How to Make a Collage in Photoshop (9 Easy Steps!)

The post How to Make a Collage in Photoshop (9 Easy Steps!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Natalia Robert.

how to make a Photoshop collage

Looking to make a collage in Photoshop? I’m so glad you’re here – collage is a wonderful realm that offers unlimited creative freedom, and you’re about to discover how simple and rewarding it can be to combine your favorite photographs into one stunning piece of art.

In fact, I remember when I first got started with Photoshop collages. It was a revelation! Here was a way to bring together my favorite images in a single frame. (So trust me: once you start, you won’t be able to stop!)

Below, I share the exact method I use to create my own Photoshop collages. You’ll find it’s incredibly straightforward. And the best part? You don’t need to be a Photoshop expert to get started. Simply follow my instructions carefully, and you’ll end up with a result that looks like this:

final collage

Why are Photoshop collages so great?

Before we delve into the step-by-step collage-making process, I’d like to explain why you’d want to create a collage in the first place.

For one, collages are incredibly versatile. You can use them to make just about any visual display look better Want to make your social media profile pop? A colorful collage could be your new Facebook header. I frequently use collages to give my own Facebook profile a personal touch.

But collages aren’t just about looks. They can also tell a story in a way that a single photo can’t. Think of a collage as a visual narrative that conveys a theme or captures a special moment. The best ones convey a message or create a real emotional impact.

Relatedly, think about special occasions – and how collages can do a great job of telling the story of an event. How perfect would a collage be for a wedding album? Imagine compiling the best moments from the big day into a single, awe-inspiring frame. Collages also make fantastic holiday gifts and cards. Picture your favorite memories from the year, printed and framed, gracing the walls of your family and friends.

Plus, as I emphasized above, making a collage in Photoshop is fast and easy. There’s no need to spend hours fussing with complicated settings. You can craft something beautiful in a short amount of time.

How to make a Photoshop collage: the step-by-step process

In this section, I take you through each step I use to create my collages – and I share clear examples along the way. It’s an easy process, I promise!

Step 1: Choose your collage photos

Before you actually create the collage, you’ll need to pick your collage photos – and you’ll need to do this carefully.

I recommend selecting images connected by a theme (such as a location, an event, or even a concept). Include a mix of subjects at different scales; for instance, pick some wide shots that show the entire scene, as well as some detail photos that show lots of texture and personality. Without one or the other, the story won’t be complete. And it won’t carry the level of emotion that you’re after.

Speaking of storytelling: It often does help to focus on the story you’re trying to tell. Do you want to offer a narrative surrounding an event? Do you want to clearly convey a meaningful concept? Make sure to take this into account when picking photos!

One more tip: If possible, include at least three photos and no more than eight. Too few photos, and you won’t be able to tell the full story. Too many photos, and you’ll confuse the viewer with clutter (plus, it’ll be tough to show off individual details).

Step 2: Open the selected images in Photoshop

Once you’ve picked your photos, open them all in Photoshop.

To do this, you can drag and drop files directly onto the document window, or you can select File>Open and click on the relevant images.

opening your images

You should see the photos as separate tabs in the document window, like this:

the collage images open in Photoshop

Step 3: Create a new file for your Photoshop collage

Every Photoshop collage needs a background file where all the images will eventually be assembled.

While you can use an old collage template, if you’re making your first-ever collage, you’ll need to create a new document.

So select File>New in the Menu bar (or tap Ctrl/Cmd+N):

creating a new file

A New Document window should pop up, and you’ll need to dial in your file preferences.

selecting dimensions for your new file

The specifics will depend on what you plan to do with the collage as well as the sizes of your chosen photos. If you’re working with big JPEGs and you aim to print, you should probably pick a 5000+ pixel width and height. If you want to display your collage on a standard web page, however, a 1500 pixel width and height will do just fine (though you can always start big and resize later, as discussed in Step 8 below).

(I do recommend you make the file size a bit larger than the size you want in the end; that way, you can do a final crop to deal with any arrangement issues.)

Step 3: Add your images one at a time

Head to your first open photo, then select it.

To do this, you can drag with the Marquee tool:

marquee tool how to make a Photoshop collage

Or you can hit Ctrl/Cmd+A. You should see the marching ants appear around the border of your image:

selected image

Then choose Edit>Copy (or tap Ctrl/Cmd+C):

copying an image

Finally, head over to the new document, then choose Edit>Paste (or tap Ctrl/Cmd+V):

pasting an image

This will add the photo to the blank document but on its own layer.

Depending on the size and resolution of the new image, you may need to make some adjustments with Edit>Free Transform (or Ctrl/Cmd+T). For instance, my first photo was way too large:

a too-large photo how to make a Photoshop collage

So I used the Free Transform option to scale it down:

using Free Transform

(Once you’ve activated Free Transform, simply drag the edge nodes until you get the result you’re after. You want an image that’s small enough to be comfortably moved around the canvas.)

Then repeat the above instructions for all the remaining collage photos.

Step 4: Arrange your photos

After you’ve added all the collage photos to your document, it’s time to do some arranging. This is where you shift the photos around until they tell your story.

After doing several collages, you’ll start to discover your preferred style; personally, I like to create symmetrical layouts as well as interlocking puzzles. But each story does have slightly different needs, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

To adjust the photo positions, you can select the Move tool (or tap V):

the Move tool

Then drag around all the images until you get a good result. If you want to resize any photos, use the Free Transform option discussed above.

With my pet collage example, I first tried a more symmetrical arrangement:

one version of the pet collage in Photoshop

But I settled on a puzzle-type composition:

another version of the pet collage in Photoshop

Step 5: Add image spacing

Once you’ve determined the layout and you’ve sized all the images, I recommend giving the design some space in the form of a nice border. It’s a personal preference, I know, but the effect is generally nice.

In other words, instead of a collage like this:

collage without spacing

I recommend creating one like this:

collage with spacing

It’s pretty easy to do; you simply add a thin, white border between the images. You can select each photo, then use the mouse or arrow keys to drag until you see white space. Or you can double-click on each image in the Layers panel:

selecting an image in the Layers panel

This will open the Layer Style menu, where you can select the Stroke option:

selecting Stroke

Make sure the Position is set to Inside, the Blend Mode is set to Normal, and the color is set to White:

adjusting the Stroke settings

Then increase the Size until you see a nice border appearing around your images.

changing the Stroke size

Unfortunately, this will crop the images somewhat – but depending on the look you like, it might be worth it. (Also note that you’ll need to independently add a border to each image, not just one.)

Step 6: Merge all layers

At this point, you should have your collage laid out with perfect photo spacing, which means you’re ready to merge all the layers.

Simply select Layer>Merge Visible (or tap Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+E):

merging visible layers how to make a Photoshop collage

And the layers will merge into a single beautiful Photoshop collage!

Step 7: Crop the final image

Before you resize and export your collage, I recommend cropping any extra white space around the edges (you want the design to look even).

Just hit C or select the Crop tool:

selecting the Crop tool

Then drag at the edges of the photo to get rid of any unwanted areas:

cropping away unwanted space

Step 8: Resize

This step depends on your goals for the collage. If you want to print, you’ll need to resize based on printing requirements (which will generally involve leaving the image pretty large). If you want to post your collage on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, however, consider sizing down to a maximum of 1500 pixels on the long end.

So select Image>Image Size (or tap Alt/Opt+Ctrl/Cmd+I):

adjusting the image size

Then dial in your preferred width and height.

Step 9: Save and export your collage

Last but not least:

Save and export!

You’ll want to select File>Save a Copy. Then choose a location and file name, make sure that Save as type is set to JPEG, and hit Save.

And select your preferred image quality (I usually go for around 8):

JPEG options

And you’re done! Photoshop will save your collage in the specified location.

Ideas for fun Photoshop collages

If you’re excited about making a collage but need a bit of inspiration, don’t worry. Here’s a list of collage ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Let’s start with your pets. From dogs and cats to birds and fish, a pet collage can capture all the adorable moments you’ve shared. Not only will it make you smile, but it’s also a wonderful way to showcase your furry or feathery friends.

Next up, how about a collage featuring your children? Whether it’s their first steps, birthdays, or just everyday moments, combining these memories makes for an emotionally impactful piece. You can even make it an annual tradition, showcasing a snapshot – literally! – of how your kids grow and change.

What about a collage of you and your friends? This could be a beautiful holiday gift or a keepsake to remember good times. Think of concerts you’ve attended, trips you’ve taken, or the times you’ve simply hung out. Compile these into a collage, and I guarantee that you’ll love the result.

And let’s not forget romantic collages. Capture your relationship’s highlights with your partner or spouse. From first dates to vacations and cozy moments at home, a love-filled collage can make a sentimental gift for anniversaries or just because.

Lastly, let’s talk about thematic collages. How about one of your favorite landscapes, wildlife, or travel images? These collages can transport you to different times and places while serving as a visual diary of your passions and adventures.

How to make a Photoshop collage: final words

the final collage in Photoshop

From the many reasons to create a collage to some inspiring ideas to get you started, you now have the tools to make your own visually captivating piece. So what are you waiting for? Collages offer a fun, effective, and surprisingly easy way to display multiple photos in a single, eye-catching format.

Don’t be daunted by the possibilities or the technical elements. Once you dive in, you’ll have tons of fun – and creating collages may become a big part of your photography toolkit!

So go ahead and give it a try. And when you do, don’t forget to share your creations. You never know who you might inspire.

Now over to you:

Have you made any collages previously? Have any additional tips? Please share your advice (and collage photos!) in the comments below.

The post How to Make a Collage in Photoshop (9 Easy Steps!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Natalia Robert.

The post How to Make a Collage in Photoshop (9 Easy Steps!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Natalia Robert. Looking to make a collage in Photoshop? I’m so glad you’re here – collage is a wonderful realm that offers unlimited creative freedom, and you’re about to discover how simple and…

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