photo collages

September Gold :: a 4-image photo collage

September Gold :: a 4-image photo collage

Over the years I have been asked about the photo collages that appear on my sites. Here is a photo workshop on creating a 4-image photo collage with some step-by-step directions.

1) Selecting a subject

You may have a particular subject in mind for a collage and would like to captures images for it – such as autumn colours, a birthday celebration, winter scenes, a baby announcement, etc. More often than not, however, if there is no auspicious event to consider, then looking at some images already captured will often suggest a collage subject to you. That is what has happened here. I have 18 selected images from which to choose that appear in the header, and there is a common theme of September’s golden flowers. The blossoms on the lower left appearing below the trees have actually been caught off to allow for the dimensions of the header, but they were in the original image. Nevertheless, they appear small and would not be included.

The majority of them are rudbeckias (black-eyed Susans), so I will limit myself to those. Even so, there are quite a few, and I only need 4 for the new collage. While there is no right or wrong choice, here is how I go about creating the collage. Please note, I am using images that are the same size.

2) The first image

My first choice is a beautiful solitaire.

the first selection

the first selection

3) Creating the Canvas & Reverse-Cropping

You will need a photo editor. I use microsoft’s photo editor which came fully installed in my trusty laptop a number of years ago using Windows XP. I understand that more recent versions of windows no longer includes this practical and rather user-friendly software. However other software works equally well. Just check that your photo software program allows for shrinking, cropping/reverse-cropping & copy&pasting.

Q :: What is reverse-cropping?
A :: While cropping removes part of your image, reverse-cropping adds additional space, or canvas, to your image without changing its original dimensions.

How to begin? Apply the reverse-crop function to your first selection as shown below.

preparing the canvas: reverse-cropping, step 1

preparing the canvas: reverse-cropping, step 1

Add the identical width of your original selection. If it is 1000 X 750 pixels, then reverse-crop an additional 1000 pixels to either the left or right of your image. Your image is now 2000 X 750 pixels in size. This additional space created will become the canvas on which the collage is built.

When reverse-cropping, it does not matter in which direction you begin – I thought the solo-flower would work well in the upper right-hand corner of my end-product, so I have ‘reverse-cropped’ (= added space) to the left of the original image.

This revised image will allow a second photo to be added. However since my finished collage will include 4 images, additional canvas is required below to to allow for all of the images. That is the next step. Reverse-crop below by adding the identical height of your original selection. Using the pixel numbers amounts above, your end prodict is now 2000 X 1500 pixels in size.

creating the canvas: reverse-cropping, step 2

creating the canvas: reverse-cropping, step 2

4) Adding images 2, 3 and 4

This is the fun part! The second selection is added by copying it from the picture file & then pasting it onto the upper left-hand corner of the canvas. Rather than an entire blossom, I have selected a macro image which is a flower detail for contrast, and includes a bee to for some added interest.

copy&pasting the second image to the upper left corner of the canvas

copy&pasting the second image to the upper left corner of the canvas

A third image is now copy&pasted to the lower left corner of my canvas. This time I select an image of a grouping of blossoms as a contrast to the size of the individual blossoms in the images above. The fence behind the tall stems add a bit of character and the mini daisies in the foreground are a subtle contrast to the golden blossoms. Yet all images fit together with the golden theme.
copy&paste the third image to the lower left of the canvas

copy&paste the third image to the lower left of the canvas

Almost done! The fourth and final image which is copy&pasted to the lower right-hand corner of my canvas is a close-up of a cluster of rudbeckia blossoms to contrast the dark background of the image above. You will notice that the original background canvas is no longer visible.
copy & paste the 4th image to the lower right of the canvas, and voila! it is September Gold!

copy & paste the 4th image to the lower right of the canvas, and voila! it is September Gold!

The end result: a 4-image collage consisting of a common subject and yet each image is unique on its own. This has in turn been copy&pasted to a neutral frame for presenting here on the collage page. A bit labour-intensive, but it’s been fun and I am quite happy with the results.

Hints & Suggestions:
◆ Collages may be created by using contrasting images or colours in opposing corners or a variety of images following a certain theme
◆ Perhaps there could be one image from each of the four seasons.
◆ To create a collage for a significant milestone birthday, you could use photos from four different ages, etc etc.

Once you are comfortable with the art of this type of 4-image collage, you can experiment with more images, or images of different sizes and create more complex collages. A post has been published which provides some examples of more advanced collages, just for fun. If you would like to check it out, click here.

In the meantime do feel free to play, and if you like, share the link of your collage creations here or on the message board.

an exciting announcement
When this information was originally published at Webshots, the advanced photo collages mentioned above were included as well, which came to a total of 24 images. You may imagine my surprise when it ended up being selected by the editors of the now-defunct website as the ‘album of the day’ and featured on their home page on September 21, 2010, a few months after being originally posted. I was stoked, of course, and was pleased to add the ‘featured album’ badge to the album that they provided.

A featured album on the Webshots Home Page! Yes, I was excited :)

A featured album on the Webshots Home Page! Yes, I was excited 🙂

But more than the badge, it is fun to know that others will be experimenting with the creation of photo collages and will be enjoying the process for themselves.

◆ originally published in 2010 ◆


2 thoughts on “photo collages

    • yes, that one works. I have tried it out. The only thing about paint is that the image borders are not fixed, and if you paste an image onto a canvas, it requires a bit of fiddling since you will manually need to ensure that the images line up. otherwise some of the background will be peeking through between the images. but otherwise it is an excellent tool. have fun with it!
      and when/if you post some collages in your blog, do feel free to leave a link. it would be fun to check it out!
      and welcome to photojourneying! 🙂


Any thoughts? opinions? suggestions? kudos? questions? Your comment is welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s