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Make an Autumn Photo Montage in Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Macro Photography.
4 Fab Forest Finds for Autumn Close-Up Photography
70 Stunning Examples of Macro and Close-Up Photography
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the previous tutorial in our macro series, we looked at taking some great autumn close-up photographs, but what do you do with them once you've got them? If it's not all witches and pumpkins in your home for Halloween then what better way to decorated your house than with an autumn montage!

What You'll Need

  • Your autumn pictures
  • A background
  • Photoshop
  • A funky autumn font


In order for you to be able to follow along, here are the assets I used to create the montage:

Create a Canvas and Make Guidelines

Step 1: Create a New Document

Create a new document 2300px by 2300px. 

Step 2: Add Guides

Add some guides so that you can keep everything equal and looking neat. Click View > New guide and choose horizontal 10%

new guide
Click View > New Guide.

I’ve also put a guide in at 50% both ways so I know where the middle of my image is.

Guides help keep everything properly proportioned.

Create Clipping Masks

Step 3: Create a Rectangle

Using the rectangle tool, draw a square so that it fits the top left square made by your guide lines and name it something sensible – I’ve called it ‘top left’

Using the rectangle tool, draw a square.

Step 4: Divide the Rectangle

Duplicate that layer 3 more times and fill your other three squares.

duplicate layer
Duplicate the layer 3 times
one big square
You should have what looks like one big square but is 4 separate layers.

Place Your Images

Step 5: Place Your First Image

Open up your first autumn picture; you can drop it straight onto your montage or you can open it separately in Photoshop and paste it in, whichever you prefer.

Roughly place it over whichever white square you want it to be and make sure it’s above that square in the layers panel.

place your image
Roughly place your first image over one of your squares.
above layer
Make sure your image is above the square in the layers panel.

Step 6: Create a Clipping Mask

Right click the image in the layers panel and choose Create Clipping Mask. You’ll notice the picture now fits within the confines of your white square. You can adjust the size as necessary.

create clipping mask
Creating a clipping mask will limit the image to the confines of your square.

Step 7: Repeat for Remaining Squares

Repeat the previous steps until you have all of your images in place.

all images
All images are now in place.

Create a Border

Step 8: Pick a Fall Colour

The images might look a little messy all bunched together and against the background, so let’s give them their own border. Use the colour dropper to select an appropriate colour that will stand out against the background but still fit our theme. I’ve used one of the orange leaves.

colour dropper
Use the colour dropper to select an appropriate colour.

Step 9: Draw the Border

Use the rectangle tool again to draw a square around your four images so that you can still see some orange around the edges. Doing one image at a time, click a picture (don’t forget to select its mask too) and using the arrow keys, nudge it one or two places so that the orange shows through.

Nudge the images so the orange shows through.

Add Text

Step 10: Make Some Space

We don’t really have enough space to add some text to the top, so select all of your images and their clipping masks (including the border behind) and move them down to make some room.

make some room
Move everything down to make room for text.

I've also cleared my guides here too. Just click View > Clear Guides to remove them.

clear guides
Clear guides if you don't need them anymore.

Step 11: Choose Your Font

Click the type tool and choose your Autumn font. You need to have installed this for it to show in your list.

type tool
Select your font.

Step 12: Add Your Text

Write your text above your montage; I’ve gone for ‘Autumn’ but write anything you like. Then double click your text layer and add some styles to make it stand out against the background.

Tick Drop Shadow and leave it on the default settings. Tick Stroke and have as thick a border as you think looks good, I’ve gone for 5px.

Click Gradient Overlay then click the down arrow next to Gradient. Click the cog icon on the right and choose Special Effects and then go for the orange striped look.

Make your text stand out.

Finishing Touches

Step 13: Add a Drop Shadow

 Add a drop shadow to your orange border to separate it from the background.

drop shadow on box
Add a drop shadow to the orange border.

Step 14: Soften the Background

Use the blur tool at about 50% with a large, soft brush and paint over your background image to soften it so that it doesn’t distract from your pictures.

Use the blur tool to make the background less defined.

Add a Border

Step 15: Draw a Border on the Image

Finally, add a border to your whole image. Hit Select All > Modify and then choose Border. I’ve gone for 10px

add a border
Add a border.

Step 16: Colour the Border

Click Edit > Fill and choose a colour or pattern – I've gone for black.

The Finished Montage

Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with your pictures and creating some fun, seasonal decoration with them is a great way to use them and show off your macro and design skills!

Finished layout

Why not try some different backgrounds too?

alternate background
Falling Leaves background via Background Labs.

The world is your... well, creepy spider or mushroom. You're only limited by your imagination so try different colour, font and background combinations and see which works best. Go ahead and post your own montages here, we'd love to see them.

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