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How to Make a Collage in Photoshop Elements 11

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

With Photoshop Elements 11, the idea of a collage (or composite) isn’t much different than those you created in elementary school, though the activity is a little more refined. To create the first layer of your collage, follow these steps:


1Decide on two images to use in your collage and open them in the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, by choosing File→Open.

You can pick an image to use as your main canvas, as shown in the figure, and then open a supporting image that you can select and then drag onto that main image. However, if you want, you can also start with just a blank document.

2Choose Window→Layers to open the Layers panel if it isn’t already open.

Always be sure that the Layers panel is visible whenever you’re creating a composite from multiple images. You need to see what’s happening while you drag and drop, and you need to be aware, at all times, of which layer you’re working on.


3Select an element in the supporting image.

Feel free to use whichever selection method suits your fancy, but remember that the finished collage will look only as good as its individual selections.

The Quick Selection tool was used to select the girl, as shown. Then the Lasso tool was used to clean up the selection border.

4Choose Select→Modify→Contract and, in the Contract Selection dialog box, enter a value; choose Select→Feather and enter a value in the Feather Selection dialog box.

Contract the selections slightly before you apply a feather to avoid picking up some of the background during the feathering process. Note that the values you choose depend on the resolution of your images; the lower the resolution, the smaller the value needed.

5With the Move tool, drag and drop the selection onto the background image.

The Layers panel shows that you’ve produced a layer. Notice that your main image remains as the background below the layer.

6Choose File→Save As and in the Save As dialog box, name the file collage and make sure that the format is Photoshop.

Keep the file in a handy spot on your hard drive so that you can find it when you’re ready to do more with your collage.


7To paste one selection into another on your collage, in the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, choose File→Open, select the file you saved from the preceding exercise.

Open a new supporting image.

8Choose Window→Layers to open the Layers panel if it isn’t already open.

Always keep the Layers panel visible whenever you’re creating a composite from multiple images.

9Select the part of the supporting image you want to use.

Feel free to use whichever selection method you want, but make the selection as accurate as you can.

10Contract and feather the selection.

Unless you’re going for a special effect, be consistent with the treatment of the edges of each element in your composite.

11Choose Edit→Copy.

In your saved collage file, use the Lasso tool (or any other selection tool) to create a selection in which to paste your new supporting image.


12Choose Edit→Paste into Selection.

Use the Move tool to position the pasted image within the boundaries of the selection outline.

If your image needs to be scaled or rotated, choose Image→Transform→Free Transform.

Choose File→Save.