The Photo Book Wizard: Customising your Page Backgrounds | Robin Nichols | Skillshare

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The Photo Book Wizard: Customising your Page Backgrounds

teacher avatar Robin Nichols, The Photo Book Wizard

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. All About Page Backgrounds

      2:10
    • 2. Introduction to (changing) Page Backgrounds

      3:51
    • 3. Choosing the Right Background

      9:40
    • 4. Adding a Drop Shadow Effect

      4:01
    • 5. Faded Backgrounds

      5:20
    • 6. How to sandwich two photos together (CC or PSE)

      3:53
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About This Class

Page backgrounds, when not just plain paper tints, can add a lot to the style of any book project - but it's important to manage this so that the image, colour or texture chosen do not overpower what's on the page.

In this lesson learn how to add a different 'look' to your book project simply by changing the page colour or by adding an image as a background texture. I also show you how to sandwich two images together in case your (book) software does not allow the addition of a background image easily.


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Meet Your Teacher

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Robin Nichols

The Photo Book Wizard

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Hello, My name is Robin.

I have been shooting photos for 40 years, commercially, for stock, for weddings, for audio visual designers and for editorial. I have also been a magazine editor and publisher for 15 years. During that time I authored several books on imaging technology and post production, so I think I'm in a good position to teach others how to get great looking images - and put them to good use, either by printing, or through the production of fabulously-designed photo books.


Like many photography teachers, I'm in the enviable position of being able to combine one of my life's passions, photography, with my job. And, even though I tend to spend way too much time in front of a computer, it remains one of the best jobs in the world...

Though born in the... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. All About Page Backgrounds: Hello, My name is Robin Nichols. And welcome to this episode off the photo book Wizard. Now, in this lesson will be looking at everything to do with Paige backgrounds. Now your software that you're using may allow you to change the color, the texture or even photos in the background. But if it doesn't, this lesson is going to be very useful to you. We'll be looking at how to change simply the page background, the color of the paper stock. How toe add a photo into the background, how to fade a photo so that it doesn't take over the background or the page entirely. We're also going to show you how to add a drop shadow effect and how to sandwich two pictures together, a background and a foreground picture in case your software and allows you to have one per page. The Fed, A book wizard, is a serious of lessons on how to improve the look, design, visual impact and professionalism off your picture book projects. Using a range of easy to follow photo shop and photo shop elements, techniques, bookmaking, software and layout creativity, the Siri's is designed to give you total creative control over both the content and the design of your book project. Each lesson comprises several videos running through the particular effect that we're trying to achieve. Some involved just the bookmaking software itself. While most include a bit of photo shop and furnish of elements with tips and tricks for using these effects in the book design, almost everything you'll learn here can be achieved using photo shop elements or photo shop itself. But on the rare occasions where a tool is not shared by both programs, I'll let you know and provide a suitable work around simply because there's nothing worse than following a how to video for a few minutes, only to find it won't work in the software version that you use. And there's plenty of time for you to put these techniques into practice with the associated lesson projects. Don't be shy. The best way to learn anything technical is actually to try doing it a few times yourself on. The most important feature of these lessons is that I provide feedback, which is a great learning tool in itself. And if you'd like to leave me a comment about the work that you're doing or the results you're getting, don't hesitate because I love to see what my students are up to 2. Introduction to (changing) Page Backgrounds: Hello there. Welcome back to the photo book, Wizard. Now in this section, I'm going to show you simply how to change the color or the photo in the background of your book project. Why would you want to do that? Well, that's a good question. If you take a look at everybody else's photo books, you'll notice. I'm pretty sure that about 90 or maybe even 95% of them have white backgrounds. They have white paper, they use white pages. And I suspect that's because when you download an application that designs books for you, it doesn't matter who it comes from. The default is white. Of course, that's pretty natural. And if you pop into your local library or your local bookstore and have a look at a couple of photo books, I'm pretty sure you'll find that they have white pages. Now. Some applications allow you to add not only different colors to the background. Some also allow you to slip in a photograph in the background. There's nothing I like better than finding a nice texture. Maybe cardboard it maybe paper it. Maybe rock may just be sore dust or timber or something like that, and I like to be able to use these sort of semi blank images as textured backgrounds, so I'll show you how to do. That's a very nice way to lift your images off the page and create something just a little bit different, a little bit away from the normal. Now I do see quite a few people, you know, if they do have that little bit of a twitch in their sort of make up anything, I want to just change the color. They'll go to black and black is a is a good color to choose. You do have to watch out, though, if you use back there a couple of things I think that is wrong with black Number one is it's a receding color. What I mean by that is it actually makes the picture look as though it's going away from you on the page. So while it works for many pictures, it's kind of a little bit dangerous. You have to be a bit careful about the colors and the intensity. The contrast on the brightness of the photos that you use. The second thing is you have to be a little bit careful if you have black objects in the picture, the elephant here is not really black, but it's pretty dark and you begin to lose it around the edges. And what I mean by that is it's sometimes hard to see where the photo ends on. The page actually starts, and that's called bleeding. It kind of just bleeds out of the photo into the page. Not always a problem, but sometimes it's just a bit weird, especially if you look on the other way. You've got a nice landscaping. It's got a bright white skylights, so you shot in monochrome in black and white. So when it reaches the edge of the page, it's very hard to see where the white paper starts on the white, in the sky of the photo actually stops, so having a border is very important. The second thing we can look at, of course, is this adding a photograph behind the image, and again I tend to photograph textures. If I see a nice, moldy wall, if I see some brickwork or some would work or something, that's got a nice sort of texture and you want to go, that's really nice are photographing. I just pop it into a stock library that I have on my office computer off textures and stock background color is very important to start doing that. You can just do it with a mobile phone. You don't really need to have high resolution because after what is just a background you do not want to use. Pictures that are strident, are strong, are incredibly bright or, for example, have a very strong point of view. Very some obvious subject, because you want people to look at the picture that you're displaying, not something that's kind of being shoved underneath as it were. We just putting a picture underneath to give our main picture, in this case, the elephant a little bit more depth. Finally, what we can do is have a look at how to lift that literally lift the photograph off the background. We do that just using a very simple drop shadow on again. Some applications allow you to do that automatically. Some bookmaking software APS don't so we do this in photo shop will furnish or polemicist and a drop shadow and pop it in there using the PNG file format. Anyway, I hope you have lots of fun, create lots of amazing book affects and have great results 3. Choosing the Right Background: Hello there. Welcome back to the photo book, Wizard. Now I'm gonna show you how to change the page color That is the color behind the photograph in your book making project. Now, there are a number of ways of doing this because, of course, some of the bookmaking software does vary from type to type and even version diversion. Sometimes I'm using Book Smart, which is put out by company called blue dot com. And they're very, very good. This is a standalone program and you literally import the photographs into the my photos area on the left hand side, hopefully already beautifully edited. And you dragged them into the windows provided by the program. And of course, you can change the picture layout simply by scrolling through the amazing range of templates and choosing. So you know, you simply just changing like that. It is very fast, very quick, very convenient. It has to be because ah, lot of people who use this don't have photo shop or light room skills at all, and so are unused to sort of re sizing and changing the shape and size of images. I have chosen this particular format, which is basically full frame. So it's gonna be a coffee table book, very big picture of a beautiful elephant with a yellow background. If I then go into the preview book department and you can see this is kind of what it's gonna look like once it is printed, you can see while it occupies the entire size off the page. But if I right click and choose something like, put it in the center, please. But don't crop it. You can see that actually has been cropped. It was a vertical image. I shot this specifically for a background texture because of the plasterwork on the wall, and now you can see if I choose to preview book, I get White either. Side. White, of course, is the default color for pretty much every photo book, and I understand why that is because it's easy, you know, and you get into any bookstore and you'll find every photo book. In fact, a lot of books put period full stop just him White pages blurb books marks pretty good because at the top here weakened up to backgrounds and I can change the page color. For example, we could go black Let's have a look at the preview. There it is. It's a bit confusing because when you begin to think, Hang on a minute. I just changed it to black. Let's go a little bit more daring. Let's choose Plomb a think it is, and then nothing happens. It's not until you actually preview Do you actually see the color? Because let's go back to edit book. This window is actually the full size, so technically it's really waiting for me to blow it up. So that occupies the full size of the page. If I reduce the size of the elephant that say to about there, we still get this gray placeholder color. But of course, in preview book mode, you can see nice and clearly that we've got a sort of dull sort of plum color in the background. Don't work really for me at all. So one of the probably the most popular colors that I see in this kind of world of publishing is we bought. If they say I'm fed up with white, I'm gonna go for something else. It's normally black, and so again I can choose black. I can preview wolf, you know that's pretty good. The problem of that, of course, is it is a very receding color. If I choose a photograph that is much, much darker. Here's another one of a temple I can just preview. Let's just make it get a little bit bigger, Robin. There we go. And if I shrink it down, we just use the slider at the top. You to shrink the picture down on, pop it in the middle. You'll see. I've done a little bit of fancy work on the right hand side, but essentially, this is a very dark image. So if I go up and change the background to Black and then preview the book, you can see that well, you know, even more than the elephant photograph, some bits of the image kind of disappear. So we all know that this is more or less a rectangle apart from the jagged edge on the right hand side. But it's kind of hard to see, especially in the bottom corner. On the left hand side. It's hard to see where the photo finishes on the page starts, so do be aware of that. It is kind of as a say, a very sort of receding color. So we go back to the elephant photo you can see again. It's kind of receding a little bit in the background, especially if we do this. And if we choose a photograph and I see this time and time again, we see a photograph that's really quite small. I got ridiculously small and you look at that and it's almost like the photograph is being swallowed by the black. There's too much black, so I like empty space, open space in book design like the next person. But there's there's a certain amount that you can have. And then if you go over that limit, especially if you're using black pages, you'll have a problem. So if I change this back to a white background, let's check that out. I think you'll agree with me that that really doesn't receive nearly as much as the black version. So very, very important. So as I say, blurb book Smart and a couple of other bookmaking software apps that I use quite a lot of very easy. You just simply choose a Brecht background color. Hit it and away you get. You can, of course, apply this background to all pages if you want to do that. So just do be careful that you want to go with all pages the same color. Because although I've got a small photograph in this layer, you may have obviously different layouts on different pages, and it may not be suitable. But I wouldn't advise anybody to change the color of the pages kind of every three or four pages. And I have seen that as well, where people go through a sort of green period again. Well, I would just try this and again I want That's OK and then leave it in the next week. They have another go at finishing their book, and they start going with red pages or brown pages, so it ends up looking like a kaleidoscope. Not a good idea. Consistency is, I say, to all my students, it is very, very important. It's very important to get everything reasonably consistent. You could, of course, consider changing the color of the pages if it's in section, so you may have like an introductory section. You may have a review section. You may have a section for different countries that you travel through for example, so you could have a slightly different tinted color background for each different country. For example, you'll notice also in blurb, that we have things called ornaments and also textured backgrounds. Now this is getting into a little bit scrapbooking, and I personally I really don't like this at all because ah, lot of the backgrounds that is supplied, I think, are a bit pedestrian and they don't really help the photograph. It's unfair to show you there because that's such a small image. So if we big him up again, Gide is going backwards and forwards if we just put him up to sort of a reasonable size, and we previous still, it's sort of it doesn't work a little bit better, but it's by no means the best edit. I think, really, I saw a little bit, too. I think the problem here is it's probably fighting with the image. And if we choose more options, of course, blood has a whole range of different backgrounds, including kind of passport stamped type things. That sort of thing would have a look there. Maybe that's a little bit more interesting because it gives a little bit of depth to the image rather than just having fairly dry color photographs on a white background color photographs on a white ground again and again and again, you can break it up by putting little motifs. You could, of course, photograph passport stem. She could scan the matter, be around passport, I suppose, or download them off the Internet and then put them in via photo shop. Of course, save them is a little photograph on. Just drop them in into your images, so let's have a look at how we can put a photograph in there. Well, we can have a look at the background texture, but the problem is, of course, if we drag a background texture into this image, got a few that I've been working on right at the top of the list. Here it's going to supersede or just replace what we have that here we go, this lovely background texture. This is some old papers that I've sort of created, collected, photographed and then kind of copied and pasted and sandwiched on top of each other in photo shop. So it looks like there's like, two layers, so this is specifically created to make a background page. So if I drank that onto the image gets plot, I think, Where's my elephant gun? Most of these templates that we use and I'm talking about book smart I'm talking about many other applications allow you to put one picture per page or if I want to pictures. I have to choose a template that has to Windows, for example, and I can put two Windows put page. You can see that nice passport stamp that we put on as a background texture here, quite clearly what we have to do in order to create this and let me just go back. A step is to put to image layers or to image boxes one on top of each other. This does get a little bit tricky, but in blood, thank goodness. A few versions ago, they ended up by putting this little fellow up here the edit layout button. And if I click on that and then shrink the image down, what it does is show you how to, funnily enough edit the layout. It kind of goes a bit gray and missed it, so it does look quite different to the regular edit page So let's get back into the edit layout. If I click on it once you can see there is the orange outside off my image box and you can see it's got to funding, so the texture, because it's already got an image in it. But if I choose this image box, I can put a 2nd 1 in there. The one disadvantage that blurb offers or book smart office is if I try and then stretch this concert. See, maybe I want to have a full frame. It is sorry you can't do that. But of course, if I put a full frame elephant on top of a background texture, you're going to see it because the elephants for frying. So I'm just gonna bring this down, arrange it, just eyeball it into the middle and click apply. And now we've got this curious gray box here. This is the image window here, so I can go back and try and find my elephant, which I hope is down. The bottom here is, and I could just drag and drop and plop. It just goes straight in. In fact, that's probably not the elephant that I was looking for We've got so many elephants happening here. Here we go. Let's just pop him and see what happens. There we go. And its preview the book. So how easy was that? I've got my background photograph instead of using one of the passport stamps, one of the textures or the flat, rather boring colors that we have. And then I got my photograph on top simply by using to image boxes via the Edit layout box . Very nice little feature. 4. Adding a Drop Shadow Effect: quite often I have a little bit of head scratching going on when I'm designing a book because I look at something. I think, you know, maybe I should have done this and maybe I should have done that. I'm not really happy with what I have done. So I sometimes keep myself because I think, well, maybe I should have actually added a drop shadow to the elephant photograph just lifted off the page because it looks like it's kind of been ironed on their doesn't doesn't look terribly so happy, so I'll show you how to do that. It's very easy. And, of course, when you're making your digital photo book pages may be doing this kind of a technique in further shop will finish up elements. It's a good idea to think about what you need to apply to it, so I'm gonna apply a drop shadow to the elephant layer. This is just dead easy with phony shop and elements. All you do is click on the lay double click it or you could go to the layer menu, which is up here. If I confined it over here and you can choose layer style and you can choose drop shadow. But of course, the easy way to get to it is just simply double clicking the layer that you want to apply this style to like that on the layer style menu magically pops out of nowhere. Now the drop shadows have been shifted for some reason in the last version, or the last updated photo shop CC, and then down the bottom that was used to be at the top. But they're now down the bottom. So when I click on it once, you can see a little drop. Shadow appears around the edges, and in fact, it's kind of showing me here what this start is looking like the sun is shining from the top, right? The shadow goes down to the bottom left. I much preferred have it the other way around on the drop shadow flushing out to the right hand side of the image. You can make the capacity, which is basically the blackness of the shadow, bigger or smaller. Now here's a little bit of a tip when you're printing stuff, and I can't really explain technically why this happens. But if you have a drop shadow, that's about let's say 50% or there about it ends up looking like it's 75% in print. That may be something to do with the resolution. It may be something to do with the print dithering system that's unable to actually thin out being to get really soft shadows. So I tend to err on the side of caution and always choose on a pass ity of around about 25 to 30. If you want a really heavy one, push it up to 35 or 40. But don't leave it on 100% of something because it just looks a little bit chunky. So push this back and put it back to 35 35 35. There we go. And, of course, then you can adjust the distance, which kind of just shift the shadow like that. The spread, which is kind of the fuzziness and the size, which actually more like the fuzziness and bring the spread down a little bit, make the drop shadow just slightly softer. Let's bring it a little bit closer, and I think it's just a bit too fuzzy, actually, so the site is too high. There we go. Something like that works quite well and you click. OK, now, we've got a little bit of a problem here because if your software only allows you to put just a single J peg in per page, I can't save this at the moment. While I can save it, it's gonna be a Photoshopped. Far better shot files or layered files have to be Photoshopped files or too far. So most book quit software applications. They don't really like Photoshopped fans. They don't really like tiff files. They don't work with them. They will accept J pigs and they will accept PNG files. Gosh, if you think that you're going to at any stage, come back and change the brightness of your drop shadow, it's probably a good idea to save this as a Photoshopped far format first. So I may call it Page 17 or wherever I'm up to. I'm not quite sure which paid him up to on the thing you were Page 20. So make may simply just call it Page 20 master and that would be saved as a photoshopped far. I will then save it again and save it is a J pick for which I just do now in order to ship it back into the book and check it out. So back in the book making software, I've said it is a J peg I've saved is a Photoshopped file that Jay Peak is the only one that I could import. Here it is dragged in and drop it just on the right inside as a comparison to my simpler version on the left hand side. Let's preview the book, and there you can see. I think the drop shadow really does add a little bit of visual impact as it lifts it off that textured background bit, I think. Is it much more pleasing result? 5. Faded Backgrounds: now one of the driving reasons behind creating the photo. But Wizard class is to try and answer some of the questions that I get asked here in my face to face classes that I run here in Sydney on one of the one of the questions I get asked a lot about. Of course, his backgrounds page backgrounds. How can I change the page backgrounds? So, you know, typically see a student who like the image you see. He has been to Italy and they put it onto a white page on It looks OK, and I'm thinking, Well, maybe we can try putting a drop shadow onto that page to make it stand out a little bit. Of course, you can vary the angle. The density, the color on the the look of the drop shared it quite easily. Using photo shop will finish up elements if your software doesn't like to do it, because not many bookmaking software applications allow you to do that kind of thing. They'll allow you to put edges and frames and borders and all that sort of stuff onto a picture. But drop shows a little bit less obvious, and I think It's a great way, Teoh sensually just add a bit of a dimension to the page. So what I also see, and this is quite typical, is they'll choose another photo go. Well, I'm just gonna put this in the background. And what happens there, of course, visually, is that you start developing a migraine because you look at the picture. You think, Well, what am I looking at? A really good picture in the background or really good picture in the foreground and the to end up sort of visually having a sort of a bit of a punch up on the screen. It's not a good idea, so the answer there, of course, is to reduce the intensity of the background. So don't save your best picture and use it as a background. You know, it's like it's like printing your pictures up and then giving them to somebody and then using one of your pictures is wrapping paper. You don't do that. You just you just use ordinary brown paper or something that's non combative, I suppose, something that's not fighting visually with the to, So we need to do something to the background and typically what we do is we can reduce the intensity, okay, and then some software programs allow you to do that. Naturally. Even Microsoft Word has a feature. I think it's called ghosting, and you can put a background texture into a page and you just click ghosts and it knocks it back. About 85%. A couple of ways to do this in fellow shop, of course, here we have a white background. So let's say we don't have a white background. We just got the two images. If I reduce the density or the opacity off this layer, the bottom layer. This is what happens. You begin to see a checkerboard coming through on the checkerboard, as you probably know, indicates there's nothing. There's opaque. It's it reduces the capacity. So I get into zero two full checkable, which means is basically a picture off this this beautiful square with nothing in the background. All right, so if I just crank it back, it'll allowed me to put a little bit of the background in there. It's a bit hard to judge how much because, of course, you got the photo mingling with this checkerboard effect, but generally for a page background. I would have it set about 30% maybe even slightly less now when I come to save this as a J pig, because that's what you have to save images as in order to import them to most bookmaking programs. When you say that it's a J pig, what it will do is it will squash those two layers together in an instant. It'll mix white or whatever. The default foreground color is into that to give you a faded background. So that's all good and well. But it is a little bit hard to actually judge whether that's bright enough or not. So what we can do is this. We can just put a new background by clicking on the create new layer icon in photo shop or elements. It's a little square symbol with a folded over a corner. In this case, it's put it in his layer. Three. For some reason, I'm gonna drag it down to the bottom so it's underneath my background picture, and then I'm going to throw a bucket of white paint at it, so the paint bucket tool is here, sharing real estate with Grady until it's in the same place pretty much in photo shop elements and make sure you've got white. Now here's the cool thing. You just click anywhere in the picture and you can see it in water. Magically adds white to that layer three, which is kind of effectively the background layer. Now you can see quite clearly what we're doing in the background. I'm thinking 30% maybe even a little bit too heavy. So let's just move this to one side. Let's just go to the layer to which is my background photo layer and let's bring it down to maybe 20%. And I'm thinking 20% probably. Okay, The idea being is I don't want it to end up by fighting. Can we just turn this on? This is gonna be on. There we go. We're gonna drop shadow. I don't want to be fighting or competing or over pairing the foreground image. And I think 20% that's 20% maybe even 15% of something. So it's just literally a ghosted image. We don't wanna almost get to the point where it's it's kind of almost impossible. In fact, even 10% may work, so we're looking between 10 and 30% and I'm earning on the side of caution. I'm sort prop, probably putting in about 10%. Kind of nice on that, very simply is how we can add a ghosted image to the background. Now, of course, when I say this, I need to save it as a master file. So I would say this is a PSD file and keep it on file somewhere in case at some stage, you think g actually my backgrounds here a little bit on the light side. I want to go back and maybe pump it up to 15 or 20%. It just saves you having to reinvent the wheel as it were. Saving is a master far and then save a second version a copy as a JP, which of course will be flattened. All the layers will be flattened and then you can import that into your book software. 6. How to sandwich two photos together (CC or PSE): now in this short listen, I like to show you very briefly how to get around a problem that you may bump into in your book design career or what I mean by that is you may be on to choose to pictures or four pictures or six pictures toe have on a single page, and they may not be allowed to be over leapt. So there may be something in the soffit. This is sorry. No layers, no way overlapping. They've got to be side by side. And that's very annoying. And I do find sometimes that when you do find a template that allows you to ever let them, I really don't like the templates at all. And I get in there and probably make my own overlapping image templates just because I don't like the ones that they supply. But very simply, we can do this. I want to overlap a texture or a photograph rather onto this textured background. So I've chosen have made this Texan this fits onto my pages on every page, so I gotta go back and choose my elephant photograph, and I'm going to select him, control a or command a PC or Mac. So you just choose. Select all you can, of course. Go ahead it, then edit copy and this copies of the data from the photograph into the clipboard of the computers. Clipboard. It's a very annoying process, because if you're a new coming, you think I don't even see anything, they should have a little green light. I think that lights up saying in clipboard now, anyway. Besides that, we've pressed control or command A to select it'll then I'm gonna go to my old paper edges picture and press control or command V to paste the image. Now, clearly, we've got a bit of an issue here because the image we're using for my background is much lower resolution than my over big elephant as elephants should be. So I need to use a transformation here in a transformation. In photo shop is course control or command T, and this allows May, if I just press control minus minus minus allows me to shrink my image down. Now be careful when you click a corner. It's very easy to do this and squish your image. It's far better when you're using photo shop toe. Hold the shift key down, and this locks the proportions beautifully and allows me to hold my proportions. If you're using further shop elements, you don't touch the shift because it automatically locks the proportions. If you hold the shift key doing the same process in elements, it actually distorts the picture kind of flip side to seal the way around. So there's my image. I'm going to zoom in a little bit, and I think that's not too bad at all. Okay, I can, of course, use my view show grid function here, which is controlled exclamation control quotation marks. Should I say to allow me to get this kind of bang center if I really want to do this so I could just shovel it around, left and right, just to make sure that I got it pretty much in the center. If you really wanted to you course you can make your own grid and drop your pictures into, but I think that's pretty close to being 100%. And then when I save it, of course I need to save it a J pick, because guess what? A soon as you put layers into Photoshopped, it forces you pretty much to save everything as a PSD felt. Now, you may want to say this is appear Steve found. Anyway, in case you want to come back to it at a later stage and maybe editor, you put it into book and think I don't really like that. Or maybe I should have put a drop shadow, which I'm going to show you how to do right in a moment. But anyway, we've done that. I'm gonna click, OK to confirm that I like superimposing the elephant on top of my background. I'm going to save us a J pick and then ship it into the book making software to make it look finalized. Let's check it out. So here we are, back in blurbs. Excellent book. Smart. Here's my sandwich to photograph, which is now a J pig. I'm just going to drag it and drop it. Plop straight in there. Let's preview perfect in the next. Listen, I'm gonna show you how to add a drop Shadow this to this image just lifted off the page a little bit