Create a Photo Collage in Lightroom Print Module - Digital Darkroom Academy

Create a Photo Collage in Lightroom Print Module

Photo collage in Lightroom

If you’re a regular Lightroom user than you must be well accustomed to all it’s amazing photo editing features. Of course you can make your photos look brilliant in there. But, Lightroom isn’t just about photo editing. It goes a little further by helping us create photobooks, slideshows, web galleries and giving us other cool ways to display our photos. One of these cool things that you can do is to create a photo collage in Lightroom.

Why should you make a Photo Collage in Lightroom?

To make a collage people often turn to other software and you might be one of them. These collages can be for a blog, a poster, your facebook or other social media, a personal memory throwback or even as a present to someone.

In any case, this is probably what happens: you edit your photos in Lightroom and export them. Then you run them through a collage making app while wrestling against its limitations. If you’re handy with an editing software, like Photoshop, you import your photos there and get to work. It seems easy but it’s tedious and takes time. Then you export them again. Now they are ready for use.

too much work gif

Cut yourself some slack and save your photo quality from being chopped by sticking with Lightroom!

Making Photo Collage in Lightroom using Templates

One of the best things about Lightroom is that it has templates for pretty much every feature you’re using!

If you want to make a collage, you can either start it from scratch or use something Lightroom has already prepared. First, let’s have a look at how to create a photo collage in Lightroom using a template.

Step 1 – Make a Collection

Before you begin, make sure the photos you want to use are all present in one folder. If they’re not, make a Collection for them. This will save you from a lot of hassle later on.

Once you’re done, select your folder and head over to the Print module.

Step 2 – Select your Layout Style

On the right side there is a Layout Style panel. By default, the first option ‘Single Image/Contact Sheet’ is selected. You’re going to be working on a Custom Package, so select that.

Layout Style Panel

Step 3 – Select your Template

On the left side is the Template Browser and it offers exactly what you’re reading in the panel title.

You can scroll through the panel to see if there’s a layout you would like working on. Above it is the Preview panel, and as you hover over the different templates, it shows you what each looks like.

Template Browser for Photo Collage in Lightroom

Once you click on any template, it will appear on your board, ready to use!

Step 4 – Adjust Print Settings

Before we get to any of the fun stuff, we need to handle some serious stuff and this includes looking at your printing preferences in the Print Job panel.

Print Job Panel in Print Module

Change Print Option to JPEG

Firstly, change the Print to option from ‘Printer’ to ‘JPEG’. This will make sure that the end result you get is as a JPEG and not sent to a printer. If you do want to print the final collage using your printer, then you can keep it at Printer.

Print Job panel

The rest of the settings are up to the requirement of your photos. If you’re dealing with portraits, it’s advisable to uncheck the Print Sharperning option.

However, if you want to use Sharpening you have options between Low, Standard and High.

Print Job panel - image sharpening

Change Dimensions of the Page

Even though you’re using a default template, you still have some freedom.

If you want to change the size of the template, you can easily do so by checking the Custom File Dimension option. By default, the templates are sized for the typical printing paper, i.e. the Letter size (8.5 x 11 in)

Print Job panel - file dimensions

You can click on the numbers and change the size according to your need.

Change Image Quality

Be sure to keep your JPEG Quality at 100!

Print Job panel - image quality

You can also tweak the File Resolution if you want. By default, it’s set at 300 ppi. You can lower it if you feel like your image file might get too heavy, but try not to go under 100 ppi if you’re eventually going to be printing it. 

Print Job panel - image resolution

Step 5 – Adding Photos

To add photos, simply drag them from the filmstrip and drop them on the board, in the cell where you want them. Simple and straight forward!

adding image to layout to make photo collage

Some photos might not appear in their allotted space as you want them. In order to move them left and right or up and down, hold down the Ctrl or Cmd key and move the photo to change its placement within the cell.

adjusting image in cell

Step 6 – Editing Template Cells

Even though you’ve selected your template, there might be things you want to change about it –like the placement or size of some cells. You can easily do so with the Cells panel on the right hand side.

adding new cells to layout

When you select a cell on the board, the Adjust Selected Cell option (which was previously dimmed) in the Cells panel will become activated.

Cells Panel

Changing Dimensions of the Cells

You can change the dimensions of the selected cell by manually dragging its edges and corners, or you can drag handle on the slider in the Cells panel. In both cases, you’ll be getting a Preview of what the basic version of the layout looks like in the Preview panel.

changing cell size

Adding a New Page

You can also add a blank new canvas to your workspace to work on multiple collages at the same time. Simply click the ‘New Page’ button on the Cells panel.

adding new page to make photo collage in lightroom

If you want to remove it, hover your mouse over the panel and a small cross will appear on the top left corner. Clicking it will delete the page.

deleting page

Adding New Cells a Page

You can also add more cells to the page! There are a number of different cell sizes present in the Cells panel. If none of them seem suitable, you additionally have the option to make a cell of any size.

adding cell

Click on the down arrow next to any of the different size buttons, and then press Edit. The dialog box which appears will ask you for a custom size.

changing cell size

If you want to delete any cell on the page, select the cell and press the Delete button on your keyboard.

Step 7 – Using Rulers, Grids and Guides

This panel is pretty straight forward.

rulers grid and guides panel

You must have noticed the blue lines all across the page you’re working on. These lines make up the ‘grid’. If you don’t like seeing them, you can uncheck the Page Grid option in this panel and they will disappear.

All the other options (Rulers, Image Cells, and Dimensions) work the same way. It’s helpful if you keep them, but if you want them gone you simply have to uncheck their respective boxes.

using rulers grid and guides
This is how your page will look without the Grid. It’s always helpful to have it around since it helps you position your cells accurately. Don’t worry about it appearing in print though! It only appears in Lightroom as a guide.

Step 8 – Adding Image Borders

If you like having borders on your photos, head over to the Image Settings panel.

image settings panel

The options, just like other stuff in Lightroom, are pretty simple to understand and use. If you want to make a border; check the ‘Inner Stroke’ option and drag the handle over the slider to increase the weight of the border.

using image settings panel

Notice that it gives borders evenly to all the photos on the page.

You can also change the color of the border from the color selection box in front of it.

using image settings panel

Step 9 – Adding a Watermark & Background Color

Our final stop is the Page panel! To use any feature in this panel, you’ll first have to check the option to activate it.

Page panel

Changing Background Color

You can change the background color easily with ‘Page Background Color’ option.

Check the Page Background Color option and then click the box in front of it to have your pick of colors.

using Page panel to change background color

Adding Watermark

To add a watermark, you can either use the Identity Plate option or the Watermarking option.

using Page panel

The difference between them is that Watermarking adds a watermark to each individual photo on your collage. Whereas, the Identity Plate only adds one watermark wherever you decide to place it on the collage.

using Page panel to watermark photo collage in lightroom

As you can see from the image above, there are multiple ways you can treat your Identity Plate. You can adjust its Opacity and size (Scale). There is also an option to put your Identity Plate behind your photos (select Render behind image). You can also have it stamped on every photo on the page (select Render on every image).

From the top right corner, you can also choose to change the angle of your Identity Plate.

using page panel to rotate watermark

Page panel to watermark photos
This is what Watermarking looks like.

You can use premade Watermarks and Identity Plates, or use the Edit option to create new ones.

using Page panel for watermark

The watermark used in the image above is a Text based one. However, using the Edit option, you can make a Graphical Watermark too. Same goes for the Edit option in Identity Plate. I have used a Graphical Identity Plate, however, a Text based Identity Plate can be used too.
using Page panel to edit watermark

Making your own Photo Collage Template in Lightroom

Now that you know how to create a photo collage in Lightroom, you’re sure to experiment more with the different layouts already available or making new designs of your own. If you’re fond of a certain self-made layout, it might become tedious replicating it all the time. So the best way to go is to make a template out of it to have it readily available for use all the time.

You’ve already seen all the steps to edit a layout. If you want to start from scratch, you can hit the Clear Layout button in the Cells panel to have fully blank page. Then go about adding cells and adjusting them to your liking as per the different steps.

When done, all you have left to do is save it!

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Saving a Layout using Template Browser

To save a layout as a template, have a look at the Template Browser on the left-hand side. There’s a little plus icon on the top right corner.

using template browser to save template

When you click it, a dialog box appears, asking you to name the new template.

using template browser to save layout

You can save your template directly in the Template Browser, or make a new folder to collect your own templates in.

using template browser

Exporting a Photo Collage in Lightroom

If you didn’t forget to follow Step 4 (Adjust Print Settings – Change ‘Print to’ from Printer to JPEG File), you will see a little button saying Print to File at the bottom of the right hand side panels.

export photo collage in lightroom

When you click this button, a dialog box will open asking you where to save the export.

You’ll know what to do from here.

By now you can probably tell that anywhere your photos go, Lightroom wants to make sure it has a hand in its quality and your ease. If you’ve already worked so hard to make those photos look good, what’s stopping you from making sure they’re presented just as prettily? And in good quality too!

So whether your collage is a professional project or a personal indulgence, keeping your work within Lightroom from beginning to end will definitely ease your workflow.

Shajee Aijazi

Shajee Aijazi is the founder of Digital Darkroom Academy. He helps people speed up their post-processing workflow and organize their photos in a way that they don't have to waste time managing it and they can focus on creating great looking images.

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