UPDATE 8/2/2019 – Hey everyone! It’s time again to start thinking again about new calendars for the new year! This post is nearly a year old, but rather than posting another guide to using our Studio Wizard, we’ve just made a couple small updates to this one! Enjoy and happy calendar creating!
The holidays are approaching! I know, it’s August. Way too soon to start thinking about the holidays. But if you like to make, sell, or gift calendars now is the time to start planning for 2020. To help you out, we’ve got a quick guide to making a calendar on Lulu, using our tried and true Studio Wizard.
No, not that kind of wizard.
Our Studio Wizard is a plug-and-play tool that lets you upload your images and add them to calendar pages easily. Plus you get to customize the individual days and work with a variety of templates.
This guide is going to give a real quick look at the Studio Wizard and some advice to help make your calendar experience easier. We also have a downloadable PDF Guide that really goes into detail about creating your calendar:
Before you dive into making your awesome calendar, you should prepare all your images.
This is easy enough to do, as the only requirement for an image on our site is that it has the proper resolution for printing. We request 300 dots per inch (DPI, also referred to as pixels per inch or PPI) for all images. Any photo editing software (such as Photoshop) will allow you to inspect the resolution, and if the image was created with enough pixels, you can adjust the resolution to ensure it prints well. If an image was created with fewer than 300 pixels per inch, you might not be able to adjust the resolution enough to prevent the warning message.
One other factor can impact resolution – image size. For calendars and photo books, the size of the image will be based on the image frame, which can be changed with the layout options. You’ll want to attempt to size your image files close to the size of the image frame, but you do not need to edit each image to match perfectly. Lulu will resize the image to fit the frame, and give you some controls to adjust the size and position within the frame.
BUT, if your image is much bigger or smaller, or is set up in landscape while the frame is portrait, you will see the low-resolution warning. This can be frustrating, but remember that we do have to resize the image to fit the frame, and an image with a different aspect ratio or size will impact the resolution.
After you’ve got your images approximately sized correctly and all the images set to 300 DPI or higher resolution, you’re ready to start your project!
The last thing I recommend is to organize all your images into a file folder. I like to save each image I intend to use for a project like this (or any project really) in a unique folder. This creates a second copy of the image file, allowing for any edits or changes that may be required while holding on to the original. This kind of file organization is entirely up to you, but I find it helpful just in case you need to roll back to earlier versions or if the edited files were to be damaged for any reason.
With your images reviewed and prepared, we’re ready to start making a calendar!
The Wizard displays with all your primary controls at the top of the screen, with the layout for the selected page on the left, images to add on the right, and a page by page view along the bottom.
When you begin a calendar project, you’ll be prompted to select a theme, pick your date range, and add images. All of these can be adjusted using the controls and menus at the top of the window. One thing to be careful about is the date range. Lulu rolls over calendars to default to the following year, but this rollover is automated and occurs on September 1st each year. If you’re ahead of the game and you’re working on next year’s calendar before September, be certain you manually set the range.
With the images uploaded, you’ll see page layout on the left and available images on the right. Set the layout, then drag and drop images. Don’t like an image in that frame? Drag and drop it off the frame to remove the image. Or just change the layout and start placing your images again.
The layout options have some designs that include text boxes as well, so you can add captions as needed for your images.
The monthly grid allows you to edit daily events with the “Events” button. You’ll be able to create your own custom events, as well as grabbing holidays from national lists. One really cool element that many don’t notice while making their calendar is the option to add a photo to the grid! The image will replace a single day entirely, including any text and the date.
Because the calendar is built on a template, there are limits to the control you’ll have available. The grid itself cannot be edited, nor can the layouts we offer. While this will be a challenge for some of our most intrepid creators, most will find everything they need to make an awesome calendar in our Studio Wizard.
Lulu Studio Tips
Okay, you’re well on your way to having a calendar ready to order! But before you finish up and review those print-ready files, here are a few tips to cover those little hang-ups that might slow you down.
Progressive JPG Files
Progressive JPGs are image files specifically formatted to load on a screen. Remember years ago when the Internet was new and images would load in a “top-down” fashion? You’d see the top of the image, with a little bit loading below until the entire image appeared. Now you are more likely to see a lower resolution image that will clear as the page finishes loading.
These images are Progressive JPGs and they are designed to load quickly for Internet viewing. Progressive JPGs are a huge step up in online image sharing, but sadly our Studio Wizard doesn’t really like them.
If you see the icon pictured above after uploading your image, you’ll know that the file is a Progressive JPG. Re-saving the image as a JPG or PNG file will correct the issue and allow you to upload your image successfully.
There are two markers you might see in the Project Images panel on the right. The Blue & White Check Mark indicates that the image is already in use in this project and the Green “$” Mark indicates the image is licensed and likely has a fee associated with using the image. Be very cautious if you see the Green “$” mark, as using a licensed image without permission infringes on the image owner’s copyright.
Lulu can only accept image files of 10MB or less when uploading. This might prevent ultra-high resolution images from uploading, but that shouldn’t be a concern. If you upload your image and the file is rejected for being too large, you should be able to compress the image down to 300dpi resolution, reducing the file size in the process and allowing you to upload! You’ll need to open the image file in your preferred image editing software and reduce the image resolution (or other settings) to bring down the file size
Print Ready Files
If you’ve used Lulu before to create and publish a regular book, you’re familiar with how our system works. What we do is take your contents (the calendar you created using the Studio Wizard) and make a PDF file our printers are ready to use.
Assuming you’ve done a January – December calendar, the print-ready PDF will include 22 “pages” for the interior PDF and will start with the January month grid and end on the image for December. Where is the January image and December grid? They’re in the cover file, which will include 4 “pages” in the print-ready PDF (front cover, January’s image, December’s grid, back cover). This can be very confusing when viewing the files, but this file organization is necessary to ensure our printers can produce the calendar correctly.
Make it Personal
Just like Lulu’s mission to help the world share their stories, a calendar is more than just a collection of images and dates. Custom calendars let you create something unique that others will love to see all year long, that can remind you of your adventures or your family, or whatever you want!
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site (misspellings included). In his free time, he’s an avid reader and short story writer.