Source & Mix: Digital Collage from Vintage Encyclopedia Illustrations | Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand | Skillshare

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Source & Mix: Digital Collage from Vintage Encyclopedia Illustrations

teacher avatar Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand, Graphic Design & Photography

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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.



    • 2.

      Sourcing Images: License and Quality Consideration


    • 3.

      Generating Visual Ideas


    • 4.

      Organising Project Files


    • 5.

      Photoshop Tools for Selection and Cutting


    • 6.

      Creating Collages


    • 7.

      Saving & Sharing


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About This Class

Creating collages is a great way of making something unexpected, mixing different things together and creating illustrations with original messages. 

I am Evgeniya Righini-Brand, and for me as a graphic designer creating collages is a great and quick method of making complex visuals. In this class I am going to show you how to create visually appealing digital collages from sourced online, free to use vintage encyclopaedia illustrations. I am going to share with you where you can find this kind of images online and go through my own way of creating collages in Photoshop.

If you want to quickly generate some interesting ideas, or you cannot draw or cannot be bothered to spend long time perfecting your own drawings — digital collage from scientific and encyclopaedia illustrations is a great way of making some amazing visuals.

Enrol in this class and make cute or quirky collages for any personal use or take it a step further and sell them online as posters, prints on t-shirts or anything else along the lines!

I cannot wait to see what you can create!

In this class you will learn:

  • where and how to source good quality vintage illustrations online free for personal and commercial use;
  • how to approach ideas generation for creating collages;
  • a number of alternative techniques of selecting and cutting images in Adobe Photoshop, including Magic Wand, Quick Selection, Magnetic Lasso, Select Colour Range, Polygonal Lasso and Pen Tool;
  • what tools and adjustments to use to efficiently create visually appealing collages in Adobe Photoshop;
  • what to consider when saving work for print and web.


This class is suitable for any skill level and covers all Adobe Photoshop techniques needed in this class.

Meet Your Teacher

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Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand

Graphic Design & Photography

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NEW CLASS: Texturing in Adobe Photoshop: 5 Easy Techniques Using Filters

Learn 5 quick & easy techniques for texturing images in Adobe Photoshop using Filters & without any additional materials and add more character & tangibility to your work!

These texturing techniques can be used to develop the aesthetic of your actual work or enhance the look of the previews or mock-ups you share online. And you can apply these effects to any kind of images, including collages, poster designs, illustrations, surface patterns, digital artworks, typographic designs, or digital photographs.

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1. Introduction: Creating collages is a great way of making something unexpected, mixing different things together, and creating illustrations as original messages. This is Regalia from ITT Creative, and in this class I am going to show you how to create visually appealing, maybe weird, maybe humorous digital collages from sourced online we're you to use Vintage Encyclopedia Illustrations. I'm going to share with you where you can find these images online, and go for my own web creating collages in Photoshop. This class is suitable for any skill level and I will cover a range of Photoshop techniques useful for different kinds of project. If you want to quickly generate some interesting ideas, or cannot draw, or cannot be bothered to spend a little time perfecting your own drawings digital collage from Scientific and Encyclopedia Illustrations is a great way of making some amazing visuals. Enroll in this class and make some cute collages for personal use, or take it a step further and sell them as posters, prints on T-shirt, or anything else along the lines. I cannot wait to see what you can create. Join me in this class and let's make something awesome. 2. Sourcing Images: License and Quality Consideration: When sourcing images for your project, there are two things to keep in mind. Copyright status and license, and image size and the quality. Let's start with the copyright. Recently, many museums started to digitize their archives and upload their libraries for open access. Thanks to the enormous efforts of these people, now we have access to tons of great images of which we can use in our creative work. When sourcing images online, make sure to check out copyright and license disclaimer for the image you want to use. In the links I provided here, most of images are in public domain with the expired copyright due to their creation and publication date, and sometimes only require attribution to the source. When you find something that you like, go and have a look at what license applies. Even if it says some rights reserved, like here, it is still a good idea to click on the link and find out more details. This is just a Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning that you can use the image as much as you want, as long as you credit the original source. On the other hand, you can come across something like that. This is an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, which means that you still can make work for personal or educational purposes, but you cannot use it in the commercial projects or sell your derivative work. But if you want to make something just for fun for yourself, your friends or family, that's fine. There can be other licenses as well, so just pay attention, be nice and respect the original artists that are alive and copyright holders. When you're getting images online, you need to make sure that you download the best quality and largest size available. On Flickr, make sure to download the original size images only. When you download the file, open it in Photoshop and check the size and resolution properties. These days with the development of technology and introduction of high-resolution displays, there is not a great difference between good quality of image for print or for web. What is fuzzy printed now will be fuzzy on screen as well if it's not of a sufficient size and resolution. If you decided on application of your future collage, meaning whether you want to use it for print or for web, I suggest you set units to centimeters or to pixels respectively. Then change resolution of the image to 300 dpi. If it is less than that, check out and preview here different options of resampling your image. Decide what works for you best. Change image size to your desired size. Apply changes, and save file this way. It is not an amazing way of doing things really, and I advise you not to push it too far. But sometimes with the found images, it is the only way of achieving reasonable result, and of course, best practices to have large high resolution source images to start with. Next thing is to consider how you select your images and what you can create out of them. 3. Generating Visual Ideas: As I said in the introduction collages are great for generating interest in visual ideas. When looking for the source images to use in your project, keep an open mind even if you have an idea of what you want to achieve. The beauty of collages is in the opportunity to create something unexpected. Even if you have some theme or idea in mind browse different images to add to your initial idea. You never know how fond images can take your idea from good to amazing, how effective something simple can be or how new ideas can come to you by just looking at something. The point in creating a collage is to combine, juxtapose, repeat, and alter. Look through image archives and come up with new ideas. A few of my favorite collages I've made are actually very simple, this one which I called Hey Macarena was really spontaneous. I was looking for collage materials for some other project I was working on when I came across an image of this skeleton. I immediately thought that it looked a bit like a dance move and decided to grab it, cut it out, and repeat the image a few times until I got a line of skeletons doing their Macarena dance. This collage really didn't take me a long time to make and it has a cultural background and everyone who was old enough or young enough for that matter in 1990s will understand what it is all about, smiles when they see it. This is the point, it's been quite a few years since I made it and now I would have probably thought about the walking dead instead if I saw this original skeleton image for the first time because there is so much zombie stuff around and then I would have probably made something completely different but that's the cool thing. Another example of generating ideas based on available source materials is this poster I've made for the good 50 by 70 competition back into [inaudible]. I was working on an open brief from the WWF about protecting different species, so I did my research and picked turtle. Then I remembered that I had these awesome anatomical illustrations of turtles and their skeletons lying around. I just decided to combine them together and it turned out to be a very effective visual solution and this poster got shortlisted. This series happened also from pure experimentation, I was preparing to teach at the University pretty much the same classes I'm teaching you now, and I was looking for some source images for demonstration. Then I came across this deer and all this cool geometric things. I loved animals, space, geometry and Azure, so I decided to put them together and after a little bit of conceptual development the theme and the whole series came about. Up to this moment it is probably my most popular personal work in line. You can make something great whichever way you decide to approach this project. Go for the image resources I've provided you with links to, grab a range of images that you like and let's start making collages. 4. Organising Project Files: Well, this is me being a bit pedantic, but this point I want to emphasize the importance of good project organization. Taking a bit more time in the beginning of the project to organize all your files, saves a lot of effort afterwards, and you get it with experience. When I was a design student, all my project folders are pretty messy, and now years down the line, it is super difficult to find anything in my old archives. These days to make my workflow smoother and make my work archive friendly, I start every project by creating a structure of folders where my project work will be kept. For example, for the project like this one, I need one overall folder with an understandable name, and inside of it there are a number of folders for different projects elements. I like to keep all of the original materials just in case, so everything I just found for this project I will keep here. Then I have a copy of this folder in which I'm going to create and keep all of the cutout so I don't destroy any original. Then I will have a developmental folder for all work in progress files and final PSD files. I'm going to put my final designs in this folder and I'm going to have another folder for any previous optimized web, that's what I'm going to share online. That's the basic structure for my project, and if I need any other folders here, I will make them later. For example, if I need to have some placement showcases, I will make a separate folder for them and so on. Naming the files in an understandable and searchable manner is also rather important. So spend a couple of minutes renaming all source files and give any new Photoshop files proper names too. Organize your project files and when you're done, wait for the next video in which I will cover a range of different techniques for cutting out images in Photoshop. 5. Photoshop Tools for Selection and Cutting: Now we need to cut our source images out the same way as we would do with a paper collage. These we're going to go through all files one by one, and prepare elements for our future collages. Open the first file which you want to cut, and resave it as a PSD document. All our cutouts are going to be in PSD format, so after you've done cutting, make sure to delete all uncut files from this folder, if you have a backup of them in another folder like I do. Now let's get on with cutting. In Photoshop, it is rather important to keep an eye on the layers whilst you're working to make sure that everything works as you want it to. So first of all, we need to go to the layers panel and unlock the background layer. This ensures that now when you cut something out, it will disappear, and instead of it you will have a transparency rather than a background color, then I will duplicate the background layer, bottom one is going to be a backup, so I will hide it for now. Then, I'm going to create a few new layers between two image layers, and fill them with background color. One with white or light gray, one with black or very dark gray, and one with some bright color. These three layers, I will be turning on and off, whilst I'm cutting the image layer above them to check out the quality of my cutting, and whether I have any artifacts on the edge of my cuttings shown on different backgrounds. It is easier to see defects on a range of different color backgrounds, then on top of the transparency grid. This is just my way of working and I like cutting things very precisely, but you can choose whether to do the same or not. For this reason, I am also going to show you a few different methods of cutting things out in Photoshop, so you know different ways and can choose yourself what's best for you. In Photoshop, there are both automatic, and manual ways to select areas on your canvas. Automatic ones are quick to use, but dependent on what the image you're cutting is, it might or might not work. So you have to see and decide also, automatic tools are automatic. So they are not as precise as cutting something menu, but again, it depends on what you are doing. For example, if you just need to create a very quick mockup of an idea to show to someone for approval, then, sure, you can use automatic tools, because they will save you time, but when you are working on something final which needs to be as perfect as possible, then I suggest you spend time, and effort cutting things out manually instead. What might seem alone and laborious, it first of all, become quicker with practice. So what are the automatic tools then? It is Magic Wand, Quick Selection, and Magnetic Lasso Tool, and also, it is an option to select color range in the top menu here. Magic wand allows you to click on the area and select a specific color or a range of colors. Tolerance value controls how wide or narrow is the range of colors you are selecting. You can also hold down shift and click to add area, or hold down Alt and click to remove selected area. Working with selection, it is handed to remember a couple of shortcut. Command-A or control-A in windows to select all, and command-D, or control-D in windows to deselect all. So let's deselect all and have a look at other tools. Quick selection tool, detects the edge in the image, and allows you to paint a selection with a brush. Both these tools are pretty straight forward and you need to play with the settings to achieve the desired effect, there's no universally perfect settings as all images and requirements are different. So I'm not going to go into too much detail about this tools, but if you need to know more about setting them up, follow the link in the notes here. Then we have the magnetic lasso tool, which is quite useful when you have an image on the contrast in background. Magnetic lasso selection snaps to the edges of the image, so all you need to do is to click on the edge to set the first and then move the mouse alone to make a selection. Go around to the starting point to close the selection to be able to work with it. Also, if you have a contrast in the image and the background, you can quite effectively use select color range function, which allows you to select specific colors of your choice on your image. In essence, it is pretty similar to what magic one does, but with a slight different controls. I personally do not really take this methods very seriously, and as I said before, use them only on very quick idea mockups where quality of cutting doesn't really matter. So play around with them if you wish, but if you want to have more advanced Photoshop collage skills, I suggest you put your efforts into learning and practicing manual techniques such as using, Polygonal Lasso tool, or Pen Tool instead. With both these tools, you need to go around your object, which you want to cut, and select the cutting line. With the polygonal lasso tool, you will need to work with the line segment. Think about it as using a scalpel and cutting your paper image, but only uses straight lines and no curves. So zoom in quite closely, and draw an outline or small segments going around your object. If you put a point in the wrong place, click delete or backspace to remove the last point. Generally polygonal lasso tool takes a bit of time to get used too, and it can be frustrating if you lose your selection halfway through. So there are a few things to keep in mind. First, to cut something out, in our case background, we need to have an enclosed selection border. To close the selection, you need to go all the way around to the first point, and then click on it. So it is now selected and you can delete it. Click shift, command I, shift, control I in windows to invert selection, and click delete. Also, if you double click with your mouse button, it will connect your last point with the first one, and close the selection this way. This is what can cause a lot of headache. Here you can see that your selection overlaps your image, and will cut it as well. So it's not good at all, scrub the selection and start again. I know how annoying it can be, so I suggest cut in little bit of background at a time rather than trying to go all way around your object. This is the technique which I use most of the time when I need to cut something out. If I have large areas on background to remove, I just select them with the rectangular marquee tool, and delete them this way, and if there are some small bits which have missed, I remove them with the eraser tool. Another way is a bit more advanced and probably more suitable for people who use Illustrator on regular basis, because it involves using the pen tool to create a selection. With the pen tool, you can go around the objects and create a path on its border. In comparison to the polygonal lasso tool, here you have all functionality the pen tool offers. You can create curves, you can have smooth or corner points, you can Alt-click to convert this move point to corner, and you can go around the whole object at your own pace, save your file with the path at any time and pick it up again later. When you're done with the selection, meaning that you went around the whole object and closed the path, you need to go to the paths panel. Here, command click or control click in windows on the paths thumbnail, it will make it into selection, and then go back to the lasso panel, select the image layer you want to cut, make sure to invert selection so that you cut the background and not the image, so click shift-command I, shift-control I in windows, or go to menu, select inverse, and click delete. So if you are good at working with the pen tool, and drawing precise paths go for it, and if not, better stick to other methods, but if you want to learn more about using pen tool, and paths in Photoshop, here is the link. So these are the methods of selecting and cutting out backgrounds from your images. Now make sure that all layers except for the actual cutting are disabled, or deleted, and save the file as a PSD. Cut out all other images you want to use in your collage, and then move on to the next stage of putting it all together, which I'll cover in the next video. 6. Creating Collages: Now it's time to put it all together. Let's start all by creating a new file in which we are going to be creating a collage. Decide on the document settings yourself dependent on what you want to create and in what size. Just keep in mind the size of the images you want to use in your collage and don't push the size too much. Also use RGB color mode for now, if you want to take it to the professional printer in future, you can change it later to see him waking. Let's click Okay, and now let's straight away save this file as a PSD file in the correct folder. Make sure that you have the layers panel open. Well, we needed a lot in this class and let's quickly add all our source images into this document. Now, there are a number of different ways you can add an image to your Photoshop file. Dependent on what version of Photoshop you have, you can choose whatever you like and whatever is available. Standard way always would have been to open all individual files and Photoshop and copy and paste them into your document. But I will show you another reasonably new method so you know and can use it to your advantage. This method is about placing Linked Smart objects into your document. This way the original images are kept in a separate place, and if changes are made to them, you will be able to see the changes in the document where they are placed. This is particularly important if you are using the same assets in a number of different files, or if you're working within a team and someone else edits the original file. You will be able to update the content of your one quickly without any need to place in your images in. It is a great timesaver. In this class, I'm going to use lynx smart objects for a different reason. Because I am dealing with scattings and I will also use one of them a couple of times, it makes sense to have only one original which I can alter if I need to. For example, if I haven't cut something properly, I can quickly make changes to the original file and it will apply the changes to all of the same elements in my collage document, and it generally makes work in Photoshop a bit smoother. To edit the contents of the Liinked file, you need to double click on this link icon on the thumbnail on the Layers panel, it will open contents in a new tab and you can edit what you need, save it, close it, and you can see the effect in your collage file. Once you have placed all your images as linked objects, arranged them in the correct order on the Layers panel and copy some of them if you need to. Treat layers as you would treat pieces of paper in the real collage. What is on top covers what is underneath it. It is pretty straightforward logic. When you want to work with a specific layer, make sure it is selected on the Layers panel. You can move layers using Move tool. When you're moving objects using the Move tool, check or uncheck auto select for groups or layers. But the Select is quite useful when you need to arrange a lot of layers and you can see contents of each layer, so you can grab it to move. In other situation you might want to turn or to select off. Make sure to save your file from time to time, just in case. If you want to resize or rotate your object, select the layer it is on and the go to menu, Edit, Free Transform, or click Command T or Control T in windows to activate free transform. Now you can scale it, hold down Shift key while dragging a corner to constrain proportions. You can rotate it by putting your mouse just outside of the image and holding down mouse key, move your mouse around. Hold down Shift key to rotate in increments of 15 degrees. When you're downscaling or rotating, click Enter to apply changes and to exit Free Transform mode. If you don't like what you've done, click Command Old Z, control Old Z and Windows to undo the change. This key combination allows you to undo as many times as it is specified by you in your Photoshop preferences. On the other hand, familiar command Z or control Z in Windows allows you to go only one step back. If you need to reflect your element, go to menu, edit, transform, flip horizontal or flip vertical. When you're done arranging your element, you might want to do some color correction either to make all your elements look uniform like in my case, or just to change colors. At this point, I advise you to use non-destructive adjustment layers and apply them only to either individual layers or to the group of layers which needs this adjustment, but not to the whole document. That's how you do it. Let's say you want to adjust white and black points of this layer. Go to the adjustments panel, if it's not open, go to menu window adjustments. Pick the adjustment you want, in this case, I want to use Levels. Make sure that the adjustment layer is above the layer with the image you want to adjust, and holding down old key, move your mouse in between these two layers and when you see this hint, click with your mouse. Now the adjustment layer will only affect the layer it is attached to. If you add more adjustment layers on top, you can also do the same with them. If you need to apply the adjustment to the group of layers, then select Layers, group them, and then attach adjustment layers to the group, as you would to the individual layer. This was about adjustment layers and attaching them to content. Now, let's have a look at a few handy adjustments which you might want to use in this class. Level show you a histogram for your image and allow you to adjust white, gray, and black points of your image. It is very useful if you need to do a quick color correction, for example, here I want my background to be white. I'll pick a white point eyedropper and click on the color I want to be white in my image. I can also zoom in quite close and click on a few more slightly darker spots to make them white as well. It affects the whole layer, so watch out what it does to the rest of it. In essence, it establishes a white balance in the picture, so it is a quite useful trick to keep in mind that when you have an image which seems slightly off. You can also do the same with the black color point and the gray one. All these changes as well as moving these indicators also affect the contrast in your image. But if you want to simply adjust brightness and contrast for that, there is a separate adjustment here. Brightness and contrast is a pretty straightforward adjustment with two sliders which control brightness and contrast respectively. Hue saturation adjustment is useful if you want to quickly adjust the colors or saturation in your image. There you've got three sliders, color, hue saturation, and lightness. You also have an option to colorize the whole image if you click the colorized box here. These adjustments are quite useful if you want to push the colors in your work a bit further, or simply to make something desaturated. In terms of background, you might want to use a plain color, a texture, or a gradient. To use a plane color, select your background layer, set the foreground color on the Tools panel, or select one from the swatches if you have any, and then fill in the layer using the Paint Bucket tool. If you are not very happy with the color, use hue saturation adjustment to change it to your liking. If you want to use texture, place it in the same way as you would place any other image, and put it below all other layers. If you want to use a gradient, first unlock your background layer by clicking on the lock, and then double-click on the layer to go to the Layer Style window. Go to Gradient Overlay, adjust settings there to what you want your grade in to be and click Okay. Play around with the background, but make sure it works well with the collage and doesn't distract from it. Collage is the important part. You might wonder how I make my collages appear so organic and not showing the cut edges at all. Well, for these, Photoshop has blended mode. I normally use either multiply screen or overlay, depend on what I want to achieve and also often go to other options. But the best results with a blended modes comes from trial and error anyway. While going for the list of different modes, you might find something which is really cool and works for you in an amazing and in a predictable way. So look through and pick something which works. In this collage because I made the background color of my cuttings white, but set a grayish background overall, I will use multiply to eliminate the white in my cuttings and make them all look like one illustration and not like a collage at all. But if you want to keep a collage fill about who work, maybe stick to normal blending mode anyway. When you come in close to finalize new collage, it is a good idea to have a look through all of its elements and check how sharp they are. You don't want to have oval sharp images because they appear artificial and too much sharpest also can highlight any defects which you might have in their original images. Pick a sharp in method of your liken and apply it with care to individual elements, also compensating the difference in their original sharpness. If you're using smart objects, any filter you apply will become a non-destructive smart filter, which will allow you to update the settings or remove it afterwards if it doesn't work. Even if you haven't placed lynx smart objects in your document at this point, I suggest that you convert each of your element layers to smart objects. To do this, select a layer you want to convert and then go to Menu layer, smart objects convert, to smart object. In terms of sharpening filters, there are quite a few of them in Photoshop, and for this kind of task, I would use either a smart sharpen or an unsharp mask. In any case, keep radius around 12 pixels not to make your work appear totally artificial and adjust other settings to make your image slightly sharper. Now check how everything works together and adjust what is still necessary. When you're already save your PSD file once again and get ready to save your work for print or web, which I will talk about in the next video. 7. Saving & Sharing: When it comes to saving your work for print, there are a few options. If you're printing professionally, check out the guidelines of your print shop and prepare your work accordingly. Most likely we will need to change the color model to CMYK and change the color profile to the one the printers use, save your work in the required file format, but let the image and don't use layers if saving as SDK or PSD. If you're printing yourself, check the specification of your printer and change color mode if necessary. Save file as JPEG or PDF or RTF without layers and print away. Also, you can start selling what you've just made online. I've been selling my prints on Society6 for five years now and I find it's quite cool and hassle-free. They have a huge range of different products and some guidelines regarding file preparation, which is pretty straightforward and in most cases just require cropping your image in a different way. If you want to upload your work to Society6, keep you work in RGB and save it in a number of different sizes and crop it for different proportions using crop tool. Society6 also has a range of large format products and I would advise you again not to stretch your work too much to fill these big sizes, because pixels will start to show up and quality of the product will be poor. Better stick to the small products instead and make some different work, which will look okay when it's huge. If you want to showcase your work online, make sure it is in RGB color mode, and for perfect quality, take the final output size and multiply it by two. Resize your file to this size and save it as JPEG or PNG and go put it out there. This all for the task. I hope you have enjoyed this class and learned something new. If you like this class, please leave a review so more people could discover it. I cannot wait to see how you are going to use vintage encyclopedia illustrations and what you can create out of them. Post your work in the project section for this class, and if you are going to share your work on Instagram, please take attitudes skills so I can see it there too. If you have any questions, leave a comment on the community board for this class, and I will happily answer and provide feedback. Thank you for enrolling in this class, and I hope to see you in my other classes.