Efficient way to create picture grid
Suppose you're a photographer who works in Photoshop and Lightroom, and who wants to create a borderless "contact sheet", a grid of different photos with pixel-perfect alignment of the edges of each image.
Perhaps the obvious way, using Photoshop, is to import each image into a layer, resize each to create tile-sized images, then manually move them into place. This can take considerable time for a grid of just 10 images because:
- Re-sizing tiles involves calculating optimum dimension to properly fill a given space, then applying a scale transform manually to each layer. If you decide to change e.g. the number of images in a row, you have to start from scratch
- Moving images to the right place may not be a simple case of dragging them, because source images may be of slightly different aspect ratios, or require slightly different crops. Using layer order can overcome this, but again time consuming.
- Every time you need to test swapping photo locations and layouts, you have to start over.
- There's no easy way to "zoom" or crop images within a tile space as you go along.
- You can't change your mind about the output file dimensions, etc.
Lightroom offers a solution to some of the above with its print module but the pixel-perfect alignment of images is very iffy, as you can't zoom in to larger grid sizes to check there were no gaps, or to check to see which image was on top of which other image.
Other e.g. iOS apps do this function well, but only offer grids of up to, say, 4x4. Perhaps I need 3x20.
Can someone suggest an alternative method, alternative software (pref. Windows), or a clever way to do what I need to do in Photoshop?
I don't even know how long its existed but Photoshop for years and years now (at least 15) has had a built-in contact sheet function...
Under File > Automate > Contact Sheet
If you want to do it without using the built-in contact sheet then instead of your current photoshop which has issues you've identified such as:
Also there's no easy way to "zoom" or crop images within a tile space as you go along.
Set up a single contact sheet with empty rectangle shape layers to use as clipping masks. If you have InDesign you might even consider doing this in InDesign so you can swap images even easier using the Links panel.
If you're using a newer version of photoshop I believe CC2014 and above has had built-in grid generating features that can help you setup the initial rectangles quicker and much faster if you decide to change the number per row.
View > New Guide Layout