Filmstrip Frame Collage

Step-by-step instructions on how to make a collage in a filmstrip frame

By Charlie Kerekes, 10/24/2005

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A popular collage frame is the filmstrip. You do remember filmstrips, don't you? The medium used for recording pictures before digital cameras?

With the right tools, composing photos into a filmstrip collage is easier than you might think. In this article I explain in detail how to make a collage of pictures into a filmstrip, like the example below. When finished, the filmstrip can be printed or developed on photo paper and used to embellish a scrapbook layout, made into a personalized bookmark gift, or framed for displaying on a wall.

The content of the collage can take many forms to fit your needs. You may choose to place unique photos in each frame, or duplicate a single photo four times. In my example I chose a combination to illustrate two techniques; I used two different photos and created a black & white duplicate of each.

Filmstrip collage frame, featuring two unique photos and their black & white duplicates.

Filmstrip collage frame, featuring two unique photos and their black & white duplicates.

The steps in this article use "layers" in Photoshop Elements. Step-by-step instructions are provided; however, if you are unfamiliar with layers, you may wish to start by reading Editing Photos with Layers .

Tools You Will Need

In addition to digital photos, you will need the following items to make the collage:

Selecting the Photos

For best results, select photos with 3x2 or 4x3 dimensions of the same orientation—portrait or landscape.

The steps below assume landscape (wide) photos. If you choose portrait (tall) photos, be sure to modify the steps by first rotating the filmstrip into a vertical orientation.

Preparing the Filmstrip Frame

The first step in making the collage is to create the frame. Once the filmstrip is scanned, the frames are removed to leave a transparent rectangle under which we insert our own photos.

Tip: Skip the steps in this section by taking advantage of our free template offer at the bottom of this page.

collage frame

So that you don't have to find and scan a 35mm filmstrip, I am providing a high resolution image (788 KB) for your use. Click here for the filmstrip image download instructions .

After you have downloaded the filmstrip image to your computer, continue with the steps below.

All steps apply to Photoshop Elements 2.0 - 4.0, unless indicated otherwise as v2 , v3 , and v4 .

  1. Create a blank image in Photoshop Elements, according to the dimensions of the photo paper. In this example I am using 4x6" paper.
    Commands :
  2. Place the collage frame into the center of the new image, taking up the entire width.

    Commands :
  3. Re-name the new layer created by the frame image to Frame .
    Command: Double-click the current image name in the Layers palette and type new name, then hit Enter

  4. Selection marquees around all blue frames, ready to be deleted.

    Selection marquees around all blue frames, ready to be deleted.

    Convert the blue frames to transparent .
    Commands:
  5. Save the collage file to your hard drive in a place where you can find it.

Making the Collage

At this point you should have the filmstrip frame ready and open in Photoshop Elements. Let's continue with adding our own pictures to complete the collage.

First photo is placed into the collage, taking up entire canvas area and covering the frame layer.

First photo is placed into the collage, taking up entire canvas area and covering the frame layer.

  1. Open the first photo into a new layer.

    Commands :
  2. Re-name the new layer created by the photo to Photo 1 .
  3. At the moment, the Photo 1 layer is on top, covering the Frame layer. Move the Frame layer to the top.
    Command: In the Layers palette drag the Frame layer with your mouse above the Photo 1 layer

  4. Size and move Photo 1 into the first frame of the filmstrip. First photo of the collage sized and positioned inside the filmstrip frame.

    First photo of the collage sized and positioned inside the filmstrip frame.
    Commands:


    If you are using 2 pictures like the example continue if not skip to #8 and use four (4) different pictures.
  5. Duplicate the first photo.
    Commands:
  6. The above step placed the duplicate image directly on top of the original, so it appears as if nothing has happened. However, notice that there is a new layer in the Layers palette and it is selected. Move the duplicate image to the second frame of the filmstrip.
    Commands:
  7. Convert the image to black & white .
    Command: Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color
  8. Repeat above steps for Photo 2.
  9. Save the finished collage.
    Command: File > Save

The collage is now complete and can be printed at home or uploaded to an online developing service. After the ink dries, trim the narrow filmstrip collage and enjoy.