On Monday, I began a mini blog series about my hybrid Project Life process, starting with how I select and prepare my photos for my monthly pages. Today, the series continues, this time focusing on how I plan my layouts once all my photos have been edited.
Hybrid Project Life process step 3: Planning my layouts
After all of my photos are mostly ready to be used, I take a look at my album to determine what the backside of the last page protector I used is, since I know that will have to be the first page of my new spread. For most months so far, I have started with a full-page of journaling and a full-page photo divided into pockets for my #1000WordStory (I’ll be sharing a separate tutorial later this month specifically on how I prepare this divided photo, so keep any eye out for that!) Once the full-page photo and story are in place, I move on to the monthly spread. At this point, I use a mock template I created by adapting Becky Higgins’ 12×12 digital templates into 9×12 and 6×12 templates that match the layouts of the Studio Calico page protectors and Becky Higgins inserts I have on hand (I also flipped each template I created horizontally and saved a second copy to represent the back side as well). I don’t worry about the templates having rounded corners because I’m not actually creating anything using them, I’m just using them as a page planner.
Once I’ve chosen the templates for the page protectors I plan to use, I take a look back at the folder that contains all of my edited photos, and begin thinking about how I want my pages laid out. On the templates, I make a quick note of each photo over top of the pocket I plan to place it in, knowing that once all photos are accounted for, I can re-adjust and move the text labels around. I also make sure to leave some pockets free for things like my title card, Currently cards, and an occasional filler or journal card here and there. If you wanted to take this part of the process a step further, you could actually drag the images themselves onto the templates if you’re more of a visual learner.
Once I’ve decided where each photo will go, I look through the photos to make sure the orientation and size will work for that particular pocket, and adjust accordingly. For instance, if I have a 4×6 horizontal photo that I would prefer to put into a 3×4 vertical pocket, I crop the photo to meet the new size requirements.
So far this year, I’ve been a fan of creating 2.5″ square photos to go in my 3×4 pockets, which leaves a little space on the top or bottom for some journaling or a title. For the larger 4×6 slots, I typically go with a 3.5″ square. Sometimes I stick with rectangular photos if I know the photo won’t require much journaling, or if there’s enough white space in the photo that I can include a title right on top of the photo without covering anything important.
Step 4: Creating and recoloring printable journal and filler cards
Here’s where the fun part of hybrid comes in. When you’re working only with traditional scrapbooking products, what you see is what you get. Let’s say you love all of the designs and sentiments on the cards in the Cinnamon Project Life core kit, but you don’t want to scrapbook your bright summer photos using a brown and gray color scheme. If you bought the physical core kit, you’d be out of luck until you had some photos that worked well with brown and gray cards. However, if you purchase the digital kit instead, you can have the best of both worlds… the card design and wording you like, but with colors that YOU choose.
To recolor a digital card, I open the card file in Photoshop (for illustrative purposes, I’ve opened two versions so you can see them side-by-side. When you’re working, you’d only have one open). I use the magic wand tool in the left toolbar to select the area of the card that I want to recolor. If there are multiple disconnected areas that I want to recolor, I make sure that the “contiguous” check box in the top toolbar is left unchecked. This will ensure that I’m automatically selecting every part of the card that matches the same color as the area I first click on with the magic wand. If I only want to recolor certain areas that share the same color, such as perhaps every other letter in a word, I leave the contiguous box checked and hold down the shift key as I click with the magic wand on each individual area that I want to select.
Once I’ve selected all the areas that I want to change to a new color, I click “create new layer” in the layers palette, check the box that says “use previous layer to create clipping mask,” and then use the paint bucket tool to fill that layer with the new color of my choice. The recoloring will only take place within the bounds of the selection you made using the magic wand, leaving the rest of the card in its original colors. To repeat the process for other sections of the card, click the “Select” menu and choose “Deselect,” then make sure you have the original card layer selected again in the layers palette and use the magic wand tool once more to create a new selection, creating and filling a new clipping layer for each section you want to change.
In the image below, you can see one result. I recolored each brown ray of the sunburst pink, each gray ray yellow, the circle teal and, in the screenshot below, I’m preparing to recolor the text in the circle (screenshots don’t do a good job of showing the “marching ants” that appear around selections, but if they did, you would see that there are little dotted lines around the outer edges of all of the words, meaning that’s the area I’m about to recolor).
This year I have also been creating my own title cards with calendars. To do this, I create a new 3×4″ document in photoshop, use the shape tool in the left toolbar to create 3 shapes (one pink, one teal, and one yellow). I reduce the opacity of each of these three shape layers in the layer palette to about 65% to allow for some transparency where they overlap. Then I add the name of the month in white font using the text tool, and place it on top of the three shapes. I create the calendar using the text tool as well, making each day of the week and each number a separate layer so I can align them where I want them.
Step 5: Printing the photos and cards
Once all my photos are re-sized according to where I plan to place them and all of my cards are created, I begin creating a photo collage in order to print as many photos as possible on one sheet of photo paper so I am not being wasteful. To do so, I create a new 8.5×11″ document in Photoshop, and then drag and drop multiple photos onto the document until I run out of space. I typically try to leave a little bit of space between each photo in case I decide I’d like to leave a thin white border around one or all of the photos. Occasionally, I also find it helpful to rotate a few of the taller images 90 degrees to help them fit into extra space. I do this by selecting the photo in the layer palette, clicking the “Edit” menu, mousing over “Transform,” and selecting “rotate 90 degrees CW.” Make sure you don’t use the “Image” menu and “rotate” option, or it will rotate your entire document rather than just the single photo layer. If I only have a couple photos left to print that won’t fit on the full page collage, I’ll create a smaller collage and use a piece of 5×7 photo paper instead of a full sheet.
I also take a few moments to use the alignment tools that automatically appear at the top of Photoshop when you select more than one layer. Aligning as many photo edges as possible makes it easier when it’s time to trim the photos, since you can just cut off one big strip along each side.
Even if you don’t print your photos at home, you can still follow this step to fit a few photos onto one print prior to ordering. Just set up your new document to be 5×7, 4×6, or whatever size print you typically order. You can usually fit at least 2 or 3 smaller photos onto one print this way, rather than ordering each one as a separate print, and this will save you some money! Once you’ve added as many photos as will fit, save the collage as a JPEG file, and your photo printing company of choice will treat it just like any other photograph. All you’ll have to do is cut them apart when they arrive.
I also follow the same steps for all of the digital cards I want to print, with the added step of adding a 2 pixel gray stroke around the edge of any card that has white along the edges so I can more easily know where to trim. This can be accomplished by selecting a photo layer after you’ve dragged it onto your new document, clicking the “Edit” menu, and selecting “Stroke.”
Once everything is printed, my final step before assembling my pages is to cut everything apart!
Want to see more of my process? Check out the rest of the posts in this series:
Part 1: Photo Preparation | Part 2: Planning the Pages | Part 3: Assembling the Pages
What does your Project Life preparation process involve? Let’s chat about it in the comments!