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How To

How to: create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

Elena Santos

Published

I remember doing collages at school, when I was a kid. I liked cropping pictures, letters and patterns, and then sticking them all on a poster board to create a truly original piece of art. But times have changed and technology has evolved, which means I’ve replaced scissors and glue with virtual cropping tools and layers. So today, instead of a paper composition, we’re going to create a polaroid collage in Photoshop.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

1. First of all, open the image, duplicate the background layer, add a new layer between the background and its copy and fill it with black.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

2. Create a new layer on top of the black one and select what will be the content of your first polaroid with the Marquee tool (M). Fill in this selection with black too.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

3. Now we’re going to create a clipping mask, so that the polaroid remains the only visible area of the original picture. Simply click on Layer 1 (the background copy) and go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. You’ll get something like this in your layer palette:

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

4. Create a new layer on top of the black one and make a new selection around the previously selected area. This is going to be the polaroid’s characteristic white margin, so fill it in with white.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

5. Add a Drop Shadow effect to this white border, tweaking the settings as shown:

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

6. Select the two layers that make up the polaroid (content and margin) at the same time by clicking on them while holding the Shift key. Now use the Transformation tool (Ctrl+T) to rotate the photo. Press Enter when done.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

7. Now select all three layers (the two polaroid sections and the one with the clipping arrow) and press Ctrl+G. This will group them all in a separate folder, thus making layer management much easier.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

8. Each group of layers makes up a complete polaroid, so now it’s time to duplicate them and obtain as many polaroids as you need to create the collage. Simply drag the group icon and drop it on the “New folder” button in the Layers palette to create a copy. Then select the two folders inside the group (the polaroid’s content and margin) and apply a transformation like in step 5.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

9. Simply keep on duplicating the layer group and repeating the fifth step until you have enough polaroids to show your original image in a nice collage.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

10. Here’s my final result, after creating 15 copies, flattening the image and adding some final shadows.

create a polaroid collage in Photoshop

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