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Creating Custom Book Pages in Photoshop
Moving Page Layouts to Other Pages
(2/16/2008)  

Several things interested me about the Blurb.com books:

  • The price was less than the site I had been using, especially for long standard-sized books.
  • You could create large format books.
  • You could get a cut when other people bought your books (I knew other sites provided this feature, but I hadn't tried one.)

I worked with a friend on this project because we learn from each other, and each sees things the other doesn't. In this case he had been along on the trip and taken a good fraction of the pictures so had a lot of interest in the project ... he in fact did almost all the final edits of the images. If you have a chance to work on a project like this with someone else I highly recommend it.

We decided to start with a standard-sized landscape book because it cost less and we had no experience with the quality of Blurb.com books. Personally I was also curious about the soft cover books which they offer at an even lower cost (but they are not available in the large format) so we ordered one of those too.

After we were through and had sent the book off to get printed I had these thoughts:

  • Since the cost of a long standard sized book is so reasonable, in the future we might want to consider even more full page pictures, or even a whole book of full page pictures (of course mixing portrait and landscape shots would be a problem.)
  • For a large format book, a mixture of a few full page pictures along with pages that contain several smaller images might make more sense.
  • I really wanted to see what I thought of a large format book ... it might make a much better "coffee table" book. I then discovered someone else from our Club created a large format Blurb book and was very happy, but had given away her only copy. I really what to see what a large format book was like, so while we were waiting to get our standard size books back from the printer, I thought maybe I would see how hard it was to convert our 10x8 layout to 11x13.

The screen shots that follow show the process of copying layers from one PSD file to another. Once I started and created my first 13x11 pages I realized that even though it doesn't sound like a 10x8 book would have the same aspect ratio as an 13x11 book, the pages in the two different size Blurb landscape books have almost exactly the same aspect ratio ... if you scale a 10x8 page up to fit in an 11x13 book, you only need to crop 3 one hundredths of an inch off each side.

Therefore, one can just use their 10x8 pages in a 13x11 book. The only potential issue is quality. Since I setup my template at 300 dpi, if I use these page images in a 13x11 book the effective dpi is just about 225 dpi. This is probably all you need (I have the feeling that when Booksmart, the Blurb book-building program, creates the book it uploads the resolution is less than 300, probably 240 dpi or even lower.)

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My recommendation is that when you create 10x8 pages, you create them at 400 dpi; pages saved as this resolution will be just over 300 dpi if used in an 11x13 book. If you've already created your spreads at 300 dpi you can add a step to your action that splits the spread into pages and saves them. The new step would be an "Image Size" operation which changes the dpi to 400 ... as long as all the images on the page are "Smart Objects" the quality of the resulting JPG page files will be the same as if you started with a 400 dpi template. Pretty amazing ... Photoshop is VERY powerful. As I remember, actions are only available in Photoshop itself, not Photoshop Elements. See the description of creating actions which Robin has on The Art of Engineering Website.

When I made the following screen shots, I was copying layouts from a 10x8 page-size spread into a 13x11 spread ... now I know I didn't have to do this, but you still might learn from how I was doing it.

Here's a 10x8 spread ...

Screen Capture

Here's my empty 13x11 template. Note that since I'm going to copy the layout on the left hand page first I've made my LH Page Mask active such that anything I copy into my template goes above this layer. (Also note that I've moved the 10x8 spread down so I can see a good portion of both spreads.) ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

Make sure your old spread is the active image (window) but that you can also see the page you want to copy the layout into behind it. Select ALL of the layers on the left hand page (except the background). Here, the left-hand page has four images (each a layer) and there is a text layer ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

Left-click, hold and drag those layers over the left hand page you want to copy them into ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

When you let go of the left mouse button they will appear on your new template (although probably not where you want them) ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

Since all of the new layers are still selected in the new template, using your Move Tool you can drag them around as a group and place them where you might want them ...

Screen Capture

Another option while they are all selected is to use Control/Command T to put a transform box around them. Then you can not only move them, but by holding down SHIFT resize them. Since every images is a "Smart Object", no quality will be lost by this operation ...

Screen Capture

(You can see the result of moving and resizing in the capture below.)

Next I made the RH Page Mask the active layer (even though it was hidden) so that what I copied next would end up above it in the layer list. I went back to my 10x8 spread; selected the layer with the right-hand page image and dragged it into my new template. In the screen capture below, the 10x8 spread is the active image and you can see the layer called "Cups" is about to be dropped onto the right hand page of the 13x11 spread at the top of the screen ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

After dropping ...

Screen Capture

I then selected Transform with Control/Command T and moved the image to the top of the spread and far enough to the left so it was easy to resize. If you look carefully, you can see the big X across the cups which means we still have a "Smart Object" ...

Screen Capture

Here it is after resizing and completing the transform with Enter/Return ...

Screen Capture

Next I create a clipping mask ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

And turn on the clipping mask layer ...

Screen Capture

Layers Pallet

And position the cups where I want them ...

Screen Capture

Hope you learned at least something.

-Wren                    

On to Part 3, or back to Part 1.


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