Photo tips and sips - How to create a collage - by Elena from Cropped Stories

Hey there everyone!  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be a guest blogger over here on Growing up a NJ Wife & Mom. Seriously, I can barely contain myself!  Thank you so much Natalie for having me!  So here it goes…

My name is Elena and I’m from a little ol’ blog called Cropped Stories.  I decided to name my blog this because I believe that every picture shows a story better than a book can tell it.  I blog about motherhood, family, and photography and usually throw in a couple hundred adorable shots of my little one, Alivia!   I also publish a weekly post (on Fridays) that I've titled “The Missing Link” which contains a bunch of groovy links that I’ve compiled during that week!  I really hope you’ll come and visit!  Feel free to kick back, look around, and, you know, stay awhile :o)

For Natalie’s readers, I’ve decided to share a little tutorial on how to make a collage in Photoshop Elements.  It is a little lengthy but hopefully you will be happy with the end result.  For my example I chose to create a very simple collage containing four photographs.

1. Open PSE and on your menu bar at the top of your page go to FILE / NEW / BLANK FILE.  This will pull up a box for you to create a board to add your pictures to.  In my example, I name my file Collage.  I leave the preset button on Custom and the Size to None.  I chose my width to be 615 px wide which is the size I post all my pictures to.  I usually choose about 200 px more for the length (815 px) so that it almost looks about paper size.  I either keep or change my resolution to 300 and make sure the color mode is set to RGB Color.  Most importantly, I choose TRANSPARENT for my background contents.

2. a. Once you’ve created your board, it will look like this.  Next, you will want to grab your rectangle tool (I use an arrow to point to) to start making frames of where you want your pictures to go.  My rectangle tool automatically defaults to a square.  To stretch your square to become a rectangle, you just have to grab your move tool.

2. b. The move tool (which I use an arrow to point to in this next screen shot) will let you select your shape then you will use your mouse to drag out the edges to the width and length you choose.  I circled the parts of the shape in which you will want your mouse to be on when you resize it.  Lastly, you will want to click on the little green arrow. 

3. Now you are ready to create your next frame (the next place your picture will go).  In my next example you will see I chose to create another rectangle only instead of landscape I have made it portrait.  It’s important that you align your shapes.  To do this, I use my mouse to click on one shape and hold my ctrl key down as I click on the other shape.  This will select both shapes.  Then I go to the Align button at the top of my page and I choose TOP EDGES.  As you are creating shapes, PSE will create them as layers for you (which I’ve circled in Red).  You will need to become familiar with these layers as you read on.

4.  To create the next two frames, you will want to copy and paste your existing frames so that they are all the same size.  To do this, you will want to click on your Shape 1 layer (circled in red).  Then you will right click and choose DUPLICATE LAYER (where my arrow is pointing).  This will bring up a box where you will choose OK.  PSE will automatically place your duplicated frame (shape) on top of your existing one.  You will use your move tool to select and move.  You can also just click on the shape and use your shift key with one of your arrow keys to move.  You will repeat this step for Shape 2.  This will bring you to step 5.

5. So you’ve created your four frames!  Woo Hoo!  Now we just have to align all the edges and neaten that baby up a bit!  In my example below I am aligning the bottom edges.  I have selected my Shape 1 copy (which I point to) and my Shape 2 copy (also pointed to) and chose the align button at the top of my page again.  You will want to do this for all sides of your collage.  You will have to align the Left Edges next and lastly the Right Edges.  Now you are ready to create your clipping masks!

6. Now that you have a well made and perfectly aligned collage, we are ready to move on ;o)  To keep it organized, let’s go ahead and rename our layers.  I usually like my layers to represent each shape as a number.  To rename a layer, you will right click on it and choose RENAME LAYER.  Let’s keep Shape 1 as is.  We will start with Shape 1 copy and rename it Shape 2.  We will rename Shape 2 to Shape 3 and Shape 2 copy to Shape 4 (refer to the circled portion of my screen shot).  Now let’s create our clipping masks!  Click on Shape 1 with your mouse then go to the menu bar at the top of your page and choose LAYER (highlighted in yellow) / NEW / LAYER .  It will bring up the box you see in the screenshot which you will rename Place Photo Here (‘cause that is what we will eventually do).  Make sure the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask is checked off, your mode is Normal, and opacity is at 100%.  Choose OK.  You will repeat this for Shapes 2 – 4.

7.  Now your layer box should look like this (circled in red).  It should contain 8 layers*.  4 layers that will represent your frames (that I point to) and 4 layers that represent where your photo will go which are the clipping masks (highlighted in yellow). 

*PSE only allowed me to show you 6 layers.

8. Before we add photos, let’s save this file as a template to your computer.  Go to the menu bar at the top of the page and choose FILE / SAVE AS.  Be sure to save this file to your computer as a .psd file.  This will allow you to edit or add photos each time.  Once the template is saved, you are ready to add photos!  With your first ‘Place Photo Here’ layer selected, you will go to the menu bar at the top of your page and click FILE / PLACE where you will choose a photo from your computer files.  PSE will place the photo in a random spot on your collage.  You will move and resize it to fit your frame.  You will see that PSE automatically renames your ‘Place Photo Here’ layer with your photograph file name (circled in red).

Now you are ready to place your remaining 3 photos!

9. a. This is my finished collage.  b. Now let’s crop to remove the extra board from the bottom.  You will go to your menu bar at the top of the page and choose IMAGE / CROP (highlighted in yellow).  I try to keep even amounts of space on all sides.  If you want to get fancy, you can add some text to the middle.  Just grab your type tool on your left side menu bar (used an arrow to point to).



10. I bet you thought this tutorial would never end huh?  Thanks for hangin’ in there.  It’s time to save your work.  You will want to go to the menu bar at the top of your page and choose FILE / SAVE AS where you can save it as a picture file like .jpg.  You can also choose to Save for Web.  Whatever floats your boat ;o) 

I hope these instructions were easy enough to understand and I hope you enjoyed it!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at  Also, if you like collages, feel free to visit my FREEBIES page for a bunch of free collage templates!



6 Responses to "Photo tips and sips - How to create a collage - by Elena from Cropped Stories"

Mindi @ Simply Stavish said... June 22, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Thanks soooo much for this tutorial! So very helpful. Love your collages and now I'm excited to try my very own. Must get to learning editing using PSE.

Cropped Stories said... June 22, 2012 at 11:06 AM

This came out great! Thanks again for having me Natalie!

Becky said... June 22, 2012 at 11:21 AM

What a great tutorial!! Thanks for the info, Elena!

Pink Little Cake said... June 22, 2012 at 3:25 PM

What a great tutorial for people like me, who know nothing about picture sofware . Thank you!

Melissa Bliss Rich said... June 25, 2012 at 8:30 AM

This is awesome. I don't have PSE but I imagine it's similar in PS. I'll have to try it out. Thanks!!

Lisa Gordon said... June 25, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Thank you so much for the tutorial, and Elena, what a FANTASTIC job you did on this!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...