Photography/How-to How to Create a Selfie-Portrait Collage

Make your home a selfie studio.

Photography/How-to How to Create a Selfie-Portrait Collage

Make your home a selfie studio.

A selfie collage can be the perfect project to blend art forms and styles. The cool thing about collages is that there is always something around in the real world that you can mix with digital elements in Adobe Photoshop.

Headshot of Kathleen Martin

Hi there, I’m Kathleen Martin, an illustrator and designer. As an intrepid creative explorer, I traverse the digital landscape with an evolving toolkit of handy workflows. You can also find me as a host of Adobe Live on Behance.

Before You Start

I provided some of my sample files if you’d like to experiment with them, or practice with your own.

Step 1: Stage Your Selfie

Take a series of peaceful still shots or dynamic selfie poses against simple backgrounds. A concrete wall or a wood fence in your yard can be the perfect backdrop. To catch a jumping pose, prop your phone on whatever is handy and set the timer. Once the countdown hits zero — jump. It may take some practice, but when you time it right, you will get a shot featuring that magical moment.

For a few of the photos, set your camera to shoot in black and white so you can have fun working with colorful backgrounds when you’re ready to edit. The key is to take a lot of pictures so you have plenty to choose from later.

Left: Woman in red pants & a dog stand on wood deck with wood fence; Right: Man jumps in front of concrete wall

Pro Tip: Work with Light and Shadows

Light is your friend. If you want dramatic shadows, wait for a sunny day. For our portrait session, a cloudy day provides even, natural lighting. Try out different poses against different backgrounds to see how light and shadows affect your images.

Left: Dog sits behind yellow flowers & turns head from the sun; Right: Woman sits in deck chair with feet on concrete wall

Step 2: Find Collage Co-stars

The best part of creating a collage is getting to make something totally new from the everyday things around you. Look around your house or yard for textures, objects, and backgrounds. I like these ripped paper pieces I made from an old notebook.

Left: Torn paper pieces on wood background; Top-right: concrete; Bottom-right: Green tropical plant against blue sky

Step 3: Doctor Your Selfie

Open your favorite selfie in Photoshop and use the Quick Selection tool to separate your subject from the background. When you click Select Subject, Photoshop does the work for you. Then click to add a layer mask from the Layers panel and Photoshop will hide the background.

Black & white photo of man jumping, Quick Select tool and Select Subject displays at the top, layer mask on Layers panel

Step 4: Swap Backgrounds

It’s amazing how a new background can change your selfie. To see how well the textured images from your photo shoot will work, drag one of the images to the open Photoshop document and move it below the selfie layer. For a splash of color, add a Solid Color Fill layer and experiment with blend modes to make the texture show through.

Black & white photo of man jumping; concrete background is blue; Layers panel shows Color Fill layer set to Multiply

Step 5: Assemble the Collage

Now you can gather the bits and pieces from your exploration and add them to the collage. Open one of your texture images into your selfie document, use the Quick Selection tool to isolate an object, and click the Layer Mask at the bottom of the Layers panel. Right-click and use Free Transform to rotate and resize it and drag the layer to place it behind your main subject.

Black & white photo of man on blue background, torn paper piece is behind him; Quick Select tool and Layers panel on sides

Step 6: Position the Pieces

Fill your collage with a blend of textures and colors. As you duplicate and rotate layers, the Duplicate Layer shortcut, Control+J (Windows) or Command+J (macOS), can make the process faster and easier. You can also turn on Auto-Select at the top and then click and drag layers around the canvas.

Auto-Select Layer option checked; Leaf shows on Layers panel; multiple torn paper pieces and 2 palm leaves are behind man

Step 7: Grab a Brush

The Brush tool is great when you want to add color or design. Before you use the brush, add a new layer over the layer you want to accessorize; then paint, draw, or scribble your new design. When you’re done, right-click the layer and choose Create Clipping Mask so your color stays inside the lines. For this piece, the Conte Crayon brush from Kyle’s Drawing Box made for a nice accent on the textured paper. You can click Get More Brushes from the flyout menu of the Brushes panel to find and install the MEGAPACK brush kit that contains this and many other great brushes.

Brush tool is upper left; Orange crayon layer on Layers panel; a torn paper piece has orange scribbles on it

Make a Collage Collection

Try reusing the same elements in new ways for totally different results. If you post the results, tag them with @AdobeCreate so we can share in the Insta inspiration. For a look at another great collage process, check out How Molly Scannell Created “Taken”.

Left: Woman in red pants sits on deck chair against multi-colored wall; Right: Woman sitting with yellow flowers

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

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