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How to make a seamless Instagram panorama

How to make a seamless Instagram panorama


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Panorama on phone
Photo by Brennan King, animation by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

It’s already been a few years since Instagram allowed you to post multiple photos simultaneously in a single post. This small change enabled a lot of creative options. One of my favorites is creating seamless panoramas by simply slicing your photo in two — like this one

If you want to take advantage of this neat little hack, here’s a quick, simple tutorial on how you can pull it off.

Before you start, you’ll need two things: Adobe Photoshop (or another pixel-based photo editor that lets you work with layers) and an elementary understanding of Instagram’s requirements for sizing photos. 

First, about the sizing: no matter which photo you upload, Instagram will automatically resize and compress your images. For example, square photos will always end up being 1080 x 1080 and vertical ones will always be 1080 (w) x 1350 (h). So if you want to create a panorama made out of two vertical photos, you’ll need to duplicate the pixels lengthwise, while the height stays the same: 1080 x 1350 becomes 2160 x 1350. Or if you want to create a panorama made out of three images, you’ll use 3240 x 1350. The same applies if you’re starting off with square images, which will fit into a panoramic space with twice the width (2160 x 1080).

Create your panorama

Okay, let’s boot up Photoshop and open up two documents. 

  • The first one should be 2160 x 1350; it’s where you’ll “slice” your photos into two parts. Let’s name the first document “Full Image.” 
Creating a panorama
In Photoshop, you can save document sizes as presets for future edits.
  • The second document should be 1080 x 1350; this one is where you’ll drop in your single images and get them ready for export. We can name this one “Slices.” 
  • Open or drag your image into the first document (“Full Image”). 
  • Go to “View” in your menu bar and select “New Guide Layout.” 
  • Set two columns with zero width and zero gutter. If rows are selected, deselect them since you won’t need to cut horizontally, only vertically.  This will create a turquoise line right down the middle of your photo.
Guides will help you split images in equal parts.
Guides will help you split images in equal parts.
  • Before we move on to the next step, make sure your “Snap to Guide” is turned on. It’ll make your life just that much easier. 
  • Select the marquee tool on your left hand side (or hit the shortcut “M” key) and drag your cursor over the first half of the photo. If Snap To Guide is turned on, your selection will automatically snap to the turquoise vertical line you created earlier.
  • Now that you have your selection, you can simply copy and paste it to a new layer on the “Slices” document. 
  • Go back to the “Full Image” document and repeat for the other half of the image. 

Now you’re ready for exporting. You can either export each layer at once using Photoshop’s “Layers to Files” option (under “File” > “Export”) or you can export each layer individually. I tend to add a few more layers to the same document, so I batch export those. In case you want to double-check your final export settings, you can use “Save for Web.”

Batch exporting layers in Photoshop.
Here are all the layers I’ll batch export.

If you’re using a PC, it might be easiest to save your files to a cloud service, where you can easily access them with your phone. Or if you’re in the macOS / iOS ecosystem, simply Airdrop your exports.

Put your panorama on Instagram

Getting the photos to properly show up on Instagram should be easy enough, but let’s go through that quickly just in case, because there are some things you can easily skip by accident. On your mobile device:

  • Assuming your exports are indeed 1080 x 1350, make sure you’re about to post vertical photos by clicking on the arrows icon in the bottom left corner. 
Don’t forget to enable vertical photos first. Also, you can tap and hold one photo to enable multiple selections.
Don’t forget to enable vertical photos first. Also, you can tap and hold one photo to enable multiple selections.
  • In order to post multiple photos in one post, either long-press one of the photos or tap on “Select multiple” in the lower right corner of the first photo. You can then select the other photos, numbered in the order they will appear.
  • And lastly, make sure you selected the photos in the right order... because I have definitely made that mistake at least once. Don’t be like me. 

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