Quick Photo Border Effect

Need a last minute Do-It-Yourself Christmas card? Make a quick collage of photos in a Photoshop document and print them out yourself or have a local photo service create the photos for you.
First, create a document that is the right size. For example, if you want to print the photos out in 4×6 format, you’ll want to go to File > New and create a document that is 6 inches wide, 4 inches high, and 300 dpi (for good print quality).
Now, open the high-resolution photos that you want to use in your collage in Photoshop. For each photo, resize the photo so that it will fit within your document by going to Image > Image Size and making sure that the Document Size is the same size or smaller than your document. If not, change the Document Size to be the same size (if it is smaller — don’t make it bigger! That will cause the photo to lose quality.) Type Ctrl-A to create a selection of the entire photo, then type Ctrl-C to copy. Go to your blank document and type Ctrl-V to paste the photo into a new layer. Repeat until your have all of your photos in the document, each in its own layer. Close your original photo without saving it!
Screenshot of the three photos in separate layers
diagram of layers
Right-click each layer name in the Layers palette and choose “Group into New Smart Object.” This will allow you to play with the size and positioning of the photo without losing quality.
Group into New Smart Object
For each layer, type Ctrl-T to transform the image. Hold the Shift key and drag on one of the corner handles to resize the image. (The Shift key keeps the image from being distorted.) Click and drag inside the bounding box to move the image around on your canvas. Move your cursor outside the bounding box, click, and drag to rotate the image and place it at an angle. Double-click inside the bounding box to commit your transformation. Repeat for each picture.
Transforming and rotating layer
You can continue to type Ctrl-T to transform each image until the layout works for you. Rearrange the layers in the Layer Palette if you want to change the way that the photos stack on top of each other.
Placing layers
Select each layer and go to Layer > Layer Style > Stroke. Click on the color patch to change the stroke to white. Change the Position to “Inside.” Increase the size while looking at the document preview (I used about 24 pixels).
Now, click on the words “Drop Shadow” on the menu in the left column. Play with the Distance and Size sliders until you find settings that work for you (my Distance was 13px and the Size was 27 px).
In the Layers palette, you’ll see an “f” icon on that layer. Hold down the Alt key, then click on the “f,” drag, and drop on top of one of the other layers. This will duplicate the effect for the new layer. Repeat to duplicate the effect for all the other layers.
Copying effects
Add some text (I put mine behind the photos for a layered effect). At this point, you can print directly from your computer or go to File > Save As, save as a .jpg, and upload the .jpg to your choice of photo center!
Completed card

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