This next project I did as a special request to create a unique collage for a girl and her dog. I wanted to create something with a nostalgic look and feel but only had one photo to work with, so I took a unique approach to create the desired Polaroid collage effect.
Step 1 – Photo Preparation: Since this photo will be broken up into multiple segments, it’s best to select an image with a high volume of unique elements (i.e. a plain sky background will look somewhat monotonous when broken into individual sections.) Once selected, simply create a black layer over the original image as a blank background.
Step 2 – Polaroid Creation – viewing window: To create the individual Polaroids, I first duplicated the image layer and created a new layer beneath it. Next, I drew a medium sized rectangle with the selection tool and filled it with black. I then selected the top layer and created a clipping mask (shortcut Option+Command+G), leaving a small window of the original image. I wasn’t happy with the size of the new window, so I manipulated the rectangular black layer until I was satisfied with the amount of the picture showing through.
*The reason for creating this clipping mask rather than creating cutouts and manipulating the actual image is that now whenever I want to move, resize, or rotate the new window I created, I can simply edit the clipping layer, leaving the background image untouched.
Step 3 – Polaroid Creation – adding the white border: To make the image look like an actual Polaroid, I drew another rectangle in a new layer behind the layer I just created and filled it with white. I resized the image using the transform function (shortcut Command+T) until the frame resembled a Polaroid picture. At this point on the black background, it isn’t noticeable, but I decided to add a subtle drop shadow to the layer style so that when I stacked the images, it would appear as if there was distance between the images.
Step 4 – Forming the Collage: Now that we have our basic Polaroid picture frame, I grouped all thee layers (image, black rectangle, and white rectangle) and duplicated the layer multiple times. To create the layered Polaroid effect, I selected the black and white rectangle layers and moved them around the canvas/rotated them using the free transform tool. It’s critical to make sure that major features aren’t cropped in this process, but most placement was left to the creative eye. Once finished, I was left with a unique, seemly scattered compilation of Polaroid shots.
The high-res can be seen in my “Photoshop” section by clicking the image below: