Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

More Fun with Blend Modes

When I started playing with Blend Modes for my Memory Mix It Up challenge layout, I wasn’t sure it would be worthy of a tutorial, but the comments in the Gallery soon changed my mind. Before I start the step-by-step, I want to assure you all that although this layout took me two days to complete, it wasn’t because the technical aspects were time-consuming. I was under the weather – literally AND figuratively – so I took my time. When you see the process, start to finish, you’ll see it’s really a quick but dramatic effect. I must also give credit where credit is due: I modified a technique presented by Nancy Adams, who is a creative team member for Anna Aspnes. Let’s dig in!

First, let’s talk about Blend Modes for a minute. New-to-digiscrapping readers are feeling a little overwhelmed, I can tell. In short, Blend Modes can lighten, darken, or alter the transparency of a layer without changing that layer’s Opacity. To change the Blend Mode, click on the bar at the upper left corner of the Layers panel where it says “Normal” and find the mode you’re seeking. We looked at all the options in this tutorial: Blend Modes? Say What? 

I’m so fortunate to have these professional photos of my great-grandfather Will and his siblings. They were taken shortly after the youngest, Geoff, was inducted into the British Army just after his 18th birthday. I’ve wanted to create a layout with them for awhile, and this challenge template was just perfect for the job. In order to recreate my workflow for this tutorial, I deconstructed my layout, stripping it down to just the layers that create the arty effect. The background paper is a simple “solid” gray from Jumpstart DesignsNo Ordinary Love collection. Other than the alpha I used for my title, all the elements of this layout are from that collection (because I liked the title!). My title alpha is from the GingerBread Ladies collab Spice of Life. The screenshot shows that all the other layers have been turned off, and I’ll turn them back on one layer at a time, working from the paper layer up.

In the Gallery comments, Jill pondered whether I’d done any (labour-intensive) extractions or other witchery to obtain my results, but I didn’t. I used the mask exactly how Juli (Miss Fish) designed it, in the exact spot she’d put it on the template. The Blend Mode was left at Normal, Opacity at 100%.


I positioned my large photo of Will and George over the mask layer, resized it to be sure it completely covered the mask and repositioned it so their faces were clearly visible. Then I clipped it to the mask. [Right-click on the photo layer and select Create Clipping Mask or CTRL/CMD>G for versions prior to PSE 15 or CTRL/CMD>ALT>G for later versions.] The first photo layer is Normal at 100%.

Next, I dropped a gray paint splatter on top of the photo layer, clipped to it. I left this layer’s Blend Mode and Opacity at the default, Normal and 100% as well.

I made a Copy [CTRL/CMD>J] of the photo layer, ensuring it was clipped to the mask as well. This time I changed the Blend Mode to Hard Light and left the Opacity at 100%. It makes the sepia tone even more vivid. Also, see how this layer brings more of the variations in the background paper into view.

I wanted to add some green hints to the layout, but not bash-you-over-the-head-visible. The uniforms in the photos were a khaki colour, not really brown, not really green. I added a green paint blotch on top of the second photo layer, but not clipped. I wanted it to extend onto the background paper too. Then I changed the Blend Mode to Screen (which lightens) and dropped the Opacity to 40%. Now the green looks more khaki, and it’s transparent so the detail in the photo shows through beautifully.

Adding a pink paint blotch layer on top of both the photo layer and the green paint layer without resizing, I changed the Blend Mode to Overlay (which lightens and increases transparency) and decreased the Opacity to 46%. See how the tonal changes make the photo more visually interesting? If the changes I make seem random, it’s because this is a very experimental process. I tried more than one Blend Mode and tweaked layer Opacity until I liked the way it looked. So it IS random! Don’t be afraid to play with your software. It’s how you figure out what you like and how to achieve it!

I made a Copy [CTRL/CMD>J] of the pink paint blotch layer and repositioned it. I made it quite a bit smaller than the first pink blotch, left the Blend Mode at Overlay and really decreased the Opacity to 21%. There’s a hint of colour, and the two other paint layers blend into the whole.

I was satisfied with the way the masked photo was looking so it was time to add in the second photo of Will’s siblings. I left the photo spot in precisely the place Juli put it, made no changes to it at all.

I clipped the photo to the spot and adjusted it to fit. I wish I could’ve gotten a bit more of Lily’s shoulders in there, but it wasn’t a big deal. For this layer, the Blend Mode is Darken and the Opacity is 61%. I played with the order of the layers a little; this one originally was the top photo layer, but it looked better as the bottom one.

This Copy layer of the second photo ended up with the same tonal quality as my large photo totally because of the Blend Mode change to Hard Light. With the Opacity at 100%, it’s tack-sharp and the sepia in the photo’s backdrop pops. From there, I finished my layout, adding in the other elements and applying custom shadows to each layer.

This is my finished layout. I LOVE how it turned out. The title reflects how although the three older brothers enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Canada’s involvement in WWI was automatic when Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914; George V was the titular head of Canada at the time. They all spent a significant part of their time overseas in Britain, which made their parents – who were still living there – ecstatic. Lily and Geoff served with the British Army; Lily became a nurse and Geoff was part of the Short-Service branch. Geoff enlisted at 17 1/2 and was forced to wait until after he turned 18 to be inducted. He looks like a baby to me… Okay, enough with the history lesson!

There may not be a tutorial next week; my dad is unwell again and is undergoing a procedure on Monday. I may be tied up for a few days… and I know all of you won’t mind if I’m MIA. Have a good week, stay safe and stay healthy!

PDF Version: https://bit.ly/3x0382c


Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Jan’s Like a Broken Record… or “Everything on its Own Layer”

Those of you who read these tutorials regularly will know what I’m talking about. I really flog the “everything on its own layer” as a Work Smart Not Hard tip. It recently occurred to me that I should explain that mantra a little more clearly. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Let’s start with Brushes. Brushes are fantastic tools and can really take your layouts to the next level. There are so many ways to to customize them and make them work for you. But if you don’t put them on their own layer, whatever you do to them – adding a style, changing colour, resizing them, rotating them or even repositioning them, for example – you will also do to the other thing(s) on that layer. Let’s say you want a paint splatter behind your photo(s). If you splatter that paint right on your background paper layer, then decide you need to move it so it peeks out more from behind your photo(s) your paper is going with it. Then you’ll need to UndoUndoUndo until you’re back at the beginning.

By creating a new blank layer and dropping your paint splatter on it, you can move it around to your heart’s content.

For border Brushes, you may want to flip that brush horizontally to make a top-and-bottom border. If it’s on the same layer as a button, you’re bringing the button along too.

If that border Brush is by itself, it’s easy enough to Copy that layer then flip it.



Another example: this month’s Challenge brush from Alexis Design Studio has two starbursts and they’d look stunning in different colours. But if you add your brush to a layer that has a flower on it, you won’t be able to Copy just the brush to change the colour of one of the starbursts, because the flower will be Copied as well.

And you couldn’t apply a glitter Style to the starbursts either, because the flower would get glittered up too. Do that a few times and you’ll be a convert!

While we’re talking about Styles, the benefit of applying a Style to an element on a separate layer let’s you pile Styles on top of each other. In this instance, you’d be Copying the layer you want to alter, then adding the Style to the Copy layer. Imagine I created a Custom Shape of a flower.

By making a Copy layer, I can add an acrylic gel Style to the petals and a glitter Style to the centre, removing the parts of each layer that conflict with each other.

A slight variation of putting things on their own layer is one I use for titles, whether I use a font or an alpha. I create an new document where only the title will be manipulated. Sometimes it takes a little imagination to decide how to align the letters or the words, but the advantage of the new document method is that when I like how the title looks, I’ll Merge each word. Then I can select all the layers and Duplicate them onto my layout, where each layer is still intact but can be nudged into the most appropriate spot. To Duplicate those layers, click on the first layer in the stack, hold down the Shift key and click on the top layer. That “selects” all the layers. Then right-click and choose Duplicate Layers.

Look for whatever you’ve named (or not named!) your layout and choose it from the menu and click OK.

There, all three of my title layers are there and I can move them around individually, resize them, rotate them or whatever I think they need.

I couldn’t resist. I had to apply some styles to my title so you can see how easy it is to turn a font into an alpha.

Essentially, you want to have as much control over the things that make up your layout as you possibly can. These tricks have streamlined my creative process quite a bit – in addition to using all those keyboard shortcuts I show you each week. When I’m squeezing a little bit of time out of an otherwise busy day because the creative bug just won’t stop biting me, whatever will help me move things along is vital!

I hope this has helped with understanding ObiJan’s Golden Rule!

PDF Version: https://bit.ly/36C3YaN

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Torn Paper: A Review

Last week, Glee asked if I could run another tutorial on digital paper tearing, and I’m only too happy to oblige. Since I wrote my first version of this tutorial I’ve streamlined the workflow a bit, which is always a good thing! Work Smart, Not Hard!! This technique uses only tools already embedded in the software and it’s easily achievable by even the very new learner.

Let’s think about scrapbooking paper – the physical properties of actual paper. The best-quality paper is weighty and has a white (or sometimes black) core. It might have a pattern on one side and a solid on the other. It may be smooth as satin or have a lovely texture. When I work with digital papers, my mind sees them as the very highest quality physical paper there is. So this technique will take that into consideration. The patterned paper I’ve used is from ADB DesignsCoastal Cottage kit. (It’s no secret that I LOVE Diane‘s papers.)

In past tutorials I’ve talked about “destructive” and “non-destructive” methods of altering digital images. With “destructive” methods, pixels are removed from the image and can only be replaced by CTRL/CMD>Z-ing back a bunch of steps. “Non-destructive” methods only hide those pixels by using a mask. They’re out of sight, not gone; they can be easily revealed again if needed. This technique is “destructive” but so is tearing paper! I’ll be using the Eraser tool with a hard, round Brush of a moderate (250 pixel diameter) size at 100% Opacity.

I don’t know about you but I can’t tear paper in a straight line without folding, creasing and using a straight-edge to tear it against. Good thing for this technique, perfect isn’t the goal. Since my imagination has told me this paper is thick and stiff, I already know the tear is going to be jagged and will expose some of the white core. With the Eraser tool, I just chewed off some of the paper.

I think I need a higher contrast between my paper and the transparent background layer, so I’m going to add a Fill Layer in black to help me see what I’m doing. You might not need this step. There are a couple of ways to Fill space: by clicking Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color or just by using the Paint Bucket tool.

If you choose the Fill Layer method, make sure that box I’ve indicated is NOT ticked. It’s not a big issue when you’re creating your torn paper as a separate project and then adding it to your layout, but if you decide to tear your paper within your layout, it will matter. Here, I want to fill the whole background with black for contrast. The layer is only temporary, but why make it harder for myself?

There. Now I can see that torn edge much better!

Now for the really creative part! Let’s add in the white core. To do that, I’m going to make a Copy layer of my torn paper. Again, there are a couple of ways of accomplishing that: Right-click on the layer and choose Duplicate Layer and then follow the prompts (I rarely use this method) or CTRL/CMD>J. [If you develop a habit of using keyboard shortcuts you’ll be amazed at how much time and how many keystrokes it saves you.]

Yes, we did JUST do this, but we’re going to do it again. Only this time I WILL use the Clipping Mask box. I want to Fill the original torn paper layer with white, but JUST the torn paper, not the entire layer. It’s easiest to just use the Paint Bucket tool, but I want to show you the options.

Yep, tick the box!

Then I want to Merge the Fill Layer with the torn paper layer (a step that’s eliminated when using the Paint Bucket… WSNH!) so I CTRL/CMD>clicked on each layer then right-clicked to open the layers menu so I could select Merge Layers. The keyboard shortcut for this step is CTRL/CMD>E.

The white core has to be visible (otherwise why have it in the first place!) so I nudged it up a bit with the Move tool. It’s a little too perfect, but we’ll fix that.

When a real sheet of heavy scrapbooking paper is torn, the white core will be exposed to varying degrees, with some wider bits and some much narrower bits. To emulate that look, I went back to my Eraser tool and nibbled away some of the white layer and some of the patterned layer too.

Okay, that’s more like it!

This step is entirely optional. Torn paper isn’t perfectly smooth, and I like to go for as much realism (with the fewest hassles) that I can achieve.  So I’ll show you how to add some texture to the white core layer using Filter>Texture>Texturizer.

There isn’t a perfect texture Filter in the toolbox, so I use Canvas. I just want a hint of irregularity on my white core and this’ll do it.

There are some decisions to be made when using Filters. Light Source is a big one. I tend to use Top Left more than anything, so that’s what I’ve chosen here. I Inverted as well, which isn’t as visible as it would be with the Burlap or Brick Textures. Scaling refers to the overall size of the deflections and Relief is how much of a vertical deviation the Filter provides.

On a computer screen this effect isn’t in-your-face-obvious, but trust me, it pops when you print your layout.

AGAIN? Why?? That torn edge of the patterned paper will cast a hint of shadow. The easiest way to add a new Layer is to click on the sheet-of-paper icon. To add a new layer this way UNDER the currently active layer, hold down the CTRL/CMD key when you click it and it’s done. Otherwise, Layer>New Layer or CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>N will add a new layer above the currently active layer, but it’ll then have to be moved under the torn paper layer.

I’m telling you, the Paint Bucket tool is such a nice shortcut! But make sure you’ve Selected the edge of the torn paper by CTRL/CMD>clicking inside the layer’s thumbnail (that little “photo”) before you dump your paint.

Just as I did for the white core layer, I used the Move tool to nudge the shadow layer up and out from under the torn paper layer. It’s pretty obvious in the image below, but I’ll Blur it a tiny bit and it’ll look much more natural.

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur… is the ticket.

If the shadow layer is Blurred too much, it’ll just make the area where the paper and the core meet look dirty. So don’t go too far!

Now all that’s left before I’m finished is to Delete the black contrast layer and Merge the three paper layers together.

And now my torn paper is ready for use on my layout! It’s literally a 10-minute technique that really adds some interest to the image.

Thankfully the heatdome has moved on and we’re only worried about wildfires out here in the west part of North America. The eastern part is having the opposite problem, with a tropical storm dumping water and creating tornadoes. And still… COVID. I had my first vaccine last Wednesday and knew I was going to react – having had the virus I had antibodies already. I felt pretty awful for about 36 hours, and then magically felt better. The vaccine is proving its worth; 99% of the people who have died from COVID since May have been unvaccinated. Pretty good stats!

See you next time!

PDF Version: https://bit.ly/3xrgE06


Designer Spotlight (July 2021)

Polka Dot Chicks and Memory Mosaic!

I apologize for not getting this out to all of you on the first, but it’s been a bit nuts around here, what with the incredible heat and the wildfires burning all around us. My parents and siblings are prepared to evacuate, should it come to that. But I have some time right now and nothing pressing to drag me away, so let’s chat with Tammy (Polka Dot Chicks) and Joy (Memory Mosaic). Let’s start with the basics and then get into the more interesting stuff! (Today I’ll be “O“, to make it easier to keep the conversation straight.)

O: Ladies, how long have you been designing?

T: Since 2008

J: For me it’s been about 6 years.

O: And what tools do you use to create your designs?

J: I use photoshop, and I am learning to use Procreate.  I hope soon to be able to incorporate things I have done in Procreate in my kits.  I use templates and photos that I extract images from.  Some photos I find on free sites like Pixabay, and some I take myself, depending on what the subject is.  I also use a lot of different styles in Photoshop.  I enjoy putting styles together and creating new ones.

T: PhotoShop Elements 21 for Mac  on 27” iMac desktop computer.

O: Ooh, I love Pixabay! It’s a real treasure trove, isn’t it? Sorry Tammy, but I’m not an Apple fan. I’ve had nothing but glitches with their products, but my daughter LOVES her iMac, her iPhone, her iPad, all of them. Anyway, nobody is asking me… Now we know what you use, tell us a little about where you create.

T: I have a craft room/office on our finished lower level with plenty of space to design and set up my craft tables for crafting/sewing/silhouette etc.

J: I work on a laptop, so my “work space” is wherever I want to go.  My husband and I are working on getting an office space fixed up in what used to be a storage shed/cabin on our property, and once that is done, I will have a more stationary work area.  Right now, I have all my “stuff”… notebook with ideas, and calendars, external hard drives, pens, iPad, etc, in a pretty tote that I move from place to place… sometimes, it’s the living room sofa, sometimes the dining room table, sometimes in nice weather,  it’s out on the deck enjoying the birds singing and the fresh air.

O: I’ve been trying to get my craft space organized but it’s such a huge job and I never know where to start. Joy, I love that idea of putting all the pieces/parts in a tote to keep handy. I might have to steal that. Tammy, which of your amazing kits in the GingerScraps store is your favourite?

T: Family Tree – I really like family tree stuff and seeing how names were picked etc.  for example: my husbands middle name, Parker has been a family name since the late 1700’s and is always the first born middle name. (narrator: It’s on sale right now, ladies!)

O: I’m a family history buff too! It’s such a fascinating and absorbing pastime. A few months ago I finally figured out where one of my husband’s middle names (he’s French… 5 names!) came from: an uncle who was killed in action in France long before he was born. There were a lot of revelations in his service records. On the subject of history, and given that today is the Fourth of July, let’s talk about vacations for a sec. Joy, what would your dream vacation look like?

J: A week at the beach.  Preferably in a condo/beach house… not super crowded, able to sleep in, days spent walking the beach, collecting shells and rocks, lying under an umbrella, listening to the surf, reading a good book, spending the evening, watching movies, or playing games with my family.

O: That sounds like bliss! Is that what you’d do if you won the lottery?

J: Sort of. I would make sure any pressing needs of my family were taken care of, fix up my house, maybe take that vacation to the beach I mentioned above, and give a good portion of it to a missions project.

T: I’d buy a big enough house to house my kids/family/grand-babies but everyone could have their own space but we would all be together, Hire a chef and cleaning person. 

O: Oh yes charitable donations and to the cleaning person! Tammy, what one word would your friends and family use to describe you?
T: Happy, loves to hug and always willing to help!
O: Okay, more than one word. Joy, if time travel was possible, would you go ahead, or back, and why?
J: I would go back… I lost my Mom about 3 years ago, and I would love to go back and just have one more day with her, to ask and do the things we thought there would be time to do later.
O: Oh, I’m so sorry! It would be a perfect day, wouldn’t it? I find such peace when I’m outside, with dirt on my knees and under my nails. Gardening has been my therapy for years. Are either of you green thumbs?
T: I do not EXCEPT for Phil my philodendron that I have kept alive since 1992 when I received it after my grandma passed away. He has moved many times and still alive and kicking…
J: NO, but it doesn’t keep me from trying. LOL!  Every year, I try to plant an herb garden, flowers, and tomato, cucumbers, and pepper plants.  Some years it goes better than others.
O: Along the line of hobbies again, Tammy, are you more likely to dance or sing in the shower?
T: Sing – badly. But all my kids can sing… go figure.

O: Yeah… I can relate. So Joy, what did you want to be when you were small?
J: I wanted to grow up, get married, be a mommy and teach school.  I did all of those things. 🙂
O: NICE! Tammy, What’s the best compliment you ever received?
T: That I don’t look old enough to have 3 grown kids and 4 grand babies.
O: That would be a sweet thing to hear, for sure. We entertained our son-in-law for his birthday recently and when I asked him what I should make for dinner, he told me he’d never have enough of my ribs. Joy, If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
J: Rib-Eye Steak cooked med. rare, loaded baked sweet potato and salad with a balsamic dressing.
O: Yum! Last question for you, Tammy. Since my last tutorial was about colour theory, what are your most favorite and least favorite colors?
T: My favorite color is RED, plaid and polka dots.  MY least favorite color is yellow (at least in clothing on me).
O: I don’t love yellow either and it looks ghastly on me – a sad fact for someone who spent half her career in a yellow isolation gown. And last question to you, Joy. If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
J: Approach with caution when under pressure… explosions can happen.
O: Duly noted!! I ended this conversation with Joy because she’s generously provided us with a coupon for July! This is on top of the Daily Download. (And don’t forget the Designer Spotlight challenge these lovely ladies are hosting too.) I really hope she plans to make her home at GingerScraps when her guest stint is done.

Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

Let’s Talk about Colour!

Is it hot where you are? Looking at the thermometer on my deck, it’s reading 42°C… or about 108°F – a smidge cooler than yesterday, but it’s likely to climb some more before the sun goes down. With a slight breeze and only 24% relative humidity, stepping outside is like walking into a pizza oven. (I’ll take that over a sauna.) Our poor dogs can’t be outside and it’s making them a little stroppy. They’re camped out on the tile floor in front of the A/C vents. It’s going to be a long week… we’re not going to cool off until next Wednesday.

Several recent tutorials covered how to add colour in one way or another but it occurred to me that we’ve never really talked about COLOUR itself.  We all have our own preferences when it comes to colour; I recently printed some layouts to frame for my gallery wall and noticed that ALL of them are either mainly green or have a significant green presence. I really don’t like yellow or orange, but they may appear on my layouts as accents. Have you ever thought about why you choose the colours you do, whether in your wardrobe, your home decor or your layouts? Have you ever wondered how designers choose the colour palettes they work with (where they have a choice)? Well, colour theory may offer some clues.

The very first colour wheel was created by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666! I bet he drew his inspiration from the rainbow. If you remember your middle school science, you’ll recall that rainbows are a product of light refraction through water droplets, and each colour has its own visible wavelength, red being shortest and violet longest. Our perception of colour is dependent on sensory cells called cones that are found in our retinas. Most animals don’t have a large number of cones and therefore don’t have the same degree of colour perception humans and other primates do. Insects have some colour perception but are less likely to actually perceive reds. It’s said that humans can distinguish very subtle variations in colour, unless they have the misfortune to be that 1 in 12 males or that 1 in 200 females and have a genetic deficiency in red-green-yellow colour perception. They’re not truly “colour-blind” but have difficulty differentiating between red, green and yellow. The rest of us are so lucky!

There are about a million terms, concepts and definitions relating to colour theory so we’re just going to scratch the surface here. We’ll start at the most basic: PRIMARY colours. All of us learned about those in kindergarten. They’re red, yellow and blue.

SECONDARY colours are derived from equal parts of two primary colours: orange, green and violet.

Anybody know what TERTIARY colours are? They’re blends of a primary colour and a secondary colour! Are you confused? Here’s a visual.

Now let’s discuss how to combine colours to make a pleasing image. The most basic combinations are called ANALOGOUS colours, three shades that are similar to each other and are found side-by-side on a 12-slice colour wheel, like red, red-orange and orange. These combinations have a serene feel to them and are visually pleasing. This scheme is one often found in nature, which makes it very harmonious. The only pitfall is not having enough contrast, so saturation matters. Some possibilities are shown below.

COMPLEMENTARY colours that are diametrically opposite to each other on a colour wheel provide maximum contrast and stability. Their vibrance is tempered by the degree of saturation of each. This scheme isn’t great in large doses but is perfect if you want something to stand out; it’s NOT good for text – too hard to read. They’re not my favourite combos (except at Christmas!) but a lot of people love them.

SPLIT-COMPLEMENTARY schemes use a base colour and the two colours immediately beside its complementary colour. Its strong viusal contrast can be very pleasing, since the colours don’t fight with each other as much as the complementary ones do.

TRIADIC combinations are composed of three colours equally spaced around the 12-slice wheel together. The primary colours of red, yellow and blue form one triadic combo. This can be a tricky scheme to pull off; one colour should dominate with the other two as accents. Balance is key; the combo will tend to be quite vibrant, even when saturation is toned down.

TETRADIC (or Rectangular) schemes make use of complementary pairs to provide a rich look. They work best if one colour is the star and the others are supporting actors. Balance between warm and cool is important.

QUADRATIC combinations are created with four evenly-spaced colours. As with all these combos, one colour should dominate and balance between saturation and contrast are crucial.

The last thing I’m going to talk about is context. The background colour will have a great impact on how different colours look to the eye. Red, for example, tends to look more vivid against black than it does white. It becomes muddy-looking when on top of or immediately next to a yellow-orange and appears more brilliant with sharper edges against turquoise. Each of the red squares in the image below is identically sized. But the one on the black appears slightly larger, at least to me. What do you see?

It’s also possible to confuse the eye by putting a colour on top of a very similar colour. The way our eyes perceive them changes. In the upper image below, the narrow rectangle appears to have a bluish hue against the red-violet background, and a reddish hue against the blue-violet background. Would you believe me if I told you they’re exactly the same violet? In the lower image I’ve butted the two background colours and stretched the smaller rectangle over both. See what I mean?

Each of us has our own style and preferences, but some of what we like relates to colour. Something to think about as you create your layouts!

The new laptop I ordered arrived – and it didn’t work. I thought it was a new machine, but they sent me a used one that hadn’t even had a factory reset. The screen continually froze whenever I tried to sort it out, so I sent it back and ordered one from another supplier, coming right from the plant. It probably won’t be here until some time in August so I’m crossing my fingers that this one doesn’t completely fail before then. I’m babying it along. If it does cash in its chips before I’m running on the new one I’ll let y’all know!

PDF Version: https://bit.ly/3hhnBdj


Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Exploring Uncharted Territory (Elements Features)

Something about Elements popped up on my Pinterest feed the other night that had me scratching my head. How had I not explored this before? I’m talking about the Graphics menu. It’s a treasure trove! And I think it’ll be really useful for those new-to-digiscrapping who are still building up their stash. I know when I was first finding my way, I downloaded a lot of freebies – because they were free, I had nothing and I was on a budget – that I ended up never using. The things to be found in the Graphics menu will be a bit like that for a lot of us, but without having a look we’d never know. So let’s explore!

If your workspace doesn’t look like mine, you might not have that Graphics button down in the lower right corner. Not to worry. You can find the goodies by clicking Window>Graphics (or by clicking F7). The menu includes two dropdowns chock full of options.


I think top-to-bottom-left-to-right makes the most sense, so we’ll start with By Type: Backgrounds. You can think of Backgrounds as papers. There are a TON of them in this menu. They’re rectangular and in landscape orientation so if you prefer to scrap in a square configuration, you may need to move the Background to give you the section you want visible. They aren’t necessarily as elegant as designer papers, but they’ll do in a pinch!


Okay, so when you see this, don’t panic! Most of these Graphics don’t live inside your computer. You’ll need an internet connection so they can be downloaded into your software for the session at hand. Elements is a real resource hog already, so this is a bonus.


I’m not going to show you a lot of these. I liked the name of this one when I hovered my cursor over it, so I opened it.


Next up are the Frames. I WILL show you a few of these, because they’re pretty awesome! I don’t often use frames of any kind for my layouts, but I may start now that I’ve found these! It took me a minute (or ten) to figure out how to make them work but once I got it, I ran with it! For them to work properly, your photo CANNOT be a “Background“, it has to be a “layer“. Right-click on your photo layer in the Layers panel and select Layer from Background and you’re on your way.


This is the composite photo I created awhile back in the tutorial on compositing. I’m going to use it as my example.


Once you’ve selected a Frame from the menu and clicked on it to apply, you’ll see this. See the transparent background around it? No need for cropping or cutting it out with the Marquee tool! The slider lets you make your photo bigger or smaller so that the area of it you want in the frame can be fine-tuned. And the circular arrows are for rotating the photo 90° left or right.


After you’ve tweaked, hit the green checkmark and carry on!


I tried a few of these Frames. I like the look of this black glossy one for panoramic photos… like the millions of sunset photos I have.


This one didn’t excite me much!

But the collage Frame? I LOVE it!!

This rustic one would be great for an Old-West layout, or a heritage layout of pioneering ancestors.

The late 1950s and early 1960s were the heyday for deckle edges. There’s another one right next to it on the menu that also has a postmark, to give the photo a postage stamp appearance.

Then there are the two stitched borders. Quicker than sorting through my stash to find some stitches…

I do actually have a bin full of vintage photos. These four vintage Frames could be lovely additions to the ones I’ve scanned and cropped.

The Graphics group is also huge. There are all sorts of goodies in here!

Like this fabulous gold filigree photo corner (or is it a corbel? I’m watching DIY shows on HGTV as I work).

If I cropped out those brilliantly-lit houses in the lower left corner of my photo these filigrees would be even more amazing.

Looking for something more traditional? My mom had a box of black paper photo corners. Bet yours did too!

The white ones are a bit more modern-looking, but still traditional.

The Shapes menu is exactly the same as the Custom Shapes/Cookie Cutter one.

The Shape layer is under the photo, with the edge Selected by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the Shape thumbnail. The photo layer is the active layer and I’m going to add a white stroke to the outline.

Cheesy? Yeah, a bit. But it was fun to turn the moon into a flower! If I put this Stroke on its own layer I might Erase the parts of the petals that overlap the trees. What do you think?

The Text options are many! Several variations of effect in every colour. Only drawback is there’s no choice of font.

I think this might look equally “right” if I’d gone with one of the soft yellow gradients like the one two spaces down to the left. But the grey pulls its look from the moon.

Here are a few more samples.

So let’s recap a bit by going over the categories one by one, starting with By Type. Each of the categories will include all the Graphics from each of the groups that correspond to the tag.

Then By Activity.

And By Color.

By Event offers some great choices!

Which of us isn’t moody at times? All the appropriate Graphics here are sorted By Mood.

It might be quicker to find exactly what you’re looking for by choosing By Object.

So many people scrap by the season so this By Season sort takes the guesswork out of finding all the right stuff.

Here, By Style means something different than the usual Elements Styles. There are literally more than two dozen Graphics styles here.

You may never use any of these but isn’t it nice to know they’re there?

The saga of the crumbling laptop continues. The replacement I ordered arrived but it doesn’t work! Turns out it isn’t new (as I thought it was) and hadn’t been factory reset. I’m a bit tech-savvy so I did a factory reset but wasn’t able to go any further. I’ll be shipping it back and waiting on a different machine I ordered that might not be here until some time in August – it’s coming right from the plant. Meanwhile, I’ll limp along with this one, hoping it doesn’t completely die before I have a functioning replacement. Sigh.

PDF Version: https://bit.ly/2SXRK99

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Selectively Colouring your Photos

This month’s Color Challenge is a bit different; instead of being presented with a swatch and asked to use those colours, Ivonne (Craft-tastrophic) has asked for layouts in black-and-white, with just some pops of colour. The examples she shows in the Forum are great inspiration, but what if you don’t know how to achieve “selective colour” in your photos? That was what Glee asked me. I thought I had a tutorial on the subject, but turns out I didn’t. So I set out to remedy that. I’m going to show you three different ways to accomplish it, at least one of which should work for you regardless of which version of Elements you have.

Some advice: This task is a lot easier if you have a photo with a lot of contrast between the item(s) you want to colour and the rest of the image. Let’s get started!

I chose this Pixabay photo for my example, a choice I came to regret just a little. More about that later. The first method I’ll show you is the Guided Edit version. I tried to find out when it was added to Elements, but didn’t succeed. I think it was likely Elements 14 or 15, but can’t confirm. I tried it first using the B&W Color Pop edit, which allows you to select a colour from the photo and it’ll automatically convert the rest of the photo to black-and-white, but it’s a lot restrictive. Super easy, but only good for a single colour. So I went on to use the B&W Selection edit.

The Edit comes up with this interface, and it literally tells you what to do first. The B&W Selection brush goes on the part of the photo you don’t want to stay in colour. For this step you can use a pretty big brush to make quick work of the bulk of the background.

The cool part of this Edit is that if you oops and accidentally desaturate some of the part you want to stay coloured, you can toggle from Add to Subtract and just return the colour to the image.

Yep, I got carried away with my big brush and messed it all up.

With a smaller brush I put the yellow back into the chick. But it’s not quite getting all the details… those darned little feathers! So I’m going to go on to Refine Edge.

You’ll be able to see what effect the Edge Dectection slider makes on the photo. Did you notice there’s one fingertip in colour?

Next I’ll use the B&W Detail Brush to fix up the beak and feathers.

I ZOOMed in a LOT so I could be more precise, and used a small brush.

If you want to check your results, you can Invert the effect and it’ll show you where you’re still not quite there. When all the details have been fine-tuned, revert it so your coloured area is the actually desired area, and click on the Next arrow. Then you can Save it for later, or Continue Editing.

The second method I want to show you uses the Magnetic Lasso Tool, first seen in Elements 12. It’s a bit less automatic, but can give you great results. Not familiar with the Magnetic Lasso? It looks for contrast between the object you’re selecting and what’s beside it. Pick a spot to start from and click on the edge. You don’t have to hold down the mouse button, just draw a line around the edge of your object. Elements will add attachment points as you go. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be pretty good. When you get back to your starting point, you’ll see the marching ants appear around the outline of your object. As you can see in the Tool Options box, there are many ways to tidy things up. I Added the tiny feathers into the selection area using a smaller tip.

The next step is to Invert the selection. Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>I will move the edges of the selection to the background, ignoring the chick in the centre.

To change the background to black-and-white, click Enhance>Convert to Black and White… or CTRL/CMD>ALT>B. If you don’t have that option in your version of Elements, instead click Adjust Color>Adjust Saturation and pull the Saturation slider all the way to the left.

Did you know there were a variety of B&W styles? If you have the time, try the options. It’s fun! Each of these styles can be further adjusted with the color channel sliders. You can watch what happens to your image in the After pane.

For a quick selection this isn’t too bad! If your object has very smooth edges, this method can work really well and be as effortless as the Guided Edit.

This final method is achievable with all versions of Elements. It’s the most labour-intensive, and if you’ve got a very irregular edge on your desired object, it’s the one that will give you the best results. First things first – make a Copy of your photo and do all your adjustments on the Copy. You can right-click on the photo and choose Duplicate Layer, or click Layer>New> New Layer via Copy or CTRL/CMD>J. Then convert the Copy layer to B&W as I showed you above.

I wanted this B&W layer to have an even higher contrast to make the Selection part easier, so these are the adjustments I made.

ZOOMed in you can see how much easier it is to see those little feathers. Now to add a Layer Mask.

The easiest way to add a Layer Mask is to use the Layer Mask button. (Duh.) It’s the one that looks like a circle divided into two halves, one blue and one white. When you click on it, the mask appears to the right of the photo. To be positive you’re working on the MASK and not the photo itself, look for the blue outline around the blank mask.

Layer Masks are considered non-destructive edits, because they don’t Erase the image, they only conceal it – even though I’m using the Eraser Tool! If the foreground colour is white, whatever I Erase will be concealed. If I make a misstep, I can toggle the foreground colour to black and un-Erase it. I like to use a Brush tip with the Eraser Tool when working on Layer Masks because the edges are softer. The Pencil tip is more pixelated. I’ve made the original photo layer invisible. See the transparent area where I’ve removed the bird? I prefer to do that for the initial scrubbing, where I can use a big tip and go as quickly as my laptop will allow.

For the detailed areas, having the original layer visible helps to see where more touching up is needed.

I ZOOM right in so I can see exactly what I’m doing, and bring all those darned feathers back into colour. The beak and feet need attention too.

Up this close, I can see a dark edge to the beak and some of the feathers. That tells me I’ve got the precise edge where the chick meets skin. It’s not going to be noticeable when it’s back at a more usual size.

Yes, I used a 3 pixel Brush tip on some of these feathers. I actually went all the way down to 1 pixel, because that’s how I’m made. In later versions of Elements Adobe has introduced a Refine Selection Brush that I haven’t mastered yet, so I still do it the hard way. Later…

Almost there!

And this is the final result. I do like this method best for really detailed images, but isn’t it great to have some options?

As I mentioned in my last tutorial, my laptop is literally crumbling, but it still lets me get things done. I have a new one coming next week; I’m dreading the setting-up but have backed up all my important files so it should be okay. If you haven’t backed up YOUR important files, you might want to do it now, so it doesn’t get forgotten. Who wants to lose everything?!

PDF Link: https://bit.ly/3cM8l6E


Tutorial Tuesday (Fabulous Fonts)

A Baker’s Dozen of Father’s Day Fonts

It’s been a while since I showed you some new fonts, and with Father’s Day coming up I thought I’d look at the selection at dafont.com to see if I could find some more great masculine fonts to share. I have so many frilly, scripty, swashy fonts, but not so many that are more suited to the men in my life. I found a dozen that fit the bill very well and have a bonus set of dingbats at the end. (I also downloaded <coughcough> fourteen others…) Each font name is linked to the dafont.com website so you can quickly and easily grab the ones you want. Let’s have a look at what I’m liking.

First up is this one that made me laugh out loud. Daddy Cartoon is cute, but still would work for those layouts where Dad’s being silly.

Next is this Indiana Jones-inspired font Adventure. Great for titles and easy to read, this could be your go-to for your manly layouts.

Pac-Font took me right back to the early days of my marriage, when we had one little person in our house. My husband has always had a deep and abiding love for video games, and this one would be right up his alley.

I like the grunginess of Campus. It makes me think of workshops, garages, paint shops and that sort of stereotypically male environment.

This serif-style font is pretty grungy too, but in a less formal way. It’s called Sketchzone and I could see it working well for both titles and subtitles.

For some reason, this one made me think of tree houses and forts with “No Gurlz Allowed” signs. Don’t you think Drift Type would fit right in?

Woodcut immediately made me think of chisels and carving tools. A bevel added to this would turn it into a stunning alpha and it’s already shadowed!

I could see Sherlock Press as a stand-out title font for heritage layouts, with photos of men with handlebar moustaches and neatly parted hair.

Sketchup is another font that looks hand-drawn and would look wonderful on any layout about creativity.

I think Rumble Brave has a steampunk look to it. I’d probably use it for layouts filled with gears, nail heads, staples, maybe a pocket watch… Yes?

To me, 1-2-3 Go! suggests car racing, with the checkered-flag bits embedded in the characters. With a little manipulation it could be a smashing alpha.

The last font on the list is one I HAD to include after my tutorial last week. Decaying Felt Pen just made me laugh.

Now for the one dingbat that has the incongruent name Tool Font. It’s not really a font… but the silhouettes are pretty sharp!

I’ll be making a Father’s Day card and some birthday cards soon for my grand-daughter, whose birthday is June 29th, and her big brother, birthday July 1st, Maybe I’ll make one for my son-in-law whose birthday is July 3rd……. we’re THAT family. You may see one of these turn up in a tut in the coming weeks, if inspiration strikes and it’s worth sharing.
Link to PDF version of this tutorial: https://bit.ly/2SCNmfD

Designer Spotlight – June 2021


First, I want to apologise to Marina (the creative mind behind Magical Scraps Galore). We were supposed to do this chat over coffee a couple of days ago but I got knocked off schedule. So without further ado…

J: Thanks for agreeing to share a little bit about yourself and your creative process with our faithful GingerScrappers. Let’s start wit how long you’ve been designing.

M: I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary this year!

J: Wow! That’s a long time. You clearly have a passion for it! How did you get into designing?

M: I started creating my own digital papers and embellishments for scrapping our second trip to Disney World, since the digital offerings were very limited back then. It didn’t take long to realize that scrapbook design was my passion, and I started participating in the design challenges hosted by MouseScrappers. I opened my first shop in 2013 and I’ve been part of the wonderful GingerScraps family since 2014.

J: Well, that explains how you named your shop, doesn’t it? I came to GS in 2013 and quickly found it to be the friendliest digiscrapping site on the Web. What tools do you use to create your designs?

M: I use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Procreate.

J: You must be very proficient, using three different platforms. That must mean you have a dedicated design workshop. Can you tell us about it?

M: I design in my studio at home, with my two cats sleeping by my computer or on my lap. Sometimes they like to sleep ON my computer and they mess with my designs, LOL! I have to be very careful!

J: I’m not a cat person but have two dogs. One of them likes to “help” me too, by flipping my elbow up when she thinks her input is needed. She’s one of my favourite subjects though; my inspiration for scrapping comes from a lot of places. What provides your design inspiration?

M: My main motivation and inspiration are my kids and my trips around the world.

J: Do you have a favourite kit in your store? I know, it’s an unfair question.

M: It’s hard to pick just one, that’s mean, it’s like choosing your favorite child, LOL … I have several kits that I love, especially my travel collection, but one of my favorite kits is Magical Memories, it’s all about my happy place and it’s a reminder of all the magical moments I spent there with my family.

J: I’ve been to Disneyland twice, but a long time ago. The memories we made on both visits are definitely magical. On a somewhat related note, if you could have a superpower, which one would you want?

M: Teleportation, so I can travel anywhere in no time and with no jet lag!

J: YES! That would be amazing!! I used to wish I could teleport home from the hospital after a long day at work. It would be even more valuable for travel. With all the globetrotting you’ve done, have you ever met anyone famous?

M: Yes, I met Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films)

J: Interesting! The famous people I’ve met haven’t been that kind of famous. Did you ever want to be famous when you were growing up? What did you want to be?

M: I wanted to be a flight attendant or a rock star

J: Ah! So fame was in there! You might have met more rock stars as a flight attendant though. I once met a songwriter on a flight from Chicago to Edmonton, Alberta. His SONGS are famous, but not many people know who HE is. So, last question: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

M: Warning: Crazy cat lady!! LOL! I’m a huge cat lover, and if my family would let me, I’d have 10 cats or more!

J: I should have seen that coming! Thank you so much for the visit. I think our readers know you a bit better now. But ladies, don’t forget, Marina has the Daily Download throne this month as well as being in the Designer Spotlight. She’s created a beautiful summer-fun kit and oh wait!! Stop the presses!!! She’s also got an add-on bundle for even more amazingness!! Look at this sneak peak…

Cats and flamingos!! Before I forget, Marina also has a coupon for y’all. Check it out!

Thanks again, Marina! I love bringing good news to the GingerScraps world!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Digitize your Handwriting!

Last week’s digital colouring tutorial had me thinking about how I could make better use of some of my digital stamps. If you recall, I talked about the ones with white backgrounds and how that would make the technique I showed you very difficult. So I did a little snooping and found a terrific tutorial on digitizing handwriting that would work perfectly for those stamps of mine. It’s from the blog of Kelly Leigh (herecomesthesunblog.net) and it’s easy to follow, although I’ve expanded on a few steps for the beginners in our midst. Let’s proceed!

How many of you have really wanted to have journaling in your own handwriting on your digital layouts but not had a clue how to do it? This is for you! But it’s not only good for journaling… if you’ve got some mad calligraphy skills you can create your own inspirational word art, titles and whatever your imagination comes up with. All you need are a piece of white paper and a (new) black marker. And Photoshop Elements, of course. I chose a message that resonated with me for my demo. I wrote it out on my paper; my marker had seen better days and I was writing much larger than I usually do, so it’s a little ragged looking, but as a demo, it’ll work just fine. Then I took a photo of my finished writing with my cellphone. It might have looked better and been a bit less work if I’d scanned it, but that would have meant a trip downstairs and after I’d moved my (not inconsiderable) weight in potting soil yesterday, I just didn’t want to do that.

I Cropped away as much of the paper and my countertop as I could. I wanted the demo image to be large and easy to work with so I filled the entire 8.5×11″ sheet of paper. But that wouldn’t be necessary for most applications.

Here I’ve Zoomed in on my marker so you can see how less-than-awesome it looks up close. I’ll fix it with a black brush later; I could have saved myself a lot of work by using a new marker, but I didn’t have one at hand…

But first, I want to make what black there is as black as I can, and the white as white as I can. The better the contrast, the easier the technique is. I used Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels for this step.

I only adjusted the Input Levels. The left-most slider adjusts the black areas; by moving it to the right, the black gets darker. The middle slider controls the midtones, and by moving it to the right as well, it helped blacken the text too. The slider on the far right brightens the white areas so it was shifted to the left.

There are still gappy areas in the text, but that’s okay.

I just used a solid round black Brush at 100% Opacity to eliminate the gaps.

Now to the good part! To eliminate the paper, I’m going to want a transparent layer UNDER my text layer. Elements won’t allow a layer to be placed under a Background. (The italics are actually displayed for all layers Elements has determined are background layers.) So to get past that, right-click on the layer and choose Layer from Background…

The dialog box that opens allows for the layer’s name to be changed, if desired. I’m not going to bother. Make sure the tick box for Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask is NOT ticked and Color is NONE.

Once that’s done, it’s possible to drop a blank layer underneath the text layer. It’s quickest and easiest to hold down the CTRL/CMD key and click on the New Layer icon at the top of the Layers Panel to create a blank layer under any other active layer. Then I don’t have to move the new layer down the stack.

Now I’m going to use the Magic Wand tool, as shown in the Tool Panel and Tool Options menu, to remove the paper. Click in the white area and it Selects a chunk of the paper. If my paper was perfectly clean and my image too was perfectly clean, this step would probably Select ALL of the paper, But my paper and image aren’t so this will take a few clicks.

Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X removes all the paper that the Magic Wand Selected!

I went over the rest of the image and removed the paper. Where there are loops in my letters, the paper was a bit clingy, but after a few minutes I had all the paper removed. The edges of the text looked a little raggedy up close, so I CTRL/CMD>Clicked on the text layer’s thumbnail to Select the edges of the text then clicked Select>Refine Edge…

This menu looks intimidating but it really isn’t. Experiment a bit by pulling the sliders and watch what happens in the Preview pane. Don’t worry, the white you see here isn’t actually there, it’s only part of the Preview so you can see what the adjustments are doing.

However… this method of adjustment DOES produce a new layer with a Layer Mask attached. Also notice that the original text layer’s visibility is turned off. To make things easier, right-click on the new layer and choose Simplify Layer. That adds the layer mask to the layer.

What about the original layer? It’s not visible, and its invisibility doesn’t affect the text at all, so it can just be Deleted, either by right-clicking on the invisible layer then Delete Layer, or just by hitting the Delete key.

Again, that layer we added underneath the text layer isn’t necessary any more (although it was VITAL when we were removing the paper) so it can either be Merged (CTRL/CMD>E) with the text layer or just Deleted.

There! That’s all you need to know to digitize your handwriting, or to remove the background of a digital stamp. I spent some time cleaning up the text using the Brush tool and the Eraser tool but you might not need to do any of that.

If you want to change the text’s colour, that’s easy to do by filling the layer with your new colour. Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color 

This time check the tick box for Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask so that your new colour is applied to the text without any extra steps.

When the Color Picker opens up, go nuts! I like purple. The colour is applied to the text via Clipping Mask as you can see in the Layers Panel. 

The digitized text can also be Resized, Rotated, Warped, Skewed … whatever you want!

If you want to Save your new image, it should be Saved As a PNG so the background stays transparent. Save it to a folder where you can find it again, and give it a good name.

Compression should be Smallest/Slow so the details are preserved. And it doesn’t need Interlacing.

That’s all there is to it! I think I should digitize my signature so I can add it to documents. Give it a try!

PDF Link: https://bit.ly/2Ug19cH