Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Another Way to Have the Photo You REALLY Wanted, Not the One You Got

I have another amazingly simple Guided Edit to show you today. When I took the photo of the young lady you’ll see in a moment, I didn’t really have any control over the situation and wanted a shot of her one way or another. Later, when I started looking at my photos critically, I saw an opportunity to create the photo I REALLY wanted and at the same time, I had food for another tutorial, so prepare to be awed!

The cars in the photo of the piper are really distracting, but I knew I wouldn’t get another chance to get a photo of her alone. She was preparing to lead a “parade” of Irish Canadians into a field for a special event and there would be a lot of people in the way later. So I went for it. The lighting in the second photo is similar and the time of day is similar so I chose it for my new background.

This was my very first attempt to use this Guided Edit, so don’t feel intimidated. It’s very user-friendly! It’s called Photomerge Compose and it lets you move things from one photo into another quite quickly and easily.

The first step is to drag and drop the “source” photo onto the workspace. I’m going to move the woman from in front of the cars and stand her in front of the cork tree, so I put the photo of her here.

The second step was to begin defining the part of the photo I wanted to merge with the background photo. I started with the Quick Selection Tool. If you’re not familiar with that tool, it uses a brush to add or subtract parts of your photo. I dragged a fairly small brush over her body and bagpipes to crudely select her from her background.

As I dragged my brush over the photo, marching ants appeared around the areas I’d selected. It really doesn’t have to be precise at this stage because there are several occasions for fine-tuning the selection in later steps.

I like to zoom in on my image so I can be more precise, but when I’ve gotten what I want selected in the area I can see, I need to shift the area I’m working on to another part of the photo. It’s easily accomplished here by using the Hand Tool to click and drag on the photo to another area. Then I clicked on the Quick Selection Tool button on the tool panel again and went back to work.

Once I had a (very) crude outline of the woman I used the same tool with the Subtract setting to remove more areas of the background.

I was THRILLED to see how this next tool works! The Outline Select tool makes refining the edges of a selection so much easier and cleaner! Who knew?

Whoa! It uses a red mask to cover up the parts of the photo I’ve already excluded and lets me see how raggedy the edges of my selection really are. The brush for this tool can be either dragged around the edges to smooth them or to slice away small areas by clicking on them.

I tried to see some redeeming quality to the Subtract mode for this tool, but couldn’t really see one.

If my image still needed a bit more refining, I have the option of using the Refine Select setting and it’s good with a small brush to crisp up the edges where fine detail exists and for areas where colour differences are very subtle. I could push out the edge a little or pull it in a little where needed.

When I was satisfied with my selection, I clicked on the Next button at the bottom right corner of the workspace. Elements automatically moved my woman onto the photo of the cork tree.

Well, look at that! I wasn’t all that careful when I hit the Next and now I see I missed an area of her sleeve with my selection. But have no fear! I can fix it!! I moved her down a bit so she looked like she really was standing under the tree using the Move and Resize button. Then I clicked on the Reveal tool. It let me “paint” her sleeve back into the photo.

Down by her feet, I didn’t bother to select out the grass, and now by using the Hide tool I can “paint” in the leaves and grass as it is under the tree.

It really was easy!

As I said at the beginning, I had two photos that had very similar lighting and saturation, taken as they were at roughly the same time of day, with similar weather conditions. So I didn’t need to make much of an adjustment. But this Guided Edit knows not every pair of photos are going to play so well together. The top button shown is called Auto Match Color Tone. When I clicked it, I didn’t see any difference. So then I went on to look at lighting. Could I tweak it a smidge to make it look mroe natural?

Well, I adjusted both the Luminance and the Contrast just a tiny bit.

Because she was standing under some trees in the original photo and is here too, she wouldn’t be casting much of a shadow, so my work was done.

I’m so happy with how this turned out and I know I’ll be using this again!

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Creating ‘Mazing Monograms

Lately I’ve been really interested in designing labels for decorative items I’m planning for my home. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun and lets me use my creative eye, PSE skills and a little ingenuity. When my grand-daughter was born late last month, I thought I should design a monogram to use as the title of a layout introducing her to the world. I think we all know what a monogram is. But did you know there are some conventions around them?

Monograms have been used for about 2 millenia. Yep, they’ve been around since about 350BC when they began to appear on coins issued by Greek cities, identifying the coins as having come from there. They’ve also been used as signatures by artists and craftsmen, especially when trade guilds began enforcing their rules about membership and took measures against those engaging in those activities without authorization. They later were used as signatures of monarchs and noblemen to identify their holdings, their armies and their money.

Individual monograms came into use as a natural continuation of their use by Important People. They can be part of the letterhead on personal stationery, to identify one’s luggage, to fancify their handkerchiefs, shirts and ties and oh, yeah… wedding invitations! If the monogram is that of a woman, her surname initial is the central, larger one, with her first initial on the left and her middle initial on the right. For men, that convention is often ignored, and their initial are put in order of appearance in their name. Engaged couples may choose to have their two first initials entwined and newlyweds might have one member’s first initial on the left, their joint surname initial in the middle and the other member’s first initial on the left.

The example below has my grand-daughter’s initials following the first individual convention. I used MainType 7.0 (as described in the tutorial on organizing your fonts) to find the perfect font for the job. The font I ended up using is one I picked up at the FontBundles July $1 event. It’s called Quiska Regular and it’s gorgeous!

Once I’d settled on my font, I opened a new 12×12 document in PSE. I like to work large and then resize because detail is so much more visible. Then I found the font in my Type tool menu. (Keyboard shortcut is just the letter T.) I increased the size of the font to 100 pixels. And last, I changed the colour to that luscious fuchsia.

I put each of my 3 letters on their own layers. I know I’m going to want to make adjustments to one or more letters, but not necessarily all of them at once.

I’m not lecturing you, really… but remember to Simplify those letters as you go along. Elements has a bad habit of messing with your existing text should you decide to change fonts or colours if you don’t take that step. Once the layer is simplified you can’t change the font, but you CAN resize, recolour and play with it.

For that middle initial I changed the size of the font (just by typing in the number I want into the box I’ve circled below) to 150 pixels.

Then I went back to 100 pixels for my last letter. You’ll notice they’re randomly placed, and that doesn’t matter, because Elements has tools to fix that.

While I was playing with the letters, I didn’t like the size differential so I decided to increase the size of the smaller letters by 20%, to 120 pixels. Then it looked right!

By selecting all three layers, I could then use the Align tool to line up the horizontal centres of the letters.

I wanted a little bit of an overlap on the letters to tie the monogram together. So I used the Distribute tool too to shift the letters based on their vertical centres.

All that’s left is to Merge the layers together to make a single object. They’re already all selected; right-click on them and select Merge, or just hit CTRL/CMD>E and they’ll unite.

Those of you who read my tripe weekly will know that I wasn’t serious when I said I was done. I decided to add some flourishes to my monogram. I love brushes and have quite a collection of them that I’ve often downloaded free from Brusheezy.com. The one I opted to use here is part of a collection called 20 Dividers V2. Did you know that if you hover the cursor over your workspace you’ll get a preview of the brush just like I’ve shown you below? You’ll know what it looks like and can then adjust your size and angle before you even use your brush.

I know I sound like a broken record. Good habits are important to streamline your workflow and prevent oopses. If you put your brushes on their own layers, you have total control over them. If you put them right on your paper, you can’t do anything with them – can’t change their colour (easily) or opacity, increase or decrease the size, apply a style, copy them or any other tweak you might decide is needed. So just put them on their own layers!

For balance I want a second flourish; duplicating the layer is the easiest way to ensure they’re identical. Either right-click on the layer and select Duplicate, then click OK in the pop-up menu or simply CTRL/CMD>J to copy it.

Then I flipped the second brush vertically so the two brush layers are mirror images. The easiest way to do that is to grab one of the middle handles on the bounding box then drag the handle in the direction you want the flip to go. (Either horizontally or vertically.) Don’t obsess over dragging it to exactly the same size, because you can simply type -100 into the corresponding box in the tool options below. Then the software does all the work. WSNH!!

Again, let the software do the work to Align all the layers again. I opted to then select the two brush layers and shrink them somewhat so they were closer to the same scale as the monogram. Then I Merged the brush layers into one.

I might be done… but then again, I might not be done! Let’s see what we can do to really make this monogram pop. I’m going to use a Bevel Style.

I have the letters layer selected and used the Inner Ridge Bevel. It looks like enamel and I love it!

Then I selected my brush layer and hit it with the Scalloped Edge Bevel just to give it a bit more weight and dimension.

Isn’t that amazing?! And so simple!! I saved it as a png file so I can use it as the title for my layout when the time comes. Keep your eye out for it in the Gallery!

I’m departing tomorrow (July 11/18) for a two-week genealogical expedition to Ireland. So there won’t be a tutorial next Tuesday or the Tuesday after. If I’m not totally whipped when I get home again, there MAY be one ready for the 31st. Think about what I can teach you next. Sláinte!!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Like a Broken Record

I was fooling around with a thought I had to see how it would look and a tutorial was born! I love papers with a small pattern repeat and I adore embossed cardstock. But I can’t always find what I want when I want it, so I decided to give creating my own a try. It’s so simple!! (But let’s not put our awesome designers out of work, ‘k?)

I started out with a plain Kraft-coloured cardstock from Scraps N PiecesOh Canada… Eh! collection. Then I opened a new document (CTRL/CMD>N). I knew I was going to use something that would resemble a tile effect and chose to work on a 300 x 300 pixel square canvas. Our 12 x 12 inch layouts are 3600 x 3600 pixels, so this size will be 1/12th of the length/width of the overall cardstock.

I opened up the Custom Shape Tool menu then chose All Elements to see every shape available.

I played with more than one of these shapes before I settled on this one.

I put my cursor at the upper left corner and pulled the shape diagonally across my square canvas to completely fill it. The colour I used isn’t important because I’m going to change it later. I wanted something I could see easily.

Then I clicked Edit>Define Pattern. This is going to allow me to use this little doodad as a repeating pattern on my paper.

The Pattern Name menu opens up. I gave it a name that meant something to me and would be easy to find later. There’s a clue in there as to where we’re going to end up.

If you’re familiar with my tutorials you’ll know I always tell you to work on a separate layer when using brushes. It goes double for patterns!

You may have noticed that many of the Tools in Photoshop Elements have multiple options. The Paint Bucket has one I’d never used before but now that I know what it does, I’m SOLD! With this versatile tool you can fill an area with colour or……. a pattern!

Make very sure you’re working on the new, blank layer. Click on the Pattern Fill button, the one that looks like a square with a bunch of diagonal lines through it.

When the Pattern Menu opens up look for your new pattern.

Elements will open up your pattern in the active box as shown.

Now just click anywhere within the borders of your canvas. It’s like magic!! I have 144 little repeats of my pattern creating an Argyle effect. I could stop here and have a cute custom patterned paper. I’d love to do something like this with a tone-on-tone, or with either white or black. Then I’d Merge the layers and save it somewhere I’ll be able to find it again.

But you know me… we’re going to keep going. I want to show you how to turn it into embossed cardstock, so turn off the visibility to your cardstock layer and have your pattern layer selected. Then Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color.

In this menu, click the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask then click OK.

Use the same colour as your cardstock by clicking on it with the Eyedropper.

Merge the Color Fill layer with your pattern layer. Then you’re going to hit it with a Bevel Layer Style. Bevels are included with the software and can be found in the Styles menu. Below I’ve used the Simple Inner bevel. It’s a nice, rounded bevel that raises the pattern off the surface beautifully.

If you feel that the bevel is TOO obvious, you can click on the fx icon on the layer and adjust it to suit. (This is the only Bevel I adjusted while putting together this tutorial.)

Turn on the cardstock layer and voilà… Merge the layers and now you’ve got a custom embossed cardstock.

Some of the other Bevel styles work for this technique too. Let’s look at the Simple Pillow Emboss.

Is this the effect you were expecting? It looks a lot like those sheets of die-cut chipboard!

Simple Sharp Inner looks like this on just the pattern layer.

I really like the look of this one.

One last one… Simple Sharp Pillow Emboss.

This effect is really interesting. If I went into the fx controls and reversed the direction of the bevel it would raise it off the paper. Might be worth trying!

I can think of a long list of ways these simple techniques can be used to elevate my scrapping. Can you?

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Still MORE Fun with FONTS!! 

We’ve done a lot of cool things with fonts, but I know there are still so many even cooler things to try. Last week I bought a new font bundle from The Hungry JPEG, a selection of vintage fonts for a smokin’ hot deal. It’s not as if I’ll ever have too many fonts, right?

Anyway, while I was downloading these fonts, several of which were actually font families, I looked at the samples the site uses for advertising and it hit me… Why not try layering two fonts from the same family and see what happens? Font families are a collection of very similar fonts with some subtle differences; there may be a regular, a bold, a light, an outline, a grungy and an italic version, for example. This tutorial was fun for me, because I really didn’t know what it would look like when I was finished, but the idea was firmly in my head and I had to try it. I impressed myself so much I needed to widen the doorways. But… it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to. It’s BETTER!

I went through my fonts, using High Logic’s Main Type, to find a font family that would hopefully give me the look I could see in my head. The one that looked most promising is called Nomos, by Cruzine Design. It has several variations on the basic font, so I went with it. I started with Nomos Regular Regular for my basic title. I selected a medium gray to be my starting colour from one of the papers I used in my layout. And I set the size at 100 pixels, knowing I’d probably resize it to fit my canvas. Remember, I usually create my title on its own canvas, sizing the basic working space to approximate the area I want it to fill. No distractions, nothing to work around. So once I decided on my font and colour, I opened a 5 1/2 x 1 1/2 transparent canvas on my workspace.

I typed out my one-word title, then resized it to almost fit my space. I made a careful mental note of the exact size of the final font so I wouldn’t have any guesswork for the next step.

Then I went back to my fonts and chose an outline version of the same font. It’s called Nomos Inline Inline. (I don’t know why the designer used so much repetition in titling…)

I Simplified the original layer then turned its visibility off. Why Simplify? When working with fonts in PSE, if you DON’T simplify the layer, then select a different font for your next text layer, that first layer will morph to that new font. And you might not notice it until MUCH later and have to go back and fix it. So don’t forget to Simplify once you’re satisfied with spelling, grammar and punctuation. After that, I typed out my title exactly the same as the first layer, only in white this time. And I resized it to the same size as my original layer. Here’s where the people really paying attention can give me the gears. My resized font is 114.31 pixels.

They weren’t in exactly the same place on the workspace, but it looks really cool just like this! If it was what I was after I’d just have gone with it. But I envisioned something more, so I kept going.

PSA: Simplify your text layers!!

I wanted the two layers stacked perfectly, white over gray, so I used the Move Tool Options to Align the layers, first by Center then by Middle.

I turned off the gray layer again and concentrated on the white outline layer. I clicked on the Layer thumbnail to select the edges of the letters as shown below.

I want the white sections to be thinner so more of the gray shows through, so I clicked Select>Modify>Contract. I didn’t want to lose too much, so I went with a single-digit shrink of 7 pixels.

If you look closely you can see where the new lines of marching ants have appeared. I’m now going to DELETE those sections. CTRL/CMD>X

Ah! Not exactly what I was expecting, but really, really neat!

I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like with the gray layer on. I wanted to add some dimension to the white layer, which I did by using a Simple Sharp Pillow Emboss bevel style, one of the integrated styles the software comes with.

It looked really good, but just a little TOO… too. Easily fixed by adjusting the bevel settings.

I clicked on the fx icon on the white layer and made the bevel much smaller. I think it looks like inlaid enamel and chrome, don’t you? Now I’m itchy to try this with other fonts and see what different effects I can achieve just by layering two fonts. Who knew it would be so much fun?

Here is my finished layout. It’s for the Designer Spotlight Challenge this month and was created with pieces of 3 kits by Connie Prince and a template from Trixie Scraps. The people in the photo are my grandparents; it was taken in the summer of 1961. By the following Easter he was gone; this is one of only 2 photos I have of him where he doesn’t have a cigarette in his hand. I see a little bit of my dad in each of them, and my sister’s eyes crinkle in the same way Grandma’s do. I’d never noticed it before, so this was a labour of love.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Everything New is Old Again

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Today’s technique is going to turn a sort of ho-hum colour photo into something that looks like a vintage one. It will work with any colour photo at all, but it looks best when there’s lots of detail and texture.

To begin, I opened my photo in Elements then selected Guided Edit. When the menu shown below opened up, I selected Fun Edits>Old Fashioned Photo. These Guided Edits transform photos with only a couple of clicks and a little tweaking.

There are three presets in this menu as shown below.

The first preset is called Newspaper. And it looks a lot like those black-and-white photos found in any newspaper. There’s a good amount of contrast and sharp details.

The second preset is Urban. It’s a little softer but grungier.

The last one is Vivid; it looks like a happy medium between the first two. It’s the one that adds the most oomph to the sky.

I liked the look of Vivid for this photo. The next step is Adjust Tone. The effect it has on the photo is pretty subtle, and you might not really see it.

It’s just a little bit brighter, and perhaps the details are a tad bit sharper. Clicking on this tool multiple times doesn’t add any further effect.

Let’s add some texture. Unlike the previous step, multiple clicks will increase the amount of “texture” which actually is more properly called noise.

It’s looking really interesting, but we still need to add some colour.

Shown below are the default settings for the colour adjustment.

I made some very slight changes to the settings, warming up the colour just a hint, adding a tiny bit more saturation and lightening it up a barely-there amount.

I like how dramatic the sky looks with this Edit. Then I clicked the Next button.

Here’s where you decide what you’re going to do with your photo. If you plan to use it right away for a layout, or if you want to make more adjustments to it, obviously you’ll click In Expert.

When the Expert workspace opens, you’ll see right away that all the changes you’ve made have been done on a copy of your photo.

Let’s play a little more. Remember Blend Modes? I tried them all on this photo. Some looked really interesting, some where downright HORRIBLE. The ones I’ll show you are the ones that didn’t make my eyes hurt.

Multiply made the colour come back and the overall look is very moody.

Darker Color also let the colour come through again, but kept the sky that weirdly unnatural brown.

This one is muted and soft.

Usually Overlay lightens and softens too, but not on this technique.

I think this mode is well-named. It’s HARD!

Linear Light makes me think of movie posters from the 50s and 60s.

This was one of the odder ones.

A Clockwork Orange, anyone?

I think this one is rather odd, too. Misnamed, for sure!

See anything you’d like to incorporate into a layout? At this point, I chose to Merge the two layers together. I could now save it as a new version of the original.

As I was running through this edit, I found the power lines were really jarring. In the original they were virtually unnoticeable, but in some modes they jumped off the screen. The water tower and wagon are so vintage, but the wires looked out-of-place. So I used the Spot Healing brush to remove them.

I played a bit with the Hue/Saturation a bit too. Quick keys for that adjustment are CTRL/CMD>U.

I liked it slightly more sepia than copper. This step will seem really bizarre, since I made a point of adding texture to the photo way back at the start. But when I hit it with Haze Removal, I LOVED how it looked.

See the difference? I think it looks like a real, vintage photo from 100 or more years ago.

This is where I stopped. I have no idea what I plan to do with it, but I know I’ll be using this edit again!

Don’t be afraid to play with the features Elements has to offer. All you’ll give up is a little bit of time, and you might find something that defines your style perfectly!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Throwing the BOOK at Glee

[This tutorial is for advanced-intermediate and expert users of Photoshop Elements.]

Awhile back I got a private message from Glee asking if I had any tips for making text look more like it’s really sitting on the page when using a book element, rather than floating above it. I didn’t have any tips but thought it might make a good tutorial. Boy, did I bite off a big chunk of what-the-heck-can-I-do-here! The following images represent hours of experimenting and starting over, and I wasn’t completely successful. But I learned a lot in the process so that’s a good outcome, at least for me.

I scoured through my stash for a book that looked similar to the one Glee used for her layout and this was the only one I have. So I went with it, even though the left hand page presents some serious challenges due to perspective.

First things first. You want to choose a font that looks like it would be used on the pages of a book – a typewriter-style font. The colour of your “ink” should be black or dark gray. Adjust the size of the font to be suitable for your pages and your leading should be sufficiently wide to allow all the uppers and lowers to have space. Also, ensure you’ve got your justification set to the left. Justification is the alignment of the first letter on each line. When you choose Center, your text will automatically adjust itself so that each line is centered with the one before. That’s NOT what you want for this purpose. Your text needs to line up with the left edge of the page, or the margin. Please note… I didn’t do that in several of the images to follow and lived to regret it!

Yes… lots of mistakes! But let’s run with it to start off so you can see why it’s important.

The Warp Tool isn’t available until you’ve put your cursor on the page. You can activate it then, or you can type out some text and then deploy it. It’s the right-most little box with the T sitting on top of a curved arrow when you’ve got the Tool Options open. There are several options with little pictograms showing you the basic shape of each Warp.

For the top of this left hand page, the Arch Warp will work. Play with the sliders, moving them to the left and right to see how they work, then decide which ones you need to move to shape your text.

Here’s a tip… when you’re moving across the page toward the spine, perspective demands that the text gradually gets smaller the closer to the spine it gets. To adjust that with the Warp tool you’d move the Vertical Distortion slider to the LEFT. You can also move the text box around using the Move tool, moving it to the angle it needs to sit properly on the page.

Here you can see the way the Vertical Distortion adjustment works. As long as you haven’t Simplified the text layer, you can use the Warp tool as many times as you need to.

The image below shows very clearly why left-justification is important. If you’re using a poem as your text, you can leave it centered and it’ll be fine but for prose, not so much.

My next efforts used a smaller size on my font. It’s still much too big, but it still lets me show you some more tweaking.

I learned that it’s easier to make the Warp adjustments look right if I angled the text box to follow the upper edge of the page first. Please ignore the typo in the red text below…

The Arch Warp worked here, sort of. I used the Vertical Distortion slider too.

It still doesn’t look quite right. There are other tools that can be used to adjust the text’s shape.

I like to zoom in and out while I work so I can see the overall effect of whatever I’m doing. Zooming in tight lets me see it up close for those little tweaks, zooming out shows the whole image and shows where I need to make bigger changes.

So, have I mentioned that I don’t love this left-side page? I played with this area so much and hated everything I did with it.

It looks like the Flag Warp should work. But it’s going to need a lot of massaging.

There are other tools to alter the shape and size of layers. With text layers that aren’t simplified, there are only two ways to Transform the layer, Free Transform (which never seems to do anything I want it to) and Skew. If you’ve never used these awesomely useful tools, I highly recommend them.

I did a little Skewing, but although it looks better, I’m not sure it will make the more… erm… particular scrappers out there happy.

Then I thought, well, it’s not working so great doing big blocks of text all at once, and with two different curves, it would need more than one block of text anyway, so maybe if I did one line at a time…

I was cautiously optimistic when I saw how well the first line worked out. I used Arch and adjusted the Vertical Distortion.

The second line seemed okay too. I selected both layers at the same time so I could skew them at the same time. It was important to keep the space between the lines of text uniform.

Aaaaaaaannnnd then, I abandoned ship. It was taking a lot of time and it wasn’t really working any better. So I typed out some text that filled about 2/3 of the space. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make one single block do all the things I needed it to do.

First I made sure the left-justified text was parallel with the edge of the page.

Then I tried a couple of options in the Warp Text menu. I tried Shell Upper first. Do you see what I see?

Yeah, that didn’t work. So I tried the Wave Warp. Whoa!! That’s BAD!

So I reversed my tactics and SKEWED first and THEN Warped.

That looks okay! Sort of. The bottom is still not making me light up.

As long as I left the text box as a text box and not a Smart Object all I could do with it is Skew it. Already tried that. So I Simplified the layer. Then I went back to the Layers>Transform menu and tried both the Distort and Perspective tools. (See the bounding box?) That made it a lot more right.

Then I added a block of text at the bottom.

By now I was feeling like this just wasn’t going to be good. The Arch Warp looks okay, but still not YEAH!

I tweaked some more. The Skew doesn’t look right either, when I zoomed out.

I did a LOT of things trying to get it right. I even cut and pasted individual words in the last line to see if that would help. Alas, no.

So I surrendered. The other page was always going to be easier, and in retrospect, if I were to do anything with the pages in this particular book, I would put  photo or image on the left-side page (oh wait… a poem could go on this page, couldn’t it?), leaving a big margin around it to disguise the imperfect adjustments, then Skew/Distort it to look okay and leave it alone.

So I filled that right-side page with left-justified text then hit it with the Flag Warp. That was almost enough!!!!

Really, just a wee bit of Distortion almost had it right in just three steps (FlagWarp>Simplify Layer>Distort).

A little bit of a Skew and now it looks great!

The final version isn’t awful, if you don’t look too closely or too long!

I hope I didn’t lose you along the way. That was a complicated one! (I even tossed out about 15 of my screenshots.) I really can’t encourage you enough to experiment with the things Elements can do. You might discover something no one has ever done before, and then you can teach the rest of us!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 15)

Transforming the Ordinary to the Extraordinary!

Here’s a look at the little monster who’s been robbing me of sleep and keeping me from being productive. She’s lucky she’s cute! But we’re now halfway through Day 4 with no puddles in the house, and she actually slept all night last night. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

When I took a good look at this snapshot I caught with my phone, I thought it was pretty special. But it could be even better, so I thought, “Why not play around with some more of those Guided Edits in PSE and see what happens.” The results are below. I could have stopped after any of the steps I took, so don’t think you’d ever have to do all of these adjustments to make your photos more amazing. You don’t!

The first one I used was the Brightness and Contrast Edit. Guided>Basic>Brightness and Contrast.

The menu looks really simple, and it is! Clicking once on the Auto Fix button is perhaps all your photo might need. The sliders are automatically set as shown.

This is how it changed with just one click. It’s not all that obvious, but I think her eye pops a bit more.

I moved the sliders just a tiny bit, decided I was happy then I went down to the lower right corner of the screen and clicked on Next.

The menu shown below opens up, offering the options of Saving the image, Editing some more or Sharing it with your friends on social media.

Of course, I wasn’t done experimenting. So I clicked on Expert under Continue Editing, and then selected the Guided tab again. Next I chose Sharpen from the menu.

The menu for this edit is simple too. I clicked on Auto Fix.

And there’s a visible change. You can click the Auto Fix button multiple times, or manually adjust the sharpening by using the slider. When you’re ready, click on Next.

After I clicked on Auto Fix a second time, there was an increase in texture in the hair on her nose.

So I hit it again. I think it’s just a little too much though, looks artificial. So I clicked on the button beside the Next button, Cancel.

Yeah, that’s the best look. So Next

Now I decided to try one of the Guided Color Edits. Let’s see what Saturated Film Effects looks like.

I wanted to show you the menu for this edit before I made any changes. The Add Saturation Film Effect button is another one you can click on multiple times to intensify the effect.

I think this image looks a little brighter and a little softer but keeps the eye in focus.

So on to the next Edit! Anyone know what the Orton Effect is? According to Wikipedia, “Orton imagery, also called an Orton slide sandwich or the Orton Effect, is a photography technique which blends two completely different photos of the same scene, resulting in a distinctive mix of high and low detail areas within the same photo. It was originated by photographer Michael Orton in the mid 1980s.” Some purists feel that the effect has been overused, especially in portrait photography. But we’ll look at it any way. (I’m not much of a conformist!)

The Add Orton Effect button has 3 sliders for further adjustment. I pushed the sliders all the way to the left to see the effect at its most basic.

It’s another Edit that can be duplicated multiple times. Here’s what it looks like after two clicks. It’s very dark. But I haven’t given up on it!

I played with the sliders. I pushed the Brightness slider all the way to the right.

Then I added some Noise. It adds quite a grainy look to the image, and that might work really well for some purposes.

Now a little Blur… just a bit, to add that dreaminess the Orton Effect is known for.

And I could stop here. But you know me by now… I’m not done yet!

I’d like to go back to the Basic menu and hit it again with Brightness and Contrast.

Now I think it looks a lot like a painting by one of the Dutch Masters of the 17th century. It’s the light…

It’s only looking more and more beautiful!

I’m sure you know I chose to continue editing. When I went to the Expert workspace, I discovered that each edit had created a new layer. So I merged them all together.

I wanted it just a little brighter still, so I chose to go the Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness and Contrast route.

All I did was shift the Brightness slider a little to the right.

Okay. At this point, I absolutely LOVE what I’ve done with this photo. I saved it as it looks right now so I don’t have to recreate it later, because now we’re going to play with some filters. The image below shows Filter>Artistic>Poster Edges. It’s pretty cool! Think about how you could use this filter to create a caricature effect on your portraits.

I didn’t layer the filters, trying them individually to see how they each look by themselves. This is Rough Pastels.

Crosshatch adds to the Old Masters effect!

Let me zoom in on that one.

I’m so thrilled with how it looks that I’m almost done. I want to just add a little texture to it to push the oil-painting look a little more.

Who knew I was channeling Rembrandt?

My challenge to you is to use any or all of these edits to create your own masterpiece!

Tutorial Tuesday – Photoshop Elements

Totally TACKY!

We’ve moved into the second quarter of 2018 already! And with a new month comes new challenges at GingerScraps… Don’t you love them?? This month, Marina (Magical Scraps Galore) has a really different spin on the Mix It Up challenge. She wants us to use at least 3 different silver or chrome elements on a layout. Well. When I saw “chrome”, it was like a bell went off! I had planned to show you how to create a dotted border the quick-and-easy way, and it very quickly morphed into a tacky border instead. (Well, it’s a couple of additional steps.)

I chose this fabulous bandana-style paper as my background. It’s from Just So Scrappy‘s Let Freedom Ring collection. Then I popped a new layer on top of it for my border layer.

Next step was to choose a round brush from the Brush tool menu. I resized it to 75 pixels (to give it some presence) and set the Opacity to 100%. The colour really doesn’t matter but you should choose something that will show up against your background. I’m going to turn the visibility of my paper layer off for the next few steps. You can do whatever works for you.

After making sure I was working on the BLANK layer at the top, I went on to my next step.

I went back to my Brush menu and clicked on the Brush Settings button. Here I made sure my Fade was set to 0, Hue Jitter also to 0 and Scatter to 0. Spacing needs to be a big number. It’s a percentage of the brush’s size and will determine how much space is between the dots. Since I have a 75 pixel brush, I set this number to 400%. But feel free to experiment. Hardness (determines how sharp the edge of the brush will be) and Roundness both need to be at 100% (unless you’re faking a stitched border but we’re not going to go there today).

I turned on my Grid (View>Grid or CTRL/CMD>’) to save myself some effort. I decided my border should be 1/2 inch in from the corner. Then I clicked my Brush at that spot.

Do you remember how to draw a straight line in Elements? Hold down the Shift key and click at the spot where you want your line to end!

To make the rest of the border, it’s simply holding down the Shift key and clicking in the other three corners. It literally will take you 15 seconds. You can stop here if you just want a dotted border.

Now, to turn that dotted border into a tack border. I went to my Styles button down at the bottom of the Layers panel then chose Wow Chrome. In that menu I selected Wow-Chrome Shiny Edge. This Style set is one of the default styles that come with the Elements software right out of the box.

I liked the effect but thought it looked too umm… domed. If I’m smacking tacks with a hammer, they’re gonna flatten a bit. So I right-clicked on the fx on the layer and decreased the Bevel to about 6 pixels. I left the drop shadow alone.

This is how the finished border looked with the paper behind it.

To give you a better idea of scale, here’s the entire 12×12 canvas.

I wanted to see what other effects I could get using default Styles. So I copied the border layer and turned the Visibility of that layer off. It’s possible to add multiple Styles to an object or text as long as you work on individual layers with each.

This time I chose Bevels from the Styles menu and went with the Scalloped Edge bevel. Now the dots look like fancy tacks.

Next I selected the top layer and turned the Visibility back on.

I used the very same Wow-Chrome Shiny Edge style, but dropped the Opacity of that layer to 70%. Now the tacks look more like those pearl-inlaid buttons you see on Western shirts.

The different isn’t blatant, but it’s definitely there.

Another of the default Styles that came with Elements is Complex. I tried a couple of the choices here and settled on the Diamond Plate style. It has a funky industrial look to it.

When I decreased the amount of Bevel on this style, the effect became somewhat more matte and there wasn’t as much detail. It really looks like hand-cut nail heads to me now.

And here it is with the paper behind it. I’m not sure which one I like best. They’re all so neat!

There’s one more thing I played with and that’s turning the dotted border into holes in the paper. So I Selected the Layer thumbnail of the dotted border layer by clicking on the thumbnail in the Layers panel. That gave me my marching ants.

I turned off Visibility for the border layer and made sure I was working on the paper layer.

Then I Cut the selected dots out of the paper. (Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X)

That gave me perfectly spaced holes in my paper to perhaps weave a ribbon through.

I bet you can think of a few more ways to make this technique work for you. I’d love to see what you do with it!

Pinspiration | Big Titles

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Happy Saturday scrappers! I was perusing around Pinterest today looking for ideas. I stumbled upon a lovely layout (will show you below) with a big title. That got my scrappy gears moving in my brain. So, I thought I would share that inspiration with you.

So often we allow the photos or a great paper to be the focal point of our layout. We plop a title on at the very end of it all (if we do at all). Personally, I struggle with coming up with a great title. Really, as I scrap mostly my son, I feel like slapping “Isaiah” on every page. lol. I searched “scrapbook big title” on Pinterest & was inspired! Here are some great examples of making the title your focal point. Making a statement with a big title.

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The Pin | Original Source

I really like the idea of the large number that signifies something. It works at the title as well as a great backdrop. The choice of alpha allows for the large number to blend perfectly to the layout & not over power it. Who doesn’t have a number that is significant to them. A person’s age, an anniversary, or a reunion. The next time you are scrapping a memory that has a significant number marker, think about making that your focal point. Scrap it with a big title!

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The Pin | Original Source

This really is the focal point of the layout. I really like how the paper is cut around the title. I feel like when it is time for me to go to the beach, I want to yell it to everyone. Just go around yelling, “BEACH!” lol. This large titled layout really brings all the pretty and fun beach photos together. Your eyes are drawn to the large title to start with. At the same time, it is bringing your eyes to the photos around it. This would make a great title page to a vacation book too!

[Read more…]

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Here’s a Little Clip!

Today’s tutorial is brought to you by a comment made by Glee on one of my layouts. She asked me what to do with paper clips. So I used the same clip, from Blue Heart ScrapsBe Mindful February Buffet kit. This layout also uses a terrific template from Heartstrings Scrap Art‘s Winter Freeze 3 collection.

When you want to use a paper clip on a layout, you need to first think what it’s going to clip together. I like to clip several items together with mine, as you can see in the images above and below. I also like to leave a little bit of a gap at the bottom of the paperclip so it looks like it really is holding those things together. Once I’ve positioned my clip where and how I want it, I copy (CTRL/CMD>J) the clip layer so I have two of them. The “why” will become clear as we go along.

And…………..then I turn the visibility of the layer off.

I add a Layer Mask to the BOTTOM clip layer. (I forgot to select the correct layer for the screenshot below, so don’t do that!) If you’ve never used a layer mask I strongly recommend you start! They’re fantastic tools because if you remove something you didn’t want to remove, you can just paint it back. So make sure your bottom clip layer is selected, then click on the icon shown below.

This is what you’ll see in the Layers panel. Make sure you’re working on the MASK part of the layer – the blue outline has to be around the blank page. If you accidentally work on the thumbnail part of the layer, you won’t be able to paint back what you remove.

Then select the Eraser tool, and ensure white is the foreground colour. (White conceals, black reveals.) Carefully erase the part of the paperclip that will be behind/under your paper or photo.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to remove from your image, get a paper clip and a piece of paper, then put the paperclip on the paper somewhere. Put the paper flat on your desk and you can see what is hidden and what is not.

When you’ve removed the parts of your clip that will be hidden by your paper/photo, Simplify the layer. To do that you can right-click on the layer then select Simplify Layer. (No WSNH tip for that.) I know you’re wondering why all these steps are necessary, and it’s all about control. The Layer Mask is very forgiving, the Eraser tool isn’t. Simplifying the layer afterwards makes those changes permanent once you’re committed to them.

I like these shaped paper clips, both digital and real. There are lots of ways you can use them! Here I’ve tucked one of the free wire ends under the photo and the other under both the paper and the photo.

Now we can add a shadow to the BOTTOM clip layer that we’ve been working with. If you just go with a drop shadow style, you’ll have a shadow that runs over onto the paper and it’ll look odd. I don’t know who else has my problem, but those sorts of inconsistencies just jump out at me! So let’s avoid it. Create a new layer UNDER the visible clip. CTRL/CMD>click on the piece of paper icon to do that quickly. Then Select the outline of the clip by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the clip’s layer thumbnail. Then you’ll have those little marching ants. Using the Fill tool (paint bucket) fill the selected area ON THAT NEW LAYER with your shadow colour. I used black.

Once you have that shadow layer filled, you can shift the shadow to the angle where your layout’s light source is coming from. But then you’ll notice that shadow doesn’t actually touch the paper where it should. Use the Smudge tool to bring the shadow up to the paper. Just drop the cursor onto the black area near the edge, click-and-drag the tool to the edge of the paper.

Don’t worry if it’s overlapping the paper. It MUST touch the paper with no gap. Light can’t leak under wire , right?

Once you’ve got a good connection between your shadow and your paper edge (don’t neglect the other parts of the clip where some of it is hidden), you can carefully Erase the overlap. (Use a Layer mask if you’re unsteady.)

To soften the edges of your shadow layer, use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Look at the other shadows on your layout so you can make the clip’s shadow look natural. Remember that paper clips sit tight to the paper/photo, so the edges will be sharper than for other less-weighty items.

You want your shadow to look as real as possible. When you’ve got the Blur right, decrease the Opacity of the layer until it looks right.

Now, we could just call that good, but I think you know me better than that! I could get really technical here and start talking about Dodging and Burning, but I have a workaround that’s super-simple and that’s what you’re getting instead.

Now it’s time to turn on the second paperclip layer, the one we didn’t remove parts from. Then we’re going to add a Bevel style to it. Click on the Styles button down at the bottom right then select Bevel.

From the Bevel styles menu, I chose Simple Inner. The default settings will work very well, so no tweaking required. Can you see the way it makes the wire look round instead of flat?

The next thing is to add a shadow layer to this clip too. Make all the same lighting angle and Blur adjustment to it as you did for the first one. Here’s a WSNH tip: you can duplicate the degree of blur from your last action by simply clicking CTRL/CMD>F. After you’ve gotten those steps done, decrease the Opacity of BOTH the paperclip layer AND the shadow layer so that they’re barely visible.

Don’t be concerned that it seems really obvious when you’re zoomed right in tight. Nobody will see it that up-close but you.

See, here I’ve pulled out the zoom and there’s really just a hint of the wire showing through the papers.

Here’s my finished layout. I’m very pleased with it!

I hope you’ll give this one a try, unless you like your paperclips resting on top of your papers. There’s nothing wrong with that – paperclips and other things (dust!) can be scattered over other things. But now you can USE that paperclip to hold your goodies together!