A good-looking photo collage calendar?
January 28, 2009 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Accidental Graphic Designer: I have to make a photo-collage calendar for work. By tomorrow. I have hundreds of pictures, decent Photoshop skills, and the ambition to make something beautiful. But, Oh God, no clue. Hope me?

I am a technical writer at a soap factory. You probably use one of our products. My department comprises the guys who cook the soap, their team leaders, and a couple of admins, about 80 people. Part of my job is to make stuff -- job aids, posters, certificates, bulletin-board displays of candid pics -- for morale purposes. And it's not just propaganda: people are in fact pretty happy, especially compared with other departments in Production.

The idea was floated to make a printed calendar for everyone in the department -- primarily as a scrapbook of departmental pics, on a nominally useful item listing company holidays and everyone's birthday. Yesterday we found out the big boss (whom everyone loves) is leaving, so it became an emergency to get this thing out.

What I have:
  • I have tons of pictures of my coworkers making soap, hanging out, at parties and trainings, receiving awards, posed for group pictures, etc.
  • I have Photoshop and Office. I do layouts for things in Photoshop, because that's what I have.
  • A color palette I use a lot: two light blues from our company logo, CDE5EB and 8BC2D2, the dark blue of the uniforms, 3A4772, red for titles and icons, d50707, and sparingly a green 069C18 and a yellow E3B917 for accent. I'm not married to those colors, except the dark blue -- it is dominant in 90% of the pictures.
  • Calendar data -- I made the calendar part of the calendar in Word.
  • A good laser color printer.
  • Total creative freedom!
Now what?
Do I group pictures by theme? A theme a month?
The month they were taken? People whose birthday is that month?
All pictures of people at work are fairly mono-chromatic -- the guys wear dark blue uniforms, and the factory floor is pretty dark.
I have good candid portraits of some people, but not everyone.
Layout as an overlapping pile of pictures? Um... some other way?

Basically what I'm asking is for your design ideas. I've looked at the template sites recommended in other threads, but I haven't seen a photo-collage style that did not look completely retarded. Have you? Thoughts?
posted by Methylviolet to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Something I did once that went down particularly well was to take images of famous old paintings and replace faces with those of my colleagues. My boss at the time made an excellent Henry VIII (Holbein). Someone else (I forget who) made a really good Laughing Cavalier. But of course all that depends on having good portrait shots to work with.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 12:07 PM on January 28, 2009

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but a lot of digital scrapbooking sites have blank "quick fill" layouts that you can easily customize yourself with Photoshop. Here are examples. I think that would look better than just slapping them on top of each other.
posted by texas_blissful at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2009

A photo mosaic of either the company logo (or other branding) or of the boss' face.
posted by rhizome at 12:11 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen the photos, so I can't comment on how you should group the pictures. Maybe I'd do that organically though, just sort through them and see wich ones stick together.

the overlapping pile might not be so bad, you could place fake polaroid frames around the pictures, with funny text describing each picture written below in a handwriting font.

An easier way might be to make it look a bit punk, just cut out the bits of the pictures you want to use with the polygon lasso tool, and have the space between pictures in a single background color, which contrasts the picture content.

If the pictures are mostly fun/funny, "completely retarded" might not be such a bad way to go :)
posted by svenni at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2009

Picasa can do collages that (I think anyway) turn out well.
posted by inigo2 at 12:15 PM on January 28, 2009

Bea Arthur: that is excellent. But (a) 80 people! no time and (b) ...I am probably not that good.
Blissful: "digital scrapbooking" might just be the search term I want!
Rhizone: Yes! There's my cover.
Svenni: Yes, that's the pretty much what I started with -- overlapping pics stroked in white. No captions, though. Dare to be retarded!
Inigo: I don't want to dl Picasa -- do you have examples of how they look?

This is great, thank you, keep them coming!
posted by Methylviolet at 12:59 PM on January 28, 2009

Oh, I missed that you still wanted to do a calendar. I was thinking you'd just make a poster. For a calendar you could get 12 (or 15, as calendars go) images and collage each one non-repetitively. I'm sure you could have the whole thing done by the end of the day. :)
posted by rhizome at 1:14 PM on January 28, 2009

Inigo: I don't want to dl Picasa -- do you have examples of how they look?

A few collage examples on flickr
posted by inigo2 at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2009

You can use storyboard templates. These are clean and nice and do not involve bunnies, faries or barf. They can also be stacked, ie you can make *one* template to fit in more photos by stacking the top left and middle left storyboards on top of one another.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:16 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some fun toys at the BigHugeLabs Flickr page if you can get the photos into Flickr.
posted by catlet at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2009

DarlingBri those were exactly the thing. Using rectangles to make a layout, and then using clipping masks to put the content in the rectangles = Genius!

OK, maybe really obvious but it is a brand new concept for me. I bet real graphic designers do something like that, with the rectangles.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:14 PM on January 29, 2009

Heh. I prefer another program to PS, but execute a similar idea - create the frames on the top layer, drop all the photos into indlividual layers beneath, and then select, invert and crop off the excess. The clipping path is much, much faster though.

Also, they are nice templates - very clean, extremely useful. I'm glad they helped you out!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:34 AM on January 30, 2009

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