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Manipulate to Create Photomontage

Working in Layers
Changing Elements
Merging and Linking Layers
Adding Elements

This entire exercise will teach you how to create the photomontage below using street front images and image editing techniques in Adobe Photoshop.



Working in Layers

In order to alter photographs, you build physical layers upon one another. This is how to "turn on and off" certain features within a photomontage. The following Layers exercise will create the foundation for the additional exercises.

Create a continuous street front

1. Open all the images for this exercise img_1.jpg - img_5.jpg by choosing File/Open.

2. Create a new file File/New with a Width of 5760 pixels, Height of 862 pixels, and resolution of 72 pixels per inch.

3. Drag all of the storefront images into the new file by selecting the image to move with the move tool (the top right tool in the tools palette) and dragging it into the new file. The new file should contain all the images in order.


Images should be lined up as shown above in 1 file.

4. Notice in the Layers palette, Window/Layers, all of the layers in the new file. Each image that was dragged into the new document is on its own layer. Rename each layer 1 -5 corresponding to the name of file from which they came. For instance, img_1.jpg goes on a layer called img 1.

To rename the layer, double click on the name of the layer and type a new name into the box. If the Layer Properties box comes up, close it and click on the layer name. This will enable you to change the layer name.

5. Now, you need to organize the store fronts so that the best view of each building can easily be detected. For instance, I moved img 3 underneath img 2 because img 3 contains a better view (straight-on) of the Fed Ex store than img 2. In order to move img 3 behind img, select the layer and drag it underneath. The physical position of the layers directly corresponds with the order in the Layers Palette.

6. The first thing we created when we created this file was the Background layer. This layer contains nothing except for the white space surrounding the photographs. Once you overlap the images, you do not need the background to be as large as it is. You will need to crop the background layer by selecting the rectangle selection tool in the tool palette, drawing a rectangle around all the photographs, and choosing Image/Crop. Clicking once anywhere within Photoshop will deselect the file.

Remember, you can only move or edit a building after you have selected the layer first, or by turning on the Auto Select Layer option appearing in the option palette with the move tool selected.

This image is saved in the Managing Photographs Images folder, called streetfronts_montage.psd

Changing Elements

You just learned how to manage layers and that the order of the layers in the layers palette directly corresponds with the order of the visibility in the document. Now you are going to delete the elements of the buildings you don't want and add desired elements.

1. Each photograph contains parts of the neighboring buildings. You will need to delete these parts in order to fit all the buildings together. Select the Premier Furniture layer, img 5. Using the rectangle selection tool, draw a rectangle around the buildings on both sides, doing one at a time, and choose Edit/Clear. You can turn off the adjacent layer by clicking in the selecting the layer with the move tool and clicking on the eyeball in the Layers palette.

2. Turn on an off each layer as necessary while using the rectangle tool to delete the unwanted sides of buildings that you don't need.

I am working in the following order:

Erase to the right and left sides of the Premier building, leaving only the Premier building and the sky above

Erase the Premier building out of img 4 using the Rectangle tool, and Choosing Edit/Clear

Turn off img 3 to see the left side of the Hall building, in order to erase the portion of the red brick building

Turn off img 4 and img 3 on, select it and erase the Hall building on the right

Erase the red brick building on the left of the Fed Ex building, img 3, because img 2 is a better picture of that building.

Erase the crooked red building from img 1

Erase the half building from img 2.





Following the steps above, your document should look like this:

3. Next, we need to clean up the file and straighten out the buildings.

Turn on the rulers, View/Rulers.

Create Vertical and Horizontal Guides. With the move button selected, drag from the vertical ruler to create a vertical guide. Do the same for a horizontal guide. You want to establish vertical lines along the sides of the buildings and horizontal lines for the top and bottom of the buildings.

(By placing the cursor over the ruler and left clicking while I drag, I can create a guide that appears as a dashed line and then a blue line once it reaches my document.)

4. All your buildings should be lined up along the same horizontal guide and the vertical lines should dictate where the sides of the buildings should be. Next, select img 1 layer. Choose Edit/Transform/Skew. Using the anchor points, drag the image until it appears to line up with the vertical guides. You will probably need to repeat this step several times and possibly drag the anchor point down rather than to the right to get the building straight.

5. With the building now straight, use the rectangle tool once more to delete the neighboring building on this layer.

Layer Img 1 should look like this.











6. Repeat these steps using the Edit/Transform/Skew for the rest of the buildings and erase the edges cleanly with the rectangle tool.

7. Your document should look like the one above. Choose View/Show/Guides to turn the guides off. Select and move each building together.

8. Using the rectangle selection tool, draw a rectangle around the buildings and crop off any excess space to the left and right and to the bottom.

Merging and Linking Layers

Once all the buildings are as you want them, you are going to link the layers and make copies for backup.

1. In the Layers palette, select img 1 layer. In the box to the right of the eye denoting layer visibility, click so that a link appears. Link all but the background layer.

2. Select the arrow for options on the Layers Palette, choose Merge Linked. You now have 2 layers. Rename the layer img 1 to all linked. Choose the arrow options on the Layers Palette again and Duplicate the "all linked" layer. Turn off the all linked layer to work with the duplicate. If you mess up, you can always return to the original.

3. Select the Background layer. Using the eyedropper tool from the tools palette, (tenth down on the right) select a shade of blue from the sky by clicking once over the blue sky in the photographs. Use the paint bucket tool (6th down on the right) by clicking once to dump the blue into the background layer.

4. Select the duplicate layer you renamed to all linked. Use the Magic Wand selection tool to select and delete the white variation from the sky.

5. Use the Stamp, rectangle, and paint tool to remove the cars from the facades of the building, if desired. Open this quick tutorial for step 5.


Adding Elements

1. Working with the duplicate layer, you are going to replace the vacant Hall building with a new one, replace 2 storefronts and add street trees and people.

2. Open the file called books.psd while keeping the above image open. If you haven't saved the above image, now is a good time to save your work.

The books.psd image has been corrected for this exercise. It was taken in Lisle, Illinois from a slight angle. Using the skew tool (Edit/ Transform/Skew) the image was made level. It is not a beautiful building, but for our purposes, it is an appropriate height to replace the single story building with.

With the books.psd image open, use the move tool from the tools palette (top tool in the right column) and drag the building into the street fronts image. Move the layer to the top by dragging the layer in Layers Palette and moving it upwards.

Using the Zoom tool, the last tool in the right column, zoom out using the zoom and pressing Alt to enable the street fronts image to appear at 16.7%.

Choose Edit/Transform/Scale to scale the books building while holding Shift to scale proportionately. Scale the building to an appropriate height and scale its width slightly to fully cover the Hall building.


This is what the building should look like once you have scaled it to fit in place.






3. To replace the 2 left storefronts, open storefront.jpg and storefront2.jpg and drag them onto the storefronts image to replace the existing storefronts. You will have to scale (Edit/Transform/Scale) to get a perfect fit. The buildings should look like the below image.

The awnings in the feature image at the top of the page came from the file called green_awning.jpg. Open and copy and paste the awning from the image into the street front image using the rectangle tool, Edit/Copy, and Edit/Paste.


4. The final touch to a photomontage is to add street trees and people. Open the files titled Street_tree.psd, urban_man.psd, woman_1.psd, and woman_2.psd. Select and drag each one into the street fronts montage using the move tool in the tools palette.

The tree and people can be purchased on CD where the backgrounds have already been erased for ease of use. These examples were purchased from www.realworldimagery.com

You can add as many elements from other photographs to create a photomontage. As you have seen, it takes a little skill and a lot of patience to create a photomontage.


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