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How to Make Great Custom Photo Books

Updated on September 8, 2012

The In's and Out's of Making Custom Photo Books

There are lots of ways to make custom photo books. You can design everything from scratch in Photoshop and upload the page files to be professionally printed and bound into a hardcover (or softcover) book.

You can also bypass some of the design work by either purchasing digital scrapbooking pages, layouts or elements or by using an online photo book creation tool.

Ask yourself three questions before starting a custom photo book project - 1.) how much time do I have to create a custom photo book? s 2.) how automated should the process be? and 3.) how much design control do I need?

How much time do I have to create a custom photo book?

Maximum Time to Create

You will devote as much time as necessary to creating your work of art.

Medium Time to Create

You want to spend enough time creating a great keepsake or gift, but don't have a lot of extra time to be fiddling around on the computer.

Minimal Time to Create

Time is money. You'd rather someone else create a photo book for you!

How automated should the custom photo book creation process be?

Maximum Automation

You want to upload your photos and go. Or better yet, pay someone to take the pictures and have them take care of whatever needs to be done to make a great custom photo book for you.

Medium Automation

You want to choose your own photos, and write your own story but colors and fonts and details should be left to the professional designers. There are templates already put together that you can use for your own custom picture book.

Minimal Automation

You want to choose everything about your custom photo book. The book should be as unique as you are.

How much design control do I need?

Maximum Design Control

Are you a professional designer that's used to using page layout software or Adobe Photoshop? Do you need to be able to move Photos pixel by pixel and change every line of text in a book?

If you do want to be able to customize everything in a photo book, you may want to stick to designing out of your favorite software, and uploading your files to your favorite photo book publisher.

Medium Design Control

If you want to be able to choose your photos, write your own text and switch basic design elements such as color, fonts and backgrounds you need a medium amount of design control. You won't care so much where your pictures are laid out on a page as long as they look generally nice.

Minimal Design Control

However, if you don't care about all the details and just want to be able to use professionally created templates that already exist and just insert your photos there are a lot of online photo book creation tools to help you do just this.

Online Custom Photo Book Creation Tools

are wonderful to save design time! However, before you start uploading pictures to a tool - make sure it is as flexible as you need it to be. Some tools allow for a lot of design freedom, and others only allow you to change out pictures and text.

Shutterfly.com's Custom Path is My Favorite

Online Custom Photo Book Creation Tool

Using Shutterfly's custom photo book tool (called their "custom path") is ALMOST like using design software. It allows a digital scrapbooking designer the ability to nudge images by the pixel up, down, left and right.

ArtsCow.com allows almost as much flexibility

as Shutterfly does, however the application isn't nearly as user friendly. It's still worth trying out if you aren't in a hurry to get the final product. Their prices are great, but shipping can take well over a month (as it comes from China).

Want to Play with an Existing ArtsCow Photo Book Template to see if it's a tool you could use? - Click the image to play with a custom 4x4 book I made.

Design Your Own Custom Photo Book Pages

but use Digital Graphics Created for Personal Photo Book Use

There are a ton of places to purchase graphics online. However, if you're looking at traditional stock art sites you might be missing out completely. There are sites dedicated to digital scrapbookers that use traditional design software, but don't want to create their own graphics. You can buy kits that are filled with papers, boarders, wordart (and sometimes fonts or flattened letters you can manipulate) that are reasonably priced so that you can create 20 to 30 page books. I've been a fan of ScrapbookGraphics.com for years.

How do you create custom photo books? - Do you have a favorite online tool, or place to purchase digital scrapbooking kits? Where do you have your book printed

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