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Choose Your Photos
Using Lightroom’s Library module, select the photos you want to work with.
There’s more than one way to do this. One option that keeps things fairly uncluttered later is to add the photos to a Quick Collection (select the photos and then press “B”). You can then find them in the Library module in the left panel under Catalog. Select the “Quick Collection +” line so it’s highlighted like this. You’ll then see just those photos in the film strip at the bottom of the page.
Setting Up Your Lightroom Workspace
Make sure you have access to the panels on either side. If they’re not visible, press the TAB key to display them.
Next, choose the Print module from the horizontal menu at top right (or through the Window menu item at top).
The first thing we need to do is set up the canvas. Because we’re doing this through the print module, which is designed to print to a hard copy, the canvas in this case is referred to as the page. So at the bottom left of your screen, choose Page Setup.
The popup should look something like this. What we want is the Paper Size drop-down menu item. Click on that, then scroll down to the bottom of the list to Manage Custom Sizes.
Create Custom Paper Size
Press the + button at bottom left, then set the Paper Size to 85.1 in by 31.5 in. This will create a canvas with the same aspect ratio of Facebook’s Cover Photo image size. It’s also possible to use 8.51 by 3.15, but that gets messier later. So the easiest is to use 85.1 by 31.5. We’ll be sizing it down when we export anyway, so the large size isn’t a problem. (Note: Because this is designed for print output, you can’t specify pixel measurements here.)
Once you’ve done that, click on the item in the list of paper sizes in the box and rename it to something descriptive. In this example, I’ve renamed it Facebook Timeline Cover Photo.
Then click OK.
Make sure that your new paper size is displayed in the drop-down Paper Size menu item like this.
Creating Your Layout
Now that the canvas is ready, we can start adding things to it. In the panel at right, under Layout Style, choose Custom Package.
In the panel at right, the Cells section is what’s going to create the spaces for our photos. It comes with 6 standard presets. You can access more by clicking the small down arrow at the right of each drop-down menu.
You can also create your own cell size presets, which can be handy if you want to use multiple cells of the same size. In one of the cell size drop-down menus, go to the Edit option at the bottom of the list.
Now we want to start adding cells. Click on one of the cell size options. You’ll see it add a blue guide box to the canvas. Click it again, and it’ll add another next to it.
Resizing the Cells
By default, the boxes are only small on the canvas, because we’ve set our canvas so big (85 in by 31 in). But that’s fine, because it’s very easy to resize them. Just click on one of the little squares on that boundary and drag. Sometimes you might want to be very precise about the cell size. For instance, you might want to create a grid of cells all the same size. Or you might be adding some illustration or text to surround your profile photo when it’s displayed on Facebook. In that case, you can also use the Adjust Selected Cell sliders in the panel.
If you have the Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio checked, the size will change but the aspect ratio will stay fixed. If you uncheck it, you have a much more free-form control. It doesn’t matter which you use–it just depends how much control you want over the size of each individual cell.
Now, add a bunch of cells that you can work with. It doesn’t matter for now if they’re aligned or not. Resize each one to whatever dimensions and shapes you want. If you want to put two cells flush to each other, drag one cell slowly to another and you’ll see a subtle magnetic snapping. (If that’s not happening, go to the right panel under Rulers, Grid & Guides and make sure that Grid Snap is set to Cells.)
Lay them out however you want. Remember that part when you add it to Facebook, your Profile Photo will obscure part of the bottom left of the Cover Photo, so you might want to use larger photos in that part. But really, it doesn’t make any difference. You can do a random assortment like this.
You’ll notice some of mine overlap. That’s fine–we’ll fix that shortly.
Now, the fun part. Drag a photo from the film strip at the bottom into the cells. If you want to replace a photo, simply drag a new one into the same cell.
Fill the canvas however you like. You can add as many cells as you like, as big or small as you like. If there’s a blank section where you can’t add an image, make sure you have a cell in that spot.
You’ll notice that some of my cells overlap. You can easily change which photo overlaps which by right clicking (CTRL-click) and sending photos forward, back, to the bottom or the top of the stack. You can also rotate cells if you like.
So you might end up with something like this. You could just use that if you like.
Adding borders is optional, but it makes each image stand out more from its neighbors. The border color is the Page Background Color. I’ve left that option unchecked, so the Page Background, and therefore the borders, are white. Change the width of the borders by using the Photo Border slider. If the borders look uneven, adjust the cell boundaries to be flush with its neighbor.
If you want to change the borders to, say black (or any other color), go back to the Page Background Color option under the Page section in the right panel and choose your color there.
TIP: Since Facebook’s page background is white and pale blue, black or dark borders in your Cover Photo can make it stand out well.
Add Identity Plate
You can also add your Identity Plate if you like. Watermarking images also works. In this example, I’ve added my Identity Plate at top left. You could also use the Identity Plate feature to add text like a title, name, etc.
Save Your Work
I’d recommend saving your work at this point (or even before). This isn’t the same thing as exporting your image. You’re saving the working file so you can go back and edit it again later.
From the top menu, choose Print and then Create Saved Print. Name it something descriptive. The Placement option refers to the Collections–that’s where your saved work is going to go. Put it either in the Top Level or in a Collection (you don’t have the option of saving it to a Smart Collection).
Getting Ready for Exporting
Now that we’re happy with how it looks, we need to set up the exporting so we end up with a single image we can upload to Facebook.
In the right panel, scroll down to the bottom where the Print Job section is.
Change Print to to JPEG File.
Turn Draft Mode Printing off.
File Change the File Resolution to 72 ppi. If you leave it at 300 ppi or higher, you’ll get Lightroom warnings about the size of the file you’re about to create.
Print Sharpening is optional and isn’t going to affect the result much since we’re going to have to resize before we upload.
Set Color Management to sRGB.
Print Adjustment of Brightness and Contrast shouldn’t be necessary because we’re outputting a digital file.
Set your JPEG Quality fairly high. When you upload to Facebook the image is going to be compressed again, so if you start with an image that has only been lightly compressed you’ll end up with a better result. 85 above seems to work well. I’m using 100 here because I want to do another resizing (and compression step) before I upload to Facebook.
Exporting Your Cover Photo
To actually export your image, use the Print to File buttom at the very bottom of the right panel. (If that button us grayed out, make sure you’ve set the Print To option above to JPEG File.)
Save the image on your computer. When you click Save, Lightroom will go through the process of rendering the files (preparing the print job) and create your JPEG file.
Resizing and Uploading
There’s one wrinkle we need to iron out before we upload the image. Because we’re using a module designed primarily for printing a physical copy to paper rather than creating digital files, some of our options for resizing up to this point have been constrained. So what we’ve ended up with now is a very large image that we need to reduce before we upload it to Facebook.
There are a bunch of ways you can resize the image. Photoshop, XNConvert, or any other image processing software will have resizing options. Or, if you want to stay entirely within Lightroom, just import the image you just created into the Lightroom catalog and then export it again using Lightroom’s export image size options. (Here’s a guide for resizing using Lightroom’s export function.)
The ideal target size is 851 px wide by 315 px high.
So here’s what the final result looks like after it’s uploaded to Facebook.
You don’t have to do the kind of random-size like the example above. Here are some other examples of grids and triptychs.