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About Making Guides


Posting Independently Designed Guides on the Rapid Color Guides Website

The advantages of having us produce your guide, instead of posting something you have designed as described here, is that it: saves you the trouble; we can use our experience in Photoshop and design to make images and pages that usually look better than most people seem to do; we can quickly edit names or replace photos when changes are needed; and we provide ~20 free laminated (2-sided) sheets to the author.

The disadvantage is that we have a backlog of guides to make, so there is a delay, and the guide may not be designed in a way that you need or like. We are reluctant to make complicated guides that are different from our standard formats, since those take longer to produce. But you may want to take that time, and design a guide differently.

The guides that are not really produced by us, but are posted on this website after our approval, are numbered in the 400's and 600's. If you review the "400's" or "600's" guides we have posted, you can see that some are much better than others. In almost all cases we wish we could improve some of the images or the design, and it pains us that we cannot, but we approve them anyway because they meet the basic requisites: that the images are good enough to distinguish the species, the information is mostly correct, and the guide will be useful to others.

Some details we require on the posted guides are:

  • a title that is appropriate to the content, i.e. not 'Araceae of the Upper Amazon' when it is really 'Araceae of Reserva Bruja' or something like that
  • appropriate acknowledgment of funding sources and other assistance, without being excessive
  • recognition of the photographers, other than the authors, for each photo, either under the photo or listed in the titles
  • serious consideration to making another person co-author if they either took a large percentage of the photos or identified a large percentage of the species
  • the e-mail address of the author(s) so that people who want to suggest corrections or make comments will contact the author first, and not us
  • a version number and date in the lower-right of the titles section, such as version 1, 01/2009.

You can get ideas on styles from the more recent of our guides. We need to re-do the titles on many of our older guides. We suggest that the guides have bilingual title information (most practical on alternate pages) to be attractive to a broader audience, but we will accept guides using only one language. We also suggest that you try not to waste space and to keep the number of pages to a minimum, so that it will not be so expensive for people who want to print it. High-quality color printing is still expensive.

Our method in Photoshop, when the original image is on the screen:

  1. Click on the cropping tool, set at the top of the screen to Width: 375 px, Height: 500 px, Resolution: 250 pixels/inch, to optimally sample the pixels of the large image to make the smaller one.
  2. Lightly “burn” excessively light areas of the background and “dodge” dark areas of the plant, and adjust the sharpness, contrast, and light levels as needed.
  3. "Save As" the reduced and modified image with a different file name (usually with abbreviations for plant family and photographer) or in a different folder so as not to lose the original by replacing it. Always a good idea to keep a back-up of the originals before working on them.

All guides posted on our site can also be posted on any other site that the author chooses. Or another site can place a link to connect to a guide on this site. On our site we keep records of how many times and to what countries they are downloaded every week. There are now on average of more than 3000 full guides downloaded from our site each week, and each guide is usually downloaded in 60 or more countries.

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