Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Still MORE Fun with FONTS!! 

We’ve done a lot of cool things with fonts, but I know there are still so many even cooler things to try. Last week I bought a new font bundle from The Hungry JPEG, a selection of vintage fonts for a smokin’ hot deal. It’s not as if I’ll ever have too many fonts, right?

Anyway, while I was downloading these fonts, several of which were actually font families, I looked at the samples the site uses for advertising and it hit me… Why not try layering two fonts from the same family and see what happens? Font families are a collection of very similar fonts with some subtle differences; there may be a regular, a bold, a light, an outline, a grungy and an italic version, for example. This tutorial was fun for me, because I really didn’t know what it would look like when I was finished, but the idea was firmly in my head and I had to try it. I impressed myself so much I needed to widen the doorways. But… it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to. It’s BETTER!

I went through my fonts, using High Logic’s Main Type, to find a font family that would hopefully give me the look I could see in my head. The one that looked most promising is called Nomos, by Cruzine Design. It has several variations on the basic font, so I went with it. I started with Nomos Regular Regular for my basic title. I selected a medium gray to be my starting colour from one of the papers I used in my layout. And I set the size at 100 pixels, knowing I’d probably resize it to fit my canvas. Remember, I usually create my title on its own canvas, sizing the basic working space to approximate the area I want it to fill. No distractions, nothing to work around. So once I decided on my font and colour, I opened a 5 1/2 x 1 1/2 transparent canvas on my workspace.

I typed out my one-word title, then resized it to almost fit my space. I made a careful mental note of the exact size of the final font so I wouldn’t have any guesswork for the next step.

Then I went back to my fonts and chose an outline version of the same font. It’s called Nomos Inline Inline. (I don’t know why the designer used so much repetition in titling…)

I Simplified the original layer then turned its visibility off. Why Simplify? When working with fonts in PSE, if you DON’T simplify the layer, then select a different font for your next text layer, that first layer will morph to that new font. And you might not notice it until MUCH later and have to go back and fix it. So don’t forget to Simplify once you’re satisfied with spelling, grammar and punctuation. After that, I typed out my title exactly the same as the first layer, only in white this time. And I resized it to the same size as my original layer. Here’s where the people really paying attention can give me the gears. My resized font is 114.31 pixels.

They weren’t in exactly the same place on the workspace, but it looks really cool just like this! If it was what I was after I’d just have gone with it. But I envisioned something more, so I kept going.

PSA: Simplify your text layers!!

I wanted the two layers stacked perfectly, white over gray, so I used the Move Tool Options to Align the layers, first by Center then by Middle.

I turned off the gray layer again and concentrated on the white outline layer. I clicked on the Layer thumbnail to select the edges of the letters as shown below.

I want the white sections to be thinner so more of the gray shows through, so I clicked Select>Modify>Contract. I didn’t want to lose too much, so I went with a single-digit shrink of 7 pixels.

If you look closely you can see where the new lines of marching ants have appeared. I’m now going to DELETE those sections. CTRL/CMD>X

Ah! Not exactly what I was expecting, but really, really neat!

I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like with the gray layer on. I wanted to add some dimension to the white layer, which I did by using a Simple Sharp Pillow Emboss bevel style, one of the integrated styles the software comes with.

It looked really good, but just a little TOO… too. Easily fixed by adjusting the bevel settings.

I clicked on the fx icon on the white layer and made the bevel much smaller. I think it looks like inlaid enamel and chrome, don’t you? Now I’m itchy to try this with other fonts and see what different effects I can achieve just by layering two fonts. Who knew it would be so much fun?

Here is my finished layout. It’s for the Designer Spotlight Challenge this month and was created with pieces of 3 kits by Connie Prince and a template from Trixie Scraps. The people in the photo are my grandparents; it was taken in the summer of 1961. By the following Easter he was gone; this is one of only 2 photos I have of him where he doesn’t have a cigarette in his hand. I see a little bit of my dad in each of them, and my sister’s eyes crinkle in the same way Grandma’s do. I’d never noticed it before, so this was a labour of love.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Everything New is Old Again

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Today’s technique is going to turn a sort of ho-hum colour photo into something that looks like a vintage one. It will work with any colour photo at all, but it looks best when there’s lots of detail and texture.

To begin, I opened my photo in Elements then selected Guided Edit. When the menu shown below opened up, I selected Fun Edits>Old Fashioned Photo. These Guided Edits transform photos with only a couple of clicks and a little tweaking.

There are three presets in this menu as shown below.

The first preset is called Newspaper. And it looks a lot like those black-and-white photos found in any newspaper. There’s a good amount of contrast and sharp details.

The second preset is Urban. It’s a little softer but grungier.

The last one is Vivid; it looks like a happy medium between the first two. It’s the one that adds the most oomph to the sky.

I liked the look of Vivid for this photo. The next step is Adjust Tone. The effect it has on the photo is pretty subtle, and you might not really see it.

It’s just a little bit brighter, and perhaps the details are a tad bit sharper. Clicking on this tool multiple times doesn’t add any further effect.

Let’s add some texture. Unlike the previous step, multiple clicks will increase the amount of “texture” which actually is more properly called noise.

It’s looking really interesting, but we still need to add some colour.

Shown below are the default settings for the colour adjustment.

I made some very slight changes to the settings, warming up the colour just a hint, adding a tiny bit more saturation and lightening it up a barely-there amount.

I like how dramatic the sky looks with this Edit. Then I clicked the Next button.

Here’s where you decide what you’re going to do with your photo. If you plan to use it right away for a layout, or if you want to make more adjustments to it, obviously you’ll click In Expert.

When the Expert workspace opens, you’ll see right away that all the changes you’ve made have been done on a copy of your photo.

Let’s play a little more. Remember Blend Modes? I tried them all on this photo. Some looked really interesting, some where downright HORRIBLE. The ones I’ll show you are the ones that didn’t make my eyes hurt.

Multiply made the colour come back and the overall look is very moody.

Darker Color also let the colour come through again, but kept the sky that weirdly unnatural brown.

This one is muted and soft.

Usually Overlay lightens and softens too, but not on this technique.

I think this mode is well-named. It’s HARD!

Linear Light makes me think of movie posters from the 50s and 60s.

This was one of the odder ones.

A Clockwork Orange, anyone?

I think this one is rather odd, too. Misnamed, for sure!

See anything you’d like to incorporate into a layout? At this point, I chose to Merge the two layers together. I could now save it as a new version of the original.

As I was running through this edit, I found the power lines were really jarring. In the original they were virtually unnoticeable, but in some modes they jumped off the screen. The water tower and wagon are so vintage, but the wires looked out-of-place. So I used the Spot Healing brush to remove them.

I played a bit with the Hue/Saturation a bit too. Quick keys for that adjustment are CTRL/CMD>U.

I liked it slightly more sepia than copper. This step will seem really bizarre, since I made a point of adding texture to the photo way back at the start. But when I hit it with Haze Removal, I LOVED how it looked.

See the difference? I think it looks like a real, vintage photo from 100 or more years ago.

This is where I stopped. I have no idea what I plan to do with it, but I know I’ll be using this edit again!

Don’t be afraid to play with the features Elements has to offer. All you’ll give up is a little bit of time, and you might find something that defines your style perfectly!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Throwing the BOOK at Glee

[This tutorial is for advanced-intermediate and expert users of Photoshop Elements.]

Awhile back I got a private message from Glee asking if I had any tips for making text look more like it’s really sitting on the page when using a book element, rather than floating above it. I didn’t have any tips but thought it might make a good tutorial. Boy, did I bite off a big chunk of what-the-heck-can-I-do-here! The following images represent hours of experimenting and starting over, and I wasn’t completely successful. But I learned a lot in the process so that’s a good outcome, at least for me.

I scoured through my stash for a book that looked similar to the one Glee used for her layout and this was the only one I have. So I went with it, even though the left hand page presents some serious challenges due to perspective.

First things first. You want to choose a font that looks like it would be used on the pages of a book – a typewriter-style font. The colour of your “ink” should be black or dark gray. Adjust the size of the font to be suitable for your pages and your leading should be sufficiently wide to allow all the uppers and lowers to have space. Also, ensure you’ve got your justification set to the left. Justification is the alignment of the first letter on each line. When you choose Center, your text will automatically adjust itself so that each line is centered with the one before. That’s NOT what you want for this purpose. Your text needs to line up with the left edge of the page, or the margin. Please note… I didn’t do that in several of the images to follow and lived to regret it!

Yes… lots of mistakes! But let’s run with it to start off so you can see why it’s important.

The Warp Tool isn’t available until you’ve put your cursor on the page. You can activate it then, or you can type out some text and then deploy it. It’s the right-most little box with the T sitting on top of a curved arrow when you’ve got the Tool Options open. There are several options with little pictograms showing you the basic shape of each Warp.

For the top of this left hand page, the Arch Warp will work. Play with the sliders, moving them to the left and right to see how they work, then decide which ones you need to move to shape your text.

Here’s a tip… when you’re moving across the page toward the spine, perspective demands that the text gradually gets smaller the closer to the spine it gets. To adjust that with the Warp tool you’d move the Vertical Distortion slider to the LEFT. You can also move the text box around using the Move tool, moving it to the angle it needs to sit properly on the page.

Here you can see the way the Vertical Distortion adjustment works. As long as you haven’t Simplified the text layer, you can use the Warp tool as many times as you need to.

The image below shows very clearly why left-justification is important. If you’re using a poem as your text, you can leave it centered and it’ll be fine but for prose, not so much.

My next efforts used a smaller size on my font. It’s still much too big, but it still lets me show you some more tweaking.

I learned that it’s easier to make the Warp adjustments look right if I angled the text box to follow the upper edge of the page first. Please ignore the typo in the red text below…

The Arch Warp worked here, sort of. I used the Vertical Distortion slider too.

It still doesn’t look quite right. There are other tools that can be used to adjust the text’s shape.

I like to zoom in and out while I work so I can see the overall effect of whatever I’m doing. Zooming in tight lets me see it up close for those little tweaks, zooming out shows the whole image and shows where I need to make bigger changes.

So, have I mentioned that I don’t love this left-side page? I played with this area so much and hated everything I did with it.

It looks like the Flag Warp should work. But it’s going to need a lot of massaging.

There are other tools to alter the shape and size of layers. With text layers that aren’t simplified, there are only two ways to Transform the layer, Free Transform (which never seems to do anything I want it to) and Skew. If you’ve never used these awesomely useful tools, I highly recommend them.

I did a little Skewing, but although it looks better, I’m not sure it will make the more… erm… particular scrappers out there happy.

Then I thought, well, it’s not working so great doing big blocks of text all at once, and with two different curves, it would need more than one block of text anyway, so maybe if I did one line at a time…

I was cautiously optimistic when I saw how well the first line worked out. I used Arch and adjusted the Vertical Distortion.

The second line seemed okay too. I selected both layers at the same time so I could skew them at the same time. It was important to keep the space between the lines of text uniform.

Aaaaaaaannnnd then, I abandoned ship. It was taking a lot of time and it wasn’t really working any better. So I typed out some text that filled about 2/3 of the space. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make one single block do all the things I needed it to do.

First I made sure the left-justified text was parallel with the edge of the page.

Then I tried a couple of options in the Warp Text menu. I tried Shell Upper first. Do you see what I see?

Yeah, that didn’t work. So I tried the Wave Warp. Whoa!! That’s BAD!

So I reversed my tactics and SKEWED first and THEN Warped.

That looks okay! Sort of. The bottom is still not making me light up.

As long as I left the text box as a text box and not a Smart Object all I could do with it is Skew it. Already tried that. So I Simplified the layer. Then I went back to the Layers>Transform menu and tried both the Distort and Perspective tools. (See the bounding box?) That made it a lot more right.

Then I added a block of text at the bottom.

By now I was feeling like this just wasn’t going to be good. The Arch Warp looks okay, but still not YEAH!

I tweaked some more. The Skew doesn’t look right either, when I zoomed out.

I did a LOT of things trying to get it right. I even cut and pasted individual words in the last line to see if that would help. Alas, no.

So I surrendered. The other page was always going to be easier, and in retrospect, if I were to do anything with the pages in this particular book, I would put  photo or image on the left-side page (oh wait… a poem could go on this page, couldn’t it?), leaving a big margin around it to disguise the imperfect adjustments, then Skew/Distort it to look okay and leave it alone.

So I filled that right-side page with left-justified text then hit it with the Flag Warp. That was almost enough!!!!

Really, just a wee bit of Distortion almost had it right in just three steps (FlagWarp>Simplify Layer>Distort).

A little bit of a Skew and now it looks great!

The final version isn’t awful, if you don’t look too closely or too long!

I hope I didn’t lose you along the way. That was a complicated one! (I even tossed out about 15 of my screenshots.) I really can’t encourage you enough to experiment with the things Elements can do. You might discover something no one has ever done before, and then you can teach the rest of us!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 15)

Transforming the Ordinary to the Extraordinary!

Here’s a look at the little monster who’s been robbing me of sleep and keeping me from being productive. She’s lucky she’s cute! But we’re now halfway through Day 4 with no puddles in the house, and she actually slept all night last night. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

When I took a good look at this snapshot I caught with my phone, I thought it was pretty special. But it could be even better, so I thought, “Why not play around with some more of those Guided Edits in PSE and see what happens.” The results are below. I could have stopped after any of the steps I took, so don’t think you’d ever have to do all of these adjustments to make your photos more amazing. You don’t!

The first one I used was the Brightness and Contrast Edit. Guided>Basic>Brightness and Contrast.

The menu looks really simple, and it is! Clicking once on the Auto Fix button is perhaps all your photo might need. The sliders are automatically set as shown.

This is how it changed with just one click. It’s not all that obvious, but I think her eye pops a bit more.

I moved the sliders just a tiny bit, decided I was happy then I went down to the lower right corner of the screen and clicked on Next.

The menu shown below opens up, offering the options of Saving the image, Editing some more or Sharing it with your friends on social media.

Of course, I wasn’t done experimenting. So I clicked on Expert under Continue Editing, and then selected the Guided tab again. Next I chose Sharpen from the menu.

The menu for this edit is simple too. I clicked on Auto Fix.

And there’s a visible change. You can click the Auto Fix button multiple times, or manually adjust the sharpening by using the slider. When you’re ready, click on Next.

After I clicked on Auto Fix a second time, there was an increase in texture in the hair on her nose.

So I hit it again. I think it’s just a little too much though, looks artificial. So I clicked on the button beside the Next button, Cancel.

Yeah, that’s the best look. So Next

Now I decided to try one of the Guided Color Edits. Let’s see what Saturated Film Effects looks like.

I wanted to show you the menu for this edit before I made any changes. The Add Saturation Film Effect button is another one you can click on multiple times to intensify the effect.

I think this image looks a little brighter and a little softer but keeps the eye in focus.

So on to the next Edit! Anyone know what the Orton Effect is? According to Wikipedia, “Orton imagery, also called an Orton slide sandwich or the Orton Effect, is a photography technique which blends two completely different photos of the same scene, resulting in a distinctive mix of high and low detail areas within the same photo. It was originated by photographer Michael Orton in the mid 1980s.” Some purists feel that the effect has been overused, especially in portrait photography. But we’ll look at it any way. (I’m not much of a conformist!)

The Add Orton Effect button has 3 sliders for further adjustment. I pushed the sliders all the way to the left to see the effect at its most basic.

It’s another Edit that can be duplicated multiple times. Here’s what it looks like after two clicks. It’s very dark. But I haven’t given up on it!

I played with the sliders. I pushed the Brightness slider all the way to the right.

Then I added some Noise. It adds quite a grainy look to the image, and that might work really well for some purposes.

Now a little Blur… just a bit, to add that dreaminess the Orton Effect is known for.

And I could stop here. But you know me by now… I’m not done yet!

I’d like to go back to the Basic menu and hit it again with Brightness and Contrast.

Now I think it looks a lot like a painting by one of the Dutch Masters of the 17th century. It’s the light…

It’s only looking more and more beautiful!

I’m sure you know I chose to continue editing. When I went to the Expert workspace, I discovered that each edit had created a new layer. So I merged them all together.

I wanted it just a little brighter still, so I chose to go the Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness and Contrast route.

All I did was shift the Brightness slider a little to the right.

Okay. At this point, I absolutely LOVE what I’ve done with this photo. I saved it as it looks right now so I don’t have to recreate it later, because now we’re going to play with some filters. The image below shows Filter>Artistic>Poster Edges. It’s pretty cool! Think about how you could use this filter to create a caricature effect on your portraits.

I didn’t layer the filters, trying them individually to see how they each look by themselves. This is Rough Pastels.

Crosshatch adds to the Old Masters effect!

Let me zoom in on that one.

I’m so thrilled with how it looks that I’m almost done. I want to just add a little texture to it to push the oil-painting look a little more.

Who knew I was channeling Rembrandt?

My challenge to you is to use any or all of these edits to create your own masterpiece!

Tutorial Tuesday – Photoshop Elements

Totally TACKY!

We’ve moved into the second quarter of 2018 already! And with a new month comes new challenges at GingerScraps… Don’t you love them?? This month, Marina (Magical Scraps Galore) has a really different spin on the Mix It Up challenge. She wants us to use at least 3 different silver or chrome elements on a layout. Well. When I saw “chrome”, it was like a bell went off! I had planned to show you how to create a dotted border the quick-and-easy way, and it very quickly morphed into a tacky border instead. (Well, it’s a couple of additional steps.)

I chose this fabulous bandana-style paper as my background. It’s from Just So Scrappy‘s Let Freedom Ring collection. Then I popped a new layer on top of it for my border layer.

Next step was to choose a round brush from the Brush tool menu. I resized it to 75 pixels (to give it some presence) and set the Opacity to 100%. The colour really doesn’t matter but you should choose something that will show up against your background. I’m going to turn the visibility of my paper layer off for the next few steps. You can do whatever works for you.

After making sure I was working on the BLANK layer at the top, I went on to my next step.

I went back to my Brush menu and clicked on the Brush Settings button. Here I made sure my Fade was set to 0, Hue Jitter also to 0 and Scatter to 0. Spacing needs to be a big number. It’s a percentage of the brush’s size and will determine how much space is between the dots. Since I have a 75 pixel brush, I set this number to 400%. But feel free to experiment. Hardness (determines how sharp the edge of the brush will be) and Roundness both need to be at 100% (unless you’re faking a stitched border but we’re not going to go there today).

I turned on my Grid (View>Grid or CTRL/CMD>’) to save myself some effort. I decided my border should be 1/2 inch in from the corner. Then I clicked my Brush at that spot.

Do you remember how to draw a straight line in Elements? Hold down the Shift key and click at the spot where you want your line to end!

To make the rest of the border, it’s simply holding down the Shift key and clicking in the other three corners. It literally will take you 15 seconds. You can stop here if you just want a dotted border.

Now, to turn that dotted border into a tack border. I went to my Styles button down at the bottom of the Layers panel then chose Wow Chrome. In that menu I selected Wow-Chrome Shiny Edge. This Style set is one of the default styles that come with the Elements software right out of the box.

I liked the effect but thought it looked too umm… domed. If I’m smacking tacks with a hammer, they’re gonna flatten a bit. So I right-clicked on the fx on the layer and decreased the Bevel to about 6 pixels. I left the drop shadow alone.

This is how the finished border looked with the paper behind it.

To give you a better idea of scale, here’s the entire 12×12 canvas.

I wanted to see what other effects I could get using default Styles. So I copied the border layer and turned the Visibility of that layer off. It’s possible to add multiple Styles to an object or text as long as you work on individual layers with each.

This time I chose Bevels from the Styles menu and went with the Scalloped Edge bevel. Now the dots look like fancy tacks.

Next I selected the top layer and turned the Visibility back on.

I used the very same Wow-Chrome Shiny Edge style, but dropped the Opacity of that layer to 70%. Now the tacks look more like those pearl-inlaid buttons you see on Western shirts.

The different isn’t blatant, but it’s definitely there.

Another of the default Styles that came with Elements is Complex. I tried a couple of the choices here and settled on the Diamond Plate style. It has a funky industrial look to it.

When I decreased the amount of Bevel on this style, the effect became somewhat more matte and there wasn’t as much detail. It really looks like hand-cut nail heads to me now.

And here it is with the paper behind it. I’m not sure which one I like best. They’re all so neat!

There’s one more thing I played with and that’s turning the dotted border into holes in the paper. So I Selected the Layer thumbnail of the dotted border layer by clicking on the thumbnail in the Layers panel. That gave me my marching ants.

I turned off Visibility for the border layer and made sure I was working on the paper layer.

Then I Cut the selected dots out of the paper. (Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X)

That gave me perfectly spaced holes in my paper to perhaps weave a ribbon through.

I bet you can think of a few more ways to make this technique work for you. I’d love to see what you do with it!

Pinspiration | Big Titles

GS_blog_BePinspired_Header

Happy Saturday scrappers! I was perusing around Pinterest today looking for ideas. I stumbled upon a lovely layout (will show you below) with a big title. That got my scrappy gears moving in my brain. So, I thought I would share that inspiration with you.

So often we allow the photos or a great paper to be the focal point of our layout. We plop a title on at the very end of it all (if we do at all). Personally, I struggle with coming up with a great title. Really, as I scrap mostly my son, I feel like slapping “Isaiah” on every page. lol. I searched “scrapbook big title” on Pinterest & was inspired! Here are some great examples of making the title your focal point. Making a statement with a big title.

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The Pin | Original Source

I really like the idea of the large number that signifies something. It works at the title as well as a great backdrop. The choice of alpha allows for the large number to blend perfectly to the layout & not over power it. Who doesn’t have a number that is significant to them. A person’s age, an anniversary, or a reunion. The next time you are scrapping a memory that has a significant number marker, think about making that your focal point. Scrap it with a big title!

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The Pin | Original Source

This really is the focal point of the layout. I really like how the paper is cut around the title. I feel like when it is time for me to go to the beach, I want to yell it to everyone. Just go around yelling, “BEACH!” lol. This large titled layout really brings all the pretty and fun beach photos together. Your eyes are drawn to the large title to start with. At the same time, it is bringing your eyes to the photos around it. This would make a great title page to a vacation book too!

[Read more…]

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Here’s a Little Clip!

Today’s tutorial is brought to you by a comment made by Glee on one of my layouts. She asked me what to do with paper clips. So I used the same clip, from Blue Heart ScrapsBe Mindful February Buffet kit. This layout also uses a terrific template from Heartstrings Scrap Art‘s Winter Freeze 3 collection.

When you want to use a paper clip on a layout, you need to first think what it’s going to clip together. I like to clip several items together with mine, as you can see in the images above and below. I also like to leave a little bit of a gap at the bottom of the paperclip so it looks like it really is holding those things together. Once I’ve positioned my clip where and how I want it, I copy (CTRL/CMD>J) the clip layer so I have two of them. The “why” will become clear as we go along.

And…………..then I turn the visibility of the layer off.

I add a Layer Mask to the BOTTOM clip layer. (I forgot to select the correct layer for the screenshot below, so don’t do that!) If you’ve never used a layer mask I strongly recommend you start! They’re fantastic tools because if you remove something you didn’t want to remove, you can just paint it back. So make sure your bottom clip layer is selected, then click on the icon shown below.

This is what you’ll see in the Layers panel. Make sure you’re working on the MASK part of the layer – the blue outline has to be around the blank page. If you accidentally work on the thumbnail part of the layer, you won’t be able to paint back what you remove.

Then select the Eraser tool, and ensure white is the foreground colour. (White conceals, black reveals.) Carefully erase the part of the paperclip that will be behind/under your paper or photo.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to remove from your image, get a paper clip and a piece of paper, then put the paperclip on the paper somewhere. Put the paper flat on your desk and you can see what is hidden and what is not.

When you’ve removed the parts of your clip that will be hidden by your paper/photo, Simplify the layer. To do that you can right-click on the layer then select Simplify Layer. (No WSNH tip for that.) I know you’re wondering why all these steps are necessary, and it’s all about control. The Layer Mask is very forgiving, the Eraser tool isn’t. Simplifying the layer afterwards makes those changes permanent once you’re committed to them.

I like these shaped paper clips, both digital and real. There are lots of ways you can use them! Here I’ve tucked one of the free wire ends under the photo and the other under both the paper and the photo.

Now we can add a shadow to the BOTTOM clip layer that we’ve been working with. If you just go with a drop shadow style, you’ll have a shadow that runs over onto the paper and it’ll look odd. I don’t know who else has my problem, but those sorts of inconsistencies just jump out at me! So let’s avoid it. Create a new layer UNDER the visible clip. CTRL/CMD>click on the piece of paper icon to do that quickly. Then Select the outline of the clip by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the clip’s layer thumbnail. Then you’ll have those little marching ants. Using the Fill tool (paint bucket) fill the selected area ON THAT NEW LAYER with your shadow colour. I used black.

Once you have that shadow layer filled, you can shift the shadow to the angle where your layout’s light source is coming from. But then you’ll notice that shadow doesn’t actually touch the paper where it should. Use the Smudge tool to bring the shadow up to the paper. Just drop the cursor onto the black area near the edge, click-and-drag the tool to the edge of the paper.

Don’t worry if it’s overlapping the paper. It MUST touch the paper with no gap. Light can’t leak under wire , right?

Once you’ve got a good connection between your shadow and your paper edge (don’t neglect the other parts of the clip where some of it is hidden), you can carefully Erase the overlap. (Use a Layer mask if you’re unsteady.)

To soften the edges of your shadow layer, use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Look at the other shadows on your layout so you can make the clip’s shadow look natural. Remember that paper clips sit tight to the paper/photo, so the edges will be sharper than for other less-weighty items.

You want your shadow to look as real as possible. When you’ve got the Blur right, decrease the Opacity of the layer until it looks right.

Now, we could just call that good, but I think you know me better than that! I could get really technical here and start talking about Dodging and Burning, but I have a workaround that’s super-simple and that’s what you’re getting instead.

Now it’s time to turn on the second paperclip layer, the one we didn’t remove parts from. Then we’re going to add a Bevel style to it. Click on the Styles button down at the bottom right then select Bevel.

From the Bevel styles menu, I chose Simple Inner. The default settings will work very well, so no tweaking required. Can you see the way it makes the wire look round instead of flat?

The next thing is to add a shadow layer to this clip too. Make all the same lighting angle and Blur adjustment to it as you did for the first one. Here’s a WSNH tip: you can duplicate the degree of blur from your last action by simply clicking CTRL/CMD>F. After you’ve gotten those steps done, decrease the Opacity of BOTH the paperclip layer AND the shadow layer so that they’re barely visible.

Don’t be concerned that it seems really obvious when you’re zoomed right in tight. Nobody will see it that up-close but you.

See, here I’ve pulled out the zoom and there’s really just a hint of the wire showing through the papers.

Here’s my finished layout. I’m very pleased with it!

I hope you’ll give this one a try, unless you like your paperclips resting on top of your papers. There’s nothing wrong with that – paperclips and other things (dust!) can be scattered over other things. But now you can USE that paperclip to hold your goodies together!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 15)

SKETCHIER!

If you’ve been reading these tutorials from the beginning you might remember one on turning a photo into a sketch. It had a lot of steps and might have been a little daunting for the novice Elements user. So I think you’re going to love this one for its total simplicity. It’s one of the black-and-white Guided Edits in PSE 15 called Line Drawing. (It might also be there in 14, but when I tried to find out which version it debuted in, I wasn’t successful.) And the possibilities with it are endless!

The best photos for this technique are ones with sharp focus and lots of detail. I played with it using a close-up photo of my dog and loved it. For this example though, I used a stock photo from Pixabay. Then select Guided>Black & White>Line Drawing.

Take a look at the different items I’ve highlighted in the image below. They’re the controls for this Guided Edit and they’re all really useful.

In the upper left corner of the workspace, you can choose the way you view the changes. Your choices are After Only, Before Only, Before & After – Horizontal and Before & After Vertical. Below I’m showing you Before & After Horizontal, where you can watch the transformation as it happens. You also have the option of zooming in on specific areas of the photo.

The Pencil Sketch Effect button takes all the work out of the process. One click is all it takes. If you click more than once, the sketch effect becomes more minimalist; give it a try and see if you like it. You can always CTRL/CMD>Z back to the initial step if you don’t.

Here’s what my example looks like after 2 clicks.

The next step is optional. Clicking on the Adjust Layer Opacity button adds back a hint of colour without losing the sketchy effect. Multiple clicks on this button however don’t produce additional effects. As you’ll see below, you can still make adjustments to this step later.

Adjusting Levels is where the REAL magic happens. My copy of Elements has a glitch in it such that the Levels button in this Edit doesn’t work. But I know that CTRL/CMD>L will bring up the Levels interface. If you’ve never used the Levels adjustment menu you’re in for a treat.

Levels adjustments can be made on all the different channels (RGB, Red Green and Blue) but for this purpose RGB – the default – is the only one we need worry about. I played with the sliders so you could see the way each adjustment changes the image. Looking at the histogram – that black bit in the Input Levels box – you can see the way the curve bends as you move the sliders. For this adjustment, moving the right little wedge to the left lightens the image.

On the other hand, moving the left wedge to the right darkens the lines on the image and seems to sharpen it too.

The trick is to adjust them so that the image pleases you. Watch what’s happening as you move the sliders and you’ll know when you see what you like.

My final settings for this image are shown below. I moved the left Input Levels slider to the right and the right Output Levels to the left.

So, once you’ve got that image looking the way you want it to, maybe like a lithograph from an old book… click on that Next arrow at the lower right of the workspace.

Now you have a choice. Remember from our other Guided Edits? You can save it or you can work on it some more. I picked In Expert so I could play with it just a bit more.

As you can see, there are two layers there when you move to Expert. There’s no limit to the things you can do once you get to this point. The Opacity of the sketch layer is 82% when you first open up your project in Expert.

Just as an example, I put the Opacity of the sketch layer to 100% and that hint of colour (really obvious when you look at the sky) is GONE. I don’t think it looks as interesting, do you? But you could use this to make personalized colouring books… think of the options1

So then I lowered the Opacity to 60%, which keeps the sketchy detail but lets more of the colour come through. You could also lighten up the coloured layer underneath in spots so only the sketchy bits are visible in that area. If you plan to do that, right-click on the photo layer and select Layer from Background, so you can add a transparent layer underneath it.

When you’re totally happy with how it looks, you can merge the layers together and save it with a funky name. Of course, that step is optional, but if you use it for something you’ll have to be sure to link the layers so they move together.

Whaddya think? Are you going to give it a try?

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 15)

Fun with FONTS & FOTOS 

I don’t know about where YOU are, but where I am, winter is in full fury. We got nearly a foot of snow in the last few days, most of it falling at the same time I was on a 52-passenger bus on my way home from a meeting 200 miles from home. So I’ve been living vicariously through my daughter, who just returned from a week in Hawaii. She took some amazing photos!

Let’s play with another Guided Edit, from the Fun Edits tab. This one is called Photo Text.

The interface for this edit is quite simple and easy to follow. Click on the Text Tool button and choose a font. Pick something with some presence – a chunky one that will let all the awesomeness of your photo shine. I started with Konga Pro Regular. Don’t worry about the font colour, it’s not going to matter. You can play with the size to maximize the area of the photo your text covers.

And you can use more than one font, as the software shows in the sample on the menu screen. Don’t click to accept the changes until you’ve got all of your text done though. Move your cursor to where you want the new font to take over, use the font selection menu to choose the new one and type out your text. And don’t worry if your text doesn’t fit onto your photo perfectly either, because you can resize it later. The second font I chose for this example is called LD Zoot Suit, from Lettering Delights.

If your text lines overlap, once you’ve got the words you want, you can double-click on the text and adjust the leading – the gap between the lines – so that they’re just touching. Or, because it’s YOUR project, they don’t have to touch… it’s all up to you!

Once you’ve committed your text, the software automatically clips your photo to it. You can move the text around and resize it to reveal the areas of your photo that you want visible.

The image above has the “Fit” option selected, since it’s the default. Depending on your font and the width of the words you used, you might find the “Fill” option works well for you. I didn’t like it, so I undid it.

Then there’s the Background Color option. You can choose Black…

white…

or Clear (transparent). Which one works will depend on what you plan to do with your text later.

I shifted my text around to show more of the sand and the sea, less of the sky. The clouds on the horizon weren’t defined enough for my taste.

Now for the fun part! There are some more options that change the appearance of your text in some very interesting ways. With one click you can add both a stroke and a bevel! There are three preset adjustments; this one is the Small version.

And the Medium. Looks a little like a marshmallow.

Large is even more puffy and defined. While I was playing around with this technique it occurred to me that this would be a way to make a super-simple alpha set to match a favourite kit, simply by typing out the alphabet to fill up a paper from that kit, then fiddling with the adjustments.

But wait!! There’s more tweaking we can do! By clicking on that Advanced button at the bottom of the interface, this menu opens up. Each aspect can be adjusted to suit the look you’re going for. You can change the angle of the light source, make the Bevel higher or flatter (and sharper), you can adjust the Drop Shadow, the width of the Stroke and even add an Inner or Outer Glow. It’s so much fun to experiment!

I decided a white Stroke would look better. Right?!

All that’s left is to decide what to do with your finished text. You can save it, share it or move it to the Expert editor to drop onto your layout. The power is in your hands!

With this Guided Edit you can do as much or as little as you like with your text. Of course, you COULD do it all the old-fashioned, multi-step way, but why?

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

The ART of ILLUSION

Last week I promised you a technique to really rock the January Inspiration challenge, and I hope you agree that this is it! Ivonne, the brilliance behind Craft-tastrophic, gave us this photo as the platform around which to build our layouts.

I tend to be pretty literal in my adaptation of this kind of challenge, so my goal was to find some photos of balloons, a girl in a pink dress and the Paris skyline. There were also some requirements in addition – the girl had to have an outstretched hand to attach the balloons to, the photos had to be lit roughly equally and the light source had to come from the same direction. Now, those last two can be fudged sometimes, the former by tweaking the exposure and the latter simply by flipping the photo horizontally, but lucky for me the photos I found at Pixabay ticked all my boxes without any major fuss.

Early in my tutorial authoring “career” I showed y’all two different ways to extract an image from its background. I used both of them for the final result. The first I used on two photos of hot air balloons (you can see them below in the Layers panel); it’s the Magic Wand method, quick and easy, and especially suited for images with few finicky details. The second, using a Layer Mask and the Eraser tool, was used for the photo of my girl in her pink dress. The screenshot below is a refresher on adding and using a Layer Mask. Remember, black reveals, white conceals. If you make a boo-boo, click on the X key to toggle between hiding and uncovering to undo whatever needs fixing.

Zoom in as much as necessary to keep your edges clean and to avoid removing something you’ll miss later.

I like to work my way around the edge of my image all the way, making a good-sized gap between the superfluous background and my detail so that later I can increase the size of my eraser to enormous and quickly remove the rest of the background.

Here are the three images I’ve extracted to add onto the Paris skyline.

I plopped my extracted images onto my Paris skyline photo and moved them around, adjusted their sizes as needed and positioned them where they’d make the most sense. Once I had the balloons positioned so the shadows in the original images were in the right direction and the perspective looked good, then I had to make the balloons look like the girl is holding them. So I made some “strings” on a new layer.

With the Pen tool I drew two perfectly straight lines from the baskets of the hot air balloons to the girl’s hand. To draw a straight line, all you have to do is decide your starting point then click there. Holding down the Shift key move your cursor to the end point and click again. That’s it, that’s all! I used a 5 pixel pen tip and a light gray colour for the strings. Then I made some little tails inside her palm just for an added touch of the possible.

To turn those straight lines into something resembling string, I used the Texturizer FilterFilter>Texture>Texturizer

The defaults in this tool are Brick, Burlap, Canvas and Sandstone. The one most likely to look like string is Canvas, so that’s what I used. Adjustments you can make inside the Texturizer menu are Scaling – how big your texture will look, Relief – how “high” it will lift off the image, and the Light source. You also get a preview without the background there so you can actually gauge what’s happening in real time. You’re going for a realistic look here.

I moved on to look at the girl. I wanted her to look like she really was standing on the roof. And she didn’t…

I created a custom shadow on its own layer, which we’ve covered a number of other times in other tutorials. She won’t cast a shadow anywhere but where she touches the roof, so I used the Smudge tool to achieve that.

There, now she looks like she’d touching the stone. But it still isn’t quite right. Her skirt should also cast a bit of a shadow, so I Smudged my shadow layer there too. All that was left was to adjust the Opacity and Blend Mode and I was thrilled with how it looked.

My finished layout was created with Heartstrings Scrap Art‘s The Bigger Picture 3 Winter’s Frost template B and her Time Traveler kit.

You know you’re only limited by the boundaries of your imagination!