On Tuesday, I shared my completed A Week In the Life album (you can see it in all it’s photo-y goodness here). Now I don’t know about you, but I am always
curious nosy when it comes to how people tackle large projects like this, so today I wanted to offer a little behind-the-scenes peek at how I put my Week in the Life photo book together.
Let me preface this by saying that this was my first attempt at creating a photo book so by no means do I consider myself a photo book expert. I’m just sharing what worked for me.
The tools I used:
- Apple Aperture
- Adobe InDesign
Yes, you read that right. No Photoshop.
Ok, well, that’s not entirely true. I did use Photoshop to run my most favorite Totally Rad “Lux” action on my big 8×10 and 10×10 focal photos.
If you’re wondering why I chose for this project to go with my first Adobe love, InDesign, over my old scrapbooking standby, Photoshop, there were a couple of reasons:
1) InDesign is designed for multi-page projects
In order create this photo book in Photoshop, I would have had to create a separate document for each page of my album. But because InDesign is built for multi-page print publications (think magazines, newspapers, books, etc), I was able to create one single file that included all 46 pages of my album.
Definitely WAY easier than keeping track of 46 individual Photoshop documents.
2) The Blurb InDesign PDF to Book plug-in
One of the reasons I chose to go with a Blurb is they offer a free downloadable PDF to Book plug-in for InDesign that creates a custom book template for you based on the size and number of pages you want in your photo book. And it includes all of the trim and bleed information right in the template so you don’t have to worry about parts of your text or images getting cut off. Plus you can save the entire file as a PDF and upload it directly to print. So so easy.
Now if you’re wondering if this means you need InDesign to your long digital goodies wish-list, the answer is NO. You can absolutely use Photoshop to create a photo book – lots and lots of scrapbookers do.
BUT if you’re one of those scrapbookers who happens to own the Adobe Creative Suite and has always wondered what you could use InDesign for scrapbookingwise, this post will give you a little overview about the awesomeness that is InDesign.
But before we get to InDesign, I want to talk a little bit about the first big hurdle for this project – the photos.
Part 1: Organizing Photos in Aperture
Over the course of A Week in the Life, I took over 750 photos. That’s a lot of photos! So I needed an easy way to select and edit my most favorite photos.
Enter Apple Aperture.
In another post I’ll explain more about why I’ve made the switch from Adobe Lightroom to Apple Aperture but for now, all you really need to know is that if I didn’t already love Aperture before, this project totally made me head over heels in LOVE with it.
After uploading all my photos from my Canon Digital Rebel XT, my Nikon P&S and my iPhone, I started organizing them in Aperture.
First I made a project folder for A Week In Life 2011 and added Smart Folders that pulled photos taken during the week divided by days:
Next I added a five star rating to all the best photos, being careful to limit the number of too similar photos:
Once I had my five-star photos selected, I created Albums for each section of my days (I called them Routines) and dragged the five-star photos into their correct albums:
My final step was to Flag the small number of photos I wanted to include on my page. These are the only photos I edited and exported as JPGs to use in InDesign. As I mentioned, I used Aperture to edit the majority of my photos. The only photos that went to Photoshop were the large focal photos so I could add a little extra punch to them with my Totally Rad Actions.
My flagged photos (which you can also see in the earlier photos but only because I’ve already done the project, haha):
I then repeated this process for each daily routine album.
If you’re wondering why I chose to mix the flags with the star ratings, the answer is personal preference. I liked that it was easy to see the flagged photos rather than trying to see the difference between say 3-star and 5-star photos. You could definitely do it a different way, this was just what worked best for me.
Writing it all out it seems like a lot of steps but it actually went rather quickly. For all you fellow math nerds, here’s a little numbers breakdown of the photos at each step:
- 162: Number of photos taken on Monday
- 99: Number of photos that received a 5-star rating
- 40: Number of 5-star photos which were moved to the Monday Morning routine album
- 8: Number of flagged photos for Monday Morning which were then edited and exported as JPGs
- 6: Number of photos that made it onto the final version of the Monday Morning routine page in the photo book
Because I already had my design planned out, I had to be pretty ruthless since I knew at most I could only have 7 photos per spread.
Once I had all my photos edited and exported, it was time for some InDesign fun.
Part 2: Putting It All Together In InDesign
I don’t want to get too detailed about how I use InDesign, only because, if I did we’d be here all day and this post is already getting long, haha.
But I did want to show you the highlights of how I put my album together with InDesign. So if you’re curious in knowing more about InDesign or would like some more specific details/questions answered, please feel free to ask in the comments section.
My first step in InDesign was to download and install the Blurb PDF to Book plug-in. You can find the plug-in here.
Once you have the plug-in installed, you’ll be able to go to the File menu and find the Blurb Template Creator, which will bring up a dialog box that looks like this:
There you’ll choose the size of your book and the type of paper you want (some paper is thicker than others) as well as the number of pages.
If you’re not sure how many pages you’ll need, don’t worry about it. You can always add and remove pages as you work. The only time the correct page count matters is when creating your cover so make sure you don’t create your cover until you’re completely done with your book (or at least 100% sure on your finished book page count).
Once you’ve inputted all your book information, Blurb will create a book template that looks like this, a two page side-by-side spread just like you would have in the finished book:
That main area is where you’ll design your pages and on the right side of the window, you have a list of all your spreads.
At the top of the page Blurb has included some bleed/trim information for the book. Here’s a closer look:
Included are are three sets of lines: one for the safe area, one for the trim area and one for the bleed area.
The black trim line represents the physical edge of the book pages while the big grey box is considered the “safe zone.” Anything important (like text) should go in that grey box as due to trimming inconsistences, Blurb can’t guarantee that anything outside that box will for sure not be trimmed. It shouldn’t be, but it’s a better-to-be-safe kind of thing.
The red outer line represents the bleed line. If you want your photos to bleed to the edge, aka no white edges, you want to make sure your photos go all the way to that red line.
In terms of designing the album, InDesign is a lot more simple than Photoshop in that you don’t deal with layers in the same way. It’s pretty much all boxes: either image boxes or text boxes.
The weekend prior to AWITL, I created two master pages (essentially templates) to serve as foundation pages for my design. This is what my two master pages looked like:
8×10 Focal Photo:
haha, yes, those are our wedding photos. They happened to be in an easily to grab folder along with these other prints.
To create my pages, I simply replaced the photos (in InDesign it is MUCH easier than Photoshop to replace and resize photos into pre-done image boxes) and adjusted the image and text boxes based on the number of photos I had chosen for that portion of my day.
Let’s just say there was a lot of repetition in this project – duplicating spreads, replacing photos and adding new text.
As far as planning, other than the basic design of the master pages, I didn’t have all my pages planned out in advance. I just moved the boxes around as I saw fit based on how the overall album was coming together. One of the great advantages of InDesign is you can see ALL of the spreads at once and really get a birds-eye view of how it’s all flowing together.
Now here’s the part in the cooking show where I miraculously pull my pre-made finished dish out of the oven. *cue the wavy time-is-passing lines*
Here’s what my finished album looked like in InDesign after all the moving and replacing:
One of the finished square photo pages (if you look closely you can see how the big photo bleeds across the book spine and onto the second page):
A little bit more of a close up:
So you can see all my text is within that gray safe zone and all my photos bleed to the very edge where the red line is because I didn’t want any white space at the edge.
Here’s what the finished page will actually look like in the photo book (minus the grey background):
It’s kind of hard to tell from the screenshot, but everything outside of the black trim line has been basically “trimmed” to give a more realistic look of what the book will actually look like in print.
I haven’t received my printed Blurb book yet (possibly Friday!) so I’m not sure how much will really be trimmed off but I’m hoping it’ll be similar to this look. I’ll definitely be sure to share whatever happens!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this
little long peek into the inner workings of InDesign, Aperture and my A Week In the Life album. If you have any questions or anything, feel free to leave me a note in the comments section!
Psst…want more A Week In the Life 2011 goodness? See all my AWITL posts here.