Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Preparing the images for the back cover with Photoshop action , part of Designing a CD Cover.
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Of the five different ideas we submitted to the client, they chose this one, the swan idea in a layout inspired by John Coltrane's Blue Train Cover. I'm glad they chose this one, but it does present us with some problems. How are we going to extend this idea to all the different elements of the CD package? I also, kind of like the grid. So what I'm looking to do is incorporate the grid into this design theme and use it as the back cover, but in order to do so, we are going to need to make some modifications to the grid.
Those modifications are, firstly, rather than it being a 6 x 6 grid that takes the whole of the page just as on the cover, we skip one of the rows, and then we have a bigger top margin, which gives it an area field with white space at the top. Secondly, we increase the contrast on the images, and thirdly, we make the images black and white, and then I said three things, didn't I? There are four things, and then fourthly, selected images get the blue treatment the same way as we applied the blue treatment to the swan on the front cover.
So let's see how we can work with the images we already have from a previous design concept. Here I am in Bridge where we have a folder called Links, and in the Links folder are all of those color files. Now we need to covert these to black and white up the contrast and then save them. So this is a copy of the folder, so that we're not overwriting the original color images because we never know when we might need to use them in color again. So here I am in Photoshop, and we need to essentially do the same thing to all of our grid images, and we're going to end up with a total of 30.
It's going to be a very repetitive process. So to make that easier, what we're going to do is we're going to build a Photoshop action. An action records a sequence of steps, and you can play that sequence of steps back on an individual image or on a batch of images. But in our case, we don't want to wholly give over control to Photoshop. We need some sort of intervention here. So we're going to incorporate a pause into the action, so that the step will stop at a certain point, allow us to make a change to the image, click OK, and then it will save that image, close the image and then open the next one.
So in order to record the action, I need an image to play the action on so that I can figure out what these steps are. So I am going to open up an image from the Links folder in the 08 folder. It doesn't really matter which image, and then I'm going to go to my Actions panel. Here is the action that I am going to use, but I'm going to rebuild it step-by-step. So let's do this, Create New Action, and we'll call it B&W Levels and Save, and then click Record.
First thing I want to do is apply a Black & White adjustment layer. Second thing I want to do is apply a Levels adjustment layer. Third thing is do an auto-contrast. Fourth thing I want to do is save the document, but in order to save it back to the JPEG format, I will need to flatten it. Now bear in mind here that this is going to make the changes nondestructive, but we are working on copies of these files. We have the color originals saved elsewhere.
So with that in mind, the next thing I'm going to record as part of the action is flattening the layers, so we have a single layer and because JPEGs do not allow you to save Photoshop images with layers. And the next thing I'm going to do is save it, and the next thing I'm going to do is close it. So all of those steps should now be recorded as my sequence of actions. I'm going to stop that. Now the only problem there is that I need to verify that the changes it's making with the auto adjustment are working, and I may need to tweak those individually.
So for that reason, I am going to come to this step which is the Make levels adjustment layer and click in this column here Toggle dialog on/off, which is going to cause the action to pause at that point. Okay, with my action now made, I suppose I should test my action before I go any further. So I'm going to open up a single image. So I'm going to run the action on this image by coming and clicking on the Play button. I realize that I've actually inserted the pause at the wrong point.
The pause should be here, Set current adjustment. So I'm going to cancel that, and I'm going to revert this image to its original state. Take the pause off there and add the pause there, and let's try it again. That's more like it. So it's pausing at the point where it's done the auto adjustment at which point I may wish to further adjust the contrast. What I'm aiming for here is a really sort of graphical approach with maximum contrast.
If that means losing some of the detail, that's okay, because these are going to be very small, almost thumbnail like images, and they're going to have the most impact I think with strong contrast. Click OK at that point, and then the action will continue. All right, so my action is working well. I now need to play that action on the whole folder full of images. So I'm going to switch to Bridge. Now I've already played it on two of my 36 images.
So I'm going to just drag that one over there. It's already happened on these two. In Bridge I'm going to select the remainder 34. Now I'm going to come to my tools menu, down to Photoshop and choose Batch. This command is smart enough to know that the action that I want is the one that I just built and last used. The Source is from Bridge, all of those selected images that I have in Bridge. My Destination is, in this case, None, because I included save as part of the action steps.
I don't need to choose Save and Close. It's already incorporated into the action itself, and the files will just overwrite themselves in their existing destination. Bear in mind, I'm working on a copy of the folder here. So I should now be able to click OK, and then it's going to pause at this point for every image where I can adjust the contrast to my liking. Click OK, the action continues, opens the next image, pauses again, and then I will just go through this adjusting each of my 30 something images.
- Working with templates
- Combining type and images
- Selecting and preparing images
- Experimenting with color and transparency
- Designing with a grid
- Applying consistent formatting with paragraph, character, and object styles
- Laying out the track listing
- Creating a logo
- Making a print-ready PDF