Erica Larson mixes backgrounds, textures, and photos to create a fashion collage in Adobe Photoshop.

Graphic artist Erica Larson dreams up inspired designs every day as an associate creative director on the Adobe Studio team.

What you'll need

This sample file has Adobe Stock images you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

Add texture

To start the project, Larson dragged the foil texture image from her computer onto the red background. Then she dragged a corner handle to resize as necessary, held the cursor just outside a corner handle, and dragged to rotate it. Finally, she pressed Enter or Return to place it.

Layers panel shows foil texture & red color fill, canvas shows red background & rotated foil image with transform boundaries

Isolate the subject

Next, Larson dragged the image of the model from her computer on top of the foil texture. She wanted to separate the model from the original background, so she chose the Quick Selection tool then clicked Select Subject. Once the marching ants appeared to mark the selection, she clicked Select and Mask.

Layers panel has model image, model is on blue background, Quick Selection tool, Select Subject, Select & Mask display at top

Fill the gaps

Larson chose the Quick Select tool, set it to Subtract in the Select and Mask workspace, and painted over the unwanted areas of the background.

Red overlay over the background, Quick Selection tool in upper left, Properties panel on right shows Select & Mask settings

See the finer details

Painting with the Refine Edge brush in the Select and Mask workspace allowed Larson to remove the background around the fuzzy areas on the edges of the model’s hair and sweater. She then chose Output to Selection at the bottom of the Select and Mask Properties panel, and clicked OK.

Closeup shot of model with red overlay on background, orange callouts around remaining blue background areas

Separate the selection

Larson clicked the Add Layer Mask button on the Layers panel to turn the selection of the model into a mask where it could be modified without affecting the original image.

Layers panel shows mask on model layer, background is red on top with foil texture below

Make it accurate

Before she created a stylistic shadow, Larson right-clicked on the layer mask and selected Add Mask to Selection.

Mask thumbnail on model layer has Add Mask to Selection on a blue label; marching ants around the edges of the model

Smooth the edges

Then she chose Select > Modify > Smooth and set the Sample Radius to 10 px.

Menu selection over model shows Select > Modify > Smooth; Smooth Selection dialog shows Sample Radius set to 10

Apply a color

Larson filled the selection by adding a Solid Color adjustment layer from the bottom of the Layers Panel and selecting white from the Color Picker.

Shape of model is filled with white; Layers panel shows white color fill adjustment applied to layer mask

Offset the shadow

She used the Move (V) tool to offset the white selection, then used Control + [ (Windows) or Command + [ (macOS) on her keyboard to move the white fill layer down in the layer stack so it appeared behind the model.

Move tool displays upper left; Layers panel shows white color fill layer below the model layer, model has white drop shadow

Tidy around the edges

Larson clicked the mask on the color fill layer then used the Brush (B) tool to paint with black over the areas of the drop shadow that needed to be cleaned up.

Brush tool displays upper left; color fill mask selected, callouts around hair, mouth, and right arm

Cut it out

To prep the cutout effect, she selected the model layer, then used the Quick Selection tool to brush over the body to select it.

Quick Selection tool in upper left, marching ants around center of model’s body below her neck

Make it seamless

With the body selected, Larson applied a Solid Color adjustment layer and used the Eyedropper tool to select the red behind the model so the new selection would blend with the background. She then clicked the mask on the color fill layer, chose the Brush tool, set it to white, and brushed along the edges to clean up the silhouette.

Eyedropper & Brush tools upper left, marching ants around center of model’s body filled with red solid color adjustment layer

Create your own collage

Mix textures and images by accentuating the composition with selections and adjustment layers to create your own style.

Computer monitor on desk shows magazine layout with cutout collage on lower right

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

09/02/2020

Artist: Erica Larson

Adobe Stock contributors: SHISHKIN137, MaxFrost

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