Friday, November 20, 2009

Creating a Heritage Photobook - Part IV

The focus of this posting on photo books is design considerations when creating the layouts. It's good for me to get them written down so that I can go back to this post as a point of reference when creating books in the future.

First, due to the bleed and trim tolerances that are part of the printing process, it is necessary to be careful about placing elements too close to the edge. All journaling, titles, and captions as well as photos that should not appear cut off probably need to be at least an inch from the edge. In PSP, guidelines can be set up to mark the bleed and trim lines based on the spec from the publisher. (In the case of Shutterfly, I believe you can actually download templates with these lines already on them.) Further, if you create the layout as 12x12 and then plan to size down to 8x8, the "1 inch" margin needs to be set at 1.5 inches on the larger size in order for it to be 1 inch when sized down. So recommendation number one is to set up the bleed and trim guides before starting the layout.

Another thing I haven't mentioned before is the gutter. That is where the pages come together at the binding. In a perfect bound book, the pages will not lay flat. The binding and the curvature will obscure some of the inner part of the layout. This is yet another reason to keep the journaling, titles, captions and photos away from the edges.

The next design consideration is also related to the printing tolerances. It's probably a good idea to avoid using symmetric page borders. If the publisher doesn't trim the exact same amount from each edge, your layout will lose the symmetry, and it might look "off."  This would include avoiding layouts in which a slightly smaller paper is centered and stacked on a larger paper for a page border. It might also include papers with borders built into the design. Just keep in mind when selecting the background papers how they would look trimmed - and since the backgrounds are extending to the bleed line, they are definitely going to be trimmed.

As a corollary to this, I would also avoid placing elements in such a way as to try to have them extend from the left hand page to the right. If the page trimming isn't exact enough, you may see a noticeable shift up or down and the result would look sloppy - like fabric stripes that don't line up at the seams!

The next few items may be more of personal taste, but in general I tend to prefer the subjects of the photos to face toward the center of the book (in the case of one or two large photos) or the center of the page (if using many smaller photos on a page). This is why it's nice to know if you are working on a left-hand page or a right-hand page when you are working on the layout. That way you can use appropriately oriented photos - or since we are working digitally, mirror the photo. Similarly, if I were working on a left-hand page and had text or journaling adjacent to the gutter, I would right-justify the text so that the jagged side would face the outside. But again, this may be more of a personal preference and not a hard and fast rule.

These are the design considerations that come to mind as I write this. There may be others, but these are the main things I want to keep in mind as I create the page layouts.

Well I think the topic of photobooks is pretty well exhausted! After I get mine done and printed I will try to write a follow-up on how it turned out. By the way, I have all but decided to use Shutterfly for the publisher. So we will see how it goes.

That's it for now.

~J

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Creating a Heritage Photobook - Part III

In this post I wanted to talk about the way I have chosen to help me design the layout of the book. Back when I was working on the yearbook for my children's elementary school, we used a ladder diagram to define what would be on each page. Here's how it works. Draw a vertical line down the center of a piece of lined paper. (Or set up a 2 column document in a word processor.) The left column represents the left-hand side pages and the right column represents the right-hand side pages. Typically you would start numbering the ladder diagram with page 1 on the top line of the right-hand column, then page 2 and 3 on the next line, continuing on with even numbers on the left and odd numbers on the right. However, before you number the lines, double check how it's done with the publisher you chose. Lulu, for example, counts what would normally be page 1 as the title page and it is not counted as a "photo" page. In this case, page numbering starts with the first double page spread. Thus in this case, odd numbers are on the left and even are on the right. On the other hand, Shutterfly and Snapfish do not give you a special title page. The very first page is actually your first photo page and the double page spreads begin with pages 2 and 3. The bottom line is that you need to number your ladder diagram in accordance with the method used by the publisher you have selected.

Once you have a ladder diagram with the appropriate page number scheme, it is time to decide the content of each page. Just jot a quick description next to the page number. Of course, as you're doing this, you should be thinking in terms of the story you want to convey with your layouts and the photos and/or journaling that you have available. If you think that some topics will need two pages, try to organize the book so that those two pages fall together on a double page spread. At the end of this process you will have a road map that you can follow as you create the actual layouts. Of course, flexibility is important and the ladder diagram is not written in stone. You may need to make some adjustments and changes as you go along. But I find that using a ladder diagram as a tool, helps to keep me focused and provides me with a clear idea of what layouts still need to be done.

There are a couple of design considerations that I want to record here, so I guess there will be a Part IV to this blog topic!

That's it for now.

~J

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creating a Heritage Photobook - Part II

This post is a continuation of my previous post - Creating a Heritage Photobook - Part I. This post focuses on the part of the process dealing with deciding what scrap booking kit(s) to use and some things to consider with regard to that. I will then follow up with a third post to discuss a method for planning the book layout.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, for my Heritage book I have decided that I want it to have a cohesive look, and so I am leaning toward using one large mega-kit to build all of the pages. That way the book will hopefully have a cohesive, coordinated look, but still have variety. Another way to achieve this, as ForgetMeNots pointed out in a comment to my earlier post, is to choose multiple kits by the same designer, since many designers have a particular style that carries through in their various kits. Just to expand on that idea, if the colors aren't quite right, elements and/or papers could be recolored to coordinate.

Another thing to be aware of when choosing the kit(s) is the designer TOU. While I am starting to see more kits marked S4H/S4O (scrap for hire/scrap for others) friendly, many are PU (personal use) only. If you are planning on only printing out one book for yourself, personal use kits would be okay to use. I am thinking in my case, however, I would need the kit I use to be S4H/S4O friendly. Since the Heritage book I am making will focus on the lives of my grandparents and their ancestors, it may also be of interest to my aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins and possibly other relatives. And I would want them to be able to have copies should they want one. I would think that making additional copies of a photobook or even just a single layout or two would fall under the S4O (scrap for others) category. (Particularly if the recipient is paying the copying fees.)

It is my understanding that if you want to use a kit marked for personal use kit as I described above (i.e. making copies of layouts for others), you would have to contact the designer to see if she (or he) will allow it.  It is possible that the designer will ask you to purchase a commercial license. This whole issue of licensing and commercial use vs. personal use is actually another reason why I am thinking about designing my own kit for the book I am making. Then I won't have to worry about copyrights, terms of use, commercial licenses or any of the legal stuff if later on down the line a relative would like a copy of one or more of the pages.

That's it for this post. I'll follow up with more on the planning the book layout later.

~J

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creating a Heritage Photobook - Part I

As I'm getting closer to putting my Heritage Photobook together, I thought I would record the process. This way I can go back and read it to refresh my memory when I want to make the next one! LOL! First off, I've been checking out some different photobook publishers and have found that different publishers offer different page sizes. That isn't to say that there isn't some overlap, but there are definitely different dimensions, particularly as you move away from a square format. Thus, in general, it is probably a good idea to evaluate and choose a publisher before creating layouts.I have narrowed my choices down to two or three and will probably post here when I make a final choice. I have decided on a nominal 8x8 square format, and all the publishers I am looking at support that size.

The second thing to be aware of is trim and bleed. I knew from my many years working on the elementary school yearbook that this was going to be a factor. Many of the complaints that people have deal with designs being cut off and/or white bands along the edges. This is because of the page trimming tolerance, possibly as much as 1/4 of an inch. This means that design might shift up, down, left or right by this amount. To avoid white bands, the background design paper needs to extend out each direction by this amount - that would be the bleed. The other part to this is that key elements of the design, and especially journaling, cannot fall outside of the potential trim area. If it does, it might possibly be cut off. All the publishers I'm looking at tell you their particular trim and bleed tolerances. Some even provide templates so you can see how far to extend your background papers as well as the limits of where to put your design.

So to recap, the first steps are to decide on the size and dimensions of the book, choose a publisher, and then to get the bleed and trim tolerance from the publisher. The next part of the process is to make decisions about the book content: which kit(s), how many pages, and what to include on each page. I'll break here and cover
those topics in Part II.

That's it for now.

~J

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Digi Scrapbook Site Worth Checking Out

There are tons of digital scrapbooking sites/stores on the internet. Many offer monthly challenges in which for just participating you can earn free mini-kits or store discount coupons. In the past year, I checked out a few of them and participated here and there. Recently I stumbled onto one that I think is really worth checking out. I think I first found DigiDesignResort by following a link on someone's blog. (Sorry, can't remember which blog. I tend to blog hop a lot - LOL!) The thing that is pretty cool about this site is that for participating in only 6 challenges you can get a free (full-sized) collab kit! Just six layouts, and a free kit! How cool is that! That's not all. They have a second set of six challenges which earn you a discount coupon to their store!

Now, to be honest, this is the first month that I have participated in the challenges at DDR. So far I have done 5 of the first set (so just one more for the free kit) and two of the second set. I'm anxious to actually get the free kit and check it out. This site also hosts scrapbooking design classes, so I am hoping that the quality of the free kit is going to be pretty high. Also, based on the preview, it looks like it is my style. (I like realistic elements over the cutesy.)  It definitely should be usable for the vintage style layouts I like to do.

That's about it for now.

~J

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some Recent Layouts

The vast majority of digital scrapbooking layouts that I do are vintage layouts with heritage photos. However, I recently did a couple of layouts for some challenges using more current photos. Here are two that I really like and wanted to also post here.




This one above was shows my youngest son helping out in the kitchen at his Grandmother's. It is scrapped with the kit called Recipes by AngelFlight. I downloaded the kit about a year ago, so I don't know if it is still available or not, but it was perfect for the layout and I am really pleased with how it turned out.



This layout is also of my youngest son. These photos were taken shortly after school started. He needed some photos for a "Me" box or folder that he had to put together to introduce himself to the teacher and the class. For this layout I used the kit Thankful by SkrapperDigitals. It is available from SAS. I was also really happy with this one. I really like it the way it is, but will probably add some journaling before I print it out.

For the vintage photos I've been doing, check out the slide show in the right-hand column of this blog.

That's it for now. There's still some freebies over on my designsbyjmdt, so head on over there to check them out.

~J