Guest Post: Creating Photo Strips

Please welcome former Creative Team member (and frequent SBE contributor) Shannon Zickel as the guest blogger this week!

If you would have asked me last year if I would be able to resize photos and create photo strips all by myself I would have thought you were delusional—especially if you had said I would be able to do it without taking any special classes or buying a book.  But after a little trial and error, I’ve come up with a formula that works well for me (and hopefully for you too). It allows me to quickly create photo strips to use in my layouts.  This has become my go to page design because it allows me to fit lots of pictures on a page.  These types of photo strips are great for vacation, sports seasons, and school and holiday recap pages.  You can use the photo strips alone, in a group or you can combine them with a larger focal photo for even more impact.

In the instructions below I am using the very ancient Photoshop Elements 2.0. I actually have newer versions but find myself gravitating to this version. While I have not tested these instructions on other versions, my guess would be that the instructions are very similar.  I also am sure that I am not doing this the professional way—as I said, I just learned this all on my own.  So there may be shortcuts I am missing or other thoughts on ways to improve. If you have one make sure to share it in the comments!

I begin by opening all the photos I want to scrap for an event.  Probably the hardest part of this process is the photo selection.  I find for me strips with four vertical photos, five horizontal photos, or one focal vertical combined with three horizontal photos work best.  For the example I am showing I used two strips of four vertical pictures and one strip of a combination of three horizontal and one larger vertical photo.

Now I am ready to start cropping and resizing my photos.  I choose the crop tool in PSE  and then I set the dimensions.  When I am working on a four vertical strip I set the dimensions at 1.75″ for the width and 2.25″ for the height.  I then set the resolution to 300 pixels/inch.  This setting is the standard for printing and allows for all photos to remain the same relative size when we transfer them to the new document for printing.  Once the dimensions are set I use the crop tool to crop my photo.

I then work through all the vertical photos(with the exception of the one that will be my larger focal photo) sizing them in the same way.

With the vertical photos all resized I move onto the horizontal photos.  I simply change the dimensions to a width of 2.25″ and a height of 1.75″ keeping the resolution the same at 300 pixels/inch. Once the dimensions are set I crop each of the horizontal photos.

The order in which you resize the pictures is not important; you just want to resize them all the appropriate sizes.  If you are using a larger vertical photo in combination with horizontal photos to complete a strip, then you will want to use the dimensions of 2.5″ as the width and 3.75″ as the height.  This will create a slightly larger photo that will match the width of the horizontal photos chosen for your photo strip.

With all the photos resized I quickly pull them all to the left of my workspace.

Now you are ready to open a new document to create your photo strips.  Start by selecting File and choosing new document.  You will want to create this document as an 8.5×11″ document for printing and set the resolution at 300 pixels/inch.  Make sure the drop down boxes on the right are set to inches and pixels/inch.

With your new document over you are now ready to begin moving pictures into this new document.  You will use the Move tool to do this.  After clicking on the Move tool, move your cursor to the photo you want and right-click and hold as you drag the photo to the new document.  Once you have the photo placed on the new document you can release the mouse to drop the photo.

After I move the picture, I minimize the original photo on the right, just part of my own process that allows me to work through all the photos quickly.  I am careful not to close the photo just in case I have made an error on my dimensions or pixel settings.  I also don’t want to save these resized photos, as I do not want to lose my original photo settings. I work through all the photos moving them one at a time to the new document.  At this point I don’t pay any particular attention to where they go on the new document; I just want to get them all over there.

Once all the photos have been moved I group them in the order I want them to appear on the photo strips.

I then increase my viewing ratio up to around 75% so I can align the pictures to be even on the edges.  While you could choose to place the photos and then crop them to create even edges, I choose to do this visual alignment as a shortcut.

With all the photos aligned I can reduce my viewing back down and get ready for the final step before printing, flattening your images.  Choose Layer from the top menu bar and scroll down to choose flatten image. Now you are ready to print!

Don’t’ let the number of screen shots intimidate you.  This really is a very simple process, and after you have tried it once you will see just how easy it is.

Now comes the fun part, time to create!

Personally, I like to trim my photo strips leaving a very small white border around the edges. That is certainly not a requirement, do what makes you happy.  And I also find myself overlapping several photo strips, again a personal choice.  As mentioned earlier, these photo strips are great for getting a lot of pictures into a layout.  Whether you choose to use one strip alone or combine three or four steps, once you get the hang of creating these photo strips I have a feeling you will be as addicted as I am to them!


Categories: Tutorials | Tags:

9 Responses to “Guest Post: Creating Photo Strips”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scrapbooks etc., Brittany Hopkins. Brittany Hopkins said: RT @scrapbooksetc: Love the look of photo strips? @shannonzickel shows you how on our blog today [...]

  2. Love this idea!

  3. A much quicker over the long run way, would be to create 3 templates with clipping masks. This can be done by creating the finished size document. Next use the rectangle marquee tool to create the photo boxes. Fill with a color and then clip the photos to these boxes. Be sure to save the empty template. The templates could then be used over and over and the only resizing you would have to do would be with the corner handles on each picture as you go! Great idea for using photo strips!!

  4. Your layouts are super cute! I have just recently discovered the awesomeness of photo collages.

    I’ve also done this two other ways. You can make photo collages in Picasa (a free photo organization download from Google). Snapfish also allows you to make photo collages. Though you are limited to regular print sizes with both these options. I think there are other free downloads available that do this too. Just another option for those that don’t want to purchase (or learn) Photoshop!

  5. I’ve been a collage lover for a long time because I’m always trying to fit a ton of photos on a layout, and at times I get into a rut using a couple of designs over and over. This is a great alternative and I’m going to use it on my next layout! I too use an older version of (PSE5), but it does what I need it to and I’m totally comfortable with it. Thanks Shannon!

  6. Thanks for this tutorial. I just made photo strips for my son’s baseball season LO. I was struggling with all the photos I had taken during the season and how best to use them. The photo strips are perfect!

    I also do collages with Picasa from time to time but don’t like the inability to manuever my photos easily. But Picasa is great in a pinch!

  7. Thanks for posting this! It is such a great idea and I love that someone explains how to do it!

  8. Great idea. I am excited about trying this. Anything new I can learn about Photoshop is helpful.

  9. Love this, I wanted something new and now I can try this!