This Photoshop Tips & Tricks reader asks about creating a grid effect using Photoshop. is pleased to answer, here in the Design & Publishing Center, and the Photoshop Tips & Tricks Department

Making Grid Masks in Photoshop

The Question from S. Evans in Illinois
I'm trying to find an easier way to recreate an effect like this. What I have been doing is creating a layer, filling it with black, and then using the "Tiles" filter in PS to create white lines. I then "magic wand" the white lines and "Layer via Copy". Then I place my images in a layer between my black layer and the white "grid" layer. Maybe this is the fastest way, but it certainly seems like alot of trouble. Likewise, I'm wondering if there are any tips for doing things like this with, say, rounded rectangles spaced a few pixels apart. Thanks!
Photoshop 911 Replies:effect
The grid would be easier in Illustrator, so it fit the specific size and number of boxes you neeeded -- then brought into PS as a MASK or channel as described below.
      In Photoshop, you've got a pretty good method. However, I believe you would save a little time, and gain a lot of flexibility by setting up a single grid square as a pattern. See enlargement

Do this by creating a single grid square exactly the right size for the project, then fill it BLACK.

  • Add a white strip down the right side as the grid spacer
  • Add a matching white strip across the bottom to match up with the right grid spacer.
  • Select it, choose Edit > Define Pattern. (You can name it and save it)
Create a Pattern Layer or Mask
Now you can FILL a layer or a mask with your new pattern and presto, there's the grid.
  • Select the Fill Bucket tool (tap "G" or Shift/G) which is on the Gradient tool pull-out
  • Note the Options Bar will say "Foreground" Click that button and select your new pattern
  • Click the layer and it should fill with the new pattern
  • Click a new Channel to fill a Channel with the new pattern.
Using the Magic Wand method
As for your "magic wand" selections method, Photoshop will generate some 'gray' pixels, possibly fogging the true grid. In the pattern method, you've used only pure black and white. Now rather than using the Magic Wand, you can choose the Select menu > Color Range and specify 1 / white and all the grid spacers will automatically be selected.
      Now you can select the layer with the image to be gridded and delete.
      Or, if you filled a CHANNEL with the pattern, you can now use that pattern as "cookie cutter" over and over again on successive image layers.
      Any time you want to cut out the grid, simply click the Load Selection button (dotted-circle) in your channels palette, then return to the layer with the image to see the racing ants of the grid -- now delete, or fill with white.
The Example
This example you sent in used four separate images... the guy, the document and the composite montage of money.
      With a channel containing the grid, you simply drag-and-drop in each new image, load the selection, and your next layer is ready. Much quicker than repeating the gridding steps. It also facilitates the ability to then add layer styles or effects to each of the individual photos.
      Note in your example, the "entrepreneur" image got selective blurring, and the money image was blending of two photos together using gradient masking. (Techniques shown elsewhere in this section.)
      Once the images are as you want them, simply remove the channel and flatten for output.
Rounded rectangle grids
If using rounded rectangle, then you're best advised to use the Vector object, and duplicate a series of those for your grid. All vector objects can then be used as clipping paths -- to segment your images 'cookie cutter' fashion. Remember that if the file is to be rasterized for use as a bitmap, or a web graphic, then the round corners will introduce antialiasing, eliminating your nice, hard grid edges.
   Please let us know if you found this helpful!
From Photoshop 911 Case #04/02/2003
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