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I'm trying to make a collage of passport stamps from my outgoing passport.

So far I've managed to create this in Adobe Fireworks CS6 by loosely cutting the stamps out from photos and then using the Interpolation blend mode. As a proof of concept it's great, however I'm not very happy with it as a finished piece.

Passport Stamp Collage Proof of Concept

As you can see the stamps are washed out and the cutting lines are clearly visible in places. Ideally what I'm trying to achieve is a clean blend of the passport page watermarks (the background) with the stamps nicely arranged and prominent.

How can I achieve this effect in Photoshop CS6? (or Fireworks?)

Edit: Here's an example of the raw photo image illustrating the complex background: Raw passport image

Edit, final version: Here's what I've come up with based on everyone's feedback, in particular @Ryan. Thanks for everybody's comments and suggestions.

enter image description here

I simply used the lasso tool with 100px feather, Darker Color blend mode and a Curves Adjustment Layer to improve the contrast.

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    Your new data reveals that the problem is complex and render all trivial answers useless. I'll return if I find something other than clip the stamps with paths. It's a gigantic work - except if you allow paper inside the stamps. Sharp paper edges are faded easily. – user287001 Feb 28 '18 at 20:49
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Some will be easier than others but if you want to get really good results for this you're going to need to spend a bit more time on it because of how complex the background is... rightfully so since its designed to avoid such things.

  • Convert image file to Lab.
  • Select a stamp using the lasso tool with a decent feather. 100px or so should work.
  • Duplicate the selection (Ctrl+J)
  • Turn off the original
  • Use Blend-If on the appropriate channel to remove more/all of the background
  • Use a Curves Adjustment on top of it to bring back the colors and contrast. Can do this by making all 3 channels steeper.

The biggest thing though if you don't want to go to this extreme is to just use that feather when you do your initial cuts so you don't have edges showing. If any are still showing after then just manually use a large soft brush to erase them.

enter image description here

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  • thanks for your answer. I've updated the question with my finished version. – James Law Feb 28 '18 at 21:57
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A hardworkers way: Convert all images to a mode where the paper color is transparent. Then convert them to normal PNG24s which have alpha channel. You can pile them as separate layers, the paper areas are transparent and let the lower layers to be seen.

If the paper is too complex to be made transparent as a color, you must find another way to remove the paper. Strong contrast stamp can be used to generate a selection or layer mask.

Different blending modes and having some layers less than 100% opaque can be useful.

Before starting anything complex, try to increase the contrast with curves:

enter image description here

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  • The background paper is pretty complex (I've updated the question to include a raw photo sample of a page) - it's also several different colours which makes it a little more challenging. How would you suggest dealing with this? I also kind of want to keep the paper background as that adds to the effect. The curves contrast you've demonstrated there is cool, but there's still those horrible cut lines. Any ideas how to blend them or replace the background all together with a cleaned version? – James Law Feb 28 '18 at 19:23
  • @JamesLaw you can erase the edges gradually with low opacity eraser or blurred clipping mask. – user287001 Feb 28 '18 at 20:52
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I would use the blending mode Multiply.

But the point is that you need to clean the white part to be purley white. Adjust the levels for that.

You can also use grayscale only images and change them to duotone> motontone to choose the color of the ink.

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  • Multiply doesn't look good as the backgrounds are overlapping heavily. How would you suggest I get rid of the background? – James Law Feb 28 '18 at 19:20

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