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The Show Must Go On: showing it to your ... > Creating Your Own Custom Picture Pac...

Creating Your Own Custom Picture Package Layouts

As cool as Picture Package is, I don’t think there’s a Photoshop user alive who hasn’t used it and thought, “This is cool, I just wish there was a layout that had....” In other words, although most of the popular layout choices are already there as presets, the one you really want isn’t there, because that’s just the way life works. Although technically, you could edit the text file that controlled these presets back in Photoshop 7, it was a tricky, tedious task. Not so in Photoshop CS, thanks to a clever visual layout editor.

Step One.
Open a photo (it doesn’t matter which one, you’re just using it as a placeholder to build your template) then go under the File menu, under Automate, and choose Picture Package. (Note: You can also access Picture Package from directly within the File Browser’s mini-menu, under Automate.) When the Picture Package dialog opens, click on the Edit Layout button, located under the right corner of the layout preview window (as shown here).

© BRAND X PICTURES

Step Two.
When the Picture Package Edit Layout dialog opens (shown here), go to the Layout Section in the top left corner and give your new custom layout a name (this name will appear in the pop-up list of preset layouts within Picture Package itself). Choose your Page Size and your desired ruler units from this Layout section (as shown).

Step Three.
You’ll probably find it easier to create your custom layout if you start from scratch (unless the layout you’re creating is very similar to an existing layout, in which case, choose that layout before you enter the Edit Layout mode). To start from scratch, click the Delete All button (as shown here) to remove all the existing photo boxes from the preview window. (Note: Adobe calls these areas “Zones,” so we might as well get used to calling them that too so we sound cool at Photoshop parties.)

Step Four.
Click the Add Zone button to add your first Zone (as shown here). A bounding box appears around your photo, and you can resize your Zone by dragging the adjustment handles that appear on the corners and sides of the bounding box. To move the Zone around within the preview area, just click inside the bounding box and drag it.

Step Five.
Since the idea behind Picture Package is “multiple copies of the same image on one page,” they make it easy to create duplicate Zones. Just Option-click (PC: Alt-click) within a Zone’s bounding box and a pop-up menu appears (shown here), where you can choose to Duplicate the Zone, Delete the current Zone, or create a duplicate of a Zone in one of three preset sizes (as shown here). Choosing one of these sizes from the pop-up menu does not affect the current Zone, it makes a duplicate in the size chosen from the pop-up menu.

Step Six.
Another thing you might find helpful when creating your layout is to turn on a placement grid. You do this at the bottom of the Image Zones areas of the dialog (in the bottom left corner) by turning on the Snap To option. This also makes your Zones snap to the grid, which makes precise positioning much easier.

Step Seven.
If you’ve been looking in the dialog for a button called “make horizontal” or “flip on side,” forget it—those are too descriptive, and if Adobe named buttons with names like that, you’d easily figure it out, and then where would we be? Instead, when you want to change the orientation of a photo from portrait to landscape, just click a corner point and drag the box until it’s wider than it is tall. When you do this, the Layout Editor automatically flips your photo over on its side. It sounds clunky, but try it once and you’ll see it’s really not.

Step Eight.
When you click OK, a standard Save dialog appears, asking you to name your new layout. (This is just the name of the file on your hard drive, not the name that will appear in the Layout pop-up menu within Picture Package, so just give it a name that you’ll recognize if you decide to delete this layout one day.) Click Save, and your newly named layout now appears in the Layout pop-up list (as shown here) where you can access it anytime from this list.


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