There are two main keyword phrases that people use to find this blog from a web search. These are Autocollage and the Deep Zoom Composer Workshops. So when I was asked at a recent Innovative Teachers workshop, Did I have any guides about Autocollage?, writing an AutoCollage Workshop seemed to be a good idea.

So, this post is based on the way I present AutoCollage at workshops. You should be able to modify this to suit your own needs. It is not a comprehensive guide, but more of a simple walkthrough.

What is AutoCollage?

AutoCollage is best described as an application that ‘allows you to create beautiful collages of your favourite pictures in a few clicks of a mouse’ . But, I always challenge teachers to look at this as not only as something to work with photos. But as an application that can allow pupils and students to record their thinking and ideas, letting them tell digital stories. This post will guide you through how to make a photo collage and some of the settings that you can use to get better results.

Firstly, you will need to get yourself a copy of AutoCollage. As a teacher you can download a free copy from the Partners in Learning Network . You will need to be a member, you can sign up for free with your Windows Live ID. Once signed in you can find AutoCollage by following these links Resources>Tools and Programmes> More Tools and Programmes or by clicking HERE. You will also need  to ensure that you have the latest version of the .NET framework installed.

Starting AutoCollageimage

Before you start  AutoCollage, create a folder in your Pictures folder called Autocollage projects. Run AutoCollage, it will search your default Pictures folder. If you have a lot of  images in this folder AutoCollage will display them. This could take some time. So, make it look in your new folder by clicking on your newly created folder. You should see it listed in the area called Image Browser.

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Don’t wait for the images to load, you can click and select this folder immediately. Next, click the options button and change some of the settings. Click the Input Tab, now select Display detected faces and select Allow manual face detection. Repeat with Display ranking information and select Allow manual ranking.

These simple steps will help when you being to create your collages.

Next, transfer your images to your autocollage project folder. You will also need to ensure that the images are oriented correctly and are the images you want to use. AutoCollage does not have any image editing features so you cannot rotate or delete an image from inside it. You need to do this from your project folder and this is easy to do with the built in tools in Windows.image

In AutoCollage, select the folder where your photos have been stored. You will see them begin to appear. Once all the images have  been loaded. You need to choose how many images you want to use. Usually this is the same as the number in the folder. To change the number of images to be used, adjust the slider accordingly. You need to use a minimum of 7 images and there is a maximum of 50. If you select a value more than the number of images, you will get an error message, just agree to create the collage. If you select a value less than the number of images in your folder, AutoCollage will automatically remove images from the collage. You have no control over which images it removes.image

Now you are ready to create your collage, click the Create button, marvel at the animation,which always seems to mesmerise teachers and students alike. In moments your photo collage is created. If you don’t like it, click Create again. Although you have little control over how the images are used, there are some factors that you can use to influence your collage creation.

Changing the options in AutoCollage

At the start of this workshop you made some changes to the options. You can use these to influence how your images appear.

AutoCollage uses facial recognition to identify the faces in images. If you have set the manual recognition options, you will be able to image select an area of an image that will be the focus point for the collage.

To do this click and select an image, it will enlarge. Next, press and hold the CTRL key, click and drag over the area you want to highlight. A yellow box will appear. This area will be the focus. This is very useful, as you can see from this example ,when you have images that are not faces.

The second element of control is to rank the images. Click on an image, you will see an icon in the top left of the chosen image. Clicking this will give

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you a variety of choices for ranking priority. This is useful to place a particular image at the centre of the collage. In this case, I have ranked this image top ranked, number 1 and all the other images, to the lowest setting of avoid this image. Using the same images as before, you can see how changing the ranking order affects the college design, with the top ranked image now appearing in the centre.

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Once created your collage is saved as a JPEG and used in the same way as any other image.

In the next post, I will talk about how you can use AutoCollage in the classroom for digital storytelling and recording students ideas and thinking.

In the meantime enjoy experimenting with this great resource.