Tutorial Tuesday (GingerScraps)

Let’s Talk Some More About Siggies

It sounds like there were a lot of people who learned something new from last week’s tutorial about using the GingerScraps Gallery. Music to my ears!! And, as sometimes happens, that tutorial led to a request for some help with another feature at GingerScraps. Corinne said, “Since Jan did a really nice job of explaining how to upload photos to the gallery, I am wondering if she could tackle the unknown world of signatures? How does one go about designing and uploading? Thank you! CorinneGinger and I discussed it and we decided it would be a good idea to do some review. I first discussed signatures in the Sizzling Signatures! post. Then last December we talked about adding links to your signatures in THIS tutorial. So some of today’s tutorial will be review, and who knows, I may have something in here that you didn’t know!

What’s a signature? What’s all the fuss about? Signatures are those beautiful little images seen at the end of posts in the GingerScraps Forum. They’re a big deal! They have their own monthly Challenge, after all. Each month the GingerBread Lady facilitating the challenge will provide a theme or some other required element for the month that form the basis to all the new siggies for that month. For May, ChristieDawn wanted to see flowers. Signatures can be as detailed or as simple as the user likes. You’ve probably seen some really fancy ones, and some really unfussy ones. They’re pretty good at showing the user’s personality and scrapping style. Some users make theirs with alphas from their stashes, like I usually do, while others make theirs with fonts. It’s completely up to the user! Now let’s get into the tutorial…

Let’s talk about the rules for using signatures at GingerScraps first though. Perhaps the most important rule is that your signature cannot link to or advertise any other shop/site. It’s fine if you want to link to your personal blog, newsletter, Facebook or the like. Also make sure your signature is suitable for all ages and audiences. If it would offend your grandmother, don’t do it. Let’s stay classy, y’all! The other important rule is the maximum size for your siggie. The guidelines say 700×150 pixels, but the Gallery has a maximum 600 pixel limit, so it’s easier and a lot less work if you just keep your signature at or under 600 pixels wide. I like to make my siggie a little smaller than the max, coming in at around 500×107. That makes it a little less in-your-face. More about that down the post. As to the shape of your signature, it doesn’t have to be a rectangle. I like to use Custom Shapes as the basis for mine. As long as the shape you choose fits into the max dimensions, you’re golden.

This bit is a little refresher. Did you know you can create and save preset file sizes? I’m going to show you how to do that. I have a 12×12″ preset for my layouts, and a 3500×750 pixel preset for my signature files. Why did I choose those numbers? Simple math. It’s 5 times the maximum size of the signature file; I work on a BIG canvas so I can see what I’m doing and make sure I actually like my results before I Resize and prepare to upload. Now, here’s how to create your own preset: File>New>Blank File

There’s what my New File menu looks like. You can see my siggie preset on there.

Starting from scratch, type in the dimensions as shown when the New File menu opens. You want Resolution at 300 pixels/inch for sharp images, RGB Color set, and the Background Contents Transparent. (Why? So that your signature file can have a clean background when you use it as your Forum siggie!)

Constructing your signature is just like creating a layout, only with different dimensions. If you need help visualizing how to create them take a look at the ones in the Signature Challenge Gallery. So what to do with your finished creation? I always save my layouts and siggies as PSD files initially in case I have to fix something. That doesn’t happen much with the siggies, but I often find typos in my journaling! Make sure you give your file a name.

Then I Resize my file to fit the desired parameters. There are two ways to get there. Image>Resize>Image Size will get you to the menu, or CTRL/CMD>ALT>I works for those who like keyboard shortcuts. When the menu opens up, type in your desired width in pixels and Elements will automatically set the height. In the middle of the menu you can see the actual size of the final product. Scale Styles, Constrain Proportions and Resample Image should be checked to get the very sharpest and best final image. As well, choose Bicubic in that box at the very bottom. Then click OK.

Then I Save the RESIZED image as a PNG. This is where having the transparent background comes in. Let’s say you have a flower or a bow that extends outside the main body of your siggie. If you Save As a JPG, the background will be stark white and when your signature shows up in your Forum posts, it’ll be visible. But by having a transparent background and a PNG file, it’ll look like it’s actually part of the page. For my siggie I used a paint smear with alligatored edges then clipped a paper to it. You’ll see what I mean a few screenshots down the road.

To preserve as much detail as possible in a tiny file like this (see the edge of it peeking out from behind the dialog box?) go with Smallest/Slow Compression and no Interlace.

Now for the fun part!! Let’s upload and add it into your Profile. If you need a review of uploading, see last week’s Tutorial. I work with two GingerScraps tabs open, one to the Gallery and one to the Forum for this part. You can click on the Settings button in either tab, but you’ll need to access your signature image in the Gallery, so I do this step in the Forum tab.

Along the left side of the GS interface you’ll see My Settings and almost at the bottom of that section Edit Signature. Click that.

This looks a little busy. It is. This is where the Edit Signature control panel lives. If this is your very first time adding a signature, you’ll still be following most of these steps, you just won’t be deleting the old one. If you’ve already got one up, you’ll see the existing signature above the Edit box, and again inside the Edit box. Right-click on the one INSIDE the Edit box and either select Cut from the dropdown menu or CTRL/CMD>X (or even just hit Delete) to remove the old one.

Pop over to the Gallery tab and right-click on the image of your signature. Choose Copy image link from the dropdown.

I like my siggie centered under my Forum posts, so I click on the Center format button (circled on the left) and then I click on the icon that looks like a photo being stretched at the corners (circled on the right).

When the Insert Image dialog box opens, right-click on the blank bar in the middle and select Paste (or just CTRL/CMD>V) to tell the site where to find your image.

Now I have my new signature in the right place, but before I click on the Save Signature button, let’s look at what’s actually there.

Click on the button I’ve outlined, which switches the editor to source mode. I wasn’t aware of this until Ginger mentioned it, so I had to check out what it does.

Holy cow!! I had no idea all those previous links were still in there!! That explains some of the gobbledygook I’ve had showing up with my siggies. The only thing that should actually be there is the very bottom one.

I highlighted all the junk and Deleted it.

Yes, that’s more like it… just the May 2021 signature is there. NOW I can click Save Signature. If you’re new to all this, maybe try Preview first to see what it’ll actually look like.

There. All good!

If you’re entering the Signature Challenge, the next images are for you. I don’t bother to put my signature file into my Challenge post in the Forum because it’s going to show up anyway. Whey have two of them in the same place? Of course, you do you. Here you can see that the lace extends past the bottom of the clipped paper and some of the flower petals and beads spill off the base. The messy edge of the clipped paper isn’t really visible unless you really squint.

Here’s a quick tip for adding your layouts to the Cookie Jar thread. I type out the name of my layout as shown. Then I highlight the text as shown by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the cursor over it. Then I click on that globe/chain icon.

I pop back to the Gallery tab, which should still be set to my siggie, and Copy the text found in the destination bar at the top of the screen where the Universal Resource Locator is. (Hold down the left mouse button, drag the cursor over the URL, right-click and choose Copy, of CTRL/CMD>C.) Return to the Forum tab and Paste the URL into the bar as shown. Click OK.

Now the name of my siggie is linked to the file in my Gallery and a simple click on it will take the viewer right to it!

I hope this was easy to follow. If not, please don’t hesitate to ask questions!!

Tutorial Tuesday (GingerScraps Gallery)

Uploading Your Layouts to the Gallery – Step-by-Step 

Sometimes we forget that we’re being joined by new GingerScrappers all the time. And we forget that not everybody has expert computer/web skills. Suzanne Powell has the added challenge of health-related obstacles and she asked if she could have some very straight-forward instructions on uploading her layouts to the Gallery. Well, of course she can!! Let’s get her up and running…

We’ll start right at the beginning, with the Home Page. Across the top, just under the site banner, is a navigation bar with buttons for each of the high-traffic areas on the site. Right in the middle is the Gallery button.

Clicking on that takes us to… the Gallery Home Page. There’s a link to the rules for the Gallery, which explain maximum image and file sizes, very important information that I’ll expand on at the end. The dark blue navigation bar has all the required Gallery functions and a counter that keeps track of all the comments left for your layouts. Just to the left of the counter is the Upload Photos button.

The Gallery command centre looks like this. At the top are some reminders about Gallery limits. It also shows how many images you’ve begun to upload process for but haven’t yet completed. (YES! It’s possible to batch-upload, but that’s a topic for another time.) In the middle of the page is where all the choices are made. I usually start by deciding which Gallery (aka album) my layout belongs in.

Right at the very top of the drop-down that opens when the little arrow is clicked is the Member Galleries area. Each person who has a Gallery at GingerScraps has her own Gallery. Every layout a member uploads is automatically sent to the Member Gallery. Each of the GingerBread Ladies has a Gallery, and each of the Challenges has a Gallery. More about that in a second. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to Members to create their own online albums in the Gallery, but it is possible to add specific layouts to one’s own personal My Favorites album.

The typeface for these Galleries is very small, and Suzanne is having particular trouble with that. Did you know you can Zoom in on your screen the same way you can Zoom in on your layouts? Holding down the CTRL/CMD key and clicking the + sign Zooms in to 110%. The sharpness of the display is affected a little but not enough to be an issue. A second click on the + sign brings the size to 125% and a third click to 150%. Reversing it is easy, CTRL/CMD and the – key does the job.

Before we move on, be aware that navigating the Gallery list isn’t as simple as it sounds. You may have to scroll (slowly) down the list to find the one you’re looking for, particularly if you’re uploading Challenge layouts. You want to be positive you’re putting it into the correct YEAR‘s Gallery. When missdamsel goes looking for your layouts to verify your monthly Cookie Jar count, she won’t include it if she can’t find it! The problem with the Challenges yearly galleries is that they’re not in chronological order, so take the extra minute or so to make sure you’re in the right place!

Once you’ve chosen the Gallery you’re uploading to, it’s time to upload that layout! Click the Choose File button and then find your layout. As you can see, I use a folder system to keep everything easily located. It looks cumbersome but I find it really streamlines certain parts of the process. Click on your image, then click the Open button.

Once you’ve selected the image for upload, this menu opens up. This is a busy image, so I’ve numbered each of the things that need some expansion.

  1. Make sure you’ve got the correct Gallery! you can change it if you need to.
  2. Make sure you’ve got the correct image!
  3. Give your layout a name.
  4. In the Description box, break down your layout and provide credits to the Designer(s) whose product you’ve used. You can also include your journaling here if it’s hard to read on the (itsy-bitsy) image, and any other detail you think is important.
  5. Decide whether you want other Members to be able to make comments on your layouts, and whether you want to be notified when someone gives you some love. (Who doesn’t??)

When you’re satisfied you’ve got everything the way you want it, click Upload/Submit.

Almost there! This seems like a redundancy, but it’s a vital step. If your image is too big, this is where the system will tell you so. The maximum size is 600 x 600 pixels for the image and 500 kB for the file size. Check to see that your layout thumbnail is there. Sometimes the Gallery Gremlins toss out your credits, or they don’t like your title, especially if you’ve used punctuation or a special character. As you can see, part of my title is gone, because I had an apostrophe in it. Everything from the apostrophe on – poof. BUT!! I can add all of it back in here and it’ll be fine. My credits are right there. Perfect. And here’s where you can decide if you want to put your layout into more than one Gallery. The caveat to that is this: each of the Galleries you choose here will count as an individual layout for your daily upload limit, which is 8 images. If you’ve got several layouts you’re uploading at one time, you’ll get a message telling you you’re over your limit when you’re really not. Never fear… ObiJanKenobi has a work-around! Just select a single Gallery in this step. Then, when you’ve completed the process, you can go back and Edit Photo, adding in all the Galleries you want. Easy-peasy! This is also where you can add in some keywords describing your layout, such as the Challenge name, or some other descriptor that will be searchable later.

When you’ve filled in all the blanks and have all the information you need in there, you can click Process.

And there it is! The most recent layout added to my personal Gallery is first on the list. The title is correct, the image is correct and it’s all good!

Would you like a tutorial on batch uploading? Or do you think you can figure it out on your own? Lemme know!

Before I go, I want to give a shout-out to the one and only GINGER who gets these tutorials into PDF form so you can save them to your own computers. I think it’s been a game-changer!

{This is Ginger jumping in to add the PDF … Awe thanks for the shout-out Jan, you’re the best!}
Here is the PDF version of this tutorial: https://bit.ly/3vCfa1u

Designer Spotlight: May 2021

Miss Fish and Shepherd Studio!

What a hectic day today is… {inter}National Scrapbook Day, the May Buffet, all the new Challenges and of course, the Designer Spotlight. I’m running behind, as usual, but I’ve got the goods on the two amazing GingerBread Ladies in the Spotlight this month and they’re coming right up! Juli is the oh-so-talented brain behind the Miss Fish template empire and Jenn is the creator of Shepherd Studio.

Welcome to the GingerScraps Blog, ladies. Let’s get to know you both a bit better.


Jan: Can you describe your workspace for us?

Jenn: It desperately wants to be clean, but it’s usually not.

Juli: This year I expanded my workspace to two locations in my house. I have a downstairs workstation in our Family Room so I can design while my husband and I watch TV. I also have a workspace in my work-from-home office space in the sitting area of our master bedroom. This way I can design at lunch and early in the morning. I find it’s nice to be able to move between spaces to get a break throughout the day. I use a laptop and have an external hard drive that I move between stations to keep all my designs.

Jan: I can really relate Jenn! What one word would your family and friends use to describe you?

Juli: Helpful – I always like to help my family and friends.  If you are having a party, I’m your girl.  Invite me over and I’ll cook, help you set up, clean and anything else you need. 

Jenn: Sincere

Jan: I like to think I’m a bit of both. Jenn, what would your perfect vacation look like?

Jenn: Someplace cold with beautiful natural scenery (fingers crossed I get to Antarctica some day!)

Jan: Ooh, have you been to Canada? There are so many places here that are amazing in winter! Juli, this is an oddball question, but a fun one. Are you more likely to sing or dance in the shower?

Juli: Definitely sing.  If I danced in the shower I’d probably fall!

Jan: A year ago my answer to that would be the same as yours. Our new house has a huge walk-in shower and I’ve been known to do a little dancin’ in there! So, now that spring is upon North America, do either of you have a green thumb? I’m going to make the rounds of the garden centres with my daughter next weekend.

Jenn: I do and I used to plant flowers and plants for my grandparents every Spring. They’ve both been gone for many years now and I haven’t planted much of anything since. But our yard blooms every Spring and turns the most beautiful shades of green. I like to think it’s because they’re shining down on us.

Jan: My yard is always a work in progress. I love getting dirty. What did you want to be when you were small? 

Jenn: A paleontologist – I still have a deep love for all things dinosaur.

Juli: I wanted to be a teacher.  Part of my full-time job is teaching doctors and people on my team – so my dream kind of came true.

Jan: I never really saw myself in a teaching role, but here I am… Nursing involves a LOT of teaching and I like to think I’m pretty good at it. Tell me, Juli… What’s your dream car?

Juli: An Audi R8 convertible in red.

Jan: That would be a sweet ride for sure! Jenn, who would you choose to play you if a movie was made about your life?

Jenn: Kate Winslet!

Jan: She’s fabulous. And beautiful! Imagine if you won the lottery. What would you do?

Jenn: Retire and travel the world.

Juli: I would quit my real-life job and start a consulting company.  I’d also buy a house on the water and a boat so my husband and I could spend more time relaxing. 

Jan: Nice!! I’m really jumping around here… thank you for just going with it. Juli, what are your favourite and most hated colours?

Juli: My most favorite colors are blue and yellow.  My least favorite colors are brown and orange.

Jan: I don’t love brown or orange either! Still your turn – What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for coffee?

Juli: President Obama. I’d love to hear what it was like to be the first black president and what his plans are for the future. 

Jan: He’s a fascinating man. That would be an experience for sure! We’re almost done… now for the hard questions. If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Jenn: Occasionally spicy!!

Juli: My warning label would say just do what she asks and everything will be just fine.  Otherwise, watch out! 

Jan: Mine would be a mile long! And to close out our chat, the really dreaded question: if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it?

Juli: I would change my weight. I’d love to be back to the size I was in college.  Then exercising and staying fit would be so much easier! 

Jenn: I’d love to be in better health.

Jan: I think you’re both in good company there. Thank you so much for sharing a little peek into your inner selves, and for sharing your talents with us too. Remember GingerScrappers, the Designers in the Spotlight also provide the monthly Daily Download, links found here on the Blog, AND s/he/they host the Designer Spotlight Challenge (linked above) too. Enjoy your Spotlight, ladies! Thanks again!!



Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Selectively Colouring Your Brushes

I apologize for the slightly-late breaking tutorial. Technical difficulties with my laptop yesterday had me at the absolute limit of my tolerance for frustration (and the limits of my attention span!). By the time I got it sorted out it was time for bed… and I’m sleeping a lot, still. Anyway, let’s see what I’ve been playing with. I hope you like it!

I have quite a collection of brushes in my stash; the brushes created by the designers at GS are fantastic and there’s always a free one in the Challenge forum each month. I chose one of those monthly challenge brushes from ADB Designs for this technique (and then asked myself why I picked such a complex one…) and recoloured EVERYTHING. I chose a neutral paper from the GingerBread Ladies‘ collab Christmas of Long Ago. It has s bit of glitter, and I love it. I put my brush on its own layer – it’s a really good habit to get into – so I can play with it without messing up anything else. This is the time to adjust the size of your brush image, because it’s not easy once all the colours have been added.

I added an Adjustment layer to the top of my layer stack by clicking on the two-tone circle icon at the top of the layers panel and then choosing Solid Color… from the drop-down menu.

This is where you get to be creative. The fun part. I’ve got flowers so my colour choices are flowery colours. I used the Color Picker, but the Eye Dropper tool and the colours in your photos or paper choices are also possibilities.

My brush is still there, behind the solid colour Adjustment layer. To apply the colour to the brush, I right-clicked on the Adjustment layer and chose Create Clipping Mask from the drop-down menu.

Depending on the brush you’ve chosen, this might be all you need to do to it! But if you want to add more colours, there are a few more steps.

Next I converted my Adjustment layer/clipping mask to a LAYER MASK by Inverting it. CTRL/CMD>I and the mask turns black. It’s supposed to do that.

I made sure my foreground colour was white. When working with Layer Masks, white reveals and black conceals. Then I selected the Brush tool for a Basic round brush. You can use hard or soft for this part, but a hard brush will give you sharper edges and will be easier to control. You’ll need to adjust the size of the brush as needed to get you into the nooks and crannies of your brush, but use the largest size you can wherever possible to make the job go faster.

Then I decided which of my flowers would be that lilac colour and “painted” them pale purple with my brush. If you look at the layer in the layers panel you can see on the mask where I’ve recovered the colour.

Let’s do another colour. I clicked on the brush layer and then the two-tone circle icon and chose Solid Color… from the drop-down. Doing it this way eliminates the Create Clipping Mask step!

Here I chose a hot pink from the Color Picker. See how the parts of the brush I’ve already masked show up as pale purple and everything else is pink? This shows where the colour will go and where it won’t on this Adjustment layer.

Then I again Inverted the layer mask by clicking CTRL/CMD>I. Now I can choose the flowers that should be pink.

As I worked, I discovered that all the areas I’d already masked on the lilac layer stay masked on the other layers. That meant that where my pink flowers butted up to my purple flowers, I didn’t have to be as cautious and precise as I painted in my pinks. If my brush rode over into the purple it didn’t matter. But I DID still have to be careful around the black and gray areas.

Time for a new colour! To recap: Click on the brush layer, then the two-tone circle icon and choose Solid Color… from the drop-down menu.

This time I decided on a golden-brown for some of the foliage.

With the mask layer Inverted (CTRL/CMD>I) I painted back in the frondy-looking foliage.

Then I added some blue… Look at the layer masks and see all the areas I’ve already masked. Each layer is a little less fiddly because more and more of the brush is masked.

I found parts of the brush that I’d overlooked that should have been one or another of the colours I’d already used, so I clicked on the LAYER MASK of the layer with the colour I should have used and added those bits to the existing mask.

The result wasn’t as awesome as I’d hoped it would be, but I learned a bunch about this technique. So I found a different brush I could play with and when it was time to paint in the colours I chose, I used a misty water-colour brush. I adjusted the size and angle of the brush as I randomly painted in the colour areas. Now THIS I love!

Can you see yourself giving this one a try? I’m going to make it part of my automatic activities, I think!

The PDF version of today’s tutorial is HERE.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

3D Photos – Yes, You CAN!

Thank you all so much for your kind messages of support! I feel a lot better, although I really poop out quickly if I’m doing something strenuous. And brain fog is a real thing. I’m thankful that my husband and son didn’t catch COVID from me and that we’ll all be vaccinated soon.

So, given I’m still having some issues with concentration and attention, I’ve whipped up a little trick I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’m going to show you how to give a photo a 3D look. It’s not exactly what I was trying for, and I may play with it some more, but it’s still a neat look. The inspiration for this goes back a long way, to a Canadian TV show called Ancestors in the Attic (2001-2006), where the images on the screen had an obvious 3D look to them. I didn’t quite get it right, but I like it anyway.

If you decide to try this, I recommend looking for a photo with sharp contrast between the subject you want to bring forward and its background. I chose this photo I took in Las Vegas quite a few years ago. The flamingo wasn’t too difficult to extract. I’m not going to do a step-by-step review of extracting, but you can try any of the methods I’ve shown you here and here. I went with a Layer Mask so I wouldn’t have to think too much!

To be able to have the control needed to go forward, I Simplified the extraction layer. Right-click on the layer in the Layers panel, then choose Simplify Layer.

Next I added a drop shadow, using a shadow styles set from Karen Schulz. (It’s named for Snickerdoodles Designs, her former moniker.) In this set there are actually two 3D shadow styles, right at the top of the list. I chose the second one. It’s not quite right, but easily fixed.

To adjust Layer Styles, double-click on the fx symbol on the layer you’re adjusting. This menu opens up with the defaults for the style you used. First, I made sure the shadow on my flamingo was falling in the same direction as the shadows already in the photo. Don’t overlook this step! Otherwise it’ll look really faked. I increased the Size (which softens the edge), the Distance (which makes the shadow wider/larger) and the Opacity. I went all the way to 100%. The 3D effect shows now.

Here’s the original for comparison purposes.

And with the extraction and shadow…

Then, just for fun, I Copied the extraction layer and changed its Blend Mode to Luminosity. What do you think?

I might try this with a photo of the mountains we see from our deck, and maybe I’ll be able to fine-tune it. Who knows? It’ll be fun trying it.

Here is the PDF version of this tutorial: https://bit.ly/3h2BEFb


Tutorial Tuesday (Postponed)

I wanted to drop by and let you all know that I haven’t written a tutorial for this week, and to tell you why. On April 2, I tested positive for COVID. The symptoms I’d attributed to allergies… weren’t. I was in full isolation until yesterday; I had a “mild” case of the disease, but it has taken a lot out of me. Nine days of fever and ten days of continuous headache were not fun. I’m expected to recover completely but I’m really fatigued and having a lot of trouble concentrating. With rest and some TLC from my family (so far healthy!), I hope to have a new tutorial for you next week.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Gradient Border Masks – So Many Options!

The other day, I got a message from Ginger that a customer was looking for information on how to use Lindsay Jane‘s border masks, and wanted to know if I had a tut for that. Well, I didn’t. The customer specified she had Border It 28, so I popped over to the shop and bought them. And then I played with them.

A close-up look at one of the border masks reveals a gradient effect. What this means is that whatever is Clipped to it will also have a gradient. Where the mask is solid black, the paper or photo clipped to it will be 100% visible. As the mask becomes more transparent, more of the paper behind it will show through. This can be a really interesting look, but it’s going to require some experimentation to find a look that appeals to the beholder.

I’m using papers from a retired kit from Lindsay Jane‘s store, called Denim and Flowers. I’ve pulled a couple of solids and a couple of patterns to play with. Let’s give it a shot!

I love the retro look of these patterned papers. This lavender one is so pretty.

There are actually 3 ways to achieve the same result of Clipping papers to masks. Clicking on Layer>Create Clipping Mask is one. Right-clicking on the paper layer then choosing Create Clipping Mask is the second. The keyboard shortcut method was changed in Version 14. Prior to V14, CTRL/CMD>G works. Version 14 and later the keyboard shortcut is CTRL/CMD>ALT>G.

Well, guess what?!! I don’t have the bottom of the mask right at the bottom of the background paper. Easy to fix.

Because this mask has what looks like rows of stitches, I decided to see what it looks like with a shadow style applied to it.

More experimentation. It’s the only way to know what will work and what won’t for this kind of mask.

Yeah… not loving this look! This is why I believe Undo (CTRL/CMD>Z) is a digi-scrapper’s best friend.

This look reminds me of a t-shirt I had when I was 19! I made 2 Copies of the striped mask and spread them out evenly then Merged the mask layers. (Right-click and choose Merge Layers or CTRL/CMD>E) Then I Clipped the flowery paper to the solid. That combo could be a nice background for a spring layout.

Ewwww. Nope!! Don’t like this look at all!

This one is okay. It’s not my favourite, but it looks okay.

Don’t forget that you have lots of other tools at your disposal. Blend Modes and Opacity changes are two of those, Here I’ve taken the blue-floral-on-green-solid and changed the Blend Mode of the floral PAPER layer to Luminosity.

If I change the Blend Mode on the MASK layer to Luminosity, this is what it looks like.

Here I’ve just decreased the Opacity of the MASK layer to 75%. (Decreasing the Opacity of the PAPER would only allow more of the black/gray of mask to show through.)

The solid navy blue paper is actually a denim, so this look is going to be a fun one, I just know it!

YES! Again, I’m thrown back to the 70s!! My very first pair of bell bottoms was navy with tiny flowers. This look though reminds me of the time I opened up the outside seam at the bottom of my straight jeans and sewed in a wedge of floral fabric, turning them into bell bottoms.

This might be fun… I’m going to Merge these mask layers into a single one.

Now that I’ve played with these masks and papers a bit, I’m getting a sense of what will work and what won’t.

That’s pretty close to what I expected. I like it.

But the navy blue is a tad harsh, so I dropped the Opacity of the MASK layer to 50%. I like this look a bit better.

But papers aren’t the only option for Clipping to these masks. What does a photo look like? I chose this stock photo because of the pinecones.

Repeating shapes!

I really do think this stripped mask is my favourite. Again, I lined up 3 Copies of it and Merged them together. Then I Copied the mask layer and Rotated it 90°. Plaid! This is just the masks with their Opacity decreased to 50% at this point and might be what you like.

Here I’ve clipped the floral paper to each of the mask layers. I love this look!

Can you think of other ways to make use of these masks? Please feel free to share in the Comments!!

I hope this tutorial makes sense. I’ve been under the weather and I’m not at the top of my game. Thanks for bearing with me!

Here is the PDF version of this tutorial : https://bit.ly/3cSdBGm

Designer Spotlight: April 2021

The Cherry on Top!

Lisa, the designer also known as The Cherry on Top, didn’t have time to sit for an interview so she instead sent me a little bio. Here she is in her own words:

Lisa-Lisa here, from The Cherry On Top.
I grew up State side, where I worked as a teacher.  What a wonderful job to have.  I often found myself underwhelmed by the typical curriculum and so I created a lot of my own, more visually appealing activity sheets and encouraged the kids to also show more creativity in their work. History can be pretty boring for most. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that even teenagers liked to construct scrapbooks to show off their knowledge of historical events.  I didn’t realize, at the time, that I was actually “designing” digitally.  I had next to no program or computer experience.  I even struggled learning how to do e-mail.  Ha!
I originally started scrapbooking traditionally and took those skills with me, over the pond, to Belgium, where I presently reside.  I wanted to make something that I couldn’t find anywhere in paper format.  So, I scoured the internet looking for images and “pieced” together exactly what I needed.  Funnily enough, I thought I invented digital scrapbooking, until I stumbled across the digital scrapbooking world.
I dove in the deep end!  After a couple of months, I was on a praise team at Scrap Take Out where I met a lot of fantastic designers like Fran B and Amanda from A-Manda Creation.  Slowly, I worked myself on to Creative Teams.  At one point, I was on 28 teams.  Talk about a junky! Ironically, I despised templates.  I still cannot get over the grudge I had against them.  Until I realized what a wonderful starting point or catalyst they can be.  Especially, when your mojo is low or the inspiration just isn’t there.  Now, they are my passion.
I find ideas for templates, everywhere.  In an advertisement, greeting card, sketch, nature…I’m always coming up with new ideas, techniques and I make designing unique, easy to use templates my main objective.  They truly are a wonderful tool and certainly an excellent way to learn how to digital scrapbook.  They save so much time, too.
I started off using PowerPoint to scrapbook.  I know, right?!  Then I moved to My Memories for a few years and then Photoshop Elements.  I still mostly use Elements.  It is incredibly user friendly and perfect for designing templates, for the most part.  Occasionally, I jump over to PS when PSE doesn’t offer a particular function I need and I’m pretty sure, that one of these days I’ll morph over to PS, but I still have so much to learn in PSE.
I do design a lot of other products besides templates, but templates are still my favorite.
Thanks for letting us get a peek into your creative process Lisa! Ladies, don’t forget that Lisa‘s also presenting the Daily Download this month. And she has a $2 coupon for her GingerScraps store (linked above in pink): the code is tcotspotlight.
See you again soon!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

A 3D Title with Punch!

Thanks again to Ellen (gmae) we have another quick technique that has a great deal of appeal. Magical Scraps Galore has a a travel kit with some great title word art in it, called Destinations: Road Trip. The title Ellen particularly liked is the Road Trip one, but she wanted to use a different title in the same style. She messaged me that she tried to get this figured out on her own and eventually succeeded, but she knew there had to be a better way than stumbling around experimenting and undoing for hours. After all, that’s what I’m here for. 🙂 After a little thought and (not very much) experimentation, I can tell you, this does the trick and it’s not a ton of work. So let’s get started!

For this little demo I’m using a pretty striped yellow alpha from the GingerBread LadiesSunny Days collab. You can absolutely use a font if you choose, but each individual letter will need to be on its own layer. I opened up a 12×12 document on my workspace.

The first step is to create a elliptical shape to give the lower curve to the title. I pulled out a Custom Shape ellipse as shown. Whatever colour you have in your foreground is fine; I just had white already there. The ellipse should be slim and long, a sort of cigar-shape.

Remember, Custom Shapes are Smart Objects, meaning the pixels in it are locked and there’s not much you can do with them as is. I’ll be manipulating this shape so I right-clicked on the layer and hit Simplify Layer.

I want a Copy of the ellipse, which can be achieved in two ways: right-click on the layer and hit Duplicate Layer (then click OK on the pop-up menu), or simply by CTRL/CMD>J.

I enlarged the second ellipse quite a lot. My title only has 6 letters, but it’s still going to need some room.

I opened up a new blank layer on top of the larger ellipse by clicking on the sheet-of-paper icon at the top left of the layers panel, then I CTRL/CMD>clicked on the ellipse’s layer thumbnail (that little picture at the left side of the layer in the layers panel) to Select the edge of the ellipse. Boom Marching ants.

With the BLANK layer active and a contrasting colour in the foreground, I hit Edit>Stroke (Outline) Selection.

This Stroke can go wherever. I just had Inside already selected and it’s not important for this step. I want the Stroke to be easily seen so I have black and 10 pixels set.

Now that I have a visible outline of the large ellipse on its own layer, the larger ellipse has served its purpose and can be Deleted. Right-click>Delete Layer or simply CTRL/CMD>D.

These two layers will be the guide for positioning my letters. They will sit on the edge of the smaller ellipse and stretch to touch the edge of the larger ellipse. To get that flare at the end of the title, the smaller solid ellipse needs a tilt.

After I looked at the gap for a minute or so, I decided the flare needed some more adjustment so I tilted the larger ellipse a bit in the opposite direction.

I have my guides in place, so now I can add my letters. For this step I’m just going to put them all on the canvas and position them so the bottoms are touching the solid, smaller ellipse.

As I’m placing them into the gap, I’m Resizing so the top is touching the edge of the larger ellipse.

Once all the letters were inside the gap, I took a long look at them. I could just stop here and have an interesting and eye-catching title.

If you’re still with me, I’m now going to Image>Transform>Distort each letter so that they more closely follow the contours of my guides.

All I’ve done is Move the corners of the Bounding Box so that they’re touching the edges of each ellipse. You can see that the sides of the Bounding Box have remained perpendicular to the bottom of the page.

To review: Image>Transform>Distort

then move the corners of the Bounding Box so they touch the edges of the ellipses. Don’t change the orientation of the letter.

Here you can see what I mean about the length of your title related to the size of your ellipses. After all the letters have been placed, the ellipse layers can be deleted.

Now onward to getting that 3D look! Add a blank layer UNDER the first letter. You can start with it on top by clicking on the sheet-of-paper, and then move it down. Or you can hold down the CTRL/CMD key and click on the sheet-of-paper and it’s just go there by itself. With the BLANK layer active, CTRL/CMD>click on the first letter’s layer thumbnail to Select the edge.

Next I’m going to enlarge the selected area: Select>Modify>Expand… and my BLANK layer is still the active layer.

The pop-up menu is asking how much to Expand my Selection. 10 pixels is about right.

And there it is. See how the marching ants have moved away from the letter’s edge? Verifying… on the BLANK layer, now I’ll Fill that selected area using pure white and the Paint Bucket tool.

The real 3D look comes from adding shadows to each layer. I used some shadow styles from Karen Schulz. You can find them here.

Let’s review again. Open a new blank layer under the next letter. CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail for the next letter to Select the edge. Select>Modify>Expand the Selection by 10 pixels. Fill the new Selection with white on the BLANK layer.

This 10 pixel setting will be saved until you change it, or exit from the software, although that doesn’t always reset it to the default. You can keep the Paint Bucket tool active as you work through the letters, which really saves time.

When all the letters have been shadowed, my title is essentially done.

I’ll make sure when I move the letters that I’ve got both layers active, otherwise I’ll be messing it up. The nice part about using a shadow Style is that any changes I make to the layers now will be followed by the Style. That’s to say, the lighting angle, size and opacity will stay the same. (Did you notice I missed a couple of my layers when I was Shadowing? I went back and Copied the Style onto those layers.)

If there are overlapping letters, I’ll shift them a bit so there’s a space between each. There was an overlap at the R and the I, so I’ve “kerned” them.

When I was happy with the way my title looked, I Activated all the layers so I could Merge them into a single layer to make using the title easier. Merging can be done either by right-clicking on one of the Active layers and hitting Merge Layers, or by CTRL/CMD>E.

And it’s done.

Is that what you were looking for, Ellen?

Here is the PDF version of this tutorial : https://bit.ly/3sVF93i


Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

I Love a Curvy Border


(Bold, coloured text indicates I’ve linked that text to either a designer’s store or a specific kit/collection.)

I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one with a huge pile of old scrapbooking magazines, and that I’m also not the only one to go through them looking for ways to translate what they hold into a digital version. Ellen (gmae) messaged me about a scrapbooking mag she had that was dated sometime in 2007, a Better Homes and GardensUltimate Guide to Digital Scrapbooking” with step-by-step instructions. The instructions were based on Photoshop Elements 4.0… should be a piece of cake, right? WRONG! I remember trying to follow some of those magazine instructions and being completely lost. Ellen tried to follow the steps for creating a curved clipping mask, like the sort some of our amazing designers sometimes include in their collections, but she couldn’t get past the second step and she asked for help. So I rolled up my sleeves and gave the instructions a spin. And got hung up. At the second step. They totally didn’t make sense. So today, I’m going to show you how to make a curved paper border for your layouts step by step and anybody will be able to follow the instructions!

I think the easiest way to make this work well for you, I recommend opening a canvas on your workspace in the same size as your scrapbook layouts. I always do 12×12, but I know lots of people like the 8 1/2×11 format so you do you. then, using the Rectangle Marquee tool pull out a skinny vertical rectangle as shown.

The next step is to fill the Selection (your skinny rectangle) with a solid colour.

The magazine said to use Edit>Fill Selection and white at 100% opacity so I’ll show you that method. Using the Paint Bucket would work just as well.

And it’ll look like this when you’ve Filled it.

We’ve played around with Filters quite a bit recently and we’re going to do it again today. This time it’ll be Filter>Distort>Shear…

Here is what the default controls for this Filter look like. The two most important parts are the vertical line inside the upper box and the Preview image in the lower box.

To demonstrate what manipulating that vertical line does I simply grabbed the “handle” – that black dot at the very top of the line – and moved it over horizontally to the left. See what happens to the Preview? I love that they’ve put a grid there to make achieving symmetry easier.

To begin with the default setting only has the two “handles” at top and bottom. But you can create a new handle anywhere along that line. Here you can see I put one right in the centre and pulled it one block over to the right, and the stripe follows that curve.

I’ve created a sine wave in this image. The thing to note here is that when you make a deep curve like this, you’re not going to have perfectly parallel outer edges to your stripe, not that it matters much.

You can make your curves as plentiful and deep as you want.


Use the grid! It’s a great tool!

For my imaginary layout I’m going to put the curved border over along the left side so I moved my final camel-hump curved stripe over there. Only problem is I don’t want my background paper to show through at the edge so I’ll need to Fill those two voids.

Here’s where the Paint Bucket rushes to the rescue. All I need to do is dump some white paint into those holes and I’ll have a complete clipping mask.

To see the clipping mask in action I Clipped a paper from Ooh La La Scraps‘s I Heart You kit to my mask. (Sorry for the typo on the screenshot. JSS and OLL are the same person and I sometimes mix them up! BTW… the BUNDLE is on sale today for just $5.00!!!) The keyboard shortcut for clipping is CTRL/CMD>G for versions up to 14 and CTRL/CMD>ALT>G for versions 14 and up.

Because I wanted to see if I could make sense of the directions in the magazine, I followed their third step, which was to Duplicate the curved clipping mask layer to create a white border. I think a Stroke would do that with fewer steps, but okay. Let’s do it. Only problem? When I Duplicated the mask layer, the paper was “released” from the clipping mask! Now I have to redo clipping the paper to the mask again. So yeah, Stroke borders are the way to go!

I nudged the bottom curved mask layer over to the right so it moves out from under the paper and now there’s a white border.

For fun, I created another curved clipping mask, this time with four relatively symmetrical bumps on it. I clipped a paper from ADB DesignsThe Storyteller kit to it. I think the two papers look good together.

Here’s a refresher on using Strokes to add a border. Edit>Stroke (Outline Selection) opens this menu. Decide how wide you want your Stroke and choose a colour for it. Make it 100% Opacity and you can put it wherever you like. I just went Outside because that’s what I used last. 😉

It’s a lot simpler to do a Stroke border. It looks pretty similar but uses fewer steps.

I made one more randomly bumpy border using the same steps and clipped another of ADB‘s papers to it. To give the appearance of paper layers, they need a drop shadow. Feel free to use a shadow Style if you like. I did mine using my tried-and-true method and now there’s some dimension to the border.

Some things I discovered: 1) Subsequent border masks have to be made on their own canvases. The Filter doesn’t understand what you want if there’s already one Shear filter present. 2) When you use the Distort>Shear… Filter and want to do the same technique on a new object, it will return you to whatever curves you used last, unless you close your Elements and reopen it – and who wants to do that?!! So prepare to be a little more challenged on those new curves. 3) To fill the area along the edge of your subsequent border masks, drag out a rectangle with your Rectangle Marquee tool that touches the free edge on the one side and sits inside the filled part of the stripe on the other. Then dump some paint into the rectangle with the Paint Bucket. Easy peasy.

Maybe you’ll be able to work this technique into a Survivor layout. That would be pretty sweet! See you next week.
Here is the link to this weeks PDF version: https://bit.ly/3vN9S4e