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Web Contact Sheets in Photoshop CS5

As I’ve noted, Photoshop version CS4 semi-retired the Contact Sheet, Picture Package and Web Contact Sheet plug-ins. Last week we looked at the modern method of creating contact sheets with Photoshop CS5, and earlier  we reviewed an alternative approach to Picture Package. With today’s tip for creating web gallery contact sheets, we now have a full suite of up to date processes, using the current Photoshop technology – and you should be fully prepared to leave the old CS3 (and earlier) plug-ins far behind.

For Web Contact Sheets, we begin as before, in Bridge CS5. Select the images you want to include in your gallery, and at the top of the Bridge window, select “Output” to switch to the Output Workspace. If “Output” isn’t visible, click the black triangle at the right of the list of workspaces to pull down the full list.

webcontactsht01

As with our previous exercise for Contact Sheets, the Output Workspace looks the same:

  • The “Content” panel has moved to the bottom and has become a filmstrip.
  • The “Preview” panel is now front and center, containing all the images you have currently selected.
  • The “Output” panel now occupies the entire right side panel.

webcontactsht02

Now, to create our Web Contact Sheet, we again work down the right hand side, in the Output Panel, working from top to bottom. In the very top section, we see this:

webcontactsht03

We select “Web Gallery,” and for contact sheets, simply choose the Template called “HTML Gallery.”

At this point, it may help to go ahead and click on “Refresh Preview.” The Output Preview panel appears, and as you can see we are already 90% done (in this view, I’ve collapsed the left side panels to give us more room to see the gallery):

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webcontactsht04

The rest is all about customization, and Bridge makes it quite easy to customize the template and preview changes. Let’s make this web gallery look more like a contact sheet. We’ll start with the Site Information section of the Output panel. We can make some changes, as shown:

webcontactsht05

Again, Bridge makes it relatively easy to see the changes, something you cannot do with the old plug-in. Click again on “Refresh Preview,” and the changes are updated:

webcontactsht06

The next section down the right panel is the Color Palette. For a contact sheet appearance, we might want to work with some more traditional white backgrounds and black text. Let’s make the changes shown below, for Text, Detail Text, and Cells:

webcontactsht07

Again, a quick “Refresh Preview” and we can see the changes (almost) immediately:

webcontactsht08

Next, we’ll work in the “Appearance” section. I don’t know about you, but the giant sequence numbers don’t work for me. We can deselect “Show Cell Numbers” to get rid of them. But, we can select “Filename” to add the file name as a caption – with or without the extension, as dictated by the next option. We’ll leave the extension off.

Further, in this section we can change the number of rows and columns (let’s go with 4 x 4 this time):

webcontactsht09

Once again, we can slick “Refresh Preview” to see our work in progress:

webcontactsht10

That’s looking pretty good, if we want to get an even better idea, we can look to the top of the Output Panel and click “Preview in Browser.”

webcontactsht11

Now that we’ve gotten our web contact sheet looking the way we want it, we can export it in one of two ways, using the final section of the Output Panel – we can save to disk in a given location, or upload directly to an FTP server:

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webcontactsht12

To save to disk, fill out the Gallery Name (which is actually the name of the folder in which the gallery will be stored), pick a Save Location and then click “Save.” The full web gallery is then written out with all HTML and supporting files, ready for integration into another project or for uploading.

However, you can upload directly to your site, if you have an FTP account. Fill out the section for FTP server, User Name, Password, and Folder, and click “Upload.” Note that once you’ve entered your FTP information, you can click the “Save Preset Name” icon – allowing you to store multiple presets for multiple servers, or for multiple folders within a server.

webcontactsht12

Now that you’ve seen the CS5 method for creating contact sheets, web contact sheets, and picture packages, I hope you’ll be inspired to take the leap and move to the new technology. The old CS3 era plug-ins for contact sheet and picture package are on their last legs. Move to the modern technology, move to increased flexibility, and move to the future. You’ll wonder why you hadn’t made the move earlier.

About Michael Hoffman (224 Articles)
Mike has been a photographer, artist, educator, and technophile for most of his life. Early in his career, he created technical illustrations and photographs for electronic equipment manufacturers, and taught classes in computer aided drafting and 3D modeling software. When digital cameras became widely available in the late 1990s, the move was a natural one, and has led to a happy combination of technology, software, photography and art. Mike is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Acrobat, and is well versed in Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, as well as Illustrator and InDesign. He has also contributed his time and efforts to the excellent work being done by Operation Photo Rescue, in restoring photographs damaged by natural disasters. As an active member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, he continues his quest for excellence in art, excellence in design, and excellence in education.

27 Comments on Web Contact Sheets in Photoshop CS5

  1. I still use the “outdated” plugins because the “modern” way is inflexible and frankly designed by non-photographers…. I don’t see anywhere above how you plan to create 8 wallets? Or how about 4 3 1/2x5s? The output for contact sheets is pdf which means I have to take them back into PS, separate and then drag into my larger file for printing. It was VERY simple with the old plugins…. I’ve never understood why something that works needs “improving” particularly when the end result is two steps backward. Believe me I’m not alone in this belief either.

  2. I still use the “outdated” plugins because the “modern” way is inflexible and frankly designed by non-photographers…. I don’t see anywhere above how you plan to create 8 wallets? Or how about 4 3 1/2x5s? The output for contact sheets is pdf which means I have to take them back into PS, separate and then drag into my larger file for printing. It was VERY simple with the old plugins…. I’ve never understood why something that works needs “improving” particularly when the end result is two steps backward. Believe me I’m not alone in this belief either.

  3. David, it’s true the above doesn’t give you 8 wallets or 4 3-1/2x5s; this is, after all, web contact sheet. What you’re describing is Picture Package, another plug-in that is fading into history, but in this case Adobe hasn’t really given us any replacement. I’ve described an alternative picture package, which takes some time building but once created, is very easy to re-use. However, there will be no joy in Mudville until Adobe gives is a true picture package replacement, which I dearly hope will be similar to Lightroom’s Print Module.

    mh++

  4. David, it’s true the above doesn’t give you 8 wallets or 4 3-1/2x5s; this is, after all, web contact sheet. What you’re describing is Picture Package, another plug-in that is fading into history, but in this case Adobe hasn’t really given us any replacement. I’ve described an alternative picture package, which takes some time building but once created, is very easy to re-use. However, there will be no joy in Mudville until Adobe gives is a true picture package replacement, which I dearly hope will be similar to Lightroom’s Print Module.

    mh++

  5. Amazing how Adobe seems insensitive to those of us who have used Contact Sheet with great success. I just paid $999 for Mac CS5 on my laptop and wish for the days of yore.

  6. Amazing how Adobe seems insensitive to those of us who have used Contact Sheet with great success. I just paid $999 for Mac CS5 on my laptop and wish for the days of yore.

  7. I often create modular things for projects as they can easily be reused and I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel each time.

  8. I often create modular things for projects as they can easily be reused and I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel each time.

  9. Arlyn DeBruyckere // September 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm //

    Where is the “master file” for the web contact sheets? I’d like to really customize one like I did for CS -CS4.

  10. Arlyn DeBruyckere // September 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm //

    Where is the “master file” for the web contact sheets? I’d like to really customize one like I did for CS -CS4.

  11. I keep getting a window that says “Create Gallery – I/O Error” when I hit preview or create gallery. I shows it working, initializing, processsing images, then the I/O error. Any ideas why this might be? Thanks in advance.

  12. I want to create a ‘Contact Sheet’ in CS5 made up of logo files found in multiple folders. How do i add a folder and all it’s content? It seems i have to individually add each logo file. The old contact sheet allowed you to include folders and sub-folders. Can it still be done?

  13. Darren, In Bridge CS5, from the top level folder, just choose View > Show Items in Subfolders. Remember to turn it off when you’re done! mh++

  14. I’d like to make a contact sheet made up of images from various folders. How can I do this?

  15. Becky,

    If your images are all under one top folder but various subfolders, you can show the top folder in Bridge, and use View > Show Items In Subfolders to get all the images in a single view. Choose the images you want and create your contact sheet.

    If the images are scattered far and wide, you may find it easier to build a search that finds the images using Edit > Find. This is more easily facilitated if you attach keywords, flags, colors, or other identifying metadata that can be used to search for the specific images you want. Again, once you’ve run the search, you’ll see all the images in the search results in the Content window, and you can create your contact sheet.

  16. Using Adobe Bridge CS5, I’ve created and saved several Templates in the Output module for both PDF and Web Galleries. I’d like to share those templates with others in the department to provide consistancy, but I can’t find where those Templates ate stored by Bridge. I have searched for the Templates names but found no files with those names. Can You provide a clue?

  17. Dean Covey, I can only speak for Windows machines regarding the file locations, but for me on Windows 7, the templates are stored in:

    c:\users\{username}\Appdata\Roaming\Adobe\Bridge CS5\Adobe Output Module\User Template\

    Note that the “Appdata” folder is hidden, and you’ll need to be able to see hidden folders to traverse this directory path. I hope that helps!!

    mh++

  18. when I save the web gallery to my desktop I cant open the complete gallery. It opens in two parts. You really have to look around for the images and they don open in a gallery, just a list. I need to send a gallery to a magazine but I cant get it to open as the gallery once it has been saved. How do I do this?

  19. Steve,

    I save each of my HTML gallery to a seperate sub folder called Show in the folder that holds the images. When I save the HTML gallery it saves 4 files in the Show sub folder and makes 2 sub folders under Show that contain the images and thumbnail images. To Display the gallery I have to run the Index.html

    If I were sending it to someone, I would have to send the Show folder and all of it’s sub folders to them and tell them to run the Index.HTML file.

  20. Needless to say, Photoshop is an extremely powerful tool. Add in the other Creative Suite programs and there’s even more amazing possibilities.

  21. Hi – I’m trying to create a web gallery contact sheet in Bridge, but I don’t have an ‘output’ panel to the right of the screen; it’s entirely blank. I’ve clicked around a bunch and I know I’m missing something very easy, but can someone help me reveal this panel?

  22. Hi – how can I output the web gallery pages in Bridge CS5 as PHP files as opposed to HTML files?

  23. Just to expand on the above – I need to have PHP pages to use password protection on my photo galleries – a common requirement for photographers adding jobs to their websites. I know I can simply change an HTML page to PHP, but when a photo gallery of say 10 pages is being produced, all the navigation links within each page have to be renamed also. That’s a lot of renaming to do!!! Any suggestions welcome please!

  24. Kent, I was going to say, “change the name to .php.” I don’t have a better suggestion using web contact sheets in PS CS5, sorry about that!

  25. Bryan,

    Try Window > Workspaces > Reset Standard Workspaces.

    mh++

  26. I made a web photo gallery in Bridge, it works fine but the “about this gallery” text does not show. I used standard template. (tested with some other templates too, and same thing happened)

    Font colors are fine and every other text is visible. Also the title bar is visible. Any suggestions?

  27. Dear Sir,
    Please explain to me what is modern and better about not being able to change the placement of images on a contact sheet. What is modern or better about not being able to adjust the density of a particular image? What is modern and better about being FORCED to output to a PDF and then having to transfer it over to Photoshop to work on the file? I am truly missing the point of excellence of the “New and improved” contact sheet. I’ll keep CS3 on my machine until Adobe returns to servicing the needs of photographic professionals.
    Thank you,
    Penny Wolin

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