How to Make Photo Collages

How to Make Photo Collages

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Drakesbad CollageFor quite some time I’ve noticed that many Facebook users don’t just post single photos, but rather a combination of a few to several shots made into a collage.

It fact, so many photo collages are posted to Facebook, that one would think a collage-maker is built into that social media site.

But as far as I can tell, you need to use something outside of Facebook to create those grouped photos.

Here are three different ways you can make photo collages.


If you’ve got a computer, the PicMonkey Website lets you easily assemble selected photos into a collage, then share it via e-mail, or on Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter.

PicMonkey has a “premium” membership ($4.99/month or $33/year), but I just used the free version.

You can use photos (but not videos) stored on your computer, Dropbox  Facebook, or Flickr.

PicMonkey on the Web

You simply open photos that you might want to use in the PicMonkey Collage Editor, select one of many different templates, drag and drop your photos into it, do a final edit, and then share your collage.

Here’s one of my PicMonkey collages.

Kings Canyon Collage

Sequoia Snow Collage

If you need help, you can consult the PicMonkey “How To’s” or “Tutorials.”

Accidently let you finger partially cover up your smartphone’s camera lens when you took an an otherwise great photo? Not a problem. You can use the PicMonkey “Clone Tool”  to fix that problem.

I found PicMonkey very easy to use on my iMac desktop computer.

PicMonkey on Apple Mobile Devices

Unfortunately, there is no PicMonkey iOS app for iPhones and iPads. And because Apple’s Safari Web browser for Apple mobile devices does not support Adobe’s “Flash” program, you can’t open the PicMonkey Web site in Safari and use it to create collages.

To get around that problem, I downloaded to my iPad the free Puffin Web Browser app which supports Websites that use Flash. On my iPad, I was able to create PicMonkey collages and I share them on social media sites via e-mail.

The only problem I ran into is that I couldn’t save a collage created on my iPad to its Camera Roll, nor could I download it. So I used Dropbox to upload the collage and then saved it from Dropbox to my iPad’s Camera Roll.

But for some reason, I couldn’t create collages from photos my iPhone, even though I opened the PicMonkey Website on my phone with the Puffin Web browser.


Since I had to find an alternative to PicMonkey in order to create photo collages on my iPhone, I decided I might was well look for an app that could include video clips as well as still photos in a collage.

The free PicPlayPost app for iPad and iPhone does just that.

Combining Video and Still Photos

This video demonstrates who an earlier version of the app works.

The PicPlayPost app has large choice of templates, so deciding which one to use takes some thought. But you can always go back and pick another template if your original selection didn’t produce the result you wanted.

Here’s a collage showing my wife climbing Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park.

 Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a template that worked all that well when both video clips and still photos were all shot in vertical or “portrait” orientation because I couldn’t make each one as wide as I would have liked. Part of the problem is that the aspect ratio (width vs. height) that you must pick at the outset applies to all videos. It would be better if you could pick a different one for each video.

I found it easy enough to find and select video and photos, swap them around, replace them, and resize them (within some limits). But you can’t add overlays or “titles” to your PicPlayPost collage.

Using Video

You can trim a video clip by setting the starting and editing point. However, once you’ve done so, you can’t go back and edit  it for length again without deleting the video and adding it back to the template.

You can have the collage playback all videos simultaneously, or sequentially.

However, if you have deleted a video clip and then added it back into the template, the app may not playback videos in the proper sequence, even if they appeared to be in the correct order when you previewed the collage. I ran into that problem, and found that the easiest way to fix it was to delete the entire collage and start over fresh.

You can loop a video clip, but I’m not sure why you would want to do so.

Adding a Music Soundtrack

You can select a single music track from your Apple mobile device’s music library to use as background music in a PicPlayPost collage.

You can select the start and end playing points, and you can tell the app to loop the music through the entire playback of your videos. But since there is no “fit to length” option, I just picked the entire clip and told it to loop until the videos finished playing.

The background music did seem to fade out a little bit at the end, but rather abruptly. The music would have sounded better if I had been able to adjust the length of time it took for it to fade from normal level to no sound at all.

If you have still photos that precede the first video in collage, you might note a slight delay before the music begins to play. And if still photo follow the last video, the music will appear to stop before those photos are viewed.

If audio (e.g., voices, ambient sounds) were picked up as the video was being recorded, you can decide how that audio will be heard when the video plays back. And you can adjust each video clip’s audio track volume, including setting it to zero to effectively mute it.

Some video editing programs will automatically reduce the volume of the music soundtrack if the video clip has audio associated with it. The background music “ducks” under video’s audio track, which is particularly helpful if the video recorded people talking or has voice-over narration.

There’s no such automatic audio “ducking” in PicPlayPost. You have to separately adjust the volume of the video’s audio track and the background music.

While you can set different levels for audio that was recorded with each video clip. you can only adjust the volume of the background music for the the entire collage project.

If you want to set different levels for each video clip’s audio and background music, you’d have to use a program such as iMovie to edit the video clip, and then import that edited clip video into your PicPlayPost project.

Here’s another PicPlayPost collage that I made with video and still photos. But unlike the one of my wife ascending Moro Rock, this one has a background music soundtrack.


 Saving Your Collage

Once you hit delete, your PicPlayPost collage is gone. The app doesn’t save it, and it doesn’t appear to save drafts. So be sure to save your collage to your Apple device’s Camera Roll so you can later share or play it from there.

Sharing Collages on Social Media Sites

You can share a PickPlayPost collage on Instagram (via your mobile device Camera Roll), Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Viddy, via SMS, WhatsApp, and Vine.

Posting to YouTube and Facebook

You may have purchased a CD or music track and think that entitles you to use it as background music for videos (including PicPlayPost collages). But you would be wrong.

When a video that includes copyrighted music is uploaded to either Facebook or YouTube it may be automatically deleted from the social media site.

Facebook wouldn’t post my PicPlayPost collage with the copyrighted music background I had initially used. So I changed the collage background music to a royalty-free track, and then successfully posted the video directly to Facebook from my computer.

However, for some reason the video didn’t get posted on my Timeline. To do that, I had to go to the Videos section on my Facebook profile, copy the link, and then post that on my Timeline.

The PicPlayPost project (without music) of my wife climbing Moro Rock did post to my Facebook Timeline, as well as to my Facebook “Videos” section.

However, YouTube sharing didn’t work for me, possibly because I have two different Google+ accounts and the PicPlayPost app may not have been able to log into the one associated with my YouTube Channel.

To resolve that problem, I used the Photo Transfer app to move the collage to my iMac desktop computer. I then uploaded it to YouTube without a problem.

Sharing on Vine

If you post a PicPlayPost collage with multiple videos to Vine, only one (probably the first one) will play. And I found that the $2.99 Upload Custom Video to Vine app worked best for posting a PicPlayPost collage to Vine.

Using Google’s Picasa to Make A Collage

Google’s free Picasa program for computers is designed to allow you to organize and upload photos to Google+. But one of its nifty features is the ability to select photos and make a collage.

I decided to go hog-wild with my Picasa collage making project, so to “source” photos for my collage, I selected a folder on my computer that contained a large number of images.

This is the collage that Picasa created for me.

Sequoia Kings Canyon Picasa Collage

Other Mobile Collage Making Options

This article lists nine other apps for making collages on Apple mobile devices.

Beware: It’s Addicting

Making photo collages with either PicMonkey or PicPlayPost is so easy that you may soon find yourself addicted to this method of visual storytelling. But at least your addiction will be fun and have no adverse health effects!

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