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. You might also know of it as the Instagram puzzle feed grid. 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 Instagram puzzle grid template you can download and use in Photoshop alongside the steps below to create your own Instagram collage feed. Or, you can follow the steps we’ve outlined below to set up your own document in Photoshop (or Canva).
(Note: You will need Adobe Photoshop installed on your computer to open this)
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.
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.
If you’re after some higher-end, styled stock photos, you can’t go past Styled Stock Society. Their photos are next level and guaranteed to help your brand sparkle.
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.
(Skip this step if you’re using the downloadable Instagram grid 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.
If you’re after a more minimal looking Instagram collage, 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.
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.
This is my favourite part. Go nuts! Add illustrations, quotes, borders, handwriting, icons… anything that fits with your brand vibe.
If you’re not using our downloadable Instagram grid 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.
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.
I recommend Planoly or Plann for planning and scheduling your feed. The only real difference between the two apps is Planoly allows you to schedule via your computer, but Plann is for your phone only.
Good luck! And don’t forget to download the Instagram puzzle grid template below.
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