Notes on using the photo booth mode in DSLR Remote Pro, PSRemote, Webcam Photobooth and NKRemote

Part 4: Printers and print layout

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Introduction

This article expands on some of the topics related to the choice of printer and designing the print layout that were introduced in part 1. It provides details on how to handle printers that print borderless prints and covers more advanced print layouts.

The examples include the following layouts:
Example 1: A traditional double strip of four images
Example 2: Dropshadow effect
Example 3: Overlay
Example 4: A photo cube

Please also see the quick start guide for creating a traditional double strip of 4 photos and adding logos.

The examples on this page use the custom layout option that was added in DSLR Remote Pro v1.9, NKRemote v1.4 and PSRemote v1.9. Please see this page if you are are using an older version of our photobooth software.

Printers

The choice of printer affects the quality of the photos, the speed of printing and the cost. As discussed in part 1 a dye sublimation printer is probably the best choice for a professional photobooth. The prints are more durable and more like traditional photos than inkjet prints, they are usually printed much faster (e.g. around 10 secs per print vs anything up to a minute for an inkjet printer) and the cost per print can be substantially less than an inkjet print. The examples on this page use a DNP DS40 dye sublimation printer set to 300 x 300dpi.

The size of the printed output in pixels affects the layout of the print and so it is a good idea to set the printer defaults to the page size and print quality you intend to use (as described in part 1).

Some printer drivers report the printable area of the page as larger than it actually is so that they can print borderless prints properly, but this can cause the output to be cropped. So instead of the print on the left you end up with something like the print on the right:

If this happens you can correct for it by adjusting the position of the images using the custom layout option. First you need to determine the print area by holding down the shift key and clicking on the "Print Test Page" button in the "Photobooth Custom Layout" dialog:

The printed output from the DNP DS40 printer is shown below. The horizontal and vertical rulers show pixel values and from this we can see that top of the page starts at about 20 pixels and the bottom is about 1820 pixels. Horizontally the page starts at about 15 pixels on the left and ends at about 1215 pixels on the right. We can summarize this as:
Top: 20 pixels
Bottom: 1820 pixels
Left: 15 pixels
Right 1215 pixels


Test print from DNP DS40 printer

Print Layout

The printed layout is made up of the following layers as shown in the diagram below:
1) an optional background layer tiled with the background.jpg image
2) an image layer which has the photos and optional header (header.jpg), footer (footer.jpg) images
3) an optional overlay layer defined by the PNG image overlay.png. This can have transparency defined in the alpha channel to control how it blends with the layers beneath it

When using the custom layout option it is probably simpler not to use header.jpg and footer.jpg images and to add logos etc. using the background.jpg and overlay.png images. This is described in more detail in the worked examples below.

Example 1: A traditional double strip of four images

This example shows how to create a traditional double strip of four images using the custom layout option and a background image for the logos:

From our test print we know that our printer starts printing at pixel 15 on the left and ends at pixel 1215 on the right. Since this layout prints right up to the edges of the page we need to allow a little extra otherwise we might get some white border on the left or right of the page if the paper isn't exactly lined up in the printer. Therefore we'll add an extra 5 pixels and assume the page starts at pixel 10 on the left and ends at pixel 1220 on the right. This gives a page width of 1220 - 10 = 1210. Our images occupy half the width of the page and are therefore 1210 / 2 = 605 pixels wide. The left hand column of images all start at pixel 10 and are 605 pixels wide. The right hand column of images butt up to the left hand column and therefore start at 10 + 605 = 615 and are also 605 pixels wide. These values can be entered into the custom layout dialog to give:


Using the width of the images we can calculate the height using the aspect ratio. For a Canon or Nikon DSLR the image aspect ratio is 3:2. This gives a height of (2 x 605) / 3 = 403 pixels. From our test print we know the top of the page starts at pixel 20 and we subtract 5 pixels from this to allow for overlap to give a top value for the two top images of 15. To get the top value for the next row of images we simply add the image height to the top value for the previous row to give 15 + 403 = 418. Repeating this for the third row of images we get 418 + 403 = 821 and the fourth row is 821 + 403 = 1224.
These values can be entered into the custom layout dialog to give:

We can check the layout on screen by pressing the "Preview" button and if it looks OK press the "Print Test Page" button. This gives the following results using our DNP DS40 printer:

Finally we need to add the logos at the bottom of the page by creating a background.jpg image the same size as the printed output and saving this in the photobooth images folder. The easiest way to do this is to set the photobooth output option to "JPEG only" and take a test sequence. This will create a JPEG copy of the print layout and save it in the prints subfolder. The layout can then be loaded into an image editor such as Photoshop and the logos added as required. After adding the logos, erase the images from the layout and save the image as a JPEG named background.jpg in the photobooth images folder.

Example 2: Dropshadow effect

A simple dropshadow can be very effective and this example shows how to adapt the traditional double strip of 4 images from example 1 and add a drop shadow effect using a background image.

The first step is to add a space of about 1/8" around each image to make room for the drop shadow. Our printer is set to a resolution of 300 dpi and so 1/8" is 300 / 4 = 37 pixels which we'll round up to 40 pixels. Since we are not printing right up to the edges of the page we don't need to add the extra 5 pixels we used in example 1 and can use pixel 15 for the left of the page and pixel 1215 for the right. The width of each image is the width of the page less the total spacing all divided by 2. The total spacing is 4 x 40 : 40 pixels to the left of the page, 80 pixels in the middle (to allow for 40 pixels for each strip when it is cut in half) and 40 pixels on the right. This gives an image width of (1215 - 15 - 4 x 40) / 2 = 520 pixels. Using the 3:2 aspect ratio of photos from a Canon or Nikon DSLR we can calculate the image height as (2 x 520) / 3 = 347 pixels.

The left setting for the left hand column of images is the start of the page on the left plus the 40 pixel spacing: 15 + 40 = 55 pixels. The left setting for the right hand column of images is the left setting for the left column plus the image width and twice the spacing: 55 + 520 + 2 x 40 = 655 pixels.

The top setting for the top row of images is the start of the page at the top plus the 40 pixel spacing: 20 + 40 = 60 pixels. The top setting for the other rows can be calculated by taking the top setting from the previous row and adding the image height and 40 pixel spacing. This gives the top of row 2 as 60 + 347 + 40 = 447, row 3 as 834 and row 4 as 1221.

Entering these values into the custom layout dialog gives:

If we print a test sequence we get something like this:

Next we need to create a background.jpg image which adds the dropshadows. The easiest way to do this is to set the photobooth output option to "JPEG only" and take a heavily underexposed test sequence (i.e. with the camera's lens cap on or a small aperture and fast shutter speed). This will create a JPEG copy of the print layout and save it in the prints subfolder. The layout should look something like this:

The layout can then be loaded into an image editor such as Photoshop and the drop shadows added as required. After adding the drop shadows save the image as a JPEG named background.jpg in the photobooth images folder. The background.jpg image should look something like:

Finally take a test shot to check the effect:


Example 3: Overlay

Overlays can be added by creating an overlay.png image and placing it in the photobooth images folder. The alpha channel in the PNG image can have a value from 0 to 255 and be used to control the transparency: a value of 0 represents completely transparent, 127 represents semi-transparent and 255 represents completely opaque. The example below uses a portrait of the girl taken earlier selected with an oval area with 50 pixels feathering in the alpha channel to give a soft edge. This technique could be used to include a shot of the happy couple for a photobooth at a wedding or simply to add a logo or message which overlaps the images.

This technique could also be used to give the photos ragged edges or a torn look or even to add a semi-transparent sepia overlay and fake scratches and blemishes for an old fashioned look.

 

Example 4: A photo cube

This example shows how to use the image rotation in the custom layout settings to print sets of photos which can be cut out to make a photo cube. A cube has 6 faces and can be flattened out into a net in the form of a cross like the one below:

The cross is three faces wide and so we can calculate the width of each image using the values from our earlier test print: (1215 - 15) / 3 = 400 pixels. The faces of the cube are square and so the image height will be the same as the width (this means that the image will have part of the left and right sides cropped off).

The cross is four faces high giving a total height of 4 x 400 = 1600 pixels. If we start at 100 pixels from the top the second row would start 400 pixels lower at 500 pixels, the third row 400 pixels lower again at 900 pixels amd the final row at 1300 pixels.

If we use the bottom face for contact information and the top face for the event name we can place a photo on each of the side faces (4 in total) and rotate them as required. Entering these values into the custom layout dialog gives:

Next we can add the logo and contact information to the top and bottom faces and instructions on how to fold the cube etc. using a background.jpg image e.g.

The event name can be added using the caption option (available from the main photobooth setup dialog):

The final print and folded cube together with a larger cube printed on 6" x 9" paper are shown below:

The cube can be cut out using scissors or a craft knife and steel rule or for higher volume work you could use a die cutter from a company such as Ellison.

 

How to create PNG images with transparency using Photoshop

First create a new image with a transparent background. Then create a mask by clicking on the "Add layer mask" in the layers palette. Next add the graphics such as text overlays and picture frames to the image layer and use the layer mask to control the transparency. In the layer mask white represents opaque, black represents fully transparent and values between white and black represent increasing transparency. Save a copy of the image as a PSD file for future reference and then save the image as a PNG file named overlay.png.

An existing PNG image containing trnasparency information in the alpha channel can be edited in Photoshop by loading it into Photoshop. The layer mask containing the transparency information can be recreated by selecting Layer->Layer Mask->From Transparency.

Please note: Some image editors can save images as PNG files but don't support transparency in the alpha channel and are therefore not suitable for creating overlay images.

 

Next article : Getting the best results out of the camera
Previous article: Input options


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Using photo booth mode in DSLR Remote Pro for Windows, DSLR Remote Pro for Mac, PSRemote, Webcam Photobooth and NKRemote