1st Annivesary Photo Collage Tutorial

Last week when I posted the photo collage I created for my husband for our first wedding anniversary (and for the Pinterest Challenge), I promised a follow-up tutorial with step-by-step instructions.  As an engineer, PowerPoint tends to be my weapon of choice, whether for engineering presentations or crafty home projects. Word of warning: there is probably a much easier way to do this, but this is just how I tackled the project.  It just made the most sense to my brain and with my PowerPoint skill set.

Step 1: Use Word Art to create a large number 1 (or any other number, depending on the milestone you’re celebrating!) that is to your liking.  Play with the font, type, size, etc.

Step 2: I then used the custom curve tool to trace the number 1 as close as I could to create a custom shape (you’ll see why in the next step).  I basically just clicked every inch or so, making sure to place some extra points in the corners.  FYI, you can easily edit the points after the fact if you don’t quite like how it turns out (but that’s for another tutorial).  The picture below shows tracing the “1” in progress.  The red outline was the original Word Art “1” that I chose – the blue is then the part I’ve traced out so far.  I know this sounds tedious, but it’s actually pretty easy and takes less than a minute for a simple shape like this.

Step 3: In PowerPoint 2010, you can create custom shapes by adding, subtracting, intersecting, or doing a union between two or more already existing shapes (here’s a tutorial, if you’re interested).  (If you have an older version of PowerPoint, sorry, this won’t work.)  In my opinion, this is a fantastic addition to PowerPoint 2010, and makes it much more powerful for home design use.

I started out by making an 8×10 inch rectangle (which is the final desired size that I wanted to print) – I left it shaded in blue, just so you could see that it’s actually there.  I then placed the custom-shaped “1” at the center of that rectangle (the “align” tool is great for this).  I then selected both the rectangle and the “1” and chose Combine Shapes –> Shape Subtract to subtract the 1 from the rectangle (FYI, this tool probably won’t appear standard in your toolbar and you’ll have to add it – the tutorial I link to above tells you how to do that).  So basically what this leaves you with is a filled in rectangle with a “1” cut out of it.

Step 4: I then started bringing in pictures.  I went through my Picasa album from the last year and found fun pictures that would remind my husband of all the fun things we did during our first year of marriage.  I decided to give these a border with knotched edges.

Step 5:  Start placing and resizing the pictures so that they roughly follow the shape of the “1” opening in your rectangle.  You can bring some pictures to the front or move some backwards to create a layered collage effect.

Notice that I filled in my new custom shape in white, instead of the blue shown above.  You could choose any color, however, to add some pizzazz or to match your decor.

Step 6: Once you’re happy with the placement of all of your pictures, group them all together and then send them to the back.  They will now show up “behind” your rectangle and only the part inside the “1” cutout will appear.  You can always make adjustments at this point if parts of your pictures are cutoff or if there is any white space showing.

At this point, you can also play with the fill color and borders.  I chose to just have a white background, and a thick black outline (notice that the black outline is not only around the “1” but also around the rectangle – so you can crop this out later if desired, which is what I chose to do).

And that’s it!  You have a personalized photo collage to give as a gift, using nothing more than PowerPoint.

I’ll be back later this week to show you what my runner-up gift was.  It was also a photo collage of sorts made in PowerPoint, but I decided that I liked the “1” idea better.

Happy PowerPointing!!! 🙂

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