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  1. Design & Illustration
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How to Create a Colorful Collage in Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a colorful, futuristic collage featuring a beautiful woman. I will also teach you how to retouch the artwork in Adobe Lightroom.

First, we'll isolate the model from the background. After that, we'll add our background and create illustrations. Later, we will cut out the model’s eyes, create some faux sunglasses, and add in some stars to create that dreamy, futuristic mood. 

Then, we will add additional elements such as the crow, the UFO, the jewelry, and some tribal marks. Finally, we will adjust the contrast, vibration, and saturation using Adobe Lightroom. 

If you're looking for a head start, try a Photoshop collage template. It gives you a ready-made collage into which you can add your own images. Here are some great examples:

Or if you want to create a collage from scratch, follow me and let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Isolate the Model and Prepare the Base Background

Step 1

Create a new 20" by 20” document in Photoshop with the given settings:

Setting up the canvas

Step 2

Open the model's image in Photoshop. Cut out the image using the Pen Tool (P). Find a spot on the main image, and click on a point to start drawing the outline. To finish, we have to click from the last point to the first one we did. Press Control-Plus (+) to zoom in and Control-Minus (-) to zoom out during the process.

outline the models image

Step 3

After drawing your outline, we want to remove the background to be able to add a new one. Right-click and select Make Selection. Make sure the background is selected, not the model. If not, choose the Marquee Tool (M) and select Inverse. Then press Delete on your keyboard.

Final result of outlining

2. How to Bring the Image Onto the Main Canvas

Step 1

Drag the image onto the main canvas using the Move Tool (V).

Step 2

Press Control-T to resize the image. We do not want the image to deform or stretch, so press Shift while resizing, and then press Enter. Use the Move Tool (V) to center the image.

Deleting the background

3. How to Create a Colorful Background

Step 1

Press Control-Shift-N to make a new layer. Name the layer “Background”. Set this layer under the model’s one.

Step 2

Activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a blue color #0000ff to paint over the background.

Adding a blue background

4. How to Create Illustrations in the Background

Step 1

Press Control-Shift-N to make a new layer. Name the layer “S illustration”. Set this layer between the model’s one and the background. Activate the Pen Tool (P) and draw an S shape.

Drawing an S shape

Step 2

Once we close the shape, we want to fill the shape with a different color. Click to bring up the option bar, and then select Fill Path. Choose color #fff21a and click OK. Once the path is filled, press Delete and use the Move Tool (V) to move the shape to the left.

Coloring the S shape

Step 3

Now we want to duplicate the same path to bring more elements into the background. Press Control-J to duplicate the layer three times, and place the last copy layer of the third shape on top of the model’s image. Then we want to spread the illustrations around the background. Select each individual layer, select the Move Tool (V), and move each illustration around.

Duplicating the shape

5. How to Import the UFO and the Crow

Step 1

Drag the UFO picture into Photoshop. We need to remove the background. Cut out the image using the Pen Tool (P). Find a spot on the main image, and click on a point to start drawing the outline. To finish, we have to click from the last point to the first one we did.

Outlining the UFO
Removing the background

Step 2

Now we want to import the UFO into the main file. Select the UFO layer, use the Move Tool (V), and drag the image onto the main canvas, and then resize it to make it fit on the model’s head. To resize, press Control-T, and hold Shift while resizing the UFO image.

Importing the UFO on the model

Step 3

Now we need to add the crow. Drag the image into Photoshop, and use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the crow’s outline. Then, click on the Marquee Tool (M), Right-click, and select Inverse if the background is not selected. Otherwise, click Make Selection, and then press Delete.

Outlining the crow to remove the background

Step 4

Drag the crow image into the main file. Resize the image. Press Control-T, and hold Shift while resizing. Use the Move Tool (V) and bring the crow onto the model’s right shoulder.

Bringing the crow on the models shoulder

6. How to Add the Jewelry, Tribal Marks, Faux Sunglasses, and Stars

Step 1

Open the mirror picture in Photoshop. Use the Pen Tool (P) to cut the crown and remove the background. Drag the jewelry into the main file, on top of the model's neck. Press Control-T, Right-click, and select Flip Horizontal to rotate the image. Then, press Control-T to resize the image, and hold Shift while resizing.

Cutting out the crown of the mirror
Deleting the background
Bringing the crown on the model and turning it into a jewelry

Step 2

Now we want to add some tribal marks. Use the Ellipse Tool (U), make sure the fill color is white, draw a small circle, and duplicate the layer seven times by pressing Control-J. Then use the Move Tool (V)  and redistribute the circles on the cheeks, arms, and forehead.

Adding the tribal marks

Step 3

Now that we've added more elements, we want to create that futuristic/dreamy mood. Use the Pen Tool (P) and draw the outline of the sunglasses.

Drawing the sunglasses outline

Step 4

Next, we want to remove the part we outlined and create our faux sunglasses with stars. Right-click and select Make Selection, and then hit Delete. Then bring the stars image into your main file. Place the stars layer under the model's layer and lower the Opacity to 50%

Adding the stars in the faux sunglasses

Step 5

Next, use the Pen Tool (P) to remove the extra part from the outline. 

Removing the extra parts of the stars

7. How to Change the Colors of the Illustrations

Step 1

We want to change the color of the illustrations. Double-click on the first illustration layer “illustration copy 1”. Choose Color Overlay, click on the color option, and change it by choosing color #27eef5.

Changing the color of one illustration

Step 2

Do the same for “illustration copy 2”. Fill it with #e916bf and fill “illustration copy 3” with #27f5b9.

Changing the colors of the remaining illustrations

8. How to Change the Model Into Black and White

Step 1

Merge your UFO with the model. Select both layers, Right-click, and Merge Layers. Next, select the Model layer in the Layers panel and turn it into black and white. Click on Image > Adjustments > Black and white, and then click OK or Alt-Shift-Control-B.

Merging the model and the UFO and turning them in Black and White

Step 2

Now we want to split the bottom part of the model into slices to make it less solid. Select the model layer, and then select the Rectangle Marquee Tool (M). Next, click near the area of the arm and drag the marquee from one side to another. Then, Right-click, and select Layer via cut. Next, use the Move Tool (V) to move each slice to the bottom, leaving some space in between.

Slicing the bottom part of models clothes

9. How to Do the Final Retouching in Adobe Lightroom

Step 1

Now we want to make the entire image pop out more. Export the photo as a JPEG from Photoshop. Import the picture in Lightroom. Then click develop. Boost the Contrast to +50, Highlights to +29, Clarity to +21, and Vibrance to +55.

adjusting contrast and exposure in Lightroom

Step 2

We want to play more with the hue. Go to the hue palette. Bring the Green hue to +100, the Aqua hue to -100, and the Magenta hue to +100. Then click on the Saturation panel. Bring the Red hue to +100, the Yellow hue to +29, the Aqua hue to +36, and the Magenta hue to +100.

Adjusting the hue and saturation in Lightroom

Step 3

We want to darken the UFO and the model’s tank top. Click on a Brush Adjustment (K), and set the exposure to -3.04. Enable the Auto Mask option to paint inside the edges of the targeted area and paint over the clothes and the UFO. If you make a mistake, click on Erase. Reduce the size of the brush when needed.

Darkening the colors of the top and the crow

Step 4

Next, we want to darken the necklace. Click on a Brush Adjustment (K), and set the Exposure to − 2.78. Enable the Auto Mask option to paint inside the edges of the targeted area and paint over the necklace. If you make a mistake, click on Erase. Reduce the size of the brush when needed.

10. How to Export the Final Artwork From Adobe Lightroom

Now that we are finished, we want to export our artwork as a JPEG. Click File, and then Export. Select in which folder we want to save our image. Then click Export.

Before and After

Awesome Work, You're Done!

I hope that you've enjoyed the tutorial and learned something new for your own projects. Feel free to share your results or leave comments in the box below. Keep creating!

End result
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