Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Creating Photo Booth Strips

*** quick edit made to emphasize the download location / link to Nicole Seitler's Photo Booth Strip template file.

Several people commented on the photo booth posts I did earlier here and here, indicating an interest in how I created the strips. I will attempt to explain in this post how I accomplished that in the graphic program I use, Paint Shop Pro (which I will also refer to as PSP). These instructions assume that you are comfortable working with layers and moving between multiple open images on the screen and that you know how to use basic tools and commands in PSP.

You can use other programs to complete this project if your software allows for the creation of layers within a file and if you know how to adapt the commands and tools used by PSP to the commands and tools your software uses to perform the functions I am describing. If you're not comfortable with my instructions or can't convert them, you can Google for instructions for creating a photo booth strip specific to your software, be it Photoshop, Elements, Irfanview, GIMP, etc., or feel free to contact me through the comments section or by email and I will try to help you find what you need. I'm sure there are better written, more complete, easier to understand tutorials out there for this type of project but I said I would try and I am good for my word (as well as being good and wordy)!

Again, my instructions are based on the commands in Paint Shop Pro, (I use version X2 but you should be able to do this in all versions of PSP). I've used PSP for years and I highly recommend it as it does almost everything that Photoshop CS software will do at a fraction of the cost and generally is easier to learn. It far exceeds the ability of Photoshop Elements, which is similarly priced to Paint Shop Pro. I will intersperse some screen shots in with the instructions to try to help clarify what I am describing. With that said, we'll get started.

The first thing you need is a template for the strip. You can Google for a photo booth strip template or simply go to Sugarplum Paperie to download the zip file which contains the template I used. Extract the template to your hard drive, noting where you are saving it to for access later. The zip file includes both a black strip and a white strip with four openings available in each strip for photo insertion. You can use either one according to your preference.

1. Once you have a strip template, choose the photos you want to insert in the strip and open all of the images, including the strip in your software. If you need to edit the photos you are using in the strip, please do so before you begin the process outlined below. (For the sake of brevity, which Lord knows is not my strong point, I will limit my directions to placing one photo in one opening with the understanding that you will complete the remaining three photos in the same manner.)

Click to enlarge the photo to see more detail.

This is how my program looks when I have opened the template file and my first photo (which I chose to crop before inserting into the strip as you'll notice in the next screen shot).

2. Making the photo strip your active image, grab the magic wand selection tool from the toolbar, which in my workspace is placed down the left side of the screen; it may be elsewhere in your version(see it highlighted in the screen shot below). Touch the magic wand anywhere in the area of the first or top opening of the photo strip. If you don't see the magic wand on your toolbar, click on the little down arrow of the selection tools section of your toolbar and a sub menu will pop up with all of the available tools displayed and choose it there. Once you have selected the opening, you will see that the open area inside the selection is surrounded by what is commonly termed as 'marching ants'. Then go to the Selections menu at the top of your screen and choose Modify, then Expand, then Expand Selection by two pixels. The reason for this is to make sure that your photo will completely fill the opening and not have any blank area around it when the photo layer is moved beneath the template layer.

Click to enlarge the photo to see more detail.

This image shows the selection tool I used (the magic wand) on the toolbar down the left side of the screen (circled in yellow highlight) and the cropped version of my first photo. On the right side of the screen image, I circled in yellow highlight where my new layer shows up in the layer palette. At this point the layers are named raster 1 and raster 2. I recommend renaming your layers just to keep track of where you are in the process. The template image is the active image in this screen shot. If you view a larger version of the screen image, you can see a dashed line representation of what's termed the 'marching ants' around the selection of the first photo opening. In the open program, the selection will actually be moving around the selected area hence the term 'marching ants' but since this image is static, you can't see that motion here. The new raster 2 (photo) layer will ultimately be pulled under the existing raster 1 (template) layer as you will note in a later screen shot.

Just a quick note on cropping and the shape or size of the photo to be inserted. If you decide not to crop your image -- and please understand that you do not have to -- just know that if you choose to insert a photo that is obviously not similarly shaped to the opening, it might scrunch up and distort the photo image more than you would like. Example: your photo is in landscape format (wider than longer) going into a space on the template that is portrait shaped (longer than wider), it will distort when you paste it into the selection. I prefer to crop to get the best view of the photo I am using and to also make sure it is somewhat similar in shape as the opening on the template I am going to insert it into. You do not have to be exact, although you can be if you want. I don't go to that much trouble. You can also make any other edits you wish to your photo before placing it into your strip. I won't describe all the possible edits here as I think a 10 page post would be just a tad much (as if this isn't already stressing the limits of any normal human to stay focused). I generally make minor edits to enhance most photos I use in any project. I probably have a couple of more age lines than you see in this photo! *grin*

3. Keeping your selection active, go to the Layers palette (your photo strip template file should still be active) and click on the add new layer button or you can go to the Layers menu at the top of the screen and select New Raster Layer. I would suggest renaming this new layer something like 'photo1' or 'photo layer 1'. You will eventually have 5 layers total, one for the template, and four image layers, one for each photo you will insert in the strip. Naming them will help you keep them straight. You can do that when you add the layer or later, whichever is easiest for you.

4. Making sure that you have the new layer active in your template file (it will be highlighted in your layer palette) move to your first photo image and simply choose copy from the edit menu, then return to your photo template image and from the Edit Menu at the top of the screen, choose Paste Into Selection making sure you are on the new layer you created for the photo. Regardless of how large your photo image was, it will insert fully within the space defined by the marching ants that you selected earlier. Go to the Selection menu at the top of the screen and click on Select None and the marching ants will disappear.

Click to enlarge the photo to see more detail.

This is how my screen looks after I have pasted the first photo into the selected opening of the template. If you look at the layers palette on the right, you can see the image of the photo on the new layer.

5. Return to the layers palette and highlight the photo layer and pull it under the template layer. You can also change the order of the layers by going to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and select Arrange. You can move the active layer to whatever position you would like in the file. Rename your layer(s) if you have not done so.

Click to enlarge the photo to see more detail.

This screen shot shows how the photo layer has been moved under the template layer and the changes in the layer names. I highlighted the entire area around the layers palette and underlined the layer names in this shot.

6. At this point, I would suggest saving the file in pspimage format. This format preserves the layers format where saving as a jpg or png will save the file as a single layer image. If you are not using Paint Shop Pro, the image format for saving in layer format will be called something different. Just make sure you choose to save as the file type required by your software to retain the layers. You will eventually merge the layers at the end of the process but until you have completed the project, you will want to be able to get your work back if you should make a mistake.

Congratulations, you have just completed the first image insertion. If you look in your layer palette area, you should see two layers, both with images now. The top layer should have your photo strip template and the layer below it should have the image you just pasted into selection. If the photo layer is on top, move it below the template where it should be. The image file itself will display both layers at the same time, looking like a single entity, but rest assured, both layers exist if the layers palette shows two layers (you can even turn individual layers on and off on the layers palette if you want).

All that's left to do now, is to repeat the steps in the preceding paragraphs (from step 2 through 6) for each of the remaining three photos. Just remember to create a new layer for each photo naming it accordingly, select the next opening in the photo template file, copy the next photo then paste each photo INTO the selected area of the template file on it's own layer and save the file as a pspimage after each photo is added. That's the condensed version... and this version didn't take 242 paragraphs to explain it all!

In PSP, as in most software, you can accomplish any task in a variety of ways. I simply tried to explain a way (or two) to accomplish each task in the most common manner or ways available. I personally use many shortcuts within PSP but felt like that would be even more confusing if you're not familiar with my particular methods. If you know other ways to do the same thing, by all means, work in the way that best suits you or that you are most comfortable with.

I hope that these instructions are clear enough for you to follow and that you like your results well enough to display it on your blog or elsewhere. If you wish, you can send your results to me via email and I will will be glad to post them here.

Please don't hesitate to contact me for help. I'm relatively new to tutorial writing so any questions you send to me will help me learn to write clearer instructions. If you find that you just can't do it at all, let me know that too and we can work together to determine whether the instructions are just too complicated or if I need to rate it as being for more advanced users. Remember, you're helping me here too!

I know I tend to be wordy and hope I haven't tried to over-explain and ended up confusing you instead of simply showing you how to complete this project. Let me know if that's the case so that I can do better the next time (if there is a next time that is). I wish any of you who attempt this project good luck and I look forward to seeing your results!

Credit to Nicole Seitler at Sugarplum Paperie for the photostrip. Be sure to visit her site, even if you don't want to try this project as she has some lovely creations and other freebies to share. Just be sure to thank her in her comment section and if you do choose to download something as a result of my link, please let her know that you came from my blog!

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posted by Marsha at


Blogger Black Cat said...

Hi! Met you on Daisy's blog. That was a very informative and clear tutorial, not too wordy at all (for me anyhoo, I'm wordy too, I see people glaze over when I'm speaking ::sigh::)! I use PSP but mostly Xara Xtreme Pro, which is also a lot cheaper than Photoshop (which I was given for my birthday but haven't got my head round yet). PSP is the best for "ironing out" the wrinkles though! I find XXP the best for doodling, it's a very powerful package for painting and drawing.

Oh dear... I told you I was wordy, haha! :) xxx

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 8:22:00 PM CST  
Anonymous Chris said...

Thanks for the great info. It makes it seem a lot easier having you explain it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I love your tutorial! :D

Let me leave a direct link to the Photo Booth Strips, since they were posted a long time ago and it's probably buried deep within my blog:

Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:41:00 AM CST  
Blogger Marsha said...

Hey Nicole... the first link in the post is a direct link to the download... I just forgot to bold face it so it would stand out. The second link was meant to just get them to your blog to see your wonderful work!

Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:54:00 AM CST  

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