Software tools for designing professional albums and coffee table books

metal cover senior album
Thanks to Jodi Weelborg of JJW Photography for use of her metal cover senior album.
Whether you are new to album and coffee table book design or have been doing it for awhile it is always good to know what tools other photographers are using. There are many software tools used for designing albums and photo books and it can be difficult to know where to start.

The options are numerous. Be aware that the “free” design software provided by many album and photobook companies generally lock you in to ordering your books from them. After spending hours of your time learning the software and designing your first book you’ll learn that you can’t order a wedding album from one company and purchase parent albums from another supplier.

We always recommend using standard design tools that allow you to purchase from the supplier that is appropriate for your project. Here is a brief description of some of the applications that are popular with our customers.


Adobe Photoshop  is commonly considered the industry standard. Although it does not have tools specifically created for album design, it is extremely flexible and just about any album design can be created. SharedInk templates are available from our downloads page.

PROS

  • you probably already own it
  • you already know how to use it
  • extremely flexible, anything can be done if you have the time
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • album and photo book companies commonly supply spec templates
  • creative album design templates are available, sometimes free

CONS

  • it can be very time consuming to create an album design
  • changes can be equally time consuming

Fundy Album Builder is a Photoshop add-in that automates album design and changes. It turns Photoshop into a full fledge album design solution. You get all the advantages of Photoshop, plus save tons of time in your album design workflow.

PROS

  • makes Photoshop rock for album design
  • easy to make simple to complex page layouts
  • easy to make changes
  • Allows you to select any available photo book and album company templates in your design workflow.
  • based on Photoshop, a tool you probably already have and know
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • great customer support

CONS

  • Another tool to buy and learn, although it is much easier to learn Album Builder than it is to figure out how to lay out a pleasing album page in Photoshop.

Adobe InDesign is the graphic design industry standard for creating print-ready layouts. Some of the more confusing aspects of print design, such as bleeds, trims, and safe zones are visually very obvious, making it easier to create a pleasing book.

PROS

  • easy to make simple to complex page layouts
  • relatively easy to make changes
  • works well with Photoshop
  • Mac and PC compatible

CONS

  • another software application to purchase and learn
  • most album and photo book companies do not supply InDesign templates. SharedInk templates are available from our downloads page.

AlbumFlow is a relative newcomer in the market. It is a set of tools that work inside InDesign to automate many album specific tasks. You get all the advantages of InDesign, plus makes it easy to implement album company specs, layout and modify grids, and create a library of pleasing page layouts.

PROS

  • turbocharges InDesign to make it a powerful album layout tool
  • easy to make, modify, and reuse creative page layouts
  • PC and Mac compatible
  • good customer support

CONS

  • requires InDesign

Lumapix FotoFusion Extreme was created for photo book and album design. It has presets for many album and photo book companies. The Extreme version is necessary if you want professional results.

PROS

  • easy to make simple to complex page layouts
  • relatively easy to make changes
  • has presets for many album and photo book companies

CONS

  • PC only, Mac version under development
  • another software application to buy and learn