Create a collage in Gimp

Create a collage in Gimp



One task I perform regularly in Photoshop and Lightroom is to assemble multiple images on a single page for printing. I love displaying my photos, for example, as triptychs –which are three side by side images.

I’ve posted before on the process in Lightroom here and here and today I’ll show you how to do this in Gimp using a set of templates that you can find free for downloading on the web.

I downloaded my templates from There are eight templates in all zipped into a single downloadable PSD file.

Update: Since we published this post, the site is down so the storyboard templates are no longer available. To assist you, we have created a custom set of templates for both Gimp and for Photoshop. You can find these templates for download at

The triptych.psd template file which is in the zip download can be used along with the instructions that follow to create the collage in Gimp.


Unzip the files and open the one to use in Gimp along with the images that you want to use. I’m using the Three_Rectangles.psd file.


Start by viewing the template you are using and, in the Layers palette select and discard the top two layers which include the instructions.


Select the first of your images, choose Select > All and then select > Edit > Copy to copy the image to the clipboard.

In the template click on the layer marked C and choose Edit > Paste as > New Layer. This pastes the image from the clipboard into the layer immediately above layer C.

Click the Move tool (set it to Layer) and drag the image over the top of the shape on the right. If desired, click the Scale tool and scale the image to size it larger than the black rectangle.


Move the portion of the image that you’re most interested in seeing over the shape.

Now, to crop the image to size, click layer C, right click and choose Alpha to Selection.


Now select the Clipboard layer that you’ve been working on, choose Select > Invert and press Delete. The image will be clipped to size using the template shape as a guide to the size. Choose Select > None before continuing.


Repeat this process for layers B and A – select and copy the image to use, click the layer you’re working with (B or A) and choose Edit > Paste As > New Layer.

Move the image into position and scale it if desired. When scaling, making sure to lock the width and height so that the image is scaled in proportion.

Right click the layer you’re working with – Layer B (or A) and choose Alpha To Selection. Click your newest clipboard layer and choose Select > Invert and then Delete.

When you are done you should have all 3 images in position.


This image has a background layer behind the pictures which currently shows white. If you prefer to add a solid color behind everything, delete this layer and add a new layer filled with your choice of color. Here I’ve added a new black filled layer.


You can finish off the design with some text or simply save the resulting image.

These storyboard templates are a good place to start with your picture layouts. You can find similar templates elsewhere on the web so start with a search for “Free Photoshop Clipping Mask Templates” or “Free Storyboard templates”.

Read more from our Post Production category

Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at

Some Older Comments

  • tutoriel montage September 16, 2012 01:11 am

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your web site unintentionally, and I am stunned why this twist of fate did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.

  • hayley g April 7, 2012 07:34 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you for the tutorial. I see that other people have said it's easier to do this or that - I'm VERY new using Gimp, and I found your tutorial really helpful and I achieved what I was trying to do.
    Most appreciative!

  • Alex Standiford March 29, 2012 04:43 am

    Hey JAwiman - I can help you with gimp. Check out this set of lessons on how to use gimp for beginners.

  • JAwiman March 28, 2012 01:34 pm

    Oh!! Found it!! Thanks!

  • JAwiman March 28, 2012 01:25 pm

    I am new with gimp and still trying to find my way around. I cant seem to find out how to select and invert the image i want to show. Where do i find the invert button?

  • Gimped! Gimp Tutorials December 3, 2011 12:15 am

    Another thing to note, you don't have to copy and paste the images in. You can instead simply open all of the images as different layers in a single step by clicking file>>>open as layers>>>select all of the images you want to use in the collage.

  • Gimped! Gimp Tutorials December 2, 2011 06:47 am

    Very cool! Another thing you can do in this case is use layer masks instead of deleting the selection, like so:

    Instead of deleting the images, you can right-click on your image layer you want to use, and cilck "add layer mask." initialize the mask to "selection." The advantage of this is you keep the image content if you change your mind about how you want to crop the image later. If you need more help learning about layer masks, you can check out this Gimp Video Tutorial.

  • Helen Bradley November 22, 2011 01:00 pm

    Here is link to a some replacement templates I made:



  • Helen Bradley November 16, 2011 11:46 am

    Thank you @e I am working on some replacement templates of my own that we have control over. Will post a link in the next couple of days - the templates will be downloadable and will work the same way these templates did.


  • E November 13, 2011 03:15 pm

    Unfortunately when i went to gingerpixel I got Is having a manicure, check back soon. Anyone know of other sources for free templates?

  • frann leach November 2, 2011 05:48 am

    There's a much easier way to do this:

    I'm assuming the templates consist of discrete areas of a single color surrounded by a border of another color. I couldn't download the templates you were using, so I can't be sure of this.

    1. Use the Fuzzy Select tool to select one of the areas that a photo should go.
    2. Copy the photograph you want to color, then use Paste Into to paste it into the selected place.
    3. Move the image layer around and/or resize it until it looks the way you want.
    4. Anchor it.
    5. Repeat from 1 for each image/position in turn.

    I often use a pie chart from to make images like the one on this post:

  • jon October 29, 2011 02:57 am

    Very nice lesson. However, I think you meant to write about creating a montage, not a collage....

    A collage is a composition of materials and objects pasted over a surface; a montage is a single composition created by juxtaposing a series of pieces of paper, photos or other media to create an artistic image.


  • Jeet October 28, 2011 01:31 am

    Thanks a lot Helen. I use the GIMP, and will now definitely try this out soon.

  • Allie October 27, 2011 11:20 pm

    Thanks for the resource. I just started using collages in my posts, and the first time I did it all manually, it took longer than I liked. Hopefully with using templates, I can move a bit quicker.

  • Dewan Demmer October 27, 2011 07:58 pm

    i have always done my collages without a template and in GIMP, its simply about remembering to keep your spaces even and ensure that the images are all the right size, generally I resize my images to a predetermined size.

    Here are my non template ones, its really easy just use the ruler for spacing or the grid:

  • Shams Naved October 27, 2011 04:33 pm

    @ Jim... You would need to download the plugin UFRAW to handle RAW/NEF/CR2 type images in GIMP. It blends well with GiMP.

  • Jim October 27, 2011 12:30 pm

    Can RAW/NEF images be processed in Gimp?

  • Masterchef October 27, 2011 11:27 am

    If Lightroom or Gimp/Photoshop are too hard to use you can try collages in free Google Picasa. I tend to process all my photos in Lightroom and Photoshop but still using Picasa as a quick way to search and publish photos.

  • John October 27, 2011 08:24 am

    Nicely put together tutorial. I used gimp for so long before getting my hands on PS and loved it. I mean sure it's n to the powerhouse that is photoshop, but it really does a great job for what it is and is definitely a great program for those that can't afford the professional alternative.

  • Matias October 27, 2011 05:48 am

    Thanks for the tutorial and the resource tip, the result looks great! Very useful for us who don't have Photoshop. I think this can be done in as well as it can handle PSD files too.