How to Create a Product Collage
Thanks to everyone who responded to my email last week and gave me some great ideas for posts! One reader requested a tutorial on how to create collages and I think this is one that every blogger needs to know. There’s a lot of different ways to create a collage, but this is how I do it and it’s proved to be an easy, fail-proof method for me.
I use a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator — you can get both of these for pretty cheap through Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I highly recommend the Creative Cloud, it’s cheaper than the older versions and you ALWAYS have the most up to date products and tools which is really amazing! Okay, back to our topic at hand — creating beautiful collages! I use Photoshop to clip the products and then I drop them into Illustrator to actually create the collage. You can do it all in Photoshop, but I’m more comfortable in Illustrator. It’s what I design blogs in and I just think it’s a heck of a lot easier than Photoshop!
When I’m cutting out images from their background, there’s two main tools I use in Photoshop. For items with a really crisp contrast between the background (like a black pair of shoes on a white background), I use the Magic Wand Tool. I actually try to use this one as often as possible because it’s so much faster! But occasionally the background is busy or doesn’t contrast enough and that’s when I use the Magnetic Lasso Tool. This one works really well and the magnetic part of it helps you to easily outline and item, but gives you more control over what parts of the image are selected.
Magic Wand Tool:
Click the background with the tool and you’ll see that it selects it. You want to keep selecting bits of it until it wraps around your item. You may have to adjust the tolerance if it’s selecting some of the product itself. Here I started at a tolerance of 30, but part of the shoe was being selected, so I moved it down to 10. Sometimes your first click will only select certain chunks.
You want to continue selecting new areas until the whole selection surrounds your item To select multiple areas. Hold down the SHIFT Key while you continue clicking in new areas. Once the selection is wrapped totally around your image, go to ‘SELECT’ > ‘INVERSE’ and then hit ‘COMMAND + C’ and then ‘COMMAND + N’ (opens a new document).
Pick the transparent background and in your new document, hit ‘COMMAND + V’ to paste. Then hit ‘COMMAND + S’ and save your item as a PSD.
Use the Magnetic Lasso Tool:
Start at one edge and work your way around the object you want to cut out. In the lighter areas, you might have to actually click to get the points match up to product.
Once you make your way around the product, click your first dot to connect the outline. A flashing dashed line will appear around the object. Hit ‘COMMAND + C’ (mac) and then ‘COMMAND + N’ to open a blank document.
Select the transparent background. In your new document, hit ‘COMMAND + V’ to paste your item. Touch up any areas with the eraser tool. Hit ‘COMMAND + S’ and save the item as a PSD file.
ASSEMBLING THE COLLAGE
For my collages, I try to always use the same design elements — same fonts, colors, style. This helps keep things looking consistent throughout the site. Occasionally I switch up the layout, but I always stay consistent with colors and fonts and I recommend you do the same!
So, let’s assemble this thing. AS I mentioned earlier, you can do this in Photoshop or Illustrator. I prefer Illustrator you don’t have to deal with all the different layers and generally I think it’s just more user-friendly. That being said, either will work, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using Illustrator.
So, open Illustrator and create a new document that’s the width of your post column — my column is 580px — and let’s set the height at 1500px, we can always crop the part we don’t use (or if your collage is taller than that, you can always copy and paste the items in a bigger document after you start).
Move around and resize your items until they’re arranged how you like. I like to add numbers next so readers can shop the product underneath. Once you’re totally done, save your document.
Next we need to export the file. Hit ‘COMMAND + A’to select everything on the page and then go to ‘TYPE’ > ‘CREATE OUTLINES’ to outline all fonts so that they appear nice and crisp on the web. Save again. Then go to ‘FILE’ > ‘SAVE FOR WEB & DEVICES’. Select PNG-24 from the dropdown menu and uncheck the ‘TRANSPARENCY’ box. Hit ‘SAVE’ and select a location where you can easily grab it for your post — I usually put it on my desktop.
Last step, go to your blog and drop the image into your post and add the rest of your content!