Social media, websites, photo products for clients — as a photographer, you’ll be using photo collages often. And we’re here to show you how to easily make a Lightroom collage.
Did you know that you don’t even need to leave Lightroom to create them, though? Adobe Lightroom offers loads of tools that most of us never realize exist because they’re not in the Library or Develop modules.
Creating collages, for example, is in the Print module of Lightroom.
Let’s look at how to make a collage in Lightroom.
How to Create Lightroom Collage Templates
There is a bit of effort involved in first setting up your templates in Lightroom so that you can then drag and drop photos for all future collages.
While Lightroom collage templates are automatically installed within the program, you’ll most likely want to customize these or create your own from scratch.
Whether it’s to put two pictures side by side, or to arrange 10 photos in a large layout, the process is the same.
Basic Page Settings
To begin creating your Lightroom collage template, you’ll want to have an idea of what layout you want to create and what file size limitations you have for posting. I
In this case, we’ll assume that we have a 1000px width limitation, and we want to do a 3-photo layout with a landscape image at top and two portrait images below. Then we begin customizing the settings along the right column to create our layout.
Since you’re creating your own custom layout, you want to select Custom Package.
If you want the photos to have a bit of white spacing around them, check the box that says Photo Border. This lets you select the thickness of that border by adjusting the slider.
I typically do not check the box below it for Inner Stroke because that adds a border over top of the photo, not on the outside of it.
The Photo Border checkbox is typically ideal. I recommend a thin line around 2-4pts.
In the next section you’ll want to select Inches for your units. I like to also select Cells under the Grid Snap options. This makes it easier to put your photos right up to the edge of the page or to align one to another.
Finally, select which guides you want to see. I typically check all but Dimensions, but this is a personal preference.
Skip down to the module for Print Job settings. For Print to, select JPEG File. If you’re using these collages for web use only, set your File Resolution to 100ppi.
Check the box for Print Sharpening, and set the level to High.
Make sure the JPEG Quality slider is set to 100.
Check the box for Custom File Dimensions. These are set to inches, but since you have your resolution set to 100 it’s a simple conversion. Simply divide your size in pixels by 100 to find how many inches it is.
For example, I know that my width is limited to 1000px, so my width needs to be 10 inches. I don’t know yet what the height will be. But since I know it’s going to be more than my width, I can set that to 15 inches for now and adjust once my photos are dropped in.
Now that you have your page set up, you can layout the photo cells. Go back up to the Cells module. Here you have pull down menus with standard photo sizes.
Select the photo size you want and it’ll appear on the page instantly. You can then move it into position and stretch it to fit the layout you want.
When stretching the cells, be sure to hold down the Shift key so that the ratio remains as you stretch.
Add a Watermark to Your Collage
If you want to overlay your logo, there’s a way to add that, too! In the Page module, there are two ways to add a watermark or logo. If you check the box for Identity Plate, you can upload an image to add on the page.
The identity plate is shown once on each collage, and you can drag it to wherever you want on the page. The sliders also adjust its opacity and scale, so you can make it more subtle if you’d like.
The other option is the Watermarking checkbox. If you check this box, you can then use the pull-down menu to select from the watermarks that are already loaded into Lightroom.
These are the same watermarks that you can use when you export a photo.
When using the watermarking method, though, you don’t have the options of opacity, scale, and location.
Watermarks are automatically laid out as that loaded watermark dictates and it’s put on each individual photo in the collage.
Save Your Template
Now that you have your template all set up, be sure to save it so that it’s ready for use in the future! To save your template, click on the + sign on the top of the left column.
A new window will pop up for you to select what section to save it in and what to name it. Keep the name simple and something that you’ll recognize easily each time you look for this layout.
While you’re creating this template, take time now to think of other layouts that you want to have at your disposal.
Create different layouts that serve your needs, and that way you’re done investing time into creating Lightroom collage templates! From now on it’ll just be “drag and drop”.
Using Your Templates
The beauty of taking time early on to create your templates is that once you’ve saved them, you’re done. To use your template, select it from the left column.
Now simply drag the photo you want to insert and drop it into the cell you want that photo in.
Do this for each cell in the layout and you’re done! No resizing or watermarking needed since it’s all set up in the template settings.
When you’re happy with your chosen photos, click on “Print to File…” at the bottom right column. This will open up a window for you to select where to save your Lightroom collage and what to name it.
Lightroom offers more tools than most of us use, and the Print tab is the perfect example of this. While the Print tab is intended to create pages for printing, it also gives you the option to save these pages as a JPEG, therefore giving you the ability to create a collage.
Once you put in a little effort to create your collage templates, it gives you a quick and easy way to create collages without ever leaving Lightroom!
It’s just another way to streamline your workflow and save yourself precious time. After all, if you’re already using Lightroom to cull and edit, why not get the most out of it for your business?
For more creative Lightroom tips, check out our post on how to add a film photography look to your photos!
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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