How to Make a Facial Reference Catalog - Step 1


I guess I should let you in on what we’re going to create. We’re going to make pages that hold 16 photos each, four across and four down. If you don’t think you can gather 16 photos for each category, then you can do nine per page (3 across, 3 down). Either way, we’re going to use photos that are large enough, and scan them at a high enough resolution so that if you change your mind, you can always add more.

Then, we’re going to save each page as a PDF file. You could then either print the pages two-sided so you can put the book together with a spiral type binder, or better yet: slip the pages into a document sleeve and put it in a three-ring binder. Most artists I know that have a regular spiral-bound catalog will cut it apart and put it into document sleeves to make it last longer. Great idea, so let’s steal it! :^)

Also, you might be wondering why we aren’t using a page layout program like InDesign or something to put this book together. Here’s the thing: it could be done that way. Depending on your situation, if you have lots of applications at your disposal, and you are well-versed in using them, then go for it. There are at least 20 different ways to go about putting a book like this together. The way I’m going to show will get the job done, use just one software program with some nifty automated, time-saving features, and it will give the flexibility to add or change photos at will.

If you were to import photos into a page layout package, you’d have two choices: embedding them or linking them. Embedding them is kind of a fail-safe, you know what you have on each page.  But, if you want to change an image you have to do it manually. Linking them makes it easier to swap out photos, but can cause problems with broken links when you go from one computer to another.

So, we’re going to stick with Photoshop and get the job done.

Here is our basic plan of attack:

  • Decide on what categories you want in your book
  • Create separate folders for each of them
  • Collect photos and scan them
  • Gather digital photos
  • Sort the photos into each category folder
  • Print mockup pages
  • Add and swap out photos until you’re happy with it
  • Crop each photo to a uniform size
  • Re-name each photo
  • Use automated feature in Photoshop to create pages
  • Print PDF
  • Insert into sleeves and 3-ring binder
  • Celebrate!

Notice that the cropping and naming of photos is saved until almost the very last. That’s because you don’t want to do any work until you have to, and you may decide not to use a particular photo after all. What if you cropped, sized and named 50 photos, then decided later that you found 10 better photos to replace some of them with? You’d have done all that work for nothing. So, we’re going to save that part for last.

Ok, do you have your categories, and have you created folders for each? I recommend making a folder for each general category (Eyes, Hats, Jewelry, etc) and then sub-categories within each main folder.  For instance, in the main JEWELRY folder you might have separate folders for Rings, Necklaces, etc.  It’s a bit of a pain to make all these folders, but it will make your life easier when it comes to putting this thing together, and it’s nice to have everything organized.

Think about descriptors for your sub-categories. Hair can be long, braided, curly; Noses can be short, long, big, crooked, upturned… Obviously, the more sub-categories, the more pictures you will need to collect.

Next is Step Two: we’re going to scan photos!