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Working with Photoshop’s New Artboard Feature

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One of Photoshop’s new features is ‘artboards’. If you’re familiar with Adobe Illustrator, you may already have an idea of how artboards can benefit you. Artboards are a great tool for more efficient project organization, and are also helpful when you need to export multiple files that are part of one project. Whether you are familiar with artboards or not, this tutorial will show you how to use them in photoshop.

What you’ll be creating

Artboards are very versatile. My hope for this tutorial is not so much to help you create a specific project, but how to utilize the features effectively. In order to demonstrate how artboards work, I will be creating a project that includes artboards for some business card designs. We will create an artboard for the front design, the back design, as well as the mockup. You can follow along, or apply the principles to your own project. Below I list some templates you can work with if you wish to follow along. Please note that artboards are currently only available in Photoshop CC 2015.

Step 1

You can create a new artboard project from scratch, or convert an existing photoshop file to an artboard project. Because the mockup we downloaded is already a photoshop file, we’ll start by converting it to an artboard project.

First, open the mockup you downloaded. To turn this project into an artboard project, all you need to do is create an artboard. We do this with the artboard tool, which is nested under the move tool in the tools panel. You can either press (V) to select the move tool, then Shift + (V) to switch to the artboard tool, or click and hold on the move tool, and click ‘Artboard Tool’ in the dropdown.


Step 2

With the artboard tool selected, drag a box around the part of the mockup you want to be visible in the artboard. You can select the entire mockup, or a cropped section of it. For this example, it would be best not to select an area larger than the mockup.


Step 3

Congratulations! You’ve just created your first artboard. You should now notice a couple of changes in the appearance of your project. You’ll see a label over the mockup on your canvas, as well as a section in the Layers panel that reads ‘Artboard 1’, as seen in the image below. This represents your artboard.


Step 4

Now let’s rename this artboard to help keep our project organized. Double click the section in the layers panel that reads ‘Artboard 1’ and rename it ‘Mockup’


Step 5

Now we’ll need to add two more artboards for the front and back design of the business cards. Because Business cards have more specific requirements, we will add these artboards using a method that gives us a little more precision. Click Layer > New > Artboard…


Step 6

Let’s name this artboard ‘Front’. Business cards are usually 3.5 in x 2 in, and since we’ll be printing this, we’ll want it at 300 dpi. If we multiply that out, we’ll get 1050px x 600px. Set this artboard to 1050px wide by 600px tall.


Step 7

After you create a new artboard, the artboard tool is automatically selected. With the artboard tool active, you can drag and scale artboards the same way you can transform layers with the move tool. Drag your newly created artboard somewhere where it won’t overlap with any others.


Step 8

Repeat steps 5-7 to create the back artboard. This time, name the artboard ‘Back’.


Step 9

You can now begin designing your own business cards within these artboards, or you can use the templates supplied at the beginning of this course. To add the supplied template, simply drag the downloaded PSD file into the corresponding empty artboard area (06-Front.psd to the ‘Front’ artboard, etc.). Center the template with the artboard, and push return to apply it. You’ll notice that the content is automatically clipped to the size of the artboard.


Step 10

Once you’ve edited your templates and the mockup, it’s time to export your files. Before artboards, we would have had 3 separate photoshop files that we would have had to export individually. With artboards, Photoshop will export each artboard a separate image. Click File > Export > Export As…


Step 11

You’ll see the new artboard export menu pop up. It lists your artboards in the column on the left, and the export settings on the right. The default settings are usually fine. Click ‘Export’ on the bottom right to export your images.


Step 12

You’ll see that this process exports 3 separate images to your chosen location.


Artboard Tip 1

If you know from the beginning of your workflow that you want an artboard project, you can select ‘Artboard’ from the ‘Document Type’ dropdown in the new File dialogue, as seen below.


Artboard Tip 2

If you’d like to delete an artboard you’ve created, simply select the name of the artboard you’d like to delete in the layers panel, and push delete.


Artboard Tip 3

You can quickly export your artboards to a PDF booklet. To do this, click File > Export > Artboards to PDF… This will automatically create a PDF booklet, with each of your artboards as individual pages in that booklet.

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