Recently, I posted a page containing a single image split into four, as if seen through four 'window panes' ...
and some of you contacted me to ask if I could show how it was done in Photoshop. So here is how to do it. I am using the full version of Photoshop, but this is a simple technique and I am sure that it can also be done in an almost identical fashion in Photoshop Elements. It may seem as if there a lot of instructions - those of you already comfortable with bits of Photoshop/Elements will whizz through it. It's just that I've put in smaller steps for those starting out, who may not know where to find things onscreen, or open different features. I used to weep in even Jessica Sprague's wonderful classes because an instruction like 'Open a New Layer' would take me ages to work out how to do and a lot of hunting on the net! So forgive me if it's tooo simple for many of you ...
Create a new file: I've chosen to do mine 12x12:
Make sure that you have the Tools panel and the Layers panel open. If you're not sure where they are, you can usually find them by clicking on the word Window along the top, and then clicking on the words 'Tools' and 'Layers' to open them on your page. You can click and drag to move them to where you want them on your screen.
You are going to need to draw some boxes in a moment, so make sure you have a foreground colour selected which is not white - the foreground and background colours show up at the bottom of the Tools panel. You can toogle between them by moving your cursor to the small curved arrow and clicking on it - it will swop the foreground and background colours for you. Any foreground colour will do!
In the Layers palette, create a new layer - you don't ever want (or very rarely) to work directly on the Background layer which will show up as the default layer. There are different ways of doing this:
1) Click on the small icon second from the right at the bottom of the Layers panel.
2) Click on the small box with a little button and little horizontal lines on it, which is in the top right-hand corner of the Layers panel. This opens out a new panel, and you can click on New Layer to select it.
3) If all else fails, go to the line of words along the top in the Toolbar, click on Layer, then New, then Layer again.
Create your first photospace on the page like this. Make sure that over in your Layers palette, Layer 1 is showing blue. If not, click on it first to turn it blue.
In the Tools panel, choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool (dotted square). If you can't see it, it may be hiding under the Ellipitical Marquee Tool (dotted oval) - just click on this and the other options, including the Rectangular one, will be there.
Move your mouse to somewhere on the screen and click with your mouse, hold down and drag out a square or rectangular shape. You can adjust the size and shape and position in a moment. You will get an outline of dotted lines which twinkles - often called 'marching ants'!
This will fill it with whatever your foreground colour is. The ants will still be marching - to get them to stop, hold down Command (Cmd) and press the letter D if you're on a Mac, and I think it's Control (Ctrl) and D if you're on a PC. You will see that over in your Layers palette, a little coloured square has appeared in your Layer 1. This completes your first photomask!
You might want to alter the shape of your mask. Click on the Move Tool - that's the one at the top of the Tools Panel with the arrow on it - and you will see that little white bloxes appear around the edge of your square/rectangle. You can click and drag on any of these to make the shape smaller or larger, and alter the proportions. If you click on a corner and hold down the Shift key as you drag, then the same proportions are kept as you make it larger or smaller. When you are happy with the size/shape, double click on it, or click the arrow at the top of the screen just below the Toolbar words.
Next, you need to make another three masks. Here's a quick way of doing it. Click on the square/rectangle you have created, hold down the Alt key and drag your cursor to the right, then release. This will create another identical square/rectangle; you'll notice that over in the Layers palette, you'll have another layer highlighted in blue called Layer Copy 1.
To create two more beneath these, click on your Move Tool again, then click on the first square, and hold down Shift as you click on the second - this selects them both. An alternative is to click on the Layer 1 in the Layers palette, hold down Shift, and then click on Layer 1 Copy.
Well done! You're nearly there now! Next, you need to get all those four squares/rectangles to behave as if they're one. You do this by clicking on the Move Tool again, then selecting them all four shapes: in the Layers palette, hold down Shift and click on each layer in turn (or click on the top and bottom ones and those inbetween will be automatically included).
With all four layers selected, go to Layers at the top of the screen, and scroll down to Merge Layers.
Next, open the photo you want to pop in the frame, from wherever you have it on your disk:
This is my photo below.
You now need to move it into the screen where the four squares/rectangles are. To do this, select the Move Tool, click on the photo and drag it upwards and onto the name of the file containing your four squares/rectangles. This is the simplest method, I find, though there are others and you might like to share yours in the comments. (Should this not work in Elements, I would be very grateful if someone could post a comment explaining to Elements users how to do this! Thank-you ...). Sometimes, the photo won't move and you will get a message telling you that the layer is locked - and you'll see a little padlock on the layer in the Layers Palette. If you right-click on the Background layer, there'll be an option to create a Duplicate Layer from the background. Do this, keep this layer highlighted, and you will have no difficulty moving your photo to your file with the four shapes on.
Nearly done! Your photo will now be in the file with the four shapes. Now you need to get it behind the frames. First, make sure that your photo is above the layer with the frames on (Layer copy 1). Next, hold down the Alt key and move your cursor just onto the line between the Layer Copy 1 with the frames in, and the photo. You will see a little white hand with a pointing finger appear which will change shape as you click. Click with the mouse and the photo will pop behind the frames:
Of course, it won't be the right size or in the right place. This is the final part! Click on the Move Tool, making sure that the photo is selected (ie the layer in blue) in the Layers palette; little white handles will appear around the photo, which means you can now resize it. Click on a corner handle and hold Shift while you drag to make the photo larger or smaller. If you release Shift too soon, and discover that the photo is a weird shape or your DH's face is twice as long as usual, the Undo tool is your friend - go up to the top line of words and click on Edit and there you will find Undo (phew!). Once it is the right size, you can move the photo around once you've selected the Move Tool, to position it just how you want in the frame. In mine, I chose to have my DD in one section, the swan in another, rocks in a third and just water in the fourth.