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This is a quick (well, relatively quick) way to create a quilted or patchwork style background for your digital collages. Patchwork backgrounds make for an interesting texture and can be more fun to work with than a plain paper background.
In this tutorial, the patchwork background is made using Canva’s photo frame elements!
I’m using a Canva Pro account for this, but you should still be able to do this using a free account as the photo frame elements (the key to this technique) are available for everyone.
(Want your own Canva Pro account? Get a free Canva Pro trial and try it out!)
This video goes over how to make a patchwork background, and provides two examples of completed backgrounds.
Patchwork Background Tutorial
There’s a two-part process to this: first, create the template. Then, create the actual background.
The template takes the longest to make, as it’s pretty fiddly. However, once you get it made you can re-use it on as many background pages as you’d like, so it’s worth the time to make it.
That said, if you’d like to skip the nitty-gritty creation stuff and get right to the fun park of making the actual background page, I have a pack of 4 pre-made templates available on my Etsy shop. 😉
Part 1: Create the template
First, pick a suitable photo frame shape. I like this parallelogram one, but any rectangle, square, triangle, or even circle will work. As long as you can stick a bunch of them together to make a “quilt,” you can use that shape.
Place your first frame on the page. I ended up rotating mine so it was on a diagonal slant, as I prefer that look. Make sure to resize it to something that’ll fit well onto the page.
Second, duplicate the photo frame element and start filling in the page. This is what takes the longest, as you have to create the pattern piece by piece.
You can be as picky or as loosey-goosey about this as you want. I tried to fill in as many gaps as I could and made sure to not have major overlapping areas, as that’s the style I wanted. To get a less “clean” look, try overlapping the photo frames, or using slightly different shapes.
Once you’ve filled out the entire page, your patchwork background template is complete!
Duplicate this page (to keep it safe for future use) and work on the copy.
Now we’re going to make the actual background.
Part 2: Make the patchwork background
First, start filling in the photo frames to create a pattern.
I recommend sticking with images that have a similar color scheme or pattern, and repeating those images a few times in your pattern. Not only will this keep the background looking more cohesive, but it’ll help draw the eye around the page.
For instance, I used a selection of vintage paper pages and tried to keep them on a brown/tan color scheme.
Tip: Double-click the photo frame and individually adjust the image inside of it to create slight variations around the page. Adding some filters to adjust colors slightly can also be fun!
Another idea is to just use the same two images over and over, alternating the images to create a pattern. I’ve done that in the example video above, and in the image below, where I used two watercolor papers and alternated them, and then added some brushstroke elements from Canva on top. It makes for a very striking background!
Once all the photo frames are filled in, select all of them (CTRL-A for an easy keyboard shortcut) and LOCK that layer into place. This will make sure that you won’t have any issues adding more images and elements on top when you create the rest of the collage. If you don’t lock the photo frame elements, they’ll try to “grab” the new images and use them instead!
And that’s it! Now you have a completed patchwork background.
Continue to build your collage as you would any other time. Add photos, vintage ephemera, other image design elements, etc. and complete the rest of the piece.
Here’s an example of a completed collage using one of the patchwork backgrounds from this post:
This collage was built up from public domain image elements and things found on Canva. It was super easy to create and took practically no time at all once the background was completed!