Photo layouts at high speed

Over the past few weeks I seem to have had a mini-season of columns on the topic of what to do with digital images.

Before going on to something else, however, I thought I would mention a specialised little program called LumaPix FotoFusion. It is designed solely for creating layouts for photo books, greetings cards, business cards, models’ Z-Cards, or whatever else you can think of to do with it.

2009-110  Layouts can be as complex…

It comes in a number of different versions ranging from Scrapbook Essentials for $39.95 to the Extreme version for $299.95. The Essentials version can only create layouts up to 12 inches square with the Extreme version not being limited by size, and being the only version able to create multipage layouts.

You basically start each project by selecting a layout, navigating to wherever the pictures for the project are stored, adding them to the layout by dragging and dropping them onto the page and then adding a background and any text that is required.

About the only image manipulations that can be performed are eliminating redeye, converting images to sepia or black and white, and making them more less transparent. Frames are added to each image as they are placed on the page and there are a considerable number of decorative ones to choose from.

2009-60 .. or as simple as you like…

Layouts can include a background and any number of pictures and text blocks and all these are adjustable with the mini-toolbar which makes it easy to adjust frame widths, colours and drop shadows.

FotoFusion is quick enough when you start from scratch creating your layouts but it also has a brilliant auto-collage feature, which can give you a starting point by taking your selected images and placing them on the page in seconds. Rearranging things thereafter is simple because you can pick up pictures from one frame and drop them in another, with two clicks of the mouse.

Things can be speeded up even more because FotoFusion is also fully compatible with digital scrapbooking standards, allowing you to use scrapbook kits, available everywhere on the web, and apply those backgrounds and adornments to your layouts.

FotoFusion connects automatically to the LumaPix store where you can view and buy templates and design elements to speed things up even more. These range in price from around $1 for a layout template, to $35 for a beautifully-designed multipage wedding album. This may sound a bit expensive but the components, once bought, are yours to use as often as you like.

After fiddling with the trial program for a while, I bought a copy of Scrapbook Essentials and I have been using it to create photobook layouts, a page at the time. From this experience, and viewing videos online, I’d say that it would definitely pay people who create albums professionally, to lash out for the Extreme version, but the rest of us can probably live with the lesser ones.

   ... and it is incredibly fast.

Lumapix do offer a package for $15 a month, which gives you a licence to use a version of FotoFusion superior to the one you bought, and also $20 worth of credit to spend in their shop each month.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the program FotoFusion, which hasn’t happened all that often in my experience. The one niggle I have with LumaPix and is to do with the differentiation between the versions of FotoFusion and the fact that the templates you are shown in the store are not necessarily applicable to your version of the program.

There is nothing to tell you that your license does not cover layouts of the size and type you’re working with and the first you’ll hear of it, is when you go to output the finished layout and it tells you that you can’t. The thought has to have been that users will be inclined to pay out and upgrade their licences so as not to lose the work they’ve done.

I feel that Lumapix could easily have segregated their online store so that you only see the layouts and templates applicable to you. You luckily don’t have to pay immediately for these and so the idea would be to select the one you want, and go to the output screen immediately to see if there are any problems.

In spite of that ethical fail, FotoFusion is highly recommended for anyone from scrapbookers, looking to have a bit of creative fun, to professional album creators. A trial version is available from LumaPix.com, and you can select which license version you want to preview, and swap between them.

The trial version will save any work you do and, even though all output is watermarked until you pay, it is not lost. FotoFusion is current only available for PC but I hear tell that a Mac version is expected soon.

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