Chessboard photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Tutorial: Instagram Puzzle

4 min read

I’m excited to share this DIY tutorial with you because I learned it myself quite recently. I hope you enjoy, and let me know if there’s anything that is missing!

I know the trend is to rely on things like Canva to create pretty images for you to post on social media. I’m not knocking them. It works for a lot of people. But, I think it’s contributing to the cookie-cutter look of graphic design nowadays. If you want to parrot everyone else’s aesthetic, then more power to you.

I’m a little old school; I use Photoshop. It almost feels gangster to use it. I don’t even have a fancy copy of Photoshop; all I could afford at the time was Photoshop Elements 12! I still use it! I learned Photoshop 7 using tutorials but the sunset was on the horizon, and I knew I had to get away from it.

Thankfully, the skills I learned in 7 are in 12. Photoshop is Photoshop. I’m a fast learner so I was able to apply what I learned in 7 to 12 easily.

Here are the materials you’re going to need:

  • Photoshop (PS for short; I wrote this using PS Elements 12)
  • Images (lots and lots of them; I’m a fan of unsplash)
  • Brushes (I recommend brushlovers)
  • Color scheme (if you don’t already have an aesthetic for your site, check out coolors.co for ideas)

P.S. I’m going to assume that because you have Photoshop, you know how to install brushes. If not, Creative Market has a quickie tutorial to help you out.

  1. The first thing you need to do is set up your canvas in Photoshop. On a fresh desktop in Photoshop, CTRL + N to open a dialog window. You should make your canvas 3000×5000 pixels (as seen below):
CTRL + N

2. Arrange the images in the way that you want. Treat it like a collage. Where do you want your pictures to pop? You can make it fairly straightforward, or you can play with the aspects in the way that suits your feed.

3. Once you have the pictures where you want, now’s the time to unleash your creativity. You probably already have an Instagram aesthetic; stick to it if it’s working for you. In this step, you’ll add icons, quotes, borders, text, illustrations, vectors, brushes. Have fun with this!

Here’s the one I built for Writeropolis Industries:

Writeropolis Industries is now open for business!
Writeropolis Industries is now open for business!

4. Save the PSD and name it something you’ll remember in a place that you can easily refer to. Let’s call it puzzle.psd.

5. Next, you’re going to want to save your project in a picture format, such as JPG or PNG. File > Save for Web > Save. PS may kick back an error saying your file is too big. Yes, it’ll be humongous, but you’re not posting the pic as is. You’re going to be cutting it up. So proceed.

6. Open puzzle.png separately.

7. You’ll want to set up a grid now. CTRL + ‘ or go to View > Grid. The grid should overlay the picture. Depending on whether you can see the gridlines or not, feel free to create a new layer that sits on top of your collage, and fill it with white. You’ll notice that there are 15 squares here. It fits the mobile version of Instagram perfectly but it looks lovely on the web version too.

Grid lines
Grid lines

8. PS Elements doesn’t allow you to slice up an image like other versions of PS will. So using the grid and the Rectangular Marquee Tool and cut out the 15 squares manually. I named each square with the way that I would need to upload the images, so 01, 02, 03, and so on. If it makes it easier for you, number them backward.

9. Save each individual square somewhere where you can refer to them easily. I saved them to my Google Drive and then saved them to my phone.

10. Now, the hard part: adding the squares to Instagram! Make sure you do them in order. You can upload the squares to Instagram (I did it via my iPhone X), with or without captions, or you can use something like Buffer to schedule them one by one.

Ta-da! You’re all done.

I’m sure there are faster ways of completing these steps (and eliminating some of them) with other versions of PS. But, I’m not going to assume you can afford the subscription. That said, I’m a firm believer in making do with what you have. There’s no shame in that. All that matters is that you have fun with it.

Let me know in the comments if there’s anything that could be changed, or if you were able to use it successfully.

love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean
love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean

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