It’s a brand new month, a brand new year and it’s time for a brand new siggie. Signatures… we all have one. Our online presence is greatly enhanced by having a pretty one, or an intriguing one, or a sizzling one. The January 2017 Signature Challenge hosted by CathyK Designs asks us to use glitter in our signature and there’s so many ways we can do that. (psst…. any text that is bold and green is linked to the very spot in the forum, store or gallery I’m talking about… you can just click on it and you’re there!) I know there are some of you who find creating signatures to be a daunting thought – largely due to the very teenytiny size required – so I’m going to give you some tips on making yours fabulous. The guidelines given for these files is that they can’t be bigger than 750 x 150 pixels. But who can create in a space that small? I sure can’t. So I start out with a file size FIVE TIMES the guideline size so I can see what the heck I’m doing.
As I’ve mentioned before, this is my own workflow and it works for me, so don’t feel like you have to follow these instructions to the letter – they aren’t INSTRUCTIONS, they’re SUGGESTIONS. Anyway, I like to make a folder for each of my challenge layouts where I collect all the items I want to use in one place. I copy the elements and alphas from their original folders into the new dedicated folder, as I’ve shown below. Then it’s a simple matter of highlighting all the items in the folder and opening them all at once, as a batch.
As you can see, I’m using a kit from Ooh La La Scraps called In the Frosty Air. I chose this one because it has glittery paper in it and because Katie almost always has an alphabet or six and a collection of styles that coordinate with her collections. My name is short, so I like to use an alpha or font with some presence. This one worked for me. If your name has quite a few letters, you can use a skinnier alpha and still make a statement about who you are. Spacing is up to you, whatever is pleasing to your eye. See that I have all three letter layers selected. This is because I want to centre the letters on my palette; I can move them all together without messing up my spacing.
The easiest way to centre a group of items like this is to pull a guideline out to the centre of the workspace. It’s a bit hard to see it in the image below so I used a honking huge arrow. If you’ve never used a guideline before here’s how: Put your cursor right on the edge of your workspace – either the very top, where I have a ruler visible, or on the left side, where I also have a ruler that isn’t shown below – then click and drag until you’ve got it where you want it. You can also see that I’ve merged my letter layers into a single layer.
I want to put a glitter paper border around my alpha to jazz it up and to meet the challenge criteria. I messed up my screenshots, so let’s pretend I’ve already dragged my glittery paper onto the workspace. Now I’m going to create an outline of my alpha by selecting the edges – clicking on the Layer Thumbnail. That puts some marching ants around the edges.
Then I clicked on Select>Modify>Expand to create a nice border around my alpha.
The pop-up menu looks like this. I chose 20 pixels, after some trial and error. Just enter a number in the box then see what it looks like. You can always CTRL/CMD+Z out of anything you’re not happy with.
See where the marching ants are now? 20 pixels gives me a nice border, visible but not overpowering.
While I still had the alpha layer highlighted, I inverted the selection, since I want to “cut” the excess paper away from my outline. Clicking on Select>Inverse in the Tabs is the same as CTRL/CMD+Shift+I.
Don’t forget to change the selected layer to the glittery paper. If you forget, when you Edit>Cut (CTRL/CMD+X) you’ll just delete your alpha from its layer. Not what you’re going for.
So now I have a glittery border around my name. I went ahead and added the various elements I chose for my siggie and was pretty happy with it. BUT… I decided I wanted to glitter up one of the snowflakes in the scatter I used. So I duplicated (CTRL/CMD+J) the layer. Using the Elliptical Marquee tool I selected one of the large snowflakes from the duplicated layer then Cut it (CTRL/CMD+X) and Pasted (CTRL/CMD+V) it onto its own layer. I turned the visibility of the two scatter layers off so I could see what I had. Oh, there’s a sequin there. Don’t want to glitter that up, it’s already glittery! So I created a Layer Mask by clicking on the blue rectangle at the top of the Layers panel. The mask is that white strip to the right of the Layer Thumbnail. You’re probably asking why I didn’t just use the Eraser tool to erase the sequin. I could do that, but if I accidentally had a dog land on my laptop as I was erasing and I erased most of the snowflake too, I’d have to go back to the beginning of the process. This way, if I erase too much, I can paint whatever I didn’t want gone back in. Remember, white conceals and black reveals.
With the Eraser tool and a white foreground colour, I carefully erased the sequin. If I’d slipped and took off one of the points on my snowflake, changing the foreground colour to black (the X key does that for me without having to click on the little bidirectional arrow) and un-erasing over that spot will bring it back. Once I had the sequin erased and the snowflake all perfect, the layer had to be Simplified. Right-click somewhere in the blue area on the selected layer then choose Simplify Layer.
Next I opened up my Effects Panel and chose the Glitter Style from Ooh La La Scraps’ In the Frosty Air styles menu. I decided I wanted the aqua fine glitter style and double-clicked on it to apply it to my snowflake. Woohoo!
Then I went ahead and deleted the duplicated layer of the snowflake scatter… the one that I had cut the snowflake from. The original snowflake scatter layer is visible again too.
Then I shadowed all my layers so they’d have some nice oomph. Don’t forget this step! You still want your siggie to look three dimensional and pretty.
When you love how your name looks with all its finery around it, it’s time to shrink it to fit the guidelines. You can follow the steps shown below, or go the quick way with a keyboard shortcut (CTRL/CMD+ALT+I).
These are the settings I recommend. Make sure you’ve checked those boxes at the bottom. When you do it this way, you can change the pixel counts and all the other settings automatically change too. This is helpful for posting to the gallery, because you can just resize your image to 600×600 this way.
See how teensy the image is now? But I promise, the details have been totally preserved. I like my siggie to have a transparent background. If you save it as a JPEG, it will have a white background. So what I do is select Save As… (CTRL/CMD+Shift+S).
In the Save As menu, I choose PNG and give it a name that I’ll be able to recognize later. And I save it into the same folder I had all my elements in already. Gotta keep it all together in one place…
The PNG menu looks like this. Just save it as I’ve shown.
Now you can add your signature to your GingerScraps Forum profile! First, post your siggie to your gallery. Open up GingerScraps in a new tab to save yourself some work. On that second tab, go to the Forum and select Settings from the upper right hand side of the screen just below the banner. Then select Edit Signature.
I already had a siggie that I’m now going to replace. So I clicked on the old siggie, turning it blue, then hit the Delete key.
Then go back to the first tab, where you have your siggie selected in your gallery. Right-click on the image and select Copy image address.
Flip back to the tab where you’ve got your settings open and click on the Image icon. If you want your siggie to be centred under your forum posts, make sure you have that control selected.
Then paste the image address in the URL box as shown, then click OK.
That’s all! When you see the image of your siggie appear, you just have to click on Save Signature and you’re all done!!
Some tips for eye-catching signature files:
- Use a font or alpha with some weight to it so it stands out.
- Balance your signature: if you centre your name, have something on each side of it so it looks somewhat symmetrical.
- If you want your name at one side of the signature, have an element that leads the eye either to it or away from it.
- Don’t forget your shadows! But keep scale in mind. You don’t want your shadows to be all people notice.
- Adding CT information or other text to your siggie needs a bold font because it’s going to be very tiny when you’re done. You want people to be able to read what you’ve written.
- Your name is more than just your name, it’s a representation of who you are! So make it fabulous!!
Last thoughts: Last week I mentioned an unofficial Tutorial Tuesday Challenge. There is now a Challenge Gallery on our GS Facebook Fan Page for those who have FB accounts. For those who don’t, a link to your layout in the GingerScraps Gallery in the comments here on the Blog will get you an entry too. At the beginning of each month I’ll check both places for participants and Mr Random will select the winner. So start thinking about what we can learn together.