In Lightroom 3, Adobe now gives you the option to break away from the structured cell layouts of previous versions, to create your own custom cell layouts in any size, shape, and placement, using a Print layout style called “Custom Package.” Here’s where you can create photos in any size and any layout you want, without being tied into a grid.
Start up at the top in the Layout Style panel by clicking on Custom Package (we want to start from scratch, so if you see any cells already in place, go to the Cells panel and click the Clear Layout button at the bottom of the Add to Package section). There are two ways to get photos onto your page: The first is to go down to the Filmstrip and simply to drag-and-drop images right onto your page (as seen here). The image appears inside its own fully resizable cell, so you can just drag one of the corner handles to resize the image (the image you see here came in pretty small, so I resized it to nearly fill the bottom of the page). It will resize proportionally by default, but if you turn off the Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio checkbox (at the bottom of the Cells panel), then it acts like a regular cell with Zoom to Fill turned on, in that you can crop the photo using the cell. More on that in a minute.
Go ahead and hit the Clear Layout button, so you can try the other way to get your images into your layout, which is to create the cells first, arrange them where you want, then drag-and-drop your images into those cells. You do this by going to the Cells panel, and in the Add to Package section, just click on the size you want. For example, if you wanted to add a 3×7″ cell, you’d just click on the 3×7 button (as shown here) and it creates an empty cell that size on the page. Now you can just click inside the cell and drag it anywhere you’d like on the page. Once it’s where you like it, you can drag-and-drop a photo into that cell from the Filmstrip.
Let’s go ahead and create a layout using these cell buttons, so hit the Clear Layout button to start from scratch again. Click the 3×7 button to add a long, thin cell to your layout, but then go down and click the Rotate Cell button to make this a tall, thin cell. This cell is actually pretty large on the page, but you can resize it by grabbing any of the handles, or going down to the Adjust Selected Cell sliders and choosing any size you’d like (in our case, shrink your Height to 5.00 in). Now, we need to make two more cells just like this one, and the quickest way to do that is just press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key, then click inside the cell and drag to the right to make a copy. Do this twice until you have three cells, like you see here, and arrange them side by side, as shown (as you drag these cells, you’ll feel a little snap. That’s it snapping to an invisible alignment grid that’s there to simply help you line things up. You can see the grid by going to the Rulers, Grid & Guides panel and turning on the checkboxes for Show Guides and Page Grid).
Next, let’s add a larger photo to the bottom of our layout. Click the 4×6 button and it adds a larger cell to the layout, but it’s not quite as wide as our three thin cells above, so just grab any point and drag until this cell is as wide as the three at the top of the page (as seen here). The layout’s done, but before you start dragging-and-dropping images, there are two things you need to change first: (1) because the cells at the top are tall and thin, you need to turn off the checkbox for Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio. Otherwise, when you drag-and-drop photos into those thin cells, they will just expand to the full size of the photo.
Now you’re ready to start dragging-and-dropping photos into your layout. If you drag one that doesn’t look good in your layout, just drag another right over it. You can reposition your photo inside a smaller cell by pressing-and-holding the Command (PC: Ctrl) key, then just dragging the image left/right (or up/down), so just the part you want is showing.
You can stack images so they overlap, almost like they’re Photoshop layers. Let’s start from scratch again, but first click the Page Setup button (at the bottom left), and turn your page orientation to Landscape. Now go back to the Cells panel, click the Clear Layout button, then click the 8×10 button, resize it so it’s a wide image, and position it so it takes up most of the page (as shown here). Now, click the 2×2.5 button three times, make each cell a little wider (like the ones seen here), and position them so they overlap the main photo, as shown. Drag-and-drop photos on each cell. You can move the photos in front or behind each other by Right-clicking on the photo, and from the pop-up menu, choosing to send the photo back/forward one level or all the way to the bottom/top of the stack. If you want to add a white photo border around your images (like I have here), go up to the Image Settings panel and turn on the Photo Border checkbox. Also, when you’re done, try switching your Page Orientation back to Portrait and see how that looks—you might be surprised. For example, I switched it, and thought it might make a good wedding book layout, so I swapped out the photos, rotated the small cells, then added a fourth small cell, and made the main photo a little thinner (as shown on the bottom left). It only took about 30 seconds. I also tried just rotating the three small cells and making the main photo fill the page (as shown on the bottom right).
Okay, let’s start from scratch again and shoot for something pretty ambitious (well, as far as layouts go anyway). Clear your layout again, then go to the Page panel, turn on the checkbox for Page Background Color, click on the color swatch, and choose black as your background color. Now, make sure the Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio checkbox is turned off, then just go to the Cells panel and click the buttons to add a bunch of cells, and resize them so your layout looks kinda like what I have here, with a gap between the top and bottom set of images (so you can add your Identity Plate).
Now, go ahead and drag-and-drop your photos into these cells. By the way, the thin white border you see around your cells is just there to show you where the cell borders are—those don’t actually print in the final image. If you want a white stroke around your images, go up to the Image Settings panel and turn on the checkbox for Inner Stroke, then click on the color swatch to the right and set the color to white. For the image shown here, I switched to a collection of travel shots, then I dragged some of those images into the cells. Lastly, to have your studio name appear between the images, go to the Page panel and turn on the checkbox for Identity Plate, then turn on the Override Color checkbox, click on the color swatch and choose white as your Identity Plate color. You can drag your Identity Plate anywhere on the page, but for this layout, just drag it to the center and you’re done.