Image Secrets of Creating a Great Collage in Scratch

By Derek Breen

One key difference between a basic and a great collage is that a basic one relies almost entirely on sprites from the Sprite Library while the great one is composed mostly of imported images. Most people go for photos these days to the World Wide Web.

Many of you probably have learned about piracy at school — where you download movies or music or photographs that you have not paid for. It is illegal to use most images found online unless you have been given permission. This can all get pretty complicated, so here are a few links to websites where you have permission to download and use the images any way you want. (These images are called public domain; they’re free for the public to use.)

You can find some images using Google Image search. (You can use a filter to see just public domain images on Google.com. Type in the topic you are searching for and then choose Images→Search Tools→Usage Rights→Labeled for Reuse.)

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Importing images to use in Scratch

Follow along with the steps taken to make an Anne Frank collage while using your own photos to create a more personalized collage. This could become a great gift for a friend or somebody special in your family (and might come in handy for future school family tree projects, too).

So STOP using Scratch RIGHT NOW. STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER! Go find a family album or pull a few framed photos off the wall (carefully, please). Some of you might be able to find some good shots on Facebook or Flickr or some other website if you have enterprising people who have done the hard work for you. If you know of famous people that you are related to, perhaps you could find them online, too.

If your photos are already digital and you have access to them on your computer, you can skip down to “Upload sprite images.” Those of you who do not have the photos on your computer yet have three options:

  1. If they are on a digital camera, phone, or tablet, transfer them to your computer via a USB cable, flash media, or email to yourself.

  2. If they are in a photo album or framed photograph, remove them and use a scanner or digital camera to capture your images and then transfer them as in Step 1.

  3. If your laptop or computer has a webcam, you can hold a photo in front of the camera and click the New Sprite from Camera icon.

Having trouble using the webcam? You may need to follow a few extra steps the first time you use a webcam with Scratch.

Upload sprite images

The Scratch team made it easy to upload images as new sprites, additional costumes inside a sprite, or backdrop images for the stage. For collages, importing each image as a new sprite gives you the most flexibility in laying out your composition.

  1. Click Upload Sprite from File.

  2. Navigate to where the photo is on your computer and double-click to import.

    Try the Photos or Downloads folder or on your desktop because many photos end up in one of those places.

When you add images to Scratch, they will automatically be resized to fit the stage (which is 480 pixels wide and 360 pixels tall). Most smartphones and digital cameras create images WAY larger than this. So, if you are taking photos specifically for a Scratch project, get as close to the subject as you can and orient your photo horizontally (landscape) if you want it to fill the Stage.