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Canvas Photo Collage

It’s hard to believe that Colt’s first Birthday is just around the corner… Well, end of December, but you catch my drift. Before Pinterest, I probably would’ve made a cake, made some onion dip and had that be the extent of the party.

AFTER Pinterest, I now know that your child’s Birthday must have a Theme. And a Tablescape. And have glass apothecary jars. And be Friggin’ Cool as Shit because you’re not a good mom if it’s not. 

Pinterest or it didn’t happen, Bitches!

I kid, I kid, but only partially. Seriously, do a Pinterest search for “First Birthday Party” and prepare to facepalm. The reasonable side of my brain says “Don’t buy into this bullshit. He won’t remember any of this anyway and, as long as he gets cake, it will be awesome”, but the less-reasonable/more-manic side of my brain is going to scream until I do this. I’m drinking the Kool-aid folks. It’s stupid, It’s fucked up and you don’t have to tell me so (please save your comments on this matter).

For my centerpiece, I wanted some sort of photo-thing. I’ve seen those mass photo-collage type things that are “A year in your child’s life” and thought that would be perfect. I have also seen sites where people will design them for you. For $250.  That’s just the design. You need to purchase your own canvas after that.

What. The. Fuck.

I am all for having an Etsy shop. I am completely supportive of making money off of your digital art talents. But $250?! Seriously?! I’m sure sure that your time is veeerrrrrrrry valuable, but I (nor the vast majority of people I know) have the money for that shit.
I have a philosophy that about human nature: The mother of all invention is laziness. Every great idea started with someone going “Fuck this! There has to be an easier way.” I want to add to this though that the father of invention is frugality. There will always be someone who sees an invention and will ask “How can I save money on this?”

With that in mind, and knowing that there are many people like myself who have a working knowledge of Photoshop, I set out to recreate this for myself. For way cheaper. And now I’m passing the savings on to you.

Note: It helps if you have “auto select” on while you do this project

Step One: I have made you a template.

Collage (I couldn’t figure out how to make it a direct download, but you can get the PSD for free from the link)

The template was created in Photoshop CS5. It is true to size 16″x20″. I’ve seen mnay canvas dealers online sell canvases at discount price in this size. I purchased mine from after I purchase a Google Offer for a $35 canvas. I left the resolution at 72 since we won’t be blowing up the image at all. Plus, it would keep the file to a manageable size for sending and downloading.

When you open the image, you will see 45 black rectangles. These are listed in order, left to right, top to bottom. The middle one is “Layer 2”

3. Insert your media

Drag it into the PSD

3. Place the image over the rectangle you want it to replace. Make sure both the image and the layer have the image on top of the rectangle. For this example, we are using “1”. I have labeled the image photo, but when I did this on my own, I didn’t really bother with that.

4. Now we are going to fit the image into the rectangle template by creating a clipping mask. Select photo and then hit “Command + G” (or on PC: Ctrl+Alt+G). Boom! Clipping Mask. Notice the little arrow on the left side of the photo layer denoting that the mask is in effect. You can still see the borders of the original image, and can squeeze and move the image as normal while keeping it within the template of the mask.

5. If you want, you can adjust the image. I made every other photo in the collage monochrome. To do that, select the photo and hit Command+J (PC: Ctrl+J) to copy the layer. As you can see, the layer-copy is outside of the mask.

6. Drag the copy-layer beneath the original to put it into the mask.

7. Select the original Photo-layer. Now you can play with the image without losing to integrity of the original. To monochrome a layer, go to Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer and select “monochrome” in the bottom left-hand corner. Then, play with the sliders until you get a look you like.

8. Now, repeat that… 44 times.

The whole process is a bit time consuming. It took me about 4 hours, including making the template (I had a few false-starts), but to me that was definitely worth saving $250. Please note, that this is a “Quick and Dirty” method. It’s not the most professional, but it works. As I said, I got a canvas for $35, including shipping. I constantly see Groupon or Living Social with deals for 16″x 20″ canvases for $30-$40.

Here was my final product

I think this will be an awesome centerpiece!