The Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Box Photo Template in Photoshop

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The Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Box Photo Template in Photoshop

Today I am going to teach you exactly how to create your very own Box Photo template in Photoshop.  Previously in this series, we gave an overview of box photography;  What is it and how do we do it? 

Examples of Box Photo Templates

We talked about how to build your box.  We walked directly through the steps necessary to turn your images into a completed composite, and now we are going to talk about how to create a template with as many boxes as you’d like!  You will be amazed at how simple it is! Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be creating amazing templates in no time at all!

Before You Begin creating Your Box Photo Template

Before you get started making your box photo template, you’ll need to decide what you’d like your template to look like.  Would you like something basic and simple?  3 boxes side-by-side?  Perhaps one larger box surrounded by smaller boxes?  Would you like to add space at the top of the box for some text or a title?  The best way to begin is by envisioning what you’d like your end product to look like.  I find it super helpful to make a little mockup sketch of what I have in my mind.  It will come in very handy when we get ready to lay out the squares in Photoshop.

Yellow pad with hand-drawn mockup of box template

For this tutorial, we are going to make the template that I’ve created above.  You will see I have marked out a one-inch border around my photos and a half inch of space between them.  I also plan to leave a space of three inches at the top of my template to add a title.  Once you have created this template as an example, you’ll be ready to venture out on your own and create whatever design you’d like.

Warning! Prepare to do math!

Begin by opening Photoshop.  On the top left, select File (1) and then select New (2).

Photoshop screen shot showing how to open a new document

A menu will open up that looks like what is shown below.  This is where you will set up the basic size you’d like for your template.  I like to work in inches because I’m American and that is how I go about sizing my photos for print.  If you would like to use a different measurement for future templates, go right ahead.  For this tutorial, we’ll stick with inches.

When your menu opens, take note of the drop down menu on the right.  If it says PIXELS, click on the down arrow and change it to Inches.

Photoshop screenshot for how to size a new document

Here is where you will need to begin doing a wee bit of math.  Sorry, but I did warn you!  If math scares you, grab a nearby kid and put them to work with their fancy “new math” skills.  They’ll have a number for you right quick!  But seriously – it’s really just a little bit of addition, so if you can run Photoshop, then you’ll be able to handle this math!

Add up all of the measurements on your sketch from left to right.  In my example I have a total of 18” across.  That will be your width, so enter that in the Width box.

Now do the same from top to bottom.  My total equals 20” height.  Enter 20 in the Height box (1).

Now consider your resolution.  In case you want to print your final image very large, you will want to ensure that you have enough pixels per inch to preserve detail.  I change this to 300 pixels/inch (2).  Finally, I use RGB Color Mode 16 bit because that is the setting that imports with my images (3).

When you have entered all this information, click “create” (4).

Photoshop screenshot showing how to set up new document

Now you have the base for your template.  It should look something like this.

Photoshop screenshot showing blank new document

Building on Your Box Photo Template Base

Now that your base is ready, it’s time to create a second layer so you can see where the holes in your Box Photo Template are.

First, be sure your background layer is selected, and then click CTRL-J (PC) or CMD-J (Mac).

Photoshop screenshot showing how to create a second layer

This handy keyboard shortcut will duplicate your layer.  You will use this shortcut plenty in Photoshop, so if it is new to you, write it down!  You’ll thank me later.

Photoshop screeenshot showing a duplicate layer

Next you will convert your Background layer to black.  Select the Paint Bucket Tool by pressing G or by finding the 3 dots at the bottom of your tool bar.  You will see the paint bucket tool, which looks like a tiny can of paint.

Photoshop screenshot showing how to change background layer color

Bonus Photoshop Tip

A little bonus tip for you when you’re working in Photoshop (PRETTY LINK).  If you are ever searching for a tool and just can’t remember where to find it, click on the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner.  Type in the name of the tool that you’re looking for, and Photoshop will give you an automatic shortcut to the tool that you can click on directly (1).  It will also show you the keyboard shortcut to that tool so you can make a note for next time (2).

Photoshop Screenshot showing tool search trick

This is the result for Paint Bucket Tool when clicking the magnifying glass.

 

Be sure that the main color selected for your paint bucket tool is black.  You can use any color here, but I prefer black.  It’s simple and I like simple solutions when I can find them.

Photoshop screenshot showing paint bucket tool main color

Make sure your background layer is selected and click on the template to turn that layer to black.  Take note that if the little eyeball next to Layer 1 is selected, then you will not see the black layer below.  Go ahead and click on that eyeball to see what happens.  Clicking on the eyeball will toggle the layer off and on and you will intermittently see the black layer and the white layer.

Photoshop screenshot showing how to toggle layer off and on

Create Guidelines for template cutouts

We are finally ready to start making some cutouts for your template!  You’re doing great!

Start by clicking on the white layer 1.  All of the cutouts for your Box Photo Template will be made in Layer 1.

Next, Click on the View Menu (1), then click on New Guide Layout (2). 

Photoshop screenshot showing how to open a new guide layout

Guide Layouts will create a draft for you, perfectly measured to fit on your layer.  You will need to type in the measurements you desire for your margins and gutters, which are the spaces around the edges of the page (margins) and the spaces between your images (gutters).  You can see by the example below how I have matched these measurements up with our rough drawn mockup from above.  The blue lines are guidelines that indicate where you will make your cutouts.

Photoshop screenshot showing how to enter measurements for guidelines

Once your guides look like they are in the places where you envisioned them, click OK.

Turn on Snap-to Guides

Before we can begin cutting, let’s make it easier to get everything automatically lined up.  Snap -To Guides allow This will keep your cuts accurate.  Click on the View menu (1).  Then click on Snap To (2).  Finally, click click on Guides (3).  If you’re not sure what snap-to guides are used for, check out Adobe’s helpful explanation.  

Photoshop screenshot showing how to turn on snap-to guides

Cut Out Spaces for Photos

Now that you have your guides lined up and your snap-to guides feature turned on, we are finally ready to cut!

Select the Marquee Tool by clicking on the small square made of dotted lines.

Photoshop screenshot showing the marquee tool

Drag the marquee tool to fill one of the inner squares marked by the guidelines.

Photoshop screenshot of marquee tool on guidelines

Click on Backspace and watch the square turn black!

Photoshop screenshot of first hole cut out of template

Click “done.”

Lightroom Screenshot showing "done" button

Amazing, isn’t it!?  Now just drag that square marquee that you created to each of the squares that you’d like to cut out.  In our example, you will cut out 8 more squares and it will look like this:

Photoshop screenshot of 9 black squares in a template for box photography

Since you’ve cut all the squares out, you will no longer need the guidelines, so let’s turn them off.  Click on View (1) and then select Clear Guides (2).  Voila!  The blue guidelines will disappear!  Now click on CTRL-D (PC) or CMD-D (Mac) to deselect the marquee and you’re ready to go!

Photoshop Screenshot showing how to clear guidelines

Your template should look like this, with 2 layers, the black background layer and the white front layer.

Photoshop screenshot showing a completed template made of two layers

When you add your own box photos, you will place them in between the two layers, lined up to fit within the squares.

Now that you have the tools, you can go ahead and make any size template you would like.  If you’d like to make a simple adjustment to this template, you can simply change the areas you cut out or the sizes you choose to cut out.  Here are some examples:

6 box box photo template
9 tall boxes box photography template
8 box box photography template
12 box box photography template
3 box box photography template
6 box pyramid shaped box photography template

From my friends at Lightroom Presets, read more about box photography.  

Congratulations! You've Completed Your First Box Photo Template

Great job!  You are now ready to create any template that you can image for box photography composites.  If you have any questions, please reach out to me!  You can find me on Facebook or Pinterest.  You can leave a comment here as well.  I answer all of my own messages!  As always, thank you so much for reading!  Your support means the world to this Hip Grandma!

Box Photography template showing toddler with an airplane

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