Color Your Frame, Auto-Text and Presets for FAB Tools (Podcast 752)

Color Your Frame, Auto-Text and Presets for FAB Tools (Podcast 752)


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A month after I talked about adding text-based watermarks and the Autopilot feature to the MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop, today, I’m proud to announce three more new features that pretty much round out the majority of all the ideas I originally had for FAB Tools. There will doubtlessly be a few more incremental updates, but those of you that are completely uninterested in this product will be pleased to hear that we’re pretty much done with these updates for now and will be returning to regular episodes from next week.

Having said that, the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast has always been about sharing what I’m up to, and this is the result of another month of hard work at the computer, so I’m really just continuing to share what I’m up to. Besides, I’m really proud of what I’ve created here, and from the sales reports, I know that there is a percentage of you that agree with me.

Another thing that I’ve been really happy about is that users and potential owners have been key in driving these latest three features, all of which were on my list, but I honestly didn’t think two of these were even possible with the current Photoshop plugin framework. Not wanting to disappoint people though, when these features came up, it prompted me to take a deeper dive, and come up with some innovative ways to build what people want, so let’s jump in and talk about them.

So, the first feature which is a new Presets module is available right now, as it was actually released a week ago version 1.2.0 and has already passed Adobe’s review. The second two features which are the ability to change the color of the frames and automatic text from your image data are still in review but should be available within the next few days. The Presets module enables you to store and recall all of the settings in the four main modules, including the new features that I’m adding. There are checkboxes to initially select which modules you want to include in your Preset, and when you restore a preset, you can deselect modules if you only want to restore a particular module.

So, for example, say you’ve set up a Web Frame with a specifically sized border, and vertical offset, and perhaps also added a graphic watermark as well as a text-based watermark, you can now go to the Preset panel and save all of these settings in a single preset, so the next time you want to apply the same settings, you don’t have to try to remember or keep notes of what you did. It’s all restored from the preset file with two clicks. The first click to select your preset, and the second to restore it.

Here is a series of screenshots to illustrate this. As you can see on the left, you can give your preset a short name that appears in the Select a Preset pulldown list once added, and there is a longer Preset Description field that you can use to make notes about the preset, as you can see I did in the middle screenshot. When you first go to the Presets screen and there are no other presets saved, you will automatically be asked to create your first preset. Once you have a preset saved, you can select it from the Pulldown, as you can see in the third screenshot.

Saving a Preset
Saving a Preset

Note too that the preset that you create will be marked with an asterisk in the list to show that it’s based on the current settings. In this state, if you make any changes to your settings you can simply hit the Update button to automatically update the preset with your current settings. The same goes for a restored preset. If you need to change any preset previously saved, just hit the Restore button, and make your changes, then hit Update to save them. And of course, if you just want to restore a preset for use, the Restore button will do that. You can also see the Included Modules checkboxes there too, which enables you to decide which modules to include, and which to restore. If you only want the settings for a specific module, you can deselect the others, when saving and restoring a preset.

Also note that if you include a Text Watermark that you delete after saving your preset, it will also be restored along with your preset. The same goes for graphic-based watermarks as long as you are on the same computer. If you copy your settings to a different computer, you can still restore your settings and presets, but you will have to delete the graphical watermark from the Watermarks page and relink it because the token that Photoshop creates will be different. Apart from that though, the settings are transferable if you work on multiple computers. There is a link to the settings folder in the Tools module if you need to do that.

Print Frame Presets

As I use FAB Tools in my own photography, especially with the addition of color settings that we’ll look at shortly, I’ve found the presets very useful for recreating the same style of frame. I’ve also been positioning the FAB Tools logo as I created some of the new marketing graphics, and being able to save the precise positioning of the watermarks has been incredibly valuable and time-saving too. Another area that is greatly improved through the presets is the creation of print frames.

As an example, here is a print frame I added to an image, and made a few changes to a Custom A3 media format, and adjusted the Border Offset both for better visual balance and to make room for the image title, which, by the way, was automatically populated from the information embedded in the image file using the new Auto-Text feature which we’ll also look at in more detail shortly. If you need to recreate these frame proportions and offset again later, you can now simply save a preset with a name that you’ll recognize and include a description so that you know what you’re going to restore, and you can then recall these settings at any time in the future. Even if you change the Custom A3 media these exact settings will be restored along with your other settings, making the plugin much more useful.

Print Frame Poppy Heaven
Print Frame Poppy Heaven

Color Your Frame!

So, as you’ve seen, we can now change the color of the frame that you apply to both Web and Print Frames. Say, for example, you want to frame an image and move away from the standard white frame that we’ve had so far, all you have to do is open your image and click on the colored square on the left of the two which is the Border color, and you can select a color using the regular Photoshop color patches and sliders, but your mouse pointer will change to a picker so you can also sample any color your want from your image, as you see in this screenshot.

Sampling Frame Colors
Sampling Frame Colors

Here is a Web Frame with different colors sampled to illustrate a different point. If you look to the right of the Border color picker in the previous screenshot, you’ll also see a second color picker for the Stroke color. Until now, the outer stroke which is added to images has used the secondary or background color in Photoshop, but some people found this confusing, and even I forgot to change the color a few times, so I took this opportunity to take control of that, in two further steps. To begin with, you can now select the Stroke color using this color picker, but because we can now change the color of the main border, I figured we might need a way to separate the border from the image, and so there is now a checkbox below the new color pickers that enables a 1-pixel stroke between the resized image and its border, which uses the color you selected.

Namibia Dunes
Namibia Dunes

The second checkbox is to decide whether or not you want to add an outer stroke, and there is a third checkbox to simply use a mid-grey for the outer stroke, as you may not need it to be the same color as your inner stroke. In this example image, I selected the bright orange as a highlight color, and you can see it more distinctly along the bottom and left edges, where the darker areas of the image are. It’s very subtle, and I toyed with the idea of enabling the user to selected a larger border, but it looked very tacky, so I used my own design sense to keep this simple. You can also see that I selected the grey stroke color for the outer stroke, although a second bright orange stroke didn’t look too bad either.

Use Cases

Before we move on to the Auto-Text Feature, I wanted to share a couple of use cases for these colored borders, so that you can understand my thinking behind this. First of all, I simply think that it can extend the control you have over your work as an artist. I have always thought of Fine Art Borders as being mainly white, and in most fine art circles that is probably still the case, but as we know, there are no hard and fast rules in art, and I know that a wide variety of creatives are starting to use FAB Tools in their work, and for the sake of a few additional controls, it was possible to extend the usability of the product. I have found it to be a lot of fun and an additional creative release to be able to easily change the color of my frames like this, and I’ll provide more examples as we move through the rest of this post. So the first use case is to extend the possibilities for an adventurous creative.

The second use case is a real-world use case from the person that asked about changing the color of the border, and that was someone that works as a bulk-shooter, that had been requested to provide over a hundred photos of school students with a navy blue border, I imagine to match the schools official color. Unfortunately this time around they had to manually change the color because they had a deadline, but in the future, they’ll be able to process the images in bulk with just a few clicks. Note too that if you have a specific color with an RGB Hex code, you can simply enter or copy and paste that code into the field to the right of each color picker, and know that you have the exact color you need in place. You can also paste your code into the Photoshop color picker that opens when you click the colored square, but be sure to stay in RGB color mode, as the colors will get messed up if you switch to a different color mode. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to programmatically stop you from doing that, so please just be careful not to change it.

Auto-Text is Here!

OK, so let’s move on to the final new feature in these two recent releases, and that is Automatic Text! I’d already finished this feature when the request for colored borders came in, but to extend the school photo use case a little here, if you do similar event shooting and need to add, for example, the name of the person in each shot, you can now add that name or whatever information you need to, into the Caption or Description field of your photo, and with Automatic Text turned on in the Add Text module, you can now add that in your chosen font completely automatically. This will enable the school photo shooter that contacted me to fulfill a request that they had received to add student’s names to each photo, but they had to refuse because it would have been too much work. With Automated Text and Batch Processing via Autopilot, you could process a hundred photos with a colored frame and the names of each student completely automatically with a few clicks, and we’d be talking just two to three minutes to process the images. Of course, you would need to add the names to the photos manually, but that is much quicker than registering a new text watermark for every photo.

As an example, let’s throw everything we’ve got at my photo of the beautiful Kegon Falls in the Nikko area of Japan. I love the early summer fresh greens in this photo, so let’s play with them a little. To start with, I’ve selected a darker green, sampled from the photo, as the main border color. This, I feel, helps to give the final piece some added depth, as we look through the deeper green at the lighter greens in the actual image. To compliment that though, I selected a fresher light green for the inner stroke, and I’ve left that green active for the outer stroke too, rather than making that a mid-grey.

In the Watermark module, I selected an adapted version of the logo I’m using to market FAB Tools and opted to add it to the bottom left corner, and nudged it up by 8.8% and to the left by 0.5%. Without any nudging, the logo would sit perfectly aligned to the bottom of the inner frame, but I wanted to adjust it so that the top half of the logo overlaps with the image, and moving it to the left just a half a percent makes the foot of my kneeling man overlap with the bottom of the left side stroke.

In the Add Text module, I first added a watermark and selected a font from the pulldown. Note that currently, it is not possible to use just any font installed in Photoshop or on your computer. The fonts in the pulldown list need to present on your computer, but unfortunately, at this point, you are limited to the 17 fonts I’ve registered for use. If there are any other fonts that you believe are available by default that you would like me to add, please let me know. Here’s a screenshot to illustrate this process.

Adding Everything!
Adding Everything!

Note that I’ve made it possible to drag the plugin panel out very wide now so that you can make the most of the new Preview that I’ve included for the new Automatic Text. I’ve left the font options visible here too so that you can see that, but generally, once you’ve added your text string and selected your font and styling, you can click Done and then the Hide Options button to reduce those options down to just the text pulldown list.

Below the font settings are the new Automatic Text settings. There is a lot in here, especially when the window isn’t so wide, because the various data checkboxes are wrapped to two or three lines. Still, I’ve tried to be inventive and keep the options to a minimum while still providing adequate usability. For example, in addition to simply turning the Automatic Text on and off, there is a third option to leave the Text active but hide all of the options. The same goes for the preview box. If you don’t need that, there is a Hide this preview checkbox, so you can collapse all of this down to just two lines when you are not using it.

We are using most of it right now though, so take a look at the options we have. Firstly, let me explain the Replace and Append options. The Replace option simply replaces the text that you entered when you created this particular text watermark. These options are not tied to the saved watermark text as such, but they use the font that is saved with the text, so if you intend to override the text with the Replace or Replace Split options, you can simply use the text as a label remember your font settings by. The difference between Replace and Replace Split is that the Split option breaks down the text into two or three lines. If you look to the right of the checkbox that says Caption, there is a carriage return symbol. This adds a carriage return after the Caption if you need to do that. The next two lines that you see in this preview are wrapped intelligently based on the length of the Caption or your Text Watermark if you choose the Append or Append Split options.

The Append and Append Split options work in exactly the same way, but the text is appended to your watermark text, so in this example, the first line would be Martin Bailey Photography K.K. because that’s what I added as my watermark text. That though, along with the options you select, is all that is saved in the plugin. The rest of the text is all information that is embedded in the image and placed here automatically when you open an image. Then there are the Spacer options. This is the character or characters used between each item in the list of shooting information. If you do not choose one of the Split options and simply Replace or Append, all information will be in one or two long lines with the Separator between every element.

The final option to Flip text left & right alignment on the applied border is a workaround to overcome a problem with Photoshop. If you use the World-Ready Layout under the Photoshop > Type preferences, when you apply your text watermark, the left and right alignment for the left and right sides will be reversed. So, say you have your text on the right side, it would be left-aligned, not right-aligned. That may be a valid requirement so I’m happy to leave this here, but generally, this is to overcome what I consider to be a problem for anyone that uses World-Ready Layout. Another problem related to this is if you do use World-Ready Layout and you have a period at the end of your watermark text, that period will be mysteriously moved to the beginning of the sentence. I could fix this with code, but first I’m going to see if this is a bug in Photoshop and I’ll update my code later if it is not. Should you fall foul of that problem though, unfortunately, the only way to overcome that at the moment is to select the Latin and East Asian Layout rather than World-Ready.

Photoshop Text Engine Options
Photoshop Text Engine Options

The final option at the bottom of the Automatic Text area is the option to select either the Web Frame border color or the Print Frame border color for use in your preview. This preview and its related options are actually also now used for the regular Text Watermark so you can make use of this even if you are not using Automatic Text, to check what your text will look like before applying it to your image. So that you can see what this all looks like in a resized and framed image though, here is the output photo using the settings that we just covered.

The Kegon Falls
The Kegon Falls

Note that the width of the automatic text is governed by the Scale setting for your text. In the above screenshot, I had it set to 35 but changed it to 42 for the final frame to increase the size of the text a little bit more. I use Scale as a percentage of the width of the image to create maximum flexibility when changing sizes. For example, for my eBook that accompanies these posts for paying MBP Pro Members, I needed a much higher resolution image, so I simply doubled the size and the watermarks remained perfectly positioned as you see here. It also helps when we process square or portrait orientation images, allowing the watermarks to resize as necessary.

Photoshop File Info Description
Photoshop File Info Description

Note too that while you are getting your scaling and positioning locked down, I find it useful to apply the frame and watermarks all from the Watermark or Add Text modules, by right-clicking the shortcut menu at the top right corner of the plugin panel. In there you’ll find an Apply Web Border and Apply Fine Art Border option, among others, so if you want to make a quick change, just hit the Revert button under the Actions section at the bottom of the plugin, and use the shortcut menu to apply the frame again. Of course, you need to have the Add Watermark or Add Text checkboxes checked under the Framing module to automatically apply everything you want, but it’s quicker than going back to the Framing module every time you want to make a change.

One last thing that I wanted to mention about the Automatic Text feature is that in general, you will probably be entering your text in your content management or image editing software. I enter all of my descriptions and keywords etc. in Capture One Pro, but you could do the same in Lightroom or pretty much any other similar program. If however, you come to add some text to your image in Photoshop and realize that you don’t have any caption text entered, you can select File Info from the Photoshop File menu and enter whatever you want to embed into the border into the Description field.

Note that the Title fields are not used. I can’t get them from the document information, so this must go into the Description field to be picked up. In Capture One Pro, I add this information to the Description field under IPTC – Content in the Metadata panel, so you may have to experiment a little to find out where to add this in your base editing program. Here is a screenshot of where you can add it in Photoshop though, where I added the words “The Kegon Falls”. Note too that I will probably change the word Caption to Description in a future update because it seems more programs are using the word Description. Also note that if you do update this information in Photoshop, you have to save and close then reopen your image for the change to be picked up.

Under the Hood

FAB Tools Version 1.3

In addition to the visible changes that I’ve mentioned today, I’ve actually completely rebuild some of the core functions in the MBP Fine Art Border Tools for this release, to keep it ticking along nicely as I increase my demands on its performance. These have actually made things so much quicker that I added a quarter of a second pause option to the Autopilot mode, and I found that also my four-year-old Mac Book Pro used to need 1 or 2 seconds between actions, it will now run in batch with just a quarter of a second pause, so if you are processing in batch mode, you will see big improvements in performance so give it a try.

Note too that considering all the work that I’ve put into developing FAB Tools over the last five months, and considering that there is now more than four times the number of features in my initial release, I’ve decided to increase the price from $26 to $36. I believe that even $36 is not a lot of money for everything that you now get in FAB Tools. Also note that the price increase is tied to the Adobe Review of the latest version, so if you listen to this on or shortly after Sept 16 2021 you may still be able to buy FAB Tools for $26, but failing that, I hope you agree that $36 is still a fair price. Either way, you can check out the plugin on the Adobe Exchange Marketplace here and if you want to check the current feature set much into the future, you can check that out on the product page here.

Video of Features to Oct 2021


Show Notes

Adobe Exchange: https://mbp.ac/fabtmp
Product Page: https://mbp.ac/mbpfabt

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

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Fine Art Border Tools Plugin for Adobe Photoshop Video (Podcast 745)

Fine Art Border Tools Plugin for Adobe Photoshop Video (Podcast 745)


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Just a short audio episode today to let you know that I’ve just released a video to walk you through how you can use my new MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop to resize and add borders for Web and Print, as well as adding a watermark. I’ve just released an update that enables you to now save multiple watermark image files and easily switch between them, improving the flexibility of the plugin, so check out that update if you’ve already bought FAB Tools. I also include a demonstration of how you can layout and print images on roll media or larger sheet media to save money on stocking lots of smaller media sizes, and we trim them in two different ways as well.

I’ve embedded the video below, so please check that out, and if you’d like to pick up a copy of this new plugin, you can buy it from the Adobe Exchange Creative Cloud marketplace here.


Show Notes

Adobe Exchange link: https://mbp.ac/fabtmp

Product Page: https://mbp.ac/mbpfabt

Rotary Cutter on B&H (Affiliate Link): https://mbp.ac/BH24RT

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes to get Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.


MBP Fine Art Border Tools Plugin for Adobe Photoshop (Podcast 743)

MBP Fine Art Border Tools Plugin for Adobe Photoshop (Podcast 743)


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My apologies for going completely down-periscope for the last month. As I was wrapping up the previous podcast episode, I found out that Adobe had transitioned to a new API to build plugins for Photoshop, and I decided to look into creating a full-blown plugin to replace my Fine Art Border Scripts, which I literally knocked together on a Sunday after in 2013 as I needed something to automatically add the above center offset Fine Art Border that I use when printing, and it was relatively easy to do. The Fine Art Border scripts have sold pretty well over the years, but they were somewhat inflexible and required the user to edit the text file script if they needed to change the ratio of the vertical offset, or change the width of the border, etc.

A relatively tertiary look at the new API told me two things. The first was that I figured I would probably be able to write the code for the plugin that required the original script files to be manually edited, which would make the plugin much more intuitive, and the second thing I noticed was how incomplete the new API currently is. Mostly due to this second point, to complete the plugin to its current feature level, I literally had to spend every waking minute for the last month, and once again, drove my wife crazy as I got up early each day, and kept my laptop open until moments before we went to bed each night. Of course, you haven’t seen a podcast or blog post for the last month either, for which. once again, I apologize.

But, I am very happy with the results. There are a few things that I want to add in a near-future update, but I’ve ended up with a much more feature-rich replacement for my 2013 scripts, which I’ve called the MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop, affectionately known in short form as FAB Tools. As I completed my preparation for this post, I received word from Adobe that the plugin has passed their review, so I am really excited about this. Over time, this post will become dated, so if you check this out much after June 2021, please check the Product Page here for the most up-to-date information. You can also subscribe to the Plugin Notifications list of my newsletter, and I’ll keep you updated when any new features of note are released.

Get FAB Tools!

You can check out the plugin on the Adobe Marketplace already, so click the logo below to check that out, but we’ll also continue on to take a look at the details of what FAB Tools does and show some usage scenarios. I’ll also create a video to walk you through this over the next few weeks, so please keep an eye out for that too.

MBP FAB Tools for awesome artists
Designed for Adobe Photoshop

An Overview

The new plugin has three main modules. One for framing and resizing for the Web, and the second for print, both with the same visually pleasing vertical offset, but with the ability to change it to any value, moving the image both up or down in the frame. The third module is completely new, to enable the addition of a watermark or logo. Currently, this only accepts images, but I intend to add the ability to add a text-based watermark soon. There is a fourth Tools panel, but that’s to provide links to a few global features, like showing or hiding Tool Tips, or showing the custom formats before the mostly uneditable presets in the Print Frame module. There may be a few more panels in the coming months, but at the time of release, I’m very happy with the specific feature set that I’ve built, and I do hope you find it useful.

Web Frame Dark
Web Frame Dark

Web Frame and Resize

As you can see in this screenshot, the Web Frame module is relatively simple on the front end, with a few nice tweaks to help your workflow. The idea is to add a border, the width of which you specify with the Border (px) field. If you have a specific height and width that you would like to resize your image to, you can enter both values. If you enter either the Long Edge or Short Edge value and turn on Auto-Calculate Ratio, the plugin will calculate the edge that you didn’t enter automatically. 

When you enter the Short Edge you’ll notice the Short Edge heading then becomes underlined, indicating that it has priority. To go back to Long Edge priority, simply enter the long edge value. If you’d like to frame your images inside a square, simply enter the Long Edge value to resize to, and turn on the Create Square Border checkbox. We’ll then create square borders and position your images inside.

The Top/Bottom Border Offset slider is where you move the image up or down in the frame. For centuries, fine artists have positioned their work slightly higher in a matte or frame to provide more pleasing visual balance. Moving your image up slightly also gives you room to sign or add a watermark to your work.

The Magic Formula

After a lot of research around 10 years ago, I came to the conclusion that a good balance for fine art prints was to calculate 10% of the height of the image and use that for all four borders while moving the image up by 3%. This gives 10% side borders, a 7% top border, and a 13% bottom border. In the Web Frame module, we convert these percentages to pixels, as you specify the border width in pixels, so moving the image up 3% in a 100-pixel border equates to 30 pixels. Just wiggle it around and hit the Apply button to see what you get though. The Revert button reverts all changes, so it’s easy to try different settings.

Depending on the ratio of your image, you may find that you get slightly larger borders on the top or sides when working to a specific media size. With the Web Frame module though, if you only use Long or Short Edge priority, FAB Tools will add the exact sized border on all four sides, offset to the amount specified. If you want completely equal borders, leave the offset slider at zero.

There are three more checkboxes to talk about before we move on. First, you can add a one-pixel outer border using the color selected as your secondary color in Photoshop. A mid-gray is a good choice. This just helps your images to stand out against a similar color background and will disappear against a darker background.

Print Frame Dark
Print Frame Dark

There is also a checkbox to automatically save and close the image after applying the border, and a final checkbox to add the watermark on completion, and we’ll look at Watermarking in more detail shortly.

Print Frame and Resize

The next module is for framing for Fine Art Prints. This is closest to my 2013 Border Scripts release, but now highly customizable right here in the user interface.

There are 28 presets which, to protect the integrity of the media formats, cannot be modified, other than the border size and vertical offset. If you change the border size it will automatically be saved for future use, but a Revert button will appear, to remind you that you’ve modified the preset and to revert to the preset 10% border if necessary.

In addition to the 28 media presets, there are ten customizable formats, based on popular media size and a few square frames. You can take these and make whatever you want. You can enter the Long Edge, Short Edge, Border width, all in millimeters, as well as a custom name for your format and a short description. Each of these fields is saved as you move away from the field, but if you want to reset this and start again, just select a saved custom format and hit the Revert button. The vertical offset you select is currently not saved as part of your custom format, but if you think it should be, let me know and I’ll consider changing that in a future update.

Watermark Dark
Watermark Dark

Watermarking Module

A completely new addition is the ability to add graphical watermarks with precision to pretty much any location on your image. Start by selecting one of the nine anchor points, including the four corners, center sides, and the center of the image. From there, you can nudge the watermark up to 100% of the image away from the anchor point.

If no image resize has been performed, you can only anchor the watermark in relation to the canvas, but once you have performed a resize, you can also select to anchor the watermark to the inside or the outside of the resized image within the frame. 

You can currently only load one image, but once loaded, it will generally be stored until you change it. You can scale the image to a percentage of the width of your resized image, and change the opacity, which is useful if you are placing a watermark over the image area.

Once you’ve specified your settings, you are ready to apply your watermark. When you are happy with the placement, you can also turn on the checkbox in either of the resize modules to automatically apply the watermark after resizing. There’s no need to worry about the image orientation. We calculate the position based on your image size and orientation, so the watermark should be placed perfectly each time.

Tools Dark
Tools Dark

Tools Panel

As I mentioned earlier, there is a fourth panel called Tools, where you can turn off Tooltips, and have the Custom Media show at the top of the Format pulldown on the Print Frame tab, and there are some other options, such as the ability to reset the settings and all of the Media modifications if necessary. There’s also a link to sign up for our Plugin Notifications, and a button to show the folder where the plugin settings are stored, so that you can, for example, back up all of your custom media or if you want to move your settings and media to a second computer that you own, you can do that with the files in the path that is displayed. Note too that although I’ve used the Dark theme plugin screenshots for this post, it fully supports the Light theme as well, and will automatically adjust the colors used based on your theme preferences.

Practical Use Scenarios

OK, so let’s look at a few practical use scenarios for the features and modules we’ve discussed. To be completely honest, one of the reasons I started to look into the new plugin technology, was because I had to modify one of my original 2013 scripts to enable me to easily reframe some of my recent microphotography work to upload to Instagram. Ironically that was also put on hold for the last month as I worked on the plugin, but I really wanted an easy way to add what I call the Fine Art Border to my images in preparation for web upload. I had originally planned to just add a completely square border, most suitable for Instagram, but that became a checkbox option in the final plugin. Here, for example, though, is a small gallery of images with square borders, which looks really neat on sites like Instagram that list images in a square format. It also helps with uploading very tall images, as they get cropped by Instagram, and that has always been a bugbear for me.

Notice how the border automatically calculates the necessary position of the image within the border, and moves the image up, in Fine Art Border style, according to my settings, although I actually used the default vertical offset and border width for these images, and just turned on the Create Square Border checkbox, so that they were all put neatly into the same sized squares. Also, note that once you are happy with the positioning of your watermark, you can simply open the images that you want to resize and turn on the Automatically save and close option, and if necessary the Add Watermark on completion checkbox, and the image will be resized, watermarked, saved, and closed when you hit the Apply button.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, Adobe does not include actions performed on these plugins to be recorded in Actions, so you do have to open all of your images and hit the Apply button for each of them, but with everything else being automatic, it’s not a painful process to go through even a few hundred images if necessary. Adobe is saying that recording in Actions is coming soon though, and I’ll ensure that this works as expected when that happens.

Of course, the plugin also handles the addition of a uniformly sized border, adjusted based on the size of the original image. Here is another gallery of web resized images, this time without the Create Square Border checkbox turned on. Note the square image and portrait orientation image in this gallery. Nothing had to be changed in the plugin to cater to these different sizes and aspect ratios. I just pressed Apply on each image until the end of the set. You’ll need to click on the first image to open it in the Lightbox before you can view the various aspect ratios properly.

You don’t have to add a watermark, of course, and generally, for Instagram, I don’t, but this should be a good illustration of the precision of positioning etc. It’s also great for mocking up prints for sale if you sell prints that are signed. Just scan your signature and save it as an image file, and you can associate that with the plugin in the Watermark module and it will be used until you change it.

Printing Examples

The reason that I created my original Fine Art Border scripts back in 2013 was to prepare images for print with the Fine Art Border vertical offset already in place. If you print directly to the media size that you want as your final result, the border can generally be created by adjusting the border widths in your printing software, but getting the ratios the same each time you print can be challenging. I always used a spreadsheet with my calculated border sizes in it, and managed a large number of printing templates, and that can be avoided by running your image through this new plugin. If you are printing to the media size of your final print though, it’s best to uncheck the checkbox to add a 0.3mm stroke border around the outside edge of the image.

If however, you want to use the plugin to help you to save money carrying various media sizes, leave that border on, so that you can see where to trim after you’ve printed. The idea is that say for example you create prints for sale in say A4, 8 x 10 inches, A3, and 11 x 17 inches, but you don’t want to stock all of these sizes as sheet media in various finishes. Let’s imagine that you need an A4 and an 8 x 10 print and you have a 24-inch wide roll media printer. It takes just a few seconds to resize your images using my new plugin, then click on the Padlock of the background layer of one of the images in Photoshop to unlock it, then specify a canvas size small enough to print on your roll width. 24-inch rolls are 609.7 mm wide, so you can either specify say 600 mm, and print without any scaling, or if you know like I do that your printer requires a 3mm border on each edge, you could simply resize your first image canvas to 603.7 mm so that it will fit perfectly after deducting your printers minimum edge gap. Make the height something taller than the tallest print you need, say 220 mm in this example.

Because we unlocked the first image before resizing the canvas, the we can easily move the image in slightly, and then drop our 8 x 10-inch resized image onto the newly resized image, and position it to the side of the first image, as you see in this screenshot. If you print this at 220 mm high on 24-inch roll media, you’d have minimum waste and once trimmed, two perfectly sized prints.

Even if you don’t have a roll media printer, you can save on sheet media varieties in a similar way. Say you received an order for a print on A4 media, but you don’t have any A4 sheets available. You could resize and add the trimming stroke border, then print on something larger, like A3 media. Here is a screenshot of the Photoshop Print screen with a print resized to A4, about to be printed on A3 media. There’s a waste of media that we’d be trimming away, but it does save stocking lots of different sizes of sheet media. And of course, similarly, you could simply lay out two prints on the A3 page to minimize waste.

A4 on A3 Media
A4 on A3 MediaNote

Note too that some programs have the ability to add additional trimming guides, such as the Corner Crop Marks that I turned on in Photoshop in the above screenshot. Also note that to ensure you print at the correct size, you’d need to turn off any scaling to fit the media. The images are currently saved in the original resolution or set to 300 PPI if the resolution isn’t set for any reason, but either way, it will be set so your resized images will be displayed at exactly the size you need if you print without any scaling turned on.

Click the MBP Fine Art Border Tools logo to jump to the Adobe Marketplace to pick up your FAB Tools!

MBP FAB Tools for awesome artists
Designed for Adobe Photoshop

OK, so that’s about it for this update. As I say, if you are interested in this plugin, and are checking out this post much after June 2021, please check the Product page for the latest information, and if you sign up for our Plugin Notifications newsletter and I’ll keep you in the loop. If you pick up a copy of the plugin and have any problems or suggestions, please do let me know via the support contact form.

※ Adobe, the Adobe logo, and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.


Show Notes

Jump to the FAB Tools page in the Adobe Marketplace with this link: https://mbp.ac/fabtmp

See FAB Tools product details here: https://mbp.ac/mbpfabt

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Exporting for Web in Photoshop Elements (Podcast 524)

Exporting for Web in Photoshop Elements (Podcast 524)

I’m dedicating this week’s episode to answering a listener question about adding copyright information, resizing images for the Web and adding watermarks etc. to your images using Photoshop Elements.

Listener Michelle D Salati sent me a voicemail via the widget on our site, about resizing images. I would normally just play you the message, but Michelle left the TV on as she recorded, and I’m not sure she meant for me to insert the audio, so I’ll just read out the gist of her message myself. Michelle said…

Hi Martin, I think your web site’s fantastic, your photographs are amazing. You’re inspirational. I’ve also read Tim Ferris’ book and you reinforce that help, so it’s not only about you, it’s about everybody, and I love that.

One question I have to ask is what is the best way to resize my photos so they are sharp and crisp (I’ve got Photoshop Elements) and the best way to add my name and copyright? Should I put a frame around them and add a watermark to the images?

So firstly, thanks for the kind words Michelle. I really appreciate it. I’ll go on to explain a little bit about resizing and exporting for Web, and we’ll cover adding your copyright information to the file and the dilemma of whether or not to add a frame or watermark. I don’t own Photoshop Elements so I’ve downloaded the trial version to help me explain this. Next week I’ll go on to explain how I export my images with one click, including a watermark, using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Before I talk about resizing and exporting, let’s look at the part about adding your name and copyright to your images. I want to talk about this first, because with pretty much everything in the digital workflow, the earlier you do things, the more time you will save. If you add your name and copyright information only as you export your images for web, you have to do this every single time you export an image. There are a number of ways to get this information into your images early in your workflow, but the absolute earliest is to save your details into your camera, so it’s added to your photographs in camera as you make them.

For example, on my Canon camera, there is an item in the menu called Copyright information, and under that menu I have options to Display copyright info, Enter author’s name and Enter copyright details. You can go ahead and enter your details right there in the camera, and it will be appended to the EXIF data of every image you shoot from that point on. I usually enter my name, and then under the Copyright information, I add my name along with the words “All rights reserved”.

This can be a pain to enter via the in-camera menus though, so I install Canon’s EOS Utilities application, that comes with my camera, and then connect the camera to a computer using the USB cable provided, and then in EOS Utilities I click Camera Settings, which then gives me an option to edit the Owner’s name/Author/Copyright information, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Canon EOS Utilities - Copyright Information

Canon EOS Utilities – Copyright Information

If you do this, all images you shoot will be tagged, but you cannot add a copyright symbol © to this information, either in camera, or via the EOS Utilities, and I like to add a more complete copyright statement, so I actually apply a metadata preset to my images as I import them in Lightroom, which I’ll show you next week. Also, unlike Photoshop Elements, once I’ve set up Lightroom to apply my preset, it just keeps doing it for every import until I change the settings again, so I don’t have to do this every time I import images.

For now though, if you are using Photoshop Elements as Michelle is, here’s what you’d need to do. When you import media from a camera or memory card, click on the Advanced Dialog button at the button of the Photo Downloader screen, and you’ll see something like this screenshot (below).

Photoshop Elements Import - Advanced Dialog

Photoshop Elements Import – Advanced Dialog

You’ll notice that I added my name as the Creator and in the Copyright field I entered “Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved”. You might want to add your name to this as well, although it will usually be displayed with the creator name. By the way, to enter the copyright symbol on a Mac, hold down the alt/option key and type a “g” on the keyboard. On Windows, hold down the alt key and type the number 0168.

The beauty of adding this information to your images as you import them, is that now, from this point on, they are all tagged with your copyright information, so you don’t have to add this each time you export them.

Note that I was not able to find a way to do this when importing from a folder, so if you already have your images on your hard disk, you’d need to import your images into the Organizer first and use to the method I’ll cover shortly to apply this information to images after that.

Adding Copyright Information to Individual Images

Adding copyright information on import is going to save you the most time, but if you haven’t been doing this so far, it is best to add this information to your original image files. That way the information will stay with the image in all future exports.

In Photoshop Elements, you can do this by opening the File Info dialog from the Edit menu. You’ll see a dialog like this (below) into which you can enter your details. If you have a web page that explains your copyright policy, you can enter the URL to that page at the bottom of the dialog as well.

Photoshop Elements - File Information Dialog

Photoshop Elements – File Information Dialog

We obviously don’t want to have to type this in for all images though, so before you click OK, select Export from the Template button at the bottom of this dialog. Because I added the year to my Copyright statement, I called my template Martin Bailey Copyright 2016. I will need to update this at the start of 2017. If you think you’ll forget to do that, leave the year out of the copyright statement, or a much better option would be to leave the year in and set a reminder in your calendar.

Update Copyright Info for Multiple Images

Using this template, you could then import the same settings to other images in the future. The problem with this method though, is that you have to do it for every image individually, and that’s too time consuming.

Alternatively, you can go to the Adobe Elements Organizer, and select all of your images by pressing COMMAND or CTRL  and the A key on your keyboard, then right click your selected files and select Show File Info, or hit the Keyword/Info button in the bottom right corner of the screen, then click the “Information” label at the top right. After that, click the Edit IPTC Information button in the middle of the right sidebar. You can then enter your details into the Author and Copyright fields in this dialog and apply them to all of the selected photos, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Photoshop Elements - Edit File Information

Photoshop Elements – Edit File Information

Notice how I chose to Overwrite the IPTC Contact, Author information. This is to stop the field being populate with “Martin Bailey; Martin Bailey” or similar, as it would be if I simply Appended the new information.

Resizing and Adding a Watermark in Photoshop Elements

Michelle also asked about resizing images for the Web and adding a watermark in Photoshop Elements, so let’s walk through this. Shortly we’ll use an option to process multiple files, both resizing and adding a watermark at the same time, but to do that, we need to either open all of these files, or copy them to a new folder. If you only have a few files to export, then just opening them and then proceeding to the next step is fine. If you have more than a handful of files to export though, it’s best to make a copy of them first.

Select all of the files that you want to resize and watermark in Elements Organizer. Then from the File menu select Export as New Files. Select Use Original Format as the File Type, then Under Location click the Browse button and create a folder called Temp or something like that on your Desktop, then click the Export button.

Photoshop Elements - Export Originals

Photoshop Elements – Export Originals

Then in Photoshop Elements Editor, not the Organizer, select Process Multiple Files from the Edit menu. You’ll then see a dialog box like this one (below) into which you can enter the size of the images you want to export, and add a watermark at the same time. Under the “Process Files From” pull-down you can select Folder, Import or Open files. If you already have the files that you want to export open in Elements, that will work. Otherwise, click the Browse button next to the Source field, and navigate to the Temp folder that you just exported your Original Files to, as you can see here (below).

Photoshop Elements - Resize and Watermark

Photoshop Elements – Resize and Watermark

For the Destination folder, click Browse again and create a folder called Web on your Desktop. Under the Image Size section, turn on the Resize Images checkbox. For the size, you need to decide how big you want your images to be. If you make your images too small, people won’t be able to appreciate them, but if you make them too big, it would be easier for people to use them for their own purposes without your permission.

For a number of years now, I’ve resized my images to 1440 pixels wide, and 960 pixels high for portrait oriented images, which is a good size for the Web. Not quite big enough for people to do much with, but plenty big enough to appreciate the photographs. Whatever you chose,  select Pixels from the pull-down, and enter that number into the Width field. Also, change the Resolution to 72, which is still pretty much the standard resolution for Web use.

Unfortunately, there is no way that I could find to handle exporting vertical orientation images at a smaller height when selecting 1440 pixels as the width. From Lightroom, I can automatically resized horizontal orientation images at 1440 pixels, and vertical orientation images at 960 pixels high. In Elements if I select 1440 pixels wide then portrait orientation images are exported at 2160 pixels wide, which I obviously don’t want. To overcome this, you’d need to batch process your horizontal images separately from your vertical images, and enter 640 pixel width for your vertical images, which would make them 960 pixels high.

When you’ve done that, under File Type, turn on the “Convert Files to” checkbox, and select JPEG High Quality, and under the Quick Fix box turn on Sharpen. This will ensure that your images are sharpened a little during the export. Even if your images are sharp full size, you need to turn this on, or they will look soft after they have been resized.

Then under the Labels section, select Watermark, then under Custom Text type what you’d like to add as a watermark, and select the position, font and font size. You also need to select a color for the text. If you just leave this as black, then it won’t show up against a dark photograph, so it’s perhaps best to select a mid-gray or even a brighter color if you really want it to stand out, and then make the Opacity between 30 and 50 percent.

Once you have done all that, click the OK button and wait for your images to be resized, sharpened, watermarked and exported all in one go.

Disclaimer

Before we move on, I’ve got to tell you that at this point in time, May, 2016, this process actually doesn’t work for me. It should, but I can only assume that there is a bug in Photoshop Elements that is preventing the watermarks from being applied during this process. I spent a couple of hours troubleshooting it today, but I’m out of time, and frankly I’ll never actually buy Photoshop Elements, so I’m going to give up on this for now.

Exporting for Web – Photoshop Elements

If you are not going to watermark your images, you can also simply use the Save for Web option in Photoshop Elements, after you have opened your file for editing, by selecting Save for Web from the File menu. Select JPEG High from the Preset pull-down, then type in 92 for the Quality. This will approximately halve the size of the image file, but show absolutely no digital artifacts in the image. Ensure that Embed Color Profile is checked too, and then click Save to save a resized copy of your file.

Photoshop Elements - Save for Web

Photoshop Elements – Save for Web

Want More Control?

If you want to export with a watermark, but you want more control over process, or maybe want to place it manually over your image, there’s a relatively easy way to do this too. First, let’s create your watermark and save it as a brush. Click create a New Blank File from the File menu, and let’s use a size of around 7 x 1 centimeters, and a resolution of 72. Select RGB Color for the Color Mode and Transparent for the Background Contents, as you see here (below).

Photoshop Element New File for Watermark

Photoshop Elements – New File for Watermark

Then, select the Type Tool in Photoshop Elements, and type in the text that you want to use as your watermark. Make the color of your text black as you will be able to change it with the color palette each time you use it. You can also add a logo or other graphic by selecting Place from the File menu if you want to. If necessary, use the Crop tool to crop down the image so that it only leaves a little bit of space around your new watermark text or logo, then select Define Brush from the Edit menu, and press OK.

Photoshop Elements - Create Watermark Brush

Photoshop Elements – Create Watermark Brush

Save your brush in PSD format to a location that you’ll remember, so that you can reload it to the brushes list later if you have to reinstall Elements, or to load on a different computer.

Photoshop Elements - Image Size

Photoshop Elements – Image Size

Then, open the file that you want to save for Web with your watermark, and let’s resize it right now, because we also need to change the bit depth to 8 bits, and it’s probably better resize your image while you still have more image information.

Select Resize > Image Size from the Image menu, then turn on the Resample Image checkbox, and type in 72 under the Resolution and type the new width that you want under Pixel Dimensions. I’ll use 1440 pixels wide again. Select Bicubic Sharper (best for reduction) from the pull-down at the bottom of the dialog box, and click OK.

The Bicubic sharpening there is plenty to cover the softness introduced during resizing, so you won’t need to do this again when you save the image later.

Before we can apply the watermark as a brush, the image has to be converted to 8 Bits/Channel, so select this option from the Image > Mode menu. Then select the Brush tool from the Photoshop Elements toolbar or by pressing COMMAND/CTRL + B, and you should now be able to select your watermark from the bottom of the Brush pulldown at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see an outline of the brush as you place your mouse over your image, and you can make it bigger or smaller with the Size slider or the square bracket keys [  ] on your keyboard.

Give it a try by stamping somewhere on your photo, and adjust the opacity and color as well if necessary. Here you can see I went a bit crazy trying this out, but this screenshot will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Open up your browser window and click on the image to see it larger.

Photoshop Elements - Applying Watermark with Brush

Photoshop Elements – Applying Watermark with Brush

As we’ve already resized this image, and it’s been sharpened as we reduced the size, all you need to do now is save a copy for the Web. Make sure you don’t accidentally over-write your original image, especially if it was a JPEG, as you need to keep your full sized master copy. If you select Save As from the File menu, you can then select JPEG as the format, and ensure that you turn on the check box to Embed the Color Profile, which should be sRGB, then a string of letters and numbers. This helps browsers to accurately display your image.

Photoshop Elements - Save As JPEG

Photoshop Elements – Save As JPEG

Once you click Save, you’ll see another dialog to select the compression for your image. I’d recommend between 8 and 10 for the compression, although you can try smaller if you need the image to download quickly from the web. Just check for artifacts in gradations etc. as you increase the compression.

OK, to that’s given you a number of different ways to resize and watermark your images, so I hope that was useful.

A Word on Watermarks

Before we start to wrap up this episode, I did want to quickly discuss watermarking images in general. If you want to watermark your images, and you want people to still enjoy your images, it is best not to plaster your watermark all over them. Some people hate watermarks, and will leave your site or page the moment they see one. Even though I watermark my images, when I look at a photo that has a huge copyright symbol and the photographers name or logo all across the image, I generally stop looking too.

Sure, a huge watermark will stop someone from stealing your photo, but you are not likely to win any fans of your work in the process, so keep it discrete and tasteful. I use a small graphic file logo that I add as I export images from Lightroom, and like I said, we’ll cover that process in a follow-up episode next week. Does it stop people from stealing my images? Not in the least, but I’d rather people enjoy my images.

Ichinuma in the Mist (Panorama #2)

Ichinuma in the Mist (Panorama #2)

In fact, although I’m concerned about image theft, and do chase it up when necessary, I actually watermark my images more for the marketing value. When someone sees my images on line, either on my own site, or where someone has stolen the image, if the watermark is still in tact, they see my name, and the more times people see your name, the more likely they are to remember you.

Play with the Frames

Michelle had also asked about adding frames, and there is a Frames option in under the Quick screen in Photoshop Elements, and there are a couple, like the black border or white border which might be useful, so have a play with these if you are interested, just don’t attach them to your master copy of your images and save them. I think it’s best to keep frames as an artistic option added for specific purposes, and not to your original files.

For the Web, I actually really don’t recommend adding a frame directly to your images at all. There are lots of ways of adding frames on the fly with CSS and other tools, and that makes it much easier to change the look later if you change your site theme, but this is not within the scope of this episode, so we won’t get into that today.

Anyway, I hope that has been useful, and thanks to Michelle for the great question. We’ll follow up next week with how I deal with these things in Adobe Lightroom, and believe me, it’s a lot easier!

Have a Question?

If you have a photography related question that you’d like me to answer in a future episode, you can either record an audio message using the voicemail app in the sidebar for each blog post and at mbp.ac/voicemail or drop me a line using our contact form.

 


Show Notes

Ask a question yourself at: https://mbp.ac/voicemail

Music by Martin Bailey


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