Create a Carousel Swipeshow for Instagram

Noel Illinger

Noel Illinger

Seeing the world different.

Before we start

A carousel post is a great way to drive more engagement on your content, Instagram will benefit you if a user spends more time in their app. And even if a user over swipes your post once, you get a second chance with image Nr. 2. So make sure your first 2 images are the most flattering for your audience.

In this article, you’ll learn how to cut & export a swipe show for Instagram using only one picture. A swipe show is also known as a carousel postIn the example, we use Adobe Lightroom & Adobe Photoshop to create the crops. You can reproduce this procedure with any other app or program.

Step 1 Exporting with lightroom to photoshop

In our example, we export a 2×3 (portrait) image from Lightroom to Photoshop. In Lightroom Classic, with your image selected, go to Photo > Edit in > Photoshop or press CTRL + E. If you are in Lightroom CC go to File > Edit in Photoshop or press CTRL + SHIFT + E. Both variants work well, and when you save the final edit in Photoshop, it’ll sync back the image to Lightroom automatically.

If Photoshop asks you what to edit, either:

  • Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments
  • Edit a Copy
  • Edit Original

we will choose to edit a copy with Lightroom adjustments. This gives us a copy of the original with all Lightroom adjustments made.

Note: The option, Edit original, can also open saved layers in .tif, .ps, or .psb formats. Opening a copy only adds one blanc image.

Step 2 Create the crop for a swipe

Good to know

Instagram’s best aspect ratio is 4×5. This portrait orientation fills the screen of a user best. The more space you can occupy in the app to show your art, the better. More people will likely see it and stop to review your images. Unfortunately, 2×3 is not available but there are other great ways to share full-screen experiences with your followers for example in Instagram Stories or Instagram Reels

Choose an interesting part in your image

Now it’s important to choose an interesting part of your image, which also makes sense to look at. It might be for the details, the subject itself, the colors, or something that is centered like the basketball court in the example image.

Create the crop at 8x5

Since we want to have a swipe on an aspect ratio of 4×5 with two images, we need to set our crop to 8×5.

Press C on your keyboard to open the crop tool. Then in the upper left corner under Aspect Ratio, type 8 for width and 5 for height. This creates the 8×5 crop frame.

In the example image, I choose the whole width, since the basketball court is centered. So my swipe separates it, which creates a cool effect.

You can also crop into the image if your image has enough pixel dimension to keep the details. You get the best results from DSLR cameras.

Press enter to apply the crop. By the way, you can choose to either delete the cropped pixels or keep them alive in the options of the crop tool. This helps in case you want to re-crop the image.

Save it back to Lightroom

Press CTRL + S on your keyboard. This hard-saves a fresh 8×5 file back to the Lightroom catalog, your original file won’t be touched.

Step 3 Create the swipe in Lightroom

create two 4x5 crops

The image should be synced back now. In Lightroom Classic go to the development tab and press R for the crop tool. In Lightroom CC press C.

In the crop options choose the 4×5 aspect ratio. Now you might have to flip the crop frame from landscape mode to portrait mode. You can do that by pressing X.

Drag the crop frame to the left side and apply it. Now, create a virtual copy of it. Since the newly added feature in Lightroom CC, you must create a version to work on a copy.

Drag the crop of this copy all the way to the right and apply it. There we have our swipe!

Create more swipes if needed

This was essentially it. You can redo this procedure to create more swipes from the same images. Sometimes I create up to 6 images, so 3 swipes out of one image.

Step 4 Export the swipes

It’s time to export our work. You can select both crops, start with the left side crop. Click it, press SHIFT, and click the right side crop. This helps to keep the order in your folder since both file names are identical.

There are several ways, how people set up their export settings for Instagram. Not every method is the best, especially when the images are huge in their file size.

In our Moody Black Premium Presets Collection, we include all the necessary information on how to sharpen your images and correctly set up the dimensions, and export sharpening settings to get crisp and clear images on Instagram.

Upload to instagram in the correct order

Since we swipe from left to right on Instagram, you have to start with the left side crop.

I suggest, to start posting the bigger picture on Nr. 1. Starting with a crop might not always be the best choice. Image Nr. 2 can be the start of a crop swipe then.

This is an example of a well-performing swipe show. I used different pictures and a video from the same location, to tell a little story. This engages the people until the last swipe.

Image 5-6 and 7-8 and 9-10 is a detailed swipe from a single image.


This is a quick way while keeping it professional regarding the details.

You might ask yourself, why can’t I do this with Lightroom itself?

Well, once you created an 8×5 crop in Lightroom and apply it, it would not delete the outside pixels. If you wanted to create a 4×5 out of it, it would bring you back into the 8×5 view.

Another way is to export the 8×5 and import it back into Lightroom which then is the hard-save file.

Thank you for reading. Get inspired!

I hope this helped! If you have any questions, my team and I will be there to answer what’s left. To contact us visit our support site here.

For more inspiration, visit me on Instagram!

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