Class Project: Anatomy of a Digital Collage

From April 8-11, 2010 the Palm Beach Photographic Centre will be presenting my workshop Photoshop Digital Collage. Ever since the advent of photography there have been artists compelled to create a reality transformed by combining elements from multiple image sources. From the early pioneers Robinson and Rejlander, Dada and Surrealist legends such as Man Ray and Herbert Bayer all the way to Jerry Uelsmann, whom many consider the inspiration for much of contemporary digital based image combination, there are many precedents for creating altered photo based realities. From its inception Photoshop has attracted a variety of artists and photographers who recognized the powerful image composite tools in addition to the excellent tonal, color, and filtering capabilities. The approach in this workshop is to emphasize “old school” concepts of image selection, alpha channels and layers, the absolute fundamentals of image combination. Once you have mastered these, it is on to the many refinements that modern versions of Photoshop have added to make the use of the core fundamentals. We will examine the powerful selection tools, such as the venerable Pen tool all the way up to Color Range and Quick Select while demonstrating why one may be more appropriate in certain situations than another. Photoshop CS4 has added the powerful Adjustments and Masks panel, which brings to the forefront existing tools but in a coherent and accessible format, encouraging you to use them more often with more confidence. Moving ahead we will explore the versatile and creative options that lie in Blend Modes.
For some Blend Modes are among the least understood tools in Photoshop. We will explore them in a methodical and sensible way, with techniques to create borders to surprising and surreal image blending. Smart Objects are a recent addition to Photoshop and they offer special advantages in image combination. Non-destructive transformations and filters allow new freedoms to explore and take risks with how you handle your evolving compositions. All in all, Photoshop CS4 is better than ever for creating photo-based collages. Push your creativity to a new level and explore Photoshop Digital Collage!

This slideshow presents the anatomy of a Digital Collage. Starting with a cabinet card portrait of a young girl against a leafy backdrop we use a technique called Layer Styles Blending to reveal an additional background of a tree image taken at the Cloisters Museum in New York City. Further refinements come by adding “hand coloring” with Solid Color adjustment layers.
Curves Adjustment Layers are added to balance the composition tonally. The final element of a clouds image is added as additional texture. The final slide shows the final form of the collage with an opacity adjustment to the clouds to make their presence more subtle. To learn these techniques and much more we welcome you to Photoshop Digital Collage.