Instagram, oh Instagram. How I love you so. But, if you show me yet another cookie-cutter feed comprised of aspirational photos and very little creativity, I think we’re going to have to end this. Sorry. It’s not you; it’s me. I’m simply craving a little more excitement.
I’ll be the first to admit that I too once went through the white, clean-looking feed phase. And the bright colour phase. And the VSCO filter phase. And the funny quotes phase. Not all in one account, mind you. If I stumbled upon a perfectly planned out feed with on-brand colours, I used to hit follow quicker than you can say #instacrush.
But times have changed. I don’t know about you, but it takes a little more than some pretty flowers and a white background to get my interest these days. I’m not such a cheap date anymore.
Enter, the across-the-grid collage. The perfectly planned feed’s handsome cousin from overseas. This one takes high-maintenance to the next level, but, boy is it nice to look at.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out our Instagram feed. Insert shameless plug about following us on Instagram here.
Sure, putting together an across-the-grid Instagram collage takes a leeeetle bit of work. But, it’s surprisingly a lot easier than you’d think. I’ve put it all together in a simple, step-by-step format below. These instructions require Photoshop, but you could easily swap it for Canva + the Instagrid app.
We’ve put together a simple PSD template you can download and use alongside the steps below to create your own collage. Or, you can follow the steps we’ve outlined below to set up your own document in Photoshop (or Canva).
Step 1: Create a mood board
If you have a good idea of your brand colours and aesthetic already, you can skip this step. If you don’t, then this step is non-negotiable. What you really want to get clear on is your brand imagery, colours and general vibe. Is your brand full of florals or is it clean-cut and neutral? Is beachy or is it earthy? I give you full permission to go wild on Pinterest. Insert shameless plug #2 about following us on Pinterest here.
Step 2: Download some stock photos, patterns, brushes and any other graphics that fit your brand
Unsplash is my dirty little secret – shhh, don’t tell anyone. Completely free stock photos that don’t suck. Spoiler alert: you’re about to lose ~4 hours of your evening browsing through their amazing photos. And, when you’re finished with Unsplash, head over to Creative Market to download other graphics and brushes to jazz up yo’ feed. They’re not free, but they’re reasonably priced.
Step 3: Set up a PSD file 3000px wide by 5000px high.
(Skip this step if you’re using the downloadable template)
This will create 15 images in total. If you want to create more in one go, be my guest. Once you’ve set up your PSD file, you’ll need to add grid lines so you can see where each square is.
In Photoshop CC on a Mac, you can do this by going to the View menu > Show > Grid.
Then, go to the Photoshop CC menu > Preferences > Guides, Grids & Slices and enter the settings you see below. This might be slightly different depending on your version of Photoshop and your operating system.
Step 4: Pick one main image per square and add them all to the PSD
If you’re after a more minimal look, you could choose one image for every two squares. If you’re after a more crowded look, choose more than one image per square. You get the gist.
Step 5: Arrange the images to look cohesive.
You might need to replace some images here if they don’t quite fit in with the others. Resize them, rotate them, change the order. Crop them into different shapes. Erase parts of the image. Whatever fits your brand.
Step 6: Decorate!
This is my favourite part. Go nuts! Add illustrations, quotes, borders, handwriting, icons… anything that fits with your brand vibe.
Step 7: Slice your image
If you’re not using our downloadable template, you’ll need to create slices in your image. You can do this by selecting the Slice tool. At the top of your screen, change the settings to fixed size, 1000px x 1000px. Then, click in the top left-hand corner of each grid square in your PSD to create a square slice.
Step 8: Save your tiles
To save the slices into separate images, go to the File menu > Export > Save for Web. In the window that opens, click Save at the bottom of the screen. Ensure that in the next window that pops up, your export is Images Only and not Images + HTML.
Step 9: Upload into your favourite Instagram scheduling tool
How can you make your across-the-grid collage look amazing?
- Balance busy images with simple ones and solid blocks of colour.
- Don’t overthink it! Simple is almost always best.
- Have fun decorating your image at the end, but don’t go overboard and complicate it too much.
- Stick to a limited colour palette. Usually, this would be your brand colours.
Good luck! And don’t forget to download the template below.