Lotsa Leaves

A Short Tutorial for Those That Asked…

The first in my series of posts on Sticks, Stones, Leaves and Logs is not a post I planned, but a few bloggers asked about how I do the mosaics that I posted recently.

There are many ways to do this, but a fast way is to make a template. Faster, is using all the apps out there for uploading images, but making your own from scratch is really satisfying and gives you more flexibility for text layout. Many of my readers will already know how to do this in a variety of ways, but this post is for those new to Photoshop that might want to see a way to use it in graphic layout. I often use InDesign in professional circumstance, but that is a whole different ball game.

I make a template initially by laying out guide lines to generate the boxes where images will be placed. I vary the theme often so the fast way I am showing you does not allow for variability of box sizes after original creation. It was mentioned by a couple of commentators that this might be a lot of work, but if you make a template and get the ‘work’ out of the way initially, it is fast and easy to make many mosaics using one simple template.

One technique to get a decent layout is to use the golden rectangle as a starting point. It is a visually pleasing shape to the eye and the boxes will fit neatly with each other. This is an example of using a series of golden rectangles and squares.

The square is the pure form that starts the rectangle if you are inclined to draw one, but no need. Here is a calculator to use to generate any size golden rectangle. All the black rectangles, including the container are golden rectangles in the graphic below.

You just make a series of boxes and place them in the desired layout. The boxes are the space templates for your images. I usually try to leave some ‘white space’ with some of the boxes because it makes a more pleasing graphic layout and allows for the addition of text. The white boxes and a couple of black boxes are the ‘white space’ and they vary in shape and size for added graphic interest. Another thing to notice, like in design of garden plants for the garden, the graphic at the left has like divisions in ones, threes, and fives.ย  Three black, three white, five green and one big blue. If you stick with a couple design basics, you will likely be successful in making a beautiful mosaic graphic.

This type of template is a little more complicated than you will see below. In this method you go to the Paths Pallet and first make a path, then Make Selection from the box shapes.ย  Then you follow the process in the example below. What may be complicated a bit is that most are not familiar with making and saving selections. Sooo…..

But let’s get to the one you can do more simply with Photoshop.

I am creating a faux photography studio advertisement for illustrative purpose, and you will see how you can use this as a template to just replace images at will.

In Photoshop, open a new document and make the size 12 inches by 12 inches at 100 dpi, (for the web).

Hit Option/Delete or Control/Backspace on a PC to fill the layer with black. My choice, but feel free to keep it white if you like, but photos pop nicely with a generous amount of black. Next create a new blank layer. In the toolbar, under theย  Rectangular Marquee tool, click the flyout menu and select the Single Row Marquee tool. Position it where you want to create a one pixel sized line on your page. Here for illustration, I selected a horizontal line, positioned at 7.5 inches on the vertical ruler. Click, and it forms a selection line across the full width of the page. Fill with white by hitting Command/Delete or Control/Backspace. You might want to lock the layer to prevent it from moving.

Repeat this and draw another line.

Next we make another couple of boxes, but now, we use the Rectangular Marquee tool. I drew a selection box 8.5 inches wide and to the page edges. This is a bit different from filling the lines with white. Instead, we go to Edit>Stroke. We select a 1 pixel width stroke, and hit the Inside radio button. Click, and your next box is located. Add another box in the square to the right the same way as just explained. See image below.

Now the fun part…adding your images. This is what becomes your template to use over and over. You can draw as many lines and boxes as you want too. I kept it simple here.

Open a photo document and make sure it is in the same 100 dpi or your image will come in very huge. I chose a leaf motif. In your photo document, choose Select>All. Then choose Edit>Copy. That is all you need from this image in this document.

Go back to your template. With the Magic Wand tool, select the top most area, the area formed by the line. This is now where you will composite your first photo. With the top box selected, go to the Edit menu and scroll down to Paste Special > Paste Into.

It will take the clipboard image and paste it into the container box. It generates a layer mask which is unlinked too. This is really important, because now you can manipulate and move your image to find the best view and orientation. Additionally, you can ‘crop’ the image inside the container, without losing any portion of the original image. You can also delete the image and go get another to replace it, using the containers over and over again.

Here I added two images in this fast and easy way. Move the photo anytime during your layout to work well with the other images. Finish by adding all your images and add some supporting text. Your mosaic is complete below.

Don’t miss My Garden Year in Photos. All the calendar months were done as mosaics. And coming up next is Month in Tens – Shooting the Ordinary, January 11 to 20. The Weather Calendar continues in my garden too.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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16 Responses to Lotsa Leaves

  1. Donna this is a great how to…when I retire I want a “real” camera and I must also ask for Photoshop…seems a good pairing…..I used to use it as a teacher and did so many cool things with it…but I have not used it in years….can’t wait to play with it!! Of course this probably won’t happen until next year at the earliest…retiring of course from public education not life…too many things to do….

  2. Cara Olsen says:

    What a beautiful, in-depth tutorial. I’ll be honest and tell you that operating Photoshop terrifies me. If I can’t hit “copy and paste” I cover my ears and shout for my husband to cut through all the tough stuff and get me to the easy stuff I can manage. But there is no denying how lovely this mosaic is! There is something about leaves, trees, and nature in general that generates such peace of mind. I may just have to conquer my fear and try this out! Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Feel free to stop by my blog if you are looking for some fun crafts. It’s still very new in the making, so I am still in the process of uploading everything, but every Tuesday I publish a “Tutorial Tuesday” for my readers, and of course there are other bits of inspired life on there as well.

    Take care,
    Cara

  3. perfect, thanks for the tutorial, you rock! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. HolleyGarden says:

    It must be amazing all the things that can be done with Photoshop! Beautiful images – and they are really enhanced placed together like that.

  5. Barbie says:

    What a great tool Photoshop is! There is so much one can do with it! I LOVE your leaf images – so tranquil.

  6. b-a-g says:

    I’ve often wondered if those mosaics take a lot of time to create. As you probably guessed Microsoft Paint is the limit of my comfort zone.

  7. dona says:

    Your mosaics are really beautiful, but they seem to take much time to set up.
    Picnic is more than enough for my few demands. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • No time really, like five minutes per mosaic. It works similar to Picnik were you ‘upload’ images into the section boxes. Only difference is that you have the creative power to create the box design. In the bottom example, all you do is make two lines and two boxes that are over a background box. Rather than having an outside program composite the images you just do it right within Photoshop. It is as simple as copy and paste, except the directive is Paste Into, a very important distinction because you have the ability to move it around within the frame to where you want it. If you just use the paste function you lose all the simplicity of the reusable template.

      • GirlSprout says:

        I’m a big fan of Picnik, too. It’s my go to app for mosaics. Thanks for the lesson. I’ll bookmark this post if I’m ever brave enough to try my own mosaic.

  8. Kevin says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. It’s always interesting to learn a new technique. By the way, the quality of your photos also has something to do with the overall quality of your mosaics. Well done!

  9. Very nice tutorial. On the rare occasion I’ve done any sort of mosaic I tend to freehand it in Photoshop, just dragging pre-sized images onto a larger canvas. I like the more refined look with the boxes though in your second example. I’ll have to try that approach next time!

  10. Marguerite says:

    I’ve done very simplistic mosaics in Picasa but this looks like it would produce nicer results. I’ll be forwarding your article to my husband as he’s been looking at figuring out mosaics for his business projects for some time now.

  11. Indie says:

    Great tutorial. I do simple mosaics in Picasa, but it doesn’t give you nearly as much control over it. You have some beautiful designs!

  12. Lynn Rogers says:

    hey donna,
    loved your year in review mosaics. happy new year.

  13. Excellent description. I too use Picasa and am pretty happy with it. However, you can’t put in text or blank spaces or configure the boxes the way you want them. Picasa will take the photos and show you how it thinks the boxes should be sized—you can’t say no, do it this way instead. Someday I hope to be using Photoshop and coming back here to follow your directions.

  14. Thanks for this tutorial!

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