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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.
BookSmart is a desktop program for laying out a book that you then upload to Blurb for printing. BookSmart is intuitive enough for someone with no bookmaking experience to use, but it has enough options and it's customizable enough for a creative professional to make a high-end photo book. And BookSmart works the same way on a PC as it does on a Mac. In this movie I'll cover ways to prepare your photos in Adobe Photoshop before you import them into BookSmart. But what if you don't have Photoshop? The good news is, you don't have to use Photoshop or any image editor with BookSmart.
If you shoot JPEGs with a digital camera, you can import them straight into BookSmart without doing anything to them. Odds are that they'll meet BookSmart's basic requirements, which are that images be 8-bit, that they're JPEGs or PNGs, and that they be in RGB or Grayscale Color Mode. But if you think you have some images that may not meet those prerequisites, then here's what you do. First you want to identify which photos need your attention. You can get information about many photos at once in an organizing program like Bridge, Elements, or Lightroom.
I'm working in Bridge, and here I'll go to the folder in which I have photos that I want to add to a book. And when I click on one of those photos here, over in the Metadata Panel, I can see all the information that I need about this photo. The Document Type, or the file format is DNG, which means that this is a RAW file, so I'm going to have to convert it and save it as a JPEG in Adobe Camera RAW. And down here I can see its Bit Depth and its Color Mode as well. So I can just use the arrows on my keyboard to go through the rest of the photos in this folder, checking out the same information in the Metadata Panel.
Now, here's a photo that's a TIFF and it's 16-bit, and it's in the CMYK Color Mode--all properties that need to be changed if I'm going to use this photo in BookSmart. So, I'll open the photo into Photoshop. BookSmart requires that files be in RGB or Grayscale Color Mode. They cannot be CMYK, as this one is. So I'm going to convert it from CMYK to RGB by going up to the Image Menu and choosing Mode, and choosing RGB Color.
Also for BookSmart, the format of a file needs to be JPEG or PNG. For photos, that usually means JPEG. PNG is used only rarely, for images with transparent areas or lots of text or graphics. This image is a TIFF, so I'll save a copy for BookSmart as a JPEG. I'll choose File>Save As. Here, I'll change the Format to JPEG and I'll click Save. In the JPEG Options I'll set the Photo Quality around 10, so I'll click OK.
I'm going to go back to Bridge, and here you can see the copy of that file that I just saved as a JPEG. If I select that and look over in the Metadata Panel, you can see that its Bit Depth is now 8, while the Bit Depth of the TIFF was 16. BookSmart requires that images be 8-bit. But when you save the file as a JPEG, it automatically becomes 8-bit, so that factor gets taken care of too. Finally, a word about Image Size. You don't have to change the resolution, the size, or the crop of your photos before you bring them into BookSmart.
As I'll show you later in this chapter, BookSmart has its own sizing and cropping features that will do that work for you and take the pain out of it. Having said that, some serious photographers want their photos to print at the highest resolution possible for Blurb's printers, and that's 300 pixels per inch. So here I have a photo that is only 72 pixels per inch, as I can see in the Resolution field in the Metadata Panel. That means that 72 pixels will be allocated to each inch when the image is printed.
If I want this to be 300 pixels per inch, I'll open it in Photoshop, and here I'll go up to the Image Menu and down to Image Size. You can see that at 72 pixels per inch, this file can print as large as 16x10 inches. But if I uncheck Resample and I type 300 in the Resolution field, the Width and Height fields are automatically reduced to only about 3.9x2.6 inches, rounding off. If you do the math, you'll understand why.
Take the total number of pixels in the Width of this photo as displayed at the top of this dialog box, which is 1162 pixels, and divide that number by 300. The result is 3.873, the number of printable inches of Width that you see in this dialog box. The Height calculation works the same way. 778 total pixels in Height, divided into chunks of 300 pixels per inch, gives you a Height for printing of only 2.593 inches.
So if I try to put this photo in a large image container in BookSmart, something like a full bleed image container in a large landscape sized book, the number of pixels per inch will be reduced from the 300 I set here in Photoshop as BookSmart tries to fill the Width and Height of that container. If it has to go lower than 150 pixels per inch to do that, BookSmart will give me a warning and will offer to resize the Width and Height of the photo, as you'll see in a movie about Image Size later in this chapter.
So I'll plan to put this image in an image container in BookSmart that isn't very large. So I'll click OK here and that sets the Resolution to 300 pixels per inch. By the way, if I were in Lightroom, to change the Resolution of an image I'd export the file and set its Resolution to 300 in the Export settings. If you have a photo that's a TIFF, a PSD, a GIF, or some other format, save a copy as a JPEG for BookSmart. Or, if it's a RAW file, open it in Adobe Camera RAW and save it as a JPEG from there.
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