Creating Collages Digitally: Conception & Creation | Katja-Anna Krug | Skillshare

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Creating Collages Digitally: Conception & Creation

teacher avatar Katja-Anna Krug, Photography, Visual & Exhibition Design

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      An Introduction to Collage Art


    • 2.

      Inspiration & Conception


    • 3.

      Making It


    • 4.

      My Favorite Tools


    • 5.



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About This Class

In this course, I am going to introduce you to the digital collage technique and collage art in general. We will talk about the history of the collage technique, inspiration, concepts and the making of a digital collage. I will walk you through the making of a collage I created for this course. I have shared the material for this collage in the Class Project so you can follow along, as I show you my process.

Here are some of the tools that help me to create Digital Collages: Unsplash & Milanote

Meet Your Teacher

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Katja-Anna Krug

Photography, Visual & Exhibition Design

Level: Intermediate

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1. An Introduction to Collage Art: The creative process of assembling a collage, whether by hand or digitally is unrestricted. This technique allows our creativity to flow freely. After finishing my photography degree, I kept trying out and learning new skills and techniques to use my creativity. In this process, I stumbled upon digital collages and fell in love with the freedom of spontaneity of them. The beginning of the collage as an artist’s technique is in the early 20th century. While on a walk, Georges Braque came by a wallpaper store and a piece of some wood-grain wallpaper became part of one of his drawings. After a meeting with Pablo Picasso, both men started to make papier collé artworks from the French word coller, meaning “to glue”. The collage technique started to spread throughout many artists and movements while undergoing different developments with new materials and styles. For example in Dadaism artists started to make photomontages, combining different photographs to make a new cohesive piece of work and Collage Art kept developing further with new technologies. Today artists still construct their collages by hand and some use digital tools. In this course, I am going to show you my whole process of developing a digital collage using Adobe Photoshop. However, you don't have to use Photoshop any program which allows you to move and transform elements within layers will do. I am really excited to show you how to make your very own digital collages and I hope you take the time to enroll and if you do I will see you soon in the first lesson. 2. Inspiration & Conception: When beginning a new project one of the first things you will need is an idea. An idea can come from looking at someone else's content and art or watching TV. Ideas can spawn at anytime and can be triggered by anything. In this lesson, I am going to show my process and how I come up with or develop ideas for a digital collage. In 2018 I discovered Unsplash, which offers beautiful photos and images from people all around the world that can be downloaded for free. At first, I contributed by uploading some of my own photos, but when I started to work on Digital Collages Unsplash, was a perfect material source. The website already sorts its content by categories but you can also search for keywords. You can create collections and add photos to them, I have linked my Digital Collage Collection, which you can use. If I already have an idea for a Digital Collage or a story I want to tell, I will look up certain keywords that will match my concept. If I don't already have an idea, I will look through different categories until I find the main photo I want to use. After that, I will look for matching photos for the final collage. The content I mainly look for are structures, textures, photos with a simple background and high contrasts. In this course, I'm going to show you how I created this Digital Collage. This time my process of developing a concept for the collage has been a little bit different. I discovered a tool for organizing creative projects called Milanote. You can either use it in a web browser but they also offer a desktop app. I used this tool to create a mood board and I started by making a colour palette. On the left side, are all of the possible elements which can be used by dragging them into the board, By dragging out a note element and typing a color hex code the note turns into a color card. After creating my color palette, which I based on a palette I found on Pinterest, which is also a good platform for inspiration. I started to look for photos on Unsplash. I searched for certain colors or objects connected to the color. After putting all my content in the moodboard and sorting it, I marked certain photos by clicking on the corner of a colour card and drawing an arrow towards a photo I want to use, I did this with every colour card. And afterwards I downloaded the chosen images from Unsplash. Before going into the next lesson, I will tell you about my process from some of my other digital collages. This one I named spaceship jumpers and it was one of my first digital collages. I found the black and white image of an historic building and started working around this element by adding a new and vibrant sky with a big moon. Going from there, I got the idea to add a spaceship which is flying towards the moon and three skydivers who jumped out of the spaceship. The next one, which is a bit more recent, I simply called street walker, not very creative I know. Every now and then I go to Unsplash and look for photos I could add to my collection and I found many different versions of this big crosswalk with groups of people or just one person. During this session I also found the desert landscape and was reminded of Salvador Dalís paintings. As soon as this thought occured in my head I knew I wanted to remove the dark grey floor of the crosswalk and merge the two very different landscapes with another. From all my different experiences of developing an idea for a digital collage I learned that inspiration can come through many different things. 3. Making It : One of the first decisions you will have to make is which image is going to be your main image. The whole process of making digital collage is trial and error. It is very important to keep trying out different things. Sometimes it will just not work, but on other days it will flow easily. For my collage here, I decided to use the brown landscape as my base layer. But I want it to landscape to be a bit warmer and more vibrant. So I adjusted this in hue and saturation. Next step, I opened the desert landscape and I copied this layer into my digital collage file. I had to resize it because it wasn't the same size. And after that, I looked for the blending modes and decided to use darker color. Here I made a layer mask and with a brush, I removed the elements that I didn't like. So for example, the top layer here and the yellow in the snow. And also on the bottom right, I removed the yellow sand. And after this, I copied or duplicated the desert landscape again and removed the layer mask to see the whole thing again. So I could move the layer and see where the sand could continue because I wanted this to be a bit longer, then I made a layer mask again, and I inverted it so I can decide where I want the sound to be visible. And I tried to make the edges flow bit better with the rest of the image or collage to make it look more cohesive. This of course, can take a little while, it depends, sometimes it just doesn't work out the way you want and it takes longer than you think. I don't know why. Yeah. So here I'm doing the top and then the bottom to make the two sand elements to blend together. Afterwards, I realized the two sand elements didn't quite match, and I adjusted the brightness to make them look a bit more cohesive. Yeah, I think that was it. Next up, I added this blue mountain landscape that I wanted to put where you can see the blue sky of the desert landscape. So I resized and positioned it where I wanted it to be visible later. And we're going to use to Color Range Selection tool. So we're going to be on the desert landscapes so that when we select the blue elements and the light blue elements of the sky, it knows that it's these elements from the desert landscape. So on the side you can see that the white parts are the ones that are going to be selected. And with the little eyedropper, you can add things because some areas were still a little bit gray and completely white. So I wanted to selection to be perfect. Then we're going back to the mountain landscape. Make a layer mask, make it visible, and it's here. Then with a brush, I just made some corrections because I didn't want the snow on the bottom here to be the blue part of the mountain. So I just removed that. Next up we're going to add some clouds because I wanted some more dimension in the image. And we're just gonna resize and position it here again. This time, again using the color range tool, but on the same layer because we want the clouds. So we're just going to select those. Don't worry, you see that there's a bit more selected and we actually want, but it's quite easy to remove that later on the layer mask with a brush. So I made a Layer mask. And then with the brush you just remove the elements that we don't want. And to make the clouds look a bit more cohesive, and not too harsh and rough. I changed the opacity a little bit and just made the clouds be softer and more like a cloud. And you just do this on every element that you think don't really, looks cohesive with the rest. Later I just resized it a little because I wanted to be a bit bigger. I also duplicated this because I wanted some more on top. I mirrored it, so it would match up a little bit better. And just repositioned it and put it more on top. So it adds a nice foreground. Here you can see the plane image I had in my mood board. And I wanted to add some planes. But once that would match the perspective of the collage. So I found two on Unsplash. This time I use the Quick Selection tools to make a selection of the plane. Also try to get the propellers, so it wouldn't look so empty in the front. I also quite liked this little cloud elements that come from the plane to make it, more cohesive or be one with the rest of the clouds. I thought I would be nice. I just remove here the elements that I don't want so we just have this main white clouds. And then I duplicate the layer of the plane into the digital collage file. And for every element I'm going to add now, I'm going to make its own group to make it easier to find everything because I'm going to make some adjustments for every plane, and everything I'm going to add so that this whole layers part on the site here wouldn't be too full, I like to make groups. So it's easier to find and I just open it up when I want to make some changes. Because I wanted the plane to be in black and white. And of course I use a clipping mask because I only want the plane to be affected by this. And I also change the brightness and contrast because I wanted to be a bit brighter. And here I'm just duplicating the cloud element. This is going to be in the same group as the plane. And I am just repositioning it and resizing it so it matches with the plane. Again, this point, I also realized that the clouds didn't look so soft. And I, again, with a lower opacity and with a brush, I just made some corrections. And now we're going to do the same thing we did with the first plane, with the second one. Again, Quick Selection Tool. And then we're going to make its own group, adjust the saturation and hue because I wanted it to be in black and white. And also the brightness. As you can see, my files have quite long names. I wanted to keep the original name that you get from Unsplash because it says who the creator was and I wanted to give them credit. And I thought this would be the easiest way, of course, with your own folder that I'm going to give you, you can rename them, desert, clouds, mountains, whatever you want. That's going to make it easier for you to find all the elements. And here I'm just duplicating the clouds because I wanted the second plane to also have those because I thought it would look nice and they would be one with the rest of the clouds that are in the image. So at this point I thought I was done, but I realized that this area here is a bit empty and I wanted to add some water that I found here on Unsplash. I'm just opening that and then duplicating and copying and putting it into the collage file. Of course, I had to resize and also mirror it. So I changed the width to -100% when I transform it because the water has to come from the right. At this point I realized that it was in the plane group so I made a new group and put it in there. I again made a layer mask that I inverted and then I just with a brush, made the parts visible that I wanted it to be visible. The white front area, the foamy part of the wave. We're not going to fully make visible because I want that to be an extra layer to make it look more on top of the mountain. I thought it just looked a bit better because in my original process, I tried it with just one layer and it didn't look as good. So I'm going back later but first yeah. First I made some hue and saturation adjustments because I thought the blue tone of the water didn't quite match the rest, so I just changed that. And here in the separate file. I'm using the color range tool and selecting the white foamy part of the wave. Again, there's more selection than I want, which I will remove here on the layer mask with a brush. Then duplicating that into the collage file. And of course again, resizing, repositioning and mirroring it. And I wanted to put this again in its own group, here I'm struggling a little bit. I made it its own group for the wave. And I'm also going to make some hue and saturation and also brightness adjustments, with a clipping mask, of course. And in the end I'm also going to make some adjustments on the layer mask here, because the top part of the wave here that didn't look so good I just removed. The last thing I did was add this boat because I wanted something to be in the water. So I'm again using the Quick Selection Tool to make a selection of the boat. Don't worry if it looks a bit too rough on the edges afterwards you can easily make some corrections on the layer mask, which I will also do. Because on the bottom you see it looks a bit weird and not so smooth. So I straighten that out. And elements that I missed that weren't selected, I'm also adding. Again, duplicating it and putting it into the collage file. Here, I realized that it was put into this group and the clipping mask got removed. So I had to re-add that. It looked very weird when I opened it. Making its own group for the boat. And again, resizing it and changing the angle a little bit, so it would match with the way the water comes in. And the last thing I did here was I made some brightness adjustments and I also changed the saturation. so it's black and white. And we're pretty much done now. The last thing I like to do is duplicate all visible layers. You don't have to do is I'd just like to do it. And yeah, that's the finished collage. My Photoshop is in German. I am from Austria and I googled and looked how I could change it, but it didn't sound so easy because you would have yeah, it was a bit complicated and I decided to just keep it. Here's the original collage and the one I recreated. The original process of course, took me a lot longer because I was figuring things out how I want to position it, the composition, which elements I'm going to use that of course, takes a lot longer in the original process, which I didn't film. But it's also quite interesting to see how it looks when you try to recreate. It's pretty much the same, just some things are positioned differently, but I think that also shows the freedom of it that you can put things very differently or just slightly different and will still look very good. And I hope that you could follow along or you can make this collage now Or make your very own with new images and a different concept. And I hope you have fun with it. And I hope you enjoyed this. 4. My Favorite Tools: Before we finish this course, I want to give you a little summary of the tools I like to use. Let's start with the blending modes, there are six different types of blending modes, three of those I use more commonly and I'm going to give you a short explanation for them. As the name implies, the blending modes in the Darken category will turn the result colors darker. Anything that is white in the blend layer will become invisible, and anything that is darker than white is going to have some darkening effect on the pixels below it. The ones I use the most are called Darken and Darker Color. The Lighten Blending Modes will turn the result colors brighter. Anything that is black in the blend layer will become invisible, and anything that is brighter than black is going to have some darkening effect on the pixels below it. From this type, I like to use Lighten, Lighter Color and Screen. The Blending Modes in the category Contrast are a mixture between the Darken and the Lighten Blending Modes. They create contrast by both lightening and darkening the result colors by using complementary Blending Modes to create the blend. Photoshop checks the brightness of the colors. If the colors are darker than 50% gray, a darkening Blending Mode is applied. If the colors are brighter than 50% gray, a brightening Blending Mode is applied. From this category I use Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light and Pin Light. Next up, Layer Masking is a reversible way to hide a part of a layer. This gives you more editing flexibility than permanently erasing or deleting part of a layer. Layer masking is useful for making image composites, cutting out objects for use in other documents, and limiting edits to part of a layer. You can add black, white, or gray color to a layer mask. One way to do that is by painting on the layer mask. Black on a layer mask hides the layer that contains the mask, so you can see what is underneath that layer. Gray on the layer mask partially hides the layer that contains the mask. White on the layer mask shows the layer that contains the mask. I have not yet used to Liquefy tool that much from my collages, but it can be a very effective tool as the filter lets you push, pull, rotate, reflect, pucker, and bloat any area of an image. The distortions you create can be subtle or drastic, which makes the Liquefy command a powerful tool for retouching images as well as creating artistic effects. And adjustment layer applies color and tonal adjustments to your image without permanently changing pixel values. For example, rather than making a Levels or Curves adjustment directly to your image, you can create an adjustment layer. Color and Tonal adjustments are stored in the adjustment layer and apply to all the layers below it. You can correct multiple layers by making a single adjustment, rather than adjusting each layer separately. You can discard your changes and restore the original image at any time. You can use the Quick Selection tool to quickly paint a selection using an adjustable round brush tip. As you drag the election expands outward and automatically finds and follows defined edges in the image. I have used to Color Range Selection tool many times as it allows us to select all the identical colors and partially select similar colors but it doesn't select dissimilar colors. You adjust the fuzziness and Photoshop adjusts the selection, making it easier to get the precise selection that you want. And the marquee tool is used for making selections in a rectangular or elliptical form within an image. It is among the most basic of tools and appears in most every image editing program available. Transforming lets us scale, rotate, skew, stretch or warp an image. You can apply transformations to a selection, an entire layer, multiple layers or a layer mask. However, Transforming affects image quality when you manipulate the pixels. To apply non-destructive transformations to raster images, use Smart Objects. And those are some of my favorite tools for creating digital collages. 5. Goodbye: I hope I was able to motivate you and give you some inspiration to work on your very own digital collages and projects. Thank you very much for your time and I wish you a lot of fun creating.