Hep's tech tips - Photoshop for funeral directors

Memorial Folders - the Basics

As funeral professionals continue to try to improve their personalization offerings, this series will help equip them with the basic skills and techniques to stay ahead of the do-it-yourselfers. This means that we have to break away from Oval Vignettes and Times New Roman fonts! In this segment, we will go through the architecture of the 2-Up, 8.5 X 11 memorial folder using Adobe?s Photoshop. I favour the 8.5 X 5.5 (2 up) folders for a variety of reasons:

  • It reduces your printing costs by 50% over the full 8.5 X 11 landscape folders
  • The smaller ones easily fit in suit pockets and purses and hence more likely to be taken from the service
  • Larger folders invite more service details which in turn invites more headaches for you as you know these details can change right up to service time
  • Also from my experience attendees would prefer an additional photo or a personal letter or poem from a family member over a list of hymns and scripture readings
  • I now encourage that the order of service be on a separate piece of paper that can be photocopied
  • The bigger the canvas the more things the family may want to be included, so your production time will be reduced with the smaller folders ? if they insist on the larger ones, then double your production fee and double your printing fee.

In creating the memorial folders with Photoshop, we will now need to make some basic assumptions:

  • This is not your first time using Photoshop (if it is, there are many tutorials on the Internet and it may be worth while to purchase an instructional book or video)
  • You are aware of how Layers work in Photoshop
  • That your printer has margins of 1/4 inch for the top, bottom, left and right, giving you a Canvas Sizeof 8 X 10.5 (if your printer only gives you a print area of 7.5 X 10 with ½ inch margins you will need to make some additional adjustments as we work through this demonstration)
  • Note: For Photoshop commands, I will display the Menu Path after the bullet and then show the keyboard shortcut in brackets.

Create a New Document

  • File > New (Ctrl + N)

Copy the settings in the following screenshot. Make sure that you choose a Resolution of at least 150 pixels/inch. Most printers will not give you a higher quality output if you use a higher resolution and by using 150 it keeps the document at a reasonable size - anything lower than 150 will result in a poorer final output. If you wish to save this New Document as a Preset, in the Name field type Memorial Folder Template - 2 Up (or something similar), then click on the Save Preset button and following the prompts in the new window. Then click on the OK button to accept the new document.

Setting Up Your Work Space

When creating documents such as memorial folders, it is helpful to use Guides and see the Rulers so that you can centre photos and text.

  • View > Rulers (Ctrl + R)

To make the four quadrants of the folder use the Guides feature which is a visible line on the screen but does not print.

  • View > New Guide: Vertical, 4.0 in
  • View > New Guide: Horizontal, 5.25 in

You can also create guides by placing your mouse in the Ruler area (white), left click and hold, then drag the Guide into place. Now to take into account the printer margins, add two more Guides on each axis ? inch away from the centre Guides: Vertical, 3.75 & 4.25 and Horizontal, 5.0 & 5.5. Your work space should look similar to this, (but without the text):

Adding Text Layers

For each quadrant create a Text Layer by clicking on the Horizontal Type Tool in the Tool Palette or (Shift + T). Left-click in the top-left of each quadrant and then drag the mouse to the bottom-right. For now type in the labels that I have as place holders; eventually you will replace them with the appropriate text for the deceased.

Depending on how you like your folders formatted, you can add text to the various quadrants. Please note that the following is just a standard layout that has been used for many years. The following is not a mandatory layout, but at least a starting point. Please feel free to change the location of the text and pictures. I would encourage you to slowly push away from the old and be more creative with your memorial folders. Just like services themselves, the more personalized the folders are, the more meaningful they are for the attendees.

Standard Layout for Text and Images

Outside Back: Obituary Notice or Poem with funeral home logo at bottom

  • Alternative: add a photo at the side of the text or have a faded image under the text, or if you have used the obituary on the inside maybe create a collage of 3 or 4 photos

Outside Front: 'In Loving Memory' or Honouring the Life of - followed by a photo of the person, and then add their name and dates

  • Alternative: use the 'Polaroid' look of the deceased for the front cover instead of the feathered, oval vignette or the stock image that matches the memorial register.

Inside Left: Statistical Information (Name, place and date of birth, place and date of death, service location, date, and time, clergy, disposition and location, reception information).

  • Alternative: include another photo of the decease or an image depicting their hobbies / activities.

Inside Right: Order of Service, list of pallbearers, etc.

  • Alternative: have the order of service on a separate piece of paper, insert an additional photo, scripture, poem, family letter or obituary notice
  • Leave in the pallbearers names as this makes the folder more personal, or move them to the other side if there is room
Text Effects

Once you have laid out all of the necessary textual information, you can now add various effects to the text. In Photoshop these are called Blending Options and are applied to the individual layers. Once highlighting the desired layer in the Layers Pallet:

  • Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options (Right-click over the layer in the pallet and click on Blending Options)

I will list my default selections here but feel free to play with the various settings.

In Loving Memory, Name, and Years select (check box) Drop Shadow and Bevel and Emboss – the default settings are fine or adjust them to your liking.

Text over top of photo select either Stroke or Outer Glow. Stroke will give you a crisp outline of the text – best when over top of image consisting of predominately one colour. Outer Glow give a faded or cloudy haze over the image – best used when there are multiple colours or a lot of contrast such as a black and white collage. For either Layer Style choose the colour that looks the best

We will cover more advance text options in upcoming tutorials.

Ready to Print

Once all of the text and images have been added and you have applied the desired effects you will want to print the folders. As the document looks right now, it is not going to help you so we can do a couple of things here, but I will walk you through the easiest way and then in later tutorials we will look at other methods.

  1. Save the document: File > Save (Ctrl + S) eg. Heppell-folder.psd
  2. Save it again: File > Save As (Shift + Ctrl + S) eg. Heppell-folder-flat.psd - This gives you a backup in case you need to make any changes because you will not be able to edit the new document
  3. Hide all of the inside layers by clicking on the 'Eye' so that it does not appear - do this to the Background Layer too
  4. Merge all visible layers: Layer > Merge Visible (Shift + Ctrl + E)
  5. Select > All (Ctrl + A)
  6. Edit > Copy (Ctrl + C)
  7. Edit > Paste (Ctrl + V)
  8. Select the Move Tool (Shift + V) and move the copy down to the bottom half of the template
  9. Once in place you can print the outside of the folders: File > Print (Ctrl + P)
  10. Hide the two Outside layers by clicking on the 'Eye' so that it does not appear
  11. Unhide all of the Inside layers then repeat steps 4 – 9.

Download Templates Since there are so many functions to Photoshop, it may be beneficial to download the .psd document so that you can examine the various layers. If the Guides are not visible press (Ctrl + H)

The document can be downloaded at: www.funeralfuturist.com > Resources > Tutorials Then select >Memorial-Folder-Template-2-Up.psd The next Photoshop Tutorial will be the "Polaroid Effect" Robin Heppell, CFSP, is a Funeral Consultant, operating Heppell Funeral Solutions where he assists funeral homes and cemeteries in becoming more competitive by using proactive business strategies and funeral related technologies. Visit his website at www.funeralfuturist.com or contact him at (250) 744-3595.