Designing photo montages in Photoshop

Putin's energy resources

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!


  1. says

    hi, was just wondering, if those photoshop layers can be animated separately? like those motion graphics we see popular these days, it has layers and layers of effects moving in, stacking in front of each layer to form a sense of space and 3D. have you any idea?

  2. says

    I’m pretty sure you would be able to do that in Flash. Save the individual layers separately in Photoshop with transparent backgrounds, import them into the Flash Library and then play around them on the Flash stage. From Flash you can export a .swf which you can embed into a web page.

  3. says

    OK, in this instance I find the posterizing effect was used in a creative fashion. And the resulting montage fits in fine as a magazine illustration I guess.
    I especially like the effect of the smoke coming out toward the face!

  4. Free Psp Game Downloads says

    I apologize if this is a bit unrelated, but I’m just wondering how much photoshop goes for? Basically, where can I find it for the best price. The reason I’m asking is because I’m going to start fooling around with pictures for one of my sites, but I really know next to nothing about PhotoShop. Besides, just pretty much, it’s name.

    So I need to know what’s the best way to get started, and where can I find this program for the best price. I think I remember hearing it was quite expensive. Thanks.