The Photo Book Wizard: Working with PNG Files | Robin Nichols | Skillshare

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The Photo Book Wizard: Working with PNG Files

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

4 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction to PNG files

    • 2. Why Use PNG Files

    • 3. Creating a PNG File

    • 4. Rotating and Saving as a PNG

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About This Class

The Portable Network Graphics file format is the only other file format acceptable in book making software along with  JPEGs.

What makes this format different? Unlike the JPEG format, a .png file allows you to save and preserve transparency so that, once it is added to say a colourful or textured page, it is the page tones that come through the transparent parts of the image - not the default foreground colour that's automatically added to a JPEG when it is saved with a transparent background. Even if you are placing a non-standard shape onto a white page, the paper white is certainly going to be a different colour to 'Adobe' white - so you need to save it as a PNG file.

In the example here, I saved a cut out image of Che Guevara's head as a .PNG and a .JPG file and placed both on a graded background. The JPEG imports a white background while the .png file retails the irregular shape of the head.



Meet Your Teacher

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Robin Nichols

The Photo Book Wizard


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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1. Introduction to PNG files: Hello, My name is Robin Nichols. And welcome to this episode off the photo book Wizard in this lesson will be looking and everything to do with the portable networks. Graphic file format The PNG file PNG files are excellent because they allow us to save an image with a transparent background so they're excellent for irregular shaped, non rectilinear images. So we look at all about the PNG files we look at how to create a PNG file on. We look at how to rotate a file and save it is PNG. So when it's placed into your book project, it appears seamless on whatever color or texture page you care to choose 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 developments 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. Why Use PNG Files: Hello there. My name is Robin Nichols, and today I'd like to talk to you about using the PNG Far format or the portable network graphics file format. Now you may be scratching your head, wondering what on earth that file format is all about. If you look at almost anywhere page on the planet, you'll find loads and loads of pictures. And, of course, all those pictures I suspect RJ picks, and we're very familiar with that. J Peg is really a sort of universal picture, far format. It's very handy because, as you probably know, when we save a J pig, we can compress it. And compressing means that the storage space required to hold multiple J pegs is very, very small, and they're brilliant. Then you can just double click them or open them up, as I can here on a Web page, for example, like this and it comes up big immediately. So it's gone from thumbnail to very large, high resolution pictures. Very, very quickly they bring it. The problem with the J peg and the problem with many other far format is they have to be rectangles because that's the way pixels work on a screen on. If you look out any digital camera Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Olympus, Nick on you name it. They're all gonna have rectilinear rectangular sensors. There are, I think, a couple of very high end digital cameras on scanning backs that are less rectangular, more square. But essentially they're either rectangles or squares, so it's very hard to have something that is non standard. Let's just flick over to another website now. This is a company I use quite a lot. It's called Blurb US Company. They have a number of bookmaking software applications. This one I use a lot of called book smart. It's a free, standalone program, and it works on a Mac and PC identically. Bring it. And if you work half a book on a Mac, you can transfer it over to a PC and just carry on as if nothing happened. It's just very unusual these days to not only get the same software that works identically , but the fact that is totally interchangeable bring him so book Smart is very, very good. And of course, as you can see on the little illustration here, we've got a picture of a laptop, and there's the blurb logo kind of just off the right hand side of the laptop. These air nonstandard shapes, whereas the picture of the person taking an iPhone photo off what I assume to be an Icelandic pony has been cropped heavily to make it look like a banner photographs. So it's not some fancy panoramic camera. I suspect. They just cropped a regular rectilinear rectangular photo taken with Nikon or Canon, for example, into this sliver that looks pretty cool. And then there's the blood logo top left. So these air nonstandard of his scroll down that again the laptop. The tablet is a non standard image. So how do we do that? Well, of course, we use the P and G far form it, not the regular Jay Peak for former, you think? What's the problem? We've got the Blur glow ago. We've got a white background. What's going on? If we just flop into jolly old photo shop and I can show you on the left hand side, we have the blurb logo saved as a PNG far. The middle one, of course, is the blood logo saved us a J pig. And so what's happening is if I save this logo as a J pic automatically puts whatever the foreground color is. In this case, it's white into that background space in the background space, which looks like a checkerboard pattern, is actually photo shops way of saying there's nothing there. So it's transparency, and the beauty about these logos is if I just bring the layer pallet onto the decades, it is just a single layer, and you can see the transparency in the layers palette there. It's brilliant, so it allows me to slide the logo. And as you can see here, I've got a crazy Grady int on the right and image. So the blurb logo is here. This is the J. Peg file. This is the P and G far Well, so that should explain exactly why we like P and G five. They could be nonstandard, and you can do all sorts, even if you want to rotate a logo. Of course, if you rotate the blurb logo the J Peg far, it's gonna look awful with this white background. So you can, I suppose. But if it Web design can, of course, designer Web page, so that the color of the Web page matches the color that the J pig fills in in this case white. But as I say, if you want to create a logo that sits on a very tricky background, it's actually can cause do it. There's a mathematical formula you can work out to match colors, but it takes time. So why bother? Why not use one of these fantastic new file formats called PNG or portable networks graphics? I like it a lot Now, if we go back to the blood of website, you can see again. I'm beginning to think that maybe this picture of the laptop and the ability maybe those are also PNG far form. It's simply because they just nonstandard, so you just want to slide them in. You don't have to worry about the background at all. It's just going to absorb whatever color it goes it. So if it's sitting on top of the text, if it's sitting on top of a logo on top of the banner at the bottom of the page, it will sit on top, and there won't be this nasty white surround to fill in those edges to make it a rectangle . So you get the idea. I want to make something that is not a rectangle. So I'm now gonna pop into blurb books. Martin, I've been working on my show Lincoln Book for a couple of days now. Very excited. But what happens with these book making software applications is they're very I'm gonna use the word pedestrian. It's a bit rude because they're not really pedestrian. They're actually very good. But after you've made two or three and I've got students who've made 23 inveterate travelers that have to make a book after every trip they've been on and they go on three or four trips a year, lucky on them, I say, of course, there just pumping out these books left right, center on after two or three attempt to begin to think, Is there anything more to life than just for pictures on a page and then one picture on the opposite page? You know the main. So it's very hard to actually break this up one or two other applications, things that are not designed by blood. There are other bookmaking companies allow you to rotate the images on the page, and that's pretty good. Other is actually a fantastic wine here in Sydney, where you can import different edges, and you could put some fancy edges around your pictures as well. But there's a limit to what you can do with J picks. The interesting thing with blurb and many other bookmaking software wraps is they will only work with J Pegs or PNG fall. So look into the specifications if you're using something other than blurb, and I think you'll find that PNG father accepted because of their transparency, background, situational capabilities. So what I'm gonna do is show you this. I want to jazz this up a little bit. I want to put these pictures onto a color background now in blurbs book Smart. It's that's reasonably easy to do. I just click on the customized button. If I go back into the edit book, you can see here we've got edit layout and that allows me to throw in an extra image box, as you can see here. And then I can stretch that too, right around the edges, and then I can drop in the background. It's very good. It works like layers in photo shop, and if I right click and say, Look, move backwards, basically, send it to the back, and that's where my background photo is going to be sitting. It's gonna cancel out of there for the moment and go back into my preview book. So that's how I can put as you can see here, how I can put a background into the image here, and I've got some old paper that's been photographed. It's still a little bit of pedestrian, and I kind of moved the image boxes a little bit left and right and up and down to get them more like a sort of scrapbook layer. But it still looks a little bit pedestrian. What we need to do is go back and re save all five pictures, as PNG files, and then they could be floated anywhere on top underneath to one side in order to create a book page that looks more like that. So I've got summat, a slightly jaunty angle. Some are smaller, some are bigger, some of vertical summer horizontal. I've even created a logo with a transparent background and just floated dead in on the right hand page it so that essentially, is a little bit about portable network graphic images or the PNG Far from it is fantastic. It's going to take you longer to create the images in order to put them into a digital picture book using book smart or pretty much any other bookmaking software application. But I think the effort is well worth. It is a very creative wave. Presenting your book, your publication, your artwork in a completely different format and something totally created compared to what most people do in the following lectures will get on and have a look at exactly how we can do this. 3. Creating a PNG File: now in my rather lengthy preamble, I think I explained reasonably well the benefit of using PNG files. PNG files a. Fantastic because they preserve transparency. So if I'm gonna ship an image like this directly into a bookmaking software application, it's just gonna go plop onto a page. I could make it go bigger or smaller. I can crop it consuming. I consume out, but I can't rotate it in some programs you can't. But in most of the bookmaking programs that I worked with, you can't rotate it or you can't have it in a regular shape, for example, with a tornado or a little in dental something of that nature. And that's why it's such a good format for things like nonstandard images and logos. You can just glide them in onto a colored background on the transparency in the PNG file format adopts whatever color it's sitting on top, so let's go ahead and create a PNG fart. Now there's no point me saving this J Pigs a PNG file because it's just going to look like a rectangular photo on a rectangular book page. We need to rotate it or do something a little bit regular to it in order to give it some transparency in the background. So in photo shop and fellowship elements, as you see, I'm trying to do here, here, my keyboard creaking in the background. I can't transform it unless I've got a duplicated background. So that's one rule here. So if I press control or command T, which is for transformations, I re sizing on image or an object on a particular layer. What it does is it puts these little handles around the corner. It's exciting, and I congrats hole of a handle and just pull it in and I can resize. In fact, I can distort the shape off the image. Now, don't do that because otherwise we also want to keep the same proportions. So in photo shop, I need to hold the shift key down when I'm great dragging this down so you can see it doesn't matter which way I move the cursor on the screen and move it inward. It's always gonna lock out those proportions. Okay, I'm gonna reduce it down to about that size you let go of the mouse, let go The shift key. Everything is good. I can then click in the middle and just drag it kind of just position it roughly in the middle of the picture there and click, check or ticket the top. I'm committed. I love that Or so Now you can see in the layer. We've got the layer at the top, which is a bit smaller. We can see this cheeky little check board appearing around the side, and that's the transparency. Okay, so the background Lear is now unwanted. We don't need it anymore because it's going to ruin the effects. I'm just gonna drag that to the trash, and now you can see the true nature of the father we've created. It's a smaller image created around or with a transparent background. Now, if I importance again into blurbs, book smart or many other bookmaking applications that allow me to import PNG files, you'll see no difference because it'll just come through as a rectangular picture. But if I hit control or command, remember, Control is on a PC. Command is on a mech, and the T key teeth transform. I can click and rotate by, just grabbing a corner and pushing it around. And then I could say, Look, commit. I'm OK with that. Now, if I save this as a PNG file, we need to have that transparency around. Because if I say that this is a J pic, guess what? It's just gonna throw in some white pixels around the edge and very annoying. So let's go ahead and save this as a PNG fight. If we just choose to file save as and I can call it instead of photoshopped file, I'm gonna say, Let's get out of P E N g. There together is the PNG file format. I'm gonna click on safe now gives me some options. As you can see here, I can interlaced it, okay, Or I can compress it. I prefer probably have no compression because in my mind, any compression kind of damages the picture and we really don't want to do that. And, you know, most computers can handle pretty much any size file you throw out from these days, so I'm not gonna interlace it. I'm not gonna compress it, and I'm gonna click. OK, so the curious thing about PNG files compared to tiff or Photoshopped or J. Peggy's, they always seem to take twice as long to save on. I'm not quite sure why that is. Maybe it's just in the process of saving the transparency so you can see I've saved it. It now looks identical. I've still got the transparency around the background. What's not to like? I'm just as a demonstration. I'm going to save it again, and I'm gonna call it a J pig, and I'm just gonna call it something different. So J. P. G. Just so I know that's different and you can see automatically before I've even clicked. Okay, on the J pic options. It's thrown in a white background. Don't want that. But that's a very good illustration of what we don't want. Because, let's say I'm making a digital picture book with a black page background. It's gonna look a bit daft with a white highlight around the image. Okay, lets just jump into the blurb book Smart Software. You can see I've imported my initial book. There's an initial book page. There's the sunset on pretty much the last page or sort of in the middle of the book. You can see it's a rectangle, no big deal. Let's go back into editing. Let's go back to the next page and let's drag. Might PNG file onto that? Pop it in the middle, shrink it down to fit within the parameters of the page. And there you can see preview the book. Fantastic. So you can see now the difference between paying G and J pig. It allows me to do this kind of special effect. One more thing before we can go, I'm going to go back into my Photoshopped file and I'm going to put a drop shadow in here, and I'm gonna use the layer stun. You saw it very quickly. I just double clicked in the gray area to the right of the image. Thumbnail on the apps on the layer pallet there don't want to rename it on down at the bottom. We're gonna choose drop shadow Now I normally have a drop shadow that's pointing at about 140 degrees. So basically the shadow comes out at the bottom right hand side of the image. It's a little bit tricky with a transparent background, cause you can't really see the drop shadow, but take my word for it. If you have a drop shadow of around about 30%. That's gonna be dark enough. A lot of us tend to get what it's got. 100%. Let's sort of crank up the distance. And there you can see the drop shadow poking out from underneath that maybe ramp it up a little bit when you put that onto a white paper background. Or in fact, any color paper background other than black, it's gonna look too dark. So we need to have the shed of around about 30%. Sometimes 25% sometimes, you know, 40%. But we're going to do that. I think that's probably about right. And I'm gonna take out. So I'm going again. Send or save this and then send it to the books. I'm gonna save it again as my P and G far There it is. Click save and it says, Do you want to overwrite it? Yes, I do keep the same parameters and it saved it fairly quickly. Even though I said it normally takes longer and we're gonna go into blow, we're going to get into the editing mode, and I'm gonna go get the photo and imported in a show that Okay, so I've snuck out, grabbed hold of the picture and dragged it into the left hand page. And if we go into preview mode now, you can see the difference. We've got the drop shadow version on the left hand side. We've got the non drop shadow version on the right hand side, both of PNG files on. They allow me to create something that's just a little bit different, a little bit more interesting than the straight rectangle on a rectangular page. 4. Rotating and Saving as a PNG: Welcome back to the photo book, Wizard. Now we've had a look at how toe add a simple drop shadow in photo shop. Same in fellowship. Element is dead easy to do. Really? What we're gonna do is show you how to rotate the image. You think? Well, why am I going to do that? Well, very simply because many, many book templates these air the layout templates into which you drag your images, your photos or your maps or your logos. Whatever you're using for your book production, you dragged them in there. They're all rectilinear there, rectangular. So they're all either vertical or horizontal. There are very few software wraps around that allow you to rotate or twist or literally collides your photos on top of each other. So we kind of have to make do and do it ourselves. So I'm first going to take off the background because I don't want the background. I want the background to be whatever page color I've chosen. And then we're going to go to the elephant layer and I'm going to I'm going to change the rotation, change the angle from horizontal, and I'm just gonna just wrote it it around a little bit could be 15 or 20 degrees. So I'm using a transformation. Command control T on a PC, Command T on a meg. Very, very simple. And you grab a corner, you click, you hold and you push it. So you have to be a little bit careful course, because if I rotate too much, of course it's gonna go off the image here. I'm gonna gonna get some cropping. Now I'm gonna go Just a jaunty angle. Something like that. When I'm happy with it, you click the yes, I'm happy with it. Check market the top of the screen there. Click and it locks it in. So to begin with, if I just undo that and do it again to begin with what we're looking at here, you may look at it. I think it's a bit fuzzy, isn't it? It's just a low res preview to give you an idea of what it's gonna look like. It's not until we actually click that that actually goes ahead and does it. And you'll see when I do click that commit button, it actually suddenly goes a little bit sharper and clearer because it actually does it in high resolution mode. So we've got the background lead turned off, and we've got all this checkerboard stuff happening in the background. This means it's transparent. It basically means there's nothing there. We've still got my drop shadow clinging onto the bottom of the elephant. That's a good thing, but we can't really see it anymore because we've got the background turned off. So we're gonna save it in the PNG far former. And that's the portable network graphics. It's a brilliant far format and is accepted by most digital photo book making applications , and you'll find that the too far formats that the most popular RJ pagan, PNG. They don't like you trying to import PST fast Photoshopped positive files, that kind of thing. And in fact, when you try and import them in some applications, it doesn't even seem that it will hang on a minute where my pictures gone. They don't even show up because it only responds to Jay Peak in P and G files. So let's go ahead and save. This is a PNG file, and you can see here we call. It's awesome old paper edges. Let's just call this I don't know. Elephant. Remember that spell elephant you can see by default? It says Robin, you're gonna have to say this as a Photoshopped far. Why? Because it's got multiple layers in it. So anything with multiple layers, as you can see here, has to be a Photoshopped file. It can, of course, be a tiff file. But J pegs have to be flat and they have to be squashed. And that's a real problem, because when you squash a J peg, this checkerboard pattern turns toe white. It just replaces it with the default foreground color, which in this case is white. So you end up with a jauntily tilted elephant photograph on a square white background, and if that's going onto a page that's been selected as being black, it's gonna be a little bit annoying. So instead of photo shop or J pig, we go for the PNG far former. Here it is. It's one you probably never use before. I use it all the time because it's brilliant and I'm gonna click on safe. It will then ask May brought in. What sort of compression do you want? And I'm going to say I don't want any compression, it'll and I want to interlace it. No, I don't. I don't want to interlace it, so it's gonna click. OK, so the curious thing about PNG files and I always say this it takes longer than saving a photo shop, saving a J pic far. But of course, as you saw down the bottom of the little blue line that shifted across, it actually went very, very quickly. So I've saved as a PNG file. Let's have a look and see what it looks like once we ship it back into bookmaking application. So here we are, back in blurbs book Smart. Here's my standard elephant, which is just bonded or stuck onto a background image. So it's just a single Jay Peak farming to delete that. And I'm gonna drag my Ellie photo, which we just created into that window, and it comes in at a jaunty angle, very pleasing to look. Let's have a look on the preview, and there it is. The drop shot, of course, is a complete waste of time on a black background. So a better just change it. There we get. And so now you can see we've got a slightly more interesting, I think. Look on your photograph simply because it's not flat. It's not horizontal. It's not just lying in a rectilinear or square fashion. Very, very nice. So the key things to remember about this process is you create a fetish op file. You create a PNG far from that which saves the transparency. And, as you can see here, whatever background we use, let's just choose one of the fancy backgrounds like this one. It shows because it just sits on top so that transparency is the vital. The key factor for the success of this. Of course, it works with photographs. When you want to overlap them, you want to put one photograph overlapping another one, and when you want to do ad, irregular shape, nonstandard shape logos, for example, a circular loga brilliant