We’re almost done! Now we’re going to crop these photos so they will fit nicely on a page. In Photoshop, select the crop tool, and set the size to 2 by 2.5 inches…but leave the resolution field blank (trust me on this, I’ll explain why in a separate post). You’ll have to open up and crop each photo individually; there’s no way to automate this part since you have to think about how you want it to look. Also, if you need to (or want to) cover portions of the face, now is the time to do that too. IMPORTANT: If you cover portions of the image and decide to save it as a JPG, save another uncovered version first! Otherwise, once it’s “flattened” as a JPEG, you’ll never be able to “look under” the covered portions again to see the whole face….it’s gone for good. If you started with a JPEG, and added a layer on top to mask something, then just save it as a PSD file, or a TIF file with layers.
Now you have 16 cropped photos in a folder, all with different, possibly odd-ball names. If you have a page-layout program, and want to invest the time in using it for this, you would have to import all the photos, and then type in the codes or numbers underneath them there. This would also involve setting up “master” pages, importing and aligning all the photos to a grid, etc. You certainly have the option of doing that, but it will take a LOT longer than what I’m about to show you, and for our purposes, it will work just as well.
From Bridge, go to the menu items, and choose “Tools>>Batch Rename…>>” This will give you the option of setting a prefix for each photo, and a number for each. You can number them any way you like, and even rename them into a different folder. Here’s how I did this page below:
Then click “Rename”….that’s it! Now make yourself a contact sheet (4 images across and 4 down on an 8” by 10” page) and you’ll get this, all with individual code numbers, in order, nicely aligned to each other.
And so, we just really have one last step: Typing a section header on each page. I made the page size 8×10 for a reason. If we made it 8.5 by 11, then all the images would fill the page, and there’d be no room for a title. It doesn’t look like there is now either, but watch: Make sure your default colors are chosen in Photoshop, where black is in the foreground and white is the background color. Then go to “Image>>Canvas Size…” and make it 8.5 inches by 11. Hit “OK”, and there you are. Now you have a nice border all the way around, where you can type in a title on top and even a page number on the bottom.
From here, you can print this page as it is from Photoshop, or save it as a PDF, then assemble it into a multi-page PDF book.
Oh, and here’s the beauty of organizing your book this way, all in Photoshop: It’s extremely forgiving and flexible if you want to add new categories, or even change out images on a page. Just replace one photo with another in the folder, and make a new contact sheet. Nothing could be much easier.
So there you go! There’s absolutely no magic in putting together your own reference photo book. All you need are some images, and a willingness to put in a little work to just sit down and do it. In no time at all, you can have your own set of organized, easily-accessible reference images. I hope this tutorial helped. Feel free to send me a message if you have questions!