Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

One-Step Photo Editing with Blend Modes

[PDF link will go here when Ginger has time to convert.]

I stumbled over this brilliant concept and just had to play with it. Because of course I did. 😉 Photos make our memories tangible and are a significant contributor to preserving those memories. But let’s face it… the photos that tend to mean the most are the candid ones, the ones that happened on the fly, and that sometimes means they’re not as true to the snapshots we carry in our hearts as we’d like. Sometimes there really is a quick fix though!

This is a photo I found on Pixabay. It’s tack sharp but has an obvious colour cast and looks underexposed to me. I like the photo, but think it could be better. I could run a whole bunch of edits on it and spend a lot of time trying to make it fit the way I envision it. But… first I’ll run some Blend Modes on it, just to see. [Editor’s note: Blend Modes are the same in Photoshop, but have extra tweakability.]

Before we start experimenting, make a Copy of your photo layer. Why? So the original isn’t altered. Also, because of how Blend Modes work. More about that in a minute. Right-click on your photo layer and choose Duplicate Layer… from the options.

Then click OK. If you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts, CTRL/CMD>J will do both steps in one move.

We’ve talked about Blend Modes a LOT in previous tutorials. But we haven’t really talked about how they work. You may have noticed that they’re grouped in the drop-down menu found in that button bar at the top left of the Layers Panel. The first grouping is the NORMAL Modes. That means the layers don’t interact with each other when at full Opacity. Next is the Darken Modes; these DO allow the layers to interact with those underneath them, and produce different effects as you’ll see. The third grouping is the Lighten Modes. Self-explanatory, sort of. Following that is the Contrast Grouping, which is also essentially self-explanatory.  If you’re interested in learning more about the science of Blend Modes, check out this video from PiXimperfect. It’s about 42 minutes and is based on Photoshop so there are some differences, but it’s fascinating! Now, let’s play!

 

Click on the Blend Mode button bar and open up the dropdown menu. We’ll skip the Normal Modes and start right with Darken.

Just so we can remember what the original looks like before I change it… each Mode is named under the image.

Darken: It hides every pixel that is darker than the base brightness. The only change here is that the snow looks more gray to me.

Multiply: Only the purest black is unchanged.

Color Burn: Will change pure black and pure white,  darkens and adds colour. This effect is more evident if a solid Fill Layer is applied to above the photo. But this photo is just the photo. It’s a hot mess.

Linear Burn: Basically the same as Color Burn, but it does NOT keep pure white pure white.

Darker Color: You’ll probably never use this one – it’s not really any different than the Darker Mode. The others are more interesting.

Let’s get the original back up so you don’t have to scroll so much to see the changes.

Lighten: The polar opposite of Darken; the snow is a bit whiter, her skin tones are a bit more visible and there’s a hint of purple in her jacket.

Screen: Huge difference! It’s the opposite of Multiply, so it lightens the whole image. This is the easiest fix for underexposed but otherwise perfect photos there is. If it’s too bright, tone down the Opacity until you’re happy.

Color Dodge: Everything is brightened and a lot of the highlights are blown. But it’s an intriguing look.

Linear Dodge: More highlights are blown, the overall image is a bit brighter. More colour variation is noted.

Lighter Color: Again, you’ll probably never use this one because there’s not any obvious difference.

Back to the original before we move on to the Contrast Group, which will lighten lights and darken darks.

Overlay: Yep. Sure did increase the contrast.

Soft Light: This is similar to Overlay, but more gentle.

Hard Light: It sounds contradictory, but this one adds a faded contrast rather than harsh.

Vivid Light: The image looks sharper, with a harsher contrast again. It keeps the white white and the black black.

Linear Light: Lots of contrast but not a ton of detail…

Pin Light: This one is a combo of Lighten and Darken. They seem to cancel each other out.

Hard Mix: Hard is right! The contrast is almost eye-boggling!!

Individually, these Blend Modes are useful and interesting. But the real magic happens when they’re stacked. Check out this image:

I made 4 Copies, so 5 layers in all. The top layer is Screen at 100%. Second layer is Color Burn at 35%, Third layer is Linear Light at 70%. Fourth layer is Hard Mix at 10% and the bottom layer is the original.

Same four layers. But I changed the Linear Light to Linear Dodge at 50% and increased the Hard Mix to 20%. I could play with this photo for days!!

 

 

 

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Fonts)

Celebrating Grads and Dads Again

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

Are y’all getting tired of font-based posts? Lately I’ve been looking at fonts from a bit of a different perspective, searching for those that would be suitable for cutting with my Cricut for cards. When I was making my Father’s Day cards this year, I ended up using an old standby, Lumberjack Regular – the very font I use to create the text on my tutorial screenshots. I think it worked fairly well, considering the text I cut was only about 1/2 an inch tall…

While I was browsing at dafont.com, I noticed a few [100% free, no-pennies!!] fonts that I could easily use to create titles for graduation and Father’s Day layouts too. I’m going to share some of them with you today. As with past font posts, each is linked directly to the download to make it easier for me to enable your font hoarding. Just click on the font name, in red.

I think this grungy font Nexa Rust Slab would work for both grads and dads. It might look fabulous with one of the gradient techniques we’ve played with recently.

College Boy has a varsity vibe and could be used for both titling and text.

Reach has several variations included in the download.

Stitch’n School has a letterman’s jacket look to it. I wish I could have put my letter on my varsity curling sweater.

Athletica already has a gradient applied!! I would probably find a way to make it metallic using Styles.

Now for the dads… Hot Winner Team might actually be suitable for both. I like the condensed form and the funky angle on the horizontal aspects of the letters.

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This one, Hand Shop Typography A20 is sort of similar, but still different enough. Be advised, the only numerals in the download are the 2 and the 0.

I like the vintage look to Rumble Brave. It’s a bit of a fairytale-hero font, don’t you think?

I love the texture I see with Inlander. It could be zhuzhed up with some Styles for a unique title. Chipboard or felt would be perfect.

Kingston Roman makes me think of gladiators. Who doesn’t love a good toga? 😉

Speaking of superheroes… Smallville actually included the curved title! You can find it by using the tilde [ ~ ] key.

Catastrophic Consequences is perfect for journaling. Clean, upright, legible – exactly what good journaling needs.

Here’s one for the gamer dads. Darks Skyrim has so much potential. I could see it with a shiny shades-of-blue gradient. Yeah!!

And one more journaling font, Philosopher. It’s a little fancier but still clean and clear.

I’ll confess, I’m really struggling with scrapping inspiration and even more with tutorial topics. After almost 350 tuts, it’s really hard to come up with fresh stuff. I may have to make some changes. Stay tuned.

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Quick Trick: Gradient Titles

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/45ljkOv

Are you up for another way to use Gradients in your scrapbooking? Let’s apply one to some text to create a title. (I’m showing it on a photo, but it’ll be great as a layout title too. You could even create your own Gradient papers and alphas with this Trick!!) It’s a really quick way to elevate our layouts. Let’s use this photo.

Did you recognize the Joshua tree? Trajan Pro 3 is an Adobe font; I used it for its clean lines. It may be a system font on your computer. But any font you like will be perfect.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned what happens when you Simplify a text layer. It basically converts the font to pixels, which then allows us to modify it however we want to – but it’s no longer editable. Here’s a tip: If you think there’s any risk of needing to edit that text, make a Copy of it and make it invisible, like I’ve done here.

This next step is absolutely essential. Click on the Lock Transparent Pixels button, show in the box, so that the Gradient is applied ONLY to the text.

I want to use colours from my photo for the Gradient, so using the Color Picker (Eyedropper), I first selected a spot in the sky for a bright blue. Then I held down the ALT/OPT key and clicked the Eyedropper on the darker shadow area of the photo just above the “U”. That way, I didn’t have to switch the target swatches, Elements did it for me.

This technique’s path is much shorter than the one in our last Gradient tutorial. Click on the Gradient Tool (looks like a… dark-to-light gradient across a sheet of paper) in the Control Panel. To keep this really basic, we’ll use the default settings for the Tool. But there’s a LOT that can be done down there in the Tool Options panel to create a truly unique effect.

To duplicate the photo’s palette, with blue above and tan below, I clicked my cursor above the text and dragged a straight, vertical line to below the text. The Gradient will go in the direction you drag your cursor; I tried upper-left-to-lower-right too, just to see what it looked like. You do you! 😉

To bring the text up out of the sand, I added a slight Drop Shadow and a bit of a Bevel. That’s all there is to it!

For this sample, I went to the invisible, unSimplified text layer and put it all one a single line. Then I followed the preceding steps again to get this effect.

With the identical Shadow and Bevel, this look is much more subtle. Hmm. Which way do I like it better?

Here’s one last look at options. This time I pulled the Gradient up from below, creating a mirror version. I can’t decide!!!!

See you all in June!

 

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Individual Style)

Challenge Spotlight: iNSD Mini Kit Challenge

Yep, I know. May is 2/3 over already. It seems Spring is a little behind for us this year; it’s quite cool and damp – I can’t complain about rain though, given the extreme drought we’re stuck in here. But I digress. This month I’m taking us on a bit of a different path for the Challenge Spotlight. Rather than going with one of the usual monthly Challenges, I chose the iNSD Mini Kit Challenge, hosted by CarolW. This was part of the week-long (inter)National Scrapbook Day celebration and it was VERY well-received. The kit Carol provided for the Challenge is beautiful! [editor’s note: There’s an entire BUNDLE that matches the mini in Carol‘s store…] The mini was so well-received, in fact, that I had to stop snagging images from the Gallery when I hit 20. Can’t lose the audience, you know! The layouts appear in the order they were posted to the Challenge thread.

As always, I’ll be linking each of the layouts to the Gallery so you can get a closer look at them and leave some comments, should you wish. Just click on the Scrapper’s user name and you’ll be zoomed right to her layout. Now let’s look at how each Scrapper has used the exactly same mini kit to create a very individual layout…

First up is this clean-and-simple layout from deej. She’s kept her focus on the photo with her minimalist use of papers and embellishments.

Katherine Woodin‘s a scrappin’ machine. She participates in EVERYTHING while also documenting all the moments of her life. She’s augmented the mini with bits and pieces from the full kit to create her layout. By blending her desaturated photos into the background paper, she was able to use photos that might not coordinate colour-wise with the kit while reflecting the theme. I like the precision of her perfectly-spaced button border.

LovelyMissKait makes her first Challenge Spotlight appearance with this beaut! [Welcome!!] The design of her cluster is perfection. The shadows on those papers… the paper looks like it’s lifting a bit in spots. Very effective.

For her layout, greenfiend27 blended some of the papers, threw some paint splashes on, then clustered the elements to draw the eye to her images. That star bokeh adds an almost mystical look. The quote is the perfect addition.

The yellow patterned paper is surely a hit! Here, aquaris has used the wire heart as a frame, anchored by her floral cluster. [Should I tell her I see hummingbirds out my living room window all the time?]

Ah! The grungy, gesso-smeared paper takes its first starring role! The photo of the crocus was a brilliant choice, andastra; it coordinates with the kit’s colour palette beautifully.

There it is again! But this layout looks very different – individual style, amirite? That tumble of paper rounds created by pagefrocks provides movement anc keeps the eye traveling across the page.

And we’re back to the yellow patterned paper again. But that’s the only similarity to the other yellow layouts. KarenDiamond has chosen a photo that coordinates perfectly, then blended it over a paper frame. Her use of brushes and word art to draw the eye while remaining true to the theme is quite skillful.

I see mum23ms has used elements from the full kit for her white space layout. Can you pick them out?

What an artsy look dhariana has given her layout. That grungy paper is the perfect background for this style. She’s made expert use of white space and created a strong horizontal aspect with the arrangement of her elements.

This just screams JOY at me! LidiaG has designed a gorgeous cluster to anchor her photo, and is the first to use the most neutral of the papers for her background. On (much) closer inspection I see she’s also used a mask to blend in the striped paper with a very subtle touch. Love it!

It’s so interesting that two Scrappers can use identical backgrounds and yet have such unique looks. I can see where trinanne got her inspiration – the carriage flair! So far she’s the only one whose extracted the hummingbird from the ephemera.

Cool!! Look at how the way jenasz used the star bokeh sparks her photo! It adds such a magical touch – almost like fireflies. The other unique touch is how she’s twined the vine all the way around the photo, like a frame.

Ooh, where do I start with this? The splotchy ink is gorgeous, the masked photo is perfect and to be honest, it’s really hard to tell where the photo ends and the elements pick up. This is a masterpiece, biche77!

I adore how bagheertje has blended her papers for the background. It looks easy, but getting it right isn’t! She too has extracted the hummingbird and used the loop of twine as a frame, but brings her own style to that beautiful central cluster.

There’s the star overlay again, but with a completely different look. Pippin‘s spray of flowers draws the eye to her photo beautifully blended into the ink splotch. See how the hummie ephemera almost seems like an extension of the ink?

I think this is the first layout to make prominent use of the raffia twine loops. I very much like the font demma_b13 chose for her title – it has an old-world feel, evoking thoughts of European colonization in the late 15th century. The yellow flowers bring a sunny warmth.

How clever is wvufan04? Using the ink splash as the background for some word art in a font very similar to the one on her male subject’s t-shirt… so smart! I like the tiny pops of pink too.

I like how jirsev has amped the ink splashes against that grungy paper. Her layout pops right off my screen.

Our last peep is muted and filled with luscious white space. AJsRandom opted to emphasize the yellow end of the colour palette for her layout and kept her cluster very simple. Lovely!

If you participated in this Challenge and your layout isn’t shown above, I apologize for the omission. It doesn’t mean your layout isn’t stunning and deserving, it means I ran outta gas! I’m functioning on very little sleep ATM and just couldn’t go beyond 20 today. I feel like my brain is melting… But I’ll pull it together and come up with a Quick Trick for next Tuesday!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Recolouring Word Art with Gradient Maps

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3wGloE0

We’ve talked about recolouring embellishments, word art and brushes before and I’ve shown you a variety of ways to accomplish that goal. One that we haven’t ever looked at is using Gradient Maps. Today we’re only going to talk about recolouring word art, but they’re pretty powerful tools for photo effects too.

But first… what the heck is a Gradient Map? Here’s a direct quote from Essential Photoshop (it also applies to Elements): “Gradient Map is a tool in Adobe Photoshop that allows you to apply a gradient effect over an image. It works by mapping different shades of gray tones in your image to colors defined by a gradient bar. This creates an effect where the highlights and shadows are transformed into specific colors without affecting other details in the image.” Let’s see how it worksI’m going to use this title word art from Word Art World. I’ve made several copies of the word art and isolated the big words, afternoon and park, onto their own layers by Erasing everything else on that layer. I have one untouched original layer just in case I mess it up; it’s not visible. This will let me selectively recolour the words.

This is only a sample so my colour choices are arbitrary; if I was going to use this word art title on a layout, I could choose colours from my photos or from the kit I’d be using to create a cohesive look. When I think about “park”, I see grass, trees, water and light in my mind’s eye. So I think I should colour the word park green. As you can see, I’ve used the Paint Bucket Color Picker to set the foreground colour to a spring green.

Next, I toggled the Color Picker (click the X key to toggle between foreground and background) and chose a more yellow-y green. These two colours will form my Gradient.

Next I clicked on the icon that looks like a circle half blue and half gray, at the top of the Layers Panel, which is the Add Fill/Adjustment Layer button. From the drop down menu I chose Gradient Map…

See the new addition to the work space? That’s the Gradient Map adjustment panel. The colour bar shows the two shades of green I chose, gradually shifting from one value to the other. At this point the Gradient Map layer is affecting all the layers, but that’s easily fixed, so we can ignore it for now.

One easy way to adjust the Gradient Map is to simply Reverse it. Now the colour bar has the light and darker colours swapped. It’s easy to see the difference between the two screenshots. Remember that Elements has created a grayscale copy of the word and has applied the colour based on a mathematical algorithm. If you don’t love it Reversed, untick the box.

Another option is to change the Blend Mode. This will take a little experimentation to find the look I want, so I ran the list. I like the grungy look I get with Vivid Light, so that’s where I stopped.

I also tested adjusting the Opacity and decided I liked 100% best. Now I can Clip my Gradient Map to the PARK layer. Right-click on the Gradient layer then choose Create Clipping Mask. Or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD>G for PSE14 and earlier versions, CTRL/CMD>ALT/OPT>G for PSE15 and more  recent.

Now I’ll do the AFTERNOON layer. Notice that the Adjustment panel is empty. It’ll populate again once I click on the Add Adjustment Layer button.

This tool is so much fun to play with! What do you think the Gradient Map will look like for this colour combo?

Well, it’s pretty orange. Clicking on the colour bar itself opens up this adjustment panel. The sliders start out at the ends of the adjustment bar, and as you move them, you can watch the effect they have on the image. I’ve got the Reverse box ticked, but I’d still like a bit more magenta to show.

It’s very hard to see the bits of magenta that show in this screenshot, but if you’re viewing in PDF, you can Zoom in and check it out.

Now I’ve got all the layers recoloured and the Gradient Maps are all Clipped to the appropriate layers. All that’s left is to Merge the layers and add the title to a layout!

As I mentioned above, this tool is FABULOUS for adding colour to Brushes. I have some grungy alpha brushes that I played with first and other than having to put each letter on a separate layer, I loved the effect. I can’t wait to try it with alphas and other embellishments. What do you think? Would you like to see how Gradient Maps work with photos, or is that not something you’d ever do?

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Stuffing a Vellum Envelope

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3QR1LQl

Once again, Karen Hampton has brought me a great idea for a tutorial. She saw this layout by LidiaG in a Gallery and was charmed by the vellum look of the envelope. I was too! So today I’m going to show you how easy it is to stuff a vellum envelope. But first, let’s talk about vellum for a minute. As a paper crafter, I used to HATE vellum because sticking it to anything invisibly was nigh-on impossible. Because it’s semi-transparent, adhesive always shows through. But what, exactly, IS vellum? When I tell you about its origins, you’ll be glad you’re living now, and not a millenium ago… Vellum is an early form of paper, similar to parchment, but of higher quality. Originally it was made from very thinly tanned calfskin by a long a tedious process of scraping, wetting, drying and starting at the beginning again. The highest-quality, most desirable vellum was made from the skins of stillborn calves. <insert puke emoji here…> Its best quality is its translucence. It’s still desired for use in the creation of government documents, religious documents (the Torah being one) and certificates. Its archival qualities and stability are still highly prized. Fast forward to modern day and vellum is now made from plasticized cotton rag, much like ordinary papers, but maintaining the translucent look for which it was so highly prized. It’s perfect for the creation of blueprints, and so is in demand by architects and draftsmen.

So let’s look at LidiaG‘s layout. Take note of the way the items inside the envelope are visible through it. To duplicate this effect, you’ll need a plain paper envelope with an intact flap. For my example, I’m using one from Aimee Harrison’s Sweet Talk  minikit. All the rest of the ephemera I’m using – except for the postcard, it’s a scan of an actual family document – is from Cindy Ritter’s Seafoam.

Let’s get started, shall we?

I’m going to remove all of the envelope but the front panel for the vellum step, but will need to keep the flap too. So I Duplicated the envelope. The two most common methods are as shown on the screenshot. Right-click on the layer then choose Duplicate Layer. OR click CTRL/CMD>J.

If you use the keyboard shortcut, the Copy Layer will be plopped right on top of the original – where we want it. If you chose the first method, you’ll need to tell Elements where you want it. In this case, just click OK and you’ll have the two envelopes stacked in the Layers Panel.

Now let’s Cut off the flap from the top envelope layer. First, turn visibility off for the original layer by “closing the eye” on it. Then, with the Rectangle Marquee Tool, drag out a big rectangle of marching ants over the flap area of the top layer. My envelope is a little off square so the rectangle with either cover too much, or not enough. But that’s fixable.

Some time back I showed you a Quick Trick for Transforming Selections. Let’s review. You’re not stuck with the first version of your rectangle! Right-click inside the marching-ants bounding box and this menu opens. Almost all the way down the list, choose Transform Selection.

Down in the lower left corner of the Tool Options, there are several options: Rotate, Scale and Skew, moving the anchor point, resizing and an angle meter. I just needed to make my rectangle a little bigger then Rotate it a tiny bit to the left so the lower edge of the rectangle sits on the fold of the envelope and still includes the point of the flap.

Next, click Edit>Cut. OR CTRL/CMD>X and the flap with disappear.

It’s hard to see on this screenshot (unless you’re working from the magical PDF!) but I’m using the Eraser Tool to remove that middle part of the envelope too. To start, I set the Eraser Tool to Brush, Size 45 pixels, 100% Opacity. Then I clicked my cursor just past the left top edge of the flapless envelope, held down the SHIFT key, clicked in the first corner, clicked in the second corner then clicked just past the right top edge of the flapless envelope. Only then did I let the SHIFT key back up. That gave me nice, straight lines with the Eraser. Then I could make the Size a lot bigger and dispatch the rest of the envelope that I don’t need to keep.

Nice and tidy!

Next, I want to move the two envelope layers onto my layout. In this situation, the keyboard shortcut won’t do what I need it to do, so I’ll use the first method I showed you above: activate both layers, then right-click and choose Duplicate Layers.

But instead of just clicking OK – which would put the Copy Layers on top of the existing layers – I want to tell Elements to put the two envelope layers on the paper I’ve got open in the Photo Bin. See all the options the drop down menu offers? The paper is right at the top of the list. I clicked on that then OK.

There they are! I turned visibility off for the top envelope layer while I stuffed it with my ephemera. It’s important to ensure that everything you’ve put in there stays inside the edges. I’ve layered a few paper items in there, resizing and repositioning until I’m happy with how it looks.

So, here’s my stuffed envelope before I perform my magic on it. I really want to be able to read the message on the postcard, which is very old.

To get the vellum effect, all I did was decrease the Opacity of the envelope’s top layer until I was happy. Here it’s 47%. I may still tweak that a bit, but for now, that’s where I stopped.

The realism comes from the shadows! I used a set of shadow Styles, but feel free to do what you usually do. Shadow everything inside the envelope. Then use the recipe below for the top layer of the envelope: Size 29 pixels, Distance 0 pixels and Opacity 15%. It preserves the translucency but adds shadows to the edges.

I’m hoping to get the rest of the layout done later today. I had a COVID booster yesterday and feel pretty flu-y today so we’ll see how it goes. Past experience says I’ll be absolutely fine again tomorrow. See you all next week!

 

 

Designer Spotlight May 2024

Introducing Adrienne Skelton Designs

Adrienne Skelton is one of GingerScraps‘ newer designers, but that doesn’t mean she’s new to designing, as you’ll see when I let you in on our conversation. I wonder if she’s nervous… it being (inter)National Scrapbook Day on Saturday. What pressure! Let’s get to know her better.

J: Adrienne, thank you for chatting with me today, and congratulations on your very first Designer Spotlight! Let’s get the bread-and-butter stuff out of the way first. How long have you been designing?

A: I started to design back in the early 2000’s . In 2010 I had to take a health break due to illness. I have been back since 2021 and love every minute of being back!

J: I’m glad to hear whatever your health issues, you’re not letting them hold you back any more. Distraction can be as good as medicine sometimes. What brought you to designing in the first place?

A: I used to do paper scrapbooking, but at the time I had young kids and being able to afford buying scrapbook kits was expensive, so I decided to put my art skills to use and design something digital using paint shop pro and from that point on I was hooked!

J: Oh, if I had a buck for every time a designer (or digiscrapper) told me the same story… My kids were already grown when I started paper scrapping, and I went right down the rabbit hole. I have a whole room full of paper, stamps, ink, punches, dies, embossing folders and cutting tools. Then I found digiscrapping – no mess, reusable everything, very cool techniques that elevate my layouts… and derailed my own train. But don’t feel bad for my paper supplies – I’m making greeting cards with all of it. What tools do you use for your work?

A: I use Photoshop and Procreate on my iPad, sometimes I will hand craft items and scan and use them.

J: I almost threw my printer/scanner/copier off the mountain the other day. But we don’t need to talk about that. Here’s one of those impossible questions. Which of your current kits in your GingerScraps shop is your favourite, and why?

A: That IS a very hard question! If I had to pick one it would be She’s a Wildflower. I just love how this kit came together. I designed all my drawings and doodles using Procreate ( I love to draw even if it’s digitally) and put it all together with Photoshop. I think because this kit reminds me of nature so much! Being out among the wildflowers.

J: Beautiful! One of my favourite songs from my teenage years is Wildflower by Skylark. “She’s a free and gentle flower, growing wild.” Same mood! And what a segué to my next nosy question… can you play a musical instrument?

A: I am a self taught pianist although I am not very good, I still enjoy plunking on the keys every now and then.

J: I took piano lessons for awhile as a child. I sometimes noodle around on my son’s electronic keyboard, but only when I’m alone. <winkwink> So not into self-humiliation. My friends and family call me a Type A. What one word would your friends and family use to describe you?

A: LOYAL, very faithful and sincere to a fault. I can sense others emotions and am very supportive.

J: Ah. You’re an empath! What would you do if you won the lottery?

A: First I would make sure my family was taken care of. Secondly I would buy a house where I had a lot of land, a lake and plenty of nature.

J: That’s sort of what we did with my husband’s inheritance, but without the land. We lease it, and have a beautiful view, surrounded by wildlife, flowers, birds and bugs. I fall asleep at night being serenaded by crickets and bullfrogs, punctuated occasionally by a coyote choir. So, does your desire to be rural influence your perfect vacation?

A: My perfect vacation would be laying on the beach somewhere listening to the ocean waves, feeling the cool breeze on my face, Or that could also be somewhere/anywhere in nature where I can be at peace with my thoughts.

J: Sounds a lot like my sister’s place! What would your super power be if you had one?

A: I’d LOVE to be able to see the future.

J: Not me! I can dream up the most catastrophic of events without a crystal ball. Nope! If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

A: Be careful and stay away when she is angry!

J: The more angry I am, the quieter I get. My kids were always more afraid of me when I didn’t say anything than they were when I was shouting. On that fine note, I’ll let you get back to your day. Thanks again!

Now, the rest of you, don’t go anywhere! In addition to her Spotlight, remember that Adrienne is providing this month’s Daily Download – the sneak peeks aren’t doing it justice, I swear! I hope you’re picking up each day’s bits; the download links are good for 5 days, so if you’ve missed one, don’t worry!

Adrienne is also hosting the Designer Spotlight Challenge in addition to her regular All About Me Challenge. I’ve linked them so you can check them out. And……

Have a great Spotlight Month, Adrienne!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Quick Trick: Level Your Horizons

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3y3EaWg

Have you ever had some stunning photos of a lake or the ocean except that something just looked wrong? It could be that your water is flowing out of the photo…  There’s one hard-and-fast rule about landscape photography where you have both a body of water and a visible horizon: the horizon and the surface of the water must be absolutely level (unless you’re composing your photo at an obvious angle for artistic purposes, of course). But often we’re not really seeing the slight off-kilter angle we’ve snapped, caught up in the magic of the scene in front of us. Today I’m going to show you a Quick Trick for straightening those photos, well, really, any photo that needs straightening. And there’s a keyboard shortcut for that! There are several ways to straighten photos, but this is about the easiest I’ve tried.

My sister took this shot last summer. It’s hard to see where the edge of the river is in the screenshot, so instead look at the reflections. Another object in the photo that can guide straightening this photo is the spruce tree.

With the turquoise Guide in place, the tilt is a bit more obvious. To create a Guide, click on the top or left edge of the workspace then drag your cursor to where you want the Guide to be.

Click on the P key to activate that bubble level. Then click and drag a line using something in the photo as a reference – I used that spruce tree – to tell Elements which direction to rotate the photo. You probably won’t need to go too far off perpendicular to get where you want to go. If it’s still not quite right, click and drag another line.

This is what happens on your workspace. Notice how my click-and-drag line is perfectly perpendicular to the Guide and the reflections on the river are level. I think the developers chose the letter P for “plumb”, and that’s how I’ll remember the shortcut going forward.

I’ve Zoomed in so you can see more easily how the reflections on the river have leveled out.

The only thing left to do is to Crop the photo inside the red border and Save it for later.

Thank you for giving me grace for taking last week off. Stuff just piled on me all at once. We bought a new car, my husband had a biopsy done, I had some medical testing done, we had company and a birthday to celebrate, AND I had to get some government paperwork squared away. It was exhausting! The good news is hubby’s biopsy was negative, all my tests are good, the wait at Service Canada for my documentation was about a quarter as long as I expected and we’re getting used to all the high-tech gear in the car. Back to normal!

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Individual Style)

Challenge Spotlight: Daily Download

Today I have a selection of layouts pulled from the Daily Download Challenge Gallery. There’s a bit of a discrepancy between the Gallery and the Challenge thread in the Forum, so not all of the layouts posted to the Forum are here. Sorry! For those of you who are seeing a Challenge Spotlight for the first time, let me fill you in. On the third Tuesday of each month, I choose a Challenge from the long list of options we have here at GingerScraps and put the Challenge participants’ layouts in the Spotlight. Over time, each of us develops our own particular style, sometimes to the point that viewers know without looking whose layout is on their screen. My comments about each of the layouts I’m sharing will point out something specific that reflects the Scrapper’s Individual Style. What makes a Challenge well-suited for this type of Spotlight is that all participants are working from the same starting point: a kit, template, brush, mask, font, word art or image. Where there are too many variables, a Spotlight is a bit more difficult, but not necessarily impossible. Each of the layouts to come will be linked to the Gallery so you can take a closer look and leave a comment, if you’re so inclined. Just click on the Scrapper‘s user name and you’ll be whisked right to the layout in the Gallery. I chose the Daily Download today; this Challenge requires the participant to use the previous month’s Daily Download kit to create a layout, topic of their choice. Last month’s DD was supplied by Connie Prince and it looks like this:

Now, let’s look at how this kit inspired our GingerScrappers. Up first is makeyesup. She has created a minimalist desktop calendar, with what I think is one of the papers clipped to a grid brush. She has also clipped a coordinating paper to a font to create the month header. It has a bright, springy look.

This is the work of domino44. She’s added a solid white paper (included in the kit but not visible in the thumbnail) to her paper stack to provide her neutral background and changed the wording of the title tag. (I feel like that title needs some context. 😉 ) She’s shadowed the paper doily to perfection!

How eye-catching is that embossed brown cardstock lulumoon has used for her background? Her command of white space is stellar; her single photo is very much the focal point. I like that she clipped the same striped paper she framed her background with to the perforated heart; it pulls the layout together into a complete whole. If you look reaaaallly closely, she’s also threaded the ribbon through one of the heart-shaped punch-outs in the heart.

For her layout, katt chose to keep it simple… the maps, location pin, photo and title all tell the story suggested by her journaling.

Here, photocrazy has chosen patterned papers that read more like solids – I usually do that too! That choice lets all the spring elements draw the eye to her photo of hyacinths in bloom. I need Smellovision©!

I LOVE what austin_kellie has done with her layout! The kit coordinates with her photos so beautifully, and her use of the peeling painted wood paper background is brilliant. Her clusters compliment her photos without taking away from them, leading the eye around the page.

CathyS had me puzzling for a second, then I realized she’d used one of Connie‘s papers clipped to a mask for that cheery background – which I think is a blend of two solids, toning down the brightness of the yellow. Keeping the add-ons to a minimum makes that technique even more effective! I even thought she’d created an out-of-bounds look with the sunflower in the upper left… very skillful use and placement of the elements!

DianeInOz has created a beautiful travelogue with her layout. I think this type of layout is perfect for using bold patterned paper in the background. It holds its own with multiple photos but doesn’t distract. I have to give her family props for travelling at a time when COVID was still a major concern (not that it’s gone, it’s just laying low right now); I’ve only done short day trips by car. I’m too chicken!

Now THIS is genius! Look at how chigirl has turned patterned papers into ribbons, then wove them into a frame for the heart of her layout. Her clusters echo the brightness of her photos, making them pop off the page.

The simplicity of willow‘s layout is its strength. By decreasing the saturation of the green curly ribbon, she’s given it a supporting role. The mask she’s used is absolutely perfect with her almond blossom photo.

Clean-and-simple is how I describe alexandergirl68‘s style here. Her photos are driving the bus! The bright pops of yellow really bring the layout to life.

Pocket-scrapping is great for travel photos, or really, any layout with multiple photos. Kristi Martin‘s sparing use of embellishments keeps the layout crisp while the pops of yellow add warmth. The addition of white borders on all her paper blocks is intriguing. I may have to borrow that…..

To round out our baker’s dozen, this layout from trinanne puts a huge smile on my face. I’ve mentioned before that one way to achieve cohesion when your photos don’t quite work with your chosen kit is to convert them to black and white. I might have tried to keep the bunny ears in full colour, though.

There won’t be a Tutorial Tuesday post next week. I have some stuff going on that will need my attention. Details to follow…

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

A Little Crisp Around the Edges

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

Today’s tutorial is, once again, pulled from the GingerScraps Challenges. When I started thinking about how I’d meet the criteria for the Inspiration Challenge, which is to create a junk journal page, I started imagining how I could use the lyrics from one of my current favourite Lainey Wilson songs. They resonate with me on a lot of levels – although I don’t really think I’m a redneck. The chorus goes like this:

If I look a little drunk, it’s ’cause I drank some;

If my neck’s a little red, it’s ’cause I am one.

Heaven’s where I’m gonna go, the Bible says so on my shelf,

But if I smell like smoke, it’s only ’cause I’ve been through hell.  

So then I was thinking about how to really sell it. And I came up with the idea of altering an element to look like it’s been singed. I ran with it! Let me show you how I “burnt” some paper. I used this stack from Aimee Harrison’s The Work in Between – which is part of a mega-collab kit created by Aimee, Cheré Kaye, Cindy Ritter and Connie Prince. (Click their names to see their kits.) The collab is an ideal choice for junk journal pages; there’s a goldmine of ephemera in there. As you can see in the screenshot, I’ve dropped a blank layer with a transparent background underneath it. You’ll see why in a bit.

First step is to “tear” the area of the paper that will have the scorch marks on it. I Zoomed in on the upper left corner of the papers and chose the Eraser Tool. Set with a hard, round brush from Elements’ Basic Brushes, about 30 pixels in diameter and full strength Opacity.

I just nibbled away at the corner of the paper, with some sharper and some rounder bits. It’s not going to be perfect.

Now you can see why I put that layer under the paper. As much as I’d like to think I got it all when I was removing the corner, with very little contrast between the paper and the background, it’s hard to be sure. And leaving the odd little bits there would show up later, and not in a good way. So I dumped some black into the bottom layer with the Paint Bucket.

That made it really easy to clean it up.

I decided the opposite corner would be another good place to scorch my paper. Fire will spread to the bottom sheet in this arrangement, so I “burnt” both.

It doesn’t look quite right to me.

Easy enough to fix!

Time to play with fire! If you think about how paper burns, it changes colour first, as heat spreads through the fibers in the paper, taking on a brown tinge. So I chose this as my first scorching colour. The hex key is #883102, if you’d like to just type it in.

After I turned the black background layer off, I chose the Brush Tool, set to a SOFT, round Basic Brush at 300 pixels and 35% Opacity. It’s a good place to start, and allows for adjustment later. The Basic Brush set is one of the Brush collections that is included in Elements when you install it. To see what Brushes you have, click on the thumbnail – the squiggle with the little triangle to its right – and the list will open up. To locate the one I’m using, click on Basic Brushes, then scroll down past all the hard-edged ones until you get to the soft ones. The thumbnail will look like it fades from the centre. That’s what you want.

Say it with me… ALWAYS PUT BRUSHES ON THEIR OWN LAYERS!!! If you were to just run a Brush over the edge of the paper ON the paper layer, there’s nothing you can do to adjust that Brush that won’t also affect the rest of the things on the layer. So **BRUSHES ALWAYS GO ON THEIR OWN LAYERS**. Now, I simply ran the Brush over the edge of the paper as shown. It’s fine that there’s a mess in the background. It’s temporary.

With the same Brush active, I dropped the Opacity to 17% and dragged the Brush over the edges again, this time not overlapping the background too much. This step deepens the scorch closer to the actual burnt area.

To further deepen the singe look, I changed my foreground colour to the darkest brown in the same family of orange-brown. The hex key is #010000.

This time I made no changes to the last Brush settings and brushed over the edges again – this time with MORE of the brush OFF the paper.

See how the colour blends and fades? That’s exactly what I was trying to achieve.

Smoke show time! I used the same process as before, the same Brush but with different settings: 150 pixel diameter and Opacity at 57%. **…** The black Brush goes on its own layer.

Now to clean up the background. Select the edges of the paper stack. You can click the Select tab and then Select All, or you can CTRL/CMD>click on the paper layer’s thumbnail. That’ll turn on the marching ants.

To make the areas NOT inside the paper the active bit, Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>ALT/OPT>I. Don’t forget this step!!

With both the brown and black Brush layers active, to remove the brushed area that spilled over the edge of the page, Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X.

And like magic, all that spillover is gone.

So I adjusted the Brush layers. The brown one drops to 47%.

The black Brush layer dropped to 45%. It looks pretty darned good!

As my faithful readers know, I can never just *be done* so I went ahead and used a tiny, soft, round black Brush to add a little more dimension to the spot where the two sheets of paper overlap. It’s a subtle thing, and totally unnecessary, but I did it anyway. I changed the Blend Mode to Multiply so the paper underneath shows through better, and lightened it to 29%. Now I’m happy!

Lyrics credit: Derek George, Lainey Wilson, Lynn Hutton and Monty Criswell.

Now, I have a question for you… As you can see, I’ve changed the Elements background to blue. Is it easier to read the text on the blue, or do you prefer any of the various shades of gray that are options?