Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Clusters… Have Them Your Way, the Easy Way!

I’m a big fan of templates. They’re an amazing time-saving tool for getting layouts done, while still allowing for individual style. But once in a while I go rogue and design a layout without using any time-saving devices. And sometimes I shock myself by creating a perfect cluster that looks fantastic… only to find that when I try to recreate it later, I can’t get it quite right. Of course there has to be a WSNH hack for that! And I’m going to show it to you. I’m using a cluster I created for Katie, Ooh La La Scraps‘ genius designer, with her Freezing collection.

If you save your layouts as a PSD file, this part will be super-easy. If not, you’ll be starting from scratch and might want to wait until you have that AHA! cluster creation at a later date.

Let’s assume you’ve got the layout in PSD form. Open up the file in PSE. Then select all the layers of that perfect cluster. To select multiple layers, hold down the CTRL/CMD key as you click on them. Once you have all the layers selected, right-click in the Layers panel and click on Duplicate Layers. (We’ve done this part before.) In the submenu that opens up, select New Document and click OK. A completely new work space will now be there for you to work on separate from your original layout.

Once you’ve got all those layers on your new work space. turn the visibility to all the layers off, except for the one on the very bottom. (Or you can work from the top down, your choice. I work from the background out.)

Now you’ll select a colour to make the place marker for that first layer. Whatever floats your boat… gray, pastel, dark, light, whatever makes sense to you. You’re going to make a New Fill Layer on top of that first layer to create your place marker.

If you’ve never used the Fill Layer function, you’ll be in for a treat. It makes a lot of things much easier! Click on Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color.

Make sure you click the box to the left of Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask.

See what happened? All those little beads are blaaaah yellow, but they’re now a place marker for a scatter. You’ll notice that the shadow style is preserved, which is another time saver. But… that shadow style will disappear with the step after this one, unless you copy it. Right-click on the original layer and choose Copy Layer Style.

Then select both the original layer and the clipping mask layer to Merge them. Right-click on the layers, then choose Merge Layers, or CTRL/CMD>E. Once the layers are merged, right click on the new merged layer and Paste Layer Style to it. Voilà… the layer has a shadow again.

Continue on with all the layers in your cluster, using the same process. Change up either the colour or the intensity of each different layer so you can easily see the different components of your template later. When I was putting together the screenshots for this tutorial the whole thing took me about 11 minutes, bottom to top.

This is what my finished cluster template looks like.

When I had all the layers converted to place markers, I renamed each layer. You can right-click and select Rename Layer, or simply double-click on the label within the layer’s box in the Layers panel then just type in whatever works for you.

Now you want to save the fruits of your labour! File>Save As (Shift>CTRL/CMD>S), tell the software where you want to save it, then give your cluster a name.

Tell the software you’re saving the file as a PSD and you’ll have your very own, personally-designed cluster template to use again and again!

I think next week we’ll do another Guided Edit. See you then!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Making a Stylish Sandwich

A few days ago I got a private message from Heidi1472 wanting to know more about using styles. I linked her up to some of the tutorials wherein I’ve used styles, but then I thought, “Maybe I should do a quick tut about putting multiple styles on a single layer, because maybe people don’t know that’s a thing.” So here it is!

First, does everybody know how to load styles into the Photoshop Elements? In Versions 12 and up, it’s super-easy. All you have to do is open the Styles menu on your workspace then click on the icon that looks like a stack of paper in the upper right corner. This sub-menu opens up. Click on Load Styles then find the folder holding the styles you want to use and it’ll do the rest.

I wanted to load the styles that Natasha of Ponytails Designs had created for the GingerScraps 10th Birthday MEGA collab Indian Summer.

So I found them in my stash and loaded them up. They’re BIG files, so they do take a few minutes. Don’t panic!

I had this great photo I found on Pixabay of some Amur maple leaves with some gorgeous bokeh in the background. So I decided to punch it up with a brush and a combo of styles.

I never did get to use the lovely brush Wendy of Neverland Scraps  created for us for the July 2018 Brush Challenge. It seemed perfect for this technique.

I created a new layer above my photo, shrunk the brush down a little to fit into the left-side area of bokeh and dropped it down. Then I added another layer, adjusted the angle of the brush and did it again. I ended up doing this process a total of 4 times. Putting each brush on its own layer lets me have a lot more creative control over what happens next.

Here’s what I mean about putting the brushes on their own layers.

Now it just looks like a bunch of fruit flies on a chunk of mango, but it’s not going to stay like that. See how most of the brush bits are inside the bokeh area?

Because I want the technique to highlight the bokeh and not the leaves, I went back and erased the bits of the brush that sit on top of the leaves, one layer at a time.

Then I made a copy of EVERY brush layer. You can do it the hard way, selecting the layer, right-clicking on it, selecting Duplicate Layer, waiting for the pop-up then clicking on OK, or you can WSNH and just hit CTRL/CMD>J.

In some spots, the brush still peeks out from behind the leaf, and that’s what I wanted. Then I hid all the COPY layers for later.

Now for the fun part! I clicked on the Styles button and found my GingerScraps Indian Summer glitter styles.

I started with my first brush layer and used the medium orange glitter style on the sparkles.

I let the colour and intensity of the bokeh guide my colour choices. The second brush set was over a lighter golden area so I went with the gold glitter.

The third (original) brush layer is in a darker area, so it got the darker orange glitter.

The brush at the top was over a darker area so it seemed the red glitter was right for it.

It looks really good, but where’s the layering part? I started unhiding the COPY layers one at a time and applied a glitter style to each of them too.

For the most part, I put a lighter colour of glitter on top of each original layer. I also decreased the Opacity of the COPY layers to 40%. That gives the brush layers a soft glow and a slightly different colour.

When I got to the red glitter layer, nothing looked right until I tried the GRAY glitter on the COPY layer.

You can see the red around the edges but it’s mostly covered up. But wait. I’m still going to decrease the layer’s Opacity to 40%.

Voilà! A sort of ruby look to it now.

Oh but wait, we’re not done yet! I selected all the layers and Merged them together. (CTRL/CMD>E)

If you’re a faithful reader of this tripe, then you know I still had another idea. So I made a copy of the merged brush layer.

I chose to use a soft yellow gloss style from Misty’s Miss Mis Designs‘s Hustle and Heart styles set (not shown). Then I again lowered the Opacity to 40%. It looked “okay”…

But when I moved that layer to underneath the glitter layer, it really gave a lovely glow to the brushes. I LOVE how it looks!!

Sadly, just as I was getting to the very tail end of my layout, my laptop crashed. So if you were hoping to see the final result, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait… I have to do it all over again, from the beginning…… and that’s gotta wait until after I play with y grandchildren for a few days. See ya next week!

Tutorial Wednesday (Fonts!)

It’s Fall, Y’All!

First of all, let me apologize for missing my deadline. Time kinda got away from me between necessary home maintenance and my real job, so I’m playing catch-up now.

Here in the northern hemisphere, we’ve headed into fall (at least where I live, we’ve had frost advisories two nights in a row already), the kids are back in school and the Shop is packed with amazing autumnal kits. So I thought it might be a good time to look at some free fonts and dingbats from dafont.com that might be just what you’re looking for to make your fall layouts even more perfect. Let’s start with some back-to-school-themed fonts.

These would be so awesome for elementary school layouts, although I’ve heard lots of schools are no longer teaching cursive writing. What a loss that is!

 

 

 

 

For the slightly older kiddos, fractions!

 

 

Then there are some great fonts for the varsity crowd.

 

 

 

If you don’t have any dingbats in your stash, you’re missing out! Dingbats are scaleable images that can be used for a variety of purposes. Check these doodly ones out.

 

 

 

 

We can’t forget fall sports. Some of these balls are probably rolling around at your house these days.

 

For kids in the drama club…

 

… or the band…

 

We can’t leave out the young adults in our lives who are now in college/university.

 

I don’t know about you, but stars still mean a job well done to me.

 

 

If you don’t have anybody going back to school, you might have a use for some cool autumn-y dingbats like these.

 

 

 

Yeah… we have some nasty (and enormous!) mushrooms growing along the fence in our back yard. Can’t seem to eradicate them, and the dogs found them the other day. I’m glad they didn’t eat them.

 

There are so many ways these can be used. They can be turned into brushes, used as clipping masks, filled with colour, turned into a border or a scatter… the limit is your imagination. As I mentioned above, these are all FREE. DaFont has a lot more, too. This is just a little teaser!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Sketchy Simplified

Today’s tutorial doesn’t need a lot of explantation. It’s a little goodie I stumbled on when I was playing with this photo. I took it with my cell phone camera and was pleasantly shocked at how it came out, even when blown up in PSE. The sky is very flat, but that’s how the sky looked for much of my time in Ireland, so I’m not obsessing over it.

I’ve been playing with these Guided Edits just to see what they do, and the Orton Effect is amazing!

With this one, you can click the Edit button several times to create an additive change to your photo. But I only clicked it once.

The difference isn’t obvious, but it’ll be quite apparent once I change the settings.

See the change now? I barely moved the Blur slider to the right, I think the numeric amount was 4. But the whole image is softer and dreamier.

I played with all the sliders; the Noise one was the one I really wasn’t sure of. But in the end, I moved it to the right about 12 and the stone is starting to look sketchier.

By pushing the Brightness slider over about 1/3 of the way between the default and the max, I got this nice look.

As you can see, there are now 3 layers there when I clicked through to the Expert editor. Each layer can be further adjusted, Blend Modes changed to suit your mood and Opacity lowered. But I was happy with it so I just Merged them all.

But I tried a few more things on this image. I Duplicated the image layer so it would remain unchanged before I went on the add a Filter.

Filter>Stylize>Find Edges is the filter I used.

Don’t be alarmed! A simple tweak will make this work.

All I did was pull the Opacity of the top layer down to 32%.

And all that was left was to Merge the layers again. Then I saved the resulting image for use in a layout later. I plan to use it with a mask (or two) to blend it into the background a bit and that’ll add some life to the sky.

This should work with just about any photo with strong detail. Give it a whirl!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Expanding Your Repertoire

If you’re a Gallery regular, then you’ve probably seen this layout I created in May with Ooh La La ScrapsBuffet collection Mom and a template from Trixie ScrapsIf the Slipper Fits. I turned this layout into a Mother’s Day card for my mom and was so pleased with how it turned out. But I went beyond just printing it and calling it good… I went hybrid!

This is my own method, so if you’re doing something different and you’re happy with that, you don’t need to read on. Or if you’re not into making cards, I’ll see ya next week. But if you’re like me and started out as a paper scrapper, have a huge hoard of paper and embellishments you can’t bear to give away and like to make occasions more special with handmade cards (a win-win-win for me!) then let’s get to it. I start by Resizing my layout so that it’s slightly smaller than the card I’m planning to make. I have a stash of variously-sized cards and matching envelopes, and the 5 1/2″ square ones are perfect for this job.

See, I’ve resized to 5×5″ square and kept the resolution at 300 pixels per inch.

Next, while the PSD file for the now-shrunken layout is still open on the work space, I create a New File in the same size as the cardstock I plan to print my card parts on. If I was a thinking person, I could name this file something like “Card Parts”, but alas, I didn’t do that.

Once I’ve got that blank document with a transparent background ready, I start looking at the layout to see what parts I can print then glue to the original to make it more 3D. So any element that is sitting on top of the stack will work. Like this cluster of three little flowers…

So I selected three layers from the Layers Panel that have those elements on them. (They’re not the exact 3 I’m showing in the image, but they’re all the same so it doesn’t matter. Then I right-clicked and chose Duplicate Layers from the drop-down menu.

Then I copied them to the No-Name file in the Duplicate menu.

When I opened up that No-Name file, Elements had put the flowers in the exact same spots they occupy on the original. I moved them closer together so I could save some paper.

This butterfly is PERFECT as a 3D addition to my card, so over it goes.

Same exact steps as for the flower.

Voilà!

There’s still lots of white space there, which is a good thing, because I still have some things to add to this file.

Like some more of these flowers. I can just duplicate the two that are already on my No-Name card parts file.

The journal card and this dark brown mat will work too, so they’re coming over.

Last but not least, I flattened the original layout at its smaller size and added it to the card parts file. Once everything was on the page, I printed it out on my trusty Canon printer.

I used my guillotine paper cutter to separate out the larger pieces and then trimmed them right at their edges. Next I glued the mat and journal card to my layout copy right on top of their flat counterparts. Then I used my tiny sharp scissors to cut out the flowers and butterfly. To give some dimension to the flowers, I used the blunt end of a crochet hook to make a dimple in the middle where the centres are. That just curves the paper a bit. A dab of glue or a little piece of foam goes on the back at the centre of each flower then the flowers are applied to the same spots on the original. The blue flowers on the layout from Katie’s digital kit have pink pearl centres, but didn’t have any in my card-making stash, so I added some white pearls over top of them. You can see them if you look really closely at the image below… it’s a photo of the finished card. I creased the butterfly cut-out down the body and used a piece of foam to stick it on top of the layout. Again, if you look closely you can see the shadow it casts. And last, but not least, I add.d a 3D heart-shaped flair that just happened to match the pink from the kit pretty nicely.

And, without the arrows and circles… My mother loved her card.

I did a similar project with the layout I made with Katie’s June Buffet collection Dad for my Father’s Day card but didn’t get a photo of the finished project. You’ll just have to trust me…

Tutorial Tuesday (General)

I’m a bit under the weather today but didn’t want to leave y’all hanging so I whipped together a little discussion on how to pair those awesome alphas that come in so many of the kits at GingerScraps with the perfect font. The inspiration for this came from my friend Bea, known as beatricemi. I like to use alphas, that’s no secret, and they’re great for those layouts where you want a title and a subtitle.

A lot of the same principles I talked about in the tutorial on pairing fonts also apply to pairing an alpha with a font. They need to compliment each other, as well as the overall theme of your layout, but you don’t want them to be too matchy-matchy. You want one of them to be the boss, the alpha being the most likely choice, since you’ll be adding a drop shadow to it. You want your font to be legible.

 

By far the best tip I can give you for this task is to try them on for size. In Photoshop Elements, (before you Simplify the text layer) you can preview your text in each of your fonts just by highlighting the text then scrolling through your font library with the arrow keys. The software will change the text right in front of you. You’ll know right away which ones DON’T work, but might have to play around a bit with some of the ones that DO work. Nothing is carved in stone until you say it is!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It really was easy!

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

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

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

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

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Vacation Memories Sanitized!

I’m back!! My vacation to Ireland surpassed all my expectations and I’ve got about 400 new photos to turn into lasting memories. I’m still looking through them to see which ones are amazing and which are only so-so. If you remember the tutorial from this time last year where I talked about taking better photos you might already know that I’m a fan of cropping in the viewfinder. That means looking at a scene through the lens and moving around so that I can eliminate a lot of things I can’t (or don’t want to) fix later… like posts growing out of the top of people’s heads. One aspect we have no real control over is that people will unknowingly walk into our carefully-composed shot and get in the way of that perfect image. There are times when it’s possible to just wait for them to wander on, and others when it’s not. So I’ve started taking two or three shots from the same spot a few second apart, allowing the people in my way to move along a bit. Why? Because I know I can Clean the Scene with a Guided Elements Edit!

Elements has had a Scene Cleaner Photomerge edit since Version 7. It works in basically the same way, but it’s accessed a little differently. For versions 7-13, you need to go to the Edit tab then select Photomerge Scene Cleaner from the dropdown. For versions 14 and later, click on Guided>Photomerge>Scene Cleaner.

My example will only use two photos but you can merge as many as you need to in order to eliminate strangers from your memories. I’ve found that with my particular laptop (which gives me enormous grief sometimes) and my particular installation of PSE 15, it’s best not to have the target photo – the one with all the best angles and aspects – in the first position in the Photo Bin. You can reorder your photos and elements in the Bin simply by dragging them into the spot where you want them then dropping them there.

When you click on the Guided>Photomerge>Scene Cleaner button, that first photo in the Bin will populate the left side of your screen. Then drag and drop the TARGET photo into the right hand side. If you look closely you’ll see that the “Source” image is outlined in the Bin with blue, while the “Target” or “Final” image is in yellow.

You’re going to be shocked when you see how easy this is to accomplish. I clicked on the Pencil Tool in the Edit menu, then looking at the Final image, I scribbled on the Source image over the general areas where the two women (Gail on the left, Eleanor on the right) are using a moderate-sized brush tip. Usually that’s enough to totally solve the intrusion. If necessary, you could enlarge the area you’ve covered, or b some of it on that Source image. PSE will show you what your final image will look like so you’ll see where tweaking is needed.

As with all the other Guided Edits, once you’ve done what you set out to do, you click on the Next button at the lower right corner of your workspace and then either save your work or open it in Expert to continue working on it. As you can see, this Edit has made all the changes on a new layer. The easiest way to make the changes permanent is to Merge the two layers together.

I’m sure you knew I wasn’t finished with this photo. I want the clouds and sky to look better, and the stones to be a bit sharper. So first I chose Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels (CTRL/CMD>L) to make some exposure adjustments.

Don’t overdo this adjustment.

Then I moved on to Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness/Contrast. Again, this photo didn’t need a lot of adjusting. But this slight tweak has added more detail to the clouds.

But I feel like the shadows are still too dark, so I went to Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Shadows/Highlights.

The shadows just needed a bit of illumination and there’s great detail visible there now.

And of course, once the rest of the image looked good, I hit it with my new favourite enhancement, Haze Removal.

I love that this tool adds drama to the sky, sharpens and deepens the stones and just brings the Oomph with it.

This tutorial marks the end of my second year as your faithful tutor. I can’t believe I’ve found enough new things to show you to build about 100 tutorials around them, but here we are!

This is the final image of St. Finian’s Roman Catholic Church, Aghowle, Shillelagh, Wicklow. It dates from the 12th century and is in ruins. It will be the star of a double spread at a later date.

One scene cleaned, a dozen or more to go…

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Creating ‘Mazing Monograms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Like a Broken Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really like the look of this one.

One last one… Simple Sharp Pillow Emboss.

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

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