Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Get in SHAPE, Girl!

So, I was having a chat online with Lisa (slfam) about the April GingerScraps challenges. She wanted to take part in the Scraplift Challenge but didn’t know how to make rounded rectangles. This beautiful layout sort of demands them… if you’re like me and want to stick as close to the original as possible.

Looking at the layouts posted in the thread told me that Lisa wasn’t alone in wondering how to get those curvy corners. So I decided to work a tutorial out for y’all.

Let’s start out with a 12×12 canvas. Select the Custom Shape tool, which may look a bit like an amoeba on your desktop. The top right icon in the Tool Options section takes you to the menu for rounded rectangles. Because the example layout uses a square shape, I set the Geometry Options to Square.

The amount of curve on your corners will be determined by the Radius you set for them. You can type in any number you want and do a test run to see what it looks like.

I started at 150 px, and just kept click-dragging out squares until I got to a radius of 400 and was satisfied with the amount of rounding. See the little Simplify button down there? You can WSNH by using it, or you can do it the other way. But you DO want to simplify your shape once you like it, because that makes your background transparent.

This is the long way… See what the thumbnail looks like? You want the background to be transparent for a later step.

Now that I’ve got the shape with the curvy corners I was looking for, I can resize it – bigger or smaller – and still keep the corners at the same radius.

You can also change the proportions from square to rectangle, but when you do you also change the radius of the corner from a perfectly round one to a more elliptical one.

Here’s why I wanted you to Simplify your shape. After going to all that trouble (well… playing with the radius can be tedious!) you might want to save your shape as a clipping mask for future use. You can use the same mask over and over and over and over! (If you want to use it multiple times in one layout, just CTRL/CMD>J it as many times as you want.)

In the Save As menu, select where you want to put it so you can find it later. (I have a folder labeled Jan’s Elements where I’ve saved quite a few things I’ve created over the years.) Name it something simple you can remember and select PNG as the format. That’s how you preserve your transparent background.

Now let’s take this little lesson a step further. We’re going to make a template for a banner. With the Custom Shape tool selected, click on the icon in the middle of the second row of the Tool Options section. That opens up the Polygon shape tool. You can make an equilateral (all sides the same length) shape with as many sides as you want. Let’s make a triangle.

For my banner, I don’t really want an equilateral triangle. I’m looking for more of an isosceles triangle. (Am I causing you flashbacks to junior high math class? Sorry!)

After I Simplified my shape, I changed the dimensions. Once I had the shape right, I could change the size to something more useful.

To make the string/rope that your banners will hang from, the next step is to draw out a nice elliptical shape using the Elliptical Marquee tool. A gentle curve will work beautifully.

I made 5 copies of my little flag before I moved on to this step. For now they’re all still in a stack. Once the ellipse is drawn out and looks good, apply a white Stroke to the outside of the marching ants. Edit>Stoke (Outline) Selection…

I chose 20px for this stroke. I wanted the rope to be strong! (At this point your rope will just look like a line. Giving it the appearance of rope or twine is an advanced technique we’ll have to explore another time.)

Once the stroke has been applied, Crop the whole shebang down to a manageable size.

Then you can start moving your flags along your line. Spread them out. Tip them so they’re attached to your line at both corners of the short side. Don’t worry too much about eyeballing for a perfect spacing.

Once you’ve got them all lined up, select each of the little flag layers. In the Tool Options section of the Move tool, select Distribute>Middle and voilà! They’re all perfectly spaced. Too easy!

Move the string layer to the bottom and you’re done! Now you can clip papers to each of the flags, mixing and matching colours, patterns, stripes… whatever your little heart desires! And you’ll have a custom banner that’s a perfect match to the kit you’re using.

The final step is to Save As… Only this time you’re going to save it as a PSD file, which will let you change up your papers every time.

I just know you can think of a gazillion ways to use this lesson. If you like to add lots of tabs to your layouts, you can make your own clipping masks in the shapes you like best. There are so many things you can do with this you might never work without clipping masks again!

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.

Until next week, friends! Ellen‘s challenge is going to be a big one… as soon as I figure out how to show what I’m doing while I do it. Michelle is still deciding on her topic. Stay tuned!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Title Tweaks

Titles are an integral part of fabulous scrapbook layouts, whether they’re done the traditional way with papers, printed photos and glue, or digitally. Having a title on your layout that connects with the topic, means something to either the creator or the viewer and is pleasing to the eye, can elevate a layout from merely “nice” to OUTSTANDING. I received a private message last week from GingerScrapper Lisa (slfam in the forum and gallery) asking me if I knew how anGELLeyes created the title for this layout, and if I did, could I make it a tutorial topic. So here we are!

This tutorial is going to build on some of the techniques from previous tutorials, so for some of you, working through it is going to be really quick and easy. But because there are always new viewers to the Blog, I’m still going to go step-by-step.

I started with a swirly twirly font called Risthi Script.

Before you can make alterations and adjustments to fonts other than those related directly to the text itself, it’s usually required that you Simplify the layer. Right click on the layer and select Simplify from the drop-down menu. Now you can play with it to your heart’s content.

When I looked at the phrase I liked the font but felt like it needed a bit more weight. So I selected the text – CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail to produce the marching ants – then Modify>Expand.

The fly-out menu looks like this. You can enter whatever number you want into that box where I have the number 4. I wanted to beef up my text a little so I went small.

That move shifted the marching ants out 4 pixels from the edge of the selected object, the text.

Then I used the Fill tool, aka the Paint Bucket (Work Smart Not Hard – just hit the “K” key on the keyboard) to fill in that blank space.

One problem with this little trick is that it leaves some gaps where the marching ants were. To get rid of the gaps, just hit your text with the Paint Bucket again.

After the gaps were filled, I Duplicated the layer (WSNH: CTRL/CMD>J) so that the original layer would remain untouched, as my base layer. You’ll see why this is important in a minute. The multi-step method for duplicating is to right-click on the layer then select Duplicate Layer… which then opens another menu that asks you where you want the copy to go.

On the new copied layer, I wanted to create a white Stroke around the outside. Edit>Stroke opens this menu. As you can see, I chose a relatively narrow stroke but you can choose whatever number makes sense to you for your title. The other thing I want to point out is that I put the stroke centered over the edge of the text. If I were to zoom in tightly on my text, I’d see that the edge of is it actually quite jagged. If I put the stroke on the outside of the text’s edge, those jaggies would be magnified. Putting it inside would emphasize them. There is some degree of smoothing that comes with centering the stroke, so that’s where it went.

It’s hard to see in the image below but there’s a nice white border around the text and it’s applied to the top layer in my Layers panel.

Here we go… see the white stroke now? And the jaggedy edge? It’s not really visible at the size the finished title will be so don’t fret over it. My next step is to CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail of the base layer. That bottom layer has no white border, so when you click on the thumbnail, the entire text will be selected. You’ll see that in the image following this one.

Because I centered the stroke over the edge, the marching ants are about halfway between the red and the edge of the white, as shown. That’s okay, because what I’m trying to do is create a 3D border and it doesn’t have to be gigantic to look good. Once I had the red text area selected ON THE TOP LAYER I hit CTRL/CMD>X to remove the red text section on that layer, leaving only the white. (The multi-step way is to select Edit>Cut.)

There’s that white border. (Visibility of the red layer is turned off so you can see what I’m doing.)

To get the 3D look that anGELLeyes created, I applied a Bevel from the Effects panel. (You’re getting a real good look at where my money goes… Bevels are default effects that come with the software though.)

The Bevel menu looks like this. When you have a few minutes, play with them and see what they do. It’s fun! I chose the Simple Emboss style for this purpose and double-clicked on it, once I was sure I was on that TOP layer that only had the white outline on it.

The default size on this Bevel style is 21 pixels, which is much too much for this technique. By double-clicking on the fx icon on the layer, I can adjust the size of the Bevel.

When I decreased the size down to 4 pixels, I ended up with a nice, well-defined, 3D border with a tiny shadow for added definition. Other than the multi-coloured effect on our example, that’s really all there is to it. You need go no further, your title is already awesome.  And you can accomplish all of this in about 5 minutes. No lie!

Let’s play with this technique a bit. I created some examples of adding other styles to the same phrase so you can see how easy it is to make your title something really special. For these examples I used a collection of styles from Just So Scrappy‘s Up on the Housetop collection. But first, I again duplicated the bottom-most layer, the one that is only red text.

Red coarse glitter…

…looks like this!

Red glitter gel looks like this. (I LOVE this one!)

This one is the red fine glitter.

Let’s see what the translucent red acrylic gel looks like.

It was really shiny and overpowering, so I pulled the Opacity of that layer down to obtain this effect.

How about changing the colours of some of the words… I used the rectangular Marquee tool (WSNH = “M“) to select the word “Flowers” and Cut it away. (CTRL/CMD>X) Then I Pasted it back onto my work space (CTRL/CMD>V), resulting in it being on its own layer, repositioning it so it lined up with the bottom layer. I did the same with the word “Showers”.

I like to turn the visibility of the other layers off while I play around so I’m not distracted and can see exactly what’s happening. I wanted to apply the opaque red acrylic gel style to most of the phrase so that layer is the active and visible one.

The style gives the text a shiny look, which you’ll see in the image following this one. This is what the base layer looks like without any adjustments.

I like how this looks. So I’m going to leave it alone.

I turned the visibility for the “Flowers” layer on and selected the opaque pink acryic gel style.

Isn’t that cool? It looks like enamel inside a form, which is what I was going for.

“Showers” will go next.

The opaque blue acrylic gel style might be a good colour for something watery, don’t you think?

This is what the final version looks like. I could have played with this for hours, but needed to get all the screenshots edited for the tut, so I stopped there. Total time to actually make all the adjustments to this? 25 minutes start to finish. It’s just that easy!

There were only two entries for the Tutorial Challenge in March, and rather than go through the bother of a draw, I’m going to give both gals their moment in the spotlight. Michelle and Ellen, please send me a message with the topic you’d like me to work up for you and I’ll get on with them right away!

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.

See you all again next week!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

WSNH Tips and Tricks

For my 30th (yes, this is #30! I can’t believe it either!!) Tuesday tutorial I thought I’d do a bit of a recap and put my Work Smart Not Hard tips and tricks in one place. We all have busy lives and could use a little help to streamline our workflow. So we can scrap more layouts, right? Can I get an AMEN??

  • Use a template if you’re short on time. They take out the drudgery without eliminating creativity. If you’re like me and have a gazillion templates in your stash, it can be more time-consuming to find the one you want to use than it would be to wing it and build your layout from scratch. I’ve developed a way of expediting my search by relabeling the previews with some key words my file explorer search menu can track down. It was a gargantuan job to go through all of the ones I already had but it was so worth it! What do I do, you ask? I had to decide what system I wanted to use first. To do that I had to think about how I select them in the first place. I usually choose photos first, so my labeling system needed to reflect that. And although I rarely make 2-page spreads, I thought it might be easier to find what I’m looking for by putting that in the label too. My main categories then are “single#” and double#”. Then I thought about some other factors that relate to templates and started adding labels like “large” to templates with large photo spots, “circle” and “square” for those predominating shapes, “blend” for templates with blended photos, and “mask” for those with masks. Your labels should reflect how YOU work, so don’t feel like you need to duplicate what I do, just because it works well for me. Do what works for YOU. If you start with the new ones you download and do it as you’re unpacking your zip files, then gradually work your way through your existing collection, it’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.

This is what a search for a “single3” template in my GingerScraps stash looks like:

With the extra-large view, I can scroll through the whole list in a matter of a couple of minutes and choose the one that fits my desired photo(s) and kit(s) selections. Right-clicking on the preview image and selecting Open File Location takes me to the folder where the template lives. And away we go! (P.S… keyboard shortcuts to follow in a single list.)

  • When working with templates, once you’ve added an item onto your canvas and moved it into position over/under the place-holder template symbol, look for all similar items. Duplicate the one you’ve just added and move it up or down the Layers panel until it’s just above or just below the symbol. Then nudge it into position on the layout over/under the place-holder symbol. **If you’re working with a pre-shadowed template, copy the symbol’s Layer Style and apply it to your element BEFORE duplicating, so you don’t have to do each layer individually.** Do this with each element of your template and all that will be left is to create a title and do your journaling. If you’re not using a pre-shadowed template, you can select all similar layers and shadow them with your drop shadow styles (either default ones that came with your software, or those you’ve purchased) all at the same time. Trust me, this will save you a LOT of time!
  • Speaking of shadows… remember that whatever you’ve typed should never look like it’s floating. Journaling, sub-titles and date labels – anything you use a FONT for – should sit directly ON the paper below it. No shadows. NO shadows. The exception to this rule is if you’ve turned your font into a sticker; then you can apply a very slight shadow to it to show that it’s a sticker.
  • And speaking of text… If you’re going to use more than one font, remember to Simplify your text layers as you go along to prevent the software from changing the font on ALL your text layers. This is more than annoying!
  • I like to create my titles on a separate canvas. That lets me see what I’m doing without any distractions. I have a general idea how I want it to look in terms of shape and size, so I’ll select a canvas size big enough for me to move things around and see it all clearly. I like to use alphas with or without a font, and it’s nice to see what I’ve got going on without trying to take everything else into consideration. Once I think I have it right, I Merge the individual alphas for each word together then Link all the layers together so that when I move the title onto my layout, everything goes, but I still have some flexibility to adjust placement in order to fit it better into the layout.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn off the Visibility of other layers if you’re trying to stitch a ribbon down, apply a staple or brad, or for any reason. Stitches and staples, just like text, should be on the layer immediately above whatever they’re securing. (If you want to turn on or off Visibility for a lot of layers, hold down the left-click mouse button as you move the cursor over those creepy little eyeballs.) Once you’re happy, you can turn all the other layers back on.
  • Make good use of Layer Masks to add more realism to your layouts. The advantage of the Layer Mask is that it’s easy to correct over-zealous erasing by simple toggling the white foreground colour to the background, the black background colour to the foreground and painting back whatever you oopsed on. With this nifty trick you can dangle a charm from a string or a ribbon, make a paper clip look like it’s really holding two sheets of paper together, twine a ribbon or a vine around some flowers and twigs, tuck a flower into a pocket… really, anything your imagination can conjure.
  • If your Panel Options aren’t set to give you a full-sized thumbnail in the Layers panel, you may want to rename your layers as you go along so you know what’s where. Don’t know how to change the layer name? Double-click on the label PSE has given the layer in the Layers panel and type in whatever you want. Want to change your thumbnail size? Click on the little icon that looks like a stack of papers at the upper right corner of the Layers panel right next to the trash can icon. Then select Panel Options>Thumbnail Size>Jumbo. Also make sure Thumbnail Contents>Layer Bounds is selected, otherwise what you’ll see in the Layers panel is a tiny little image in the area where it’s located on your layout inside the thumbnail box. I tried that and hated it!
  • Learn some basic keyboard shortcuts. There are a lot of them, but you’ll probably only use about a dozen with any regularity. Once you’ve incorporated them into your workflow, you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done without them. I find that my fingers just do it automatically. Below is a list of the ones I use most often, roughly in order of use. Windows users will use the CTRL key, Mac users CMD.

If you want to save this to your computer just right-click on the image and Save Image As… and then name it something you’ll be able to find later.

Since March has only been over a couple of days, I’ll wait until next week to check the galleries for entries into the Tutorial ChallengeRemember, 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.
See you all again next week!


Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Style Savvy!

Over the weekend Marcia posted a question on the Just So Scrappy Fan Group Facebook page. She’s just learning digital scrapping and she wanted to know how and why styles are used. First, let’s talk about WHAT they are. Basically, they’re little mini-scripts that tell Photoshop/Photoshop Elements to change the appearance of an object. The object could be a font, a paper item, a shape or almost anything. It’s a lot easier to understand this concept if you can see it at work, so today’s tutorial was born. I’ll be using some layer styles created by Just So Scrappy‘s alter-ego, Ooh La La Scraps that coordinate with her Take Time to Be Kind bundle. Katie Castillo is the talent behind both design lines and she creates a bundle of styles for each of her collections. So let’s have a look at what they are and how to use them.

First, I had to load the style files into my software. After unzipping the files, I went to the Effects panel in Elements and clicked on the little stack of horizontal lines shown below.

This menu opens up. Select Load Styles and find the folder with the desired styles in it. They have to be loaded one at a time, unfortunately.

When I unzipped these styles files, I decided to rename the files for the purposes of this tutorial. In the Effects panel this is what I see. You don’t have to do that, I just wanted to make everything quite clear.

The screenshots below show what each different type of style does to an object. I used a large, open font, a chipboard swirl, a cardstock tag and some grungy paint from the Take Time to Be Kind elements pack to demonstrate. Each style comes in all of the colours in the palette for the collection. See what effects they have on different objects.

Acrylic Gel (Transparent Blue)

 Acrylic Gel (Opaque Brown)

Cardboard (Corrugated Cream)

Cardboard (Smooth Green)

Felt (Orange)

Cardstock (Textured Pink)

Cardstock (Glitter Edge Yellow)

Chipboard (Nubby Blue)

Chipboard (Beveled Brown)

Chrome (Fat Cream)

Chrome (Thin Green)

Dots (Orange)

Dots (Glitter Edge Pink)

Dots (Acrylic Gel Yellow)

Embossed (Dots Blue)

Embossed (Brocade Brown)

Glitter (Chunky Cream)

Glitter (Chunky Gloss Green)

Glitter (Fine Orange)

Glitter (Fine Gloss Pink)

Plaid (Plain Yellow)

Plaid (Kraft Edge Blue)

Plaid (Gloss Brown)

Stripes (Plain Cream)

Stripes (Glitter Edge Green)

Stripes (Gloss Orange)

Wood (Smooth Pink)

Wood (Bevel Yellow)

That has given you a look at the colours and textures these styles provide. As you can see, grungy paint is fabulous with a glitter style applied but downright ugly with most of the others. The swirl looks great with any of them, the tag takes on a completely different look. The font wasn’t perhaps the best choice for this purpose. I could see myself creating a matching alpha for this collection using a chunky, bold font. But Katie has already included some stunning alphas so I’ll save my efforts for some other purpose.

That was a very simplistic look at what styles can do. But let’s go a step further and COMBINE some styles to really jazz up an object. I’m using the swirl again because it’s pretty great already, but I might want it to be even more eye-catching on my layout. I resized the canvas so I’d have some room to maneuver. [Image>Resize>Canvas Size or WSNH: CTRL/CMD>ALT>C]

You might notice that this swirl has some texture to it. Don’t be concerned, because styles cover that up.

I created a new layer underneath the swirl by clicking on the sheet of paper icon above the layer panel while holding the CTRL/CMD key down. Then, with the CTRL/CMD key still held down I clicked on the swirl thumbnail to select its edges. See the marching ants?

I want to enlarge or expand that selection.

I chose to expand by 10 pixels.

See the space around the swirl? I’m going to fill that, first with a solid colour and then with glitter.

I selected the lower, blank layer for this step.

I used the Fill tool (aka the Paint Bucket) and the colour in the foreground. It doesn’t matter what colour this is.

Before I forgot to do it, I Duplicated the swirl layer (NOT the red, solid colour fill layer) [WSNH: CTRL/CMD>J] and it’s these layers that I’m going to play with next. But first, I turned off all visibility for all but the lowest of swirl layers.

I then went to the Effects panel and selected the OLL Be Kind Glitter style menu. Then I double-clicked on the pink fine glitter style.

And presto! I have a nice glitter edge, the size of which I chose.

Moving up to the first swirl layer, I then selected the OLL Be Kind Embossed brocade style, also in pink.

Moving up to the middle swirl layer, I selected the transparent acrylic gel style.

Whoa!! That looks awesome!! But… the brocade effect has disappeared.

So I decreased the Opacity of the acrylic gel layer. Now I can see the brocade effect but still have some nice gloss on it. (If you think you need to so you’re not confused, you can change the name of the layer to the style you’ve applied.)

On the very top layer, I selected the smooth pink wood style. It adds a little bit of a bevel and a smidge of a shadow. But it also completely covers up everything underneath it.

Decreasing the Opacity lets some wood grain and brocade effects to show through, while keeping the gloss too! If I was moving it onto a layout, I’d select all the layers and either link them together by clicking on the little chain icon, or merge them together [WSNH: CTRL/CMD>E].

I hope this helps you see the potential with styles. They’re an incredibly powerful tool and can really elevate your scrapping skills. It’s a lot of fun to play with them just to see what they do. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations because if you don’t like it, CTRL/CMD>Z will undo it. Really, the sky’s the limit here!

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.

See you all again next week!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Tearing Up the Sheets (of Cardstock)

Have you ever wondered how other scrappers get their torn paper to look so realistic? Let me show you…

If you were to tear a piece of high-quality cardstock, which generally has colour applied to one or both sides with a white core, you’d get a bit of an irregular edge, with varying amounts of white backing paper showing along it. So to demonstrate this, I’ve used an embossed cardstock from Ooh La La Scraps‘ simply gorgeous bundle You and Me. Fortunately for me, there is also a solid white, textured paper in the kit too, so I’m going to use it for the core. (For the first few steps, I turned the visibility of the white paper layer off.) And to make it easier to see what I was doing, I put a piece of gray patterned paper behind it all.

I wanted to have tears along both vertical edges of the paper and I wanted some of the background to be visible. I also wanted to Work Smart Not Hard. So I selected the layer with my pink cardstock on it and using the Rectangular Marquee tool, I selected a portion of paper then Edit>Cut [WSNH: CTRL/CMD>X]I trimmed away some paper from each side. You’ll see why this is a WSNH tip as we go along.

I then selected the Eraser tool and a relatively small brush size. Working along the right side of my canvas, I erased away some of the pink cardstock in an irregular, jagged manner. Don’t try to be too careful because you want it to look… well, TORN. If it might make it easier for you to visualize, take a real piece of paper, any kind, and tear it. For real. Then look at the edge. It’s not gonna be perfect!

Because I wanted both sides to be torn, I repeated the process on the left side of the canvas too. You may have noticed that I broke my own rule of only erasing on a Layer Mask. If you’re wondering why, it’s because it really doesn’t matter if I erase too much of these papers. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s better if it ISN’T perfect.

Once I was happy with the edges of my tears, I turned the visibility of my white paper layer back on and trimmed away some of it along both edges in the same way I did with the pink. It made me so happy to see that the texture of the white paper was the same as the pink – that core layer should have some texture to it too.

The next step was to erase the edges of the white paper just like I did with the pink cardstock. Zoom in close to your work so you can see exactly what you’re doing.

This time I erased close in to the pink paper in some places and veered away a bit in others.

When you zoom back out, there may be some bits of white paper still there. These have to be erased too.

After I had my white edges the way I wanted them, I selected the pink cardstock layer again and went back with the Eraser tool and created some little slivers of torn paper as shown below. This would happen with real cardstock, so I always include a few little shreds.

Here’s a full screen view of the two torn edges.

The last step to ensuring realism is to add a very infinitesimal shadow to the cardstock layer. I like to have shadows visible on both edges, so to accomplish that I duplicated [WSNH: CTRL/CMD>J]the pink cardstock layer before I applied a drop shadow. I used a simple shadow, with the following settings: Size 0, Distance 2 and Opacity 75. (These aren’t hard-and-fast, use whatever settings look the most realistic to you. Just remember them for later.)

When I had my shadow just so, I Simplified the layer. Doing that locks the shadow to the cardstock so it doesn’t change later.

Then I did the same thing with the second pink cardstock layer, with one difference – the angle of the shadow.

After both layers had that little extra definition provided by the shadows, I merged the two pink cardstock layers with the white paper layer. [WSNH: Select all layers then CTRL/CMD>E]

And here’s the finished layout. Can you see what other techniques I’ve shown you have also been used?

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)

Carol: Objects Inside Other Objects and Going Incognito

At the end of last week’s tutorial I announced that Carol (gnana96) had been selected to challenge my PSE skills. When I contacted her she told me she had two tricks she’d like to learn and couldn’t decided between them. They were both relatively simple so I decided to show her how to accomplish both. Ready, Carol?

In her message to me, she said she was building a recipe book and wanted to use cooking-related elements but was having trouble making them look right. She wanted to know how to put something (ground meat) into something else (a frying pan) so that it looked good. I don’t have those sorts of elements in my stash, so I’m going to use toys instead, but the principle is the same.

I pulled a wagon from a Wimpychompers kit called Chalk It Up (acquired via The Daily Digi). Then I grabbed a puppy and a frog from Boomers Girl Designs‘s Boys Will Be Boys. I proceeded to put the puppy and the frog into the wagon, so to ensure I had enough room to manoeuvre, I changed the Canvas Size. The long way is Image>Resize>Canvas Size [WorkSmartNotHard: CTRL/CMD>Alt>C]. Then I moved the wagon down to the bottom of the canvas.

To see where things needed to sit for the best effect, I put the puppy element and the frog element on layers on top of the wagon, resizing as necessary, and adjusted them so they didn’t extend below the bottom of the wagon. Then to make sure they were properly aligned I used the Align tool. To do that, select as many layers as you want to line up then go to the Tools work space. Determine which edge you want to line up, then click on the appropriate icon – NOT the descriptor, because that does nothing!

Then, with both puppy and frog layers still selected, I moved them under the wagon on the Layers panel. Now it looked like they were inside the wagon, and that might have been enough (ground meat in a pan) but these little things have articulating limbs, so I could take them another step toward really looking like they were inside the wagon.

I wanted to have one of the frog’s legs and one of the puppy’s legs hanging down over the side of the wagon, so I created a Layer Mask. (Lots of previous tutorials have used Layer Masks, so if you’ve read those ones, feel free to skip ahead.) The reason for using a Layer Mask is to give more control over what happens to an image. Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All [WSNH: Click on the blue-square-gray-circle icon at the top of the Layers panel]

Now I was ready to erase the wagon where it overlaid the frog’s leg. Make sure you’re on the Layer Mask, not the actual element. I selected the Eraser tool with white as my foreground colour.  (Black Conceals, White Reveals) You can toggle between white and black using the X key.

Don’t worry if you erase more of the object than necessary, because you can switch from erasing to painting back by toggling foreground colours. I did the same process to reveal one of the puppy’s legs too.

I zoomed in really close for the painting-back step so I could see exactly where the limb’s edges were. Looking good!

Once I was satisfied the image looked perfect, I right-clicked on the layer in the Layers panel and selected Simplify. That incorporated the masked areas into the layer and eliminated the risk of messing it up. But…

The detailed images of the frog and the puppy had shadows where they overlaid the critters’ bodies. Shouldn’t there also be shadows on the side of the wagon? Simply using a drop shadow Layer Style isn’t going to help (even though I DID use one at this step so that the frog threw a shadow on the puppy where they overlapped) because the layer’s shadow will be behind the wagon. What to do?

Drop Shadow brushes to the rescue!! These brushes come preloaded with your PSE software, so just look in your Brushes menu for them. Remember, for ease of adjustments later, put your brushes on their OWN LAYER. For this step, don’t worry about the Opacity of the brush, just pay attention to the colour you’ve chosen and the size of the shadow you’re extending. It’ll take some trial and error to get it right so be patient! Following the direction of the light source the designer used, I painted in my shadows.

When I was done, I wanted to soften the edges of the shadows. Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur will do that nicely.

I pulled the slider to the right to increase the radius of the blurring, and watched the actual image as I went along. When the shadows I’d painted blended into the shadows on my little frog, I selected OK. Then I decreased the Opacity of this shadow layer to seamlessly blend the edges in. You can adjust Opacity first and then Blur if you like. It might give you more control, so try it both ways to see what works best. CTRL/CMD>Z  (Undo) is your best friend!

I repeated the process for the puppy. When I was finished, I knew I wanted to Merge the layers together to move them to my layout as one object.

After selecting all the layers, I merged them as shown. (You’re saying, “Yeah, sure… you used the keyboard shortcut.” And you’re correct!) Then I carried on with building my March 2017 Inspiration Challenge layout.

When choosing something that makes me happy – the theme of the Inspiration Challenge – the first thoughts that come to mind are thoughts of my grandchildren. The second of Carol’s requests was about concealing the identities of her older grands, who value their privacy. So this was a natural! Little A isn’t concealed at all below, is he? I clicked on the Quick Selection Tool, which many people just call the Magic Wand. Using it, I outlined his little face, which put a line of marching ants around it. That’s my “selection”.

Then I went to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur just as I did for my limb shadows above.

A little tug to the right and his features are blurred, but his expression is still discernable. It’s really that easy! To conceal parts of her journaling, Carol could select the words in question on her text layer (simplified, of course!) using the Rectangular Marquee tool then blurring the very same way. Now Carol (and all the rest of you grandmothers out there) can scrap photos of her older grands as often as she wants.

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.

See you all next week!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Down on the Border (not the Little River Band version)

A while back some of my fellow Sugar Cookies (praise team members) and I were kicking around ideas for tutorial topics. I usually have some ideas about what I can show you, but coming up with new, fresh lessons every week isn’t as easy as it sounds. So my Cookie gals gave me a couple of ideas that I could use for quick tuts, and this was one of them. Well, not precisely what was suggested, but I think it’s even better! I’m going to show you how to build a border, using repeating shapes. I could have taken the easy route and showed you how to make a simple scalloped border that some template designers use routinely, but I thought, no… let’s do something with a little more vision. And here we are…

I didn’t do the Signature Challenge in February (it’s a difficult month for me and I can’t get excited about it) so it was time for a new siggie. March doesn’t mean spring in this part of the world – we still have snow well into April most years – but March has other wonderful implications. Both my daughters were born in March, and St Paddy’s Day is right in the middle. Since I’m mostly Irish by ancestry, my March siggie will always include some reminders of those good things. And that led me to create a border of shamrocks, using the Custom Shape tool.

The first task before you can get going is to open a new file work space in PSE. If you want your border to extend from edge to edge on your layout, choose that measure for one of the dimensions, and go with 1 or 2 inches for the other. Because I was doing a siggie, I selected the same dimensions I described in the tutorial on signatures. I also added a grid so my shape could be easily sized. But you can do that even more simply by setting Defined Proportions. When you use this setting your Custom Shape tool will automatically give you a shape in exactly those dimensions.

I usually select All Elements Shapes from the pop-up menu when I open up the Custom Shape tool so I have a wide variety of choices. I know there are all four playing card suits represented as standard shapes, so I went right there and chose the CLUBS shape – which is a shamrock! (Real shamrocks have three leaves, not four.)

Once I had all that figured out, I went ahead and made a shamrock shape on my canvas. You can use the grid, or not. I’ve played around with using the grid and and without – either method will work just fine.

I knew I wanted the shamrock border to extend from one side of my canvas to the other, so I Simplified my shape to get rid of the extraneous stuff the software puts on a shape layer.

Then I made a stack of copies, all identical to my first shape. [Work Smart Not Hard tip: CTRL/CMD>J duplicates your layer.]

The software stacks them one on top of the other, so when I had as many copies as I thought I’d need, I selected only the top-most shape and moved it all the way to the other side of my canvas. Once I had shapes at each side, I selected ALL the shape layers. Then I went down to the Tool Options menu and clicked on Distribute>Middle.

Whoa! All my shapes lined themselves up in a nice, tidy, evenly-spaced line! (This is a fabulous tip to use when you’re putting buttons in a row, or lines of stitches, or almost any objects you can come up with.)

There was some space in between my shapes, which won’t work well for a continuous border, so I nudged them until they were all very slightly overlapping. Then I resized the whole group of them to regain my edge-to-edge border.

Then I decided to get fancy. So I tilted some of them to the right, and others to the left. If you’re a little OCD (like I am) you can use the tool settings to make the tilts uniform, simply by keying in the angle you want. Tilting to the right uses a positive number, to the left a negative.

Once I was happy with the way it all looked, I merged the layers. [WSNH tip: Select all the layers you want to merge, then CTRL/CMD>E] And now I had a clipping mask!

Once I clipped a paper to it, my border was done! (Almost…) [WSNH tip: CTRL/CMD>G to clip the current layer to the layer below it.]

I looked at my border for a couple of minutes and decided it needed some inked edges. Keep your brush size a little bigger than you think you want, because otherwise it won’t fade away into the paper in that nice way you want it to.

When your edges are all inked, create another clipping mask [CTRL/CMD>G] and cut away the brush edges that extend past your border.  Then you can adjust the Opacity of your brush until you like the way it looks. Finish up by merging [CTRL/CMD>E] the ink mask with the border. And you’re done!

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.

At the end of February there were 4 names on the list of people who had either posted a layout to the Tutorial Tuesday Challenge Gallery on Facebook or posted a link to a layout in the Blog comments section. Mr Random chose Carol’s name (gnana96) … Carol!! Think about what you’d like me to show you and your peers for next week, send me a PM and I’ll get right on it!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Blend Modes? Say What??

Photoshop Elements is considered the poor gal’s Photoshop because it has its limitations; there are lots of things Photoshop does that can’t be easily done in Elements. But that doesn’t mean Elements isn’t a powerful tool. I’ve mentioned Blend Modes before, mostly in passing; today we’re going to take a deeper look at them, but I’ll admit I’m still figuring out how to make them more useful to me, and to you. If you’ve ever used a photo-editing action set, like those available free from The Coffee Shop or for purchase from Paint the Moon, you might have noticed there are dozens of layers created by the action as it alters your photo. Many of those layers use Blend Modes to create their magic. So let’s go down the list.

In the image below, I’ve opened the Blend Mode menu in the Layers panel. It’s the oblong button at the upper left, underneath the icons and next to the Opacity slider, and it defaults to Normal. Take note of the divisions in the menu… they’re grouped according to the effects the modes have on an image. Modes in the first box don’t really visually alter your image. In the second box, they DARKEN something; white is the neutral point in this mode. In the third, the LIGHTEN something; here it’s black that is the neutral point. The fourth group produces effects on CONTRAST; it uses 50% gray as the neutral point. That fifth group is the INVERSION group, they cancel out something in the image. And the last grouping is the component section, where a COMPONENT of the image is blended in some way. All of these modes affect the layer IMMEDIATELY BELOW IT. The Opacity of the Blend Mode layer will also affect how the resulting image looks. In the demonstrations below, the opacity of each mode has been left at 100%. (WSNH tip: You can quickly scroll through all the modes by holding down the Shift key and clicking either + or . Try it! It’s fun to watch the way the image changes.)

As you can see in the screenshot below, Dissolve produces a slight change in the image, and softens it a bit. If you were to copy your image and apply Dissolve to the copy, there would be a bit of pixelation created.

Darken is in that second box, and it does create a slightly darker image, but with a bit of lost contrast.

Multiply definitely darkens the image and improves contrast. This is a good mode for those cast shadows we’ve played with in other tutorials. Another really easy but very useful application for this mode is to improve those slightly overexposed photos we all have. Duplicate your photo, switch the Blend mode on the upper version to Multiply and then tweak the Opacity and you’ll be astounded at how much it improves your photo. When you love it, merge the two layers.

In the old days when photos were on film, post-processing was an art, and a science. Magic was created in the darkroom through manipulation of light. By hand. When an underexposed area of the photo needs to be made more visible, the photographer “burns” the area by holding a piece of cardboard with a hole in it over the photo paper, projecting the image through the film, through the hole and increasing the amount of light falling on that area. To keep the shape of the hole in the cardboard from being obvious, the cardboard has to be kept moving. It’s a labourious process, one that has been drastically improved with software like Elements. The Color Burn mode takes all the guess work and technical difficulty out of darkening areas of an image.

Linear Burn darkens the image even more, slightly changes the colour and maintains contrast. When you see “burn”, always think “darker”. This mode isn’t particularly useful for scrapbooking although it’s an option for those shadow layers.

Darker Color doesn’t produce a dramatic change at all. The colour is slightly darker and contrast is preserved.

Now we’ve moved into the third box, where the modes all lighten something in some way. Lighter Color does just that, it brings out the lighter shading in the image.

Screen mode produces a much less saturated image and lightens the colour as well, while preserving contrast.

Another darkroom trick photographers use to lighten up areas of over-exposure is called “dodging”. A circular piece of cardboard is held with tongs over the area that is too dark while the image is projected through the film and onto the paper. And of course, the cardboard has to be kept moving so there’s no visible image of the disc. Color Dodge takes away all the finickiness of that process. It also dramatically changes the colour.

Linear Dodge produces even more lightening, with a change in colour and a loss of contrast.

Lighter Color simply does that. It doesn’t produce a huge change, and it does soften the image slightly.

Overlay is one of my favourite modes. It lets the texture of the background show through when used on text. It also sharpens the details a little. BUT… it changes the colour of whatever it’s applied to, so if you use it for text so you can see the paper texture, you might be unhappy with the colour you end up with. We’ll talk about Overlay again in another lesson when we get into photo editing.

Soft Light mode brightens the image a little, while slightly darkening the colour and shifting the hue a smidge.

Hard Light is just that… hard. It makes the image darker, deepens the colour and improves contrast.

Look at how Vivid Light changes EVERYTHING!

Linear Light produces a brighter, more saturated image with greater contrast.

Pin Light creates a softer image with no obvious change.

This mode will have very limited utility for the average photographer or scrapbooker and would be more useful to the graphic artist whose work involves transforming images completely.

Difference is only used by very skilled Photoshoppers to create advanced edits of images.

Exclusion, when used on photos, will produce a negative effect. Whites become black, blacks become whites and everything else will be grayed shades. The colour wheel is essentially inverted.

Hue mode has very little effect on the layer below. It may be useful when blending in textures from an overly or a paper layer.

Saturation behaves in a similar manner and really doesn’t alter the layer below much unless that overlying layer is not a copy of the layer below.

Color mode improves contrast over Saturation and slightly darkens the underlying layer, but isn’t really visually striking.

Luminosity brightens.

Now that we’ve looked at each mode individually, let’s see how they can be combined to really improve an image.

The steps I took are listed in reverse order. The base layer is Normal. See how The colour is darker, the detail is preserved, if slightly sharper, and the contrast is somewhat better too?

I hope you take the time to play around with these modes to see what great images you can produce.

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)

Build-a-Brush Workshop

Brushes are one of the most effective and interesting tools the digiscrapper has for livening up a layout. There are so many things we can do with brushes, which stand in for rubber stamps used by the traditional paper scrapper. There are brushes built into Photoshop Elements and there are lots of sources for both free and for-purchase brushes around the Web. But did you know that you can turn almost anything into a digital brush, to customize and personalize your layouts like no commercially-obtained brush can? I’m going to show you how to do that in a couple of easy steps, then give you some tips about using your brushes for truly unique design. For the basics, I’m going to use a star from Luv Ewe Designs‘ kit Yo Bro, part of a sensational collab with JoyLynn of Blue Heart Scraps. Jennifer of Luv Ewe Designs has retired from designing (temporarily, we hope!) so her kits can’t be used for challenge layouts, but they’re still worth a look. I chose this star for a couple of reasons. It has well-defined details and some shading, which will make for a more interesting brush.

I checked my Brush tool menu to see which set was currently open at the time, so I would know where to look for my brushes later. I suggest you select a brush set with only a couple of brushes in it, because they’ll be duplicated in your resulting brush set and you’ll then have to delete them.

Then I clicked on the Edit tab and scrolled down to Define Brush… and here comes the magic!

This popped up. Choose a name for your brush that defines it and that you’ll remember later.

BOOM! You’re done!! It really is that easy. Now let’s take it for a test drive. I always put my brushes on their own layer. This is a good idea for a number of reasons. First, you don’t end up changing whatever is on the layer below it. You can change the opacity, making it soft and subtle, or you can copy it and use a blend mode to give it more punch. You can resize it, you can move it around, you can play with it in so many ways that you can’t if it’s applied to a paper layer.

So I went ahead and created a new layer to apply my brushes to. (All you English teachers, cringe away at my ending a sentence with a preposition…)

I plopped a star down on my paper using a much lighter gray, because my goal is to create a custom paper with a brushed pattern over part of it. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

Next I changed some of the brush settings, changing the size, the angle and the opacity and kept on stamping.

Where my second stamp overlaps the first, the opacity increases, but the transparency isn’t changed.

I kept all my stars on the same layer, and added lots more in different sizes, different opacity and at different angles. If I want to make changes to how they look, all the brushed stars on the layer will change at the same time.

I decreased the opacity of the brush layer to make them look a little less obvious, and to make them look like they’re part of the paper.

When I put my newly created paper – I linked the layers together then moved the two layers at the same time onto the background layer – into the template I wanted to use, I found the brushed layer wasn’t quite how I wanted it, based on how and where my photo was going to be placed into the layout. So it was a good thing I had the brush layer still separate from the paper and after I UNlinked the brush and paper layers, I could flip it horizonally, as well as tweak the size a bit. I wanted this brush layer to replace the paint/spatter layer from the template and now it does.

I also wanted to show you that you could use items in your photos to create brushes too. In 2014 I was in Ireland; I took this photo of a brass memorial medallion at the Titanic Museum in Belfast. Having the camera perfectly parallel and perpendicular to the medallion was vital to the success of this technique, only in the sense that it made it easier to extract from the photo. (Remember: Work Smart, Not Hard!) If you’re using a photo image, extract the item as I showed you in the Extractions – Choose Your Method tutorial.

I was able to use the Elliptical Marquee tool to remove most of my background, and then a Layer Mask and the Eraser tool to clean it up.

Then I clicked Edit>Define Brush… and gave it a name that would help me connect to it later.

This is what the brush looks like against a gray paper. I want to tidy it up a bit, brightening the raised areas so they contrast better and maybe sharpen the detail a touch. When I’m thrilled with how it looks, I can then Define Brush… it again and delete the first one. When you close the software, you’ll get a pop-up that asks you what you want to label the brush(es) you just made

You’re not limited to using .png objects as the basis for your brushes. You can combine fonts and dingbats to make word art stamps, you can combine other brushes into something really original, you can use the Custom Shape tool to make tags, arrows, paw prints… the sky’s the limit. You can even make a digital brush of your signature… in case you have need of one.

Once you’re done and have saved your brush(es) you’ll need to load them into your software. So click on the little stack of parallel lines in your Brush tool menu and then select Load Brushes. Your new set’s name will appear and you can double click on it. It’ll go to the bottom of the list. Delete any brushes that aren’t your personal ones. They’re still there in their original set. And you’re ready to use them over and over and over.

I just whipped this St Patrick’s Day greeting together using a font (SNF Abernethy) and some dingbats (DB Gaelic Weave). It means “one hundred thousand welcomes”.

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 March I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of the month.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Creating Clusters… not Clutter

When I first started digi-scrapping, I was convinced I would never be able to create the gorgeous layouts I was seeing from other people. My efforts were so patently amateurish and very simple. I wanted so badly to cluster like a pro. On Day One. How realistic of me! So I started using templates to help me figure out the basics of clustering. Then I started playing around a bit with my software and learning new things with it. And over time, I found my clusters were looking a lot more natural and I was getting closer to my goal. Today I’m going to talk a bit about composition, and show you some of the tricks I’ve learned to make my clusters look more pleasing and real.

There are no rules, but lots of possibilities. Our eyes like to see odd numbers of things, with 3 being an aesthetically-pleasing number, to quote my good friend Sandy. Are any of you gardeners? The way to create pleasing planters is to have a mix of textures, shapes and colours. The gurus of container planting call it the Thriller-Filler-Spiller theory. I use the same theory for my clusters; when I choose the items I’m going to include there’s always something bold and obvious, like the cream-coloured flower in my cluster. The key is also a thriller, as is the tin star. I used baby’s breath, roses, a pom-pom-shaped flower head and foliage as my fillers, and the gingham bow is my spiller. You might recall from last week that the frame I used is from Ooh La La ScrapsIn the Frosty Air collection. All the other items used in this layout/tutorial are in Ooh La La Scraps’ collection called Shabby Chic.

So let’s get started. Once again, this is MY work flow and you don’t have to do what I do. I’m making suggestions based on how I like to work. Whatever process you find that works for you is perfectly perfect. Having said that… I start at the beginning, the bottom. What do I want in the background? Leaves, of course!

Then I add in some filler material. Everything can be tweaked and and adjusted as you go along.

If you’re making a spray of flowers as the base of your cluster and you’re going to add a bow or some other type of fastener later, have the stems cross over each other a little or touch each other somehow so that there’s a natural place for your bow.

See how the bow just nestles right in there? That’s just how it would look if you gathered a bunch of leaves and baby’s breath in your hand and tied a ribbon around the stems.

Remember to use your Zoom In (WSNH tip: CTRL/CMD>+)and Zoom Out (WSNH tip: CTRL/CMD>-) frequently so you can get an up-close look at what you’ve got going on.

Ever wondered how others can wrap ribbon around something, or twine string between letters, or have just a single leaf hang down over the loop of a bow? You could just use the Eraser tool to erase the part that overlaps, but if you make a mistake, you have to Undo a lot to get back to where your oops is. The easier and non-destructive way to to that is to create a Layer Mask and do your erasing on that. Click on the blue rectangle with the gray circle in it and you’ve now got a Layer Mask.

Making sure you’re working on the Layer Mask, select the Eraser tool and have white as your foreground colour. Black reveals, White conceals. Setting the size of your Eraser just slightly smaller than the area you’re going to conceal, paint over the area where the leaf would hang over the loop of the bow. Don’t worry if you erase too much, because you can switch your foreground colour to black and paint it back in. (This was covered in the lesson on Extractions.) WSNH tip: Ctrl/CMD>X to toggle between reveal and conceal.

This screenshot just reinforces the important points of the narrative above.

Once you’ve painted the ribbon back up to the edge of the leaf, it’ll look like this. Try to ensure you can’t see any of the paper or whatever is immediately behind your items. If you have trouble seeing exactly what’s where, you can make a temporary fill layer underneath everything in hot pink, or black or whatever would work, and then delete it later. (WSNH tip: Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color then use the colour picker to fill the area.)

When you’re satisfied with how it all looks, Simplify your layer. You’ll thank me later when you put in your drop shadows. If you forget to simplify the layer, you’ll have some shadowing where the masked parts are and it’ll look awful. Trust me on this!

Now let’s hang a key from the knot in our bow. This sequence can be modified to suspend other heavy items, tags, charms and such.

Once I had the hat pin shrunk down to a size that would work with my other bits, I lined it up so it looks like it’s holding the key up and passing through the knot on the bow.

Yes, there’s another Layer Mask involved. Please don’t be intimidated by Layer Masks. They’re fantastic tools! This one lets me take a little bite out of the knot by removing the part of the pin that wouldn’t be visible.

To keep the realistic look going, you’ll need to use a Drop Shadow brush, which is very different from the Drop Shadow styles we’ve all used. (Yeah, I know… I have a LOT of brushes.)

The reason for using the Drop Shadow brush is to create a little hole or depression where the pin passes into the ribbon. You want it to surround the spot where the pin would pierce the fabric.

See how it makes it look more like the pin is actually going into the ribbon and not just sitting on top of it. Ensure you’re on the BOW layer and not the key or pin layer!

Before I moved on, I wanted to put down a shadow behind the pin. Because it’s overlying a green/tan/gray area I decided to change the colour of the Shadow style and double-clicked on the fx icon on the layer and then clicked on the colour picker box in the Style Settings menu.

I moved my sample source (the circular cursor) to a gray area and then clicked on the rainbow to choose a more golden gray.

The preview shows what the new colour will look like.

I decided not to put the shadow on its own layer and warp it because it looked pretty realistic as it was. Then I tucked my Thriller cream flower in behind it. I was very careful NOT to get any of it in the way of my hat pin.

Then I added in some smaller flowers, tucking them in where they looked good. You can always move them up or down in the Layers panel, and reposition them as many times as you want, until you like how it looks.

As I went along I made sure I wasn’t hiding the hard work I’d already done with the hat pin.

I added a few more things onto the cluster, moving them around until I was happy. (Think about what you like about other people’s clusters as a guide for placement. Also pretend the things you’re using are real, solid, dimensional articles and think about how you’d use them in that realm.)

I wasn’t totally happy with my cluster and felt like it still needed something. So I added in a ceramic heart. It would be very heavy, so it needed to go behind the rest of my things.

The spot next to the tin star was a little underwhelming so I put another rose in there.

Then I decided to tuck one of the points on the star, where it was overlying the leaf to, under the loop of the bow. Layer Mask time again.

Once I had everything where I liked them, I zoomed out and cast a critical eye over everything. The cluster just didn’t have the oomph I wanted it to have. So I made everything bigger. I think I also tilted it slightly. To keep all the things I’d already done in the appropriate places, I selected ALL the layers for the cluster and adjusted them at the same time. (Remember, Work Smart, Not Hard!)

Another close-up inspection suggested there should be some baby’s breath behind the ceramic heart, so another Layer Mask was created.

And then I was happy. I liked how my cluster looked, the various items in it were in a pleasing arrangement and looked natural. The last step was to add in my drop shadows. WSNH tip: I batched them by selecting all the flower layers then applied my drop shadow style to the entire batch in one move. Once all my layers were shadowed. I took another long look, tweaked shadows on a couple of layers to look more real, and opted to shadow the bow on a separate layer so I could warp it a bit. (See how I’m pulling in bits form so many of our previous lessons? 😉 )

The resulting layout was my January Inspiration challenge 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 March I’ll have a random draw of all entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the first tutorial of the month. So far there are two entries, both from the same person… Anyone want to give her some competition?