Squash books

tricover I just love squash books. So easy to make, great as a little gift (with the Grandparents all over in the USA and us here in the UK, cries of “Photos! We need PHOTOS – we are forgetting what the kids look like!” are common) and can easily be prettied up so I get to use up lots of bits of stash leftover from other projects. I recently made both a squash book based on circles and one made from squares, as the traditional squash book is, but with triangular pages. Here is where the technological aspects come in. When I make the book I always make a digital template of each surface, cut from black card. Now I’m sure someone who is more talented than I am at Photoshop or Open Office, or Inkscape probably knows a way to do this more high tech, but my versions works for me.

Since most of my squash books are based on a set size of cardstock. I only have to do this ONCE. I save the templates and reuse them every time I make a book from that same size cardstock. I scan the black card shape (always 300 dpi, which is what I set the photo resolution to be), to get the digital template. As I am running Photoshop 7 (old) the way I do this may be a bit different to how you would do it in any other program. First I look at the page I am working on and make sure the template is open and in the position I need (so if I am working on a page with the triangle oriented right angle to the left then I make sure my template is set up that way too)

I open my photo and resize it so it fits the triangle.

I drag the photo OVER the triangle and select Layer > Group With Previous – this merges the photo and the triangle and you can grab the photo and move it about to get exactly the view you want. And you can fill in any corners using the Clone Stamp if you like – you can’t do that when just cutting a printed photo!


The real beauty of this is that once you have the triangle composed you then simply do Layer>merge visible (this will weld the photo to the shape so you can move the completed shaped photo and not just move it around within the shape) Open a new file – I create one in the same resolution as the photo (always 300 dpi) and the size of my photo paper then drag the merged image over into that file . This becomes a print file that you can drag completed triangles into, as many as you can fit, and print JUST the part of the photo you will actually use for your book! Wrap your head around THAT for a moment. Less ink, less paper, less waste. AND because you can use the Edit > transform commands to rotate your images to fit them better on the “page” you can fit in more shapes. Then, using Edit > step backwards or Edit> undo you can flip or rotate the shape and create another triangle with a different photo and drag that in till all your photos are shaped placed and ready to print.

This is a great trick for weird or unusual shaped items. I made a trio of 3D stars from cardstock that had photos attached to some of the star points. This trick allowed me to print just the bits I needed and to place the part of each photo perfectly. Because of the odd shape and the size of the photos, I often found the tips needed the clone stamp fill in.

I don’t think placing the images correctly in the shapes would have been possible, certainly not easily, using a more low-tech method (in the past this involved cutting a “window” from cardstock to fit the shape then placing that over the photo, drawing starsaround it with something and then cutting the shape) as in some cases you would maybe want to flip and image or make a landscape photo work portrait style – that involves some HEAVY cloning but worked well for these photos as there was a lot of green (grass or trees) and cloning was easy peasy.

My point is that with a little prep work when making your first squash book (or star or anything that requires photos to be cut into a set shape, especially if it is a repeated shape, or the same shape rotated, you can whip thru the process in a flash. I have gone back to the shape files over and over again when creating even the square squash books as some pages I opt for two triangles to fill the space rather than a single square. Little variations don’t really matter as I often trim the photos to leave a smidge of cardstock showing as a mat.

Blimey this got long! If you are still reading, thank you! I’ve added a download of the PDF below – whether you go for the low-tech or high-tech solution, give it a go. It’s fun and cute and easy.

A final photo of the book opened up:



Triangle squash book PDF


Scrapping from left field

One of the things that I enjoy is finding a new and interesting ways to incorporate unique (for lack of a better word) technological tricks into my scrapping. Here is an example of what I mean. Not a digi-scrapping layout, but a traditional paper page, this photo mosaic makes use of a cool (free) piece of software call MacOSaiX. This software takes a plain photo and scurries out to a place you select (in my case it was my iPhoto library, but you can just as easily do Google images, random glyphs, iTunes album art, flickr groups and more) and collects images to create a photo mosaic of that original image.

The original photograph

The original photograph

I took a photo of a heart shaped Christmas tree ornament, selected my iPhoto library, set the shape of the tile, and the number of tiles, sat back for about 3 hours (shorter for smaller mosaics, obviously) and watched mesmerised as the little tiles flashed up on the screen then swirled in to place, and the mosaic built up over time. Once all the photos are selected it optimizes the selections to get the best colour.

part-way thru the process
part-way thru the process

Occasionally the program flakes out and you won’t see the little photo tiles pop in to place. Sometimes it works for hours and produces nothing. Buggy? A bit, but it is free, and I can’t discount the fact it could be my version of MacOSX (not the newest, for very valid reasons) or some other quirk of my set up. It works well with portrait photos and also can produce some stunning results with a mosaic made up of a smaller number of photos, depending on the original photo.

The final layout

The final layout

My final layout uses the photo mosaic, printed quite large, a Hambly Screenprint overlay, and very old Life’s Journey metal frame, a digital negative strip frame with three small photos of my kids, and a couple of other random bits. I love that the title placement allowed me to place the O in LOVE over a small image of ME (HA! let the kids complain I am not in any of the scrapbooks now LOL!)

Now lest you, as a PC user, stamp your little foot and cry “But it’s not FAIR!”, be comforted by this link to Andrea Mosaic, which is a similar, also free, PC version. I can’t vouch for it, but you can give it a go if you like the idea and don’t do Mac.

Hopefully that illustrates my point – it is a traditional page, created using a printed photo, scrapbook paper and embellishments, sticky stuff, scissors and journaling, but has an undeniable technological aspect to it. THAT is what I like.

Thanks for looking.