Monday, December 22, 2008

Mosaic Layout - How To

This layout was SO fun to do! It is one of my favorites to date. It was inspired by the Hodge Podge Challenge hosted by Liz from Paislee Press earlier this month. The challenge was to create a "Mosaic" layout. Many of you have sent me emails inquiring as to how I made it, so I thought I would just do a tutorial on it. :) So get comfy... there are a lot of screen shots on this one. hahaha. But I wanted to make sure that even beginners in Photoshop could follow along.

**EDITED TO SAY... I have created a template and an action set that you can download for FREE ollow along!



Here is the layout we will be creating...

1. Once I had a new document open and had chosen my paper (see instructions on how to do this in the BASICS of Creating a New Layout tutorial), I used these paper blocks for the base of my "mosaic" photo arrangement. I used the layered version of these so that I could clip a separate photo to each square.

Here is what your layers palette will look like with all of your paper blocks onto your layout.

2. Now choose the photo you would like to use and place it on your layout:

NOTE: You can certainly use a color photo, but i changed mine to black and white fearing that the different colors in the photo would look crazy once there were so many copies of the photo all scrunched together. :)

3. Now, click and hold your photo layer and drag it all the way down to the layer called "1" of your blocks.

When you see the line between "1" and "2" get darker, release your mouse and your photo layer should pop into place between the two.

Now that your photo is in between Layer "1" and "2", you will notice that you can now see all of the blocks EXCEPT the very first one because it is still behind your photo.

4. Now, before we get started with clipping our photos to the blocks, let's go ahead and duplicate our photo layer so that we can save it for the larger photo that we will be working with later. To do this, right-click on your photo layer and choose Duplicate Layer...

5. To sort of get it out of our way for now, go ahead and click and hold this layer and drag it to the bottom and click on the little eyeball next to the layer. This will make it invisible.

6. Now let's "clip" our photo to the first block. Place your cursor on the line between your photo layer and your "1" layer. Press and hold your ALT key (your cursor should change in shape). Once you see your cursor change in shape, simply click. This will clip your photo to the block as shown below. Now you should be able to see the outline of your photo. Click on the bottom right corner of this outline, press and hold your SHIFT key and drag the corner inward to resize your photo to fit inside the block.

7. You can continue to resize and even move your photo around so that the subject of your photo is positioned in the block as desired. Now you can see your photo in the shape of your block:

8. Now, since we have our photo resized to fit inside these little blocks, let's simply duplicate that photo layer so that all we have to do is clip it to another block and move it around. So, again... right-click on your photo layer and choose Duplicate Layer... You will notice two things once you do that. 1.) You will now see the edges of your photo on top of the block, and 2.) your layers palette will duplicate this layer UNclipped. This is good... this is what we want.

9. So we will now click on the duplicated layer of our photo and drag and drop it right above layer "2". Now you can see that the photo is above block # 2.

10. Now, repeat the steps above to clip your duplicated photo to layer "2". Once it's clipped, it should appear as follows:

11. Now just click on the photo to move it around within the 2nd block so that it doesn't look exactly like the 1st block. Continue to repeat those steps of duplicating, clipping, and moving around on several blocks. I also flipped my photo in a few of the blocks just to give it that much more of a varied appearance. To do this, go to Edit and choose Transform and then Flip Horizontal.

This is what we have so far...

12. Now... admittedly, I'm not the most patient scrapper in the world. hahaha. So after repeating these steps (even with an action) about 9 times, I grew a little weary. So, I sort of took a little shortcut here. This shortcut is for when you will be using the same photo in each block. First, on my layers palette, I clicked on layer "10" of my blocks and then scrolled up and holding down my SHIFT key I clicked on layer "42" (the last block) and then chose Delete.

13. That left me with my 9 photo blocks. Back on my layers palette, I clicked on "1" and scrolled up and holding down my SHIFT key, I clicked on the clipped photo for layer "9". This chose all 9 of my blocks + their clipped photos.

14. Then I right-clicked on the highlighted layers and chose Duplicate Layers. Then, using my move tool (and keeping the duplicated layers highlighted) I simply clicked on one of the photo blocks and moved them all down underneath the original 9 blocks.

15. That looked a little too repetitious to me, so again, keeping the layers highlighted, I went to Edit and chose Transform and then Flip Horizontal. Since all of the layers were active, this flipped all 9 layers. This looked a little more varied to me.

16. Then I simply continued duplicating and flipping until my blocks went all the way down the page. Since there were so many blocks now, this only took a couple of times repeating the steps, saving lots of time. ;)

17. Now our layers palette is just crazy with a billion layers and clipped photos. So to clean it up a bit, you can choose all of your blocks + their clipped photos and group the layers together. Once you have highlighted them all, go to Layer and choose Group Layers (or hit CTRL+G [in Photoshop CS2 and 3] on your keyboard).

18. You can either name the group immediately when the Grouping Dialog box pops up, or later you can double-click on the name of the group and rename it.

19. Ok... now it's time for the brushes behind all of our photo blocks. First step here is to add a new layer BELOW your photo blocks. You can either add a new layer and drag it underneath your photo blocks, or you can click on your photo blocks layer and hold down your CTRL key while clicking the new layer icon... this will automatically place your new layer underneath.

20. Now, you can either use the clipping mask in the layered template provided, or choose your your own desired brush. If you have a brush you want to use, go ahead and choose your Brush tool from your tools palette. (You can also press B on your keyboard to activate this tool.)

21. In your top menu, click on the little drop-down menu to view your brushes. Then double-click on your desired brush and your cursor should now change to an outline of that brush.

22. Ok, now let's choose the color we would like for our brush stroke to be. Click on your Foreground Color box and choose a color. Then click OK.

23. Now, position your brush outline on your layout so that you can see the entire outline. (If part of the outline is going off of the page, then your brush will be cut off.) Now simply click to stamp your brush onto your layout.

24. To move your brush stroke around, choose your Move Tool from your tools menu (or hit V on your keyboard). Then click anywhere on the bounding box of the brush to make a solid line. Then, move your cursor out to the side just a bit until your cursor changes from a double-sided STRAIGHT arrow to a double-sided CURVED arrow. This will now allow you to rotate your brush. Here, I just wanted to make the brush vertical. So to ensure that it's not crooked when you get it vertical, just hold down your SHIFT key while you rotate your brush. This will turn it at even intervals so that it stays straight.

25. Once it's vertical, simply click the Check Mark at the top of your screen (or hit Enter on your keyboard) to accept the command.

I also flipped it horizontally so that the more solid side of the top was visible for clipping my photo.

26. So, here's where that duplicated layer of the large photo comes in handy. Go to your layers palette and click on the eyeball of your large photo layer. Then, drag your brush layer underneath your photo layer.

27. Now, repeat step #6 above to clip your photo to your brush layer.

28. I wanted my photo to coordinate with the color of my brush stroke. So to acheive this, go to Image and choose Adjustments and then Variations.

29. Once your Variations window pops up, make sure Midtones is chosen and then perform the steps noted on the screen shot below and then click OK:

Now our photo has a nice orangy-tint to it.

30. To give the photo blocks a bit more interest, we will tint these photos as well. We have 2 options here. You can follow the Variations steps as noted above. OR.. to save yourself some time... if you are using Photoshop CS, you can use the Photo Tinting action set used to create this layout for FREE!. :) (This action is not compatible with Photoshop Elements. :( It has only been tested in photoshop CS)

31. If you chose to use the FREE Color Cast Action and need instructions on how to load it into Photoshop CS, you can see the section on Downloading and Loading Actions into Photoshop (about 1/2-way down into the tutorial) in the Photoshop Actions tutorial. Once you have it loaded, take the following steps to apply it to your layout.

Let's ungroup our photo blocks for this part. I do this because when layers are grouped, and you try to click on the photo (on the layout) that you want to change, the Group prevents you from choosing that layer individually... it simply chooses the entire group. (You could leave them grouped and simply use your layers palette, but when you have as many layers as we have here, that can be a little time consuming trying to determine which layer is which photo block. Again, being the impatient scrapper that I am, I simply want to be able to click on the photo on my layout and do what I want with it immediately.) We can re-group them later when we're done.

32. Right-click on your Layer Group in your layers palette and choose Ungroup Layers.

33. Then, using your Move Tool, click on the top photo.

34. Open your Actions Window. (If you do not see your Actions palette, go to Window and click on Actions.)

35. Once your Actions window is open, chose the Action (I actually changed the name of it to TaylorMade Color Cast once I released it, so that's what you will look for) and click the little arrow that is beside it. This will reveal the set of actions within the action set.

36. Choose the desired tint and simply press Play. Then watch your photo change.

37. Continue to click on different photos and playing your action to change the tints. I actually did not go in order when choosing my photo blocks. I clicked on them randomly and placed a different tint on each so that there would be no ryhme or reason to it... again, giving the mosaic a bit more variety.

Now, although I loved the look of this when I was done, the tints that normally make me happy simply seemed a bit to bright for the paper I was using and seemed to sort of get lost. So I took a couple of extra steps here to give them an overall darker feel.

38. Once you have all of your photo block layers grouped up again, right click on your group and choose Duplicate Group. Then click the eyeball of the original group to make it invisible. (*NOTE: I always SAVE this layer just in case I need to make changes. If you delete this layer, you will be left with only the merged copy of it, therefore if you need to either swap out a photo or change the tint or positioning of one of the photos, you are out of luck. Trust me... you would rather KEEP the layers and NOT need them than to DELETE the layers and need them.)

39. Then, right-click on your duplicated group and choose Merge Group. This will combine all of the layers in your group into one single layer. Then add a BASIC drop shadow. (NOTE: Be sure to keep your drop shadow very subtle or the blocks will appear to be floating on the page.)

40. Now, you could simply use your Variations to make this layer darker. However, I chose to clip a gray peice of paper onto the layer and change my blending modes. This just seemed to keep the highlights and shadows of the photo nicely contrasted as opposed to making the overall image darker. So, chose your desired paper and follow step #6 to clip your paper to your photo block layer. Then change the blending mode of the paper to Soft Light. Then duplicate that layer and change the blending mode to Color Burn.

You can clearly see the difference this made...


After I darkened up the mosaic layers a bit, the brush stroke photo seemed washed out. So in order to boost it up a bit, I played with the Levels.

41. Choose your photo layer.

42. Go to Image and choose Adjustments and then Levels.

43. When your Levels dialog box pops up, simply slide the levers back and forth until you get a look you are happy with.

**Moving the Left Lever in towards the right will boost the shadows of your photo.

**Moving the Center Lever back and forth adjusts the overall contrast of your photo.

**Moving the Right Lever in towards the left will boost the highlights of your photo.

44. Ok... we are almost done. Now it's time to add all of the fun and colorful brush strokes behind the mosaic blocks. Add a new layer underneath your existing brush stroke layer.

45. Choose your Brush Tool from your tools menu and choose your desired color.

46. Choose your desired brush.

47. Making sure the new layer you just added is active, position the outline of your brush as desired and click to stamp the brush onto your layout.

48. Now, simply continue to choose different brushes and colors to place more brushes... in this case, making sure to keep them all behind your photo blocks and showing only enough of the edges of the brush to reveal a small pop of color.

49. Now simply add some text, a title, and a maybe a couple of elements and you are done.

I hope this made sense and isn't as jumbled and complex as I feel like I made it. hahaha. It really seems like a lot of steps, but it really isn't. I'm just a bit compulsive when it comes to showing each and every step just in case you are either a beginner, or simply have not ventured into one of the tools I used.

I would LOVE to know what you think of this tutorial. Feel free to leave comments!!! If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, you can certainly email me at!

Brushes from Different Strokes No. 1 & 2 by Fei-Fei's Stuff (no longer available)
Blocks from Paper Blocks by Emily Merritt (no longer available)
Butterflies from Crazy.Beautiful. kit by Fei-Fei's Stuff (no longer available)
Paper blended as Color Burn over photo blocks from Alternative Paper Pack by TaylorMade Designs (oscraps)


pixiedust (Angela) said...

Thank you for telling us how you did this LO!!! It's definitely one of my favorites!! I'm in the process of lifting it and will leave you a link when I finish!! :)

Arumrose said...

Thanks so much for this great tutorial and the freebie !!! Will try to do it too.

Lee said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post the instructions for this layout. I have loved it since I first saw it and wanted to have a go one day, this will make it so much easier! Thanks for spending the time :-)



Kjærsti said...

Wow! thank you for a great tut! I will definitly try this! So great that you have explained every step in detail so that we have a chance of succeeding (even those of us who are not experts at this).

liz said...

you have outdone yourself once again!!!

marianne said...

you should write tuts for a living man!!! that was awesome!!!! and my friend that just started in PS will be able to follow this perfectly!!!! I'm so gonna lift this! and thanks so much for the rocking action!!!

schneeflocke said...

this is soo cool, I definitly have to try it if I find time, thank you so much

Anonymous said...

Wow, the layout is awesome, and so are you for taking the time to share!

Therese said...

A lift is coming hahahahha - this is one of my favouritepages - ever!!!

MariaT said...

Thanks again for sharing! I didn't know about changing the variation of a photo. And thanks for the actions :)

Ann said...

Thank you so much, its so easy to follow your tutorials!! Definitely gone lift your layout!!

Tali said...

Oooh girl! I am loving this tut. I will be trying this one for sure!!!! Can't wait to see the color action in PSE!

Jill said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! Merry Christmas!!

yellowsunnybear said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have a photo of my niece that I adore. I have not scrapped it yet because I wanted it to be perfect. This will be perfect! Thanks for the actions also!

Courtney said...

Love this awesome tutorial and the great freebie!! Thanks for taking the time to explain everything - I can't wait to give it a try!

Debbie said...

Wow - this is so cool, thanks for the step by step tutorial, I must try it myself!

Christine (supertwinkle) said...

Thanks for the tutorial Amanda, I love it and can't wait to try during Christmas break! Happy Holidays to you!

Ada said...

Thanks for this great tutorial. I don't think you are compulsive because i love to see every step so that it is absolutely clear to me. I live in the Netherlands and it's sometimes a little bit difficult to understand what i have to do but with so many steps even i understand it. Love the LO.

Ina said...

Thank you for this absolutly great tut.I made a layout with it and it works sooooo good.Thanks!!

Country Liv . . . said...

You absolutely FLOOR me with your ability in tuts and layouts. Your generosity never fails to impress me and, I'm sure, many, many others. Thank you.

elnorac said...

Thanks for the fantastic tutorial! Was a little bummed that the actions don't work in PSE, but never mind. I won't look a generous gift horse in the mouth. grin. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

RFamily said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this tutorial. I LOVE this layout! I'm in the middle of lifting it now and I'm up to the changing the color of all the pics. I tried the action that you provided (THANK YOU), but it's just making my pics brighter. When I opened it up, it says Harsh Contrast. Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks again and have a great Christmas!


Lady With a Knife said...

You have done it once again, girl! Thanks for sharing all your lovely techniques!

LucaTxai said...

Thanks again and
Have a Great Christmas!

Mary said...

OH....MY....GOODNESS! what a wonderful layout and what a great tutorial. this is just amazing and it must have taken a lot of time to do that tutorial. thank you so very much for sharing it.

iluv2scrap(mary kozak)

Natasha said...

I feel about a hundred lifts coming on...hahaha!!! A - you have truly outdone yourself here...this LO is absolutely beautiful, thanks for taking the time to share how you created such a masterpiece and for the free actions so we can all be like you:D

Dagmar said...

I am so glad someone actually mentioned in her credits that you have this tutorial up. I saw all those lifts of your wonderful page in the galleries and was trying to figure out how you did that..
Thank you for the inspiration, the action and the tutorial!
Merry Christmas :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love it! Since I'm on break from my classroom I'm going to give this a try. Can't wait for the elements action. Thanks for the tutorial1

EliNa said...

thank you for the great tutorial and freebie-action. I admire your creative approach of photoshop. My lift is in the gallery
happy holiday season!

Hetty said...

after years of scrapping in paintshop pro i have finally finished my first layout in photoshop!! thank you so much for the easy steps on creating this gorgeous layout.


Sassyscrappin said...

Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to type this all up and do the screen shots for us :).

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful tut.. I hope I can figure it out so I can use it in PSPX.. I think I can do all of it except the brushes.. Still not sure how to them ..any chance you will doing the freeie so that PSP users can use it too?

Jena said...

LOVED IT!!!! Thank you so much-it was perfect for a picture I took of my daughter out playing in the snow while visiting my parents in Maine for the Holiday! The instructions were perfect and helped me get a little more used to PSCS4 (had CS2 previously).
Thank you so much for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

This tutorial is perfect:) even little me managed to follow this and I am usually hopeless. I was hoping to make something creative for the childrens room and I think this might be it: Thank yu so much :)

My try is here:

Annette :)

Anonymous said...

What a great tutorial, so well explained. Thank you so much for action and the tutorial!! Happy Holidays to you and your family:)


MisticaDesigns said...

What a great layout! Your tutorial has been picked up by Digidesignresort and is advertised on our blog.

thank you!

wyowoman said...

this is the COOLEST page EVER, I do believe. love love love it.

Emskyrooney said...

I love this!! here's mine!

Z'riz said...

Wow! Thanks for this tutorial! It was so easy to follow through and I love it!

I already made a Digital Scrap page based on this tutorial.

Check it out here

CraftFairy said...

This is so awesome! Thanks for sharing and thanks for the freebie at OScraps! May you have more tut and scrapping power for the new year!!!

Cristiana said...

This Amazing! Greap tutorial! I'm in!

Jaelop said...

Hi, This is my page, based on your layout. Just saw the page, and I began to create mine based on its layout. Thanks for sharing!

biker said...

I am so impressed and happy that you took the time to explain this step by step. I was blown away by it in the gallery and I am going to try this later on today! I LOVE it, thank you so much.

Angela said...

I want to thank you for the wonderful tut as I loved this layout so much I went and bought the blocks. I am dying to try this. Also thank you for the wonderful action. You are too kind.

Nicole said...

Thank you for making this tutorial. The layout you made is one of my all-time favorites and I'm so excited to lift it! Thank you!!!!!

Angela_06ca said...

OMG!!! I love this page! It took my breath away for months, I followed your tutorial and lifted it myself, beautiful! I thought I would never be able to do something as defined as this, Thanks a bunch for making it! God bless!

Milao said...

Thank you sooo much for this tutorial ! I tried to do as well as you :

QUYET said...

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orachel said...

Holy Moly. That is one of the most incredible layouts I've ever seen. Really amazing. I can't wait to try this out! You are wildly creative. And that main photo of the child is just fab..what a cutie!

Kareen said...

I tried to visit the site mentioned for the paper blocks, and the "boutique" was off-line. Any suggestions on where to find the layered version to create the paper blocks. I can't imagine doing it on my own!

Ministitches said...

Fabulous tutorial! I'm a beginner and I still discover what can be done, an dhow the most simple looking things are in fact complicated lol Thanks! I will try tu use your action asap.

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