around the image. To do that, go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Canvas Size. This brings up the Canvas Size dialog box. Enter 150 for the Width and Height and change the measurement type for both to percent. Make sure the Relative option is not checked, and make sure the middle square is selected in the Anchor grid: Increase the canvas size around the image using the options circled in red above. 2

3 Click OK when you re done, and Photoshop will add the extra canvas space all around the image, giving us lots of room to work: The extra canvas space is now added around the image.. Step 5: Add A White Stroke To The Image Click on Layer 0 in the Layers palette to select the layer that contains the original image. Let s add a white photo border around the edge of the image. To do that, go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choose Stroke. This brings up the Stroke dialog box. I m going to enter a value of 20 px (pixels) for my Width, which works well with my image here. You may need to enter a different value depending on the size of the image you re using. I m using a low resolution image for this tutorial, so if you re using a high resolution image, you ll need to try a higher width value. The goal here is to simply add what looks like a standard white photo border around the image, which means we also need to select white as our stroke color, so click on the color swatch to the right of the word Color, which brings up Photoshop s Color Picker and choose white. Finally, set the Location option in the middle of the dialog box to Inside so the stroke appears inside the edge of the image: Add a white stroke around the inside edge of the image to create a photo border. Click OK to exit out of the dialog box and apply the white stroke: The white border is now added around the edge of the image. Step 6: Warp The Image With Photoshop s Warp Tool Here s where we get to the fun part. We re going to bend, twist and curl the image using Photoshop s Warp Tool. There s a couple of different ways to access the Warp Tool. One is to go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen, choose Transform, and then choose Warp, but here s a faster way. Press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up Photoshop s Free Transform box and handles around the image, then simply click on the Warp icon in the Options Bar at the top of the screen: For a quick shortcut to get to the Warp Tool, press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up the Free Transform handles around the image, then click on the Warp icon in the Options Bar to access the Warp Tool. 3

4 You can click on that icon again at any time to switch back and forth between Free Transform and the Warp Tool. With the Warp Tool selected, you ll see a 3x3 grid appear over your image: A 3x3 grid appears over your image with the Warp Tool active. If you ve never used the Warp Tool before, it may seem a little confusing at first, but the easiest thing to do is simply play around with it and see what it does, since nothing you do will actually be applied to the image as long as the Warp Tool remains active. In no time at all, you ll see just how easy and fun the tool really is. To warp the image from any of the corners, simply click on any of the square corner handles and drag it around with your mouse. Here I m dragging the top left corner outward. Click and drag any of the corner handles to warp the image from the corners. To create a page curl, which is where the Warp Tool really shines, drag any of the corner handles inward. If you drag the corner in far enough, you ll actually see what looks like the back of the photo appearing in the corner (it s actually a mirror image of the photo, but it still looks pretty cool). Easily create a page curl by clicking on any of the corner handles and dragging it inward. You can also warp the image by dragging the round handles that extend out from the corners. Warping the image by dragging the round handles that extend out from the corners. And yet another way to warp the image is by simply clicking anywhere inside of the image and dragging your mouse around to warp it from that spot. Click anywhere inside the image and drag your mouse to warp the image from that location. 4

5 As you can see, Photoshop s Warp Tool gives us lots of control and flexibility over how we bend and reshape the image, and for this collage effect we re creating, there s no right or wrong way to go about it. We re not trying to create any sort of realistic effect here, although we could if we wanted. All we re really going for is something that looks fun, so feel free to play around with your image, warping, stretching, bending, twisting, and curling it anyway you like. The only thing you should try to avoid is warping anyone s face, since they may not be too happy when they see what you ve done, so try to limit your warp effects to the corners and edges of the photo as much as possible. Unfortunately, there s no undo with the Warp Tool, so if you re not happy with what you ve done and want to try again, you ll need to press your Esc key to cancel your changes and exit out of the Warp Tool, then go back and start over. Here s what my image looks like, with the Warp Tool still active, after I ve reshaped the image in a way that works for me (yours may look completely different): The image after warping it with the Warp Tool, which is still active. When you re ready to accept your changes, press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to have Photoshop apply them to the image. Step 7: Duplicate The Layer Now that we ve warped the image, we need to duplicate it. To do that, with Layer 0 (the layer that contains our image) selected in the Layers palette, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate the layer. If we look in the Layers palette now, we can see the newly created copy of the layer, which Photoshop has named Layer 0 copy, above the other two layers: Press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate Layer 0. Step 8: Fill The Original Image On Layer 0 With Black Click back on Layer 0 in the Layers palette to select it. Then, press the letter D on your keyboard if needed to reset your Foreground and Background colors so black becomes your Foreground color (white becomes your Background color). You can see your current Foreground and Background colors in the color swatches near the bottom of the Tools palette (the swatch in the top left is the Foreground color and the one in the bottom right is the Background color): The Foreground and Background color swatches in Photoshop s Tools palette. 5

6 Then, with Layer 0 selected, use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Alt+Backspace (Win) / Shift+Option+Delete (Mac) to fill the image on the layer with black. You won t see anything happen in your document window and that s because the image on Layer 0 copy is blocking what we ve done on Layer 0 below it from view, but if we look at the preview thumbnail for Layer 0 in the Layers palette, we can see that the image has in fact been filled with black: The thumbnail for Layer 0 showing the image on the layer now filled with black. Step 9: Create A Drop Shadow With The Warp Tool We re going to use the Warp Tool once again, this time to create a drop shadow effect for our image using the area we just filled with black. With Layer 0 still selected, I m going to access the Warp Tool the same way I did before, by pressing Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up the Free Transform handles and then clicking on the Warp Icon in the Options Bar. I want the light to appear to be coming from the top left, which means my shadow needs to appear along the bottom right of the image. So with my Warp Tool active, I m going to bend and reshape the black-filled area so it sticks out from under the right and bottom of the image. Again, we re not going for absolute realism here, so feel free to exaggerate things a little. Using the Warp Tool to reshape the black-filled area on Layer 0 into a shadow for the image. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you re done to accept and apply the changes. Step 10: Apply The Gaussian Blur Filter We need to blur the edges of our shadow a little, so go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, choose Blur, and then choose Gaussian Blur. When the Gaussian Blur dialog box appears, I m going to enter a Radius value of about 6 pixels to blur the edges of my shadow slightly. Again, you may need to enter a higher value if you re using a high resolution image: The Foreground and Background color swatches in Photoshop s Tools palette. Click OK to exit out of the dialog box when you re done. The shadow now appears much less noticeable after lowering its opacity. 6

7 Step 11: Lower The Opacity Of The Layer We ve warped our shadow into shape with the Warp Tool and blurred out the edges, but our shadow is much too intense at this point. To fix that, go up to the Opacity option in the top right of the Layers palette and lower the layer s opacity to around 60%: Lower the opacity of Layer 0 to reduce the intensity of the shadow. Here s my image after lowering the opacity of the shadow: The shadow now appears much less noticeable after lowering its opacity. Step 12: Add A New Blank Layer Above The Other Layers We re almost done, but let s finish things off by adding some subtle highlights and shadows to our photo to enhance the illusion that it s really bending and twisting in 3D space. To do that, we first need to add a new layer above the other layers, so click on the top layer ( Layer 0 copy ) to select it, then click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to have Photoshop add a new blank layer at the top, which it automatically names Layer 2 : Select the top layer, then click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a new blank layer, Layer 2, above the other layers. Step 13: Change The Blend Mode Of The New Layer To Hard Light We need to change the blend mode of our new layer. To do that, go up to the Blend Mode options in the top left corner of the Layers palette. By default, the layer is set to the Normal blend mode. Click on the down-pointing arrow to the right of the word Normal and select Hard Light from the list: Change the blend mode of Layer 2 from Normal to Hard Light. 7

8 Step 14: Lower The Opacity Of The Layer We re going to use this layer to paint in some highlights and shadows with Photoshop s Brush Tool, but before we do, we need to lower the opacity of this layer quite a bit. We want very subtle highlights and shadows, so go over to the Opacity option in the top right of the Layers palette and lower the opacity all the way down to about 20% to start with. You may need to raise or lower it slightly when you re done: Lower the opacity of the new layer down to about 20%. Step 15: Load A Selection Around The Image Before we begin painting, let s make sure we paint inside the lines so-to-speak, so we re not painting over any of the transparent areas around the image. To do that, hold down your Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key and click directly on the preview thumbnail for Layer 0 copy (the layer that contains our image) in the Layers palette: Hold down Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) and click on the thumbnail for Layer 0 copy in the Layers palette to load a selection around the image. This loads a selection around the image in the document window: A selection is loaded around the image. Step 16: Select The Brush Tool Select Photoshop s Brush Tool from the Tools palette, or simply press B on your keyboard to select it with the shortcut: Select Photoshop s Brush Tool. Step 17: Paint With Black To Add Shadows To The Image With the Brush Tool selected and black as your Foreground color, paint over a few areas in the image to add subtle shadows, giving the image a bit more of a 3D look to it. Resize your brush as needed by pressing the left bracket key on your keyboard to make the brush smaller or the right bracket key to make it larger. To control the hardness of the brush edges, hold down your Shift key and press the left bracket key a few times to soften the edges, or hold down Shift and press the right bracket key a few times to make the brush edges harder. 8

9 You can also Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the document to bring up the Brush Tool dialog box where you can adjust the brush diameter and hardness with slider controls at the top: With the Brush Tool selected, Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the document to access the Brush Tool dialog box where you can adjust the brush size and edge hardness. Then simply paint over parts of the image to add some shadows. Thanks to the selection we ve loaded around the image, we don t have to worry about accidentally painting in the area outside of the photo. The only area we can paint over is the area inside the selection. If you make a mistake or you re just not happy with how you painted over an area, either press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo your last brush stroke, or press E on your keyboard to switch to Photoshop s Eraser Tool, erase over the mistake, then press B to switch back to your Brush Tool and continue painting. Here s my image after painting in some shadows in the top left and right corners, as well as over the page curl in the bottom right corner The image after painting in some subtle shadows in the top corners as well as over the page curl in the bottom right corner. We ll add some highlights next. Step 18: Paint With White To Add Highlights To The Image Once you re done painting in some shadows, press the letter X on your keyboard to swap your Foreground and Background colors so white becomes your Foreground color. Then just as you did for the shadows, simply paint over a few areas to add some highlights, changing your brush size and edge hardness as needed. Here, I m painting a very subtle white highlight area in the bottom left corner of the image: Switch your Foreground color to white and paint in some highlights. 9

10 The highlights aren t as noticeable in my image since I m painting over an area that is already fairly bright. They may be more noticeable in your image, but even a very subtle highlight still adds to the effect and keeps the image from looking flat. When you re done painting your shadows and highlights, press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) to deselect the selection around the image. Step 19: Adjust The Layer Opacity If Needed If you find that your shadows and highlights are a bit too subtle in your image, go back to the Opacity option in the top right corner of the Layers palette and increase the layer opacity until you re happy with how they look. Or if you think your shadows and highlights are too strong, lower the opacity slightly. Either way, you shouldn t need to adjust the opacity amount by much, since even small adjustments have a big impact with the layer set to the Hard Light blend mode. I m going to fine-tune my shadows and highlights by increasing my layer opacity to 22%: Fine-tune the intensity of the shadows and highlights by making minor adjustments to the layer s opacity. Here s my image now with my shadows and highlights added: The image after adding the highlights and shadows. Step 20: Group The Three Layers That Make Up The Image We ve completed our work on our first photo! All we need to do now is add it to our main collage document (which we ll open in a moment). Right now, our image is made up of three separate layers - the main image on Layer 0 copy, the main shadow below it on Layer 0, and the highlights and shadows on Layer 2 at the top. Rather than dragging three separate layers into the main collage document, let s make things easier by grouping the layers so all three of them will be placed inside a folder in the Layers palette. That way, we can simply drag the folder over to the collage document instead of dragging three separate layers. This will also make it easier to keep our main collage document organized when we start adding additional photos to it. To create the layer group, since Layer 2 is currently selected in the Layers palette, hold down Shift and click on Layer 0. This will select both Layer 0 and Layer 0 copy above it while keeping Layer 2 at the top selected, so all three layer will then be selected (in previous versions of Photoshop, you would need to link the layers together rather than selecting them like this): Select all three layers that make up the image. 10

11 With all three layer selected, either go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and select Group Layers or simply use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+G (Win) / Command+G (Mac). Whichever way you choose, Photoshop adds all three layers into a new group. If you look in your Layers palette, you ll see that the three layers seem to have disappeared, replaced by a folder icon with the name Group 1 beside it. Double-click directly on the words Group 1 and rename the group something more descriptive like Photo 1 : The three layers have now been added to a layer group. If you look closely, you ll see a small, right-pointing triangle to the left of the folder icon. Click on it to twirl the folder open, and you ll see your three layers appear inside of it: Open the layer group by clicking on the small right-pointing arrow to the left of the folder icon. Click on the triangle once again to close group, leaving only the folder visible. Step 21: Open The Image To Use As Your Collage Background The work on our first photo is done and we ve organized the three layers that make up the image into a layer group. All we need to do now is drag the layer group over to our main collage document, so go ahead and open the image you want to use as your background. Here s the image I ll be using: Open the image you want to use as the background for your collage. 11

12 Step 22: Drag The Layer Group Into The Main Collage Image With both images open in their own separate document windows on your screen, click anywhere inside the document containing the photo we just finished working on so that its document window is selected. Then, simply click on the layer group in the Layers palette and drag the group into your background image document: Drag the layer group from the photo document into the main background document. You ll see your photo appear in front of your background image in the new document, and if you look in the new document s Layers palette, you ll see that the layer group has been copied over to the new document and is now sitting above the Background layer: The Layers palette showing the layer group above the Background layer in the new document. Step 23: Resize And Reposition The Photo With Free Transform Now that our first photo is in front of the background inside the document we ll be using for our collage, we can move and resize it as needed. To do that, press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to once again bring up the Free Transform box and handles around this image. To move the photo with Free Transform, simply click anywhere inside the photo (except for on the small target icon in the center) and drag the image into position with your mouse. To resize the image, hold down Shift and drag any of the corner handles. Holding down Shift as you drag constrains the the width and height proportions of the image, maintaining its original shape. To resize the image from its center, hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) as you drag (you can hold Shift as well to constrain the proportions and resize from the center at the same time). You can also rotate the image if you want by moving your mouse cursor just outside the Free Transform box and then clicking and dragging your mouse. Here, I ve moved my photo into the center of the document and I m resizing it by dragging the bottom corner handle inward: Move and resize the image as needed with Photoshop s Free Transform command. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to accept your changes when you re done. 12

13 Step 24: Repeat The Same Steps To Add Additional Photos Into The Collage And with that, our first photo has successfully been warped into shape and added into our collage! To add more photos (it wouldn t be much of a collage if we didn t add more photos), simply repeat the steps we ve just worked through for each additional photo, warping each one differently for variety. When you get to the part where you add the layers into a layer group, name your new groups with successive numbers ( Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4, etc.), then simply drag them into the main collage document, move them into place and resize them as needed with Free Transform. I ve added two more photos to my collage, and if I look in my Layers palette, I can see that I now have three layer groups, named Photo 1, Photo 2 and Photo 3, above my Background layer which contains my background image: Photoshop s Layers palette showing the three layer groups that I ve dragged into the document, as well as the main Background layer. If you want to move one photo on top of another in your collage, simply click on its layer group in the Layers palette and drag it above the other photo s group to change the stacking order. Layers and layer groups that are higher in the Layers palette appear in front of layers and groups below them. Here, after adding my two additional photos, is my final result: The final Create A Collage Of Warped Photos effect. And there we have it! For more Adobe Photoshop tutorials, visit Photoshop 13

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