Update: 11/21/2010 – Part II of my review on my actual book printed with Photobook America is up!
I thought I would share some of my layouts that I finally completed for my Photobook America photo book (Photobook Canada for our Canadian neighbors ). I sent it in for printing yesterday (126 pages, 8 x 11 portrait size) and I have been getting several e-mails from readers asking about sharing more of my photo book templates. These are low res proofs (with “proof” watermarked all over them!), so it may be kind of distracting, but I think you’ll get the idea. Part II on print quality will come after I get my book. Check out Part I of my review of Photobook America focusing on the book design software.
As some of you may be following, I have a series of posts on how to make your photo books online. I didn’t start out to make this post a part of that series, but I guess it would fit into my intended “how to make your own photo book templates” post, so maybe I’ll add a link on that page later.
***By the way, this post goes out to my lovely friend Ann who said she’d like to see some more of my photo book layouts to get ideas. I knew that she started making photo books after I told her about my blog, but when I went to visit her recently, I saw this huge stack of photo books on her coffee table, featuring her adorable son and their family vacations. I was honestly shocked at how many she had done (and so happy she took to photo books as much as I have!) My husband joked she was the only person he knew who had almost as many photo books as me! She did such a beautiful job on her books!***
I’ve added some notes on each of the layouts so you can see my thought process in putting the pages together.
CENTERING YOUR LAYOUTS
This first layout below is skewed to the left for a reason. The green sea turtle was more in the middle of the original photo, but we know that with most books (unless they lay flat), there is a gutter to consider. Generally the more pages you have in your book, the more the image will get hidden in the center because of the binding. I didn’t want to have my main subject swallowed up by the binding, so I purposely shifted the photo to the left and added a neutral black background on the right. I then added smaller photos to the side, to compliment the main photo.
On this page of featuring an aerial view of Pearl Harbor, I tried the “vignette” function available in Photobook America. As you can see it gives a dreamlike edging to the photo and you can make it any color you want. I chose white here to match the clouds. I believe this is one of the few photo book printing companies that offers this function (sometimes known as “masks” or “frames” in other companies) and although I generally keep my photo book layouts pretty clean, and let the photos speak for themselves, I have to say this one worked here. The secondary photo of the map makes sense here – I was actually using it to track our location as we were flying over the Hawaiian Islands. We were on Island Air, which flies at a much lower altitude since it’s a smaller plane (a 37-seat turbo prop jet). I got several great photos from my plane ride from Kauai to Maui and the flight attendant gave us all a narrated tour – bonus!
CUSTOM COLORS FOR BACKGROUNDS
The next two layouts show the impact of color. I did custom colors for the next two pages. I was bored of black (my standard “go to” background color), and I love the color chocolate brown. It’s a neutral earthy color that matched the landscapes.
On the birds layout, I loved the green grass color in the background. I decided to use the custom color tool (looks like a magnifying glass) to copy the color and use it for the background of the adjacent page. You know the two pages will harmonize since it’s a color already on the spread.
See my review post on Photobook America software for a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to pick a custom color (and also draw a color out of any photo to use as a background).
(Hmmm…chocolate brown and pea green happened to be my wedding colors! I wasn’t thinking that when I did the spreads – the subconscious at work!)
This photo had a built-in caption since I took a photo of the sign. I mentioned in an earlier post how I often take photos of signs or plaques at various places so that I can later properly identify and caption my photos. Most times it’s just for reference, but as it turned out, I love the way this photo came out. I like the typography of the sign and the color, and my hubs is in the background. I also love taking photos of food. I even take photos of food I make for my husband and me at home. I have a plan to make a photo book of the dinners I’ve cooked him – so maybe he’ll appreciate it all more when he sees it all together! ha ha… b/t/w you may have read about the fun make your own cookbook project I’m doing with my friends!
BE EFFICIENT AND REUSE YOUR LAYOUTS
The three layouts below illustrate how to save time when making your own templates. They are the same layouts repurposed! So once you get the boxes lined up and of correct size (very easy to do with the alignment tool) you can duplicate the spread and then reuse it. The “Duplicate” tool for copying photo boxes (or entire spreads) is your friend cause you know that the boxes are the exact same size if you use the duplicate function.
Don’t worry about recycling your layouts, these pages are spaced out within the book so they don’t get boring.
Plus once you get a layout that you like, there are several ways to tweak them to save time but still be creative:
1) Take the same layout and make some simple style changes like rounding the corners (see the third image below);
2) Change the background color or use a photo as a background;
3) Resize – make some boxes smaller and others bigger, to put the focus on one photo over another;
4) Remove and Replace – remove the two smaller horizontal photos and replace it with a single vertical photo box;
4) Flip the layout – put the left side on the right and the right on the left;
3) Rearrange all the boxes – since you know they will fit on the page, you can change them all around – like a puzzle!
SIMPLE LAYOUTS ARE OKAY
Your book should have a mixture of layouts – a blend of the simple and the more complex. Vary your layouts to keep things interesting. The next two layouts are pretty clean. Below I did a very simple four photo spread of equal size. I added a thin white line to make the photos pop off the black background.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR BEST PHOTOS
Naturally you should give your best photos center stage. The best way to do that is to let them breathe and have their own dedicated page or spread. After a series of pages with 4 to 8 photos per spread, a big full page spread will have impact. Just drag the photo to the page and right click “Fit to Spread”. Can’t get much easier than a single photo layout!
The cover is the very top spread. I normally do the cover last because it gives me a chance to review all the photos and see how the spreads end up coming together. Hawaii is very green and I love the color green so that photo became the background. I normally just pick one photo for the cover and one photo for the back, but I decided to do a full page spread on the cover and picked some favorite photos to help illustrate some of the main highlights of the trip.
There’s so much more I can say about photo book layouts and design, so this is just a start. I didn’t plan for this post to be so long – but I hope you picked up some tips! If you have any great tips, I’d love to hear them, please share them here…