Photoshop Friday! 2007 #16 - Photo Montage!

I’ve gotten many questions about how to seamlessly blend two photos together into a montage. And I’ll admit, I have ducked and run for cover, because while this is a cinch, a snap, AND a piece of cake in Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3, it’s darn near impossible to do well in Photoshop Elements. And my general policy of life these days is, if it’s not do-able in PSE, I really can’t do a tutorial about it.


Every now and then I stumble on a digital product that is totally unique and changes the way we can scrap in PSE. I found one of those the other day, as I was wandering down the vitural aisles of DesignerDigitals. So excited about this:

Layer Mask Gradient Brushes from Anna Aspnes 

Here’s the layout I made with them today, that we’ll be focusing on:


This is actually THREE photos, blended together using Anna’s gradient masks and the eraser tool. Now normally I won’t be doing product-specific tutorials for Photoshop Fridays. Kinda defeats the purpose of the free-for-all operation I like to run around here. However, this is SO cool, and SO useful, and SO much better than anything I could show you how to hack in PSE, that I think it’s worth the 3 bucks and change that they cost.

So. First of all, our email list is STILL sending… so if you haven’t received that yet, never fear.

Here is the code you can use over at

10% off thru next Thursday, May 3rd!

Now when you go pick them up, those masks will be practically free. And if you have any desire in your heart to do a photo montage, they will be worth it. You can use them in ANY version of Photoshop, and any program that enables you to create a brush from a .png file. :)

So this PSF, I’ll show you how to use Anna’s masks to create a photo montage.

Creating a Photo Montage 

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. Two horizontal photos (the mask pack comes with LOTS of different masks, but the one I’ll focus on is better for horizontals).
  2. The Masking Gradient Brush set. (With the coupon, they’re just over 3 bucks.)
  3. A cold drink. Gotta have this. :D

 Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Open a new blank document (File > New > Blank File).

2.  Open your two photos. I cropped mine to 4x6, but as long as they are the same height, it doesn’t matter how big they are.

3. Drag your photos onto your new blank canvas, and arrange them so that the photo on the left is in the layer ABOVE the photo on the right. In my case, the photo of my books is above my (super cute, right? :P) headshot.

It’ll look like this:

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Creating a Brush 

Now we’ll need to get out one of the mask files and make a brush from it. Alternatively, you can install the .abr file that comes with the pack. But since we’re just using one, we’ll get it out and make a brush.  

1.  Open the file in the mask pack called AASPN_MaskingGradient_RL7.png. It is located in the “Right to Left” folder when you unzip this file. It’ll look long and narrow, and be light on the left and dark on the right.

2.  Go to Select > All. You will see the marching ants selection around the gradient file.

3. Go to Edit > Create Brush from Selection (PSCS2: Edit > Define Brush Preset).

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4. In the Brush Name dialog box that pops up, click OK.

5. Switch over to your layout file.

6. Target the top photo in the layer stack. This is the photo on the left, and in my example it’s the books.

7. Select the Eraser tool.

8. In the Options Bar at the top of your screen, drop the brush selector down and scroll all the way to the bottom to select the brush we’ve just created. Double-click the brush to select it.

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9.  With your eraser brush selected (you might want to hit your [ key a few times to shrink your brush down and make the gradient a little less wide), hover your mouse with the solid (right) edge of your eraser brush just over the right edge of your top photo. You can see the “ghost” of the eraser and its position in this screen shot:

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10. Click once to erase. Now your left photo fades out to reveal your right photo underneath it.

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You might need to tweak the position of your lower photo so there is no seam between them. 

 That’s it! Now you can complete your layout. Here’s my layout again, larger:

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Can’t wait to see your photo montages! This is a super-cool technique! :D

Have an awesome day!