A back to basic article for those who are here looking for photoshop tutorials for beginners. Specifically, we will talked about making a collage in photoshop, which will be useful for anyone looking to make a nice calender design, a personalised birthday or a scrapebook for your holidays.
A picture says more than a thousand words, a collage can tell a whole story. The collage above was created with Photoshop CS, but the following tutorial will work with every image editing program that supports layers. As we are creating a photo collage for use on a website, we need to create a new document with the following settings (feel free to adjust them for your own needs)
Size: 600 x 600px
Resolution :72px / inch
Color Mode: RGB
Add a new layer and fill it with your chosen background color, I used #3A2019. Save as a PSD file. Make sure that the rulers are visible, if not go to View>Rulers and ‘tick’ them. Now it is time to create the grid that will ‘hold’ the images. Move your cursor over one of the rulers and drag and drop the line to the following positions: 200 and 400, both vertical and horizontal. You should now have a 3 by 3 grid that divides your image in 9 equal sections. Now do the same again, positioning a guideline 5px before and after each of the guidelines you have created previously. Add guidelines that are 10px distance from each of the image sides. Don’t worry if you get some wrong, you can always reposition them by choosing the ‘Move Tool’ and readjusting them by dragging and dropping. If you followed these steps, you should now have an image that looks like the one below.
You see now that you have created 9 cells, or spaces, for your images. The next screenshot shows you the dimensions for each cell, if you chose a different document size, or number of cells, you can find out the respective values with help of the rulers. If you followed this tutorial step by step, here another screenshot that gives you the values. Note the values down on a piece of paper.
Now you can save and close your PSD file and start to prepare your images by resizing them. Here a few tips on how to best prepare your images for being included in the collage.
For our example collage you will need 9 different images with the appropriate dimensions. Before I go into, how to combine images and grid, here some tips for a successful image selection and also some adjustment tips.
So, by now you should have 9 images adjusted and in the right dimensions. Open your PSD file and your images in Photoshop. Adding them, one by one, to the grid is as easy as ‘select all’, ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ for each image. Every time you paste a new image into the PSD file, a new layer is created automatically. You can then use the ‘Move Tool’ to drag every image in its place. The screenshot below shows you how my collage looked half way through. BTW, you don’t need to add the dimensions in each field, that is just done to illustrate this tutorial better.
After you have added all your images into the collage, go to View > Extras and remove the hook beside it. This makes the guidelines disappear and you can check the image and see if you are happy with its look. In case you want to change the grid color, simply click on the layer you have created in the beginning and fill with a different color, gradient, or even a background texture, until you are happy with the end result. Save for a last time as a PSD file and save it also under a different name, just to be sure. Close your finished PSD project and work now only on the second copy. This way you can always go back in case something goes wrong.
Preparing your collage for the web
The trick to display images on the web successfully, is to find the right balance between quality and size. First go to Layer > Rasterize > All Layers. This is especially important, if you have added a title, or other text, to it. Next go to Layer > Flatten Image. And, as the last step go to File > Save for Web, the preview window will show you how the saved image will look like with different settings. I normally go for ‘JPG High’, but your mileage may vary. If you are happy with the preview click ‘Save’ and you are done. Congratulations, you have now created your first photo collage.
As you were patient and have read so far, here three bonus cheat sheets with different cell arrangements, to give you some more ideas on how to arrange images in a collage. All three are based on a 600 x 600px document size. Have fun creating your own image collages in Photoshop!