Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

A Little Bit Sketchy

Today I’m going to show you how to go from THIS…

to THIS!

And it’s only going to take you about 10 minutes to create your own sketchy image. Really! (Glee, did you figure it out? Of COURSE I planned a tutorial when I created my Designer Spotlight challenge layout!)

First things first. Open up a new blank 12×12 canvas on your workspace. You can always resize it later, but having a big canvas to work on makes it a lot easier to get it right.

Drag and drop a soft white paper onto your canvas. You have lots of choices in your GingerScraps stash so pick one you like that will work with your photo.

Now drag and drop your photo onto the paper. Enlarge it to fill the workspace with the section you want to work on… or leave it… it doesn’t matter which you do. I wanted a square image when I was done, so I resized. Then Duplicate that photo layer. (WSNH: CTRL/CMD>J)

Then turn the TOP LAYER‘s visibility off.

We’re going to play with the Filters that come with the software. Remember to select the bottom photo layer to work on for this step, then Filter>Stylize>Find Edges.

Now you’ve got a neat pencil sketch right there. You could be happy with that, but with a couple of other tweaks you can have something much more unique.

To make the white areas disappear decrease the saturation of the layer down to -100. There are two ways to get there: Enhance>Adjust Color>Hue/Saturation is one and the WSNH way – CTRL/CMD>U is the other. The menu should look like this when you’re done.

Now we have to make the sketch vanish. Hold down the ALT key and click on the Layer Mask symbol at the top of the Layers panel. In case this is your first attempt at one of my tuts, it’s the one that looks like a piece of paper with a blue circle on it, the middle of five symbols grouped together.

Now for the magic! Go to your Brush tool (hit the B key) and find a nice watercolour brush. There are some in the default brush set Natural Brushes 2 that came with your software, or you can download some free ones via a quick Google search. I used some that I found at Brusheezy. Either way, you want to decrease the Opacity of the brush to give you more control over how your sketch comes together.

Make sure you’re working on the layer mask and NOT on your image. Start painting back your sketch with your watercolour brush, either by clicking on the mask with a full-sized brush several times or by clicking and dragging the mouse over the area you want to make visible. You want to keep the edges of your sketch soft and indistinct so it all seems to blend into the background.

You can change brushes and adjust the size and angle of the brush to vary their effects.

If you’ve never changed the angle of a brush, this will show you how. Click on the Brush Settings… bar and either move the tip of the arrow around or type a number into that box highlighted blue in the screenshot.

Keep moving your brush(es) around until your sketch looks well-defined in the area you want to highlight in your finished image and softer towards the edges.

To bring some colour into your sketch, just follow the same process with your top-most photo layer. Turn the visibility back on so you can actually do stuff to the photo layer. Hold down the ALT key, click on the Layer Mask symbol and make your photo disappear.

Using the same watercolour brush or a different one, your choice, decrease the opacity a bit more and start painting the colour in.

Work carefully from your focal point out. You can have areas where the photo is 100% visible and other areas where the sketchy aspect is more visible. All up to you!

If you feel like you’ve made the photo TOO clear, you can change the foreground colour of your brush from white to black and soften it up again.

That could have been where I stopped. You could stop there and have a simply stunning photo effect that will make people so impressed with your skills. I wanted to see what I would have if I duplicated just the sketch layer. To do that, I used my WSNH keyboard shortcut (CTRL/CMD>J) then right-clicked on the new sketch layer to disable the layer mask. A second right-click let me delete the layer mask and left me with just the sketch. With it sandwiched in between the original sketch and the photo, it looked like the screenshot below. I played with the Opacity of that layer, which is what I used for my layout.

Rather than make you look for it, here it is.

I can’t wait to see what you do with this one!! This technique is perfect for those scenic shots we all have in our collection. Have fun!!

Tutorial Tuesday (General)

How’d You DO That?!! Fontography Demystified

Have you ever looked at a magazine layout or a scrapbook layout and immediately been captivated by the combination of fonts used? Or, alternatively, looked at one and thought, “Wow… that looks… umm… really weird”? And what about all those Pinterest pins that show font combinations… how were they arrived at? After I put together the tutorial on chalkboard art, I had several people comment on how the fonts I chose looked really good together. But I’d never really broken down the process of choosing font combos. So I’m going to share some basic thoughts about how to pair fonts to make your layouts look pulled together, appealing and well-designed.

The fonts I’ve combined in my examples will be named in the screenshot following for each of these tips. Here’s the first combo.

When you’re thinking about pairing fonts, the first consideration is choosing fonts that compliment each other AND your topic. Think about the layout you’re designing and the mood it creates. Does it have a strong personality? Look for fonts that match the mood and personality of your photos, elements and arrangement. The sample below has two Art Deco era fonts in it. See how they work together? They’re from the same general era, so they should look like they belong together.

These are the two fonts I combined for my sample. They make me think of the Roaring 20s, flappers and bathtub gin.

Now see how the wrong pairing can just look odd? They’re of similar weights (more about weight in a minute) and are both bold fonts, but they have nothing else in common.

Even the names the designer gave them aren’t complimentary!

Next you want to consider something called “visual hierarchy“, which is a $10 phrase meaning “Who’s the boss”. In my sample below I chose a heavy slab-style creepy font for the title and a somewhat less weighty, condensed font for the subtitle. You can easily see that had I done it the other way around, the title wouldn’t command much attention.

I love Hallowe’en so I have a selection of these gnarly fonts for my related layouts. (Sometimes the names the designers give them are a little risqué.)

Here’s another combo, one that isn’t quite right. The two fonts, although they’re both similar in mood, don’t work as well together. It’s not horrible, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. This is where your judgment and your “design eye” come in.

Great names!

Let’s talk a little about context. In this case, the definition we’re going to use is this one: “the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.“. I touched on it briefly when I talked about complimentary fonts. But there are some other aspects that need attention too. For example, subject matter; the first font in the screenshot below would work beautifully for a layout about building a new home, or racing motocross, or even one about guys doing guy stuff. But it wouldn’t do for a wedding layout, or one about a tea party with your grand-daughter. 

Another aspect is what you’re communicating with the font. The swirly, curly, girly font on the second line isn’t readable when all caps are used. It would be perfect for a title or subtitle on a tea party or wedding layout when used appropriately. So always think about how you’re going to use the font, and about readability. If you use a tiny, condensed font like the third line it may be difficult to read. For journaling you’re going to want it to be a clean, easily read style in a size that doesn’t require a magnifying glass, particularly if you’re going to print your 12×12 layouts in a smaller size, like 8×8.

These are the fonts I used in my sample above.

This concept is pretty simple. Serif fonts are the ones with those little extra bits that extend from letters as shown in the top sample, and are absent in fonts described as sans serif. (“Sans” means without in French.) You can think of them as a little bit more formal for serif fonts and a little more casual for sans serif fonts.

These are the fonts I paired above.

Alternatively you could pair a sans serif font with a serif font as I’ve shown below.

Next, let’s talk about contrast. The four fonts I’ve chosen for this sample all actually work together. Size and weight are important when you’re thinking about both context and contrast. I’ve used a 72 point font for all these samples so you can get a feel for these concepts.

The first example is a middle-of-the-road font with a medium size, a medium weight and a solid texture.

The second example is an attractive, light-weight, thin decorative font.

The third example is a formal, serif-style, weighty and highly textured font.

And the last example is a scripty, balanced medium-weight font.

What makes them work? They’re different, but complimentary styles. Their relative sizes vary, even though they’re all 72 point. They have different weights – you can almost feel the pressure they exert on the paper. Their forms are different too; look at the relative length of the parts of some letters that descend below the baseline. Although they’re all quite distinct, they have a similar curviness to them that tie them together. And they have variable directions of movement.

See one you liked? These are the fonts I used.

Now, having said all the preceding things, you still have to avoid conflict. See what I mean?

Individually, they’re all great fonts. Together, they’re a mess!

While you’re avoiding conflict, remember to avoid using fonts that are too similar. See how this example breaks all of the rules we’ve looked at so far?

Again, beautiful fonts, but just a little too close for comfort.

One way to be very sure of your font choices is to use fonts from the same family. The designer has created them to work together by varying their weight, their size and their texture, but sticking to a single form. Many of the fonts your computer came with are bound in families like the ones below.

Again, these examples are all the same point size, but they’re just different enough from each other to keep things interesting.

Don’t go crazy with a dozen different fonts on one layout. There needs to be some unifying quality to them and they need to suit their purpose. A good rule of thumb is to keep them to about 3. No more than 5… except when you’re creating subway art. When you’re journaling, this might help you choose. Serif fonts are better for reading quickly because the characters sort of flow one into the next with those little extra bits they have. But when the primary place your creation will be viewed is on a screen, you might want to choose a sans serif font, for their simpler, cleaner look. And remember that your journaling must be legible!

These three look pretty good together. See if you can figure out which rules they follow.

And lastly, PRACTICE! This is the only way to develop that “design eye” that lets you move from novice methodicality to intuitive, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants creativity. Consciously look at font combinations everywhere. Magazine layouts, product labels, memes on Facebook, Pinterest boards… the possibilities are endless. See what combinations you find pleasing and which you find jarring. Over time, you’ll find you’re not quite so indecisive about which fonts go together like milk and cookies and which are more like chalk and cheese. I actually play a little game in my head sometimes, trying to guess which fonts the designer has used, and I love it when I recognize a font, or a designer.

These are quite different from each other, but I think they look good!

Before we wrap this up, let’s talk a bit about the fonts you should forget about… This isn’t my list; it came from Douglas Bonneville at Smashing magazine. I’d add a couple, such as Bleeding Cowboys and Myriad Pro. For the article I found this list within, and the author’s reasons why, click here.

Here’s a handy little diagram with these rules all in condensed form. It came from Creative Market, a great source of wonderful fonts at discount prices.

To see a larger image, click here.

Credits: Janie Kliever  ; Creative Market

Have fun with your fonts! There really is no limit to how creative you can be.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Over-the-Top TITLES

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve had a ridiculously busy week. Actually, all of June has been ridiculously busy! So this week’s tutorial is a quick-and-dirty little how-to that was inspired by some of the layouts popping up on my Facebook feed. I thought I’d show you how to have your title looking like it’s coming right out of a fantastic panoramic photo. So I went through some of my favourite scenic shots and chose this one of the Crescent City Connection bridge over the Mississippi River in New Orleans. In the screenshot below, the transparent canvas underneath it is 12×12, because I thought I’d use that size canvas… but…

I changed my mind and cropped it down to the same size as the photo.

Then I took a look through my fonts (using MainType 7.0, of course!) and found a meaty, slab-type font that would be perfect for my purpose. It’s called Konga Pro and it’s got that lazy, Deco summer-day kind of look to it. I typed out my title and enlarged it to stretch from one side of my canvas to the other. The photo’s visibility is turned off so I don’t get confused.

Then I copied my photo (CRTL/CMD>J) and moved the copy on top of my title as I’ve shown below.

Visibility of the first photo is still off for this step. Clip the photo to the title; CTRL/CMD>G is your WSNH shortcut.

If you’re happy with the placement and appearance, go ahead and merge your clipping mask and photo layers.  Select both the layers in the Layers panel then WSNH = CTRL/CMD>E

Now to set the title apart from the photo. Choose a colour from the photo to use for a narrow stroke around the outside. I chose one of the dark blue shades. You want a visible separation but nothing really obvious; since my photo is a night shot, dark was my choice, but if you’re using a winter scene or a beach scene, it might be better to choose a lighter colour. You’ll know it’s right when you see it.

I went with 10 pixels for this outline, just to tighten it up and give a bit of definition. I centered it on the edge to smooth out the jagged pixels.

As you can see below, it looks just fine.

Another stroke outside the first one will add a little more distinction. I tried white and 20 pixels.

Not loving it! The white is too much, and too wide. So for my next version, I dropped the width down to 10 pixels again.

I made the stroke a greenish-grey pulled from the horizon. Not really working either.

But this bronze from the lights reflecting on the water is subtle, and it looks much nicer to my eye. I’m going to go with this one.

Pop in a bit of a drop shadow and it’s just the look I was after!

With the shadow, it’s got some dimension. Give it a shot with one of your favourite scenic photos and a hefty font and see how you like it!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Becoming an ALPHA Female

Mary left a comment on the tutorial Chalking it Up to Inspiration where she asked for some tips on using those alphas that come with many designers’ kits. She said she found them difficult to use and needed some tips for using them effectively. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

When I first started digi-scrapping, I didn’t use kit alphas much because, like Mary, I found them cumbersome to work with. So many things about my workflow have changed over the years and I’ve found some methods that really work for me, so I’m going to share some of them with you today. One of Mary’s comments was about finding them. Each scrapper is going to do things differently according to how they organize information in their heads, so the following is meant as a suggestion, not a directive.

I’ve read a lot of posts in various places about organizing supplies and I’ve tried lots of methods. The one that works for me best is to use folders. I make folders for everything! When I unzip my downloads, I try very hard to organize them right away; I rename them with the designer’s name and kit name then move them into the folder I’ve created for the store where I bought them. My GingerScraps  folder is HUGE!! I also take everything out of the folders the designer has put them in so I can see the whole kit when I open the folder. I used to do that with the alphas too, but found that didn’t work for me. Now they go in a subfolder of the kit folder. (Are you confused yet?) I can tell at a glance which of my kits have matching alphas. They appear in the file with a little arrow in front of the kit name as shown below. That little arrow indicates there is a subfolder. Is this making sense?

Here’s where things get interesting. You can let Windows do the work for you. Other scrappers have talked about tagging every. Single. Element. And. Paper… but you don’t have to! Designers usually call their various bits and bobs simple names like “button”, “paper” or “flower” so if you pop that keyword into the Windows search box in the upper right corner and tell it what area of your hard drive to search, it’ll go get everything with that keyword attached to it.

Because I’ve put my alphas into subfolders, my search will turn up both folders and individually named alphas as shown below. Depending on how many folders you have, this search can take awhile, so I usually open another window and start pulling my papers and elements for the layout I’m working on. Some of you may know that I like to mix up items from several kits into a single layout so I might want to use a different alpha than the one the kit provides.

Once I’ve decided on the alpha I want to use and the title I’m going to create, I’ll open a new canvas on my workspace. The size of this canvas isn’t critically important because you’ll be able to resize everything once you’ve put it together to your satisfaction. Just give yourself lots of room.

I use Elements 12, which has an unfortunate glitch in it. Everything that is dragged and dropped onto a canvas is transformed into a “smart object” and it takes on the size of the canvas it’s pulled onto. (A workaround for this is to open the element on the workspace and drag it DOWN onto the layout in the Photo Bin, which sizes it according to the original file.) Adobe has taken care of this glitch in later versions – 13 and above – so if your software is more recent, you won’t have to pay attention to this business. The screenshot below shows what V.12 does, which isn’t a big problem if your alpha is ALL-CAPS, like this one from the Seatrout Scraps collection Maybelle. It’s the kit I plan to create my layout with, so of course I had to try it out.

As you can see from the screenshot above, this DOES present a problem in terms of getting all the letters to fit the canvas. I select all the letter layers in the Layers panel so I can resize everything at the same time. WSNH, right?

You can use the Distribute tool to space your letters but it’s not always the best way to do it. I prefer to just eye-ball the spacing. If it looks right, you’ll know. Sometimes I have to resize a couple of times to get everything to fit on the canvas. It’s easy to move blocks of letters together if you’re only worried about a single space being too big or too small; just select the layers those letters are on in the Layers panel and move ’em.

Take a good look at your title to see if you like it. I think all the letters in lockstep looks blah. So I’m going to make some tweaks.

How does this look? Nah….

So I moved the last 3 letters over so they overlap where the “s”s are, and that looks better.

How about staggering them with a little overlap? Do I like that better? I think I do!

I wanted to try out several alphas for this title, so next I looked at this one from Ooh La La ScrapsShabby Chic collection. It has both upper- and lowercase letters so there’ll be a couple of extra steps.

To overcome the “smart object” issue, I select all the lower case letters in the Layers panel EXCEPT the letters “b”, “d”, “f”, “g”, “h”, “i”, “j”, “k”, “l”, “p”, “q” “t” and “y”. If the “z” has a tail on it, I don’t select it either. The reason for NOT selecting those is that they either supposed to be the same height as the CAPs, or they extend below the baseline. Instead, I use these letters to guide my resizing efforts. This example doesn’t show you what to do with those letters that dangle, the ones that you DON’T resize. I’ll talk about that below.

The screenshot below shows you what I mean. You can use the bounding box to help you get the size just right – the top of the bounding box is just touching the top of the “i”.

Once again, there’s a size/space problem. Or is there?

I think I like the overlap, so let’s leave it there.

Or, creatively, I might tilt one of the letters slightly. I like to do that especially with the letter “o”, but “s” looks cool tipped too.

But let’s try a staggered arrangement… remember to shadow the letters that overlap others. Otherwise it will look odd. Maybe not to your eyes, but somebody will notice – and you want them to be overcome by the beauty of your work, not the wonky missing shadows, right?!

I wanted to try just one more alpha, one that’s sort of a glossy script from WimpychomersPurple is Her Passion. It’s a little hard to see in the screenshots because it’s white, so you might have to move your head/screen around a bit to see what I’m showing you. If you’re not using guides – lines that make it easier to position things, this might encourage you to do it. This tip will help you to align those dangling “g”s, “p”s, “q”s and “y”s. To create a guide place your cursor on the upper (or far left for a vertical guide) edge and click/drag down (or over) to one of your lowercase letters. You can then resize other letters one at a time, and you can align the danglers by nudging them downward until the top of the letter is even with the top of the resized lowercase ones. When you don’t need the guide any more you can click on View>Guides (or CTRL/CMD>;) and it’ll go away.

This alpha looks a lot like cursive writing, especially after I overlapped the swashes a bit.

I think, for this layout, the title needs a little more oomph. So I’m going to make my canvas a little bit bigger. It’s fine side-to-side, but needs to be a bit bigger top-to-bottom. Image>Resize>Canvas Size (CTRL/CMD>Alt>C) brings up the menu shown below. I just added 1/2 an inch to the height. You would need to take this step if you’re using danglers too, because your baseline isn’t going to rest at the bottom of the canvas.

Then I dropped a paper behind my alpha. I dragged it from the workspace DOWN onto the canvas, and then shrunk it to fit, rather than dragging it UP from the Photo Bin onto the canvas and then resizing up but it isn’t important. Then I clicked on the title thumbnail to select the edges of the alpha.

By going to Select>Modify>Expand then keying in 30 pixels, the marching ants will move 30 pixels out from the edges of the alpha.

Go back to Select>Inverse (CTRL/CMD>Shift>I) to invert the area selected to the excess paper. Then Delete or CTRL/CMD>X and all that extra paper is cut away.

It looks good, but still needs something. You might also notice that the paper layer thumbnail looks strange. That’s because the paper layer is larger than the canvas so I cropped the canvas to eliminate that. CTRL/CMD>C activates the Crop tool.

See how different the layer thumbnail looks now?

I’m going to put a glittery edge around the paper, so I added a new layer ABOVE the paper cutout, then clicked on the layer thumbnail to get my marching ants. Then I added a stroke – colour doesn’t matter – to the paper. Edit>Stroke (Outline Selection) and a number in the box – 10 pixels here ON THE NEW LAYER gives me something to attach my glitter style to.

Now we’re cookin’! It has so much more presence now.

The second-to-last step is to put a slight shadow on the alpha layer so it looks like it’s been written with gel. Then as a very last step I merge or link the layers so when I go to drag the title onto my layout, it all goes together.

So I’ve shown you three different kit alphas and three different options for their use. I hope this has you thinking a little more kindly toward those alphas and I hope to be seeing them in use on your creations! Which option do you think I chose for my layout?

Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Chalking it Up to Inspiration

Greetings faithful readers! Today’s tutorial builds on several previous lessons so if you’ve been paying attention, this one will be a breeze. I’m going to show you how to create your own chalkboard journal card. Choose a motivational, inspirational or humorous phrase to match your layout and let’s get at it.

Do you remember how to make a rounded rectangle? (The link will take you to the tutorial if you don’t.) Journal cards use typically a 2:3 ratio so I’ve made my canvas 4×6 and then filled it with my rounded rectangle. It really doesn’t matter what colour you use to make your shape because you’re going to clip a gray or black paper to it.

Remember the tutorial on tools? I showed you two ways to Simplify those shapes.

Chalkboards are typically black or charcoal gray, but may also be green. You can use whatever colour you want, though. Just make sure you choose a solid paper. I used a gray one from the May Daily Download kit Grateful from Blue Heart Scraps and Luv Ewe Designs. If you missed it, you can grab it in the shop.

CTRL/CMD>G clips the paper to the rounded rectangle. Or you can do it the long way by right-clicking on the paper layer in the Layers panel and then selecting Create Clipping Mask from the drop-down menu.

Once you’ve positioned your paper just so and clipped it to the rectangle, you want to Merge the two layers. CTRL/CMD>E does the job. Or…

Then you need to open the Color Picker and choose a light gray colour for your chalk. Or you can go with any pastel colour you want, because chalk comes in LOTS of colours. To change the hue of the sampler, click on the rainbow strip just to the right of the sample box then make tiny adjustments until you get the colour you want. I used a light gray.

Then it’s time to choose your first font. If you’ve organized your fonts in MainType and tagged them for easy sorting, this part will be pretty easy. I have a category called Chalk/Crayon and started by looking at those fonts. I typed what I was going to put on my journal card into the preview (Pangram) box so I could see what it would look like. I also used the tag Handwritten/Printed in my search. Quick and easy!

Oh wait!! What would a chalkboard journal card be without a flourish, curlicue or some other fancy bit to jazz it up? I have a collection of dingbat fonts I bought for a buck a piece years ago that have come in very handy at times. To have both a header and a footer I duplicated the flourish shown and rotated it 180° to create a mirror image. This step just adds a finish to the project.

If you’ve used a separator/flourish/curlicue make sure you Simplify the layer right away, and Simplify EVERY layer AS YOU GO because if you don’t do that, when you select another font for the next line, Elements will change the lines you’ve already typed out to that new font too.

Once you’ve chosen your font for the first line, go ahead and type it out. As you can see in the screenshot below, I haven’t yet Simplified the first line of text. If you’re not sure how to align things and centre them on your journal card, the screenshot shows you how. Select all the layers in your project. (WSNH: Click on the top layer to select it then Shift>Click on the last layer and all layers will be selected as shown below. To select random layers, use the CTRL/CMD key instead of the Shift key and click on each layer you want selected.) Then in the Tool Options panel, where it says Align, click on Middle and everything will line right up and be perfectly centred.

I didn’t screenshot the font I used for “Relax”… it’s called The Goldsmith Vintage. The second line’s font is from Lettering Delights and it’s called Soccer Mom.

The third line of my message was one I thought should be arched, so once I typed it out (using a font called Alphabet Pony Regular) then went to the Text Tool options and clicked on the Warp Text tool as shown below.

The Warp Text menu looks like this. The Style button offers several choices for the shape your text will assume, and you aren’t committed to anything until you click on OK so you can try them all if you need to in order to find the one that looks right. [Move the menu box (click and hold on the gray bar at the top of the box to move it around) so you can see your text as you adjust it.] Then you can adjust the Bend, Horizontal and Vertical Distortion to suit your purposes.

It wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I went to the Image tab>Transform>Distort  to modify it even more.

I turned on my grid (which I’ve set to have a darker line every inch with 8 subdivisions per square inch) so I’d have a guide for the degree of skewing I was doing. CTRL/CMD>’ turns the grid on and off. Or you can do it the long way by clicking on View>Grid. To get the effect I was looking for, I stretched the line of text vertically a little then pulled the upper corners toward the centre just a bit.

I used Belepotan for the 5th line and Malina for the 6th.

Watermelon Smile Fancy seemed to be the right style for the 7th line. I’d really love to know how they come up with these names! The very last line is Font in a Red Suit. Yeah, it’s a Christmas font, but it works here.

When all the lines of text had been typed and sized appropriately, I aligned them all to the centre of the card then merged them. I didn’t merge the text to the paper yet though. You’ll see why in a minute.

The text was just too crisp and sharp to look realistically like chalk. So I distressed it a little by using a free snow brush I got from Brusheezy and the Eraser tool. I lowered the Opacity of the brush to 45% so it wouldn’t completely erase the areas I touched with it and then I just stamped my brush randomly over the text until it looked… well… more like chalk.

After I had all of that done, I looked at the finished card for a minute or two and decided it needed a thin stroke around the outside as a finishing touch. Do you remember how to do that? It was way back in the photo recolouring tutorial. To refresh your memory: Click on the layer thumbnail for the shape to get those ants marching around the edge. Then go to Select>Modify>Contract and set a number in the box. I used 20. That moved my marching ants 20 pixels toward the inside of the card. Then I used the foreground colour – light gray – to apply the stroke. Edit>Stroke (Outline) Selection>Width 4 (pixels)>Inside>OK. Remember?

When that was done and I liked what I was seeing, I merged all the layers and saved my journal card in the folder for the layout I created it for. The layout turned out just as I saw it in my mind’s eye. Have a look and see if you can pick out all the techniques I’ve used to create it.

Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Ellen: Talking about Tools

Ellen (gmae) and her sister Carol (gnana96) are really working hard to grow their Elements skills and came to me with a question about Pattern Files. I’ll confess I really wasn’t well-versed about them and I’m still not, but I’ve played around a bit with them and have some basics to share with you. I know you’re wondering what that has to do with Tools and you’ll get the answer to that as I go along. You may also think these tools are things only designers use, and that would be a real shame! Later in our conversation Ellen gave me a list of tool-related topics she’d like to know more about and they’re all coming right up. First thing I did was open a blank canvas so I could experiment.

One of the items Ellen mentioned was shapes. I touched on the Shape tool in the tutorial about rounded rectangles, but there’s a LOT more to it than that. Let’s look at the Custom Shape tool, the one that looks like an amoeba. Below is a screenshot of where to look for the tool in the Tool panel, as well as what the menu looks like. As you can see, there are a number of categories; if you know what kind of shape you’re looking for you can zero in by selecting the category and carrying on. I usually look at them all.

That little window holding all the thumbnails is teeny-tiny and only shows about 12 thumbnails at a time, so I made the window bigger. There’s a wedge-shaped collection of dots in the upper right corner of the window frame that I clicked and dragged on to make the window really big. Now I could get down to business.

For this demo I decided to choose a Grecian key shape. To create your shape, you put the cursor on your work surface and drag it across the screen. You can adjust proportions by moving that cursor around or you can tell Elements that you want to “constrain proportions” by clicking on that control bar I have circled below then entering in the dimensions you want. You can set it to create the shape from the centre out, or from one corner. If you’re particular or you have a specific idea in mind then select the controls you need to make the software work for you.

There are two ways to Simplify this shape layer. You can select it in the Tool options panel, or you can right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select it there. Why Simplify the layer? That’s how you get a transparent background! With a transparent background, your shape becomes a “smart object” that you can move around, resize, rotate, skew and any other alteration you can think of. You want to have as much control and as few CTRL/CMD>Z moments as possible.

I wrote a tutorial about using Styles quite a while ago, so let’s refresh a little. There are dozens of embedded styles in the software; they’re found in the Effects panel you open by clicking on the big fx button at the lower right of your workspace. We’re focusing on the Styles section of this set. Open up the menu by clicking on that little bar the arrow indicates and select Patterns to see this menu. These files have .asl as their file type. and are stored in the Presets folder of Elements on your computer. Hover the cursor over the thumbnails to see what Elements calls each pattern.

The software needs to know where you want to put the Pattern Style, so CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail to select the contents of the layer. Voilà… marching ants!

This is what the Copper Pattern Style looks like on the Grecian key shape. To apply the style double-click on it.

I wanted to show you one more of the choices from that menu, so I selected the top strip of the Grecian key shape.

Hmm… dry mud? Why not!


Let’s just refresh our memories about those style files several of our GingerScraps designers include in their collections. (Aimee Harrison, Miss Mis Designs, Just So Scrappy/Ooh La La Scraps, Kristmess and Magical Scraps Galore are the ones I can think off right off the top of my head.) I used a different custom shape for this part.

I’m going to apply a glitter-gloss style from Miss Mis Designs’ May Buffet collection called Hustle and Heart.

The menu for that Style group looks like this.

You’ll notice that this type of Style adds some dimension and reflected light to the shape.

There are many embedded Style categories, as I mentioned. What do the ones in the Complex styles folder do? (OMG, I have a typo on my screenshot! Oh well…) This particular style adds dimension, reflected light and drop shadows all with just a double-click.

Here’s another Complex style that looks like enameled or epoxy’d metal. Think of the ways you could fiddle with that!

Ellen also had Swatches on her list. There are a few choices with this one. To see the swatches you can click on the Window tab at the top of your screen and select them from the drop-down menu. Or, if you’re in the Text tool clicking on the Color box as shown will open up the same menu. I rarely use this feature because it’s so much easier and more satisfying to use the Color Picker tool (eye-dropper) to select a colour from either my photo or one of my papers/elements. The sky’s the limit with that method; this one is quite limited.

Here’s a happy little accident I experienced while I was experimenting. I checked out the Wow styles way down at the bottom of my (lengthy) styles list and the Wow Neon style looks like that fancy coloured Niobium wire.

See what I mean?

The style adds a drop shadow, which I felt might be a bit too far from the text for wire, so I opened up the fx menu on the layer to tweak the shadow and noticed that I had the option of changing the colour in there too.

Pulling the shadow in closer to the text looks like this. There are other ways of amping up this look too, by copying the original layer above the one the style is applied to and then applying another style to that layer, playing with the opacity until it looks incredible.

Now to the heart of Ellen’s question. Pattern files. Those ones with .pat as the file type. There are some designers who include a .pat file along with a .asl file in their kits. There are also a number of embedded .pat files in the software. I wasn’t able to find a shortcut for installing these files, so below I’m going to give you the steps for installing them manually. After you’ve extracted the .pat file from your downloads, copy the file (CTRL/CMD>C) then in Windows Explorer, look for the path I’ve shown. C:> Program Files (x86)> Photoshop Elements> Presets> Patterns. then paste the file into the folder. (CRTL/CMD>V)

Now let’s play with some .pat files! When you use a font for anything, you have to Simplify the layer before you can make any alterations to it. Don’t worry if you forget this step, because Elements will remind you. But ONLY with fonts!

Now how do we access those Pattern Files? By using the Pattern Stamp tool, of course! It does the same thing as the Clone Stamp tool, but rather than stamping a sample from the image you’re cloning, it uses a pattern. If you use the keyboard shortcut <S> you can toggle between Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp easily.

The Stamp uses Brush tool options to select the area it covers. I used a hard square brush for my sample, but it really doesn’t matter what shape you use. You’re just going to click and drag the brush over the item you want to use the Pattern Stamp on anyway. Make sure you have NORMAL selected in the Mode box, otherwise you won’t see the effect you think you should.

This is where Elements hides those .pat files. There are several defaults, and any that you’ve installed into the Patterns folder will appear in the menu.

The Pattern Stamp will cover everything unless you select where you want it to go. So make sure you’ve selected the areas to apply your pattern to.

Do a quick visual check to make sure all the settings are correct.

Click and drag your Pattern Stamp brush over your selection… Bingo!

It looks neat, but I want it to look even neater, so I added a Bevel.

I used the Simple Inner bevel to add dimension.

Then I added a stroke to the resulting rounded text.

And here’s how to find the .pat files you’ve installed. My experience with those that come in kits is that they’re generally just glitter, but I only have the two you see below so what do I know?!

I’m so anxious to see what YOU do with all this creative license you’re discovering. Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

In May, Michelle (belis2mi) and Ellen (gmae) each showed me several examples of how they used the tutorials to their advantage. They both will have another chance at challenging me!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Putting the “OH!” in Your Photos

Given the great interest in my two previous photo-editing tutorials, along with some requests for more, today we’re going to play a bit with some simple photo edits. You know that those spectacular photos on photo-sharing sites are mostly NOT straight out of the camera (SOOC)… they’ve usually had some post-production tweaking to add impact. The photo I’m working with today is one taken in Chicago several years ago; it’s of a statue by Dessa Kirk called Magdalene and is part of the Congress Plaza sculpture garden.

Step one when you’re unsure how you’ll like the result is to work on a copy. So I went ahead and CTRL/CMD>J my photo. If you like to work hard, right click on the layer then select Duplicate Layer.

I usually adjust the lighting first, because a lot of the time simply improving the lighting is enough. Well-lit photos are the ones that get attention.

Elements automatically lightens shadows 35% when you select Shadows/Brightness from the drop-down. Take a good look at the results before you make any further adjustments.

I knew I was going to be making other changes to this photo that could affect the lighting so I pulled the slider Lighten Shadows back over to the left to 0. It’s vital that you look for “blown highlights”, especially if you’ve lightened the shadows. How do you know they’re blown? They’re light areas that should have detail but don’t. To bring them back pull the Darken Highlights to the right, watching what’s happening to your image while you’re adjusting. Even with the shadows unchanged, there were some blown highlights in my photo so I moved that slider a bit. Then check the overall contrast of the image. The bottom slider adjusts Midtone Contrast, so not the highlights or the shadows. Move that to where the image looks good to your eye. Be really careful that you don’t overdo it!

Next I adjust Brightness/Contrast. Seems redundant, but it isn’t.

I found my image was TOO bright, so the slider went left. It also needed more contrast, so that slider went right. Everything you do will show on your image, and it’s really crucial that you watch what happens so you can avoid creating something obviously artificial. You’re going for gorgeous, not Oh-Look-I-Edited-This.

Once I’m happy with the lighting, I move on to colour. For this image I wanted to try to make the sky look more blue and to emphasize the rust, so I went into Adjust Hue/Saturation (WSNH: CTRL/CMD>U).

This menu has lots of options. You can adjust only one colour family or the overall colour. I went to the selector, clicked on the tab and selected Blues from the pop-out submenu. There’s no visible blue in my photo, alas. Pulling the Hue slider all the way to the left didn’t make much difference, but the sky looks vaguely green with a swath of lime.

Pulling the slider all the way to the right gave me these pinkish patchy spots that looked awful.

So I put the slider back to centre. Then I tried adjusting the Saturation. All the way left made the sky look leaden grey.

All the way to the right… WHOA, that’s very… umm… abstract.

I moved the slider back almost to centre then went to the Lightness slider. All the way to the left (darkest) eliminated any hint of blue there might have been.

All the way to the right and it’s back to blah grey.

Here’s where I ended up. I wasn’t totally happy with the sky but I moved on for the time being.

Then I reopened the Hue/Saturation menu and selected Reds in the same way. Hue all the way to the left and she looks like she’s a gorgon.

All the way to the right and she looks like Zelena from Wicked.

Hue ended up just left of centre. Then I went on to Saturation. This is a great way to see what a black-and-white version of your photo would look like and it’s one of the easiest ways to do it.

All the way to the right sets her on fire!

As you can see, the Saturation slider ended up just right of centre. The Lightness slider when full left again makes it look like a black-and-white image.

All the way to the right and it’s more like a really faded sepia.

Here’s where I ended up. Can you see the changes?

Then I wondered… what would it look like with a High Pass filter on it? Since I was already working on a copy of my image, I could apply the filter right on that layer.

I adjusted the slider on the filter so that I could see the outline but not really any colour. And then I changed the Blend Mode to Overlay.

See the difference? It’s subtle but adds a little something, I think. (Her face looks a little thinner and her bosom a little bigger but I didn’t touch either one of those areas.)

Now… on to making the sky look like sky. I played around a bit before I found a method that worked for me. I opened the Color Picker and chose a soft blue.

I used the Quick Selection (Magic Wand) tool to select the outline of the statue, including the larger of the little gaps. Then I Inverted the selection (WSNH: CTRL/CMD>Shift>I) so the sky was outlined. Next I used the Fill tool (Paint Bucket) to turn the sky blue. I noticed a couple of areas that were still that almost-white so I used a small hard brush and the same blue to paint out the gaps.

Better. But still not what I wanted. So on I went. I opened a new blank layer over the image.

I chose a large, soft brush that covered the section of my photo shown below. The Opacity is set to 100%.

I went back to the Color Picker and selected a darker value of the same blue. Then, on the blank layer, I clicked the brush over my image a few times to build up an opaque blue orb with fading edges over the face of the statue.

Okay… can’t see her at all right now. I changed the tool from Brush to Eraser and centred it over the blue splotch in the same way as I did with the brush. The Opacity is still 100%.

Now her face is visible again, but needs some more TLC.

I zoomed in quite a lot then adjusted the size of my brush so that I could Erase the remaining blue from the statue. If you’re shaky at that activity, you can use a Layer Mask so you can paint back if you go outside the lines. I really didn’t want a visible white line around the edges of the statue so I was really careful.

And the end result! It took me about 40 minutes to do all these steps and the screenshots, so you can see it’s not a huge time outlay for those special images that you just want to look a wee bit better.

Our next lesson will pertain to some of the mechanics of Elements. Stay tuned!

Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

Tutorial Tuesday (Windows)

Michelle: Finding Font

At long last, the tutorial Michelle (belis2mi) has been waiting for! (It IS still May, right?) She didn’t have any burning learning needs for Photoshop Elements. What she really wanted was some tips on managing all her fonts. Can you relate? In the process of setting this tutorial up I discovered I have nearly 1700 of them!! No wonder it takes me forever to find the one I want to use. So I set out to test drive font management software. I had NexusFont on my old laptop but only made it a short way through my list of fonts (which has exploded since then) before I got burnt out with the sorting process. So I knew I wanted something a bit more user-friendly. And it had to be FREE. That led me to check out MainType by High Logic. They have a free version which will handle up to 2500 fonts, and a paid version for professional/commercial users. The version I’m going to show you is the free one. Be observant when you open the software, because it will ask you if you want to upgrade, and it moves the “leave me alone” button around. So pay attention and only select the free option.There is a pop-up that appears every so often while you’re working on tagging, asking if you want to go pro. I just X out of it. There is no Mac version, though, so if you’re using Apple, you can save yourself some time by skipping this one. 

This is where you’ll find the link to the software on your computer. (Shown in Windows 10) Open the folder view.

You can choose to pin it to your Start toolbar along the bottom if you think you’re going to use it regularly. Right-click on the name in the view as shown and select “Pin to Start“.

This is the Home screen. It’s completely customizable. You just click on the little pushpin icon at the upper right corner of any of the panels and it’s removed to the little strip to the left of the screen. Click on the tab to make it reappear. This is where you start. The software will automatically find the fonts that have been installed into the Windows font directory. You may have fonts in another folder, as I did. I had to manually find the folder, which was found on this path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts and then add it as a new folder using the Tools menu. If you hover your cursor over the various icons on the screen, the software will tell you what they do. There is also an extensive searchable Help section, which I only had to use a couple of times because the software is really quite intuitive.

The panel in the upper left corner has a list of font folders in it. The centre panel is a list of the fonts. You can change the order of them by clicking on the headers. I went in alphabetical order… it’s easier and it’s the default setting. This is also the panel where your Tag Search results will show up. The far right corner panel is a Character map of all the various characters in the font. You can look here to see if there are numerals or punctuation marks included in the font. The centre-left panel is the Tag Search box. It will have a list of all the tags you’ve selected for the software to use for searching. Just underneath that is the Font Tags panel. This is where you choose the tags you’re going to give each of your fonts for later searches. In the lower centre is a Pangram. That’s a fancy word for a preview panel. You can put whatever you want in that box. More on that later. And last is the Zoom panel. You can select any letter, number or symbol from the active font by clicking on the character in the Character map.

MainType will find all the fonts you have on your computer, whether you’ve installed them onto the hard drive, or simply put them in a folder. These fonts are available to any and all software that uses fonts. There is an advantage to NOT installing all your fonts. When you activate the Text tool in your software, you’ve probably noticed it takes a while before you can actually use it. That’s your computer finding and generating the list of your installed fonts. If you load the font you want to use from the folder it’s stored in when you’re ready to use it, the time lag is only a couple of seconds. There’s an easy way to know which fonts are installed and which are just in folders. When you look at the preview panel in MainFont, right ahead of the font name there’s a little bubble. The colour of the bubble tells you if the font is installed on the hard drive (green) or loaded (blue) and accessible. The caveat to this is that when you turn off your computer, the loaded fonts are reset to not loaded. But as I say, it takes maybe 2 seconds to load, which still is less time than it takes Elements or whatever software you’re using to build the font library with installed fonts.

So let’s talk Tagging. This is how you’re going to find the exact font you’re looking for later. There is a preset list of tags in the software, including Comic, Serif, Bold, Italic, Sans and Typewriter. You can add as many different tags as you can think of to make your searches easier. As you’ll see, I’ve added quite a few. Tagging is the time-consuming set-up phase. Here’s your obligatory WSNH tip: Don’t tag all of those system fonts you can’t remove from your machine. You know the ones I mean… the ones you’re NEVER going to use on a layout, greeting card or holiday newsletter. Like Courier, Myriad Pro and Times New Roman and the rest of them. Generally speaking, if there are 24 different versions of the same font, it’s one of those and you can just skip them all. It’ll save you a lot of time, some repetitive stress on your wrists and some small measure of sanity. This is a case of “don’t do what I did”! I was already through the first 1000 fonts before I decided I would untag the system fonts. Hours later………..

You can use the usual Windows tools to expand or shrink a panel. I made the top panel very small so there would be less scrolling between all of my custom tags.

You can use as many tags as you want for each font. The more tags you use, the easier it will be to find them later. Be descriptive. I added a Tag called Marker so I could find those fonts that look like they’d been done using a felt pen. I added Brush for the same reason. As you work through the list of fonts, you’ll see the name of the font in the top centre panel, and an example of how it appears in the lower centre as shown. Bubbliest is tagged as Bold, Handwriting, Marker and Slab. If I want a heavy, handwritten font for some purpose, I can just select those tags and MainType will find this one and any others that fit the category.

To add a new tag, click on the icon shown.

I have a number of fonts that are all upper-case, so I added a tag called All CAPS. In the image above, you can see I’ve added a lot more!

When you click on the Add Tag icon, this menu opens up. Just type in whatever you want your new tag called.

If you don’t like a tag, or don’t find it something you’d use, you can rename it. Select the Tag you want to rename, click on the icon shown below (or F2 if you’re into Function keys) and wait for the drop-down menu to open.

I don’t really have any Distorted fonts. At least in the sense I would use the word. So I chose to rename that one.

Distorted didn’t really work for me so I changed it to Meandering. I use that tag for those fonts that don’t sit on a baseline but wander all over, as you can see in the image below. Kind of like torsades-de-points… a little medical humour there.

You can change the text in the Sample box to whatever you want. If you’re trying to see how a certain phrase will look in a variety of fonts, pop it in here and then run a Tag Search.

It’s really handy to be able to see your own text in the fonts you’ve searched for, and to see a close-up of individual characters too.

Here’s an example of a Tag Search. I selected For Fun (a tag I used for whimsical fonts, the ones I’d use for layouts with kids for example, and Handwritten/Printed (a renamed tag that meant more to me than Handwriting did) and this is the list the search produced.

In the box at the top of the Tag Search list panel, you can change the search terms to any of the ones in the drop-down menu: Font Name, Characters in font, Digits, Alphabets (upper), Alphabets (lower) and Alphabets up and low. You can adjust the preview size here too. If you select Characters in a font, it will show you a number, which can help you narrow down your choices to fonts with foreign characters, for example. Or you could select Digits if you knew you were going to be putting a date into your journaling.

You can also change the search terms to whatever you want.

Here’s an example of a Tag Search I did for Typewriter fonts. It’s so easy!! It literally took seconds.

What makes this software more user friendly than NexusFont for me was the easy tagging system. I didn’t have to drag-and-drop my fonts into different groups, which made a big difference to my satisfaction with the software. If I would have skipped over the system fonts from the start, I think tagging all my useful fonts would have taken me about 3 hours of continuous work. It’s easy to break up into shorter stints and your work won’t be lost. Another feature is automatic syncing. Every time you open the software, it will search for new fonts on your computer and automatically add the new ones to your database. How awesome is that?!! You can control how often the software refreshes itself in the Tool Options tab. I think you’ll find this software to be simple and effective for most average-digiscrapper purposes. If you give it a try, let me know how you like it.

Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Can This Photo Be Saved?

Hey there GingerScrappers! I thought this week we’d look at something a little different. With Mother’s Day almost upon us and lots of old photos being pressed into service, I know there are some of you out there who wish your scanned pix were just a little less… blurry. So I’m going to show you a super-duper-simple trick for tightening up those images a bit.

I started with this photo taken in May, 1955; I found it in a box of my mom’s photos. (No, that isn’t me in there.) First I dealt with the dust spots and scratches using the Spot Healing brush then I was ready to sharpen it.

It’s not horrible, but it’s a little… um… soft. So I Duplicated the image (WSNH= CTRL/CMD>J).

Working on the topmost layer I just created, I clicked on the Filter tab, scrolled down to Other and selected High Pass…

The Tool menu opens up a dialog box as shown. I selected a Radius of 1.0 pixels. There is now a gray-scale image of my photo, with some details visible.

To make this filter adjust the appearance of my photo, I’m going to change the Blend Mode for the topmost layer to Overlay. If you don’t feel there’s been enough sharpening, you can Undo (CTRL/CMD>Z) and increase the Radius until you’re happy. But be careful. A word of caution: Don’t keep adding layers with High Pass filters on top of each other because you’ll end up with something quite bizarre-looking.

Can you see the difference between this image and the untouched one? Facial features are a little clearer.

By setting the Radius to 3.0 pixels, there’s more detail visible on the filter layer.

When you get to the point where the Filter layer looks a lot like the original, it might be time to stop. Too MUCH is not better. Less in this case can actually be more.

I was pleased to see that the resulting image was sharp, the contrast was good and my photo now looked a lot better. So I Merged the two layers (CTRL/CMD>E) and saved my photo as an edit.

I can hear you mumbling about colour photos… so I’m ready for that too! This photo was in the same box, and was taken in 1978.

At a Radius of 1.0, there’s faint detail visible, and only gray-scale.

It looks a bit better, but not much!

At a Radius of 2.0, there’s a faint hint of colour showing through, and a bit more detail.

The area that seems to show the most sharpening effect is the window. Notice that the colours are darkening too.

The higher I take the Radius, the more colour shows through.

What happens if I’m tired of inching up and just make a jump to say… 7.0 pixels?

The colours have darkened a lot and some detail is actually lost. To save this one at this degree of sharpening, I’d have to make quite a few tweaks of Lighting, Brightness and Contrast and I run the risk of making the photo look really phony. So I suggest you don’t save this version over the original, but as an edited copy so if you’re sickened by how far you took the image (as I was with some of my Ireland trip photos… blech!) you still have the original and can start over with a lighter hand.

I plan to make a layout with the first image for the Inspired by a Word/Words iNSD challenge from JoCee Designs. When it’s finished I’ll add in a link so you can see it if you want to.

In April there were 4 people who linked me up to layouts where they’d used one or more of these tutorials. Ellen had several, but to be fair, she only is on the list once. Mr Random has selected Bekki Braun Fekete (aka bekfek) as this month’s winner. Bekki, put your thinking cap on!

Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

Next week’s tutorial will be for Michelle (aka Belis2mi). She needs some help with organization, so stay tuned. You might find a tip or two you can use!


Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Keeping Things in Perspective

Ellen (aka gmae) issued me the challenge of helping her with perspective. We think that’s what she wants to learn… we had some difficulty pinning it down since she wasn’t able to find the example she wanted to emulate. She described it as a framed photo that wasn’t perfectly perpendicular to the viewer, or not laying flat on the paper. She said that when she tried to do it herself it looked odd, because the photo didn’t match the perspective of the frame. So this is what I’ve come up with. Ellen, if it’s not what you wanted to learn, we’ll take another run at it.

I started out with a frame (Seatrout Scraps Summer’s End – retired) that is resting partially on a grapevine wreath (Seatrout Scraps Autumn Odyssey). To make the steps more visible, they’re laying atop a paper from Ooh La La Scraps Creepy kit, which I used extensively in the remainder of my layout.

To make this technique work you’ll need PSE’s grid overlay to be visible. If you don’t use this tool, you’re missing out! You can do so many great things with it. To turn it on, click the View tab, then select Grid from the drop down menu. WSNH= CTRL/CMD>’ Line up your frame so that the top and the bottom are either on a line or an equal distance from two parallel lines.

Next step: Image>Transform>Distort where you’ll be moving the corners toward each other just the teensiest bit. I started with the top one and moved the handle (that square at the corner of the bounding box) vertically until it was halfway between two horizontal lines on the grid.

You can see in the detailed screenshot below what I mean. You can also see that I kept the right edge parallel to the edge of the paper.

Then I did the same thing at the bottom. DON’T Commit current operation until you’ve adjusted both corners!

So now the frame is slightly narrower at the right edge than it is on the left, just enough to be visible. And it looks like it’s touching the paper, but raised off it by the wreath.

The photo I chose doesn’t provide a dramatic view of what needs to happen to the photo in this technique in the way a photo of a landscape might, but I still went ahead and adjusted it anyway.

You guessed it… I did exactly the same thing with the photo that I did with the frame.

The amount I shrunk it is the same as for the frame.

Now it’s essential to create perfect shadows for this frame and photo so it looks natural and real. So I created a new layer just underneath the frame. Layer>New>Layer and then moved it down.  WSNH= CTRL/CMD>sheet of paper icon puts it underneath automatically. Then I clicked on the layer thumbnail for the frame to select the outline of it, while my NEW layer was active.

Using the Fill tool (aka the paint bucket) and my shadow colour (2c1901) I filled the selection on that layer under the frame.

This shadow is going to be for the inside edge of the frame. So I resized it a little bit, as you can see by the location of the marching ants. I blurred the shadow layer using Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur set at 7.1 pixels. You can choose what looks good to you.

Then I nudged the shadow into place with the direction of the light source coming from the upper left corner (120°). I turned the visibility of the photo off, since the background of it is dark, and I needed to see where I was putting the shadow.

To make it look more natural, I decreased the Opacity to 44%.

I renamed the layer by double-clicking on the name in the Layers panel and called it Inner Shadow.

Then I repeated the steps for creating a shadow for the frame so that I could have a shadow under the framed photo. It’s on its own layer.

Look at all the practice you’re getting with Transforming images!

I pulled the lower left corner of the frame’s shadow down and away to add to the visual impression that the frame is resting on top of something thick, while keeping the lower right corner fairly close to the frame.

Then I moved that shadow layer underneath the photo and used the Smudge tool to enhance the realism of the shadow. I just pushed some of the edge a little closer to the frame.

After adjusting the Opacity to 50%, I was really pleased with how it all looked.

Does it look to you like the framed photo is lifted off the page where it rests on the wreath? I think it does.

Remember, if you’ve used a technique from these tutorials, post your finished layout in the GingerScraps Facebook Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery for an opportunity to have YOUR chance to challenge me. If you’re not a Facebooker, you can post a link to the layout you’ve created with the tutorial you used in the comments section here on the Blog. I’ll get a notification and will then enter you into the draw. The first week of each month I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of that month.

Next week I’ll have the winner of the April Tutorial Challenge for you, and hopefully Michelle will have her challenge for me figured out. I’m having so much fun!