Designing a Double-page Layout

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sara-horton-xsmIn the print industry, two pages that face each other in a magazine or newspaper are called a double-page spread. When you are designing scrapbook or photo book pages, creating the two facing pages at the same time gives your project unity and a cohesive appearance.

I’m often asked how to align the images on the two pages, making sure that the pages will match up after they are bound. It’s surprisingly simple to create the look you want. Here are a few good tips:

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For Adobe Photoshop Version click here.

Step 1: Create the Canvas

The first step is to create a double-page canvas. To determine the dimensions, measure height and width of the first page, then double the width. For the sample, I created a double-page spread with two 12×12-inch pages. So, the working document was created at 24 inches wide by 12 inches high.

2009-09-21-tip01-el

Step 2: Draw a Guideline to Separate the Pages

It’s helpful to keep a visual reference of where the left page ends and the right page begins. To create a guideline, get the Line Tool which shares a space in the Tools Palette with the Rectangle Tool. Click and hold the Rectangle tool to show the hidden tools beneath. Scroll down the list and select the Line Tool. In the Options Bar, select your settings. For the sample, I used a weight of 3 pixels and a contrasting color (red.) Click the Create a New Shape Layer icon.

Reveal the Photoshop Elements rulers by selecting View > Rulers or pressing Shift + Ctrl + R (Mac: Shift + Cmd + R) on the keyboard. This places rulers across the top and down the left side of the editing window.

Position your cursor at the halfway point between the left and right sides. As you do so, you’ll see a dotted line on the ruler across the top of the editing window. The dotted line allows you to position the cursor and line at the exact half-way point.

Hold the Shift key as you click and drag a line down the middle of the page.

2009-09-21-tip02-el

This creates a shape layer. Keep this layer on top of the scrapbook pages as you complete the layout so that it remains visible. When the layout is complete, delete the guide layer before saving your project.

Step 3: Design the Pages

Complete the layout, keeping in mind that the two pages will be separated before they are printed. Strips of paper and simple landscape photos work well stretched across the division, but as a general rule, I try to avoid placing faces across the middle of the two pages. The binding or separation in the completed album can distort faces and important details.

As you design your pages, try to maintain visual balance between each side. If you add a large element or photo to the left side, add a large or visually “heavy” element to the other side. Consider flipping the design of the left side to create the right side like the design of this template:

2009-09-21-tip03-el

Step 4: Separate the Pages

When your double-page layout is complete, save the entire project as a layered .psd or .tiff file. Remember to delete or hide the divider guide you created in Step 2. Next, save each half for printing. Begin by merging the layers by selecting Flatten Image from the flyout menu on the Layers Palette. Get the Crop tool. In the Options Bar, choose Custom Aspect Ratio and type the dimensions for the left side of the page. For the sample, I used a width and height of 12 inches at 300 pixels per inch. Click and drag out the crop lines encompassing the left side of the layout. Click the green checkmark to confirm the crop.

2009-09-21-tip04-elSave the resulting page as a .jpg with a new name. I like to use the name of the layout plus the word LEFT for this step. So for the sample, I’d name this image “Fall_LEFT”. Next, choose Edit > Undo Crop to return to the full size layout. Get the crop tool and crop the layout to encompass only the right side of the design. Save the .jpg image with a new name such as “Fall_RIGHT”. The .jpg images of the left and right sides can be sent to a printer or online book binding service for printing.

2009-09-21-tip05-elCredits:

8×8 Simple MultiFoto Template Album by Anna Aspnes at Designer Digitals
Digitally Pressed Petals No. 2 and No. 7 by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals
Postmark Classics Sampler Brushes-n-Stamps by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals
Autumn Harvest Paper Pack by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals

Download a PDF version of this “Designing a Double-page Layout” tutorial.

Windows: Right click on the link and choose “Save Target As” or a similar command.
Mac: Click on the link to download the file.

Step 1: Create the Canvas

The first step is to create a double-page canvas. To determine the dimensions, measure height and width of the first page, then double the width. For the sample, I created a double-page spread with two 12×12-inch pages. So, the working document was created at 24 inches wide by 12 inches high.

double-page-spread-ls

Step 2: Set a Guide to Separate the Pages

It’s helpful to keep a visual reference of where the left page ends and the right page begins. To create a guide, reveal the Photoshop rulers by selecting View > Rulers or pressing Ctrl + R (Mac: Cmd + R) on the keyboard. This places rulers across the top and down the left side of the editing window.

Position your cursor on the ruler on the left. Click and drag toward the center of the page. You’ll see a vertical line running the height of the editing window as you drag. Stop when you reach the center of the page. Use the ruler across the top to measure the half-way point. The default guide is an aqua color and is visible only on the screen. It will not show up in a printed version of the document.

2009-09-21-tip02-ps

Step 3: Design the Pages

Complete the layout, keeping in mind that the two pages will be separated before they are printed. Strips of paper and simple landscape photos work well stretched across the division, but as a general rule, I try to avoid placing faces across the middle of the two pages. The binding or separation in the completed album can distort faces and important details.

As you design your pages, try to maintain visual balance between each side. If you add a large element or photo to the left side, add a large or visually “heavy” element to the other side. Consider flipping the design of the left side to create the right side like the design of this template:

2009-09-21-tip03-el

Step 4: Separate the Pages

When your double-page layout is complete, save the entire project as a layered .psd or .tiff file. Next, save each half for printing. Begin by merging the layers by selecting Flatten Image from the flyout menu on the Layers panel. Get the Crop tool. In the Options Bar, type the dimensions for the left side of the page. For the sample, I used a width and height of 12 inches at 300 pixels per inch. Click and drag out the crop lines encompassing the left side of the layout. Click the checkmark in the Options Bar to confirm the crop.

2009-09-21-tip04-ps

Save the resulting page as a .jpg with a new name. I like to use the name of the layout plus the word LEFT for this step. So for the sample, I’d name this image “Fall_LEFT”. Next, choose Edit > Undo Crop to return to the full size layout. Get the crop tool and crop the layout to encompass only the right side of the design. Save the .jpg image with a new name such as “Fall_RIGHT”. The .jpg images of the left and right sides can be sent to a printer or online book binding service for printing.

2009-09-21-tip05-el

Credits:

8×8 Simple MultiFoto Template Album by Anna Aspnes at Designer Digitals
Digitally Pressed Petals No. 2 and No. 7 by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals
Postmark Classics Sampler Brushes-n-Stamps by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals
Autumn Harvest Paper Pack by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals

Download a PDF version of this “Designing a Double-page Layout” tutorial.

Windows: Right click on the link and choose “Save Target As” or a similar command.
Mac: Click on the link to download the file.

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