Creating a Photoshop Composite from Six Separate Sixties-Style Psychedelic Scenes

Happy Friday, my beloved dekeQuarians. Today, I thought I'd spend an inordinate amount of time making groovy graphics to demonstrate a relatively simple technique for making a Photoshop composition. With all the 60s-era art around here lately, I thought I'd whip up some Peter-Max-meets-the-Fifth-Dimension-in-my-head (or, "What passes for a Sixties feel from someone who only lived through half of that decade") -inspired images in order to show off the technique Deke shared in this week's free Deke's Techniques video

As I noted earlier this week, the technique leverages 1) the Load Files into Photoshop Layers command in Bridge, 2) the ability to increase the Canvas Size by a percentage value in Photoshop, and 3) the groovy alignment power of Photoshop's Move tool. As Deke promised, you can use his technique with any same-sized images, so I started with these six heavily layered (not to mention obsessively constructed) graphics in Bridge:

Six contributing images in Bridge

Read on to see how you turn these far-out fantasies into a meticulously aligned composite message of PEACE (embellished with an Arnold Boecklin Std-inspired peace symbol I coerced Deke into drawing for me, in order to fulfill my vision): 

1) Choose your elements, and use Bridge's Load Files into Photoshop Layers command to create the initial file.
For this exercise to work properly, you'll need to have all your contributing images be the exact same size. After that, Bridge and Photoshop will do all the painstaking arrangement. 

Start by selecting your files in Bridge then choosing Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers command.

Using Bridge's Load Files into Photoshop Layers command

 

2) Admire the automation.
You'll be immediately treated to a trippy Photoshop automated sequence in which your individual files are flattened and then added to individual layers inside a new file. 

 

3) Increase the canvas by a percentage according to the number of rows and columns you want. 
To give yourself room to work (or in my case, unscramble my message) you'll need to increase the Canvas Size. Choose Image > Canvas Size, and in the Canvas Size dialog box, enter a percentage that corresponds to how many images wide by how high you want the final composite to be.

In my case, I want three across and two down, so I set the Width to 300 percent and the Height to 200 percent. Set the Anchor point proxy to the upper corner of the image. Conveniently, the P is on top of the layer stack and it goes in that corner, but we'll have to select and align the other layers to get them out from under the P. 

Increase Canvas Size by a percentage

 

4) Align everything that goes on the bottom row to the bottom edge of the entire image. 
The alignment tools associated with Photoshop's Move tool allows you to align any given layer to a selection. So press Command-A (Ctrl+A in Windows) to select the entire canvas, and if necessary, press the V key to get the Move tool. Then grab up anything that goes on the bottom row by clicking on the appropriate layers with the Command (Ctrl) key down. Then click the Align bottom edges icon in the options bar. 

 

5) Align the two center image layers. 
Ultimately, I want the E (well, E1) and dekePeace layers to be in the center position of the whole composite. So I selected them in the Layers panel and then clicked the Align horizontal centers icon in the options bar. 

 

6) Align the far right images. 
I want the A layer and the E2 layer in the right-most position of their respective rows, so I'll select them in the Layers panel and click the Align right edges icon in the options bar. 

 

That's it, man. The edges of each piece have aligned without my having to manually drag a single one into place. Photoshop harmony in action, babies. 

Psychedelic composite in Photoshop

Have a groovy weekend my dekeIstorians! And may brightly colored peace follow you wherever you go. 

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