SF Photo Collage Example using Layer Masking

For certain kinds of images, you may prefer that only the main subject shows in each layer in the collage. For example, look at the example below.

This is what the collage looked like after I loaded the images and repositioned them. As you can see, they overlap each other, and they are all rectangles, with "negative space" around the main subjects. For many collages, this would be what I'd want, but for this collage, I wanted a different look. After loading images into the collage
This is what I want the completed image to look like. After using masking to remove edges.

How I Did It

  1. First, I used the "Resize Current Layer" action on each layer except the flower at the bottom, to make them smaller.

  2. For the images with black backgrounds, I used Photoshop's "Select/Color Range" to select the background, and then I cut it.

  3. For all images, I removed the virtual frames.

  4. I used Photoshop's Move tool to reposition the images. I also changed the order of the layers by dragging them in Photoshop's Layers palette.

  5. After completion and framing, the image looked like this.

    The overlapping is gone, and the main subjects show well, but the images with complicated backgrounds still appear as rectangles.
    Collage with some layers showing as rectangles

  6. For these layers, I used masking. The steps below are shown in the screenshot at right.
    1. Click a layer to select it.
    2. In the Layers palette, click the "Add Layer Mask" icon.
    3. Set your Foreground Color to black.
    4. Choose the Brush tool.
    5. Select a reasonable brush diameter for the size of the image, and select low Hardness.
    6. Select a low flow (about 7% seems to work well).
    7. Use the brush on the edges of the image to paint them out. If you paint out too much, set the Foreground color to white and paint it back in. With masking, mistakes are easily fixed :)
    Using masking on collage layers

  7. The finished collage

    The finished Collage

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