Printing your own calendars with MagCloud

Aleccia_cover2In my last version of this article I wrote the steps needed to print your own 2012 calendar on large format printers. I have sense found an easier way to do it. Let print and bind your photo calendars for you!

The true beauty of MagCloud is they are a Print-on-Demand, so you can order one, or a zillion. You may publish the link for your fans to order from without the need for you to be personally involved. MagCloud will print and ship your publication, collect the money and credit your PayPal account at the end of each month. MagCloud offers volume discounts and provides for your own markup and price structure.

From the MagCloud Project panel you select the paper, the binding method and the size of your publication. Upload your 300dpi PDF file and once completed you’re presented with a final draft, preview to approval. Then you’re presented with the final step, to make your publication privet or make it available to the general public. And that is it!!

Just like my last article I started with Jeffrey Frield’s Calendar Script for Photoshop. You should download and install the scripts prior to opening Photoshop as per Jeffery’s instructions.

bridge-3bGo to; File / Scripts / Jeffery’s Calendar. You will next be presented with the option menu and several choices, paper size and orientation, output DPI and so on. I noticed that when you run the full year option you will create 12 files. One month per file. I was not happy with the text effects (Layer Style) and I chose not to rasterize text layers, which allows me the option of my own customization at a later time.

I need to make at least ten calendars this year for Christmas. Utilizing the power in Photoshop’s automation would benefit me greatly, I decided to create a customized the calendar to allow for easy of production, so Photoshop could do all of the hard work for me. After running a full year and combining all 12 months into a single year / file, by dragging each month into a single file. Next I created a common folder and a Front/Back cover folder. I dragged all of my common elements into the common folder. Such as the Grid (that holds the calendar days), The year text, the “attrib” text and your weekdays text. By using a common folder you are further reducing the file size. NOTE: When selecting the grid to use, it’s important to use a Grid from a month that spans six weeks, like May or August. Otherwise you will need to design the monthly pages twice to accommodate the multiple sizes.

The next thing I needed was to change the text to allow for my own personal preferences. This was easily accomplished by selecting all of the text layers at once, then Right click/Clear Layer Style. With all of the text still selected, go to the Text Properties change the color, the font and styling as desired.

You can see the structure of my file in the screen-shot to the right. I copied the title and all of the days of each month to a corresponding folder. Next, I created the common folder and moved one grid, one set of weekday titles and the year, to this folder. I then rasterized the days and Month title within each folder. This created a single file within each month and further reduced file size. provides a template to ensure that your text fix the cut areas are not cut off. They have also allowed for a fudge factor on their side. Because I prefer a full bleed on the images and tight fit on months/text I needed to tweak the template just a little before aligning all of the monthly images, but this will be our next step.

Placing the images. This is pretty simple and straightforward. Just open each month and drop in your favorite photograph. I made sure to place each monthly photograph at the top of each month, above the calendar test. You can per-size the image, or crop it by cropping the entire calendar once you are finished, whatever you prefer. I like to resize them as I go, so if I’m interrupted I do not forget to come back and do it later.

It is easy to change the size and format by resizing the canvas. Select all folders and resize by dragging all to suit your own needs. When printing on 8.5”X11”, either vertical or horizontal, it’s fairly straightforward and simple to keep your image to month correlation straight, simply prints your month text on the backs of photographs. You can then finish by spiral binding or your prefer method of finishing.

We are going to prepare one PDF file 12¼“ X 12¼“ with all of our pages in order. This is so much simpler and so much faster as well. You may download my prepared template file in layered TIFF format for processing in Photoshop, Gimp, or your favorite photo editing software.

With all of the customization and pre-planning finished we are finally ready to run our action and have some fun 🙂

Aleccia-2015-smallThe first thing to do is to carefully align each monthly image. This can be a pain, but subsequent new calendars become much easier when using each previous calendars image as a mask. Right click and use the Select Pixels command. Then simply paste your new image into. (Ctrl + Shift + I on a PC, Command + Shift + I on a Macintosh)

You might have noticed, I like to use a B&W as the background behind the dates. It’s a nice touch. Close-ups work exceptionally well for this. Be creative and let yourself run wild and have fun with this project.

Here is where I start to record an Action. Before you begin make sure the little eye on the Common folder is turned on (exposing the grid, year title and weekdays) and the Cover layer is turned off . Click on the little eye on the January layer to turn it on to make January visible. Create a common folder on your hard drive to save your work. I like to name mine 2011Calendar.

Let’s start recording the Action, by saving (Save As a JPG file) Save January as 01-2015.jpg. Turn off the eye next to Jan and the little eye next to the January Photo and turn on the eye next to Feb and save it as 02-2015.jpg. Run through the entire calendar saving each month with its corresponding numeric name and stop recording after December. Insert a stop, allow continue, as you wish.

Once I have run through the entire year I do it once again. This time I am saving the months or Back. You can record a Print step if you wish. I always wait until I do the back cover myself.

It’s important to note that by recording the file name during the action record process you will insure the files are in iconological order. This will become very helpful in our next step, when we make the thumbnails for our back cover, next.

In Photoshop CS6 Adobe did not include Contact Sheet II in their native Picture Package plugin. Because of all of the complaints it was reintroduced in Photoshop CC or so I’m told. For CS6 users you will need to download the Picture Package from Adobe and install it per Adobe’s instructions.

aleccia-1_1We are almost finished, we only need a back cover. I like to include a small shot of each month with a text description and of course ,all of my contact information. I saved a single JPG copy of each month to a common folder. This made it simple to make a contact print. (File / Automate / Contact Sheet II) Using the rectangle selection tool to select all of the rows and cut them from my “background” pasting them into new layers. This allows room for the month text and I also have a clean area for advertisements and contact info.
NOTE: I pasted the MagCloud cut and safety margin template on the top so that I can ensure no text or images are cut off during the printing process.

Paste your finished back cover into position beneath the front cover and save a copy to your common folder as 00-2015. If you would like to continue recording your Action you can do a Print step here. Do not forget to insert a Stop with Continue. I like to ad a note on my stop command, so that I do not forget if interrupted during the process.

Creating the PDF file.

2015 Calendar MagCloud
Open your calendar folder in bridge and select Output from the upper top menu.

Select all months, pictures and month’s texts, Rotate 90 degrees counter clockwise. Now drag the calendar months into place behind their picture. The last step is to select the back cover and rotate 180 degrees. Only the back cover needs this special treatment.

I like to copy the entire 2015Calendar folder to the models folder for safe keeping before deleting the contents. Now you’re ready to make the next personalized calendar. It took us about two and a half hours to customize this. Now on we can crank one out in about 5 to 10 minutes or less