Create an Artistic Photo Collage

I am going to show you how to use a collage of images to make a persons face show up as if you used different pictures to make it. This tutorial will be very detailed and I hope you learn some new techniques from it.

Here is my final result comparison:

I started out with this picture

And I turned that into this:

Before I start, in this tutorial I made it to where you can click on the images to see larger versions of the image because most of the images are too big for the space on this site.

The hardest part about this tutorial to me is the preparation. You are going to need to have about 30-40 different pictures to make this tutorial look as good as possible. You can use any pictures you would like, even pictures you have on your computer.

I have a subscription to this website called comstock and I just went there and searched for “office” and just took a lot of screenshots of their thumbnail pictures from each page. There are many other sites that are free of charge that you can use images from. Try to get different sized images (images that are horizontally taller than others and vice versa).

Here is a site that you can look at for images if you would like. You have to sign up but it is free to be a member:

Here are the images I am going to use:

As you see they are just random images of people doing various things in offices, also see the different sizes.

Next you want to get an image that you would like to make look like its made with the collage. I chose another image again from comstock. Here is the image I am going to use:

You can use this as well if you would like for doing this tutorial.

Now I want to run you through the actual collage making part of the tutorial. First make sure all your images are cut up into all separate images.

Start a new document in photoshop and I am going to size my canvas similar to the size of the image of the girl. The size of that image is 629X725 pixels. I don’t want it quite that big so I think I will make my actual canvas 629X680. You can resize yours based off the image you want to use.

After that start a new layer and drag each of your images into your canvas in one spot just to have them all there:

I have these in the middle of my canvas because i’m going to start the collage from the top left corner.

Now you just want to start grabbing a random picture and put it in the top left corner and resize it a bit to make it smaller. Keep moving random pictures beside it and under it, also resizing them a bit to be a little different sizes like this:

Don’t worry about spreading the whole collage out over the whole canvas one by one because that would take a long time. So just make a collage using all of your photos in the corner like we are doing.

Here is my result with all my pictures:

Now we want to merge all those layers together (there should be a lot of them). I’m using photoshp CS2 so I am going to click on my top layer then while holding down shift, click on my bottom layer which will highlight them all. Then on my layers menu go to merge layers:

Ok, next we are going to duplicate that one layer a bunch more times and connect them together to complete the collage:

Now I am going to merge those 3 layers and then duplicate the one layer to finish
the collage:

Merge all your collage layers once you are done so that you have one collage layer altogether. You may want to save some of your collage in separate pieces so in case you need to add more pictures later you won’t have to go through the earlier hassle.

Now that we have our collage done we want to move our attention over to our other picture. Before I make the picture of the girl part of the collage I want to make her look more cartoonish and this can easily be done using a couple photoshop filters.

Before that though, I am going to remove any background that is in my image. There isn’t much but just a little bit of light gray. You can see it when I move the image from the canvas a bit:

I think the magic eraser tool will work perfectly to remove that so get your tool out of your tools palette and remove any excess background that you have. Depending on your picture, you may have to use a different method of removing the background.

Now that you removed your excess background, its time to use some filters.

First go to filter>>artistic>>poster edges

Use these settings:

But depending on your image you will have to experiment with the settings to get what
you want.

Result from that filter:

Ok one more filter, go to filter>>artistic>>cutout

Use these settings:

Result from that filter:

Those filters are very powerful and produce a nice result so easily.

Now drag your cartoonish image into your collage.

Move it and resize it if you need to fit it on your canvas.

I made her small enough to where some of the collage is above her head and made her flush with the bottom of the canvas.

If you notice in the last screenshot her arm is kind of squared off on the right because that is how the picture was. If you want to reshape that just use a large soft eraser brush to just touch up the hard edges. This will not effect the way it will look in the collage so you are ok either way.

Ok now its time for the easiest part of this tutorial. I am going to try to be detailed on this step in case someone does not know of this feature in photoshop.

In this step We want to copy part of the collage layer of the exact shape of our girl in the picture. Then we want to paste it over her in a new layer. The easiest way to do this in my version of photoshop is to ctrl+click on the icon in my layer that shows the thumbnail of the girl.

That will highlight around her so that you can copy. I used to use photoshop 7 back in the day and if you ctrl+click on the layer itself (not on the canvas, in your actual layers palette) it will do the same thing.

You can see how mine is highlighted:

Once you have your image highlighted like that click in your collage layer and either hit ctrl+c on a windows keyboard or go to edit>>copy on your menu. That is what is nice about that feature because once you have something highlighted you can copy from a different layer to get that shape.

After you have copied what we need hit ctrl+p or go to edit>>paste to paste your selection in your layers. Drag it above your girl layer and you should not see her once you do that.

To make this look really good set this layer to overlay in your blending modes.

Here is the result from that:

I think that looks pretty cool, but I have other ideas for this. Now I am going to pretend this is a poster and I want to put it on a wall like in a house. I am going to use a push pin to put it on the wall.

So I am going to go ahead and merge all of my layers together so I can resize them. Before that you can duplicate each layer you have now and hide them so in case you mess up on the next few steps.

I am going to resize it so that there is a pretty even amount of white space on each side. Hit ctrl+t on your keyboard and while holding down shift resize your picture.

Here is my resized and repositioned picture:

As you see there is some excess collage on the bottom of mine. I am going to use my rectangle marquee tool to delete it up to where the image of her ends.

The next thing I want to do is make this look like a sort of poster. I want to make it have some wrinkles in random areas. The easiest and best looking way to do this I think is to use an image of a piece of crinkled paper to blend in with or image.

Here is my crinkled paper picture that I got from the site I mentioned for you to try earlier:

Take your crinkle paper and position it over top of your collage image and resize it until it fits over the image. You may need to cut off some of the excess.

Now I am going to edit the hue/saturation of the crinkle paper. So hit ctrl+u on a windows keyboard or go to image>>adjustments>>hue/saturation. Take your saturation all the way down until the image is a grayish color. Don’t change any of the other settings.

Next I am going to adjust the levels of the image a bit by hitting ctrl+L or go to image>>adjustments levels.

use these settings:

This will make the crinkle paper a little darker gray:

Now set that layer to linear light in your blending modes. Duplicate that layer and then set the new one to overlay.

My result from that:

Duplicate the layers as many times as you want and mess with the blending options to get the result you are looking for.

This is a subtle effect but I think it adds to the realism don’t you?

I am going to add a drop shadow real quick to the image. Use the ctrl+click technique we discussed earlier to click on your poster so that we have its exact size. Start a new layer and underneath your poster fill it with black then set a gaussian blur to it for a quick little shadow.


Ok now I am going to add a simple off white colored wall one may have in a house or apartment.

Start a new layer underneath all of your others so it will be behind the poster and fill it with white.

Go to filter>>sketch>>note paper

Use these settings:

Next make a new layer above that and fill it with a light yellowish color, I am using #f4f6ed. After that change its blending mode to linear burn.

My result:

I don’t know about you but my walls aren’t perfect so I am going to use an eraser brush to make some discolored spots on the wall around the poster. I am going to erase small parts on the yellowish layer we just made.

My result:

Then I went through and just added some dirty spots using some other brushes with the color black set to opacity of 23%.

Result from that:

I made a simple push pin by using my elliptical shape tool and added a shadow:

My final touch for this tutorial will be adding some bent edges to the poster to make it look like it has been on the wall for a while. This may get a little advanced for beginners but nothing too bad. The warp tool will be used and this will not be available with some older versions of photoshop and if you are one of them then just don’t worry about this step.

Before this step duplicate your poster and hide it in case you mess up because this part may take a few tries.

I am going to start with the top left corner and zoom to about 300% by hitting
ctrl+ on my keyboard.

Then I am going to highlight the portion I want to bend with my rectangle marquee

Next we want to get to the warp tool so you can go to edit>>transform>>warp on your menu or use the keyboard shortcut ctrl+t and then right click on your selection and choose warp from the popup menu

Now click on the top left corner of the selection

And drag here

Apply the transformation.

Ok now make a new layer above that and get your pen tool because we are going to trace the outline of our corner like so:

I zoomed in about 500% to do this.

Now right click in the middle of that with your pen tool and click “make selection”

In your new layer fill that selection with white:

Keep your selection as it is, grab a soft brush with the color black, set its opacity at about 30% and lightly paint the top edge of the selection

Now you see how it has a pretty realistic bend. I am going to do the same concept on the other 3 corners.

Here is my final result:

Original Image:

Final Image

Thank you for reading this tutorial. I hope you have learned some things you didn’t know and if you have any questions about any of this please feel free to leave a message in the comments section

By John Overbee

John Overbee is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network.

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