Faking it for real

photo-montage backgrounds for your holiday snaps

Realia is a graphic designer’s word to describe the use of photos of real things placed on a page in such a way that they look as if they are actually resting on the page and are not just a photo. It’s a kind of trompe-l’oeil thing, if you like. I thought it might be a good technique to use for these backgrounds.

Hot Prints are a start-up business developing an app that lets you arrange your digital photos into colourful themed layouts, which they will print as booklets and send to you for a surprisingly low price. They asked me to come up with eight double-page spreads for two themes, Halloween and Wedding. And here are some of them (mostly without all the photo frames plastered on top).

The tricky technical bit was that the layout had to accommodate photos of arbitrary size and orientation. I came up with a scheme to add a retro-style margin and shadow around each photo, using code to stretch it to fit.


  • Hot Prints Ltd


  • Graphic design