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Producing a Photo Book

A Photo Book is a multi-page digital project that offers an attractive way to present and share your memories and makes the perfect personalized gift for a loved one.

You can either have your completed Photo Book commercially printed and bound by ordering through an online service—great for a sophisticated gift—or print it yourself on your home printer. However, unless you have high-quality, double-sided paper in a large enough size you may have to make some design compromises and possibly scale your layout in the printer dialog box to fit standard paper sizes.

  1. Check that you still have the images for this lesson isolated in the Organizer. If you do, you can skip this step; if not, click Show All (if it’s visible) in the Find bar above the Media Browser. In the Keyword Tags panel, activate the find box beside the Lesson 04 tag.
  2. Above the Media Browser and the Find bar, set the sorting order to Date (Oldest First). In the Media Browser, select the image photobook_01.jpg; then Shift-click the image photobook_26.jpg to select all the images for this exercise.
  3. Click the Create tab above the Task pane; then, click the Photo Book button. The Photo Book window opens.
  4. At the left, the Sizes pane lists size options for various online printing services. Under Print Locally, choose 11.00 x 8.50 inches. From the Themes menu, choose the Colorful template. At the bottom of the dialog box, set the number of pages for the photo book to 8. For the purposes of this exercise, disable the option Autofill With Selected Images; then, click OK.

    You’ll see a progress bar while Photoshop Elements creates pages and generates previews, and then the title page of the photo book appears in the Edit window.

    The Pages panel on the Create tab displays thumbnail previews for the title page and four two-page spreads.

  5. Thumbnails of the photos you selected in the Media Browser are displayed in the Project Bin. To see more of the images in the Project Bin, drag the top edge of the header bar upwards to increase the depth of the panel, or use the scroll bar.

Changing page layouts

When Photoshop Elements generates Photo Book pages automatically, it applies a different layout to each page randomly, varying the number, size, and positioning of photos so that every spread has a unique design. You can see this reflected in the previews in the Pages panel.

You could, of course, accept the automatic layout as is, but for the purposes of this project, we’ll customise the design page by page. To save time in this exercise, we’ve prepared a tweaked layout designed to fit the lesson images, leaving it up to you to finalize the page layout for the final spread.

  1. At the bottom of the Create tab, click Done, and then click Don’t Save to discard the default layout. Choose File > Open. Navigate to and open your Lesson04 folder; then, select the file Venice_Book.pse and click Open. On Windows, select the nested file Venice_Book.pse and click Open.
  2. In the Pages panel, click to select the last two-page spread, pages 7 and 8.
  3. Click Layouts at the top of the Create tab. In the first category, Different Layouts, locate the page design “4 Up Photobook Landscape” and drag it onto the left page of the Page 7/8 spread in the Edit window.
  4. Scroll down the Layouts menu to the One Photo category. Locate the Photobook Landscape template at the left on the bottom row in this category, and drag the layout swatch to the right page of the spread in the Edit window.
  5. Inspect the completed base layout in the Pages panel. Including the cover page, the design now includes placeholders for all 26 of the lesson photos. Three of the place-holder frames may be hard to spot as they occupy whole pages (pages 2, 4, and 5) and have smaller frames arranged on top of them.
  6. Click to select the Title Page at the top of the Pages preview.

Rearranging the order of images in a project

When you create a photo book—or any other photo project—and have Photoshop Elements place your photos automatically, the images are arranged in the layout template in the order in which they appear in the Project Bin.

For a multiple-page project such as a photo book, you can save a lot of time and effort by arranging your photos before you begin. An easy way to do this is to shuffle your images in the Project Bin in the Editor.

  1. Right-click / Control-click any of the thumbnails in the Project Bin and choose Show Filenames from the context menu.
  2. Drag the image photobook_05.jpg to a new position to the left of the image photobook_02.jpg, so that it becomes the second image in the Project Bin.

    It’s that easy! You can move multiple selections of images in the same way. If you find you can’t drag a thumbnail to a new position, you probably have all of the images in the Project Bin selected.

  3. Right-click / Control-click the image photobook_05.jpg and choose Auto Fill With Project Bin Photos. Wait while Photoshop Elements places the images and regenerates previews.
  4. Hide the Project Bin by double-clicking its header bar.

Working with backgrounds

You can change the background, like any other element in a preset theme template, as easily as you changed the page layout. You can move, rotate, scale, or even delete the preset background, just as you can with a frame or clip-art graphic.

Unlike a framed photo however, you can’t simply select and drag the background image—being the basis for the file, the locked Background layer is a special case. The Background graphic is also a Smart Object, which means that for some operations, it will first need to be “simplified”—unlocked and converted to bit-mapped data—before it can be edited as can other layers.

  1. In the Pages panel, click the first two-page spread, pages 1 and 2. Click the Switch To Advanced Mode button, at the left below the Edit window. Choose Window > Favorites to open the Favorites panel. If the Favorites panel opens in an inconvenient position, drag it into the Panels Bin by its header bar or position it where it won’t obstruct your view of the layout or the Layers panel.
  2. In the Favorites panel, double-click the swatch for the background Black Folded Paper. Watch as the Background layer in the Layers panel is updated.

    The background image has been scaled to fit the width of the two-page spread, though the full-page image on page 2 is obscuring the right half.

    We could make more of the sparse, subtle textural detail in this background by reducing it so that it covers only the area where it is needed. To move, scale, or rotate the background, you first need to “free” the Content library image on the Background layer, much as you need to temporarily ungroup a photo from its frame before you can move the image independently within the frame.

  3. Right-click / Control-click the full-page image on the right page of the spread and choose Clear Frame from the context menu. You now have a clear view of the line where the inside edges of the facing pages meet.
  4. Right-click / Control-click the background on the left page and choose Move Background. The Background layer becomes active in the Layers panel and a bounding box surrounds the graphic, though most if it is out of view; the image is larger than the two-page spread. Test this by dragging the background downwards. Click the Cancel button at the lower right of the bounding box.
  5. In order to scale or rotate the background manually, you could drag the image until one of the control handles was visible, but in this case it will be more convenient to use the controls in the tool options bar. Type 50% in the Width (W) text box; with the Constrain Proportions option activated, the Height (H) value is updated automatically. The background image is scaled by 50% from its center.
  6. Drag the reduced background artwork and position it flush with the left edge of page 1. Move the image up and down until you’re pleased with the placement of the detail, and then click the Commit button (pse10_greencommitbutton.jpg) to commit the changes.
  7. Without the background covering the entire spread, there is a thin margin of white showing around the large photo on the right page. Click the image; then, click once on any of the bounding box handles. Rather than drag the handles to scale the image and its containing frame, type 101% in either the W ot H text box in the tool options bar and Commit the change.
  8. Drag the Basic Black 40px frame swatch from the Favorites panel onto each of the five frames photos in the layout.
  9. In the Pages panel, click the third spread in the photo book: pages 5 and 6. Alternatively, navigate to the Page 5/6 spread using the blue right-arrow button below the Edit window preview.

Working with photos and frames

The design theme you chose as a first step in creating your photo book places every photo in a default frame, but each theme’s design differs. You already substituted frames with artwork from the Content library; in this exercise you’ll learn how to manipulate a photo and its frame as a group, and how to modify a photo’s position and orientation independently of its frame.

  1. You can start by replacing all seven frames in the spread. Drag the Old Black & Gold Frame swatch from the Favorites panel onto each of the four small images on the left page, and the Paper Frame swatch onto the three photos on the right.
  2. Double-click the Handmade Paper 04 swatch to replace the background; then, right-click / Control-click the full-page image on the left and choose Clear Frame from the context menu.
  3. To move a framed photo in the layout, simply drag it with the Move tool (pse10_movetool.jpg). Shift-click to select all four of the small images on the left page. Hold down the shift key to constrain the movement and drag the row of photos downwards to position them half-way between the girl’s eyes and the mouth of her mask.
  4. Click the background to deselect the photos, and then re-select the one on the left. Hold down the Shift key as you drag the framed image about halfway to the left edge of the page. Move the photo on the right end of the row the same distance in the opposite direction. Select all four images; then, click Distribute in the tool options bar and choose Horizontal Centers from the menu.
  5. Right-click / Control-click each of the three photos on the right page and choose Fit Frame To Photo from the context menu. The frames are re-sized so that their outside borders conform to the edge of the images. Click to select the image at the right, and then drag the handle at the lower right of the bounding box to enlarge the photo—together with its frame—until the right edge extends beyond the limits of the page. You don’t need to use the Shift key; the proportions of the frame group are constrained by default. Click the Commit button.
  6. Drag or nudge the three tilted photos into a pleasing arrangement, scaling or rotating them as you wish. To rotate a framed photo manually, select the photo; then, move the pointer close to one of the corner handles, staying just outside the bounding box. When the curved double-arrow cursor appears, drag to rotate the image. Hold down the Shift key as you drag to constrain the rotation to 15° increments. Always click the Commit button (pse10_greencommitbutton.jpg) to commit the changes.
  7. In the Pages panel, click the last spread in the photo book: pages 7 and 8.

Adjusting a photo inside a frame

A photo frame and the image it surrounds occupy the same layer—even though the frame appears to be overlaid on the photo. In fact, by default the layer entry in the Layers panel even takes its name from the frame.

  1. You can start by replacing the background and the four smaller frames in the spread. Double-click the Handmade Paper 03 swatch to replace the background; then, drag the Basic Black 40px frame swatch from the Favorites panel onto each of the four images on the left page. You can keep the default frame for the large photo on the right page. Select both of the text frames below the lower left corner of the large image and press Backspace / Delete on your keyboard.

    When you move, or scale or rotate a framed photo using the bounding box handles, the photo and frame are transformed together. To move or transform an image independently within its frame, you first need to right-click / Control-click the image and choose Position Photo In Frame from the context menu—or alternatively, isolate the image from its frame group by double-clicking the photo inside the frame with the Move tool (pse10_movetool.jpg).

    Whichever of these actions you take to isolate the image, a control bar appears above the photo, with a scaling slider and buttons to re-orient the image or replace it with another.

  2. Right-click / Control-click the image on the right page and choose Position Photo In Frame from the context menu. Hold down the Shift key to constrain the movement as you drag the image to the left within its frame, so that the gondolier on the right is no longer cut off by the border. Commit the change.
  3. Use the Zoom tool to focus on the group of four photos on the left page. For each of these photos except the image at the lower right, right-click / Control-click the image and choose Position Photo In Frame. Use the scaling slider to show as much of each image as possible, without resizing the frames. Drag each photo within its frame to reveal the most interesting crop. Commit the changes. We’ll deal with the image at the lower right in the next step.
  4. You can rotate the last of the four photos within its frame to straighten the blue and white gondola poles. Right-click / Control-click the image and choose Position Photo In Frame. To rotate the photo inside its frame, move the pointer close to any bounding box handle; when the pointer becomes a curved double-arrow cursor, drag the handle in either direction. Scale and position the photo within its frame as you did with its three neighbors; then, commit the changes.
  5. Move the large photo on the right downwards to center it on the page. Double-click the Hand tool to see the entire spread.
  6. In the Pages panel, click the second spread in the photo book: pages 3 and 4.

Refining your Photo Book layout using layers and effects

In this exercise you’ll begin to polish your Photo Book design while you refresh some of the skills you’ve picked up in the course this lesson.

You’ll start by customizing pages 3 and 4—the last un-treated spread—then, add some sophistication to the layout using a little layer magic.

  1. Double-click the Handmade Paper 03 swatch to replace the background; then, drag the Paper Frame swatch from the Favorites panel onto each of the three images on the left page. Drag the Gold Frame Ornate swatch from the Favorites panel onto the photo of an antique interior on the right page, and the Gold Frame Round 2 swatch onto the photo of the couple. Right-click / Control-click the large image on the right and choose Clear Frame from the context menu.
  2. Right-click / Control-click each of the three photos on the left page and choose Fit Frame To Photo from the context menu. Drag or nudge the three tilted photos to position them, and scale or rotate them as you wish. If you want to change the stacking order of a photo, right-click / Control-click the image and choose Bring To Front, Bring Forward, Send Backwards, or Send To Back from the context menu. Scale, move or rotate each photo within its frame as needed, referring to the previous exercises if you need to refresh your memory.
  3. For each of the two gold-framed photos, first make sure you are happy with scaling and placement; then, select the framed image, right-click / Control-click its layer in the Layers panel, and choose Simplify Layer. Without this step, it would not be possible to apply layer styles to these particular framing groups.
  4. Drag the High drop shadow swatch from the Favorites panel onto each of the simplified images. Double-click the fx icon on each of the simplified layers in the Layers panel to open the Style Settings dialog box where you can tweak the drop shadow effect. In both cases, reduce the Distance setting to 55px, and then click OK.
  5. Click to select the full-page image on the right of the spread. At the top of the Layers panel, use the slider to reduce the selected layer’s opacity to 40%. Don’t forget that this image can also be scaled, moved, or rotated within its image container frame, even though the frame graphic has been removed.
  6. Revisit the Page 5/6 spread and apply the High drop shadow effect to the four small photos on the left page, first simplifying the respective layers in the Layers panel, as you did in step 3, and then editing the effect as you did in step 4.

Re-ordering the pages in a Photo Book

If you feel that a particular spread would look better placed at a different point in your photo book, it’s very easy to change the page order.

  1. You can start by revisiting the Page 1/2 spread. Move, tilt and scale the upper right photo of the group on page 1 to break up the regular arrangement a little. Rotate and position the smaller image on page 2 to cover the out-of-focus foliage at the bottom of the full-page image.
  2. In the Pages panel, drag the Page 1/2 spread downwards. Release the mouse button when you see an insertion line appear between the Page 3/4 and Page 5/6 spreads.

    The Pages panel previews are regenerated and the pages are re-numbered. If the layout preview is slow refreshing, click each spread in the Pages panel in turn.

Adding graphics to a project

The Photo Book is almost complete. Before adding text, you can liven up the design with a judicious use of graphics from the content library. You can start by creating some atmosphere on the title page: the front cover of your photo book.

  1. Use the blue navigation buttons below the Edit pane, or click in the Pages preview, to move to the title page.
  2. The preset text frames included in many of the page layout templates are very useful for simple titles, captioning, and notes, but you’ll create your own text layers in the next exercise. Select both of the text frames below the lower left corner of the framed image and press Backspace / Delete on your keyboard; then, confirm the deletions.
  3. Select the framed photo, and then click any of the bounding box handles. In the tool options bar, type 30% in the Width (W) text box; with Constrain Proportions activated, the Height (H) value is updated automatically. Click the Commit button. While the framed photo is still selected, double-click the Gold Frame Ornate swatch in the Favorites panel. Right-click / Control-click the image and choose Fit Frame To Photo.
  4. In the Favorites panel, double-click the Blue Swirly swatch to replace the background. In the Layers panel, right-click / Control click the Background layer and choose Duplicate Layer from the context menu. Click OK to accept the default name for the duplicate layer. At the top of the Layers panel, set the layer blending mode to Multiply, and the opacity to 50%.
  5. In the Edit window, hold down the Shift key to constrain the movement as you drag the new layer downwards until it covers only the lower third of the page.
  6. Drag the swatch for the graphic Cruise Ship from the Favorites panel to the right side of the page. Drag the bounding box handles to scale the graphic up to around 200%. Choose Image > Rotate > Flip Layer Horizontal, and then drag the ship to position as shown in the illustration below. To move the graphic behind the framed photo, right-click / Control-click the cruise ship and choose Send Backward from the context menu.
  7. Drag the graphic Compass 02 from the Favorites panel to the upper left of the page, placing it as shown. At the top of the Layers panel, change the blending mode for the new layer to Difference, and set the layer’s opacity to 70%. Change the opacity for the Cruise Ship layer to the same value.

Placing text in a layout

In this exercise you’ll create a title for the front page, and add a text message on the last page of the photo book.

  1. Select the Horizontal Type tool; then, choose Bickham Script Pro from the font menu in the tool options bar across the top of the Edit pane. Set the font style to Regular and type 460 pt in the font size text box. Ensure that the Anti-aliased button beside the font size text box is activated so that the edges of the letters are smoothed, and then choose Center Text from the text alignment menu. Click the small white triangle beside the text color swatch in the tool options bar—not the swatch itself—and sample Light Green Cyan for the text color.
  2. Click below the photo and Type Venice, then commit the text. In the Layers panel, change the blending mode for the text layer to Difference and the layer opacity to 90%; then drag the text layer downwards to position it below (behind) the framed photo. Center the title horizontally. Select the compass and the photo together and drag them to the right to center the frame above the “n” in Venice. De-select the compass and move the frame up to the height of the dot on the “i.”
  3. Finally, right-click / Control-click the text layer in the Layers panel and choose Simplify Layer from the context menu; then, apply the High drop shadow effect. In the Layers panel, double-click the fx icon on the text layer and reduce the drop shadow’s Distance setting to 55px (see the illustration on the next page).
  4. In the Pages panel, click the last spread in the layout, and then click Artwork at the top of the Create tab. Scroll down the artwork menu to locate the graphic “Speech Bubble 03.” Drag the bubble onto page 8; then, choose Image > Rotate > Flip Layer Horizontal. Use the handles on the bounding box to scale the shape and position it as shown in the illustration at the right.
  5. With the speech bubble graphic still selected, switch to the Type tool again. Keep the same font, but change the font size to 36 pt and the font style to Semibold. Click the white arrow beside the Leading text box—to the left of the text color swatch—and change the setting from Auto to 30 pt. Click in the center of the speech bubble and type Gondola: mid 16th century. Press Enter / Return, and then type “to rock and roll.” (include the quote marks and period). Click the Confirm button and drag the text to adjust its position.
  6. Just two more flourishes and you’re done! Use the navigation buttons below the Edit window preview, or the Pages panel, to move to the Page 1/2 spread. Drag the graphic Silver Flower Spray onto the left page. Rotate the artwork 90° counter-clockwise, and scale it to almost the width of the page. Move the flower spray so that it extends off the top edge of the page. In the Layers panel, move the layer Silver Flower Spray down in the order, so that it lies below (behind) at least one of the paper-framed photos, and above (in front of) at least one other.
  7. Drag the Brass Leaves graphic onto the right page of the Page 5/6 spread twice. Scale and rotate each copy so that plenty of the leaves lie in areas not occupied by framed photos, particularly at the right side of the page. In the Layers panel, move both Brass Leaves layers below (behind) all of the Paper Frame layers. Change the blending mode for both Brass Leaves layers to Screen.
  8. The Photo Book is complete; choose File > Save. By default photo projects are saved in Photo Project Format, a multi-page document format that preserves text and layers so that they can be edited later. You could also choose to save the project as a PDF file that can be shared as an e-mail attachment.
  9. Choose File > Export Photobook. In the Export Photobook dialog box, choose PDF from the Format menu. Click Browse to specify your My CIB Work folder as the Save To Location; then, click OK. Choose File > Close.

Congratulations! You’ve completed the lesson. You’ve learned about using the preset Theme and Layout templates, explored the Content library, and become familiar with a variety of methods for locating the content you need. You’ve also learned how to manipulate backgrounds, frames, and text, and the basics of working with layers and applying layer styles. Before you move on to the next lesson, take a moment to refresh your new skills by reading through the review on the next page.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020