A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Your First Photo Collage

White framed collage with 3x3 photos
"I love how the collage design shares a snapshot of what the day was like, from family photos, to hilarious speeches and joking around between shots." (Photo and text credit: Kelly from The Home Scene)

We all love photo collages but only a few of us know that you don't need expensive software to design one. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how you can create a beautiful photo collage with your favourite pictures using free mobile apps and online tools.

Step 1: Choose your collage maker

After testing more than a dozen apps and websites, we would like to recommend these free tools:

  • The Layout app - great as a starting point
  • The Fotor.com website - has more extensive options.

If you are new to design, or if you are looking for a quick, easy, and intelligent tool to use on your mobile devices, get the Layout app. (Download link for iOS AppStore or Android Play Store.)

The layout app is very easy to use. All you need to do is to select the photos you like and Layout will automatically suggest 16 layout options for you. It will pre-populate the template choices with your images, taking the guesswork out of which template works best here.

A screen shot of the Layout app
A screen shot of the auto layout generator. The bottom half lists all the photos you have on your mobile phone. Once you select the photos you want to include into the collage, the top half will show the template choices based on the photos you have chosen. The template choices generator is a huge time saver and can be a great help for novice collage makers.

The limitations of the Layout app are that it can only create square collages and the layout choices are limited.

Fotor will be your best bet if you want to be really creative, choose from a wide variety of options, and you don't mind paying $1.49 for some professionally designed templates,

A photo collage created using the funky templates in Fotor
A photo collage we created using one of the free templates in Fotor.

We have recorded a 7-minute video to show you all the important features you need to know about Fotor. We cover the basic features and introduce you to a few hidden gems.

  • 0:39 - how to choose from the different collage templates
  • 1:35 - a quick tour of the creative templates
  • 2:02 - how to use the editor tools to achieve visual consistency
  • 3:45 - how to change the final image size to be print ready. Use 2000x2000 if you want a square collage or 2100x2800 for a rectangle one.
  • 5:11 - how to tweak the border width
  • 5:55 - how to select a background colour or texture that matches your photos
  • 6.18 - where to find the "highest quality" option when you export the collage to get the best image resolution possible