Combining multiple photos on a single print is easy to do with most digital photo editing software packages. In this article I provide general steps that you can follow with any software, specific steps for Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 - 2.0, and a free template offer at the end.

Learn how to print multiple photos on a single paper to create small prints or a collage.

Learn how to print multiple photos on a single paper to create small prints or a collage.

Why print multiple photos on a single print? Here are a few reasons:

  • Save printing supplies
  • Combine pictures into a simple collage
  • Create small prints, such as wallet size

Cropping Photos

The first step of combining photos into a single image is to crop the original pictures into the correct shape to fit the print dimensions. Start by deciding the following:

  1. Size of the final print
  2. Number of photos you want on a single print
  3. The shape of each photo

You can determine the third answer by dividing the print size into the appropriate number of equal sizes. To save you time, I have calculated the dimensions for the three most popular print sizes and provided the answers in the table below.

Photo Shape
Print Size 2 photos 3 photos 4 photos
4" x 6" 3 x 4 1 x 2 2 x 3
5" x 7" 3.5 x 5 2.3 x 5 5 x 7
8" x 10" 5 x 8 3.3 x 8 4 x 5

If you want unequal photo sizes on the same print, ignore the table and size the photos as desired.

In this article I walk you through the steps for placing three equal size photos on a 4x6" print. According to the table, each photo in the collage will have a 1x2 shape. Be aware that the table is not referring to 1 inch x 2 inches specifically, but the relationship between width and height. Another way to say it is that a 1x2 shaped photo's longer dimension is twice as long as the shorter.

Combining Photos: General Steps

The steps for placing multiple photos into a single image are easy with the right software. You will need a digital photo editing software capable of combining multiple images (or files) into a single image. (Photoshop Elements users skip to the next section.)

  1. Make copies of each photo file so that the originals are not altered; make all changes to the copies only.
  2. Crop each photo into the appropriate shape to fit the combined image.
  3. Create a new blank image (or canvas) in the dimensions of the print. This image will contain the collage of all photos to be printed.

    In my example I created a 4x6" image at 300 ppi resolution.

  4. Add each photo into the blank image as their own layer. Depending on your software, this may be accomplished with one of the following commands: File > Open; File > Place; or Select, Copy & Paste.
  5. Size and position each photo to take up an equivalent portion of the overall collage image.
  6. Save the final composition.
  7. Print the image at home or upload to an online developing service.

Combining Photos: Photoshop Elements

If you have Adobe Photoshop Elements, follow the steps in this section to place three photos on a single 4x6" image. The steps apply to Photoshop Elements versions 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.

    Commands v3 & v4:
    • File > New > Blank File
    • In the New dialog box enter the following settings and click OK:
      • Width: 6 inches
      • Height: 4 inches
      • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch
      • Background Contents: White

    Commands v2:
    • File > New
    • In the New dialog box enter the following settings and click OK:
      • Width: 6 inches
      • Height: 4 inches
      • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch
      • Background Contents: White

  2. Save the blank image to your hard disk with a unique name.

    Command: File > Save As, enter "collage.psd" as the file name and click Save

  3. Open the first photo of the collage.

    Command: File > Open

    Warning: Do not save changes to the original photo images. Do not use the Save or Save As commands, except in the "collage.psd" file.

  4. Crop the first photo into the appropriate shape to fit the collage. Since we want to place three photos on a 4x6" print, each photo needs to have a 1x2 shape.

    Commands:
    • Click the Crop Tool Crop Tool
    • On the top toolbar set Width to 1 in
    • On the top toolbar set Height to 2 in
    • Drag your mouse over the portion of the photo you wish to keep and hit Enter to crop

  5. Copy the cropped photo into a new layer of the collage image.

    Commands:
    • In the Layers palette right-mouse click on the image (layer title should read "Background")
    • Choose Duplicate Layer

      If the Duplicate Layer command is not available, the image may be in 16 bits per channel format. Convert to 8 bits with Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel

    • In the As box type Photo 1
    • In the Document drop-down list select collage.psd (or the name you gave the collage file)
    • Click OK

  6. Close the first photo without saving it.

    Commands:
    • File > Close
    • On the prompt asking if you want to save changes, click No

  7. Collage image after adding all three photos, but before sizing and positioning them. Notice the contents of the Layers palette.

    Collage image after adding all three photos, but before sizing and positioning them. Notice the contents of the Layers palette.

    Repeat steps 3 to 6 for the second and third photos. When finished, the collage should look similar to the example on the right, having three overlapping images.

    In the example the images are different sizes because some of the original photos were higher resolution than the others.
  8. Hide the Photo 2 and 3 layers so that you only see Photo 1.

    Command: In the Layers palette click the small eye Layer visibility indicator to the left of the layer to hide it

  9. Photo 1 sized and positioned to take up one third of the collage image.

    Photo 1 sized and positioned to take up one third of the collage image.

    Size and position Photo 1 so that it occupies the left third of the collage image.

    Commands:
    • Click on the Photo 1 layer in the Layers palette to select it
    • Click the Move Tool Move Tool
    • Drag within the image to move top left corner to the appropriate location
    • While holding down the Shift key, drag one corner of the photo image to size it.

      Tip: Always remember to hold down the Shift key on your keyboard while sizing photos to prevent distortion.

    • Repeat sizing and moving steps until the photo fits one third of the collage image.
    • Click the checkmark button on the toolbar to accept placement and size

  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 to size and position the other two photos to fill subsequent thirds of the collage, hiding only the layers above the one being worked on. When finished with this step, the collage image will be completely filled with three photos.
  11. Completed collage with narrow white margins between each photo.

    Completed collage with narrow white margins between each photo.

    To make trimming easier, slightly reduce the size of all three photos to leave a narrow white margin between them. Use the techniques discussed in step 9 to size the photos. Size each photo by dragging the bottom right corner while holding down the Shift key.
  12. Save the completed collage image.

    Command: File > Save

  13. If you have a printer, print the finished image. Use as a collage or cut out each photo to be used individually.

    Command: File > Print

  14. If you do not have a printer, save the finished image as a JPEG file and upload to an online developer (see Online Digital Photo Developing).

I hope you enjoyed learning how to print multiple photos on a single paper. Solidify your skills by placing two and four photos into a single image, using the techniques described above. Then, get even more creative by combining photos of various sizes and shapes into a collage.

Free Template Offer

To make positioning and sizing of the photos easier, we have created Photoshop Elements templates for placing 2, 3, or 4 photos on 4x6", 5x7", or 8x10" prints.

To use the template, you will need the following:

  • Knowledge of how to download, save, and open ZIP files.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, or the older 3.0 or 2.0 versions, installed on your machine.
  • Basic knowledge of how to use Photoshop Elements.

* Go to the Template Downloads page »