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Author Topic: Software to make image collages, film strips, and other multi-image compositions  (Read 7799 times)

JavaJones

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I have an infrequent but still significant need to make images like this:

joseph-eats.jpgSoftware to make image collages, film strips, and other multi-image compositions

By which I mean a single image composed of several separate ones, often in a sequence, or otherwise related, usually with borders between, sometimes with more creative blending (e.g. edges faded into each other).

I want a simple app that makes this super easy to do. The above was created with XnView, which is great as I love XnView. The problem is it's an iterative and imprecise process, this one took me 5 or 6 tries, and the control I had over the end results, while adequate, is limited. What I really want is something that can produce results like that, or like this, easily and quickly:

dirty_dicks_crab_composite.jpgSoftware to make image collages, film strips, and other multi-image compositions

Or this:

teton-license-plates-montage1.jpgSoftware to make image collages, film strips, and other multi-image compositions

Note the varying sizes and different border, etc. Caption capability per-picture as well as for the whole image would be nice but isn't a fundamental requirement.

Ideally the app would load an arbitrary number of files and then offer me an arbitrarily sized canvas on which to arrange them, with guides and snap-points to make it easy to achieve alignment or random arrangement, resizing, etc. with optional borders. Then it would generate a single image with a resolution of my choice, maximum maybe based on the native resolution of the loaded files. It should be able to deal with lots of high resolution photos at once, and ideally be able to handle RAW formats.

I've seen programs like maybe Arcsoft Photosuite or something similar that do seem to have similar capability, but they're not free, and more importantly they're usually bloated piles of crap with gimmicky features and poorly implemented core functionality. I want something that is hopefully simple, lean, efficient, and has very strong core capability to create these kind of sequence/collage images.

In the past I've used Photoshop to do this type of thing manually but it's laborious. It's even possible that Photoshop has a function in it that does this, or makes my normal process easier (basically just cut/paste and canvas enlargement, then manual border styles and stuff - pain in the butt). So if you've got suggestions for alternate workflow with the apps I already have and use, that's welcome too (Lightroom, XnView, Photoshop, Sagelight basically).

Thanks!

-  Oshyan

eleman

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Check out Foto Mosaik Edda. It may be configured to do what you want I suppose. Though captions are out of the question.

JavaJones

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Thanks for the quick suggestion. Foto Mosaik Edda is an interesting (and cool) app, but there are definitely some problems with it for my needs. The most significant is that it requires an additional input image that it will base the arrangement of your multi-images on (in order to construct a likeness of it). I did not find a way around this but since it is a fundamental part of the app's purpose I suspect it may not be optional. The other issue is related which is that photos cannot be manually arranged at all (from what I can see).

I should look up one of the Arcsoft-type apps, if nothing else then for a demo of the kind of thing I mean (but like I said not part of a bloated suite, and ideally free).

I guess Canon Photorecord is what I was thinking, but man Canon's website for it is crappy:
http://www.photoreco...ingphotorecord.html#
And, mind you, it is not ideal for my needs either, being much more focused on crappy themes, borders, etc. I usually want something very simple and clean, more valuable would simply be the alignment and arrangement controls and arbitrary layout canvas.

- Oshyan

InstantFundas

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You can try Picasa. It has a collage making function. I use it often.
Instant Fundas - Freeware reviews, Web Apps, Tech News

rgdot

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Some of the Collage software do all or some of that, Picture Collage Maker for example

IainB

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+ 1 from me for what @InstantFundas said re Picasa.

Curt

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Do it easy and for free with PhotoScape.

http://www.photoscap...ps/main/download.php

I use PhotoScape for a similar feature; they call it, to combine.

Version 3.3 is brand new: http://www.photoscap...wnload.php?update=on
Yes, this is exactly it.  Awesome!

JavaJones

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You can try Picasa. It has a collage making function. I use it often.

 :o  :-[ How did I not think to even explore the options in Picasa?? I've commented on its face recognition in the past and I still use it for that purpose and a few other utility functions. I have actually even played with some of its other "create" functions like "face movies" and "time lapse", both of which work quite nicely (in a limited but super easy to use way). Indeed, looking at the collage functions, it seems to be almost *exactly* what I wanted! I could quibble about some missing control in some of the varying-size modes (mosaic), but really it will work for 90% of my needs in this area, which is awesome, especially since it's both free and a tool I already have and know how to use. Thanks for showing me what was right in front of my nose! :D

For the sake of completeness, Picture Collage Maker doesn't show any examples that are as simple as what I'm trying to achieve. I didn't test it since it's not free anyway and I'm not going to pay $30 for a program just to do this (especially when I now know Picasa does it, heh), but I suspect it might make simplicity more difficult than it needs to be in its efforts to make fancy (and nice) looking collages for people who want more going on in their creations.

Photoscape is a good find. It actually has some options that Picasa doesn't and while it's a bit clunkier, I think it's worth keeping in the toolbox for when I want to do things a that Picasa's collage system just won't do. Rounded corners is an example of a feature that, while small, is something I've done occasionally in the past and is very easy to achieve in Photoscape.

Thanks to everyone who pitched in with suggestions, I've got several great options now! Another DC success. :) In fact, with how easy Picasa and Photoscape make this, I might be using this effect a lot more as I quite like it!

- Oshyan

jojo99

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I think you want to look at this program:

http://www.enricoros...opensource/fotowall/

JavaJones

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Thanks for teh suggestion jojo! Fotowall is fairly promising - I like that it's a portable app - but it doesn't seem to have any (functional) alignment options, which is kind of a must for really good results. Judging by the examples on the website, alignment should be possible (or someone was very careful aligning things for the examples), but I couldn't figure out how to do it at any rate. I did see one or two grayed out options that might have done it, but couldn't get them to activate. Judging by the very-much-in-progress nature of the program and its pre-1.0 status, maybe these are features that are just yet to be added/enabled. I'll keep an eye on it.

For now Picasa does a pretty darn good job for my needs. Photoscape is a good fallback for a bit more flexibility and other options.

- Oshyan

jojo99

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Thanks for teh suggestion jojo! Fotowall is fairly promising - I like that it's a portable app - but it doesn't seem to have any (functional) alignment options, which is kind of a must for really good results. Judging by the examples on the website, alignment should be possible (or someone was very careful aligning things for the examples), but I couldn't figure out how to do it at any rate. I did see one or two grayed out options that might have done it, but couldn't get them to activate. Judging by the very-much-in-progress nature of the program and its pre-1.0 status, maybe these are features that are just yet to be added/enabled. I'll keep an eye on it.

Not sure what you mean by alignment.  You can drag photos all over the canvas, bring them to the front or push them to the back, rotate, them, increase or decrease their size, etc.  However, there does not seem to be any alignment like take 2 or more photos and make centers line up or something like that (like you can do in Powerpoint).

Try opening a few photos at once and they will appear on the canvas.  Then when you put your mouse in the photo, look at the corners.  You can grab there and do all kinds of tricks.  Right-click in the photo and you will get more options.

If you click on one of those icons next to setup in the top right part of the screen, you can send the author your suggestions.

JavaJones

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However, there does not seem to be any alignment like take 2 or more photos and make centers line up or something like that (like you can do in Powerpoint).

This is exactly what I meant and, as you also note, it doesn't support it currently. Without that functionality it's tedious to arrange more than a few photos as 90% of the time I want mine to be well-aligned with each other either horizontally, vertically, or both. I did see the rest of the rotate, move, etc. functionality, I spent a bit of time playing with it, but as you confirm it can't do auto-alignment (something like the "snap guides" in Photoshop would be brilliant), it's not yet suitable for my needs. But as I said it's a very promising app so I'll keep an eye on it.

- Oshyan

CWuestefeld

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Every year my wife and I make calendars for friends and family, featuring monthly images that are a collage of the previous year's events in our life. To produce these I use Microsoft AutoCollage.

Quote
Photo collages celebrate important events and themes in our lives. Pick a folder, press a button, and in a few minutes AutoCollage presents you with a unique memento to print or email to your family and friends.

Here's a sample, the cover of the newest calendar:
2012calendar.jpgSoftware to make image collages, film strips, and other multi-image compositions

Note that it doesn't put borders between the images. It tries to blend them together, and sometimes it does a pretty uncanny job. For example, in this image, notice how the two pictures at the top (left and center) blend together. I don't know if there's something in the code that looks for opportunities for this, or it's just happenstance combined with the human mind's desperate search for patters, but I think it's pretty cool.

The amount of control you have is somewhat limited. You decide which pictures, and how much they'll overlap. You can nominate one or two as the most important, and those can be given a boost in relative size. And that's about all the control you get. When I use this, I'll run about ten trials with slightly different settings, and choose the best of the bunch.

Note that the product is a 30-day trial, and then $20.

UPDATE: I should also mention that this doesn't allow for captioning. But that's trivial to do in a separate step, as I'm sure you're aware.


« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 12:29:49 PM by CWuestefeld »

JavaJones

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Thanks for another recommendation. I like the effect Microsoft Autocollage produces, though I think I would want to use that less than ones with borders. Unfortunately I don't think it's worth paying $20 just for that one effect and limited options, but hopefully something similar is available in one of the other suggested apps or will be implemented at some point.

- Oshyan

CWuestefeld

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hopefully something similar is available in one of the other suggested apps

If you do find that feature elsewhere, please do report back, I'm interested.



JavaJones

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hopefully something similar is available in one of the other suggested apps

If you do find that feature elsewhere, please do report back, I'm interested.

Well, I just looked through Picasa and Photoscape, neither seem to have that capability, though they do both have lots of other great options. I'm surprised Photoscape in particular doesn't have a "cross-fade" option. Maybe something to suggest to the dev.

- Oshyan

JavaJones

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Just found a surprisingly nice (simple but really flexible and easy to use) online app for this:
http://www.picmonkey.com/

While it doesn't meet *all* my needs, it handles the majority, and faster, easier, and more flexibly than Picasa or any other free desktop app I've tried.

- Oshyan