Tutorial Tuesday (Creativity)

Playing on Emotion

December. The “most wonderful time of the year”, right? But not for everyone. Many people struggle with depression, anxiety and physical illness that make “the holidays” a very difficult time for them. Because of how I earn my living, I see the melancholy side of things all too often… when children in my care die in December I know their families will struggle with so many conflicting emotions for the rest of their lives, and I’ll struggle right along with them. So this week my tutorial will take a lightly different approach than usual and focus on emotion. I’ve found that scrapping the emotions I feel helps me process them better and by processing them better, I live with them better. It’s called catharsis.

Art journaling is a perfect method of scrapping emotion. But before you start thinking that only negative emotions qualify for an art journaling layout, let me assure you that ALL emotions are perfect topics for art journaling. Later I’ll show you what I mean. And I don’t want you to panic thinking art journaling is hard, or that it’s so out of your comfort zone that you could never do it. Because I can promise you, it’s there, it’s in you. You might just need a little nudge to find your inner artist.

The basics of art journaling layouts are pretty straight-forward. They can include photos, but don’t have to. They generally need some grunge, either from the kit you’re using or via the use of brushes. Actually, brushes are perfect for this type of layout (just remember to put them on their own layer!!) and the possibilities with them are endless. Doodles or scribbles look great in the background, or even over your journaling or photo. Word art makes short work of the “journaling” part of it. Hardware such as staples, clips, wire, screws and other hard objects help make your statement. Masks are another great AJ tool. You can clip photos to them to reflect a mood, or clip papers to them to make your background more umm… artsy. Which brings me to an opportunity to belabour the obvious: Bryony van Wyk, the creative genius behind Heartstrings Scrap Art, makes it so easy to create a moody, emotionally-expressive layout with her templates. The layout I’m going to share with you in a bit was created using her December Buffet Thoughts in My Head collection, although I didn’t use a template. It’s filled with paint, grunge, doodles, stamps and other artsy items perfect for this technique. Oh, and glitter is also an amazing addition and can totally reflect a mood depending on its colour.

 

My layout is sad and somber, despite the colour palette. Contrast it to this one by catgoddess that has a very hopeful tone to it. Same kit, very different feel.

Then there’s this one by cinderella that is so encouraging! She used Connie Princes All About Fall Daily Download kit for this beautiful example.

 

There are some great options in the GingerScraps store for art journal layouts, reflecting all sorts of mood. Here are a few I found in just a few minutes.

Aimee Harrison

Aimee has a LOT of artsy word art options.

Pretty as a Peacock Quotes can work for inspirational or self-affirming layouts.

Same for Celebration of You Quotes.

And the Celebration of You Word Bits are terrific additions to any layout. Have a look at her other word art packs… there’s something for everything!

 

Aprilisa Designs

Lisa usually creates some paint-splattered, smeared, grungy papers for each of her collections, and has some torn papers too. Whatever colour palette you might choose, you’ll probably find something in her shop to help you out.

Nature’s Beauty is an example.

Free Spirit Torn Papers. Depending on your mood, these could be super!

She also has some fabulous scatters like these Winter Joy ones.

 

Laurie’s Scraps and Designs

Many of Laurie‘s collections include fantastic grungy elements.

Space Wars Grunge could work for a lot of moods.

Ditto for Girl Power Grunge. Ooh, with Aimee’s Peacock word art… YEAH!

I Am Strong Grunge is feminine but powerful. Laurie is your go-to for grunge!

 

Little Rad Trio

Jennifer has some terrific goodies too!

Every Storm could be used for traditional scrapping, but also has a lot of art journal potential too. That alpha, right?? But then you can also include things like flowers and leaves, or flairs, or string, or any of the more traditional scrapbooking elements, as long as they reflect the emotion you’re trying to convey.

 

Ponytails Designs

Natasha too has some inspiring stuff in her shop.

Like Making Your Way word art.

 

Word Art World

Jennifer is the queen of saying what’s one her mind. And grunge is something else she’s got down pat.

The Journey of a Lifetime might be a travel kit, but this grunge is awesome for emotional expression.

Live Out Loud has some possibilities.

And Dare to Dream has a bit of introspection to it.

 

Now that you’ve got some idea of what to look for, you’re more than halfway there. When you’re creating your layout, play with those blend modes on your brushes and word art to see how they enhance or distract from your mood. When I was working on the layout above, I moved things around a lot before I settled on their final location. I moved layers up and down, tried out blend modes and colour overlays, tweaked shadows and just went with what pleased my eye. I changed my journaling more than once to say what I needed to let out. Now my goal is to find something joyous to build an art journal layout around to balance the sadness this one released. I know it’s there, I just have to find it. What emotion do you need to express?

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

A(nother) Way with WORDS

I think we’re all becoming a little pressed for time right about now. The countdown to the holidays is on and there’s always so much to do! So I’m keeping this tutorial short and sweet.

Once again, my inspiration came from an image that popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. Julie’s gorgeous layout, using a kit created by Fayette for PickleberryPop, first caught my eye because of that fabulous word art “Believe”. I HAD to use something similar and thought it might make a good, quick tut. So here it is!

I still have photos from my 2014 trip to Ireland that I haven’t scrapped with yet. When I saw Heartstrings Scrap Art‘s The Bigger Picture 9 collection of templates, I knew right away that I had perfect photos for them. So of course, I used Magical Scraps Galore‘s Be Brave kit for its Celtic flavour, with the addition of a couple of flowers from Heartstrings’ Nature Captured (to pull the colour of the rhododendron from the photo), to scrap a layout using one of the many photos I still want to showcase. The alpha that came with Be Brave worked well for this, but any font or alpha you like will also work. Just remember if you’re using a font, you’ll need to Simplify the layer to give you flexibility in altering it. I arranged my alpha for my title with the initial capital larger than the rest. Then I merged the lower case letters, but you could just link them together by selecting all the letters then clicking on the little chain icon between the eyeball and the thumbnail.

I applied a Grid over my image by using the WSNH (Work Smart Not Hard) keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD>’. The B still wasn’t big enough for how I wanted my title to look. So then I had to Resize my Canvas. Image>Resize>Canvas [CTRL/CMD>Alt>C] Below is another image showing these steps.

Now for the magic! Image>Transform>Skew will let me shrink my title into a wedge, just like the word art in Julie’s layout. I decided I was only going to shrink the lower case letters, but you can do whatever makes you happy. Using the grid’s lines as reference points. I moved the corner handles at the far right of the Bounding Box toward the centre. I kept the two corner handles on the same vertical line.

I still wasn’t satisfied with the size of the B so I went through the Image>Resize>Canvas steps again to give me room to make it bigger.

When the menu box opens up, you can simply type in the new dimensions of your canvas. If you want to enlarge the whole canvas by the same amount in both height and width, click on the Relative box and it’ll automatically do the math for you.

This is what my title looks like on my layout. It gives a sense of distance and movement, don’t you think?

So you see, quick and easy doesn’t have to also mean plain!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

More Fun with Fonts – Die-Cut!

Recently I had an image that kept popping up on my Facebook (one of course I can’t find again now that I want to…) showing this great die-cut paper title where the centres of the letters were cut out and the edges were tack-sharp. If I recall correctly, it was an ACTUAL paper title, not a digital version. But since we’re all about the digital here, I set out to find a way to replicate it. Before I get into that, I wanted to share something that I discovered accidentally, since it didn’t work in PSE 12. Did you know that in PSE 15 you can go directly to the font you want to use (if you know what it’s called) just by clicking on the font box as shown below and starting to type the name. I’ve been using Lumberjack Regular for the captions on my screenshots for these tutorials since I made the switch to 15 and this discovery is such a time-saver!

 

First I opened a new file on my workspace. It can be any size you want – I like BIG – because you can resize it later. The colour used for the font doesn’t matter – you can always change it. This technique works best with a chunky san serif font (did you use those tags when you set up Main Type?). The font shown below is called Haettenschweiler Regular. I’m not sure about that capital “R” so let’s see what happens…

I think those of you who read my tutorials regularly could predict my next instruction. Simplify the type! Just make sure you don’t have any spelling boo-boos because once it’s simplified you can’f fix it.

Now you want to Select your text by clicking on the Layer thumbnail in the Layers panel. There are the magic marching ants.

There are some adjustments you can make to that selection by clicking on the Select tab along the top of the screen, then choosing an option from the dropdown menu. In this case, you’re going to select Modify>Contract. What this does is move the marching ants toward the centre of the selected area. Expand would move the selection outward.

This is where you’ll need to experiment a little. Enter a number in the box and click OK to see what your altered text looks like. If you’re not happy, Undo (CTRL/CMD>Z) it and try again until you find the one you like.

Here’s what it looks like Contracted by 45 pixels, and it’s NOT what I wanted. See how the marching ants overlap each other on the “R”? I changed the number I put in the box and carried on. I still didn’t like what I was seeing. For the sake of a learning experience, let’s keep going.

To remove the area outlined by the marching ants, you can click on Edit>Cut or use the WSNH (Work Smart Not Hard) shortcut CTRL/CMD>X.

And I don’t like it at all. Not even a little. The cutout area isn’t smooth and doesn’t follow the contours of the font the way I want it to.

So there are a couple of ways to resolve that issue. One is to use a different font. This one below is called Segoe UI Black and it will work much better. Other default font possibilities are Arial Black, Bauhaus 93 Regular, Britannic Bold Regular, Copperplate Gothic Bold Regular, Ebrima Bold, Konga Pro Regular and Poplar Standard Black.

The second way to resolve the issue is to use a stroke, rather than cutting out the middle. Create a new layer above the font layer to put your stroke on. That gives you a lot more flexibility. Go bold, with a BIG stroke and have it centred on or inside the edge of the font. If you put it on the outside you might end up with a similar look to the failed one above.

I know this image is difficult to see. It wasn’t when I was working on the screenshots. Honest!

Here it is with a patterned paper clipped to it. Nice, crisp, sharp edges. If you want, you can move the letters around and have them overlap a bit. Just remember to merge the layers so they’re moving as one.

There are more ways to play with this. If you want to add a glittery layer or appliqué your die-cut letters onto another paper, you would use the same steps as for creating the outline, only you’d create the new layer UNDER the font layer. Add a stroke of an appropriate size to the outlines. Then you can apply a glitter style to the stroke!

It occurred to me that some of you may not know how to load the awesome layer styles designers like Aimee Harrison, Magical Scraps GaloreMiss Mis and Just So Scrappy/Ooh La La Scraps create. So here’s a quick little tut-within-a-tut. After you’ve unzipped the style files, you can rename them if you like. I’ve done that so I can find them more easily. Then copy those files into the Adobe folder on your computer. Program Files>Adobe>Photoshop Elements #>Presets>Styles. That puts them all in one place. Then in PSE, click on the Styles tab down at the bottom of the Layers panel. Once that panel opens, look at the upper right corner of the panel where there’s an icon that shows a stack of 4 little parallel lines with a tiny arrow to the left of them. Click on that icon. It opens a menu as shown below.

Click on Load Styles and PSE will open up that folder you just filled up with presets. Then you can select the style collection you want to load. Easy peasy!

Okay, so now I’ve created a stroke underneath my title and hit it with a white glittery style.

Looks good, but a little blah. So maybe a Bevel? There’s a fast way to find the Simple Emboss bevel style and that’s to click on the More tab down there next to the Styles tab. Inside the Favorites menu there, PSE has very kindly put a shortcut to the Simple Emboss. A quick double click and there’s a nice bevel on my die-cut.

Don’t neglect a drop shadow for your newly beveled diecut!

Here’s what my finished title looks like on the layout. I used a lovely kit from our November guest designer Day Dreams ‘N Designs called A Snowy Adventure and a template from Dagi’s TEMPtations (her store closes soon).

I hope you give this one a try!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

You’ve Gotta Know When to FOLD ‘Em

Are you ready for some football? Oh wait, that’s NEXT week…

I have a neat little visual trick for you to add to your digi-scrapping arsenal. Have you ever wanted to know how others get those cool folded papers they use? In 20 minutes you’ll be doing it yourself!

I’m showing this technique against a background of other papers but you can totally do it with a transparent background if you like. The papers below are the ones I’ve pulled onto a template (credits to follow) and if you look closely you can see that I’ve eliminated the shadow from the top, blue sponged paper by Clearing the Layer Style. It’s not an essential step so if you’re working with a paper within a template, don’t worry about it.

The first step is to select the Polygon Shape tool. Then when the tool options menu opens, tell it you want 3 sides. Use one of the colours from the paper, or white for your fill colour.

Don’t be concerned that PSE wants it to be an equilateral triangle, because you’re in control and you can bend it to your will. To make an isosceles or scalene triangle (yeah, I remember a bit of 10th grade geometry – some days I scare myself!) go to Image>Transform Shape>Skew.

“Grab” one of the handles on the bounding box and pull it in the direction you want it to go, and adjust the shape to make a right triangle. That will ensure you’ve got a little smidge of the underlying paper visible later.

Once you have your triangle the shape you want – mine is a narrow wedge – don’t forget to Simplify it.

Now move that triangle over so that one of the long edges is flush with the paper edge. (I turned visibility for the papers underneath off so these steps will be easier to follow.)

For this part of the process, you want to bottom edge of the triangle to extend past the bottom edge of the paper.

Now Select the edges of the triangle by clicking on the Layer Thumbnail to get those marching ants.

Look to see that you’re on the layer with the paper you’re folding and not any of the others. Then Cut the triangle from the paper using the CTRL/CMD>X keyboard shortcut.

Go back to the triangle layer and Deselect it (CTRL/CMD>D) then drag it from one lower corner until that same edge you lined up with the paper’s edge is lined up with the new cut edge. Check that the pointy top of the triangle is exactly positioned on the edge of the paper as shown – zoom in as much as you need to. Then hit the green checkmark.

That should give you a little sliver of your paper visible right at the bottom of the image, as shown below. If you want to, you can adjust the shape or size of your triangle to make it happen, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

Of course, this fold needs a proper shadow. Once again, Select the triangle by clicking on the Layer Thumbnail. Create a new layer underneath the triangle by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the New Layer icon – the single sheet of paper at the top left of the Layers panel – to put your shadow on. Then using the Paint Bucket tool, fill the selected area on that new layer with the shadow colour. If you’re using a template, you can right-click on the fx icon on any of the shadowed layers then click on the colour swatch. Copy the colour number from the menu box. Then click on the Foreground colour on the Tools panel and paste the number into the same box. That way all the shadows will be the same colour. Now you’ve got a dark triangle layer underneath your folded paper. Nudge it over so you can see it.

Apply a Gaussian Blur filter to the shadow then tweak the Opacity down to somewhere around 50%, or whatever looks similar to the existing shadows on your template. You can then change the Blend Mode to Linear Burn and your shadow is perfect. You can then Smudge the shadow layer so it’s narrower at the top of the triangle and wider at the bottom, as you’d expect to see if the folded paper isn’t lying directly on top of the paper under it. Another way to accomplish that is to slightly tilt the shadow.

If you’ve Cleared the Layer Style on your paper layer at Step One, add it back now. I almost forgot that step!

Easy-peasy, isn’t it? My layout was created for the November Designer Spotlight challenge using a template from Aprilisa‘s Picture Perfect 155 and Pixelily‘s Daily Stuff kit. This is what it looks like altogether.

Let me know how you like this technique!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Scrapping with Heritage Photos

Whew… I’ve had a frustrating few days. Before I went to bed on Hallowe’en (which should have tipped me off…) I downloaded and installed the Windows 10 Fall Creators update. It’s not like Microsoft really gives us a choice any more – it’s not IF you want to update, it’s WHEN. So I caved. And almost caved in. It changed a bunch of my settings without telling me, the one I was most upset with being my ability to take screenshots of my work for these tuts, and to know where they’re saved. Had to get Microsoft to take over my laptop remotely to get it sorted out. And if that wasn’t enough frustration, it also messed with Photoshop Elements 15, causing it to slow to barely a crawl. I went so far as to remove it from my laptop then reinstall it, hoping that would solve my issue. It didn’t. But strangely enough, at about the (creative) midway point of the layout you’ll see below PSE suddenly started working normally. I’m not sure it’s completely resolved, but I was darned glad when it snapped to! Now, all of that preamble is my apology for the skimpy nature of this week’s tutorial.

You may have noticed that I like to use heritage photos for many of my layouts. As the family historian and keeper of the family tree, I’ve amassed quite a collection of photos of long-dead relatives. And given that we Canadians will pause for several moments of reflection at 11:11 am on Saturday, November 11th to remember those whose sacrifices have allowed us the lives we live, I wanted to do a new layout for Remembrance Day. So that’s what you’re stuck with, me droning on about how to incorporate heritage photos into your layouts.

Let’s start with some tips on scanning that will cut down on your workload. When you’re going to scan old photos, especially the fragile ones that are decades old, make sure your scanner is set to a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi). If you have a choice to go higher and it’s an extra-special photo, go higher. Make sure the glass on your scanner bed is pristine; I use a Swiffer dry dusting cloth to wipe over the surface before and between scans. I also go over the face of my photos just before I put them face-down on the scanner bed. That will really cut down on the dust. Save your scans into a folder you can find again later.

And next, some simple, light edits. We’ve covered these before, so I’ve just put instructions on each photo.

I’ve never really touched on removing colour cast, but I know we all have those photos that are too warm or too cool and they just don’t look right. A lot of old photos are yellowed like this one; it’s especially true about photos scanned from newspaper or magazine articles. So let’s talk about removing colour cast.

The tool asks you to click on something in the photo that is white, black or gray. It’s not always easy to know what’s what in old photos, so you may have to try a few things. I tried the shadows on his pants (black) and it was WRONG! CTRL/CMD>Z to the rescue!! Nothing is obviously white, so I decided the sky was probably overcast and gray. Yep!!

At this point you should look at your photo’s overall appearance and decide if you need to adjust the brightness or contrast. Those controls can be found in Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Shadows/Contrast and Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness/Contrast. If the image looks well-balanced then move on.

The first photo did need some Spot Healing but it wasn’t as obvious as this one is. In addition to the dust you can see, there are some fairly obvious scratches.

Don’t be reluctant to crop those photos. You’re going to save the changes as a copy, right? So that original will look exactly the same. This photo was scanned on an angle, so I used the Crop Tool to remove the deckle edge and to adjust Uncle Maxie’s posture a little. A soldier would never lean in an official photo.

Although the colour in this photo isn’t as ghastly as the other one, I want them to look like they were taken by the same camera so I opted to remove the colour cast here too. The only snag I ran into was that clicking on the phone receiver, which I KNOW to be black, turned everything really blue! The one thing in the photo I knew for a fact was white was the sclera of his eye. So I clicked on it in his left eye and it did what I wanted.

Then I threw a little High Pass filter over it and voilà!

To create my memorial layout, I used a template from Tinci DesignsJump into Fall collection and a Heartstrings Scrap Art collection called Time Traveller. I know my grandmother, who was Maxie’s older sister, would approve.

Some kits perfect for your heritage layouts:

There are so many more!!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Actually, here in north-central Alberta it’s snowing on my head today….

Last week’s tutorial elicited quite a few comments. Pam mentioned in hers that she liked the sandy look but wanted to know how to make digital raindrops and Lynden Blossom wanted to know what I planned to do with my sandy leaf. So your faithful scribe set out to meet those directives. (Sorry, Jill. There is no tutorial arising from my Color Challenge layout.)

I started with a 12×12 blank, transparent canvas. Then I chose the Elliptical Marquee tool to make my droplets.

Water droplets are spherical when they’re suspended in space and have a domed appearance when they’re on a surface. So I set the Tool Options to Fixed Ratio 1:1 to give me a perfect circle. I clicked-and-dragged out my first droplet and filled it with white using the Paint Bucket.

You can click-and-drag out a random (odd) number of drops of varying sizes using that method, or you can just copy that first one then resize them to suit.

 

I made 5 round drops to start with. Then, because the photo I used in my layout looked stormy, I thought I’d add some falling drops too. The Custom Shape tool has a raindrop in the default shapes, so it was pretty simple to click-and-drag out a raindrop using white again.

I want to be able to resize and alter the shape a little bit, but there’s a raindrop!

To be able to make changes to the image, I Simplified the layer.

Then I could change the angle on the drop to match the direction the rain would be falling from in the photo. I copied (CTRL/CMD>J)the layer a few times and resized them randomly.

After I had a good (odd) number of droplets, I Merged all the layers together. (CTRL/CMD>E) That way I could apply my next few steps to all of them in one click.

We’ve talked about Styles before in several other tutorials. What they are is a group of adjustments that make the layer take on a different look. Way down at the bottom of the list of Styles in PSE’s defaults is one called Wow Plastic. That’s the one I used. The menu looks like this.

One click on that Wow Plastic Aqua Blue turned them all into this.

I felt the blue was too blue, so I double-clicked on the fx icon on the layer in the Layers panel to get into the adjustment menu. I changed the blue on the shadow layer to one much lighter, and I turned off the Outer Glow setting because it made the drops look like they had a wire ring around them. The Bevel went to the max setting to make them look more spherical.

I also made sure the light source was coming from the same direction so there’s no visual conflict.

Below are my final adjustment settings.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a variety of purchased Styles in my stash – including a water set, but I wanted to make sure everybody could accomplish the look without having to buy anything else.

But OH they’re blue!! So I dropped the Opacity to 75%.

Then it was time to see how they all looked on my layout. So I dropped them onto it and moved it into place.

They still looked too blue and obvious so I dropped the Opacity again to 75% and liked it better.

But alas, they’re not very WET. I didn’t want to mess up what I’d already done, so I Duplicated (CTRL/CMD>J)the layer to give me a throw-away if what I wanted to try didn’t work.

Because the two layers are only 75% Opacity, I can see the underlying layer through the top one. That’s helpful; I went into Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation (CTRL/CMD>U) and played with that.

I took the Saturation down to 0 and increased the Lightness to +20. Now it’s got a stormy gray look to the top layer.

Now it’s looking more like a water droplet on the leaf, but not so much on the photo. Hmm.

There has to be a way…

Back I went to the Styles>Wow Plastic menu and this time I chose the Clear style. I’m still on that copy layer on top of my original droplet layer.

A few tweaks of the Style in the fx menu and NOW I’m happy!! For this adjustment I turned off the INNER Glow. You could follow all of these steps on your blank canvas before moving it to your layout now that I’ve done all the experimentation for you. 😉

You can see my entire layout in the Gallery. For the layout I used Ooh La La ScrapsFalling Slowly collection (sans Styles) and a photo I found on Pixabay. (If you’re not familiar with Pixabay, you need to check it out!)

Happy Hallowe’en!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Turning a POSITIVE into a NEGATIVE

I just got home from a short visit with both one of my dearest friends and one of my daughters… and I’m so behind! Thankfully I still have a few days left of the month to get my challenge layouts done. I’m sure some of you can relate…

This week’s tutorial isn’t specific to Elements 15, like the last few have been. This can be accomplished with pretty much every version. It also might seem familiar to some of you, but I’ve added some new twists. The inspiration for it came from a layout I saw posted on Facebook yesterday, but I can’t remember whose layout it was. What caught my eye was a big “negative” maple leaf and the same leaf used in another spot on the layout. So I thought about it for a bit (the 3 hours it took me to drive home this morning is a bit, right?) and this is what came from it. I was looking in my stash for a paper with a really prominent texture to it when I came across this one in Aprilisa Designs’ Shining Stars September Buffet kit. I like the woodgrain look.

The leaf is from the GingerBread Ladies‘ collab Turning Leaf. It has a lot of serrated detail along the edge so it’ll be perfect for this.

Then I decided what colour I wanted to use to create my effect and then selected the Brush tool.

I have a big collection of brushes (mostly free from Brusheezy) and love to use brushes for lots of purposes. I chose a relatively symmetrical spray brush from this group, set it to its largest Size and 100% Opacity.

If you’ve read my tutorials before you’ll remember that I always recommend putting your brushes on their own layer so you have infinite control of the size, the angle and the position it takes on your layout. It also makes it possible to duplicate the brushed layer, which is a great option. For this technique it’s an absolute IMPERATIVE. So I created a new layer by clicking on the single-sheet-of-paper icon at the top of the Layers panel.

I bounced my brush over the leaf so that the paint extended past the edges, but didn’t completely hide the leaf.

Then I copied the paint layer. You can either right-click on the layer then choose Duplicate Layer from the drop-down menu, or you can use the WSNH* keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD>J.

You want to be sure you’re working on the paint layer immediately above the leaf layer for this step.

“Select” the outline of the leaf. To do that, click on the image thumbnail in the Layers panel. When you see the ants marching around the edge of the leaf, then click on Select>Inverse or use the WSNH keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD>Shift>I.

You won’t notice that the marching ants have moved from what’s inside them to what’s outside them, but when you invert your selection that’s what happens. Now you’re going to Cut the paint that’s OUTSIDE the leaf away by clicking on Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X.

If you look at the Layers panel you can see that you have the red leaf, a gold leaf and the spray painted layer.

Now go up to the second spray paint layer and repeat the Selection, but this time we’re not going to Invert, we’re just going to Cut.

If you turn off the visibility of your red and gold leaf layers, this is what you’ll see. But let’s keep playing with it.

There was a tutorial some time ago where I talked about Blend Modes. They’re great tools, and are fun to play with. I dabbled a bit to see if I could bring out the woodgrain a bit more. I ended up with Darken mode at 76% to achieve this look.

I touched briefly on Filters in a couple of tutorials; these tools are a lot of fun too. Today I’m going to show you the Texturizer filter and its options. I thought I’d WSNH and apply the same filter to two layers at the same time, but was rudely awakened to the reality that it isn’t possible. Darn.

However, there’s a WSNH workaround for that! As you can see in the screenshot, I was working on the topmost “negative” paint layer to start off. I clicked Filter>Texture>Texturizer. There are several options on top of the basic filter and that’s where the magic happens.

Once the Texturizer filter menu opened up, I chose Sandstone, set the Scaling to 200%, the Relief to 25 and the Light to the top left. Boom! I looks like someone dumped wet sand on top of the leaf…. before it was moved.

I wanted the same wet-sand look on my gold-leaf-layer, and guess what… Elements remembers the last settings used in the Filter menu! So I just had to click on that top-most option, or CTRL/CMD>F.

Now it all looks like it’s been buried in wet sand. But I know there’s more we can do with this.

Hmmm, let’s swing the red and gold leaf layers over and rotate it a bit.

Okay. Wait a minute. That doesn’t look right. I don’t want it to look like that! What the heck?? Oh. Yeah. The “negative” layer is on top. It needs to be underneath. So I moved it down.

There. I like that.

Let’s jazz it up a bit by putting a Blend mode on the sandy-gold-leaf layer. This time I liked Lighten at 69%. The red shows through a little more, the veins are visible and the sandiness is still visible too.

At this point, I wanted to do some more tweaking but I didn’t want to mess things up, so I Merged the sandy-gold-leaf and red leaf layer together. WSNH = CTRL/CMD>E

Now to enhance the realism of this sandy-leaf look. The sand would add weight and depth to the leaf, right? But as the sand layer dries, it will distort the leaf a bit at the tips. So I created a shadow layer using the technique I showed you in my second shadowing tutorial, which has quickly become my favourite way to customize my shadows. Then I Smudged it a bit to make it look natural.

The last step I took was to change the Blend mode on the shadow layer to Linear Burn and decrease its Opacity to 46%. Now I have a neat look I can exploit on my layout however I choose.

I hope you give this a try and love your results!

  • WSNH = Work Smart Not Hard

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 15)

More FUN with FOTOS

I hope everybody’s having a good week. I’ve been crazy-busy almost every day of my “vacation”, which around here just means I don’t go to my job. This time of year there’s always so much to do and I’m tired of looking at leaves. All over the yard. In the flowerbeds. On the sidewalks. On the porch floor. Stuck to my dog… But for today, I’m going to pretend I love them. (I do, when they’re in photos!)

This week we’re going to play with another Fun Edit menu in the Guided Edits tab of PSE 15. I originally planned to do something with the Out Of Bounds menu, but really wasn’t happy with the results so I scrapped that and chose to go with Painterly. Don’t be alarmed by the number of screenshots in this tutorial. The technique literally takes minutes to achieve fabulous results. (I know, I’ve redone this one about 6 times.) Here’s the photo I played with, courtesy of Pixabay.

In Guided Edit section, I went to the Fun Edits tab and looked at my options. The neat thing about this version is that if you roll your cursor over the images in the menu you can see each of the effects in action.

The Painterly menu looks like this. We’re going to work through the technique step by step, starting with the Paint Brush. Down at the bottom of the menu there are two buttons, a Next and a Cancel. DON’T use the Cancel button to undo something you don’t like, because it will undo EVERYTHING and close your photo!

Depending on the size of your screen and your personal workflow, you can choose the view you’ll see as you work. Because I work on a 15 inch laptop I like to zoom in and out a lot and I like to see what’s happening as it happens, so the only view that really works for me is the After Only setting. Play with them and see what works best for you. To Zoom you can use the Magnifying Glass or CTRL/CMD>+ or -.

With this technique you can work from either a negative or positive effect. That is, you’re either revealing (Show) or concealing (Hide). I opted to Show the parts of the photo I wanted to have the focus. The software then applied this mask to the photo.

There are only a few tools available to you in these menus. Painterly uses a handful of brushes you can adjust for Size, Opacity and Angle. The first brush on the list is called Bold Strokes. The settings I used are shown below.

Then I just randomly clicked the brush over the areas of the photo that I wanted to reveal. I like to go with a lowish Opacity so I can build the effect as I go along. It’s a lot easier to achieve a soft look if you take your time.

I selected the next brush on the list and uncovered more of my photo. Don’t move on to the next step until you’re sure you’re done.

Make good use of the few controls you have.

I worked my way down the list of brushes, adjusting the size and opacity as I went. If you do something that looks funny, Undo it with CTRL/CMD>Z.

Each brush does something a little different. I had the little girl revealed with a soft, moody look. It was time to bring up some of the leaves. For that I used the Rough Bristles brush with a lower opacity.

The next brush on the list is called Confetti and I love it! This is where you really start getting an artsy look. This brush randomly places squares and rectangles of your chosen effect over your image. I just scattered random clicks over the whole photo.

The Confetti effect isn’t obvious but it really adds something to the overall image. The last brush is called Round Rhythm. It’s not perfectly round, like a Basic Brush is, but neither is it grungy, so use it judiciously. I took it over areas of the photo that I wanted revealed almost completely.

You’re thinking right about now that to get to this point had to take hours. But it took mere minutes!

The second step in the technique is to choose a background colour. The defaults are Black and White. You can also choose a colour from your photo simply by clicking on Select Custom Color then clicking on an area in your photo. You’ll see instantly what it looks like. This is what White looks like.

Black could be really effective for certain images and moods.

For my example I went with White. When I redid it (laptop froze in the middle and I lost the whole shebang) I chose a colour from the photo, as you’ll see in my finished layout.

Step 3 lets you add Texture to the image. If you don’t want to add texture, just go to the bottom of your workspace and click on Next.

The next 6 screenshots show what each of the textures look like at 30% opacity. You can see the Confetti effect a lot better in these ones!

Step 4 is to add some Painterly Effects.

There are again 6 choices for Effects. Hovering your cursor over each one will show you the label for the effect.

The next 6 screenshots show you what they look like.

Each of the effects changes the image noticeably, some very obviously. I chose Rough Pastels for my layout, but I can think of ways to use all of them. When you’re satisfied with the way your image looks, clicking on Next will take you to some options for using your masterpiece. You can Save it, Save As something specific, change to another Edit mode or Share it. Then click Done down at the bottom of the workspace.

Once you’ve selected Expert edit mode to use your creation for a layout, you can see what the software has done with the original photo. There are 5 layers here, and you can manipulate each one further. Feel free to play around with them, because you can always Undo. When you’re happy, you can Merge the layers, or leave them as is so you can make more adjustments within your layout. If you choose to do that, I recommend creating a Group with the layers so they don’t get separated accidentally. To do that, you first have to Unlock the Background layer by clicking on the little padlock icon on the layer. Select all the layers then either click on the Group icon (a stack of papers, second from the left at the top of the Layers panel), right-click and select Group From Layers or CTRL/CMD>G. (You know how I do it…)

If you don’t want to make any more changes to your image, select all the layers as shown below then right-click>Merge Layers or CTRL/CMD>E. Then you treat it just like any other photo.

I used my finished sample for my October Mix It Up Surprise Challenge layout. The theme this one is Change, which this photo captures in several ways. I used a template (with some modifications) from Heartstrings Scrap Art‘s Mix It Up V.5 collection (not found in the store) and Ooh La La Scraps‘ beautiful Falling Slowly kit that I got through the Bake Sale for $1 (!) You can get it for $1 too, if you hurry… the sale runs until midnight MDT on October 20th.

Oh wait. I bet you want to see my layout. Right? Here you go!

Tutorial Tuesday: Digital Scrapbooking

I Feel the Need… the Need for SPEED (Scrapping)!

Did anybody join in on the Digital Scrapbook Day (week) activities? I was so pleased to see not one but TWO speed scraps included. I LOVE speed scraps! But I know they can be really intimidating, especially for the novice digi-scrapper. Since both Lori from Scraps N Pieces and Aimee Harrison have indicated they’d like to run monthly speed scraps, I thought I would share some tips for making speed scraps a fearless and fun way to document your life.

Let’s talk about speed scraps in general first. When I first became a digi-scrapper, I knew nothing about anything. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I had a sale-priced Photoshop Elements 5 CD that I bought at a business supply store and nothing to work with but a lot of photos. So I started downloading freebies. Just like a lot of others do when they’re getting started. The first online digi-scrapping shop I actually spent money at had a series of monthly challenges that were intended to stimulate people to become competent digital scrapbooking artists so I began playing along with them. Soon I was pulled into my first speed scrap… and I was terrified! I could barely make PSE do anything at all and now I was going to have a stopwatch running? But I jumped in. Some of my favourite layouts of all time are those I’ve created for speed scraps.

Speed scraps are time-limited events; depending on who’s in charge they can go only 2 hours before the gate comes down while others are a little more generous and allow several hours after the last set of instructions for participants to post their layouts in the gallery. Here’s the basic scoop: The facilitator for the scrap has already put together a layout and written 7 sets of instructions to guide participants in creating their layouts. The first set of instructions is posted at the top of the hour, followed by the rest at 10 minute intervals, the final set being posted at the end of the hour. Participants then (usually) have one more hour to finish the layout and get it posted into the gallery and the speed scrap thread. For those whose creative process takes days, this can be really stressful. But you know what else it can be? Liberating! Think of it as a mental template.

Now for some tips…

  • When you’re planning to participate in a speed scrap, have some specific photos in mind. You won’t know until the instructions are posted how many you’ll need, but if you have a couple or three already chosen you’ll be ahead of the game before it starts.
  • Try to choose photos that will lend themselves to different shapes or formats. I like to have 3 in my speed scrap folder: a portrait format, a landscape format and one that can be either a square or a circle. Then I’m ready for anything!
  • When you’ve selected your photos, think about which kits might work well with them and have them in your memory. I loved the speed scrap Aimee hosted on Saturday, for which she generously provided a free mini-kit for those who chose to work with it. I did. Having that for inspiration I was able to narrow my photo choices down nicely.
  • Have both your software and your digi-supplies open on your desktop so you’re already in working mode. Open a new canvas on your workspace, in whatever size you normally work with. I do 12×12, and in PSE 15 there’s even an option for making a preset for that. The more prepared you are going in, the easier it’ll be to work along with the group.

  • Make use of the keyword search when you’re looking for something in particular. If the instructions call for a bow, but the kit you’re using doesn’t have one, you can run a search for one that will look good with your kit while you do something else.
  • Use the tools that come with your software. The grid is one of the most useful ones of all for speed scrapping. Sometimes the instructions will be very explicit: “Place your photo 1 1/2 inches over from the right edge of your background and 4 inches up from the bottom edge.” Popping a grid over your background (View>Grid or CTRL/CMD>’) makes doing that a cinch. (Kat Hansen wrote the book on detailed instructions for speed scrapping.)
  • If your instructions say to “center a large flower over the left edge of your photo”, you can use the Move tool option for centering objects by selecting both layers then clicking on Align>Center.
  • Don’t freak out at how fast time is passing. Take a second to read the instructions carefully so you can save time actually doing what they say. By the time the last set of instructions – usually to add shadows, a title, a date and some journaling – you’ll be close to finished anyway. The last hour is to pretty everything up and make sure it all looks good.
  • Don’t feel like you have to chat while you’re working. No one expects that. Multitasking is hard enough when you’re not racing against the clock.
  • I use purchased shadow styles a lot, and they’re especially handy for speed scraps. You can select all of your paper layers holding down the Shift key as you click on the layers, then shadow them all with one click. Same for flowers and other items. It really saves a lot of time. If you’re close to finished and still have time left, then you can create some custom shadows if you want, but you won’t necessarily need to.
  • Don’t panic if you’re short on time and don’t think you’ll get your credits down with your layout in the Gallery before you post it and copy it to the thread. You can go back into the Gallery after your layout is posted into the thread and add them in. Just don’t forget to put them in there!
  • Also don’t be upset when your layout looks similar to all the rest of them. They were all working with the same set of instructions you were, so they SHOULD resemble each other.
  • Last but not least, don’t sweat the petty stuff (or pet the sweaty stuff!). It’s not the end of the world if you’re not finished when the clock runs down. You’ve made a great attempt and now that you’ve gotten warmed up, next time will be better. If you’re like me, you’re participating for the challenge and not for the prize, nice as those are. No one can manage absolutely everything all the time. There will be interruptions – the dog needs to go out, the phone rings and it’s your mom, the baby wakes up and wants Mommy NOW… There may be a screen freeze or your software may shut itself down on you without warning… and you didn’t save your work. All of these have happened to me (except the baby part… no babies here!) and I just got back in the game. If you’re so stressed out by speed scrapping that it isn’t fun, DON’T try to get it all done in 2 hours. No judging!

Here’s the layout I speed-scrapped with Aimee on Saturday. I’m really happy with it. And I had it done with 20 minutes to spare… so it CAN be done!

How do you feel about speed scraps? What are your favourite challenges? Personally, I love them all!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 15)

It’s a PUZZLE!

I’ll be honest, I had an incredibly hectic week and had no time to get creative. I went to bed last night with NO idea what to write about today… and woke up thinking, “Hey, why not play with one of those Fun Edits the software creators included in PSE 15?” I took a look at the October Buffet and saw all these great colours and thought maybe I could tie this tut into a Buffet challenge layout, thus getting more bang for my figurative buck. So let’s do it!

I think this photo will work nicely with the Buffet palette, and with that soft, blurry background, maybe it would lend itself to the Puzzle Effect Guided Edit.

With my photo on the workspace, I clicked on that Puzzle Effect and this menu opened up. I chose the Large option to make it easier for you to follow along.

One click, and my photo looks just like a 63-piece puzzle. How cool is that?! But there’s lots more fun to come. The second step on the list says, “Enhance the effect by selecting a puzzle piece.”

I clicked on the Select Puzzle Piece bar then clicked on a section of my photo in the centre of one puzzle piece in the lower right corner as directed. To select more than one piece, I held down the CTRL/CMD key and clicked on the four pieces outlined in the screenshot.

That set some marching ants going around the edges of those four pieces. No fiddling with the Magic Wand Tool, no Refining Edges needed. If I had wanted to select random pieces all over the photo, I could have done that rather than selecting contiguous ones.

To remove those pieces, the next step was to click on the Extract Piece bar in the menu.

Then I could move those pieces all as one to another area of my canvas by clicking on the Move Tool bar right there on the menu.

Once I’d moved those pieces up and out of the way, I could still see the puzzle grid where they had been. I could have stopped there, but I’m playing with the software so I know what it does, so I went on to the next step on the menu and clicked on the Erase Tool bar and used it to roll over the grid lines.

Boom! The grid is gone. But… there’s a white background there. If I want to see my background paper in the spot where those pieces are missing, what do I do?

What does this Next button do?

I wanted to see what else was possible, and since working in Expert Edit mode is how we all use PSE for digital scrapbooking, that’s what I clicked.

Whoa!! Look at that! There are a bunch of layers created by the Puzzle Effect edit mode and I can see them all. I moved some of them around, turned the visibility on and off and found these two layers have a transparent background. Now I knew how to make this work for a layout!

I right-clicked on the two selected layers then clicked on Duplicate Layers… in the same way I showed you when we were combining parts of two different templates.

The drop-down menu shows me my options as to where I could send them. I found my paper, which came from Heartstrings Scrap Art‘s Love & Laughter Buffet kit and clicked on that. I could have moved them onto their own canvas by selecting New from the menu, and then carried on playing with them.

Now I have three separate layers: the paper, the large puzzle photo and the four-piece corner. If you look really closely, you can see the bounding box around the two selected layers.

Now I can do whatever I want with this canvas. I’m not going to get my layout finished today, but it should be up in the Gallery soon.

I’ve really only scratched the surface of what this software can do, and I’m looking forward to sharing some more fun stuff with you next week!