PSDFan Extra

Create a Stylized Photo Montage from Scratch

FanExtra Launch Week (Day 5)

As part of our FanExtra Network launch, we will be publishing one tutorial every day for our launch week. We hope that you enjoy them.

You can also sign up for your FanExtra membership for just $1 for the first month (offer ends Friday 22nd, October). This will give you access to our hundreds of tutorial source files, members only tutorials, hundreds of textures/vectors/icons, and great design discounts! Sign Up Today.

FanExtra Launch Week:

DAY 1:

FanExtra Network Launch
Create a Google Docs Icon

DAY 2:

30 Minute Redesign – GymDJ
Master a Professional Photo-Retouching Workflow

DAY 3:

Design a Textured Portfolio Website

DAY 4:

Members Area Tutorial: Digital Painting Lesson: Scarecrow’s Joyride

DAY 5:

Create a Stylized Photo Montage From Scratch

DAY 6:

Design a Grungy Rock & Roll Gig Poster


Design an Awesome Paint Splattered Dancer

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

What You’ll Need For This Tutorial

- A Webcam (it doesn’t need to be top-quality)
- A hobby
- Some creativity!

Step 1

Personally, I get a little tired of using the same old stock photography as everyone else.

As we’re all creative people here, why not simply take out own? For the purposes of this tutorial you don’t even need a digital camera or even photography skills. We’ll be using our computer webcams! If you’re on a Mac then you can just us the app Photo Booth. Otherwise, if you’re on a PC just use the equivalent piece of software. It doesn’t matter that this won’t provide the absolute clearest picture, as we’re working on a slightly messy/grungy montage!

Start off by thinking about what you love doing, what your hobbies are. Personally, asides from design I love playing and writing music, so this is going to be the theme of my montage. I collect up a few objects that remind me of music (my two guitars, a guitar tuner and a guitar pick). Then I use Photo Booth to collect a photo of each. You can see my photos below:

Step 2

Now create a new document (600X600px). Use your lasso tool to select the guitar in your first photo, and then copy/paste it into your new document.

Step 3

Cut out the rest of your objects, and paste them into this new document:

Step 4

Duplicate each of your object layers, and hide the original. This is just to retain a copy incase anything goes wrong during your image construction.

Then start resizing, rotating, and reordering your images into a composition that you’re happy with:

Step 5

Merge down all of your visible object layers until they’re combined on a single layer. Call this merged layer ‘music montage’.

With your ‘music montage’ layer selected go to filter>sharpen>sharpen, just to clean up your image a little bit.

Step 6

We want a background texture now, but in the spirit of this tutorial, we’ll be creating our own! Select a nice surface that you like (I chose a rug of mine) and use your webcam to capture it. Then paste it behind your ‘music montage’ layer, resizing it to fit your canvas if necessary:

Step 7

Now it’s time to start blending together your images a little better. Create a series of adjustment layers just above your background texture layer (so below your music montage layer).

You need to create the following:

A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

Saturation: -30
Lightness: -30

A Levels Adjustment Layer

14 / 0.95 / 212

A Color Balance Adjustment Layer

Shadows: -5, -4, -5
Midtones: -23, -4, -6
Highlights: -33, -11, +8

Step 8

Now apply a series of adjustment layers over your ‘music montage’ layer. Be sure to apply a clipping mask (layer>apply clipping mask) to each adjustment layers, so that their settings only effect your ‘music montage’ layer and not your entire document.

You need to create the following:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

Saturation: -72
Lightness: -10

Levels Adjustment Layer

23 / 1.14 / 207

Curves Adjustment Layer

(see diagrams below):

Step 9

Create a new layer called ‘dodge/burn’.

Go to edit>fill and fill your canvas with ’50% gray’.

Step 10

Change your ‘dodge/burn’ layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’.

This will make your 50% gray invisible, and let you paint over your underlying canvas.

Select a soft, black paintbrush (15% opacity) and proceed to paint in your shadows. You should try to accentuate your larger areas of shadow first. Then zoom in closely, and use a smaller black paintbrush to paint in the details of shadow in your image.

On the same layer repeat this process, but using a white brush as your dodge areas. Paint over all highlights, accentuating them also.

The images below show your ‘dodge/burn’ layer at ‘normal’ blend mode, so that you can see where I painted, and then at ‘overlay’ so you can see the effect this has on your image. It makes it very stylized, giving it an almost hand-painted feel:

Step 11

Create a new layer called ‘overlay lighting’. Select your radial gradient tool, and create a white-transparent gradient. Drag out a few radial gradients over areas of your canvas where you want to enhance the color/lighting.

Step 12

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’, and reduce it’s opacity to 30%. This should give your image a little more impact, making these select areas brighter and more intense:

Step 13

Now create a final top adjustment layer (gradient map) with your gradient ranging from 0b01b8 to fdfa03.

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 6%.

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome:

Download Source File for this Tutorial

About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. hey..just followed all the steps…
    anyone can do it
    really stylish!!!!!!
    thanks for sharing.

    keep it up….

  2. Cazare says:

    I followed the steps too. Easy to do. Thanks.

Leave a Comment:

Related Posts

Your Design Work, But More Awesome:

Do you know the basic tools in Photoshop but feel that your work is still looking average? Join our creative community at FanExtra and get the direction you need to take your work to the next level.