A lot has been tumbling around in my head lately. Brick walls that keep jumping back into my brain. Wanting to do a DNA test. A couple of webinars. The visit with my cousin where we worked on genealogy and discussed various problems. And my thought of trying one of the apps or online programs to create a genealogy collage.

This morning it all crystalized into using my cousin’s photos (sadly I have very few photos of my ancestors) in her maternal line, kind of like an autosomal DNA test in pictures. OK, so that’s a stretch, but hang with me here: Just trying to explain how those circuits and wires in my brain have been working overtime. Maybe some of them got crossed!

First I asked permission to use her photos. Specifically four generations of females.



In checking the collage layouts in Pixlr Express, I decided to make her mother the largest, and the grandmas smaller. Having the grandmothers in the direction she was looking would be cool. So I chose this layout.


OK, I’ve picked the photos and layout. It’s time to bring them into the online collage editor.

I see multiple challenges with these four photos. First off, they’re different colors. One’s black and white. There’s an odd blue/grey combo. The third is more greyish than black. And the last one is light brown. To me, a collage needs harmony in the color area.

After trying several brown effects in Pixlr’s editor to try and make them look old, I applied a sepia tone. This provided the cohesiveness in color I was looking for.


Next is addressing the various sizes. I wanted the three grandmothers’ faces mostly the same size and centered in the opening. Using Pixlr’s editing tools, I cropped the top two. Nothing I can do about the lower one. If I zoom out, there will be blank space beside the photo.


It’s not perfect, but good enough. The middle grandma could be a little bigger, but much more zooming or cropping and her face details will blur. Sometimes you have to work with what you’re given.

Now that the photos are pretty much the way I’d like them, let’s work on being a little more creative or artistic with the collage itself.

The spacing was increased to 20. I like thick borders! Then I rounded the corners slightly. Gives it a softer look overall. I played around with the proportion but decided it looked better the way it started out.

The last thing available to change here is the border color. White is a little stark for my tastes, I prefer something a little less bright. I switched to a brownish-sepia tone, but then there wasn’t enough contract between the border and the photos. Black seemed to “play better” with the photos. Probably because it reminds me of those old black paged scrapbooks with the little black corner holders my grandma used to get out.

BlackBorderSampleThere is an option to add text with all kinds of fonts to choose from, and any color on the color wheel.


A little typing and I have a finished product I can save to my computer.


It took about a half an hour to import, edit, and finish the collage. However I did play with Pixlr for about 20 minutes before I started the collage to familiarize myself with their buttons and tools. Taking the screen shots and editing them in my graphics program to add to my blog post took another half hour or so.

Pixlr has some good features for a free program online (more than 600 effects, overlays, and borders to personalize any image). It certainly doesn’t compare to PhotoShop or other big graphic programs but for basic editing or making a collage, it does the job.

There is a Pixlr Express phone app available but I didn’t download or try it. Editing photos on the small screen my phone has sounds more like torture than fun! In checking it out in the app store however, it said it was compatible with all my devices, so I may try it on my tablet.

Other than making a card, or perhaps framing it, can you think of other ways to use a generational collage in your genealogy?