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Even if you shoot all your photos digitally, you might like to have a printed record of your photographs in the form of a contact sheet. But if you are looking in Photoshop CS4 for a Contact Sheet command, you'll be sorely disappointed, because in the program as it comes out of the box, there is no Contact Sheet command. Instead the controls for creating contact sheets are now found in Adobe Bridge. Here I am in Bridge, looking at the Chapter 15 Exercise Files folder, and I would like to make a contact sheet of all of these photos.
To do that, I need to change workspaces inside of Bridge. The workspaces are located up here at the top of the screen. I don't have room to list them all across my screen. So I get this arrow over here on the right side of those that are showing. I'll click that arrow and I'll choose Output. And that changes to the Output workspace. When your Output workspace opens, you may have some additional panels over on the left. I just close those by clicking on the left hand border and dragging to the left, so that I have more room to see my Output Preview, which is right here.
And this is a preview of what I am building. Over on the right, I have the controls for creating in PDF format, a contact sheet and a number of other templates as well. If I click on this Template menu, I see that I can make a greeting card, several different sizes of contact sheets, a fine art mat around a photo, a triptych, and the other choices you see here. And all of these will be PDF files or Portable Document Files, which can be opened by a variety of programs including Acrobat, Acrobat Reader, Preview on the Mac, and other applications.
Down at the bottom of the screen, I see a filmstrip view of all of the photos that are in the Chapter 15 Exercise Files folder, where I was in the Essentials view. Because I want to include all of the photos in this contact sheet, I am going to go to the Edit menu at the top of the screen, and I am going to choose Select All. Or I could just come in and click on the first image here, scroll over to the right, hold down the Shift key and click on the last to select them all. And if I want to select just particular photos, I would hold down the Command key on the Mac as I selected photos by clicking on them, or the Ctrl key on a PC.
With all of these photos selected, if I want to see how they are going to look in a contact sheet, I'll go over to the controls and I'll change to one of these contact sheet formats. I'll try the 5*8 Contact Sheet, and then I have to click Refresh Preview. This is the main thing to remember when you are working in this Output column. Whenever you make a change in any of these panels, then you need to click Refresh Preview to see the results over here in the Output Preview area. So I'll click Refresh Preview now, and I'll wait a minute while Photoshop generates a contact sheet from all 40 of my images. That looks great! And I could just leave it at that, but there are many options that I can choose to tweak it a bit.
So let me show you what's here quickly. Here's a Document panel, where I can choose a paper preset, a kind of paper, a paper size, I can type in a custom size if I want. I can choose the quality of the photo thumbnails that are on the contact sheet, the background color of the contact sheet, and here I have some password options that limits the way others can view or use the contact sheet. I am going to scroll down, and here I have all kinds of layout options. It's just one example.
I can change the way that the thumbnails are arranged. Instead of Across First, Down First. And if I want to see the difference, I go back to my Refresh Preview, click it, and Photoshop rebuilds the contact sheet for me. If I wanted something more like a picture package that shows the same image over and over, I could choose Repeat One Photo per Page and then change the number of Columns and Rows per page. I am going to scroll down a little more, to show you what else is here. In this Overlays area, I can control whether I'll have a filename underneath each one of the thumbnails on the contact sheet.
I think that's a good idea, as a point of reference. So I am going to leave those there. And I could vary the way that the title appears as well, its color, its font and its size. Down here, I have controls that I think are really interesting. I can create, in addition to a contact sheet to print, a slideshow that automatically advances through each one of my photos. This slideshow will be in PDF format and I have controls for that too. I can change the duration of the individual slides or have it start again at the beginning when it's done.
And I can also change the transitions between slides. If I scroll down further, I have an option here to add a watermark across my contact sheet. So for example, I could type kabili, and I could change the font, I could change the Size of the watermark, maybe I'll make it a little smaller. I can change the color. I could make it more or less opaque. And I could have it appear in the foreground, in other words, in front of the thumbnails or behind them in the background. And if I want to see that, I have to click Refresh Preview again.
And there is my watermark, protecting my contact sheet. And finally, at the very bottom, I can choose to view the PDF after I save it. I am going to do that and then I am going to click Save. I'll save it on my Desktop. I'll click Save again. And I will wait while the final PDF contact sheet is generated. This is asking if I want to see the slideshow in Acrobat in full screen mode. I am not going to do that right now. I am going to dismiss that dialog box to look at the contact sheet in its print version.
I am looking at the contact sheet here in Adobe Acrobat, because on my computer that's the program that's configured to display PDF files. And that may be different on your computer. For example, you may have the free Adobe program Reader configured to open PDFs on your computer. Or if you are on a Mac, the PDF might open in Preview. And I can print from any of those programs. So if you want to make a contact sheet of your own photos, don't search around in Photoshop for a command, because you won't find one if you are using Photoshop right out of the box.
Instead use Adobe Bridge, to quickly create a customizable contact sheet as I have shown you how to do here.
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