Learn how to make a collage or montage in Photoshop using fractal trees, a texture image and some masks.

The images used in this video are free to download and an earlier video shows you how to make fractal trees so you can make the collage yourself. The tutorial covers beginner level masking to help make the collage and two pieces are created from the same basic elements.

This is the link to the video that shows how to create fractal trees to use in Photoshop collages: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hTWkhHI90s


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial we’re going to look at using masks, textures and some fractal trees to create composite images in Photoshop. In this video tutorial I’m going to show you how you can create a couple of interesting effects just using images that you can find online.

The background image here is from Flickr and details are in the end of the video. And the house image is actually from sxc.hu, and again I’ve got details at the end of the video. The tree is a fractal tree and you can see one of my other video tutorials for how to create fractal trees. And this is just done with my masking so that’s one of the images we’re going to create. We’re just going to reverse the mask here to create this image. So let’s see how we would do that and I’m going to start by showing you the two images we’re going to use. This is the one from sxc.hu which is free for download online and this is the background from Flickr.

The first thing I’m going to do is just to bring this image in so I’m just dragging on the background layer and just bringing the image into my sort of collage area. Now what I wanted to do was actually line up this background and it actually worked perfectly. These images haven’t as far as I’m aware actually been adjusted from their downloaded original. But the horizon line just works perfectly on the back of this texture image so I’m just going to do that and then we’re going to mask the house. Now the easiest way to mask this house is probably to grab the quick selection tool. And with the quick selection tool you can select over those areas of the image that you want to select. And if it’s not perfect you can just go back with the Alt key and just drag over the areas that you want to take out of the selection. But it does a reasonably good job. And because we’re doing masking anyway it’s a little bit forgiving. So having done that we can choose Select and then Refine Edge. And Refine Edge will allow us to refine the edge of this and we can do this with marching ants or on black or whatever.

Now I’m going to ask Photoshop to have another look at some of these edges here because it hasn’t done the world’s best job of getting them right and particularly these edges around the bottom here. And once we’re happy with that if we are happy with it we can just make this into a selection or a new layer with layer mask. So I’m going to choose New Layer with Layer Mask and just click Ok. And that has created the image here this house image as a new layer with its own layer mask. And I can determine how much of this inside that I want to bring in.

So I’d actually thought in the past that actually bringing these windows in would be attractive and perhaps a little bit more worked on the door. And now I want to fill these areas with black in the mask. So I’m going to select or target the mask layer, black is my foreground color so I’ll do Alt Backspace and that allows me to see through the building to what’s behind. And then I’ll just go and open one of my trees. And I have some trees here and I’ll just grab one of my fractal trees, drag it into the image here.

I’ll make sure I’ve got the tree layer selected and drag it into position here. And when we were looking at these fractal trees we determined that actually using the darker blend mode or darken blend mode blended the trees into their background a little bit better because that meant that any residual white in the tree that was left over from the process of bringing it into Photoshop would be eliminated that way. So there’s the first of our images.

So having completed our first image the second one is done in a very similar way. In fact we can borrow the first to make the second. So I’m just going to make a duplicate of the image layer here. And what I’m going to do is just invert the mask so I’m just going to press Ctrl I on the mask and effectively that was pretty much the beginnings of this image. I then brought in the tree so it would be a little bit over the edge and then we’re going to create a shadow for the tree. So the first thing I’m going to do with that is on the tree layer once it’s already set, I’m going to add a drop shadow. And I’m just going to go with whatever I get here because I’m actually not going to use it exactly as it is here so I’m just going to click Ok.

And now I want to take the drop shadow layer off onto its own layer so I’m just going to click Create Layer and click Ok. And that takes the drop shadow back onto its own layer which means I can do things with it such as sizing it down, putting it in position and then rotating it so it becomes more like the kind of drop shadow that it should be. And I want it to come over the background there so I’m just going to click Ok and actually position it a little closer and perhaps even kill down its opacity a bit, multiply blend mode is what I wanted there.

Now on this layer too I had a drop shadow so let’s just go and add a drop shadow to this. Yes, it was a drop shadow but it was a lot smaller than that. So I just gave it a little bit of a softening effect that I wanted, not quite as harsh as it had been. And we could change the color of that if we want to. But I’ll just click Ok.

So there are the two possible effects that we can create using this particular image. It’s just done through layer masks and you can create all sorts of fun collage effects using layer masks in Photoshop. And I’ve combined these with nice textures and these fractal trees. And the beauty of all of this is that these images can be grabbed online. So you can go and create these image effects if you want to yourself by grabbing the images and playing around with these effects.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more tutorials on my YouTube channel and visit projectwoman.com for more tips, tricks and tutorials for Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Photoshop Elements and more. And if you liked this please click Like and comment on it and think about subscribing to my YouTube channel.

Helen Bradley