By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP
If you’re like most photographers, you prefer to rely on Adobe Photoshop for the bulk of your image retouching and album design workflow. But you may have noticed that Adobe Photoshop doesn’t exactly make your workflow all that efficient—at least on its own. Fundy Software has designed several products that work within Photoshop to help you streamline your retouching and design workflow. In this review, I’m going to look at two products available within Fundy’s Pro Studio Pack that can enable you to speed up your editing, and also your album designing.
The Workflow panel, once installed, can be placed anywhere you would dock a typical Photoshop Palette. The panel has several sections: Get Started, Image Navigation, Action Control, Recently Used Actions, and Personal Action Buttons. To get started using Workflow, you first click the folder setup button. A setup window will open (see below) that allows you to customize how Workflow will operate.
While you can simply select a folder to process, I found it easier to select my files in Bridge and process from there. You can specify how the files will be saved (e.g. 4x6 proofs, web copies, full sized PSDs), and even run an action when each file is opened and again before each file is closed. I have an action that creates a retouching layer on every file I retouch, so Workflow was the perfect way to automatically perform this action on every image. Once you click the Process button, Workflow will begin loading the selected images sequentially for you as you click the Save and Next button. Depending on what settings you enabled during the setup screen, various sized copies of the file will be created in the appropriate subfolder as the edited image is saved.
The Workflow panel also includes easy access to your actions, whether via the Recently Used Actions section, or the Personal Action buttons. As you can see in the workflow panel, I’ve already customized the buttons to run actions I use most during my retouching workflow. Setting up these buttons is quite simple (see setup window below). Depending on what you’d like to do, buttons can perform actions, run scripts, select presets, or even use filters.
I really enjoyed using the Workflow panel. It blended nicely with my existing retouching workflow, and eliminated many of the repetitive mouse clicks that I previously had to perform in order to process my files.
Like Workflow, Fundy’s Album Builder functions within Photoshop to help make your album designing process run more smoothly. You’ll notice that the Album Builder interface looks similar to Workflow (see below).
With Album Builder, you start by clicking the Create Album button. This will open your setup interface, which contains the specifications according to which all of your album spreads, pages, or covers will be created. You can choose to set up a custom size or use a pre-existing set. In the screenshot below, you’ll see that I’ve created a custom 10x10 album size, and saved it as a user set. Finally, before starting your album, you’ll want to choose an output folder for all of your saved page spreads.
After clicking Start Album, the panel will create your first page Canvas. The philosophy at Fundy Software is to keep things simple, so the canvas starts out blank. You’ll use the various buttons under the Layout & Design section of the panel to create your own customized layouts. Trust me, Album Builder makes this process go quickly.
For my sample album design, I decided to use the Super Ninja Layout. The panel will open a setup window like the one below. You select where you’d like your main image to be displayed on the spread and how many accent images you want to have (either vertical, horizontal, or square). Then, you input how much space you’d like between the accent images (in this case 15) and click Ok.
Then Album Builder will generate the layout (minus your images, of course). You will want to click the Number Masks button so that you know where each image you select will be placed in the layout. Here’s a view of the generated layout, minus the images:
Next, simply order and select your images in Bridge, click the Fill From Bridge button, and Album Builder will populate each of the image slots with the appropriate image. As an image is inserted, you’ll be given the chance to resize or transform it before hitting enter, at which point the next image will be inserted. Here’s the end result (which took me all of two minutes, if that):
While Album Builder is a great tool, it can take a little training before you really get how to properly use it. Fundy Software realizes this; so they hold personalized online training on a weekly basis. After attending one of the training webinars, I found that I had a much better understanding of how to use Album Builder and even got some of my questions about Workflow answered, too. While it can be hard to describe how much these programs can impact your workflow, once you attend a training session and see the software in action, you’ll have a good understanding of how much time Album Builder and Workflow can save you. If you are relying on Photoshop for your album design and retouching, I would recommend you attend a free Fundy training webinar to see if these software solutions might be the right fit for your workflow.
You can purchase Album Builder ($299) and Workflow ($149) separately, or purchase the Pro Studio Pack ($429), which includes both Album Builder and Workflow (as well as a pricing aid called Prosper). All products include a 30-day 100% money back guarantee. For more information on Workflow or Album Builder, or to download a 14-day free trial of these Fundy SOS products, visit FundySOS.com.