© 2012 photobookgirl 365 Project Photo Book

Free Online Photo Collage Tools Plus 365 (366) Day Photo Project Weeks 9 & 10



Weeks 9 & 10 down, 42 to go!

Hey folks, it’s been busy here in PhotoBookLand (but when is it not?).  I’m happy to report that PhotoBookBaby appears to be fully recovered from his first cold and we are doing much better now as well!

Since I’m a bit behind in posting, I made a collage highlighting my favorite pics for weeks 9 and 10 to share with you.  What I love about this collage is how easy it was to put together (no messing with Adobe Photoshop and layers etc.).  I recently did a quick survey of free online photo collage programs and I have to tell you I’m quite in love with Google’s Picasa.  Many of you may be familiar with the program already so I may be a bit late to the party, but for those of you who haven’t tried it, Picasa is a free photo management program (for both PC and Mac) which has some very useful editing and post processing features.  While I wasn’t interested in using it as a photo management tool as I already have iPhoto that comes built into my Mac, when I found out that Picasa has a collage tool – I had to check it out.  I do a lot of photo uploading for my blog and I need to make adding images as easy and quick as possible, but it still has to look good.  After you download the free program, the software detects automatically all photo files on your computer and then catalogs them within the program.  You can then click on the photos to select the images you want to be in the collage and then click on the “Create Photo Collage” button (second button to the right of the green “Play” button).

photo collages

You are then taken to the Collage tool where the program automatically places your photos.  From there you can choose from a number of options including size and orientation of the collage, background color and whether or not you want a grid separating the photos.  You can also choose from several different types of collages.  Below is the “Mosaic” option – my personal favorite.

Google Picasa

Here’s a look at the “Picture Pile” collage.  What’s great about the program is you can drag to rearrange any of the photos and with the layout below, you can rotate and resize any of the images to your liking.

Google Picasa

After you are happy with your collage you finalize it by clicking on “Create Collage” which then leads you to another set of options to further customize your image.  You can add text as well as create various image effects such as black and white and color shifts etc.

You can choose to export your final image at full resolution (or less for posting on the web) which leads to some interesting uses for this tool when it comes to making photo books.  You could use this to design some creative layouts, especially where a particular photo book company’s software doesn’t allow you to create a similar look.  You just upload the finished collage as a regular image and drag and drop into a full bleed (full page) layout.  Now there are limitations and Picasa is not intended to be a design tool, but for a fun, quick alternative, think of it as another option in your creative toolbox!

Some other great uses for a tool like this:

  • You can print these out on standard 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 prints at your local photo processing store and make your own cards for the holidays (Stores actually charge more to make collage prints when they aren’t any different from regular prints (I suppose you are paying for the use of their online tools, but still material wise, it’s the same!)
  • You can post your collages to Facebook or a photo sharing page
  • You can email a single collage rather than a lot of individual photos (I emailed a collage of PhotoBookBaby to Grandma recently.)
  • This may also be an easy way to lay out 365 photo book at year’s end.  You could do a collage for every week – so you’ll end up with roughly a 52 page photo book – very manageable and affordable!

Any other uses you can think of?  Please comment below!

P.S. For you iPhone users out there, I found two free apps – Pic Stitch and Dyptic Frames which do something similar, but with lesser features.  What’s nice is that it’s on your phone and you can easily make composites for posting to social media.

Hope your 365 project is going well.  Any challenges you’ve been having?




Be sure to check out my CANVAS DEALS!


  1. Posted March 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm | #

    Great post… always great to others’ use of tools, Picasa as a collage maker, why didn’t I think of that?

  2. Ann
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm | #

    Thanks for the iPhone app tips. You mention that Picasa detects and catalogs you photos. How long does this take? I have about 25000 photos in my Adobe Elements catalog and when I had to recover because my hard drive died it took almost a day to reconnect the photos to the catalog. But impressively the keywords are all there!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm | #

      Hi Ann, it didn’t take long at all and I have a lot of photos too! It kind of zipped through – maybe 15 minutes at most? I think you can tell it what not to import and to not import duplicates too. Also, when it imports it doesn’t make a copy of the photo, it just catalogs that it is somewhere on your computer and attached hard drives, so that’s why it’s probably fast. My iPhoto is actually making a version of the photo to put in its database so that import takes longer.

  3. Lauren
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm | #

    Ive been using picasa as my only photo tool since 2006…love it! Use collages for my kids’ birthdays every year…summer recaps…first day of school collages etc.

  4. Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:40 am | #

    Oh, this sounds so handy…I’m going to have to check it out. After reading your comments, I’m wondering if I could collage some of my digital scrapbooking elements into easy-view contact sheets. Can’t wait to try this–sounds like a great discovery!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 14, 2012 at 11:45 am | #

      I think that would work well. There is even a contact sheet collage option. I noticed that it pulled in my scrapbooking clip art so it shows up in the photo library so that may be a side benefit as well 🙂

  5. rivka
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 1:02 am | #

    Thanks for the tip! I downloaded Picasa and it really is a great tool. Too bad I didn’t know about it a few days ago. I just finished, and ordered, a book from Inkubook, and I was so frustrated by their limited choices of page layouts. Sometimes you want to make something a little bigger or smaller, or give it a tilt, and in Inkubook you can’t alter the page layouts at all. I want to review them for you, but the review will be quite negative. Should I wait till I get the book and see how I like it? If the book comes out amazing, all the pain in making it may have been worth it.
    I also tried Fotofunia, which you suggested last week, and it was soooo much fun. My children love to fool around with it. They made some cool pictures and we included them in our Inkubook album. Only downside is you can’t print the results of fotofunia large. I’d love to post an example of what they made- how can I add a picture to my comment?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm | #

      Hi Rivka, I would love to hear your review regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Let’s see how the book comes out so you can give a full review. Yes, if you’re used to being able to customize layouts, then companies that don’t offer those features will be frustrating. But I have had some readers say they are just as frustrated with some companies’ software that I find to be very flexible and full of features that I really like having. So, it basically reinforces to me that people are all individual in their tastes – what one person really likes, another person really dislikes and that’s the point of this blog and the review pages – to get different points of view and to help folks narrow down what company they may want to try. You tried Photofunia huh? 🙂 Playing with images is fun isn’t it? I think there are some of the choices that are higher res than others. Those are the ones with HD on them I think. Do you have your images uploaded to Flickr or a blog if you have one? Or you could email it to me and I could post for you.

  6. Denise Dewire
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 9:43 am | #

    I like Picasa too but if you have a Mac another great collage tool is an app for the Mac called Turbo Collage. And a recent update to this app improved it’s functions.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm | #

      Thanks for the tip Denise! It costs $5.00 though – I like that Picasa is free 🙂

  7. Posted March 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm | #

    Great tip Photobookgirl!

    I just downloaded Picasa and is playing around with it. I wish the collage would be lined up instead of ‘piled on’ in the beginning though. But the upside to this is it’s easier to customize. I just hurts my hand 🙂


    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm | #

      You’re welcome – I like the mosaic one myself and the stacked one also has a polaroid like frame that’s nice… 🙂

  8. Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:37 am | #

    Quick question about exporting the collage,
    do you recommend saving it as original image size and maximum for image quality when exporting?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm | #

      Hey Donna,

      It depends on what you’re intended use for it is. If you want to print it in a book or on your printer, then yes do max quality. If you’re posting it to social media or blog or just emailing to a friend for fun, then you can easily get away with something a lot smaller so that it doesn’t take long to upload. It’s fun to play with isn’t it? I’m thinking about using it to make some custom collage cards 🙂

  9. Tammy George
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:10 am | #

    Hello PhotoBookGirl, Love your blog, keep up the great work. I’d really like to see a post on photo editing.I did a year album with Blurb late last year and decided to increase the contrast & brightness, using Photoshop, on a few photos. I was worried that the photos (edited and unedited) would look different so I ended up editing all 200 odd photos. I don’t know much about actions so it took ages and some pages had a real ‘digital print look’ so maybe I took the editing too far!!

    Do you think photos reproduce a little darker in photo books & benefit from editing? Are there any good Photoshop editing actions readers know of? What % of your photos would you edit? Many thanks.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 3:00 am | #

      Good questions Tammy. I think you’ll find what you’re looking for in my How To series of posts. Probably the number one thing I do to my photos is some brightening and contrast adjustments. I do find that photos reproduce darker so I err on the side of brightening. I probably edit 95% of my photos with some brightening (but I wonder how much of that is needing to get better at exposing properly in camera). You can take editing too far such as over sharpening (which may be what you mean by “digital print” loo?) so I try to keep it simple and quick. More details in the posts. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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