In December I created a wall collage for my living room using my favorite pictures from the past year. I found a tip on Pinterest that showed how to plan your wall collage by tracing the frames onto paper and arranging them on the wall first. Well, I decided to take that one step further by using Photoshop to plan which pictures I would put in each frame. Here is how I did it:
The first step is to gather your materials. You will need picture frames, brown paper shopping bags, scissors, tape, a pencil, nails and a hammer. I found these cute frames on sale for 50% off at my local Hobby Lobby store. I picked out colors that matched my living room in various sizes. When you are selecting frames, I would stick with an odd number of frames. In general, things look best arranged in odd numbers.
Next, cut open the bags along one side so you have large sheets of brown paper. Arrange your frames on the paper and trace around each one with a pencil. Cut out the shapes and label each one with the size and color of the frame. Flip the frames over and align each cutout with its frame. Feel for the hanging hardware through the paper with your fingertip. Press to create an impression of its location, then punch a hole where the nail should go with your pencil.
Now you are ready to start designing your collage. Tape the templates to the wall and snap a picture. Rearrange the design and snap another picture. Do this a few times, then review your images to decide which one is your favorite. Once you have your design, use a tape measure and/or level to perfect the frame placement. Leaving the paper templates on the wall, hammer a nail into each hole you marked. Carefully remove the paper templates without pulling the nails, then hang your empty frames.
Now for the fun part! Stand directly across from your collage and take a picture of it. Open the image in Photoshop, and draw a shape over the opening of each frame. All of my frames had rectangle openings, so I used the rectangle shape tool. If you are using oval frames, you would want to use the elipse shape tool. Take your time to match the shape to the opening. If you really want to get fancy, you can add a drop shadow and numbers. Add a blank layer above each shape layer and click between the two layers while pressing the alt key to create a clipping mask. To insert a photo into the frame, click on the blank layer above the frame, and click File>Place. Select and open your photo from the dialog. It will already be masked when it is placed, all you have to do is resize the image. This is a good way to play around with cropping. You can replace the images as many times as you want until you love your collage. Once it’s perfect, save it as a JPG for your reference. Then order those images in the appropriate size and frame them.
Here is my final collage! I just realized that the bottom left frame is hanging slightly crooked. I really need to add a bit of wall putty behind each frame, since Micah keeps bumping the bottom ones when he sits on the bench.
I kept the original template saved as a PSD, so if I ever want to order new prints for these frames, I can preview how they will look. It really helps me choose which pictures I want to use.