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Creating Photo Books with Blurb presents three separate workflows for creating and publishing books that showcase photographs using the Blurb self-publishing service. The course starts with an exploration of photo bookmaking in BookSmart, Blurb's free desktop software, then shows how to make a simple photo book in Bookify, Blurb's online bookmaking service. The course also covers Blurb's PDF to Book plug-in for use with custom books created in Adobe InDesign, as well as information on ordering copies of photo books and selling them in the Blurb online bookstore.
This movie is about color managing photos that you plan to put into a BookSmart book. I'll emphasize up front that these color management techniques are optional. Many BookSmart books look just fine without the author making any conscious attempt to color management. These techniques and this movie are for the advanced user. The first step in color management is a must, and that is to calibrate and profile your monitor. If what you see on your monitor isn't accurate in terms of color and brightness, then you can't make informed editing decisions and photos in your printed book may look different in color and noticeably darker than they did on your monitor.
To minimize those problems, from time to time you need to calibrate and profile your monitor, and to do that, you need a device called a colorimeter. Here's one example, but it's not the only one. There are a number of companies. X-Rite Photo is another one who sell devices like this. You'll put the device on your monitor and launch the software that comes with it and it will calibrate the monitor and create a profile that describes the way your monitor displays color. And then software like Photoshop will be able to find that profile and use it to reproduce colors more accurately on your monitor. That's step one.
Next, Blurb recommends that images you import into BookSmart be in the sRGB color space because that's what Blurb's printers are expecting to get. Most consumer quality cameras produce sRGB photos by default. So point-and-shooters usually don't have to worry about converting photos to sRGB. If you shoot with a higher-end camera, your photos may have been shot in a different color space. So here's how to convert those photos to sRGB. First, you want to figure out which of your photos need to be converted to sRGB.
You don't have to open each photo into Photoshop. You can go into a photo organizing program like Bridge, select the photos one by one, and then look in the Metadata panel, and down here you'll see the Color Profile for each photo. This one is a flavor of Adobe RGB. So I want to convert it to sRGB. I'll do that in Photoshop by opening the file into Photoshop. And here I'll go up to the Edit menu and down to Convert to Profile. I'll go to the Profile menu and I'll choose sRGB.
I'll leave the engine set to Adobe and I'll change the Intent to Perceptual, which is what Blurb recommends for BookSmart books. This controls the way that out -of-gamut colors are handled. I'm going to leave Use Black Point Compensation checked and it's optional whether to check Use Dither or not. With Preview on, you can try this off and on and see if there's any difference on your image, and then click I'll OK. Now if I go down to the document information area at the bottom of the Document window in Photoshop and I click this arrow and choose Document Profile, I'll see that the image has been converted to the sRGB color space.
By the way, if you're in Lightroom, you'll convert to sRGB when you export a photo by choosing sRGB in the Export dialog box. The next step in a color management workflow is to soft proof, and again, this is optional. BookSmart requires that your color images be in the RGB color mode as I explained in the previous movie. But Blurb prints the resulting book on CMYK printers, 4-color HP Indigo digital printers. To simulate how colors in your photos will look when printed by those printers, you can soft proof in Photoshop using a printer profile that describes the way Blurb's printers reproduce color.
As of now, you have to do this in Photoshop. There are no soft proofing features in Lightroom, Elements, or iPhoto. So you'll start by downloading and installing a free printer profile from the Blurb website. I'll click DOWNLOAD ICC COLOR PROFILE, and when the profile finishes downloading, I'll install it where it goes on my computer. To install on a PC, it's just a matter of right-clicking that profile and choosing Install Profile. But on a Mac, you need to drag the profile icon where you see it here, which is the Macintosh Hard Drive and then the Library, then ColorSync, then Profiles, and then Recommended.
With the Blurb ICC profile installed, I can set up my soft proofing parameters here in Photoshop. I'll go to the View menu and I'll choose Proof Setup and I'll choose Custom. In this dialog box, I'll go to the Device to Simulate menu and I'll choose that Blurb profile which will now show up in this menu. If you don't see this profile in this menu, then go back and try reinstalling the profile. I'm going to change the Rendering Intent to Perceptual for the same reasons I discussed before.
I'll leave Black Point Compensation checked and I'm going to leave Simulate Paper Color unchecked. I might Simulate Black Ink though and then I'll click OK. Now I'll go back to the View menu and I'll make sure that Proof Colors is selected. When Proof Colors is on, as it is now, I'm looking at the photo through the Blurb printer profile. And this gives me a close representation of what the photo will look like printed on paper by Blurb's printer. I'd like to go back and forth to compare with the printer profile and without, so I use the shortcut for view Proof Colors which is Command+Y or Ctrl+Y.
You can see that right now I'm looking at the image with the Blurb profile, Command+Y, and I'm looking at the image with the profile turned off. So here it is On, here it is Off. So what I'm going to do now is make sure that it's On and it looks to me like the image is a little flatter and maybe a little darker with the profile On, which is to be expected because it's simulating print on paper. So I'll adjust the image to make it look good to me now. Now those adjustments can be different for each image. in this case, I'm just going to go to the Adjustments panel and I'm going to add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.
I'll increase the Brightness a little and I'll increase the Contrast a little. Once the image looks good to me, I'll save one copy of it as a PSD or Photoshop format file which will retain any adjustments that I've added. And then I'll save a copy as a JPEG to import to BookSmart. I'll go up to File and down to Save As. I'll change the format to JPEG and Blurb recommends saving with the sRGB color profile, although that's not a must. So I'll leave Embed Color Profile checked and I'll click Save.
I'll leave the JPEG Quality set to around 10 and click OK, and I'll upload the resulting JPEG to my BookSmart software, and Blurb can't guarantee that you'll get a perfect match between what you see on your brightly lit screen and what you see in your book because a backlit monitor is just a different animal than ink on flat paper. But following this color management workflow will get you, the advanced user, closer to anticipating on your monitor how photos will look in your book.
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