Setting Up Your Photos for Printing (It All Starts Here)
If you really like everything else in Photoshop Lightroom, it’s the Print module where you’ll fall deeply in love. It’s really brilliantly designed (I’ve never worked with any program that had a better, easier, and more functional printing feature than this). In Lightroom 2, Adobe took it up another notch by incorporating a version of Photoshop’s Contact Sheet II feature (and I like the implementation of it here better). The built-in templates make the printing process not only easy, but also fun, and they make a great starting point for customizing and saving your own templates.
Step One. Start in the Print module by clicking on the collection that has the photo (or photos) you want to print. By default, whichever photo you have selected will appear in the Print module’s center Preview area. If you want to print more than one photo, then go down to the filmstrip and Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) on the photos you want to print. Also, a few lines of info appear over the top-left corner of your photo. This info doesn’t actually print on the photo, and if you find it as distracting as I do, you can turn off this info display by going under the View menu and choosing Show Info Overlay (which turns it off). You can also just press the letter I on your keyboard.
Step Two. The Print module uses layout templates just like the Slideshow and Web modules do, and the default template in the Print module is called Maximum Size (this template positions your photo so it prints as large as possible on your selected paper size with the full image showing, even if it has to rotate the photo on its side, as seen in the previous step). If you don’t want the photo auto-rotated like this, go to the Image Settings panel (in the right side Panels area), and turn off the checkbox for Rotate to Fit (as shown here), and your image won’t be rotated.
Step Three. If you selected more than one photo to print (down in the filmstrip), you get to choose how these are printed (one per page or multiple photos on the same page). For example, here I’ve selected seven photos, and if you look at the right end of the toolbar below the Preview area, you’ll see Page 1 of 7 (circled here in red). That lets you know that, although you’re only seeing one photo right now onscreen, there are actually six more photos that are queued up to print with the same layout. To see the other pages queued up to print, use the Previous/Next arrow buttons on the left end of the toolbar. (Note: Compare this to printing in Photoshop, where to print seven photos, you’d have to open seven separate documents and then print each one of them separately, and it makes you really appreciate printing from Lightroom.)
Step Four. Your other choice is to print more than one photo on each page. To do that, just click on any multiple-photo template in the built-in templates (if you hover your cursor over any of the templates in the Template Browser, a preview of the layout will appear in the Preview panel at the top of the left side Panels area). For example, go to the Template Browser and click on the 2×2 Cells template, and it puts your photos in two columns and two rows (as shown here—you can see a preview of that template’s layout up in the Preview panel). Here, I selected nine photos, and if you look at the right end of the toolbar, you’ll see Lightroom will make three prints: two with four photos each, and the last print will just have that one leftover photo up in the top-left corner.
Step Five. If you want to print the same photo, at the same exact size, multiple times on the same page, then you can go to the Image Settings panel and turn on the checkbox for Repeat One Photo Per Page, as shown here. If you want to print multiple photos on the same page, but you want them to be different sizes (like one 5×7″ and four wallet-size photos), then turn to page 328 for details on how to set that up.
Step Six. If one of the built-in templates works for you, then you’re pretty much set, but before you go any further, you’ll need to let Lightroom know what size paper and which printer you’ll be printing to. You do this by clicking on the Page Setup button found at the bottom of the left side Panels area (it’s shown circled here in red). This brings up the Page Setup dialog (the Mac version is shown here, but the Windows version, called the Print Setup dialog, looks and works very similarly). There are basically three things you need to do here: (1) choose your printer from the Format For (PC: Printer Name) pop-up menu (if your printer doesn’t appear in the list, you need to install your printer’s driver software), (2) choose the paper size you want to print on from the Paper Size pop-up menu (I chose 16×20″ paper here), and (3) in the orientation section, click on an icon (PC: Portrait or Landscape radio button) to choose whether you want to print tall or wide.
Step Seven. Now click the OK button in the Page Setup (PC: Print Setup) dialog (you can see the new page size by taking a quick glance at the rulers, along the top and left side of the center Preview area. If the rulers aren’t visible, press Command-R [PC: Ctrl-R]). Now that you’ve chosen your paper size, printer, and orientation, next let’s look at how to resize and position your photo on the page.
Step Eight. As a starting point, go to the Template Browser and click on the Fine Art Mat template. Go to the Layout panel in the right side Panels area, and take a look at the Margins sliders. They’re showing you that for this photo, there’s a 0.69-inch margin on the left and right sides of your photo, and then at the top, there’s a slightly larger 0.83-inch margin. The bottom margin is much larger at 2.64 inches, which gives the photo the fine art mat look you see here. So, if those are the margins, why is my photo so far from the top and bottom margins? It’s because Lightroom puts each photo in its own a separate cell (kind of like a spreadsheet cell). This cell idea works great when you want to put multiple photos on the same page (which Lightroom really excels at), but it does make it a little funky when you just want to fit one photo on a page, because now you have to mess with the margins and the size of your cell. In the next step, we’ll do something that will help make all of this make more sense.
Step Nine. Just for the sake of understanding margins and cells, select nine photos down in the filmstrip, then go to the Layout panel. In the Page Grid section of the panel, using the sliders, increase the Rows to 3 and the Columns to 3. You can see here how it put each of those nine photos into its own separate little cell, but all nine of those photos fit within the margin settings we had in place (if you remember, we had the same 0.69-inch border on the left and right, a slightly deeper margin up top, and then a 2.64-inch margin at the bottom of the page). You can still see all those in place, and your photos can’t extend out into those areas—they’re protected by your margins (you can change your margins using the Margins sliders—dragging to the right makes the margins bigger; dragging all the way to the left removes that margin, so you can print to the edge of the page, if your printer allows that, of course).
Step 10. If you look at the capture back in Step Nine, you’ll also notice that the photos don’t perfectly fill up each cell, because some are tall and thin, and others are wide with a gap at the top and bottom. If you want to have your images completely fill each cell, scroll up to the Image Settings panel in the right side Panels area, and turn on the Zoom to Fill checkbox (as shown here). This enlarges the photos so they completely fill each cell (as seen in the Preview area here). Now the photos fill the cell, and they’re right up against each other.
Step 11. If you want to add some space between these cells, go back to the Layout panel and, in the Cell Spacing section, click-and-drag the Vertical and Horizontal sliders to the right (I dragged mine over to 0.67 inches, which adds that white space between each column and between the rows, as well). So, the Cell Spacing sliders do just what you’d expect—they add space between the cells, but even though we added space, you’ll notice that our margins are still exactly the same. How could that be? It’s because the cells themselves shrunk in size—they had to, because the margins protected the area outside the photos, so the only thing they could do to allow more space is to shrink the photo cells themselves (in Step 10, each cell was 5.51 inches by 4.87 inches, but after we added cell space, each photo, and its cell, was shrunk down to 5.07 inches by 4.43 inches to fit in the same space).
Step 12. Now, if you wanted more space around the sides and more space below the photos, you could increase the margins (and luckily, the cells are smart enough to scale themselves down in size automatically, because now they have to fit in less space). So, go to the Margins section of the Layout panel, and using the sliders there, increase the Left and Right margins to 1.25 inches, increase the Top margin to 1.77 inches, and increase the Bottom margin to 5.29 inches, and then look at how the layout looks now. The cells are smaller, but the space between them remains the same. So, to recap: (1) you control how much of the page is allowed to have an image on it using the Margins sliders, (2) you have your images fill each cell by turning on the Zoom to Fill checkbox, and (3) you choose how much space appears between each cell using the Cell Spacing sliders.
Step 13. Before we go any farther, if you’ve tweaked a layout like we have here and you like it, don’t forget to save it as a printing template. Go to the left side Panels area, and on the right side of the Template Browser header, click the + (plus sign) button, and when the New Template dialog appears, give your new custom template a name, choose to save it in the User Templates folder, then click Create. Now, next time you want this same setup, you’re just one click away. Okay, let’s look at resizing just one photo on the page. In the Template Browser, click on Fine Art Mat again.
Step 14. As far as resizing a single image on a page goes, if you want to move the photo left, right, higher up on the page, or lower down on the page, you’ll use the Margins sliders in the Layout panel. If you want to resize the entire photo while it remains centered on the page, then use the Cell Size sliders in the Layout panel, instead. Once you’ve dragged the Cell Size sliders in a bit, so you can see the cell guides, you can actually just move the cell guides by clicking-and-dragging directly on them (as seen here, where I’m moving the right guide inward). A little readout with the dimensions of that part of the cell appears beside the guide as you drag (as seen here). Depending on whether you have a tall or wide photo, you may only have to adjust the top or side cell guide to get the image positioned the way you want it. However, if you’re going to cut your photo to size once it’s printed, there is an advantage to having the cell guides snug up against your photo (more in the next step).
Step 15. At this point, go to the Guides panel (in the right side Panels area) and turn off the Show Guides checkbox, so you get a clean view of the photo on the page without all the cell and margin guides (I also turned off the rulers by pressing Command-R [PC: Ctrl-R]). Now, scroll down to the Overlays panel, turn on the checkbox for Page Options, and then turn on the Crop Marks checkbox (as shown here) to have Lightroom print crop marks to help you cut the photo to size, once it’s printed (you can see the crop marks appear outside each corner of the image in the preview shown here). The crop marks appear where your cell guides were, so if they’re snug up against your photo, they’ll appear in the right position. If you only moved one side of the cell, those crop marks will appear where the cell border is, not where your photo is (just a quick heads up on that, just in case).
Step 16. The final step is to actually print the file, which is handled down in the Print Job panel. There are some important things you’ll need to know (like how to set up the color management, resolution, what the sharpening is all about, etc.), and I’ve covered that in a separate tutorial starting on page 339 of this chapter, but I wanted to show you in context what you’d do after you’ve gotten your photo laid out on the page the way you want it. The nice thing is that once you learn how to set this Print Job panel up, you won’t have to fuss with it every time—most of the choices will already have been made. In many cases, you’ll be able to skip this panel, and simply click either the Print One or Print button (found at the bottom of the right side Panels area), and it will use your last Print Job panel settings and simply print the photo without any further input from you. So that’s the basics of laying out your photo(s) for printing.