Today, we have Leslie guest posting. Leslie is one of our Picaboo Pros and was the artist behind the I Love NY photo book winner in our Two Weeks of Love Contest. Since many people asked how Leslie made her book, she graciously put together the following tips and steps to help others create their own vacation book.

new york photo book cover

I’m an artist and prefer a crisp, clean design style. When creating Picaboo photo books, I start from scratch, opting not to choose the pre-set layouts. Instead, I follow my own vision. The books I make showcase trips my family has taken across the United States. They highlight the beauty and knowledge from our travels. One of the reasons we’re traveling the US is to cultivate a love of country in our daughters. These photo books are my most treasured souvenirs.

In terms of photography equipment, I like to keep things simple. For this book, every photo was taken with my iPhone4 (a 5mp camera) and one photo app, Hipstamatic. When you use Hipstamatic, photos are actually shot within the app. In the app you can choose lens and film. For this book, I selected the John S lens and the Kodot XGrizzled film. You’ll see there are embellishments like ticket stubs, maps, t-shirts etc. I simply scanned those and imported them as a picture into Picaboo. To learn more about Hipstamatic and other photo apps, read this post.

photo book background layout picaboo

While in NY, we bought several touristy “I Love NY” t-shirts in Times Square, and I thought it was fitting to begin and end the book with these pictures. So, I laid out two of the shirts and took pictures of them with Hipstamtic as well. To create this page, I simply dragged the photo to Page 1 and selected Set as Background.”

create hershey bar background using layers and photoshop in picaboo photo books

On this layout, I used the same background on each page. Using a graphics program that allows saving in high-resolution, I was able to create it using the following steps:

To create layered background:

  • Snap a photo of an unwrapped chocolate bar.
  • Use a graphics program, insert the picture and crop to your liking.
  • Use copy and paste to create multiple copies of the chocolate bar image.
  • Move/layer/rotate each copy to until you get the layers as you envision them.
  • Save the as a high-res JPG.
  • Import and use the image in Picaboo.

picaboo photo book subway map as a background

The right hand side of this layout, the background and framed photo are the same image I created by scanning a subway map. (Also, I like to uncheck the “Hide photos already used in book” option in  noted in the circle above and use images multiple times.)

First, I set the photo as the page background (I changed it to black and white using Picaboo). Then I added the same picture to the page, rotated it and applied the black border.

Note: The low-resolution warning is showing on both pages of the layout above. This was fine with me because the respective backgrounds were just backdrops. If they are a bit grainy, it doesn’t matter. But for images not made for backgrounds, pay attention to these warnings. For more 5 best practices when making a Picaboo project, read this post.)

picaboo photo book statue of liberty layout with captions and iphone

The next page I’m sharing is my Statue of Liberty layout. She’s a strong, emotional symbol of America and my family. This spread is one of my favorites. Instead of listing the facts as a bulleted list, I incorporated them into the design. To keep the pages interesting, I used caption boxes and chose different typefaces for each fact/caption box. If you want to use multiple typefaces, you will need to make multiple captions boxes.

The photo of Lady Liberty was taken with the Hipstamatic app. A very hazy day, coupled with a constant sprinkling rain, caused my favorite lens/film options to pick-up a green-ish look. The tattered edges are the automatic settings applied with the Kodot Xgrizzled option. Don’t you love technology?

picaboo photo book 9/11 memorial

This layout is quite possibly my favorite of all time. The 9/11 Memorial shall remain in our hearts and minds as one of the most meaningful places we’ve ever visited. While it looks like a complicated layout, it was really quite simple. On the left page:

  • Apply the waterfall photo as the page background. It can be seen through the partially transparent text area.
  • Add the same photo to the page, remove the border, and position at the edge of the page. (Photos automatically have a shadow applied, so there’s a break to show the layering of photos.)
  • For the text area, I used five caption boxes and five different typefaces. I’ve purposely shown the “handles” of one of the caption boxes. (I added a large caption box only for the purpose of formatting. It is partially transparent and does not hold text.)
  • Add a caption box for the word “peaceful” and another for “reflection.”
  • Add a caption box for the dots underneath “reflection.”
  • Add a caption box (formatted as transparent) for text.

9/11 memorial 3D picaboo photo book pages

On the left page:

  • Add photo as a background
  • Add same photo to page, remove the border and position. Once again, the automatic shadowing gives the photos a gorgeous layered look.

On the right page:

  • Add the photo to the page, remove the border, and position as shown.

I used multiple caption boxes to achieve the look I’m going after. The dots became part of the design. I used 11 caption boxes on this page using the same techniques described above.

nyc picaboo photo book 2 page spread

This layout is one photo. When I get a really great photo, I love to make a two-page spread. Picaboo’s two-page spreads are full-bleed (printing goes to the very edges of the paper) and the pages turn out beautifully. It’s as simple as dragging the photo into the box and selecting add a two-page spread. If you have a lot of two-page spreads, you may want to opt for lay-flat pages.

picaboo ny photo book graphics program used for background creationThis page required me to create the background image myself. I used a graphics program that allows me to save as a high-resolution image for a nice, crisp look. It’s not as complicated as it looks.

  • To create the background:
    • Save three race numbers from the run and scan.
    • Use graphics program to insert each numbered image and crop to my liking.
    • Copy and paste to create several copies of each race number.
    • Move/layer/rotate each copy to get the layered look that I want. (Layer as much as you want, but make sure a clear shot of each race number is showing.)
    • Save image as a high res JPG.
    • Import and use the image in Picaboo.

kamikaze picaboo photo book background

For the final layout, I went with another two-page spread. After I inserted the main photo I chose to use as my background. I cropped it into a square and layered the image on top of my background.

On the left page:

  • Insert caption box, stretch across entire page. No text, format background color to white, with partial transparency.
  • To get the vertical centering evenly spaced, insert two more caption boxes. One caption box was for title, “Kamikaze: Day of…” The other caption box held the text for the crewmembers. Each of these caption boxes was formatted for totally transparency.

On the right page:

  • For a consistent design across the two-page spread, add another partial transparency caption box and stretch across the entire page. Format caption box background color to white, with partial transparency. Do not add text to this caption box.
  • Add another photo to the page and apply a white border so it stands out.

This is how I create my photo books. While it may sound complicated, it’s not. All it takes is a little time and not being afraid to play with different design elements. Believe me, you’ll be happy you did it!

To learn more about making a book like this, check out this post on two-page spreads, this article about embellishments, this post on 8 photo apps, this post about new uses for Picaboo backgrounds and this post on best practices for making a Picaboo project. To see more completed books, take a look at this post, which includes 14 amazing Picaboo photo books.