Raster Image Processing – Montage


By using the more advanced features of Photoshop, students will assemble a montage from supplied resources. Complex selections, layers, layer masks, and paths will be introduced.


General Notes

Photoshop tools and features explored:

  • layers (blending modes, adjustment layers, clipping groups, layer effects)

  • layer masks

  • channels, selections

  • feathering selections

  • paths (bezier pen tool)

  • edit tools (type)

  • paint tools (rubber stamp, sharpen, blur, sponge)


Submit: Full sized, native PSD image file, with layers intact, to to the appropriate section of class Google Drive.

© Wendy Lasker

©Wendy Lasker



Follow the steps below using Photoshop to create a montage, similar to the example. 

1. Download two resource images.

In this step you will:
Download resource images for this tutorial.

Do this: Create a “[Your last name]-ex2” folder on your Desktop. Make sure the folder is open and visible.

Right click each image below to “save image as,” or drag and drop them to your Exercise 2 folder.









2. Create a new document.

Setup a New Photoshop document of a specific size and resolution.

Launch Photoshop. Create a New document, or ⌘N

Enter the following data:
Name = YourLastName-ex2.psd,
Width = 640 pixels, Height = 480 pixels,
Resolution = 150 ppi,
mode = RGB,
Content = white.
Click OK.

Note: Most print quality images support a resolution of 300 ppi.

Immediately do a File>Save As… to save the file to the folder on your Desktop as [Your last name]-ex2.

3. Create a Background.

Double-click on the Background layer in the Layer Palette and rename it “Backdrop“. This floats the original Background above the canvas and makes it a layer.

Choose Image>Adjustments…>Hue/Saturation.

Check the Colorize and the Preview options.

Lower the Lightness value so that you can begin to see tone.

Experiment with the effects of Hue and Saturation adjustments.

When you are satisfied with an initial color, click OK.

There is also a properties tab you can use by choosing Window>Properties.


Save your document.


Filters and commands look for areas of contrast and variation in order to apply their effects. Many, more advanced filters will not work unless there is a variance of texture and tone in an image. Your image does not yet have any variation. This step will add it.

Choose View>Actual pixels to see detail in your image at 100% magnification. Zoom In or Out as necessary.

Chose from among the following filters to begin a buildup of texture and variation.

(To undo one command, choose Edit>Undo, or type command-z. To undo multiple commands, click upwards through the History palette, or type option-command-z.)


• Noise>Add Noise…
• Pixelate>Mezzotint…
• Pixelate>Pointelize… (use a small setting)
• Texture>Grain…
• Stylize>Diffuse… (Anisotropic option)
• Stylize>Glowing Edges…
• Distort>Polar coordinates…
• Stylize>Trace contour…
• Sharpen>Unsharp mask…

Save your document.

4. Cut out an image using the Pen tool and Paste into tutorial file.


Open face.jpg or the image from the Pen tool page that you chose. Pick up the Pen tool and select the Paths option in the Options Bar at the top of the screen.

Note: To make your selection easier, go to Photoshop>Preferences and navigate to enable “Rubberband” Pen Option.


Add points and paths along the inside of the Face (object to be isolated) from the bottom, excluding the eyes as in the example to the right

  • Click-and-release to add sharp corner points.

  • Click and drag to pull direction handles out of your points to create smooth curves.

  • Press the Command key to temporarily switch to the Pointer tool, and select and move your points to achieve greater precision.

  • Option click with the Pen tool to convert a corner point to a curve point, or to move one direction handle independently of the other.

  • Be sure to place your final point on top of the first point to create a closed path. Be sure there are no breaks along the path.

Find and select the Work Path you just created in the Paths Palette(which is grouped with the Layers and Channels pallettes by default.) Convert the path into a selection by choosing Make Selection… from the Paths Palette options. Enter a Feather of 3 pixels and check Anti-alias. Operation “New Selection” should be selected.

Drag your selection into your YourLastName-ex2.psd file by using the Move tool. Drag and hover over the psd image tab until the psd image appears, then drop the selection in place. Rename the new layer “Face” (or other appropriate name) by option-double-clicking on the layer name.

Position and resize the “Face” layer approximately corresponding to the example by clicking on the Face layer in the Layers palette, picking up the Move tool, then choosing Edit>Free Transform. Shift click the corners of the transform bounding box to scale the layer proportionally. Rotate by clicking and dragging just outside the corners.

Save your document.

5. Blend the Face Layer into the Background Layer by using a Layer Mask.

Notice the bottom edges of the Face in the example that need to be softened in order to successfully blend the Face into the Background.

Select Layer>Add Layer Mask>Reveal All.

Click on the Layer Mask thumbnail to select it. We want to paint on the Layer Mask, not on the image itself.

Use the Brush tool  with Airbrush option. Pick a Soft Round 65 pixel brush, 30% Flow, and Black color to softly mask out the bottom portion of the Face image. (Check also that you are in Normal mode and Brush Dynamics are Off.)


You can also paint with shades of gray (or by reducing the opacity of the black) to vary the degree of hiding on the mask.

Note: Layer Masks are useful because they don’t permanently alter a layer. Layer Masks can be discarded at anytime restoring the original image.

Within the Layers Palette set the Blending Mode to Exclusion, or to a mode that is most appropriate for your background..

Save your document.

6. Select an object using the Magic Wand Tool.

Open Rock.jpg in Photoshop. Double-click the Background layer to float it above the canvas. Name it “Rock”.

Select the Magic Wand Tool. Set the Tolerance to a low number, around 32. Click in the lighter-black area of the background and see how much of an area becomes selected. Increase the Tolerance to pick up a wider area. Shift-click to add to the selection, or option-click to subtract. See what happens when you click on different tones in the background. When the Tolerance is set right, you should be able to select the entire background with just a couple clicks.

Enter Quick Mask Mode by clicking the button at the bottom of the tool palette, or type Q. The area selected by your “marching ants” now appears clear surrounded by a red mask. Use the Paint Brush Tool with a small brush size to alter the mask and subsequently the area selected. Paint with white to increase the selected area. Paint with black to decrease the selected area.

Go to the Channels palette. Note the R, G, and B channels, which contain the color data for your image, and the Quick Mask channel which shows your selection. Click each of the R, G, and B channels to evaluate them one at a time. Where white is present in a channel, the full amount of that color is applied. Where black appears, none of that color is present. In the Quick Mask, white represents selected pixels. (Color channels can be used as the starting point to create masks based on inherent color contrast, which can be used to make complex selections know as Alpha Channels.)

Exit Quick Mask Mode by typing Q. Note how the selected area has changed.

Return to the Layers Palette. Invert the selection you just made by choosing Select>Inverse (or command-shift-I). Select>Modify>Contract by 2 pixels to tighten and clean the selection. Select>Modify>Feather 2 pixels to soften the edge.

Using the Move tool, drag and drop the image onto the tab of your Montage file. In the Montage file, rename the new layer “Rock”.

Within the Layers Palette set the Rock Blending Mode to Hard Light (or to a mode that is most appropriate for your backgroundand change the Opacity to 75%.

Save your document.

7. Select an object using the Magnetic Lasso Tool

Open Heart.jpg in Photoshop. Double-click the Background layer to float it above the canvas. Name the layer “Heart”.

Select the Magnetic Lasso Tool. Set Feather to 1, Width and Contrast to 10. Frequency to 7. Draw around the heart and notice how the tool attempts to grab the edge. Press Option to manually add a point along the selection.

Move the selected heart to your montage file. Rename the new layer, apply a Layer Mask, Blending Mode, and alter the transparency as you wish.

8. Select an object using the Color Range Command

Open Hand.jpg in Photoshop. Double-click the Background layer to float it above the canvas. Name the layer “Hand”.

Choose Select>Color Range command. Click with the eyedropper on a color you wish to select. Adjust the Fuzziness value to select a wider or narrow range. Click OK when your preview appears as desired.

Use Quick Mask mode to correct any gaps left by the Color Range command.

Feather the selection 1 pixel.

Move the selected hand to your montage file. Rename the new layer, apply a Layer Mask and Blending Mode.

9. Save and Submit.

Submit a full sized, native PSD image file, with layers intact, to the appropriate section of the class Google Drive.

Copy your whole exercise folder from your desktop to removable media for backup. Other acceptable means would be to use your own cloud service as a backup.

Always keep a copy of your work in its original Photoshop format for possible later use.