I’ve had more than a few emails since launching Florence Finds asking me how I do certain things, and the most oft enquired about is the image groups I put together. Call them what you will, mood boards, collages, I thought I would give something back to my blogger readers and share a little how-to. Who knows, it might become a little series…
The first thing any of you need to know is there are 100 ways to skin a cat. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements which is a scaled back version of the full Adobe Photoshop CS5 software, but widely considered to be all you need if you’re not manipulating photographic images all day. For blog purposes I use it to create graphics and template images, so it is more than adequate. You can get a copy for around £50 on Amazon by clicking the link above.
Getting back to the cat, there are many different ways you can do this in Photoshop Elements, but this is the way I’m most comfortable with. It’s not necessarily the best way, but it’s a good start.
One thing to note. These instructions are specific to Adobe Photoshop Elements on a Mac.
Let’s get started!
1. Open Photoshop Elements and choose File > New > Blank file.
2. Set the width of the new file to your blog width (mine is 600px) and choose a length – if in doubt, go long, you can always crop it and it’s frustrating to have to start again because you can’t fit all your images in.
3. As my blog backdrop is white I like to use white bars to separate the images and give the collage effect. So you can see the white bars, it’s easier to colour in the new blank file as it will form your background and show the images up better. Use your paint pot. Click on the 2 overlapping squares at the bottom of your left hand menu and choose a colour by clicking on the colour chart that comes up. Then press ‘K‘ and your cursor becomes a paint pot. Hover over the new file, click and you get a pink backdrop like mine.
4. Now it’s time to add your images! Go to File > Open and select the images you want to work with.
5. Again there are different ways to do this next step, but I prefer to resize my images before laying them out, so choose Image > Resize > Image size from the menu and make them the correct size for your design.
Tip: I tend to work on even subdivisions of my 600px width, i.e. 200, 300 and 400px.
Choose a width and make sure the ‘constrain proportions‘ box is checked on the bottom left hand of the image size box and the height will be automatically calculated.
6. Once they are all resized, click on a single image and drag it onto your new file… followed by the rest of your images. It’s worth noting that on the bottom right side of my screen you can see the ‘layers’ you are creating. Try to imagine the background as your table top and each image is a separate photograph you are layering on top. You can overlap them to make them fit by rearranging the layers. You do this by clicking on one and dragging it up or down in that right hand side box. Play around to get a feel for it. Don’t worry if you find this confusing, getting your head round layers is a whole new thing! Make sure before you move onto the next step you layer you have clicked onto the top layer in the list.
7. Next make the blank file you’re working with larger so you can see closer up. (Either maximise with the icon at the top of your file, or ‘zoom‘.) Choose your Rectangular Marquee tool (left hand menu again) and in the menu (just below your main menu bar) choose mode: fixed size and width 5px, height 800px.
(Note: 5px represents to bar thickness and 800px in this case is beyond the length of my collaged images – you can adjust these to suit your style.)
Now use your cursor and place it where your top two images meet, where you want your border to start and click. You will see a dotted vertical bar appear. You can use your arrow buttons on the keyboard to nudge it left and right if you haven’t got the position quite right.
8. You’re going to be colouring in the bars you make so choose your paint brush on the left side bar menu, and press ‘D‘ to restore the black and white overlapping squares, then ‘X‘ to switch them and bring the white one to the top. This means that’s the colour brush you will be using. Go to the top menu and choose a square 24px brush from the drop down. Then take it over to your file and click and hold as you drag it over your bar, which will become ‘coloured-in’ in white.
9. You’ll notice, It doesn’t matter if you go outside of the dotted edges of the bar, because the bar acts like a stencil, colour only appears within it. Equally if your cursor slips and your brush is incompletely covering the bar, you will end up with a wobbly line. Move your image up and down to colour-in the whole bar, top to bottom.
10. Now go back to step 7 and repeat it, but click the two arrows between width and height on the small menu, to make a horizontal bar. Position and colour-in as per steps 7-8 above. Again you will notice here that the bar extends across my images on both sides, which don’t meet up all the way across like the vertical image edges did. Instead, just drag your paint brush to the middle of the image and stop at the vertical line, then click back to the rectangular marque and place the bar in the next position again.
11. Lastly crop your image with the ‘crop‘ tool in the left hand side bar. Just drag it from the top corner to the opposite corner and crop your image to the desired size, getting rid of any unwanted bits. Click the green cross to complete the crop.
12. To save your file choose File > Save for web and change the quality to something higher than 70 and click ok. Name your file and it’s ready for uploading to your blog!
13. One final word, Cmd-Z (on a Mac) is your friend. Press them and the last thing you did will be undone, so mistakes are ok!
Don’t forget to credit your images in your usual style. 😉
I hope some of my blogging friends will find this helpful, do spread the word on twitter or link to the post if you know someone who could use it. If any of you are interested in hearing more, just drop me a comment below!
PS See below in the gallery for a more detailed screenshot illustration of every stage, step by step. Any questions, just shout!