I recently participated in an AMAZING online meeting with the wonderful Handmade Collective group, which I'm a part of on Facebook. During these gatherings we share information and tips related to the various forms of work we do as artists. I'm really grateful for any opportunities I have for sharing what I've learned while I've been doing the whole online selling/photo-taking/editing/marketing & promotion thing over the past 8 yrs.
During the meeting I mentioned how I used the photo editing program Picasa to create collage banners, which I use on Etsy and my Facebook page. I'd like to share this info. here for those in the group as well as for anyone looking to use this technique.
I was going to create a video on this, but my laptop broke. It's a PC, and I'm now using a MAC. I haven't quite figured all of this out. :/
So anyway. Screenshots will hopefully get the point across!
The first step is to download Picasa. It's free! Then you're gonna have to get your images into Picasa. Any pictures currently on your computer--i think--will automatically be added to the program once you use it the first time, or you may have to import them. It's been so long since I've done it, and I can't recall. However, I remember it being fairly simple to do.
You may want to familiarize yourself with it some prior to taking the steps below, or go through the steps, see what I'm talking about, then use this info. to begin to learn Picasa.
So, here are two banners I've created with these methods:
(Click on images to view larger.)
Here's how it's doen using Picasa:
1. Choose the images that you'd like to use in the banner. I recommend that you crop them so that they're square as opposed to rectangular, that way you're more likely to get the entire item/image you're trying to show to be in the collage. (From experience I know this is relevant when collaging garment pictures. I'm not sure about smaller items. Also, if you're using the Picture Pile collage feature, it may not matter. )
Above I've selected 10 images that I'll collage for the banner. The chosen ones have a blue/highlight box around them. Once you've chosen your images, click the collage button (circled in red at top left in the above image).
2. In the Collage menu under Settings, you can choose how you'd like your images arranged. I usually go with Grid or Mosaic, but there are others as well. (Picture Pile is good, too!)
This is what the Grid effect looks life for my chosen images:
And this is what happens when I choose Mosaic.
So it's really a matter or how you want the images arranged.
3. Now the key to having the collage be the size suitable for Etsy or Facebook is to manually type in the relevant dimensions. Hit the drop down menu under Page Format, then scroll all the way down under that menu and select Add Custom Aspect Ratio.
4. When the Add Custom Aspect Ratio box opens, type in the dimensions. The dimensions for a cover photo on Facebook are 851 x 315. Type that in and give the dimensions a name if you wish. (The dimensions for an Etsy banner are 760 x 100.)
Once you've typed in the numbers, hit Ok and the banner will adjust accordingly.
5. Next, hit Create Collage, and your collage will form instantly!
6. At this point you can use the editing tools on the left to add text to your image and create other visual effects (add a border, make it lighter/darker, black and white, etc.)
When you've got it looking the way you want, save the image and upload it to your site!
The main thing that I suggest is to play around with the different features of Picasa and familiarize yourself with what it offers. It's pretty straightforward and user-friendly, and you can always undo something you've done if you decide you don't like it.
Hopefully this tutorial is useful if this is something you'd like to do. There's a lot more to be said for the different effects you have access to within this program, and a lot of the understanding of it all comes from just playing around with it.
Please let me know if you have any questions via the comment box!