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Photography

How to Create an On-Demand Photo Book in Adobe Lightroom

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Photo Editing and Visual Sequencing.
How to Edit, Sequence and Assemble Pictures for a Photo Book
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Creating your own photo book has never been more convenient thanks to the rise of on-demand book printers. Now anyone can create, share, and even sell their photo book. This tutorial will walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a custom photobook.

For this tutorial we will use Adobe Lightroom because it has its own built in book design platform that integrates with Blurb books who will do an excellent job printing and binding a book for you. Start in Lightroom with your collection that has your edited sequence of work. If you need help creating a set of photos for a book read through the previous article in this series, How to Edit, Sequence and Assemble Pictures for a Photo Book.

Navigate to the Book Module by clicking on Book in the upper right. You will see Lightroom pull in all of your images and auto compile it into a book layout. Don’t worry if the layout doesn’t look right to you. We will clear the book by pressing the Clear Book button on the upper right of the layout area. This will clear any images that may be lingering from other book projects and let us start fresh.

1. The Book Module

There are a few things to acquaint yourself with in the Book Module.

Layout

The main layout area is in the center of the screen. Here you see your pages or image spreads. You can rearrange pages by dragging them around. Each page consists of image cells or text blocks that are ready for content. You will find three viewing options: Multi-Page View, Spread View, and Single Page View. You can also change the size of the page thumbnails by dragging the slider to make things easier to organize.

Lightroom book module layout area

Select and Export to PDF

On the left you will find a preview panel and collections that can be used as contents sources. Just below the collections there is an Export Book to PDF button that will create a PDF version of your book and save it to your computer.

Lightroom book module collections

Layout Controls and Send to Blurb

On the right you have tabs that adjust the layout. From the overall book settings to the most detailed typographic adjustments, all the alterations to pages, image cells, and text blocks can be found here. Under these tabs you will also find a Send Book to Blurb button.

Lightroom book module settings

The Filmstrip is particularly useful in the Book Module. You can drag photos from the strip into image cells on the pages. The film strip also indicates how many times each photo is used in the book.

Lightroom book module filmstrip

2. Book Settings

Now that you have your images and have had a tour of the Book Module, it’s time to pick a book size. Go to the Book Settings tab and select the book options you want. Note the Estimated Price to help you choose options that match your budget.

I am going to select Large Square with a Hardcover Image Wrap. That means the cover image will be printed directly on the cover. If you choose Dust Jacket, your book is bound in linen cloth and wrapped with a dust jacket that has your cover layout printed on it.

Choose your paper options. I am going to select ProLine Pearl Photo to try their top-of-the-line photo paper. I have used the Premium Matte and Standard options and have been pleased with the results.

Lightroom book module book settings

Auto Layout

I like to use the Auto Layout tab to quickly compile my book and then make a few alterations. You can use an existing preset or create your own. I want a larger border around my images to create more breathing room, so I am going to create my own preset by selecting the Left Blank, Right One Photo present and clicking on Edit Auto Layout Preset. From this dialog box I am going to change the right-hand page layout by looking through page layout options until I find a square image cell that has an ample border. Square image cells work great when you have both vertical and horizontal photos because it keeps them sized equally. Click on Save and name your preset. Next, click on Auto Layout and watch your book layout be populated with images from the filmstrip.

Lightroom book module Auto Layout editor

3. Save Your Book

Now that you have put some time and work into your photo book design, you want to save your project by clicking on the Create Saved Book button above the layout area. Give your book a name and press Save. It will now show up along side of your Lightroom Collections and keep track of the changes you make to it as you work on it.

Lightroom book module saving your book

4. Work with Pages and Text

Now that you have your initial layout, it is time make a few modifications to it. I will start by adding another page at the beginning of the book that will offer a little preview of the areas covered in the book. Click on the small Down Arrow to choose the type of page you wish to add. I found a layout that has four image cells and four text blocks that I will use to provide a preview. Click on Add Page to add the page to the layout. 

Lightroom book module adding a page

Now that the page is in the book, I need to add images to the image cells. All I have to do is drag photos up from the film strip one at a time and drop them into place. You can drag the image around in the cell to adjust how the photo is cropped by the cell and you can adjust the zoom of the photo to bring the view in closer.

Next, I will add some text to the text blocks next to my photos. All you have to do is type in the text you want. I like to have my text typed out in a word processor and copy and paste it over into the text frame because a spell check function does not exist in Lightroom. Once the text is in, you’ll want to style it by selecting all four text frames and then choosing a typeface and character size options from the Type tab.

Lightroom book module adding text

Now I want to go through the pages and add image titles to the left-hand pages. Since they are starting out blank in my layout, I will select the page and click on the Add Page Text button and type in my text. I will then style that text in the Type tab. It is useful to create a Type Style Preset to make styling your text quick and consistent. Go through all of your pages and add any text you want to have.

Lightroom book module adding page text

Add a Photo Across a Page Spread

A photo that spreads across two pages is striking and easy to accomplish with the tools in the Book Module. Start by selecting a Two Page Spread from the layouts in the Pages tab and click Add Page. A spread with a new image cell will appear in your book layout. Now drag and drop a photo into it to fill it. I want to add more border to my panoramic photo so I will go to the Cell tab and increase the Padding to create a border within the image cell. You now have a beautiful photo covering a two page spread.

Lightroom book module two page spread

Design Your Cover

Design your cover by selecting the cover layout and selecting a page layout from the Pages tab. There you will find a list of cover-specific layouts to choose from. Add or change the cover images by dragging photos from the filmstrip to the image cells.

Lightroom book module choosing cover layout

Change the background color by going to the Background tab and checking the Background Color box. Then choose a color by clicking on the color bar and choosing a color from the swatches or color picker. That color will now be applied to the selected pages.

Lightroom book module adding a background color

Now is time to add your title and name to the cover by typing them into the text blocks on the cover. Don’t forget to style the type with the tools in the Type tab. There are even more type options if you click on the little black arrow next to Character. This action reveals advanced type options which may help you nail the styling of your cover.

Lightroom book module adding cover text

5. Review, Order, and Sell

Once you have completed designing your book, it is time to review the book to look for inconsistencies or typos. Select the Spread View and review each page spread. Watch as you click to the next spread if an element appears to jump when changing pages. It may mean that something is not lined up quite right.

Now that you have reviewed you book, it is time to upload it to Blurb. Click on the Send Book to Blurb button and sign in or create an account. Then enter a title for your book and click on Upload Book. Lightroom will take a few minutes to process the photos and upload the pages to Blurb.

Lightroom book module ready to upload your book

Once your book is uploaded, you will be directed to Blurb’s website in your web browser. You will be greeted with a message that your book is ready to buy or set up to sell. From here you can proceed through the checkout and order your book or set your book to be sold in Blurb’s bookstore.

And that’s it! You have created your very own photo book. Now all you have to do is wait for it to show up at your door.

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