Introduction to Juxtapost v2

By Kjell Post, kjell@irstafoto.se

Table of Contents

  1. About Juxtapost
  2. System requirements
  3. Installation and Activation
  4. Using Juxtapost
  5. Actions
    1. About Juxtapost
    2. Generator
    3. Style options
    4. Save
    5. Drop
    6. Release
    7. Swap
    8. Delete
    9. Enlarge
    10. Shrink

1. About Juxtapost

Juxtapost is a Photoshop plugin consisting of a set of actions with Javascript code for Adobe Photoshop that enables you to design web/blog collages in a quick and efficient manner. With lots of templates (and more if you want to design your own) and options to control spacing, border thickness, radius, color, etc, you can create collages to your own liking.

Juxtapost is particularly easy to use if you are used to ProAlbum-Designer!

This manual describes Juxtapost version 2 and all subsequent versions 1.x that may appear later to fix bugs.

2. System requirements

This manual and distribution is intended for Photoshop CS4, CS5, CS6 and CC. It doesn't matter whether you are using Mac OS X or Windows. You need to have a certain amount of Photoshop experience.

After ordering Juxtapost, you can go ahead and download Juxtapost from the download page. Make sure the zip file is unpacked before you proceed. We will refer to this folder as your Juxtapost folder and it should look something like this:

3. Installation and Activation

Note: Juxtapost will be in demo mode until you activate it. This means that your spreads will be slightly distorted. Sorry, no free lunch!

Now do the following to install Juxtapost:

  1. Double-click on the install.jsx file.
    This should start Photoshop and present you with the screen below.
    If that doesn't work, do the following instead:
    Start up Photoshop and then do File > Scripts > Browse...
    and choose install.jsx in your Juxtapost folder.
  2. Send me an email with the Signature (the 8 characters, use copy&paste to avoid mistakes).

    I will reply with an activation code as soon as I can, usually the same day. If you move to a new machine or update Photoshop, you will need to register again to obtain a new activation code. It doesn't cost anything and I will be happy to help you.

  3. Click on Install to go ahead with the installation.

    This will install a demo version of Juxtapost which you can activate later when you have the activation code.

  4. Note: If you have a previous version of Juxtapost installed, you need to uninstall it.
  5. After a few seconds, and if everything goes well, something like this should appear:
  6. Click Continue to load the action file and delete older version of Juxtapost's action files.

  7. Choose Button mode in the same fly-out menu and you should have a set of colorful buttons like at the beginning of this document.
  8. If you have the activation code, you can go ahead with the activation (see below).

  9. Finally, restart both Photoshop and Bridge.

    When you start Bridge again it will ask you if you want to activate the scripts: answer Yes.

Congratulations, you have now successfully installed Juxtapost!



4. Using Juxtapost

For a quick introduction, please first look at the "Using Juxtapost" vide on the Instruction video page.

The main points of using Juxtapost are:

  1. A collage is built row-by-row, so select the JPEG images in Bridge that you want in the first row of your collage.
  2. Right-click on any image, then select "Juxtapost 2" (see FAQ if you don't have this menu option). A window appears with template suggestions (see below).
  3. If no template suggestions appear, you have probably selected too many images so go back to Bridge and select less.
  4. If you need to change the template folder, for another set of templates, press "Choose" and select another folder. The window redraws itself with the new template suggestions.
  5. To add the template with the images unto your collage, simply click on a template icon.
  6. If you rather wish to drop the selected image(s) on top of the collage, for instance to place your logo at the bottom, use the "Place" button.
  7. Now repeat this process (1-6) until your collage is finished.
  8. If you wish to undo a row, use the history palette to step back.
  9. Use Swap, Enlarge, Shrink, etc, to move and change images in the collage.
  10. Use the Style options command to change colors of background, round corners, borders, etc.
  11. When you are finished, press Save.

4.1 Selecting and moving images around

Juxtapost automatically switches to the Move tool (shortcut: "V"). You should also make sure that the box "Auto-Select" is checked. Photoshop will then automatically select the layer corresponding to the image you click on. Simply click on an image before you perform an operation on it. For instance, if you wish to enlarge an image, first click on it, then click on the "Enlarge" button in the Action palette.

Another important feature is the ability to select several images. There are several ways to do this, but they all assume that you have the Move tool active:

To select several images: Click on the first image, then hold down Shift and click on the remaining images. Or, Use the mouse to drag a selection around the images you want to select. Or, Click on the corresponding layers in the layer's palette.

5. Actions

Let us go through all the Juxtapost actions in detail.

5.1 About Juxtapost

If your copy of Juxtapost is not yet activated, "About Juxtapost" opens up a dialogue so that you can enter your activation code. Once unlocked, remember to restart both Photoshop and Bridge.

If Juxtapost is activated, "About Juxtapost" tells you which version you are running (important when you communicate problems back to us) and, if there's a new version, asks you if you would like to update. Minor updates, e.g., going from 2.1 to 2.2 can be installated simply by clicking on "Update". For major updates, e.g., from 2.3 to 3.0, you must download Juxtapost from the download area again.

5.2 Generator

Generator is used for building new template folders based on the template description file and your desired settings for spacing, padding and document width. The Generator action is described in the video on the right.

The template description file is a textual description of all templates. By default, the description file called "JuxWebTemplates.txt" is loaded:

B(3,2)
B(1,1)
B(2,3)
B(2,1)
B(3,1)
HBOX(B(3,2),B(3,2))
HBOX(B(2,3),B(2,3))
HBOX(B(1,2),B(1,2))
HBOX(B(1,1),B(1,1))
HBOX(B(3,2),B(1,1))
 :

Each line is a template structure describing how boxes of different proportions are nestled. In its simplest form, B(x,y) represents a box with proportions x:y so that, e.g., B(1,1) is a square box and B(2,3) is a vertical box with proportions 3:2. To put two boxes B1 and B2 next to each other, use HBOX(B1,B2). To put them above each other, use VBOX(B1,B2).

Example: below is a template described by HBOX(B(2,3),VBOX(B(3,2),B(3,2)),B(2,3))

When Generator runs, it builds a PSD-file for each template structure, giving them a sequential name like Template-37 followed by a string of H, V and S, indicating the orientation of the holes (Horizontal, Vertical, and Square). Also saved are icon files, used when suggesting templates in the collage building process. Juxtapost is clever enough to recognize when a template can be used horizontally or vertically flipped.

5.3 Style options

Style options is used to set border options and background color. Images in template holes may have a white or black border, rounded corners, and/or a drop shadow.

When applying a style option you will, by default, change every image in the collage. If you wish to apply a style option to the currently selected images, uncheck the "Apply to all images" check box.

The "Save" button is similar to the "Apply" button, but Juxtapost will also remember the style options for the next collage row.

Clicking on the # checkbox will bring up a color dialog where you can choose a custom background color.
















5.4 Save

The save command flattens the collage and lets you save a JPEG file.

Apart from the obvious setting of file name and destination folder, you can also change the quality setting for the JPEG file: 100 is no compression while 70 is probably sufficient for web publishing. Additionally, you can sharpen the collage. Most images, when shrunk down to a few hundred pixels, benefits from a bit of sharpening and we've found that the default settings do a decent job.

Once the JPEG file has been saved, it is up to you to save the PSD file. If you think you might go back and make changes, you must save the PSD file as the JPEG file has lost all the layer information.

Note: the Save command will warn you if it finds an image not covering its hole, most likely a result of you having moved the image around the hole too far. Unless you know what you are doing, it is then best to cancel the Save operation and correct the misaligned images with the Drop command (see below).

Metadata is inherited from the images in the collage so it pays off to stamp your images with proper metadata information when you for instance import photos into Lightroom. If the images have different metadata, it is the first image that dictates the collage's metadata settings. Either way you can override some of the most important settings before you Save by filling out the Metadata fields.

5.5 Drop

If you have already created a collage, the images have already been "dropped" into the holes. You can select an image and press "Drop" again if you have moved the image too far out of its hole. Juxtapost will then move the image back, as little as possible, to cover up the hole again.

You can also Drop an image into a hole, already occupied by another image. To do this, right click on an image in Bridge and select "Juxtapost". When the template selections appear, press the "Place" button. This will place the image on top of the collage. Now you can move it into position over the hole and press "Drop". If you find it difficult to aim, i.e., to avoid dropping it into another hole you can either (a) make the image smaller before you drop it or (b) use the Swap action, described below.

5.6 Release

Release does the opposite of Drop, it releases an image from the hole. If several images have been selected, they are all released.

5.7 Swap

This action will swap the two currently selected images so that image 1 moves to image 2's location and vice versa. This is particulary useful for moving images around the collage. As a special case, if one of the two layers selected is a hole and the other is an image, the image will be dropped into the hole. This is useful if you quickly need to send an image to a particular hole.

5.8 Delete

Removes the image(s) currently selected. Since CS4 you can now use the Delete key as a shortcut, even if you are not working with the Move tool.

5.9 Enlarge

Enlarges the selected image(s) 133%. The percentage has been chosen as to cancel the Shrink operation, when they are used after one another. The transform tool (Cmd-T, or ctrl-T in Windows) is also useful for arbitrary scaling of images but remember to hold the shift key down to maintain the aspect ratio.

5.10 Shrink

Shrinks the selected image(s) by 75%. The percentage has been choses as to cancel the Enlarge operation mentioned previously.