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July
2002

Photo Composite Appreciation Award

I recently got a project to create a composite of several photographs as a token of appreciation for volunteer service. The client gave me a handful of snapshots, their mission statement and the organization’s logo. With similar starting materials you can make a keepsake to show someone how much of an impact they have had.

The first thing to do on a project like this is to scan in all of the photos. If you don’t know the final size of the individual photos, scan them a little larger that you think you will need. Crop and adjust the color and/or tonality of all the images and save the individual files in case you need to refer back to them.

Once all the images are ready, set up the composite document. Know how you are going to print the final composite and set up your document accordingly. In my case, I decided to print the photo on River City Silver’s LightJet photographic printer. It can print a very large photograph, but my client only needed a 12” x 12” final piece. With that in mind a chose New Document from Photoshop’s File menu and set the size at 12 x 12 inches, the resolution at 300 pixels per inch and the Mode to RGB (Fig 1).

Fig. 1

The next step was to add the logo and mission statement. Using Photoshop’s Text tool, I dragged a box in the center of the document, and typed the mission statement inside it. This allows you to move the corner handles of the box and have the text reflow, making it easier to get the text to fit aesthetically (Fig 2).


Fig. 2
Then open all of the individual photos and, using the Move tool, drag them one-by-one into the composite document. Each photo will then be on its own layer. It is very helpful to name the layers so you can tell which is which. Using Photoshop’s Free Transform tool (under the Edit menu select Free Transform) I moved, resized and rotated the images (Fig 3) and put them in place around the mission statement.

Fig. 3
Once all photos are in place, use the Layer Styles to add a Bevel and Drop Shadow to each of the photos (Fig 4). You can add it to one and then copy the Layer Style and paste it onto the others. In my example, I increased the distance of the Drop Shadow incrementally on each photo to give it a little extra depth.


Fig. 4

Finally, add the name and appropriate information about the recipient. Using Photoshop’s built-in Guides (from the View menu select Show Guides) can help you to line up various pieces of text. I also added a virtual matte on the topmost layer to finish out the image (Fig 5).


Fig. 5

This type of recognition for volunteers is a great way to show people the kind of effect they have had. This can be a keepsake that the recipient will cherish for years to come and be a great reminder of what all that work was for.

Paul Vaughn is a freelance graphic artist, writer and web designer. If you would like to see the Graphics Guy address a specific topic email Paul Vaughn at paulv@mac.com. The Alamo Area Mutual Housing Association is a great group, check them out at www.alamoareamha.org. Color examples and previous columns can be seen at www.GraphicsGuy.org.

 

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