4 Concepts for Collages, Diptychs, Album Pages, etc.

4 Concepts for Collages, Diptychs, Album Pages, etc.

When you assemble a book template, diptych, triptych or collage in Photoshop (or other editing software), do you arrange them so they work together or do you just pop them in? In this post, I want to talk about the things to consider when assembling an attractive collection of images that can work together nicely.


You can compile images into a collage that aren’t necessarily from the same session or of the same topic. They can complement one another through the use of color schemes or even be edited to look similar even if they’re strikingly different for a quirky feel. The image below is taken from a vol25 album template with photography by Jen Johner. The images are so different yet work beautifully together in this collage:

{Looking inward}

I always make sure that my album pages and collages are compiled with the images looking inward. For the viewer, it can be very uncomfortable to see an album page where the subject is looking in a direction that falls off the edge of the page. For example, see the triptych below and you may agree that the boy’s gaze which goes outside of the collage (the right image) doesn’t feel right. He’s not engaged with the other images. At times, I will mirror images in Photoshop by selecting “edit > transform > flip horizontal” to keep all the images engaged with the center of the collage.


Much like the example above, I love to use images that lean into one another. This gives the sense that they are engaging with one another and just small parts of the ‘big picture’ as it were. I love the example below where every image seems to be (ever so slightly) engaging with the other through body language:


I particularly love using Diptychs to communicate progression or movement. Especially when they are created using images that wouldn’t make much sense if viewed alone (as in the first example below). In the second, combining the two images gives the viewer the sense that the subject is walking towards them.

As you can tell, I love combining images. But I also know when to display my strongest work alone as as not to crowd the image. Experiment with different methods for displaying images together to tell a story or convey an idea. You might just get hooked too!

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Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

Some Older Comments

  • Molly June 11, 2011 08:33 am

    These are great! With the {Colours} collage, how do you get the charcoal/crayon edge on each of the photos?

  • Vk March 31, 2011 05:54 pm

    Looks gorgeous ;) Thanks for the tut!

  • herve Andy Gbedji February 17, 2011 11:37 pm

    Great , Elizabeth , great .

    -> @ AnneMieke: Doing the border stuff is actually pretty simple(if u can use fireworks).
    Open yr firework , use the path drawer tool , and draw the frame u want in the color u want , in this case black.(u can work with a white background , but at the very end , dont forget to convert it to transparent, to use it with th photo in photoshop) .Once u r done with drawing th path , dont apply any feel to it.And set the strok color to black , stro value to 3 or 5, depends.then choose a stroke texture , ther ar many, You ll see result instantly.play arround with th different types of stroke , to see which u like better. After, u ve set th canvas to transparent , apply a 1px white shadow(not mandatory but can help). Now fit to canvas, save as PNG , and then go to yr photo in photoshop, put it above the photo layer , and apply as clipping mask.
    off course your frame should have same dimensions as yr photo . Enjoy !!

  • Karla February 11, 2011 12:23 pm

    I just stumbled across your site while searching for something quite different, and I'm really glad that I did. You have very helpful information here with some really good examples. Can't wait to explore more on your site and learn from it.

    I really like the layout in {Colours}. There's enough repetition to give the balance that more often is obtained from formally symmetric arrangements, while keeping an easy comfort that stems from the combination of the freehand-looking "frames" with the arrangement of the different shapes. I like similar arrangements on wall photo groupings, as well. This layout does leave me curious, though, as to the thoughts behind the choice of the varied photos. What drove the choice of photographs, other than color -- "These are a few of my favorite things" or "Many small comforts add up to a large-comfort life" or something entirely different, perhaps?

    In {Looking inward}, while switching positions of the two outer photos as Mike Thorson also mentioned, would resolve the issue you bring up, the problem I see with this triptych is the center photo, a fantastic shot on its own, but one which seems somewhat incongruous to the others, particularly being set between them: the photograph's focus, the child's (mental) focus, his position and relative size, the colors, and more just seem so different from the other two photos. From merely an emotional viewpoint, perhaps reordering, left to right, with photo 2, photo 3, photo 1 -- or the reverse -- would show a more logical progression, though that could further throw off the balance in other ways. I suppose I just feel a slight discomfort with the progression (as I perceive it with my ingrained left-to-right mindset) from giddy to disengaged comtemplation back to a facial expression of humor. Am I misreading this?

    I love all the photos in {Leaning}. I completely agree with the importance of facing the two side-angle photos toward each other, for the same reasons you discussed in {Looking inward}. To my mind, however, the engagement of the images seems to be with the viewer, rather than with the other photos, and that subject-viewer connection -- again, to me -- seems even more important than engagement among the subject images themselves. And I think that can certainly be indicative of the skill of the photographer, to be able to get photos that allow such a connection between subject and viewer, almost as if the photographer did not exist as middleman, just the subject and viewer.

    I think the dynamics could -- probably would -- change were four (or even two) different subjects, one (or two) photo(s) per subject, involved. Then perhaps engagement among the images would be more, or at least as, important as engagement between images and viewer.

    {Progress}: I love the story visibly told in the first set of photos - her almost surprised elated sense of "Hey, I did it!" to "uh-oh, back to square (round?) one..." but with enthusiasm and pride of accomplishment still in place, and no apparent sense of failure or defeat or discouragement. What a great attitude preserved on film!

    In the second pair of photos here, you might as well have used a video camers: I swear I can almost see her moving!

    Sorry that this comment grew to be so long. These are all such great examples. Thank you for sharing your expertise with such clarity.

  • jackie February 8, 2011 08:13 am

    Thank you, Elizabeth!

  • Annemieke February 6, 2011 07:12 am

    Hi Elizabeth, thank you for posting this. Could you tell me how you do the pencil like borders such as the ones in your first example? Thank you very much.

  • David Kennedy February 2, 2011 02:10 am

    Wow ive wanted to experiment with spliting up one image into three or four and have offten wondered how i could do that without having to print three individual images to get the effect that i want. thank you for the article and the examples. this helped so much.


  • Elizabeth Halford January 31, 2011 07:30 pm

    @Marcy: this is how I do rounded corners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjhgdfV6rb0

  • OJ Photo January 31, 2011 08:06 am

    Great post! Thanks!

  • Kiran January 31, 2011 05:56 am

    I love the collage idea, but somehow the examples were not up to par.

  • Mike Thorsen January 31, 2011 05:30 am

    RE: looking inward, just swap the two outer photos, and it will be much better. As for Progress, have the images been replaced with the correct ones? They look different to me.

  • summerbl4ck January 31, 2011 03:04 am

    Being aware of the "direction" of images, in the context of a collage, is really important. But I'm not sure that mirroring an image is a good idea, certainly not with someone's face. People are not symmetrical and it looks "wrong" when you mess with that. If it's only hands or feet, then maybe it would work.

  • Toni Aull January 31, 2011 02:41 am

    I had to place my-self in a mind set situation in order to connect with you on what you wanted me to know...and basically I did!!!........Through your PASSION, and there is where I connected and everything fell into place...Thank You

  • Barry Paffey January 31, 2011 02:06 am

    I found this site from a link on Twitter though MemoryGate, it's really good. The examples all make real sense to me.

  • Marcy January 31, 2011 01:43 am

    How do you do the rounded corners? I love the second collage with the three pictures.

  • Elizabeth Halford January 31, 2011 01:17 am

    Ack! Yes! Wordpress was having problems with inserting images when I wrote this and I think it copied it instead of inserting the new one. Thank you!

  • jen January 31, 2011 01:02 am

    I love that first template! Thanks for sharing.

  • IHSAN January 31, 2011 12:58 am

    agree with chuck. maybe u used the wrong pic for the example?

  • Chuck Leamon January 31, 2011 12:43 am

    I'm sorry, but I just don't get the {progress} example. The two sets of photos look exactly the same to me. Can you explain?