How To Create a Triptych in Photoshop

A triptych is a great way to present several photos with a common theme or subject. A past article at Digital-Photography-School.com discussed how to create a template in Lightroom for printing a triptych. But what if you just want to present your photos on a website or blog? Unfortunately there isn’t a way to export three images together in Lightroom. Here’s a simple way to do it in Photoshop. As with most things in Photoshop, there’s probably more than one way to do the same thing, but this is what I’ve found works for me.

Step 1: The first step is to choose the images you would like to present together. Although I won’t go into the details of selecting images to use in this tutorial, it’s important to pick images that compliment each other or follow a theme. A good primer on selecting and presenting images can be found here. For this method, you should have each of your three photos edited or otherwise ready.

Step 2: Once you’ve selected your three images, the next step is to open them all in Photoshop, either by directly opening each file or by exporting them from Lightroom into Photoshop (Figure 1). Make sure you open the edited versions. All three images should now be open in Photoshop.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Step 3: Now that you have all three photos open in Photoshop, verify that the pixel dimensions of each one are the same by going to Image → Image Size (Figure 2). If not, you’ll need to adjust them so that they are the same size. This is best done by downsizing the larger ones to match the size of the smallest one. This is particularly important for the Height. Generally you will want the Widths to match as well, but depending on the images you have chosen you may be able to create some interesting and creative layouts by using images with differing widths.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Step 4: Once you have all the images sized correctly, the next task is to expand the canvas (or background) to accommodate all three images (Image → Canvas Size). When you do this you’ll need to account for some space between the images as well as some extra space for the border. How much space you provide is entirely up to you and you may want to experiment with different spacings and borders widths. For this example I decided to start with a horizontal spacing of 50 pixels between the images and a vertical border of 40 pixels. Therefore, the total canvas size had to be adjusted to 6200 x 3080 to accommodate all three images and border spacing (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

I usually stick with a black background but again, you may want to experiment with different colors, depending on the images you’ve chosen.

You’ll only need to extend the canvas for one of the images. This is simplest for one that will be the center image (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4

Step 5: Once you’ve extended the canvas, it’s time to copy in the other images. Go to one of the other images that you have open, select the entire image using Command-A (Control-A on Windows), and then Copy it (Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5

Return to your main image and Paste in the second one. The second image will come in on a new layer and will likely overlay the original. Use the Move tool to grab the image (Figure 6) and position it where you would like it to be. Do this again for the third image. Again, it will come in on a new layer and you’ll need to position it where you want it to go.

Figure 6

Figure 6

When moving the images around, you may find it easier to position them correctly by having the Snap function turned on. This is found under View → Snap. Also, before trying to move a particular image, make sure that you have selected the layer that image is on or you may inadvertently move the wrong image.

You should now have all three images in place and positioned properly (Figure 7).

Figure 7

Figure 7

Step 6: The final step is to Save your image, which if you are using Lightroom, will import the image back into your Lightroom Catalog (Figure 8). This is just one example of what you can do. You aren’t limited to using only three photos and the photos don’t necessarily have to be the same size or even shape. Experiment and have fun!

Figure 8

Figure 8