The challenge for Photo Art Friday this week is to do something we've been wanting to do to expand our artistic photo-art repertoire. I've been wanting to attempt this form of digital collage that involves many layers and layer masks.
What I am showcasing for Photo Art Friday is a third attempt at making such a multi-layered composite. I was not that thrilled with the first two attempts - one of which (the better one) you see immediately below - with a screen shot of the layers panel. :)
My third attempt and Photo Art Friday Submission
You may recognize some of the images in the above digital collage. They are a few of the photo-art images created and displayed on my blogs during the past year.
I will try to reconstruct my process for you:
1. gathered images I wanted to showcase in this composite, into a file
2. opened a few of the images from that file that would make an interesting marriage, in PSE
3. randomly placed images on a texture (2700px X 2700px) used as the background of the piece
4. resized the images and placed them so that all the images covered the texture background and so that they overlapped each other ... placed more images on top of those
5. each image was placed on a separate layer, as you can see in the screen shot below - this allows you to add a layer mask for each image used
6. applied a photo mask to almost every layer with goal of exposing some of the images hidden in other layers beneath
7. using a soft, black brush (opacity at 33%) gently removed parts of the various images (you can see the areas where I removed parts of images on the white layer masks in the layers panel)
8. if I liked what emerged, I left it - if not, switched the brush to white to put back what had been removed
9. it took time and patience moving among all the layers to find the balance between revealing and masking parts of the images, to produce a balanced whole. (Looking at it now I see edges of images that I left exposed. I will go back to the PSD version and make some changes to eliminate those straight edges).
10. once satisfied with the composition, a texture was applied on top of the completed collage to help blend the various parts together. The texture and collage were blended with Soft Light at 60% Opacity. You can see the pale blue 'art-easy' texture used - second from the top layer in the layers palette. (The texture was pulled up to the top of the stack of layers after taking this screen shot.)
As you can see this is a rather imprecise, intuitive, hit-and-miss process. I intuitively placed my images at different locations on my base texture - overlapping here and there. I had only the most general idea of what I hoped to produce. Some of the 'unmasking' worked - like the happy accident of exposing the green lips - while some manipulations did not produce a pleasing effect. But there lies the joy of using layer masks, as you can put back some of what you removed until you get the effect you want.
If you do not have access to a layer mask tool, you can use your erasure tool and your 'undo' button (when you don't like the effect), but that becomes a bit of an either/or process not allowing you to work with the variations and nuances as a layer mask allows.
If you have any questions about my process, I will do my best to answer them. However, as you see, I am still finding my way. If you have any ideas about how to achieve this effect, please share them here! Am hoping to produce more of these abstract, multi-layered collages in the future.