Sneak Peeks March 22nd, 2018


Happy Thursday!!! It’s finally Spring! And of course the first day in Spring here in Florida was cold. Well cold to a Floridian. Hopefully warmer temps are coming for everyone! Our designers have some great Spring themed kits and templates this week!

From Ponytails

From Tinci

From Miss Fish

From JoCee

From Memories by Digital Design

From Aimee Harrison

From Aprilisa

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

From Clever Monkey Graphics

From Luv Ewe Designs

From Heartstrings Scrap Art

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Uniquely YOURS

Life at my house has been a tad bit hectic lately so today’s tutorial will be a quick-and-easy one. I don’t know about you but I just love Connie Prince‘s collections. She often includes some absolutely fabulous clustered word art titles, and she ALWAYS includes at least one alpha set. Her new collection, My Lucky Stars, is no exception. There are six clustered titles in the bundle… but what if none of the included titles really works for your layout? Well, it’s not difficult to make your own. I don’t know how Connie does it, but I’ll show you how Jan does!

I start with a new project workspace of roughly the size of the area I want to cover with my title cluster.

I like to start by placing one of the larger elements I plan to use into my space and moving it around a smidge. That will form the base for placement of everything else.

Then I usually add in my alpha. I’ve already decided what my title will say, and copied the various letters into my layout folder. As you can see, my title for this layout is “Sisters”. Make sure your letters are in the correct order! Then resize them all as a group. Guestimate how much space they’re going to take on your canvas.

Getting the size right isn’t always immediate. I adjusted mine a couple of times before I used the Distribute tool. This is similar to the Align tool. It simply moves everything between two spaces as I’ve shown you below and distributes them based on what parameter you choose. I went with Distribute>Middle. You could choose the right edge or the left edge depending on the look you’re after.

As you can see below, I didn’t get the size right even after I resized a couple of times. So I resized, moved the last S over to the right edge again and Redistributed until I had enough space to read what my title says.

There were a couple of letters that I needed to nudge individually because the algorithm the software uses to determine the middle of a letter doesn’t account for skinny letters like I or wide letters like W.

Once I had the letters arranged the way I wanted them, I added more of my elements onto the workspace. Layer them in a way that makes sense to you and for your layout. I usually have some idea of how I plan to use the things I’ve chosen, but sometimes I get a happy little surprise.

I moved the letters and string up a bit so all five points of the star were visible. I tucked the bow in behind the I and a little on top of the first S.

I knew from the beginning that I’d be using one of the Celtic knots from the kit, but wasn’t sure where I was putting it. I decided it looked really nice behind everything else, so that’s where it went. And since I was creating this layout on March 17th, I had to include a shamrock.

Then came time to shadow everything. All the items in this type of cluster should be shadowed separately so they look right where they overlap once you move them onto your layout. I started with the first S in Sisters and used a shadow style for paper. Then I made some minor adjustments so it looked the way I wanted it. Can you see it in the screenshot? To use the same settings on all the letters I right-clicked on the first S layer in the Layers panel and selected Copy Layer Style.

Then I selected all of the other alpha layers. (If they’re on on top of the next, click on the first layer, hold down the shift key and then click on the last layer. If they’re staggered throughout the Layers panel, hold down the CTRL/CMD key and click on each one separately.) Right-click brings the layers menu back up and this time I chose Paste Layer Style.

Now all the letters are shadowed and have definition and dimension.

I made custom shadows for the string and the bow, bringing the shadow in close where the object touches what’s underneath it and pulling it away where things could be lifted off the paper.

The last step is to link all the layers together so when I move the title cluster onto my layout, everything goes, and it all stays where I’ve put it. To link the layers, select them all as you did for shadowing multiple layers in one click. Click on the little link icon to the left of any one of the selected layers in the Layers panel and the links will turn yellow. That’s how you know the layers are linked together and will move together when the time comes.

Once you’ve added your title cluster to your layout, look at it at several different magnifications to see if you need to add a drop shadow to the whole shebang. I found that mine looked better with an added shadow. The finished layout is built on a template called My Lucky Charm from Heartstrings Scrap Art.

That’s how Jan does it. Nothing to it!

Sneak Peeks March 15th 2018

Happy Thursday! We only have 5 more days until Spring!!! Whether it is already spring in your area or you are until a few feet of the white stuff, hopefully some of the new goodies our designers are releasing, gives you some inspiration.

From Clever Monkey Graphics

From Laurie’s Scraps

From Tinci

From Memories by Digital Design

From Lindsay Jane

From Aimee Harrison

From Heather Z


From JoCee Designs


Have a great weekend!

~~Bake Sale – March~~

Wow. Can you believe it’s already time for the March Bake Sale? Where is the time going? I’m hoping that Spring makes an appearance to stay very soon for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Let’s see what the designers have for us this month. Remember, all of these kits are available from today (the 15th) until the 20th for just $1 each.

Time to do a little shopping!!

Have a great Thursday!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)


Have you ever seen a photo where it looks like there’s a soap bubble floating in front of the focal point? I’m so excited to show you how to get that effect (or maybe a crystal ball, magnifying glass or snow globe), and you’re going to love how easy it is! Don’t be intimidated by the number of images attached to this tutorial – half of them are just the “after” shot so you can see the change you just made. The first step is to choose your photo. It should have a strong focal point, like the butterfly in mine. This works with landscapes really well too.

The first step is to select a circular area of your photo around that focal point. I included the cluster of phlox the butterfly is perched on in mine. You can just draw a circle shape with the Elliptical Marquee tool, but it’ll make subsequent steps more difficult, so I recommend using the Fixed Size setting and a number you can remember easily. I chose 3.75 inches. I nudged it over so it included the parts I wanted in my bubble.

Leaving the marching ants active then CTRL/CMD>J will copy just what’s in the circle and put it on its own layer. (I learned several new things in the development of this tutorial!) Or, if you like the long way, right-click then choose Duplicate Layer, and add it to your current project.

This step should be familiar to long-time readers. Select the outside of your circle layer by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the layer thumbnail. Then go to Filter>Distort>Spherize.

You don’t have to change any of the defaults Elements has already put into the pop-up menu. Leave it at Normal and 100% then click OK.

Now you can see a bit of a bubble there. But it can be SO much better!

Create a new layer on top of your circle layer. Just click on the icon that looks like a piece of paper with a corner turned back.

Now you’re going to use the Rectangular Marquee tool, Fixed Size and the same dimensions you used for your circle.

Move the square selection over on top of your circle so the edges are touching the circle.

Now use the Paint Bucket tool to fill your square with black. Yes, black. Really.

Now it looks like this, and you’re sure you’ve made a mess of it. You haven’t. It’s all good!

Next you’re going to use another cool tool, Filter>Render>Lens Flare.

This is what happens when you click through. Change the Lens Type to 105mm Prime. Then click OK.

You can move that flare anywhere inside the square that you want. Take the direction of the light in your photo as your cue. Click on the + sign in the middle of the flare and holding down the left mouse button, move it to where you want it. Putting it in the corner like I’ve shown below works well.

We’re getting to the really good part soon.

You want that bright spot to be near the middle and the image itself more like a sphere. There’s another filter that does all that for you. Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates.

The pop-up menu looks like this. Leave it set to Rectangular to Polar and click OK.

I promise you’re still on the right track. It looks quite ugly, but you’re going to do another couple of easy tweaks and it’s going to be perfect!

Remember when we were working with custom shadows on their own layers and I showed you the Smudge tool? Well, we’re going to use that to “fix” this flare.

Use a fairly big Smudge brush and gently push it left to right over the harsh line. See how it makes a nice curve?

Do you also remember playing with Blend Modes? I know it was a long time ago, but I hope you’ve been experimenting with them. Right now you’re going to change the Blend Mode on the black square to Linear Dodge.

The black square is still there, but it doesn’t look like a square any more. Can you see the depth it’s adding?

Again, Select the outside of your circle layer. CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail, but make sure you’re working on the black square layer.

You need to Invert your selection so the selected part is what’s outside the circle. You can either Select>Inverse or you can CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>I.

Now you’re going to cut away all the stuff outside the circle. Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X will do that.

You’re almost there!

If you’re only wanting the image too look like it’s inside a **soap bubble you can skip the next few steps. But if you want a crystal ball look, or a snow globe or magnifying glass look, make a copy of the Lens Flare layer. CTRL/CMD>J or right-click>Duplicate>Layer then add it to your project.

This layer needs to be paler and softer, because it’s going to be your shadow. (Bubbles don’t really cast shadows, that’s why you can skip this part for bubbles.) Decrease the Opacity to somewhere between 40 and 50%.

Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Almost there!

Now to make the second Lens Flare layer into a shadow. To do that Image>Transform>Skew.

Now you can grab one of the handles on the bounding box and shift it around. You can see the bounding box in the image below. You can move each one until the shape looks right to you. And you can rotate it too.

Hit that layer with a Gaussian Blur filter to make it soft and shadowy.

You want the edges to be soft, but not totally indistinct. A Radius of 7 or so is good. If your shadow isn’t visible in the preview box, click your cursor along the edge somewhere.

Once again, you need to Select the circle.

Then hit it again with the Filter>Distort>Spherize tool. That pushes the part inside the selection away and back so it looks like you’re seeing it through the crystal ball.

Same settings as before.

**Now, to get the look of a soap bubble, you’ve ignored the last eleven images. To get a bubble edge you need to create a new blank layer. Select the outside of your circle again by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the layer thumbnail. On that new layer, add a 1 pixel white stroke outside the circle. Then hit it with the Gaussian Blur  filter at a Radius of about 4.

And you’re done! There are lots of steps and the first time you do this you’ll feel like you’ll never get the hang of it, but I’ve written this tutorial from memory so it IS possible. Thanks to Chuckie Delano for the excellent video tutorial I used as a basis for this.

Designer Spotlight: Luv Ewe Designs

Do you know Jennifer? No? Well, let me introduce you! Jennifer is the genius behind Luv Ewe Designs. She’s one half of this month’s Featured Designers. Jennifer graciously allowed me to “interview” her recently. Here’s a transcript.

JiA: How long have you been designing?

LED: Nearly 10 years.

JiA: What is your design process?

LED: I love looking at Pinterest for colors! Then I usually make my papers first. They come easy to me. I love to preview at the end and see how it all comes together. Sometimes I surprise myself. But better yet is when my CT (creative team) does an awesome job at showcasing the kit! They are a great group of girls!

JiA: What do you use to create your designs (software, hardware etc)?


JiA: Describe your design work space.

LED: Quite a small area, really. I really like my desk though. It belonged to my great-grandparents. My grandmother used to do her homework on it. There are inkstains on it from the dip pens they used to use. My grandmother asked me to never cover up the stains, they give it character.

JiA: What a fantastic heirloom that is! What motivates and inspires your designs?

LED: Weird things inspire me. Sometimes I just see a quote on Pinterest and BAM! There is an idea for a kit. Happened to me last night… now to start creating it!

JiA: What kit currently available in your GingerScraps store is your favourite? Why?

LED: That is a hard one. I think it might be the Grateful kit I did with Blue Heart Scraps. I love doing collabs with her! The colors are soft and cute, and it’s all girly! I like all-girly kits because I have all boys.

JiA: Do you craft outside of the digital world?

LED: Not as much as I used to. I love to decorate my home. Does that count?

JiA: Of course it counts! What is the last book you read?

LED: She Believes by Debbie Lindell. It is written by the pastor of my church. It’s very inspirational towards women. I don’t read much but I definitely loved this one!

JiA: How appropriate… it’s International Women’s Day! Tea, or coffee?

LED: Tea! Hubby is brewing some strawberry chocolate green tea right now. Yum!

JiA: Sounds… different. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

LED: Doctor Pepper and anything caramel.

JiA: I’m so glad I don’t have to answer that question. If time travel were possible, where would you go and why?

LED: I don’t want to go to the future. I will just wait and see what happens. Something may end up being depressing and then I’d just worry about it. Maybe go back to see Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa.

JiA: What’s your favourite thing about GingerScraps?

LED: The gals are sweet and helpful there. I’ve been in other stores and there just was not much communication between everyone. I just felt like I was on my own.

JiA: If you could have any super power what would it be?

LED: Probably to be a fly on the wall and spy on people.

JiA: Invisibility would let you do that too! But you know what they say about eavesdroppers… they never hear anything good about themselves. Thank you for chatting with me, Jennifer.

Ladies, before we sign off here, Jennifer has a terrific special sale for us! Let’s show our appreciation by shopping with her.

Sneak Peeks March 8th 2017


Happy Thursday!!! Don’t forget the dreaded time change happens this weekend in the states. I always hate the spring forward! I don’t like my hour of sleep taken away!! Also if you are playing Scrapping Survivor don’t miss the deadline! Maybe some of the oodles of new releases might help you out with you page! Let’s take a look at some of what’s releasing tomorrow!

From Tinci


From Neia Scraps

From Heather Z

From JoCee

From Aimee Harrison

From Miss Fish

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tutorial Tuesday (Facebook Timeline Covers)

Here we are into March already! Time is flying, and as I get older, the faster it goes. (Retirement can’t get here soon enough though.) This week I thought we could talk about one of the new GingerScraps monthly challenges. This one, the Facebook Timeline Cover challenge, was suggested by one of our wonderful members and Ginger thought it was brilliant. In some ways it’s like the Signature challenge, not a full-sized layout, and with some specific limitations. I’m an inherently lazy person, so I decided I would make myself a little template to make it easier. And now I’m sharing it with you! (Of course, if you’re not on Facebook it’s essentially useless to you and you’ve probably already quit reading…) You can grab the template HERE and as you can see in the image below there are two layers. One is the photo spot and one is the background, which includes a stroke outline, if you like that sort of thing. I measured everything for you so you can just fill ‘er up!

Here’s a caveat for you. This template works really nicely on the desktop/laptop version of Facebook, but on your phone or tablet the photo will be centered on the background. Isn’t it great then that I’ve made the photo spot moveable? It’s on its own layer! You can see in the image below that the paper layer is on top of that stroked layer. I’m going to move it up my stack later.

I chose KristmessHappy Go Lucky kit – I LOVE it! I decided I wanted a frame around my photo and it looks great! It will hang off the template at the bottom and that’s okay. When you’ve got your Timeline Cover finished you can crop that bit off using the Crop tool. (CTRL/CMD>C) You might also notice I’ve thrown a scatter on there underneath the photo layer.

This month’s challenge was to create a Cover that reflects March to us. Some people might be already deep into spring, some might have a birthday (both my daughters are March babies), some might be into basketball and March Madness, and some might have special holidays to commemorate. For me, March is always about St Paddy’s Day. My very Irish grandfather lived for that day each year (it was the only day Grandma didn’t limit his pints) and he actually died on March 17 the year I turned 4. So my Timeline Cover is all about that. I added a few Irish elements then moved the stroked layer right on top of the paper layer so I could apply a glitter-gloss stroke to it. I used that dark green from Miss Mis DesignsMarch Buffet Sunshine and Rain style pack. I made the stroke a little wider first though.

Don’t forget to shadow your elements. The dimension and realism they provide will really elevate your cover.

After I put my finished cover up on my Facebook profile, I noticed there were a couple of tiny little tweaks needed to give it a perfect fit, so I adjusted your template to be just right for all of you.

Have some fun with this one! Make sure you keep a plain copy for next month and the month after that!




Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

The EYES Have It!

A number of notable thinkers through history have said the eyes are the windows to the soul, or some variation of that. That might be true, but when we’re talking about photographs, portraits in particular, the eyes are the focal point to which all attention is drawn. Am I right? I did some photo editing for Terri in South Africa over the weekend and one of the things I did was to bring the eyes of her subjects out of the shadows. She wondered if I could use her photos as the basis for a tutorial, but the adjustments I made to them were a little too complicated for this forum. But I thought a quick, easy little tutorial on brightening eyes might be in order. Let’s look at this really cute photo I found on Pixabay.

Yeah, she’s as cute as a bug’s ear. But think how much cuter she’ll be with brighter eyes! Zoom in on your photo so the eyes almost fill your workspace. We’re going to use the Dodge and Burn Tools again. The Dodge Tool looks like a lollipop, or that plastic wand the eye doctor uses at the beginning of an eye exam when he asks you to cover one eye. Dodging selectively lightens an area on a photo. We’ll start there. Select the Dodge Tool as shown, then make adjustments to the settings. It will automatically go to the software’s preset default, or if you’ve used it, to the last settings you used. Because I used this tool on Terri‘s photos, the brush size is huge. Not gonna work now! For this part your settings are: Dodge>Range=Highlights>Exposure=20>Brush=15 to 20 or whatever size will fit between the outside of the iris and the edge of the pupil. Brush your Dodge Tool over the iris of each eye, concentrating on the area right under the pupil. Don’t go overboard, you want the colour to remain, just lighten and brighten.

The effect will be subtle. But if you look back and forth between this image and the one above, you can definitely see it. Now switch to the Burn Tool, the one that looks like a hand with the fingers and thumb making a circle. Burning selectively darkens an area of a photo. Your settings for this step should be Burn>Range=Shadows>Exposure=20>Brush size 10-15. You want the brush to overlap your dodged area, but only a little. Then brush the Burn Tool over the outer edge of each iris, with a little extra attention to the area just below the upper eyelid.

See the change? The eyes are so much brighter, but not bash-you-over-the-head-brighter. They still look natural and real. You could stop here and have made a great improvement to the way people perceive your photo.

So let’s amp up the brightness factor by adding to the catch-lights already there. Again we’ll use the Dodge Tool. (It seems like a LOT of steps but it really is an intuitive technique after you’ve done it a few times.) The settings I used are Dodge>Range=Highlights>Exposure=60>Brush=5. Then just hit the catch-lights with that tiny brush to brighten them some. The brush needs to be very small; catch-lights that are too big and prominent make the person look like they’re under the influence… not their best look!

Wowsers! It looks so good!!

Again, you could stop here. Or you can switch back to the Burn Tool and using the same settings on Shadows, plump up those eyelashes a bit. I lined her upper eyelid then brushed over each lash to add some weight to it.

And when I was done, she looked like this. Now her eyes are much more noticeable and magnetic. It literally took me longer to do the screenshots than it did to brighten her eyes. I could have gone on to eliminate the freckles (why?? I LOVE freckles!) and even out her skin but I don’t think she needs it.

Will you try this one on one of your almost-perfect portraits?

Pinspiration | Big Titles


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.


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!


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!

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