Introduction: Photoshop Tutorial: Collage Poster

This Tutorial will be a simple set of instructions on how to create a simple collage poster of a person on Photoshop.

This format is fairly flexible so you don't actually dedicate to only one person, or even a real person.

The finished product will have the person overlapping on themselves with text at the top of bottom. This can be used as an advertisements or just for fun. The finished product will look something like these. We will be applying the same skills in this tutorial as the ones used in both examples.

Specifically we will be following along to the creation of the Nicolas Cage poster.


Adobe Photoshop


  • Pen Tool
  • Layer Mask
  • Quick Selection Tool
  • Brush Tool
  • Layer Modes
  • Opacity
  • Adjustment Layers
  • Layer Effects
  • Rectangle Tool

Step 1: Preparing the Document

First we need to create a document to work on. So create a new document.

  • Set it up in a portrait orientation.
  • For the best results for a poster format, it is preferable to use a print preset.
  • In this case I simply used the "Print" "Letter" Format.

Step 2: The Background Base

It is best to work from the back to the front, so we need to create our background.

  • Create 2 Base layers with the rectangle tool that span the entire art board.
  • Set the fill to solid colors that you like and lower opacity of both to create a faint mix of colors.

Step 3: Adding to the Background

Find a simple and mostly negative space filled image to use as a 3rd layer.

  • Set this layer to overlay, so that it will allow the previous layers to show through.

Step 4: Setting Bottom Person Layer Image

We will now be adding the person into the poster.

Find the first image of the person and make them take up the majority of the art board. This will be your 4th layer.

  • Use the pen tool to make a selection of the person, then use the lasso tool to clean up the edges.
  • Create a layer mask to hide the rest of the image.
  • To clean up the edges further, you can select the layer mask, and use the brush tool.
    • A white brush unveils things, while a black one covers it.
  • Lower the opacity of this image to where they are still prominent but slightly faded. In this case I brought them to 90%

Step 5: Setting the Adjustment Layers

Now we will be stylizing the Image of the Nicolas Cage so that he doesn't clash as much with the background, while also increasing emphasis.

Create 3 adjustment layers (Hue & Saturation, Curves, Color Balance) that is also limited by a copy of the same layer mask used on layer 4.

Step 6: Hue & Saturation

In the "Hue & Saturation" adjustment layer remove all the saturation

  • This will make it easier to give the person a singular color.

Step 7: Curves & Lighting

In the "Curves" adjustment layer adjust the lighting of the image to feel more slightly faded, so that it will be pushed further into the background when the next set of layers are added.

  • In this case I raised the lowest levels of light to create more consistency and washed out look.

Step 8: Color Balance

In the "Color Balance" adjustment layer play around with the mixtures to a color that you like.

  • Try to keep it on a lighter tint of the color.
  • This will make the next set of layer of your person have a greater contrast when we make them darker.

Step 9: Adding a Glow

On the top most layer with a layer the layer mask of the original person, open the layer effects. (circled in the bottom right corner)

  • In order to make it stand out more against the background, we will give it an "Outer glow"
  • lower the opacity to 25, while playing with the spread and size to what you liked. I also set the Range and Jitter to the maximum.
  • The goal is to have it look like a particle glow effect around the person, that is slight thinning out as it gets farther away.
  • I also grouped the previous adjustment layers with the original image.

Step 10: The 2nd Set of Nicolas Layers

Repeat steps 4 through 8 again on layers above the previous ones, except this time using a new image of the person.

  • Make it slightly smaller than the previous image. Around 2/3rds of the size of the previous image.
  • This time, make the new image fully opaque
  • Feel free to make change the setting of each adjustment layer differently than you did previously to create a contrast between the images

Step 11: Adding More Contrast With Shadows

We will still be using layer affects to create more emphasis on this image, however in order to avoid too much uniformity we will be using a "Drop Shadow" instead of a "Outer Glow:

Create an Layer effect on the top most layer again.

  • This time use a "Drop Shadow" instead of a "Outer Glow". Decide what opacity, distance, spread and Size that you need.
  • Group all of the layers affecting this image together.

(You can redo steps 4-9 again with a new image if you wish to make the poster appear more busy, just make sure it is about 1/3rd the size of the back most image.)

Step 12: Adding the Text

This will be your Title or whatever you message you want to be conveyed.

Use the Text Tool to add text to the Top and Bottom of the poster.

  • Make them an easily visible size and color

Step 13: Making the Text Visually Interesting

To make the text more appealing we will be adding a few layer effects to them.

Add the “Bevel & Emboss” Layer effect to each layer of text.

  • Set the style to Inner Bevel, Technique to Smooth, and direction to Down.
  • Play with the size, softness and opacity of the highlight and shadow until you like the results.

Step 14: Outlining the Text

Add a “Stroke” Layer effect to both text layers as well.

  • Set the position to outside
  • Slightly thicken the stroke so it stands out more.

Step 15: Making the Text Pop

Add an Outer Glow Layer effect to the both layers of text.

  • Make the Blend mode normal with a technique of "softer".
  • Choose a color that will make this section of text stand out more than others
  • make it relatively small and slightly transparent, but still visible enough to be noticeable.

Step 16: Emphasizing the Title

Add a Drop Shadow Layer effect to the top layer of text.

  • Set the opacity 50
  • Set the blend mode to "Multiply"
  • Set the size and spread of this drop shadow greater than the outer glow by a decent margin

Step 17: The Finished Product


You should now have a finished poster dedicated to someone or something.

As I said at the start this format is fairly flexible so you don't actually dedicate to only one person, or even a real person.

Have fun with it.