A number of people have been asking me how to make picture collages using personalised graphics. The reason I became interested in this myself is a heightened awareness of copyright law and a desire to create unique designs for our school website. Schools obviously don’t have a budget to pay for a graphic designer or indeed a web designer in the upkeep of their school website, wiki or blog.
The tools that I use are Pic Collage for iPhone or iPad. There are many free collage apps available for tablet devices. Before this I used Picasa for making collages in class on the Interactive Whiteboard so this would also be a good starting point.
Another essential tool is Background Eraser for iPhone. There is an iPad version but the iPhone app can “feather” your image after you have erased your background. This can be seen in the second image here where the school crest is inside a frame rather than the first GAA image above where the school crest is like a sticker.
An additional tool is the use of a stylus which until you have one you never quite ‘get’ why you would ever need one but trust me – for this exercise you need a stylus. I got my one from a well known retailer online for €4 to €5. They can be found to cost up to €20 but that for me is pointless as they are easily lost or damaged. I bought two Trixes styli / styluses a few months ago and they are going fine.
The website clker.com is the next venue from which one can download transparent .png files that are public domain and royalty free. When these are placed into Pic Collage they are similar to stickers which an app may have as an In-App purchase. I would advise people to store a range of these transparent png files on their devices. I have various images on themes such as school; office; animals; art; transport; pets; technology; food; music; geography etc.
Where an image is not available of is specific to your school then you can make it yourself. This is where the background eraser app comes into play. I would tell teachers to get a hold of the concept themselves first and only when fully comfortable should a teacher start making graphics with their class. There are many steps to this as I have attempted to detail in this post and it took me a while to get a handle on the process, no to speak of figuring it out in the first place. The open source image sites are also not for children and I find that the sites that are suitable do not contain the range of images that one would need.
Use the pictures the make in school. Our school made a calendar the last two years running in conjunction with the Parents’ Association. This year we went with the theme of “Our school and Surrounding Areas” so we could use the pictures on the website. The pictures in the Parent Teacher Meetings showing the teachers in our school would be an example of how we maximised the use of the pupils’ artwork. The calendar will only last until the end of the year but we have the pictures to use year on year. These too can be inserted into your Pic Collage as stickers if they are edited into transparent .png in the Background Eraser App.
Lastly I would tell teachers to take pictures of their school at every opportunity. Take pictures of the local landmarks and scenery. These make lovely backgrounds for the collages and really personalise the end product making it unique to your school setting. The Scoilnet Graphic shows the view from an area close to my school which is overlooking Lough Gill from the Leitrim side! Many of the graphics in this post are examples of use of photos as background to a collage.
Pic collage is free on iTunes App Store
Background Eraser costs €0.99
Try it out!