Skip to main content

Digital collage using scanned background papers

Today I want to look at how you can use the background papers we've been making for digital art. If you scan them before you cut them up for other projects, you can use them over and over. And you can modify them considerably too by using Photoshop or some other image editing software. Photoshop is the one I use, so the steps that I list below use its terminology. I’m sure you can make the adjustments for a different program if you fool around with it a bit!

These two digital collages were both made with the same basic steps. Even so, I have to warn you that there’s nothing mechanical about this process. Each digital collage presents its own unique set of challenges, and so there’s no way that I can tell you the exact values and settings I used and have them work out well for you. You’ll have to just take these steps and tweak them for each new piece that you work with.

1. Scan the background paper at 300 dpi and tweak it for color and value.

2. Open your collage images and make sure that they are also 300 dpi. Desaturate them. Using the marquee select tool, select and feather the objects you want to use and paste them onto the background paper.

3. Change the blending mode to overlay. Make a second copy on a new layer if needed, and choose overlay again. The second copy, if you use one will usually need to be at less than 100% opacity.

4. Add a layer mask to all layers that need one. Working mostly with a grey brush, blend the images together. Try for a misty, mysterious look.

5. Change the color saturation or work with a curves adjustment layer if desired.

6. Add any opaque images to the top of the layer stack to look like physically collaged on bits. Add a drop shadow.

In this piece, I ended up using the “hard light” blending mode instead of overlay. Like I said, you just have to tweak it a bit. Photoshop is a wonderful tool, and could easily take a lifetime to master!

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Technorati Tags:,,,,,,