Sunday, August 1, 2004

Create easy digital collages with Photomix


By James Booth

Do you have a pile of snapshots in a box, tucked away in a dusty, dingy corner of the closet, attic or basement? I sure do. Or maybe you have cluster of Picture CDs from the drugstore photo developer? What do you do with them?

You could put them in albums, which take up even more space. You could by a bunch of those collage photo frames. Or, you could use Photomix from fCoder, at, to make your own photo collages.

How's it work?

Photomix is a photo layout and composition program that includes backgrounds, masks, and templates for layering and collaging your digital photos. You can also create your own templates, backgrounds, and masks, and then add them to the library for later use.

The first time I ran Photomix, an on-screen tutorial showed up to guide me through my first collage. This was very nice, as I didn't have to go digging through help files or manuals and was able to just dive right in. And because we men never read instructions, it was great that Photomix showed me what to do right off.

To use Photomix, you first pick a template, which consists of various sized image windows. The number of image windows ranges from one to about a dozen. The size and positioning of the windows is completely adjustable, so if you're not satisfied with a provided template, you can alter it to suit your needs. Figure A shows the workspace with the templates selection on the right.


There are many templates included with Photomix, or make your own. (click for larger image)

Once you choose your template, you can choose a background to fill in the empty spaces between the image windows, use an image as a background, or choose to have no background other than color.

Now that you've got a background and a template, it's time to add some images. At the bottom of the workspace is the image addition area where you'll load the images you want to use for this collage. Figure B shows the image thumbnails for this construction, with the Layer window on the right. Inserting your images into the collage is as easy as drag-and-drop. In fact, pretty much everything in Photomix works by drag-and-drop.


Selected images are shown at the bottom of the work area and layers on the right. (click for larger image)

Now you have the background and your images arranged in the template. Let's fancy-up those images a bit with some masks. Figure C shows some of the masks that come with Photomix. Masks can dress up an otherwise plain collage by fading in an image or creating a unique border around them. In addition, Photomix comes with its own editor for touching up photos.