Resizing Photos For Instagram without Cropping in Affinity Photo

by Apr 12, 2023Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Resizing Photos For Instagram without Cropping in Affinity Photo

In this tutorial, we look at how to resize a photo for posting to Instagram. It covers the correct dimensions for a square image and more importantly, how to resize an image to be square image by adding beautiful border. We also deal with some of the common problems facing Affinity Photo users when preparing photos for Instagram.

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Starting image to be posted to Instagram

The image above uses the common 2:3 ratio where one side is longer than the other. If we post this to Instagram, Instagram will just display a crop of the image in the grid. This crop may or may not make the image look good. It is of course possible for you to crop to a square image before unloading to Instagram as explained in another of my tutorials.

By adding a border around the image, we can create a square image without affecting the photos appearance. When this is displayed in the Instagram grid, it should look much better. You can see an example from my Instagram feed below.

Instagram feed showing square images

(You can find me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/robin_whalley/)

Let’s look at the steps to produce an image like this.

Consolidating Your Image Layers

The starting point for the process is a finished, edited image or master file. This image is likely to have multiple pixel and adjustment layers. If we look at the Layers Studio Panel for our example image, we can see its many layers and masks.

Multiple layers in the finished image

Whilst exporting this image to a JPEG file will combine all the layers, we first need to make several changes. Rather than edit our master image, we will first create a new image with all the layers combined. To do this, click the “Edit” menu at the top of the Photo Persona and choose “Copy merged”.

This combines the image layers, copying the result to the computer clipboard but without changing the original image. We can now paste this to a new image by selecting the “File” menu and choosing the “New image from clipboard” option. This produces a new image but with only one pixel layer.

Resizing the Image for Instagram

Our next step is to resize the image to the correct dimensions for Instagram. Although we will be producing a square image, we should still resize the image to be 1080 pixels on the longest edge.

To do this, click the “Document” menu in the Photo Persona then choose “Resize document”. You will then see the resizing Dialog appear where you can enter the new document size. You can see an example of this below.

Resizing the document for Instagram

In the Dialog, set the size for the longest edge to be 1080 pixels. After setting the longest edge, click on the shortest edge field and it should change in proportion. This happens because the small chain icon appears between the two boxes. If you click this icon, it changes to show a broken link. Please ensure that the chain icon is shown, not the broken link, before resizing the document.

Below this, ensure that the “Units” dropdown is set to Pixels. You can then click the Resize button to resize your document.

As a final step, we need to duplicate the image layer in the document. You can do this by pressing Cmd + J on a Mac keyboard or Ctrl + J on a Windows PC. You will then see two identical pixel layers in the Layers Studio Panel.

Creating a Square Canvas

The next step is to resize the document canvas. In Affinity Photo, all images appear on a canvas. By default, the canvas is the same size and dimension as the image, so you don’t see it. We can however resize the canvas separately to the image, or document as Affinity Photo calls it.

To resize the canvas, click the “Document” menu and choose “Resize canvas”. This displays the resizing Dialog which you can see below.

Resizing the document canvas in Affinity Photo

First ensure the Units dropdown is set to Pixels. Next, notice the small chain icon between the two Size fields. As mentioned above we can click this icon to toggle it. As we are going to change the ratio of height and width for our canvas, we need to  break the link between the two fields. After that, you can enter the Size 1080 pixels by 1080 pixels. If you don’t break the link first, when you change one side of the canvas to be 1080 pixels, the other edge will change to remain in proportion.

Below this is a section, you can set the Anchor point for the image and canvas. There are nine possible anchor points which you can select by clicking. Be sure to click the centre point. This will ensure that when the canvas is resized, the image remains in the centre.

After entering these settings click the Resize button. You will then see the image with the canvas around it as shown below.

Image with the document canvas resized

If we were to export this image as a JPEG, the image would have a white edge above and below. This may be what you want, but let’s look at how to create the border like in the example of my Instagram channel.

Creating a Blurred Border

Earlier, we duplicated the image layer in the document, and we will use this to create the blurred border.

Select the bottom image layer by clicking it in the Layers Studio Panel. After that, select the Move Tool from the Tools Palette on the left of the interface. This looks like a small black arrow with a white edge around it, usually one down from the top. If you don’t know how to use the Move Tool, my tutorial explain how to rotate image layers explains it further.

After selecting the Move Tool, you will see a blue box appear around the image layer. This will have handles along the edges and in the corners. You can then click and drag the corners of the box to resize the layer. This produces a smaller image appear on top of the larger one as shown below.

Resizing the image layer

After resizing the image layer to fill the empty space around the image, we need to blur it.

Ensure the layer is selected in the Layers Studio Panel and then click the Layer menu at the top of the Photo Persona. Here you should select the “New live filter layer” menu and then the Blur category. In the Blur category choose “Gaussian Blur…”.

This attaches a Gaussian Blur filter to the layer. You will also see the Gaussian Blur Dialog appear on screen which you can use to blur the image.

Image with blurred border using Gaussian Blur

The image is now ready for Instagram, but first we need to export it as a JPEG file.

Exporting the Image for Instagram

Now that we have a correctly sized square image, we need to export it in the JPEG format which Instagram can use.

To export the image, click the File menu and choose “Export”. This displays the Export Dialog which you can see below.

Affinity Photo Export Dialog

At the top of the Export Dialog, select the JPEG format from the dropdown. The file settings for the JPEG export then appear below in the dialog.

The top section of this allows you to set the size. As we have already resized the image it will default to 1080 pixels by 1080 pixels.

The other setting to adjust is the Quality slider. When posting a JPEG to Instagram, it’s better to reduce this to around 70. This produces a small file size, preventing Instagram from compressing your image further. If you allow Instagram to compress the image, it may not look as good.

Choosing the Document ICC Profile

Another common mistake when preparing an image for Instagram is to ignore the ICC profile. When editing, you probably use a wide colour space like ProPhoto RGB or Adobe RGB. Instagram doesn’t like these colour spaces and will convert them to sRGB. When it does this it can produce a colour shift in the image. It’s therefore best to convert your image to sRGB as part of the export. We can do this in the Advanced section of the Export Dialog, which you can see below.

Setting the ICC Profile of the file when exporting to Instagram

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This probably defaults to “Use document profile” so that the JPEG file has the same ICC profile as the original document. You should therefore click the dropdown and choose the sRGB option in the list.

Below the ICC profile dropdown, you will also see an option to “embed ICC profile”. Ensure that this is ticked so that the new sRGB profile is embedded.

After making these changes, click the Export button and save your file, ready for upload to Instagram.

Earlier we said it’s also possible to crop an image for Instagram rather than adding a border. If you would like to know how to do that, please see my tutorial explaining how to crop images for Instagram.

Also don’t forget to check out my books “Essential Affinity Photo 2” and “Affinity Photo How To” to learn more about using Affinity Photo.

More Affinity Photo Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Affinity Photo Tutorials page.

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