This week I just felt like pulling together a little image so here is a little montage that uses several different media. I wanted a natural feeling to the image so I tried to use natural looking colors, textures and brushes to get the total effect. (For explanation of the difference between montage, composite, and collage, see my How to Create a Quick Montage blog.) Think I have a few new tips for this tutorial.
To do this type of image you need to create a selection. Selections were needed to create both the brushes used in this image and for adding the elephant and palm trees removed from other images.
Creating Brushes using Vectors or Objects
First a plant layer was created just because they looked pretty. These brushes were created from various vector flowers and plants collected from free sources on the internet. Try checking out Creative Markets and Design Cuts for some wonderful weekly free vectors. They also both have inexpensive sets that can be bought. Many scrapbook websites also have some great vector art that can be converted into brushes but be sure to check out the usage license. If you want a nice set to try the technique below on, download Frostbo’s 16 Aquatic Plants PNG Brush Set at DeviantArt to turn into nice brushes.
So how do you do this?
- First the object needs to be placed on its own layer. If the object is one layer with a solid color background, it can be selected by going to Select -> Color Range. Then select the background color and click the Invert box to select the object. Then press CTRL+J to put object on its own layer.
- All brushes are created using shades of black and white. Therefore set foreground/background to default colors – Black/White by pressing the D key.
- CTRL+Click on the thumbnails of the object layer to select it, then ALT+Backspace to fill the selection with a solid black color. Or to add a little variety to the image, on a New Layer paint over the selected areas with shades of gray to add some interest in the object. Or after selecting and placing on its own layer (CTRL+J), the Object can be converted to a black and white object by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Black & White Adjustment Layer – adjust sliders to get some interesting texture effects for the brush and say OK. Need to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top to create brush if using the B&W Adjustment Layer technique.
- Now select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and place around the Object.
- The last step is to go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. It will now appear at the bottom of the Brush Preset Panel.
Use this brush on a New Layers so the strokes can be adjusted, transformed, change blend modes, or whatever you want to do with the layer. I used Frostbo Aqua 12 to create a brush by selecting as above using a Black & White Adjustment Layer to leave in detail, and then changed the settings in the Brush Panel to the following: Brush Tip Shape – Size 400 px and Spacing 108%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 9% and Angle Jitter 3% with Flip X Jitter and Brush Projection checked; Brush Texture using a Cold Press Pattern chosen in the drop-down panel with the little arrow (this is a small black and white patterned texture – try different ones to get a look you like), Scale 150%, Brightness 28, Contrast -10, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, and Depth 100% (if no effect is seen from the texture, try changing the Mode like to Height, and the sliders – watch the Preview Panel for changes); Color Dynamics – Check apply per Tip, Foreground/Background Jitter 100%, Saturation Jitter 20%, and Purity -37; and Smoothing on. Use a couple of nice plant colors and give it a try. It gives a nice light and breezy floral effect. This brush was used to fill the middle area of the plants in the image above. Below is an example of what the brush looks like with a dark red and greenish tone and with black and white. If the stroke appears too light, change the blend mode of the brush to Multiply or Linear Burn in the Options Bar to darken it. These brushes may take a while to create one you like, but once you find one, it is so nice to have these to give your own unique feel to an image!
Using Quick Mask to Create Image Object Selections
Several different ways of selecting can be used , but I really like using the Quick Mask mode (the little icon located right under the foreground/background color icon on the Tool Bar or just press the Q key) when the object is not that large and not too complicated. When painting with a Regular brush, a selection will be created showing the red overlay which represents the selection. Just press Q again or the icon to exit and the selection will be seen as dotted ants. If your selection comes out wrong, double click on the icon and make sure it is set to Color Indicates Selected Areas. Of course there are many different ways to do selections, but this is my favorite for adding small objects. The elephant image was selected this way from an image taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and actually looks much happier placed in my image. Also the Palm Trees are a favorite object taken from one of my older Florida images.
Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers to Add Texture to Objects
The interesting birds are a free PNG file from Jai Johnson’s The Daily Textures (scroll to the bottom of blog to find download). A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+Click between layers to clip adjustment layer so it only affects the birds in image) to get the soft effect. To find the Pattern Adjustment Layer, go to the bottom of the Layers Panel and click on the half black and half white circle – then choose Pattern Fill. In this case a turquoise/blue watercolor pattern was chosen as a pattern and set to a Scale of 120%. The pattern can be moved by dragging in the image so the pattern is lined up just right. If you do not have a pattern you like, open up a JPG texture file in PS, then select the whole texture (CTRL+A) and go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Now the texture appears at bottom of the pattern list to add as an effect with the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (or it can also be used for the Brush Texture in the Brush Panel or the Pattern Overlay Layer Style effect). Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers creates some very nice effects when clipped to a black and white brush layer or vector layer. In this case, the bird file was a solid black PNG layer so adding the variegated watercolor effect created some very nice subtle detail in the flying birds.
Creating a Reflection
A reflection of the elephant and palm trees was created by duplicating their object layers, then choosing Free Transform (CTRL+T). By holding down the SHIFT key and dragging from the top straight down, the image can be pulled upside down to any length needed. If the water is shallow, the reflection will have more color in it. Above the water is shallow so the layer opacity was set to 49% to keep it soft but with some color from the original object. A round brush with grain it was used to paint in some water in a bluish color.
One of my orange and yellow colored Corel Painter textures was added underneath in Overlay blend mode to warm up the image a little. The texture border is from Kim Klassen‘s Nested Frame set to 80% layer opacity. This was after the texture was taken into Select -> Color Range and the center color removed – this created a border effect instead of placing the whole texture on the image. I am not sure this texture is still available – it is a shame since she creates very subtle soft textures that give images a slightly different feel. The now free Nik Viveza 2 was used to set the elephant as the focal point. Some clouds were added on a New Layer using Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (these are fabulous!) – using a soft a beige color and not blue or white to match the image. The last step was to open Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects’ Grain filter (set to Amount of 0.48 and Size 0.47). Adding just a little grain to everything can really soften the object edges and blend the objects to make the image look like it was all in the original setting.
It really is a bit of a process to pull all this together, but it is fun to do. It took me several hours to actually create the above image. I made several wrong-turns before I got the effect I liked. The experimentation can give some really surprising results. Check out some of my older blogs below if you want some more ideas. Hope this helped you out a little – have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Springtime Wishes from Betsy
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
How to Create an Image From Nothing!