Archives for July 2020

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements+)

Unlocking the Photoshop Elements Easter Eggs

The other day I was scrolling through Google News on my phone looking for celebrity stories and horoscopes… who doesn’t? I’d at one time done a Google search for tutorial ideas and obviously Google stores away all that information to use against me at a later date. Because there in front of me was a video extolling the virtues of Photoshop Elements+. I’d heard of Elements+ in passing before but never actually looked at it. I mean, who wants to spend more money than we have to for hobbies, right? But I watched the video anyway. Then I went over to the Elements+ website and bought it! My first pleasant surprise was the cost – $12 US ($17.87 CDN at today’s exchange rate, but still a steal!). They have a free demo option which is a much-abbreviated set of features, and if you aren’t sure you want to spend the cash, maybe give it a look first before you decide. What do you get for the cost of a couple of gourmet coffees? A TON!!

This first screenshot shows the key to the (very lengthy) list of features and which version they’re part of. The type is quite tiny but if you go to the website you can see the list full-sized. There is an Elements + version for every release of Elements from 1 through 2020, and the patch (that’s what the developer is calling it) unlocks all the hidden potential of the Elements software that turn it into so much more of a powerhouse. There are a lot of features in here that won’t appeal to the average scrapper, but don’t let that hold you back! The first block of features are RAW corrections. You may remember quite some time ago I gave you a tutorial on editing in Camera RAW, which is super for taking a so-so photo into the amazing realm. Elements + adds several functions not present in the basic software.

The second block of features in the screenshot are for Color and Tone. They’re pretty complex edits, and only the real photography snob or the wedding photographer might use them. But handy to have, no? Of note, there are some features that are only in the Windows version, or the Mac version, but not both, and the chart shows you which.

The list continues with Selections, a group of edits that make extracting much more precise and with fewer steps. They’ll take a bit of a learning curve, I think.

Next is a section on Layers. What caught my eye is the one called “Creating layer from style” and it’s making me giddy! I can’t wait to put my styles on their own layers so I can bend them to my will.

Then comes Smart Objects. I’ll confess, after using Elements 17 and being frustrated by Smart Objects, I think I need to learn how to make them work for me, so I’ll be exploring these functions.

Layer Styles options look pretty interesting. “Photoshop-like dialog with undocumented effects and advanced blending options” sounds like something I need to know! “Saving custom styles” is also something that might be fun to learn.

Masks refers to layer masks, not the sort we’d use for clipping photos or papers to, but for making adjustments to individual layers. I’ll need to do some playing to understand how they work.

Smart Filters sounds like Instagram went to college. But I suspect there are some really useful edits to be found in there.

In Elements‘ later versions there’s a text option for putting words on a path. You know, putting test around the outside of a box, a heart, a star or some other shape. These options under Paths expand and extend that to so many applications, from creating paths to creating shapes from a path to using a path as a selection, there’s a lot to unpack there.

Text options to allow scaling of individual characters, the ability to edit only a fragment of text (not for Mac), text inside a shape and paragraph justification will make journaling much more interesting.

Pen Tools are only available in Versions 10-14. Bézier curves are a bit beyond my limited geometry, algebra and trigonometry education so I can’t explain that one. Anyone smarter than me care to dumb it down?

Macros are little bits of code that define a specific process. The two entries in this category relate to recording and replaying macros you create yourself. Let’s say you have several edits you do to every one of your photos or layouts and you wish you had a way to automate that. This is it! But. It needs something called Scripting Listener to be installed and functional within PSE. Let me look into that further…

Droplets could be a game-changer! The website says this: ““Droplets” provide a quick and intuitive way to apply scripts to pictures. You just drag one or more image files onto the droplet icon and… it’s done! ” The example they show is resizing a whole batch of photos to a defined size. (I might be interested in this for my tutorial screenshots…) I think this particular feature will be really handy for scrapbookers, because you can create a Droplet of your favourite script (I’m going to talk about Scripts next) and apply it to multiple objects. Once I’ve played with this, if there’s interest from my faithful readers, I’ll put it all into a tut.

Let’s talk about Scripts. These are just what they sound like – series of instructions to be followed in order. I’ve used some of the scripts and will show you what I did with them in a bit. These Scripts let you do so many things it’ll make your head spin! The ones I think will be the most useful for scrapbooking are the Edge Effects scripts. Burnt Edges!! There’s one that turns your photo into a piece of Film, and another one that turns a series of photos into a Filmstrip. Another one applies Hand-stitching to the edges of whatever you want. The script varies the length and angle of each stitch so it’s completely random, and won’t be exactly the same twice. The colour of the stitches and the background texture are customizable. Page Curl rolls the corner of your photo or paper, putting the perfect shadow on it. Photo Corners, Rough Bounds, Rounded Corners, Stamp Edges, Torn Edges, Wavy Edges, Yellowed Margins and Zig-Zag complete the list. Then there are the Photo Effects scripts that expand significantly on the basic effects already in Elements. Randomize is something I want to get deeper into to see if I can make my own fabulous scatters. That’s just a sampling of what’s in the Scripts treasure chest.

This screenshot just continues the list of Scripts. More POWER!

This too is a continuation of the Scripts list. At the very bottom they show the functions available in Versions 1-5. Of course they’re much more limited because Elements has evolved so much over the years.

Still with Versions 1-5

Notice how the lists are much shorter…

Okay! On to my experiment from earlier today. I downloaded the software and installed it. Then I opened up Elements and let it absorb all the new goodness. This will take several minutes, so if you decide you want to try it out make sure you have time to let it get set up.

How do you find your Easter eggs? There are two ways to do it. You can click on File>Automation Tools (which would have been greyed out before) and the category menu opens.

Or you can click on the Effects button at the bottom of the layers palette and select Elements+ from the drop-down menu. Then you have all these thumbnails to give you an idea of what they hold.

I had this Instagram photo I downloaded from my phone that was okay, but not really what my eyes were seeing when I shot it. So I thought, why not give it the RAW treatment? And I can get to it with the photo already open in Elements, which is fantastic! I’m going to tell you that, start to finish, this edit took me all of 2 minutes. And I’m impressed! The RAW menu looks a little different and offers a few options that aren’t found in the Open in Camera RAW menu. But the preview screen is still the same and lets you see what you’re doing as you do it.

I did some basic editing to see if I could pull a bit more detail from the foreground, which was pretty underexposed. Of course, that washes out the sky a bit… but okay, onward and upward.

I took a look at the Scripts and was intrigued by the Favorites on the menu, but don’t know enough about it yet to do much with it. Later…

However… further down the list is Landscapes.  So I opened it. And there’s a Cloud Booster. YES! I selected it then hit the green triangle icon that represents the Play button.

I haven’t shown it here but the Script creates a copy of the background layer and works upward. There’s a RAW layer, and then the Cloud Booster layer, which includes a layer mask. The Brush menu also opens so you can use a brush to adjust where and how much the effect changes your image. I didn’t touch the image with a brush though.

Instead, I took a look at the layers palette.

I toned down the Opacity of the layer mask, which softened up the mountains a bit, but didn’t change the Blend Mode.

Then I spied the Neutral Density Filter script. Oh my heart! I have a neutral density filter for my DSLR, but find it cumbersome to use. To say nothing of pricey! ND filters are especially useful for landscape photos, where you know there’s going to be trouble getting the exposure just right. They come in a range of intensities from almost imperceptible to very dark. The glass is gradient-tinted; the filter needs to be positioned so that the darker part is over the lighter, brighter part of the intended photo – usually the sky. It decreases the amount of light getting through the lens in that area of the photo so it’s less exposed than the rest of the image. Using the filter takes practice, experimentation, exposure-bracketing and shooting purely in manual settings. How can Elements+ replace the on-lens filter? Let me show you!

This is my photo after I ran the ND Filter script. Notice how the sky is darker now, maybe just a bit TOO dark? But because this is completely digital, I can make adjustments to the layer and fine-tune it so it’s just right. Let’s say I was shooting a snowscape and it was the FOREGROUND that’s over-exposed. I could rotate the filtered area so it’s at the bottom of the photo. If the filtered area bleeds into the part of the photo that is already correctly exposed, I could either shrink the filter area, or slide it up so that it only touches the area of the photo where it’s needed. And then there’s the on-its-own-layer thing. Bingo, more control!

So let’s look at that. The Blend Mode is Soft Light, which works. The Opacity was about 45% at the default setting, and I just pulled it down to 32%.

The last thing I did was to Merge all the layers and Save As an edited image.

Just for you, I put the original next to the edited version. Now you see what my eyes saw on Sunday evening when I took my photo.

I think there’s a gold mine in this patch! I want to dig into how it can be leveraged for digital scrapbooking for you and then show you how to make it happen for your layouts. So much potential!!

Designer Spotlight: Miss Fish

Whoops… I apologize – had a brain fart and got sidetracked by planting my containers yesterday. So without further ado, let me introduce you to Juli, the most awesome Miss Fish!


Jan: How long have you been designing?

Juli: It will be 4 years in August.

Jan: What made you decide to design?

Juli: I had been a digital scrapbooker for over 14 years. I needed to make a little extra money to do some fun things for myself, like get pedicures and highlights in my hair. Sometimes I’m extra nice and buy my kids and my husband little gifts too.

Jan: What led you to decide to design together?

Juli: Jennifer and I have been real life friends for years. We have similar personalities and tastes. I love working with her because she makes me laugh and pushes me to be a better designer.

Jan: What do you use to create your designs (program, additional tools, etc.)?

Juli: Adobe Photoshop CC

Jan: Describe your design workplace.

Juli: I do most of my designing from laptop which is located in our family room. I have a double wide monitor I use and this set up allows me to work in our main family space so I’m still with everyone while I’m working.

Jan: What motivates and inspires you as a designer?

Juli: I love patterns and colors and sayings. I’ve always been a creative person and creating templates and kits is so much fun and let’s me create things I would like to work with myself.

Jan: What is your favorite kit currently in your GS store and why?

Juli: I make many more templates than kits – I love this one: I think it’s an easy pack to theme for any photos and would work with just about any kit. Also, I love that it has so man photo spots!

Jan: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Juli: Ribeye steak, loaded baked potato, steamed broccoli and carrot cake for dessert. These are all my favorite things that I don’t get to eat often (well, except the broccoli). They are always a treat!

Jan: What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play?

Juli: I love to watch football. If we’re playing games I like Scrabble.

Jan: What did you want to be when you were small?

Juli: A Teacher

Jan: Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?

Juli: My phone. It keeps me connected to my daughters and the rest of my family.

Jan: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

Juli: Diane Keaton

Jan: If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Juli: Danger – will eat your cupcake and talk your ear off. Also watch for foul language.

Jan: What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?

Juli: Barack Obama

Ladies, thanks for sharing your talents with all of us!

Designer Spotlight: Shepherd Studio

It’s July. Half the year is gone already! Today I’ve got a treat for you… let’s get to know a bit about Jenn, the scrapper also known as catgoddess and the designer behind Shepherd Studio.


Jan: How long have you been designing?
Jenn: In some form or another, for 14 years.

Jan: What made you decide to design?
Jenn: Mostly peer pressure. haha

Jan: What led you to decide to design together?
Jenn: Miss Fish and I are old friends and it’s so much fun to design together.

Jan: What do you use to create your designs (program, additional tools, etc.)?
Jenn: I use PaintShop Pro and Illustrator

Jan: Describe your design workplace.
Jenn: It’s a bit more cluttered now working at home due to COVID, but it’s a large workspace/spare bedroom. I have multiple desk spaces for computer work (with two monitors – a must have!), for crafts, and for my Silhouette.

Jan: What motivates and inspires you as a designer?
Jenn: Mostly color and patterns. My kits are always filled with different patterns.

Jan: What is your favorite kit currently in your GS store and why?
Jenn: My current favorite is Tropical Fun. I love the bright, summery color palette and the animals (especially the turtle!) always make me smile.

Jan: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jenn: Enchiladas

Jan: What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play?
Jenn: Tennis

Jan: What did you want to be when you were small?
Jenn: A paleontologist

Jan: Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Jenn: Laughing with my husband (Jan: I read that as laughing AT my husband the first time… ’cause that would be me!)

Jan: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
Jenn: Kate Winslet

Jan: If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Jenn: Occasionally spicy

Jan: What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
Jenn: Paul Rudd

Public service announcement: Shepherd Studio‘s entire store is 40% off from July 17th to the 31st! Don’t forget to collect all the parts of the Daily Download too… free stuff!

Check back tomorrow and meet Miss Fish.

Fresh Baked: JULY 3, 2020

Welcome to the first Friday in July. Here in the US, we are getting ready for a big holiday weekend. It’s always a fun time with family and friends, although the groups will be smaller this year.

If you spend $10 or more in the store you get this awesome kit for free. Doesn’t it just scream summer?

Let’s take a look at some of the new kits in the store today.

Aren’t those just lovely?

Remember, if you complete 10 challenges you get this wonderful collab from the GingerBread Ladies. I think we need a {fresh start 2020}, don’t you?

Fresh Baked: July 1, 2020 & NEW Free With Purchase, Monthly Mix and More

Welcome to July. Wow. Is anyone else having a hard time believing we are halfway through 2020?

It’s the beginning of a new month, so that means all the new goodies are available in the store. The Buffet colors this month are bright and the kits are full of celebration ideas.

Don’t forget to check out the Buffet Bundles. One easy click to add bundles of Buffet goodies to your cart.

Look at this fun Free with Purchase kit celebrating all those treats of summer. If you spend $10 in the store, you get this fun kit for free.

The Monthly Mix for July continues those summer memory vibes with a {bucket full of memories}.

We have a fun new Daily Download for July.

We have a guest designer joining us for July. Some of you may recognize her.

Chere Kaye Designs

Bio: Chere is an artist and designer who has been working in the scrapbooking industry since 2007. She has developed digital and paper lines, and loves learning new techniques to add fun things to her collections. She is married to Chris and has two teenaged daughters and two cats, and lives in the Dayton, Ohio area.

Look at this beautiful kit for July’s Challenge Reward. Complete any 10 challenges (there are more than 25 to choose from) and you get this kit as a reward.

Take a look at what our awesome store creative team did with the fun buffet kits from this month! There are more layouts to admire in the Gallery.