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Contact Sheets

Photographers have used contact sheets for ever to evaluate, categorize and archive images. The name comes from the actual photographic process of making a contact print. With the popularity of 35 millimeter film, photographers started accumulating large quantities of negatives. Placing the cut strips of processed film on photographic paper and exposing it to light the photographer could record small positive images of an entire roll of film on one sheet of paper. This “contact sheet” was an economical method of evaluating and storing the images. I still find it a valuable tool, particularly when sorting and selecting images for a project. Today, this same concept can still be used in a digital format. Photoshop has incorporated the ability of making contact sheets since the earliest versions. A few years ago, with the introduction of Adobe Bridge, the contact feature was moved from Photoshop to Bridge, now with CC 2014, it has been moved back to Photoshop and you can create a contact sheet from either Bridge or Photoshop. Here is how to create a contact sheet in Photoshop:

Open Photoshop.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.24.54 AMIn Photoshop go to File and Automate then click on Contact Sheet ii.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.26.40 AMThe Contact Sheet dialog box will appear.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.26.50 AMSet the Source Images, under Use: select either file or folder then click Browse.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.27.22 AMIf you choose Files go to where you have your images stored and select all the images you want to include in your contact sheet. If you select Folder, go to the folder that you have all your images in for the contact sheet and select it. I usually prefer the folder method of selection. Once you have your images selected set up your document. I usually use the settings in the screen capture above, width 8″, height 10″, resolution 200 PPI, mode RGB, bit depth 8 bit, color profile Adobe RGB (1998), check flatten all layers. Next set Thumbnails, place across first, use auto spacing. Set the columns and rows to accommodate the number of images you want on a page, i.e. 3 columns and 4 rows would give you 12 images per page, 4 columns and 5 rows would give you 20 images per page. The filename as caption is the title of the images. I usually keep it small, 8 pt. so it doesn’t take up much space on the page layout. Click OK and Photoshop will build your contact sheet. Depending on the number of images this could take a while, be patient. Once your sheets have built save them.

That’s it! I think you will find a lot of use for this great Photoshop feature.

finished contact sheet

finished contact sheet

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