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Creating A Photo Book

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Classroom in a Book (2020 release), author Rafael Concepcion teaches you how to design beautiful, sophisticated book layouts, and then publish them without leaving Lightroom.

Working in the Book module

Whether you want to commemorate a family moment, organize your memories from a special trip, or create a vehicle to show your work, a photo book is an attractive and sophisticated way to showcase your photography. The Book module delivers everything you need to create stylish books that can be uploaded directly from Lightroom for printing through the on-demand book vendor Blurb, or exported to PDF and printed on your own printer.

Setting up a photo book

In the work area, you may or may not see photos already placed in page layouts, depending on whether you’ve already experimented with the Book module’s tools and controls. You can start this project by clearing the layout and setting up the workspace so that we’re all on the same page.

  1. Click the Clear Book button in the header bar across the top of the work area. If you don’t see the header bar, choose View > Show Header Bar.

  2. In the Book Settings panel at the top of the right panel group, select Blurb Photo Book from the Book menu and make sure that the Size, Cover, Paper Type, and Logo Page are set to Standard Landscape, Hardcover Image Wrap, Premium Lustre, and On, respectively. The estimated price of printing the book at the current settings is displayed at the bottom of the panel.

  3. If it’s not already selected, click the Multi-Page View button at the far left of the Toolbar at the bottom of the work area. In the View menu, disable Show Info Overlay.

  4. Choose Book > Book Preferences and examine the options. You can choose whether photos are zoomed to fit their image cells or cropped to fill them, toggle the Autofill feature for new books, and set your preferences for text behaviors. Leave the settings at the defaults and close the Book Preferences dialog box.


The Autofill feature is activated by default; if you just entered the Book module for the first time, you would have seen the images from the Dubai collection already placed in the default book layout. An automatically generated layout can be a great starting point for a new book design, especially if you’re beginning without a clear idea of exactly what you want.

  1. Expand the Auto Layout panel, if necessary. From the Auto Layout Preset menu, choose the Left Blank, Right One Photo, With Photo Text layout, then click the Auto Layout button. Scroll in the work area to see all the page thumbnails. Click the Clear Layout button and repeat the procedure for the One Photo Per Page auto-layout preset.

  2. Take a look at the book results in the work area; scroll, if necessary, to see all the page thumbnails arranged as two-page spreads in the Multi-Page view. To get more space, hide the Module Picker and the left panel group by pressing F5 and F7, or by clicking the triangles at the top and left edges of the workspace. Drag the Thumbnails slider in the Toolbar to reduce or enlarge the thumbnails.

Lightroom generates a book with a cover, separate pages for each of the images in the collection—placed in the order in which they appear in the Filmstrip—and a twentieth page reserved for the Blurb logo. You can’t place a photo on the Blurb logo page, but you can disable it in the Book Settings panel, if you prefer.

The first image in the Filmstrip is placed on the front cover; the last photo in the series becomes the back cover image. The number above each photo in the Filmstrip indicates how many times it has been used in the book; the first and last images have each been used twice—on the cover and also on pages 1 and 23.

Changing page layouts

Using an auto-layout preset can help you get started on your book. Then you can focus on individual spreads and pages to introduce subtlety and variety to the design. For this project, however, you’ll build your book layout from scratch.

  1. In the Auto Layout panel, click the Clear Layout button.

  2. Right-click the Page panel header and choose Solo Mode from the menu.

  3. In the Multi-Page view, double-click the front cover (the right side of the spread).

  4. Click the Change Page Layout button (it’s black with a gray triangle) to the right of the layout preview thumbnail in the Page panel, or in the lower-right corner of the cover spread displayed in the work area.

  5. Scroll down in the page template picker to see all of the available cover layout templates. Gray areas with central cross-hairs indicate image cells; rectangles filled with horizontal lines represent text cells. Click to select the third template in the menu. The single cross-hairs at the center of the spread shows that this template has a single image cell that extends across both covers, and three text cells: one on the back cover, one on the spine, and one on the front cover.

  6. Expand the Guides panel. Make sure that the Show Guides option is selected, then watch the layout in the work area as you toggle each of the guides in turn. Move the pointer over the layout to see the borders of the text cells.

The Page Bleed guide’s wide gray border shows the area to be cut off after printing. A thin gray line borders the Text Safe Area, where your text will be well clear of accidental trimming. The Filler Text guide shows filler text (here, the word Title) to mark the position of text cells. Filler text disappears when you click a text cell.

  1. Disable Photo Cells, leaving the three options mentioned above selected, then click the Multi-Page View button in the Toolbar.

The first page in a photo book is always on the right side of the first spread; the grayed-out left side represents the inside of the front cover, which is not printed. Likewise, the last page in a photo book to be published to Blurb must always occupy the left side of the final spread. At this stage, your book consists of a cover and a single double-sided page, the back of which is the Blurb logo page.

  1. Right-click page 1 and choose Add Page from the menu. A second spread appears in the Multi-Page view. Right-click page 2 and choose Add Page to copy the same page layout to page 3.

  2. Click to select page 2, and then click the Change Page Layout button below the lower-right corner of the page.


For inside pages, unlike the cover, the page template picker groups layout templates in categories according to style, project type, or the number of photos per page.

  1. Click 2 Photos to see all the templates with two image cells. Select the fourth template: a layout without text cells that fills the page with two portrait-format images, side by side. In the Guides panel, turn Photo Cells on briefly so that you can see the changed page layout.

Adding page numbers to a photo book

  1. Double-click page 1 to shift to Single Page view, then select Page Numbers at the top of the Page panel. From the Location menu, choose Bottom Corner, and choose Left and Right from the Display menu. Right-click page 1 and make sure that the Apply Page Number Style Globally option is activated in the menu.

  2. Click the new page number cell in the page preview, then expand the Type panel and inspect the default font, style, size, and opacity settings. With Apply Page Number Style Globally activated, any change to these type style settings is made throughout the book; for now, leave them unchanged.

Placing photos in a book layout

You can add photos to a page layout in any of the three views.

  1. Click the Multi-Page view button at the left of the Toolbar, then drag the thirteenth thumbnail in the Filmstrip, lesson07_013.jpg, up to the cover spread. Drop it in the middle of the spread and it will zoom to fill the covers.

  2. Drag the lesson07_011 image from the Filmstrip to page 1 in the Multi-Page view. Place the lesson07_002 and lesson07_009 photos in the left and right image cells on page 2, respectively, and the lesson07_004 image on page 3.

Changing the images in a photo book

You can remove a photo from a page layout by right-clicking the image in the layout and choosing Remove Photo from the menu. If you simply want to replace a photo, you don’t need to remove it first.

  1. Drag the lesson07_018 photo onto page 1, which replaces lesson07_011. But I want to keep that one near the front, so drag lesson07_011 onto page 3.

  2. In the Multi-Page view, drag the image on page 1—lesson07_018—onto the photo on page 3—lesson07_011. The photos on pages 1 and 3 swap places.

Working with photo cells

The photo cells in a page layout template are fixed in place; you can’t delete them, resize them, or move them on the page. Instead, you can use the cell padding—the adjustable space around a photo within its cell—to position the images in your page layout exactly as you want them.

  1. Double-click page 3. The Book Editor switches from Multi-Page view to Single Page view.

  2. Click the photo to select it, and then experiment with the Zoom slider. When you enlarge the image too much (for this photo, above 18%), an exclamation-point badge appears in the upper-right corner to alert you that the photo may not print well. Right-click the photo and choose Zoom Photo To Fill Cell; the image is scaled so that its shortest edge fills the cell (at a zoom value of 11%, for this photo). Drag the photo to position it horizontally within the cell. Drag the slider all the way to the left; the minimum setting reduces the image so that its longest edge fits within the image cell. Click well within the borders of the photo and drag it to the top of the cell.

  3. Leave the photo at the 0% zoom setting. Expand the Cell panel and increase the padding by dragging the Padding Amount slider or typing a new value of 75 pt.

  4. Click the black triangle above the Padding value to expand the padding controls. By default, the four controls are linked so the adjustment you made in the previous step changed all four values. Disable the Link All option (the checkbox darkens), then set the Top padding to 95 pt and the Bottom value to 162 pt.

By starting with the right template and then setting the photo cell padding, you can position an image anywhere on the page, cropped however you wish.

  1. In the Cell panel, select Link All, and then drag any of the sliders to set all of the padding settings to zero. Right-click the photo in the Single Image view and choose Zoom Photo To Fill Cell. Drag the image horizontally inside its cell to find a pleasing crop.

  2. Click the Spread View button in the Toolbar to see pages 2 and 3 as a spread.

  3. Select the image on the left of page 2. Set the linked padding controls to 50 pt, then unlink them and reduce the Right padding to 15 pt. Repeat the process for the photo on the right of page 2, but this time, reduce the Left padding to 15 pt.

  4. Double-click the yellow frame below page 2 to see it enlarged in the Single Image view. In the illustration at the right, the photo on the left is zoomed to about 4%, and the photo on the right is zoomed to about 10%. Drag the images inside their cell padding to position them as shown. For a clearer view, click the gray space outside the page to deselect it.

  5. In the Toolbar below the Single Image view, click the left navigation arrow to jump to page 1. Along the horizon, I would like to see the mountains on the left instead of the flat horizon on the right side of the image. Drag the image to the right so that the mountains are showing.

  6. Click away from the page to deselect it, and then click the Multi-Page View button in the Toolbar for an overview of the changes you’ve made.

Setting a page background

By default, all the pages in a new book share a plain white background. You can change the background color, set up a partially transparent backdrop image, or choose from a library of graphics, applying this design to the entire book or just one of the pages.

You can start by adding two more spreads to your book layout.

  1. Right-click page 4 and choose Add Page from the menu. To apply the default layout to page 5, right-click page 5 and choose Add Page. Right-click page 6 and choose Add Blank Page.

  2. Click to select page 6 in the Multi-Page view, and then click the Spread View button in the Toolbar.

  3. Expand the Background panel. Deselect the Apply Background Globally option, then drag lesson07_022.jpg to the preview pane in the Background panel. Drag the slider to set the opacity of the image to 50%.

  4. Select the Background Color option, and then click the adjacent color swatch to open the color picker. Drag the saturation slider at the right of the color picker about two thirds of the way up its range, and then drag the eyedropper cursor in the picker to find a muted tone; I chose a color with R, G, and B values of 94, 95, and 75, respectively. Press Return/Enter to close the picker.

  5. In the Background panel, activate the Apply Background Globally option, and then click the Multi-Page View button in the Toolbar.

Your background is applied to every page (except the Blurb logo page, where only the color is applied); it can be seen on pages 4, 5, 6, and 7 and behind the images on page 2. On other pages, the background design is hidden behind photo cells.

  1. Deselect the Background Color option, then right-click the image in the background preview pane and choose Remove Photo. Deselect Apply Background Globally.

  2. Select page 2 in the Multi-Page view, and then reactivate the Background Color option. Click the color swatch to open the color picker, and then click the black swatch at the top of the picker. Press Return/Enter to close the color picker.

3. Adding text to a photo book | Next Section Previous Section

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