How to Use Stock Photos in Your Photoshop Montage

19 October, 2017 | Ryan

How to Use Stock Photos in Your Photoshop Montage

You created a beautiful photoshop montage, but it just doesn’t seem complete. Instead of taking photos for it, read on for why you need stock photos.

So you have some great images or some great ideas that you want to present together in a Photoshop montage. But how?

Photoshop is, in a word, complicated. And there are many different ways to include stock photos into your montage, not to mention so many photos to choose from. 

Where do you even start? No matter where you are in the process of creating your Photoshop montage, read on for a deep dive on how to perfectly finish it.

1. Creation Begets Creation

Before you can get to the truly creative part of making your photoshop montage, you have to create the boring stuff. Everything has to start somewhere, right?

So first, create a new file. It’s a good idea to make it larger than you plan on it being in the end, so you have a little wiggle room in terms of data. A good estimate is 20×30 inches with 150 PPI. 

Then create a library of photos for your montage. The idea here is to get all the planning out of the way, so you can focus on and get into the creative flow. 

Searching for inspiration? Check out some examples here

2. Mine for the Iron

If you want to create some high-quality steel, you’ve got to first mine the iron. That’s this step: mine the stock images, and save them to your library so you can later forge them into steel. 

Try at least three, but generally avoid trying to incorporate more than ten. You don’t want the image to be overwhelming. You want viewers to pay attention to the details of each image. 

You can make your montage about big issues in the world, like politics, or smaller things, like ducks, because you’re super into them. Whatever you want!

3. Manage the Foundations

Now that you’ve laid down the groundwork, it’s time to work on your foundation: the background. 

Double-click from your library to open an image on the canvas. 

You can also use the marquee tool, and press Control/Command+A to select the whole thing, then Control+C to copy, and, after switching to the intended document, Control+V to paste to a new layer.

Make each layer/image your own by playing with Smart Filters that add to your theme. 

If you’d like the edges to blur naturally together, leave the edges with some degree of transparency by leaving some wiggle room around the image when you lasso it. Add a mask, and then apply a Gaussian Blur to the mask so that the edges fade.

You can also use a template to create your Photoshop montage. This way you simply plug in your stock photos to a preset layout. 

4. Add Images to Form the Body of Your Photoshop Montage

In this step, you’ll continue to make the montage, well, montage-y.

Click and drag from your library onto your canvas to add new images to the layers.

Change the position, and size, and rotate the images as you see fit. Hold shift to keep the overall proportion of the image the same, then click the save mark at the top of the page to keep your efforts.

Try to find images that are metaphorically resonant with the overall theme of your montage. Of course, if your montage is not meant to ring deep with meaningful symbolism, it doesn’t have to. 

It’s your collage, after all. Maybe throw in some more pictures of stuff you like, or you think matches well with your theme or purpose.

Regardless, check out our selection of cutouts to find all manner of images to use in your Photoshop montage. 

5. Cut Out And Arrange Your Images

If not already removed, you can get rid of the background of an image by choosing “Select”, and then “Select and Mask”.

Move the bits and pieces around to create the montage you have imagined or planned. Move the layers around and fiddle with sizing and filters on individual sections.

You can use size, or lack thereof, to give different elements a sense of importance or influence, and filters to lend a mood or feeling. 

Regardless of your intention behind your selection and placement of images, you can play with the combination of the Opacity, masks, and modes until everything blends as you like.

To help blur images together, span some common element, such as light or color across the border between the two.

Detailed textures (think: paper, rocks, rust, condensation) work well in subtly blending the edges of images. Especially if you add in another unifying factor, like color or brightness. Check out our textures here.

If some section is still claiming too much attention or seems out of balance, you can soften the opacity by selecting the mask thumbnail, adjusting the lightness with the airbrush, and then smoothing the edges together by applying a Gaussian Blur again.

6. Get Crazy (Or Professional) With It

Expand beyond what you first imagined to include all the fascinating features the software can apply.

Play with filters, cut stock images to geometric shapes, adjust how the layers blend into each other.

If you want to, you can merge all the layers, but only do this step if/when you feel confident in the finished product, and are finished playing with the individual sections. Once you’re ready, you can make this move by pressing Control/Command+Shift+E.

Add a watermark if you want. Merge the layers again and save as a JPEG to mark it as your own, and prevent tampering to your work if you plan on sharing it online.

7. Don’t Forget to Save

Seriously! Don’t let your hard work and your masterpiece go to waste!

Questions, comments or concerns to share with us here at Immediate Entourage? Check out our Contact Us page. We’d love to hear from you! 


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