We all aspire to tell a story through a single image. However, for many occasions, a well-assembled collage is an excellent way to attract the viewer for a complete experience. Consider this method to share photos of an event, a real estate session or even a family photo session!
Collages are easy to assemble in Photoshop, so let’s see the steps. Note that I am working on a Mac with Photoshop CS3, so your system may have slight variations in the necessary keyboard commands.
The selection of photos is crucial. You want to select a combination of scales that covers the entire event. That means you choose some wide shots that show the whole scene, and some detailed photos that show a lot of texture and personality. Without one or the other, the story will not be complete and will not have the same emotion it could.
Step 1. Open the selected images in Photoshop
Open all selected photos in Photoshop. You should choose a minimum of three, but also avoid being too crowded. Usually, I limit my selection of photos to no more than eight. Keep in mind that the more photos you select, the harder it will be to see the details of each one.
Step 2. Create a new file
Create a new file (File -> New). Be sure to make it a little larger than the size you want at the end. I always do 20 × 30 ″ at 150ppi.
Step 3. Add your images one at a time
Go to one of the open photos and, using the frame tool, select all (or press command + A). Press Command + C to copy. Click on the new document and press Command + V to paste. This will bring the photo to the new document in its own layer. Depending on the size and resolution of the photo you brought, you may need to adjust the size. To do this, press Command + T to transform. Use the corner node and, while pressing Shift, adjust the scale of the photo until it is small enough to move comfortably on the new canvas of the document.
Note: if you convert the image layer into a smart object first, it will maintain the integrity of the image quality as the size increases.
Once you’ve added all the images you want in the collage, it’s time to design the photos! This is where you will change the photos until you feel they tell your story better. You will discover your own style after making several collages. In general, I like to have symmetry in the designs or make it look like an interlaced puzzle. That said, each story has slightly different needs.
Step 5. Add image spacing
When the design is resolved and the photos are the size they should be, you can create a thin white border between the images to give some visual space. This step is optional, and the amount of white space you place between photos is a personal preference.
To do this, select the image layer you want to move and then use the arrow keys to move it in the direction you want. Using the arrow keys instead of scrolling with the mouse will help track the distance so that the space between the photos is uniform.
Alternatively, you can join them together and use a Layer Style (select Stroke> Inside) add a white or black border around each image. See screenshot below.
Step 6. Merge all layers
Once you have established your collage and the photos are spaced as you wish, you will be ready to merge all the layers. To do this, press Command + Shift + E.
Step 7. Crop the final image
Once your collage has been merged into a single layer, trim any additional white space around the edges to make it uniform. This outer white border is usually very narrow in my collages, so I don’t bother to measure. Make sure it looks even around you.
Step 8. Resize for online use
To make sure your collage fits your social media needs, you can resize it once it is complete. I recommend saving your original flattened collage as JPEG for possible future reuse.
To change the size of your collage and reduce it to the friendly dimensions of social networks, press Opt + Command + I. The size varies according to social media platforms, but I usually save it at 1000 pixels at the short edge and 150 dpi.
Step 9. Add a watermark if desired
If you want to put a watermark on your masterpiece, now is the time. Bring your watermark and be sure to merge all layers once again to save them as JPEG. Now you are ready to share it with the world.
Have you made any collage? Do you have any additional advice? Please share in the comments below.