Although it’s important to cut out images well when composing a montage in Photoshop, it’s definitely not the most important thing.
Images should be chosen for their ability to fit in with the other graphic elements in the composition. Usually one piece or element should stick out more than others – the “hero”.
It is sometimes even more important to give the separate images in the composition a similar treatment so that they marry well when put together. In the picture above I bumped up the contrast in the usual way (Image > Adjustments > Curves (Cmd/Ctl-M) and hit Auto – this brightens the lightest point to white and reduces the darkest point to black). Contrast can be increase further by creating an S-shape with the diagonal line.
Contrast was then further added by copying each layer (Cmd/Ctl-J) and setting the top layer’s blending mode to Hard Light.
I had to come up with a graphic to illustrate how Russia’s President Putin was using his country’s energy resources as an economic and political weapon.
In the first instance I was really lucky with the main picture of Putin who, like most politicians, is not the most photogenic. In this main picture his eyes really strike you, it almost looks as though he’s taking aim.
Putin’s face was also given one of my favourite effects. Go Adjust > Adjustments > Posterize and choose the amount of different colour tones you want (6 or 7, I can’t remember).
Doing the montage in this way means that you don’t have to spend ages cutting out. You can do it really quickly by selecting bit of unwanted area with the Magic Wand (W) with Tolerance set to 20 or so and Contiguous checked (so it only selects adjacent pixels). Remember to Feather by 1 or 2 pixels before you hit delete!