Serif in Education

Creating a clever photo montage

With a rise in social media sites that are specifically for photo sharing, and with smart phones that can snap a picture in a second, it is not surprising that more and more of us are taking photos every day.  In fact, people are even using photos to store useful information (using screen shots when you make a reservation online for example) or to quickly send to someone when making a purchasing decision (which colour dress looks better – this or the next?).  And with Instagram boasting more than 75 million users per day, the world really is producing more photos than ever before.

So how do you put these photos to good use? One good example is to create a photo montage. 

In the early 20th Century artists would cut and glue newspaper and many objects to create the collage.  “Coller” is the French word for glue, with collage quite literally meaning to glue together.  A collage can be a mix of many mediums – paper, paint, artwork, fabrics.

What was originally known as a collage, and has developed to include photos, can be now known as a photo montage. A photo montage is an image created from other photographic images.  This can be by cutting, gluing or overlapping two photos to make a new, often more interesting image. 

Evolving in more recent years, now instead of joining images together by the above methods, it has been common to create the illusion with photos that all photo elements are part of the same picture.  

Photo montage has more advantages than traditional collages.  Nowadays photo montages can be made digitally using digital programs, such as the Serif Design Suite.

Photo montages can be made to give a 3D design effect (as if the drawing is jumping out of the page to you), or to create more of a subtle background where you can merge different techniques to give an image more depth in design.

We like this example of photomontage, created by Gustafson Porter:  http://worldlandscapearchitect.com/bay-east-gardens-bay-singapore/

He received a commendation in the category Big Urban Projects at the MIPIM AR Future Projects Awards 2011 for the project Bay East, Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.  This illustrates how photo montages can be made not only for art purposes, but to highlight how a future project may look in 3D.  By using the techniques of photo montage you can sometimes get a better 3D effect than by using CAD or 3D modelling alone.

Another example of photo montage in print is this design titled “The Bikini Timeline” made for Foam magazine:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/ma-chr/7072069597/in/photostream/lightbox/

Made up of a collection of photos it shows almost a timeline of fashion styles, and gives an amazing effect when put together, mixing generations and eras really effectively.

Using PhotoPlus X8, students can work on photo montages as part of a school project with fantastic results. 

Particularly useful is the Defringe tool, which removes any unwanted pixels from around the edge of an object giving precise cut outs; especially useful when placed against a contrasting background on a new layer. There are so many ways to cut out images such as by using the Background Eraser which gives you more control, plus the Cutout Studio, Flood Eraser, and numerous selection tools.

If there are photos that you want to make match you can use the Transfer Colour tool, which co-ordinates two separate images or layers, perfect for keeping colours consistent throughout your photos.

If student are looking to merge two photos from different eras, the Clone tool can eliminate scratches, unwanted marks and creases, and bring old photos back to life. The Surface Blur can also enhance photos with low light levels as it can remove noise and film grain from images.

But my favourite tools in PhotoPlus X8 have to be the pro-level filters.  These allow you to add stunning effects to images easily, adding artistic effects or a retro feel. 

We would be interested to see what your student can come up with in their lessons, so please do send their ideas in to us or share on our Twitter page @SerifEducation.