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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop

How to Make a Contact Sheet in Photoshop

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In this short tutorial, I'll be showing you how to make a contact sheet in Photoshop. These can be useful to share photos with a client, or as a standalone design option for your next creative project!

What You'll Learn in This Tutorial on Making a Contact Sheet in Photoshop

  • What is a contact sheet?
  • How to prepare photos for a contact sheet
  • How to create a contact sheet in Photoshop
  • How to format a contact sheet in Photoshop
  • How to treat/customize a contact sheet in Photoshop

Let's jump into the tutorial and get started on creating a contact sheet in Photoshop.

1. What Is a Contact Sheet?

The origins of a contact sheet come from the film photography days. 

A true contact sheet is a darkroom print that allows a photographer to see every photo from an entire roll of film at once. 

These were used mostly to review the photos from a shoot or share the photos with a client so they could select the one(s) to be printed. A simple way to put it is, a contact sheet is the photographer's original proofing tool.

Photoshop makes creating a digital version of a contact sheet very easy. Let's start this tutorial and get our files prepped to make our own contact sheet.

2. How to Prepare Photos for a Contact Sheet

The first thing we'll need to do is select the photos to use for the Contact Sheet, and then move them into their own folder.

Step 1

Create a new folder and name it "Contact Sheet Photos".

Contact Sheet Photos FolderContact Sheet Photos FolderContact Sheet Photos Folder

Step 2

Select the photos you want to use to create your contact sheet, and move them into the Contact Sheet Photos folder.

Photos Arranged in Contact Sheet Photos FolderPhotos Arranged in Contact Sheet Photos FolderPhotos Arranged in Contact Sheet Photos Folder

3. How to Create a Contact Sheet in Photoshop

Photoshop makes the creation of a contact sheet very easy by having an Automate function to do the heavy lifting for us.

Step 1

Go to File > Automate > Contact Sheet II.

File -> Automate -> Contact Sheet II in PhotoshopFile -> Automate -> Contact Sheet II in PhotoshopFile -> Automate -> Contact Sheet II in Photoshop

Step 2

This brings up the Contact Sheet II menu. Under Source Images, click on Choose and select the folder that you created for your contact sheet.

Contact Sheet prompt in PhotoshopContact Sheet prompt in PhotoshopContact Sheet prompt in Photoshop

Near the bottom of the Contact Sheet prompt, you'll see a Thumbnails menu. Make sure that the Columns and Rows add up to the total number of your photos, so that they all fit on one page.

My folder contained a total of 12 photos, so 3 columns of 4 rows will fit 12 photos perfectly. Adjust these numbers according to the total number of photos you have in your Contact Sheet folder. 

Once you're ready to go, click OK, and Photoshop will work its magic creating your contact sheet.

Contact Sheet made in PhotoshopContact Sheet made in PhotoshopContact Sheet made in Photoshop

4. How to Format a Contact Sheet in Photoshop

The first contact sheet we made looks pretty good, but as designers we often need a bit more customization of our digital products. I'd like these images to be a bit closer together for my use of this contact sheet.

Step 1

Head back to the Contact Sheet II menu by going to File > Automate > Contact Sheet II.

Step 2

When it comes to formatting the contact sheet, the main variables to adjust are the Document Size, as well as the Columns and Rows. I want to create a wider, longer contact sheet, so I've changed the Document Size to 12" x 4" and then the Columns to 6 and the Rows to 2.

Click OK.

Contact Sheet Menu in PhotoshopContact Sheet Menu in PhotoshopContact Sheet Menu in Photoshop

This creates a totally different shape and feel to the contact sheet.

Horizontal Contact Sheet in PhotoshopHorizontal Contact Sheet in PhotoshopHorizontal Contact Sheet in Photoshop

Of course, you can customize these settings to suit your project.

5. How to Treat/Customize a Contact Sheet in Photoshop

The last thing to show you in this tutorial is how to add some treatment or customization to your contact sheet. Traditional photography contact sheets are made in the darkroom on light-sensitive paper, which means the background is typically black against the photos. Let's see how to do this in Photoshop.

Step 1

Head back to the Contact Sheet II menu by going to File > Automate > Contact Sheet II.

Step 2

In the Document Size submenu, uncheck the Flatten All Layers box. You'll want Photoshop to give you the layers to edit. Input your Document Size and Columns and Rows as you best see fit.

I'm also going to uncheck the Use Filename as Captions option at the very bottom of the Contact Sheet II menu. This will give the contact sheet a really clean look.

Click OK.

Contact Sheet Menu in PhotoshopContact Sheet Menu in PhotoshopContact Sheet Menu in Photoshop
Square Contact Sheet in PhotoshopSquare Contact Sheet in PhotoshopSquare Contact Sheet in Photoshop

Step 3

Head to the Layers panel, and select the Background Layer. Click the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon, which displays as a black/white circle. Then select Solid Color. Select the colour of your preference, which for me in this case is pure black.

Color Picker (Solid Color) in PhotoshopColor Picker (Solid Color) in PhotoshopColor Picker (Solid Color) in Photoshop

Step 4

I want to add a bit of texture to my contact sheet to make it feel a bit older, and more like the film photography of yesteryear that I'm trying to replicate. This amazing texture available from Envato Elements will be perfect for the job. 

I'm going to bring the texture layer on top of my contact sheet and then Desaturate it by pressing Command-Shift-U.

Step 5

Now I'll set the Blending Mode for the texture layer to Lighten.

Texture Applied to Contact Sheet in PhotoshopTexture Applied to Contact Sheet in PhotoshopTexture Applied to Contact Sheet in Photoshop

Step 6

Finally, I'll bring the texture layer's Opacity down to 34% to blend it in a bit better.

Finished Textured Contact Sheet in PhotoshopFinished Textured Contact Sheet in PhotoshopFinished Textured Contact Sheet in Photoshop

That's All!

Now you know what a contact sheet is, and how to make your own contact sheet in Photoshop. You can also add treatment and customize the shape and size of your contact sheet.

You've learned how to create a contact sheet in Photoshop, but hang on—there are so many other great Photoshop tutorials available from Envato:

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