Last year Mary and I began scanning vintage family photos. Soon we realized we had enough beautiful examples for a
picture book covering 4 generations. We decided to design a double spread page for each family in a generation (a total of 17 families). Pages 9 & 10 are above.
We began each spread with a custom background from the family archive. (Vendors offer a wide variety of design themes with easy “drop-in” file features that can save time). The background for 9 & 10 , left, is a backscreen (washed-out) treatment to a picture from the family archive.
Counting the background, there are 7 pictures here. If we added any more it would resemble a product catalog more than a family album.
Every vendor has a somewhat different approach to constructing a picture book. We are using a double spread blank template from Adoramapix that is 25” wide (both pages of a double spread) and 10” tall. In other words, a single page is 12.5" wide by 10" high and the spread is double that width.
It is very important to recognize the safe area (inside the black lines). Vendors guarantee the safe area will print faithfully, but material outside the lines is more variable. For this reason it is best to design with an oversized background that “hangs over the edge” of the template and that is free of important detail.
This outer area of the spread is called the Bleed or Trim. The bleed on our template is ¼” on all sides.
Album pages 1 & 2 are on the right (the first generation, my great-great-grandfather). We have one photo (of a painting), an obituary, and a journal written by the son of this couple. My family loves the painting, so we created a reasonably contemporary flat wall tableau in which to “hang” it .
We started by researching 1850’s American wallpapers and chose the pattern on page 1. Light blue with a backscreen treatment seemed like a good starting point given the orange-yellow-ish color of the archive, page 2.
Next we made one possible arrangement of our materials and added names, dates, and a facsimile of a contemporary local paper. Those details help tell a story. However everything is obviously floating in safe but imaginary space.
To make the image more realistic we added picture moulding, hanging hardware, drop shadows and some aging effects. There are many other compositing techniques to use, it just depends on how much time and talent you have.