Kid Collages with Typography: Back to School Memory Makers

I love the silly trend of taking a snapshot of your child holding a sign in front of their new classroom. This year, I wanted something more unique to commemorate where my childrens’ personalities are at right now. One thing I like about Pixlr for the web and mobile is how it works awesome for collaging with typography. My kids have quirky and fun personalities. I especially want to remember my daughter, Serafina, with all her outfit choices. Yes, she wears costume dresses to pre-school (I let her choose).
Did you ever get way into scrapbooking? I didn’t, but I love memory makers! This Collage with Typography infographic should help jump-start your first piece of memory art. Today I’m emphasizing PIxlr for Mac or PC, which is totally free. Gotta love that right?! To start off, I’ve given you a Toolbox Key to help along in your workflow. Basic notes on what each tool does in the toolbar when to use them and then some extra little tips. Hopefully this will help you dive right in to the steps and you’re set to jet. Now I’m finding more excuses to make more collages. Luckily we have plenty events coming up to do so (Halloween, pumpkin patch trips, etc.).
pixlr typography collage
When I started having kids scrapbooking was all the rage, but I honestly couldn’t get into it. So much money and craft supplies. Then came the popularity of Photoshop Elements and scrapbooking sites selling digital goods for this maniacal hobby. While both methods brought cute commemorative results, I simply did not have the time or patience to get fully into it. However, I do love preserving memories. As a busy mom, I really just want to open one app for creativity. I do not have the patience to jump in and out of apps to get one final creation. Once you get your basic steps down it’s super fun to get into the art of mixing different fonts, stickers and effects.

Workflow Tips

While I’ve noted most of what I think is valuable in the infographic above, I have a few comments on developing a workflow. Having a process every time you open Pixlr is a great habit to form.
First, start with a sketch of your general layout ideas on a piece of scrap paper, sticky note, or napkin. This will save you more time than you will realize. It doesn’t have to be exact. Just a concept. This is basically a grid of your ideal, initial layout.
Second, open your base photo and start with preliminary image adjustments such as Brightness and Contrast, fixing graininess (smoothing), adjusting the tone and colors, sharpening, etc. For example, I take a lot of pictures with my phone on square mode because I use Instagram a lot. These tend to get a bit grainy after editing the photo more. Know the difference between Smoothing and Blurring: Smoothing retains the image structure while taking the grain out, smoothing the pixels so that they blend more evenly. Blurring is just as it describes. It will make the image “soft and fuzzy” and illegible. [desktop app: Refine > Smooth; mobile app: Adjustment > Smooth.]

Type & Color Tips

Choose approximately 2-4 different fonts varied between blocky and handwritten or brush styles, and at the same time go with 1-3 different colors to work with. Keep these balanced throughout the layout. It is helpful that the Type Tool will “bookmark the last five or so recent fonts used. I love this feature, I don’t have to scroll through my large font library every time I want to use the same font over and over.
The Color Picker tool has a little Eye Dropper in the top right which is also quit helpful for picking the exact color previously used so that your color scheme stays consistent throughout the entire design.

Photography Tips

Whether you’re shooting with your iPhone (mine are iPhone shots), Android, point-and-shoot, or an amazing DSLR camera, taking pictures of your kids doesn’t need to be perfect. I love nothing more than to capture a moment of my children being themselves. While cheesy grins are cute, I honestly want my collages to inflect the most dramatically solid thing that makes me think of who they are at this stage now. My daughter is always wearing costumes in public, and I will truly be sad the day she gets self-conscious and stops. It’s always been her choice, and she thinks it’s fabulous. My son, on the other hand, really and truly wants to be able to do anything so his photo is emphasizing that about him. I’m obviously going to take more memory related photos at this age in their life, so I don’t feel that the one I am using in particular for this collage needed to be a just-for-you-mom cheesy smile shot. Other typographic collages can include just about anything. You can create birth announcements, awards and achievements (e.g., sports), birthday invitations, holiday cards, and special vacation creations. The list is endless.
All I can truly emphasize is that you aim for capturing their personality — because they certainly grow up fast!