Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

To Theme or Not to Theme

I apologize for missing my deadline. I got caught up in a Christmas sewing project and by the time I came up for air it was almost bedtime. But I didn’t totally forget about you!

When I was looking in the Forum at the December Challenges I was drawn to the Mini Kit provided by Neia Scraps. Although it’s called Christmas Spirit and has a Christmas-y theme I knew I would be using it instead to scrap one (or more) of my DD’s wedding photos (from July) because the palette is PERFECT for them. So I downloaded the kit and created a layout that has nothing to do with the kit’s theme. And that started me thinking about how often others might use a themed kit for a layout about something completely unrelated. I do it fairly often, and figured we could talk about that a bit today. (Note to Glee… the light source is almost directly centred over the layout, but slightly left and up. The frame is holding the paper star down but the points are free.)


For this layout I used a Valentine’s Day kit, the GingerBread Ladies‘ collab Smitten,  to scrap a dog photo. (I know, I do a lot of layouts with my dogs front and centre. What can I say?)

Then I took a (very quick) tour through the Gallery.

Gingerscrapper dshepard created a layout with a kit from Magical Scraps Galore with a candy theme; it’s called Sweet as Candy. The subject of her layout is a visit to a theme park.

This pretty example from honeybee was created with Harvest Sunrise from Mag’sGraphics. No harvest anywhere in sight… but lots of love!

Then I found this cute layout from snojewel about pirates. She used a motivational kit from the GingerBread Ladies called Love Yourself.

And then I found this one from teamkobza about a fun day she had with some little people, although I doubt they were in Iowa. The kit she used is Travelogue Iowa from Connie Prince.

So here’s a challenge for all y’all. I’d like you to create a layout using a kit with an obvious theme but about something unrelated. It’ll broaden your horizons!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Hybrid Pillow Box

Have you ever wished you could customize your gift boxes and make them really personal for the intended recipient? Well, have I got a treat for you! And once again, the credit goes to calgirl (Steph). She found a printable template online for a pillow box and thought I could bring you a great seasonal tutorial for doing it digi. I thought it would be a lot more complicated than it ended up being, and I even managed to come up with a layered template for your crafting pleasure. You can grab it here: Dropbox

The template is on a letter-sized canvas so it can be printed on standard (inexpensive) cardstock. You can easily resize it a bit bigger or a lot smaller, and really make it your own. When you’re ready to print it you can either turn off the top (instruction) layer or delete it altogether.

So, go to your stash and decide what you’re going to use for your special pillow box… papers and embellishments for the occasion. I used Aimee Harrison’s A Rustic Christmas kit. Turn off that top instruction layer for now, or go ahead and delete. You’ll know what to do without it.

Drop your paper on top of the bottom layer. You’ll still be able to see the guidelines.

Then Clip (right-click>Create Clipping Mask or CTRL/CMD>ALT>G) your paper to the template.

Using the guidelines, add in your embellishments. If you’ve added a tag or a label, pick a pretty font and type in your sentiment. What could be better than NOT to need a tag or label? Once you’ve got your clusters and what-have-you in place, add in your shadows. All that’s left is to print it, cut it out from the cardstock, score it and fold it up. A little dab of glue along the very top edge to hold it together and you’re DONE! You can use a bone folder, or a stylus or a totally dead ballpoint pen to do your scoring. If you’re worried about the guidelines showing on your finished box, you can decrease the Opacity of that layer down to barely visible. Or… If you want, you can put the guidelines on the back simply by flipping over the paper and running it through the printer again. Just turn the rest of the layers off and everything will line up perfectly.

I make jewelry for gifts, and I think this would be a perfect way to present them. In a custom box with my signature on it! How many ways can you think of to make this work for you??

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Paper-to-Digi 3D Emboss

I’m back!! I’ve recovered about 85% from my unfortunate tumble and should be all there again soon. Thank you all so much for your kind wishes for my speedy healing, I’m positive it helped. (I think that’s my post with the most comments ever!)

Before we get started, I want to apologize for the lack of consistency with the images I’m sharing with you. I’m still not happy with the way this laptop does screenshots and wish I could go back to how my dead one did it, where I could hover over a control so you could actually see what I was selecting. But alas. Add that to the changes WordPress has made to their blogging software, and now I’m also having to resize every image before I write the text. It’s a real drag!

Okay, so. Another suggestion I got from calgirl (Steph) via YouTube video was to show you all how to create a deep 3D embossed look with digital tools. I had to play around a bit to make this work the way it looked in my head, and I think I succeeded. I’m working against a solid cardstock background using a nice blue one from Ooh La La ScrapsPocket Full of Sunshine. I’ll also be using a brush – on a separate layer, of course!

The brush I used is from Brusheezy, one of a free set called Frosted Flakes. (linked) I’ll use it at full size. The Opacity isn’t totally important, as you can see it’s set at 65%. I’m going to stack the brush until it looks dark and sharp enough for the technique.

Here’s what the first click created. I think it has a lot of 3D potential, don’t you?

I kept clicking until I had an almost solid image, a total of 5 clicks. I used white to make the steps easy to see as we go along.

This is another non-essential step. I enlarged my brush image to make everything more easily visible. You do you!

Then I made 3 copies of the brush layer. At this point, I thought I’d use them all, but I ended up only using 3 total. It’s always better to have something and not need it rather than need it and not have it. Onward.

I turned the visibility of the copy layers off, because this is a bottom-up technique.

My next step was to click on Styles and choose the Bevel set.

For the bottom brush layer I used the Simple Pillow Emboss option.

You can see that there’s some texture there now. I clicked on the fx icon on that bottom layer to bring up the Style Settings menu. Then I added an Outer Glow of 13 pixels at 50 % Opacity. The Bevel is set at 27 pixels. Now, this is a matter of taste, and I found that the Outer Glow added some depth that wasn’t there with just the Bevel.

With the second brush layer now visible, I CTRL/CMD>clicked on the Layer Thumbnail (the little picture on the left side of the column) in the Layers Panel to Select the edges of the brush. Selecting an object brings up the marching ants.

To enhance the 3D effect, I decided to shrink the second brush layer a bit by Select>Modify>Contract.

I opted to Contract by 10 pixels, meaning that the outline of the brush will be moved toward the inside by 10 pixels all the way around.

Then I Inverted the Selection by Select>Inverse (or CTRL/CMD>Shift>I)

And then I Cut away the outer piece of the Brush layer that was now Selected through Inverting. Edit>Cut (or CTRL/CMD>X)

Just like on the first brush layer, I used a Bevel, this time the Simple Emboss as shown.

See the new texture that adds?

I also tweaked this layer, adding an Outer Glow of 29 pixels at 49% and adjusted the amount of Bevel to 15 pixels.

Now on to the third brush layer. I think you know what’s coming. Select the outline again.

This time Select>Modify>Contract to 15 pixels.

And then Invert the Selection (CTRL/CMD>Shift>I)…

and CTRL/CMD>X away the Selected area.

Hit it with the Simple Emboss Bevel.

Adjust the Style Settings to add an Outer Glow of 29 pixels at 50% and the Bevel at 30 pixels.

I realized that I’d gotten the effect I was looking for without that 4th brush layer. I could have left the resulting image as it was, which would look like a very detailed 3D white paper die cut, but I wanted to see how it would look as a true embossing of the blue paper. I opted to add a copy of the paper layer on top of all my brush layers, in case I changed a Blend mode for the paper and lost the original blue. Here I’ve toned down the Opacity of the top cardstock layer to 78% and it looks pretty much like I’d expect an embossed blue cardstock to look.

I don’t know if doing this step made much of a difference to the overall effect, but I added another paper layer and changed the Blend Mode to Color. What do you think?

Have a look through your brush collection to see what you have that might work for this and give it a whirl!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Another Paper- to Digi-Technique – Stenciling

After last week’s tutorial came out, I got a really nice private message from calgirl (aka Steph). It read, in part: “I love the tutorials you have done on the digital version of a paper-scrapping technique.
I have been trying to think of other techniques it would be fun to see – how do you do this. I happened upon this you tube video which has many ideas but I was particularly interested in the stenciling concept.” Well, I checked out the YouTube video she linked in her message – it was a speedy card-making video (more about that later) and I knew just what would work to create the look she was after. Below you’ll find three ways to use digital scrapbooking elements as stencils! The basics are the same for all three, but the looks are all quite different. It’s a lot easier than it looks, and definitely less messy!

The most obvious element I could think of – and find quickly – for this technique is a doily. I chose one from Lindsay Jane‘s kit Dogs and Puppies. It’s pretty, and has some nice open areas that could work nicely for stenciling. I opened a new 12×12 canvas on my workspace and dropped the doily onto it.

Next, I decided on some colours and got them set. Then I opened up my Brush tool. The Basic Brushes set that comes with the software will work for this method so I chose a large, soft, round brush. I’m working on the layer UNDERNEATH the doily, but don’t worry, it’s going to work exactly like I want it to. If you recall, working on a separate layer with your brushes gives you a lot of options such as simple resizing, repositioning and adjusting Opacity. And you can copy the brush layer(s) as many times as you want.

Here you can see that I have the layer at the bottom of the panel active.

I centered the brush over the doily and gave it a single click. if the screenshot was bigger and clearer, you’d see the doily sitting on top of the brush layer.

With the doily layer turned off, this is what I see.

I decided the brush layer just wasn’t… enough. So I Copied it once (CTRL/CMD>J) then I made the copy brush bigger, to 120% of the original. By doing that, I deepened the Opacity of the original layer and pushed the softer edge further out.

Before I moved on, I Merged the two brush layers together.  (CTRL/CMD>E)

Keeping the brush layer active, I CTRL/CMD>clicked inside the layer thumbnail for the doily – the image inside the box on the doily layer. That Selects the edges of the doily, and produces the marching ants.

The next step is to Edit>Cut the doily area away from the brush layer. (CTRL/CMD>X)

It’s a bit hard to see in the screenshot but the area where the doily laid over the brush has been removed and the transparent background shows through. The doily layer is turned off.

Here’s a much closer look at it. As you can see, there’s no doily texture showing, just the outline of where it was.

I looked at the results for awhile and decided I wanted the edges to be just a smidge sharper. So I added another layer on top of the brush layer. (Doily is still turned off.)

This time when I Selected the outline of the doily, I chose to add an outline Stroke. I wish there was a keyboard shortcut for that, I use it a lot. But there isn’t. Edit>Stroke (Outline Selection) has to do.

I used the same colour as for the brush layer. The outline doesn’t have to be too bold, so 2 pixels on the outside of the selection will work. Why put the stroke on a separate layer? It’s all about control!

I’m still thinking about how to remove the overspray area around the outside of the doily outline. I think I have it figured out, but will need to play with it a bit more. Once I’ve got it down pat, I’ll edit this post to include the details of how I did it.

Okay. Let’s go back to the beginning and look at another way of doing it. Because you know there’s always more than one way of doing most things.

For this example I used a sharp-edged round brush from the Basic Brushes set that I could size to fit the doily exactly. It’s at full Opacity too.

But here’s where the fun starts! I changed my foreground colour to that fuchsia/magenta colour you might have noticed in the previous screenshots. Then I chose the Gradient tool, which is right below the Eraser tool. This tool has a few options that make it very useful. Because I’m working with a circle, I chose the Radial setting. I clicked on the centre of the doily image and dragged my cursor up to the top left corner of the canvas and let go there. That tells the tool which way to grade the colour. I could have chosen any point on the canvas for either action and the gradient would go “from here to there”. If you look closely, you can see the pink is darkest at the centre and fades away as it moves from the centre out. Notice too how the turquoise has changed to periwinkle.

I used the same steps to remove the area of the gradient layer where the doily covers it. I don’t know how many of you can see it, but the doily layer is turned off, and it doesn’t matter! The software will still select the edges even when YOU can’t see it. And, of course, the gradient layer is separate from the others.

Now, with this method, it’s super-easy to remove the overspray area. I used the Elliptical Marquee tool to pull out a perfect circle. The tool’s settings let me go with a Fixed Ratio of 1:1, which creates a circle shape. The hard part is getting the size right. It took me 5 tries to get it right.

The Selected area needs to be Inverted so that you’re cutting the part of the gradient layer OUTSIDE the circle away, not what’s inside. You can either Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>I to make that happen.

Then, just like before we’ll Cut it off. Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X.

There! The only pink area is inside the circle.

I liked how it looked, but thought I could make it even better so I Copied the gradient layer and dropped the Opacity down to 70%. Pretty?

One more! I might have mentioned that I have LOTS of brushes. Many of them were freebies or challenge-related, but the ones I get free from Brusheezy are fabulous. One of these sets is the 20 Spray set. I had to load the brush set to be able to use it, since I haven’t had the opportunity to load them all on my new laptop, but that’s easy enough to do. I wish I could still screenshot the selection bars but haven’t figured that out either! I changed colour to this purple and hit my canvas with it. It’s a different look for sure. I Cut the doily out of the brush layer too.

I changed my brush, made it smaller and changed my foreground colour back to fuchsia. Then I randomly added some pink to the mix. On its own layer. ALWAYS!

After Cutting away the doily this is where I was.

Then I thought, how would it look with some green?

Some random hits with a third brush from the same set gave me this… before I did anything else to it.

I thought the green was too much so I toned it down to 35%.

And then for fun, I plopped a black spider web paper from Just So Scrappy‘s Spookalcious kit behind it. (I erased the big splats from the purple layer too.) I think it looks gloriously boho!

What do you think? Something you might try? Obviously, you can use anything that might work as a stencil with this technique, it doesn’t have to be a doily. I had fun with it, and I know you will too.

Now, about the video… the host showed off a paper-scrapping tool that caught my eye. It’s called a Misti (Most Incredible Stamp Tool Invented)… anybody familiar? It allows for perfect placement of stamps on just about any size and shape of paper, and for restamping the same image multiple times for more hefty outlines both with acrylic and unmounted rubber. Well, I decided I wanted one, since I do make cards and have a big collection of acrylic stamps. So I looked for it on Amazon… and nearly died when I saw the price! $138 seems like a lot to me for something so simple in concept. So I kept looking. I found some YouTube videos that showed a couple of similar products, but they had to be withdrawn from the market over patent infringement claims. Sounds like I was going to have to suck it up and pay the $$… until I found a seller who had a couple of the taboo knockoffs for $37 each. It arrived today and will work beautifully! I’ll have to wait to use it though. It has to go into storage with all the rest of my paper crafting stuff. To be continued!

Tutorial Tuesday (PSE and TypeFace 2)

For all the Mac Users – Unlocking Secrets in Your Fonts

I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d get a tutorial out this week. I made a flying visit to BC to check in on my parents (they’re both fine, thank Heaven) over the weekend and didn’t get home until early this morning. But looking through my mailbox led to this!

I was really pleased that last week’s tutorial on using the hidden extras in our font files was so well-received. I had fun putting it together and hoped it would be a good choice. A comment from Carina got me thinking about what might be a suitable, similar font manager for Mac users that could work for the tut the way MainType does. And darned if I didn’t find one! It’s called TypeFace 2, and like MainType they have a free version and a paid version. (If you click on the software name above, it’s linked to the app store.) Of course, the user interface is different, but it has the same options. You can customize your tags so they make sense for you, you can move similar fonts into folders so you can quicken your search for the right one, and you can preview the fonts using the text you’re planning to put into your layout.

Here’s an example of a customized preview.

To be useful for finding, selecting and using the special characters that come with the fancy fonts, there needs to be a way to access them. I will admit that I didn’t test it, but reading the description of the app and some reviews, I’m pretty sure it’s going to work in a very similar way. One other benefit to this one is that it’s available for both Mac AND PC!

Now, for your viewing pleasure, some awesome (totally free) Hallowe’en fonts and dingbats!

This one I found at FontSpace.

The rest are from my second-favourite site, Dafont. You can grab this one here.

This is a bit of a variation on a theme, perfect for bold titles. Get it here.

This font isn’t quite a Hallowe’en one, but it’s very pretty, and the curlicues are reminiscent of the tendrils on pumpkin vines. It’s here.

I like this one for its simplicity, and its slight grunge. Find it here.

What do you think of the Gothic look of this one? Look for it here.

I think this would make the most interesting border on a Hallowe’en layout. You can find it here.

Happy haunting!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 2018+)

Background Check

Well, this didn’t turn out to be the fantabulous tutorial I had planned… let it be a cautionary tale instead! (I seem to be providing a lot of those lately.) What I was hoping would be simple and fun turned out to be more work than I expected, but it’s all good. I learned a few things while I was doing it and can provide tips for you to make it better for you. And that’s the goal with these tuts, right?

Starting with Photoshop Elements 2018, a Guided Edit for replacing an undesirable background was included in the Special Edits menu. I have SO many photos with blown-out skies that I’d love to replace with something more attractive, so I pulled one out of my Ireland 2018 folder. Let me say right now that next time I do this, I’ll be making some changes in how I do it. I’ll describe those changes as I go along.

So here’s my base photo, the one I want to improve on. The sky is pretty blown-out; this can be prevented in-camera through the use of neutral density filters, but I haven’t mastered that technique yet. It’s on my list… Anyway, I thought this would be a fairly simple edit, since the foreground is fairly sharply defined. When you try this, you might want to avoid trees. Just sayin’.

I tried the Auto selection tool but felt like it lacked control so I backed up and went with the Quick selection tool instead. It worked pretty well, for the most part. With a little more patience at this stage, I might have saved some time and effort later but that’s all part of the learning curve. I think the Brush tool might have been a better choice, and I’ll be trying that out in future edits.

Once I’d brought most of the foreground image into the selection, it was time for fine-tuning. See the marching ants along the roofline? The spruce in the foreground extends past the roof and needs to be included in the image. The trees on the far left are inside the selection already but will need some tweaking too.

When I moved to the Refine selection tool, the selected area turned red. The settings for this are customizable; I went with the defaults. With the mask at 80% Opacity, I can see where the mask obscures areas I want to include, and the white area is where I need to extend the selection.

I found this part of the process to be a little frustrating. I couldn’t zoom in to see what I was doing. The Refine tool is supposed to “snap” to the outline where two colours abut, and perhaps if I changed the tool setting for Snap Strength to 100% it might have worked better for me. Having gone through the whole Edit, this is where I would choose to spend my time Refining in future.

At this point, I went ahead and chose the photo with the desired background by clicking on the Import a photo bar. It opened up the folder where I got my original image, and lucky for me, there were a few choices of a nicer background in there. But it would be easy enough to go to a different folder and pick something there.

I had this lovely landscape of blue sky with puffy white clouds that will fill the selected area beautifully. So I selected it and clicked Place. If I didn’t have a photo with something nice that would work, I could have used one of the Presets or a solid colour, or nothing at all.

One click and this is where I found myself! If you don’t look to closely, it looks pretty good. But there are still some obvious white patches at the ends of the spruce branches.

So I zoomed in a bit and clicked on the Refine Edge Brush then Subtract. (Add would just uncover more of the blown-out sky.) Then I started bringing the blue sky up to the edges of the branches. I used a smallish brush and 100% Opacity. And it took FOREVER!

Extreme zoom was helpful at times, and not so much at others. Add in the unreliability of my “left-click” bar on the touchpad and you can see how it was a time suck. And frustrating. But I did get a better handle on how much pressure is needed to engage the “left-click” bar and keep it engaged.

One thing I found disconcerting, and a bit annoying, was that when I used the Hand tool to move the zoomed image around, the Refine Edge Brush looked like it was still active, but it wasn’t. Clicking again on the Hand tool didn’t turn it off, and I never thought to try clicking on the magnifying glass to see if that would work. Next time! At any rate, each time I moved the zoomed image, I had to deselect the Refine Edge Brush, REselect it and resize the tip to make it more controllable. I can see there needs to be some more experimentation with this Edit.

Eventually, I was happy with what I was seeing, both up close and from a distance. There’s still a little bit of a glow around the farthest-left-most tree, but it’s not obvious.

There’s one last option in this Edit, the Auto Match Color Tone tool. I decided to click it to see what it does.

Ick!! It lightened and softened the image too much!! So I Undid that step.

Now that I’m satisfied with my results I had another choice to make, what to do with it now. I chose to Save As it, with a new name so I’d know I’d edited it. But if I was ready to use it for a layout, I could have clicked on a Continue Editing bar and carried on.

I know I’ll use this Guided Edit again, with the suggestions I’ve made firmly in mind. If I discover anything new, I’ll come back and edit this post to keep you all up to speed.

Did you notice anything about this tutorial? The screenshots are so much bigger than usual – I learned something new about WordPress today!! I used the Windows Snipping Tool as Lori (teamkobza) suggested a couple of weeks back and it was less work than my previous method, so that’s a bonus. And then… when I imported them into WordPress, they were tiny; resizing them within WP made them really blurry. Then I noticed an advanced edit option that let me choose the original image size. BOOM! <doing the happy dance all over the living room>

See you next week!!

Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

What’s Your Digital Style?

Can we talk about style for a minute? We all have a certain style, a concept of ourselves and our environment; that style is reflected in the way we dress, the way we decorate our homes, the way we interact with others… and how we scrap our memories. If you spend any time wandering through the Gallery you’ll know exactly what I mean. There are scrappers whose style is instantly recognizable – you don’t even need to look for the scrapper’s name. But have you ever thought about the basic underpinnings of style? Let’s discuss!

First let’s look at the very popular Pocket Scrapper style. This layout from the GingerScraps Gallery is by ngocNTTD. Pocket scrapping is organized and photo-oriented. It’s one of the most basic of paper-to-digital styles out there, having emerged from Project Life and the various other daily, weekly and monthly project formats. Pages in this style document day-to-day and special events in a clean, grid-based arrangement. Any embellishment will be limited so as not to obscure the all-important photos. As you can see, ngoc has included 10 photos in her layout.


Heritage scrapping is a very popular style, especially for those of us interested in genealogy. Who doesn’t love vintage photos of our ancestors? There’s something very powerful in documenting our past in this way, as craftytam has done in her layout below. These layouts focus on history through the use of muted colours, with a slightly distressed look. Information relating to the life of the subject is a must for these pages, which may be as simple as vital statistics or as detailed as a complete life story. Journaling in hand-written fonts is characteristic.


A combination of these two is the Storyteller style. KatherineWoodin‘s layouts are such perfect examples of this style. Each page tells of a specific event; photos aren’t a requirement but if they’re used, they’re integral to the story being told. There’s a heavy emphasis on journaling, as you can see below. The use of embellishments is dictated by the feeling the scrapper wants to convey.


Classic scrappers rely on clean lines, limited embellishment, precise placement and precise use of words. Layouts are conservative, in several senses – paper scrappers might default to this style because it doesn’t use a lot of “stuff”. In this layout by gethane, the classic style is obvious.


And that leads us to the Modern style. Glori2 has solidly incorporated this style as her own. Modern layouts are the ultimate in clean and simple, which refers to minimalism and not the use of texture and grunge. Embellishments are few, and very carefully chosen. White space is vital to this style, giving the eye many options to rest.


I suppose the opposite of Modern is the Shabby Chic layout. This layout by kabrak1207 is a stellar example of Shabby Chic… muted pastels, vintage elements and ephemera, brushes and worn paper come together to create a visually appealing whole.


The Artist scrapper focuses on the overall image, using paints, brushes, blending and a multi-media approach. Kythe uses a deft hand here, blending not only the photo but also the leaves into her background. Those little ghosts look ethereal and are grounded by the vignette in the foreground. Artist-style layouts don’t rely on journaling to tell a story, and may not include a title either.


The last style is an art-form all on its own. Art Journaling conveys emotion through imagery. There really are no rules in Art Journaling, other than to use it as a way to express things we might not be comfortable expressing in any other form. Rather than putting a feeling into words, the use of word art, word strips, doodles, brushes, paint and textiles are used to tell the story. Intensely personal, this might be the most difficult of all styles to integrate into one’s repertoire, but cinderella has no problem!


Thinking about your own layouts, where does YOUR style fit? It’s quite likely that you aren’t easily pigeon-holed into a single style, but pull different aspects from several into your work. And as time passes, your style will evolve, both as your skills grow and as your world changes. HOW you do it isn’t as important as that you DO it! As for me, I’m still working the kinks out with the new laptop and having some trouble getting comfortable with it. It can only get better, right?


Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

Breaking the Digi-scrapping Code

When I was reading through the comments on last week’s tutorial Another Paper-Scrapping Digi-Hack something Pam K said about my use of the word “coffin” (referring to the weirdly shaped open areas of the snowflake brush I was using) made me laugh. She said, “Jan, I thought “coffin” was a scrapbooking term that I hadn’t heard of yet — LOL!! When I first started digi-scrapping, I was lost by the use of a lot of acronyms (GSO, LOTD, etc) & different words that (to me) seemed to describe the same thing (splatter, paint, graffiti). 🙂” But then I got to thinking… I wondered how many newbies to our amazing hobby are in the same boat, wondering just what the heck we’re talking about. So I decided I’d create a little glossary of digi-scrapping terms and acronyms. I think I’ll start with some generalities then move on to more specific stuff.

Let’s start with Software related terms. (Updated September 18 to include corrections from readers with more knowledge of PS CC and Gimp.)

PS : Photoshop – the most versatile and flexible graphics and image-editing software, from Adobe; expensive with a steep learning curve

PS CC : Photoshop Creative Cloud – a software package that is subscription based, on a monthly basis paid annually; identical to Photoshop above also includes access to online storage (at extra cost). If you don’t renew your subscription or miss a payment, you lose the license for using the software.

PSE: Photoshop Elements – a more economical choice of software, with many shared features with PS but a slightly less-steep learning curve; the most common software in use for both photo editing and digital scrapbooking according to several polls I’ve seen

Gimp: Gnu Image Manipulation Program – a free, cross-platform raster-based image editing software, also quite popular in the digi-scrapping world; it doesn’t allow for non-destructive editing. When using commercial templates, the PSD, TIFF and PNG  formats are compatible (see below)

Artisan: Forever’s digital scrapbooking and photo editing software – less versatile than either PS, PSE or Gimp; close in price to PSE. Autopopulates pre-designed layouts; no ability to use layered templates but is compatible with most digi-scrapping kits. Forever has a small selection of digi kits and a line of photo-based products similar to Shutterfly. My Memories Suite is comparable, but less costly

Layout: an arrangement of images – photos, papers, elements and text – for artistic or documentary purposes. Also LO.

Template: a file containing multiple layers; the layers build a layout from the background up, indicating where paper, elements and text will go. Templates speed up your workflow by eliminating much of the decision-making necessary for positioning items on your layouts, but still allowing for a lot of originality.

Clip: visually altering a photo or paper by attaching and “cutting” it to fit inside a specified outline. (Think multiple layers of paper in different sizes and shapes.)

Clipping mask: a defined shape with uniform or variable opacity, to which papers or photos may be clipped.

Brush: the digital equivalent of rubber or acrylic stamps

Stroke: a customizable outline around an object; options are colour, width, transparency and whether it goes inside, right over or outside the edge of the object

Style: a method of altering the appearance of an object that may include bevel (gives the look of thicker or embossed material), drop shadow (darker, semi-transparent outline), inner glow (highlighted area inside the outline) and outer glow (highlighted area outside the outline) and colour (variably transparent, often completely covers the underlying colour)

Filter: adjusts the appearance of objects or surfaces to resemble other media such as watercolour, mosaic or texture; also includes some options for blurring

Action: a series of automated commands that instruct the software to make adjustments to photos or other images; actions “run” on the image to edit them quickly and easily with some options for manual tweaking. There are a number of sources for actions, including a bunch of free ones from the Coffeeshop blog. They take your really nice photo and elevate it to outstanding in less than a minute!

Extraction: digitally removing the background from a photo or scan; the equivalent of using cuticle scissors to cut out a face or other image from a “real” photo

PNG: Portable Network Graphic – an raster-based object with a transparent background, the format which allows resizing without loss of detail; the most common use of this is for digital elements.

Raster: Bit-mapped images – a grid of individual pixels that together form an image

PSD: Photoshop Document – the entire collection of layers which have been created or altered in the creation of an image; the format for PS and PSE friendly templates

TIFF: Tagged Image File Format – another way of saving a compressed multi-layered document like a template without losing detail; creates a file smaller than a PSD but larger than a JPEG

JPEG: Joint Photographic Expert Group – a compressed image file with some loss of detail, but generally not noticeably so; the most common file type for storage and sharing of digital photos and other images

Are you thoroughly confused? Wait… it’s about to get worse! We’re moving on to digi-scrapping community acronyms and terms.

GSO: Gallery Stand Out – a term first coined by the digi-scrapping blog Fingerpointing; the blog began as a way for new digi-scrappers to learn how to grow their skills through example and constructive criticism. Now it’s more of a place for digi-scrappers to reap the rewards and accolades afforded to excellence. A team of respected digi-scrap artists browse through digital galleries for the major online digi-scrapping communities then post a mini-gallery of their picks for the day with a description of what drew them to the layouts. I’ve had the huge honour of having TWO layouts so recognized this summer.

LOTD: Layout of the Day – some online communities include a layout chosen by the staff of their store as layout of the day according to criteria they determine for their particular community

LOTW: Layout of the Week – here at GingerScraps, we have a weekly GSO that is selected by the community itself. And that segués into the GS-specific stuff…

Sugar Cookie: a member of the GS praise team. These ladies have a responsibility to make sure ALL people who post their layouts in the GS Gallery are seen and commented upon, part of our friendly, welcoming attitude. So the Cookies spend time looking at layouts, sometimes dissecting them for special techniques (right glee?), then leaving some love for the scrapper. Another one of their responsibilities is to choose the contenders for LOTW through…

Baker’s Best: a layout that makes a special impact on the viewer. Anyone can make a nomination for Baker’s Best by indicating it in a comment left under the layout then posting in the Baker’s Best forum thread. The Cookies must choose one each week. And as a former Cookie, I’ll tell you… IT’S HARD to pick just one!! lorigaud manages the BB program; she notifies each of the contenders for LOTW so they can check out their competition and ensuring their layout gets at least one vote.

Fresh Baked: GingerScraps’ name for the weekly new releases.

The Buffet: all designer kits created using the colour palette of the month, as chosen by Ginger; they release on the first day of the month. These kits/collections are on sale for the first 5 days of each month then go to regular price.

Bake Sale: a selection of kits chosen by the designers that are on sale for just a SINGLE DOLLAR for 5 days, from the 15th to 20th each month.

Monthly Mix: a huge collaboration collection created by the GingerBread Ladies team of designers that is only $5.25 for the entire month it’s released in, after which it goes to the regular price of $7. The September Monthly Mix is called Sunny Delight and contains 5 (lowercase only) alphas, 46 papers and 73 elements. Can’t be beat!!

Cookie Jar: where you keep track of your Challenge layouts so you can win the Challenge Reward kit. You will receive this Reward kit, created by the GingerBread Ladies, in the month where you reach 10 challenges completed. Some people get in 10 challenges almost every month and have a ginormous stash of these awesome kits. <hides in the corner>

Scrapping Survivor: a progressive digi-scrapping game modeled after TV’s Survivor, complete with alliances, weekly challenges, tree mail, immunity challenges and tribal councils. It’s a really popular event with separate tracks for staff and non-staff (who aren’t eligible for the grand prize, to make it more fair) and culminates in the crowning of the Sole Survivor. The prizes are pretty fabulous… now that I’m retired and my real job doesn’t get in the way any more I think I might join in for the 10th contest.

And there you have it, my friends. A short (and hardly complete) glossary for digi-scrapping the GingerScraps way! [Can you believe this is tutorial #150?? I can’t!!]

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Another Paper-Scrapping Digi-Hack!

Are y’all enjoying GingerScraps‘ Eleventh Birthday Bash?

So, I was wasting a rainy Sunday afternoon browsing Pinterest, trying to ignore the chill in the air and looking for distraction. And suddenly, there was some inspiration for a tutorial (as soon as I figured out how to do it!) for another digital version of a paper-scrapping technique. And it builds on the heat-embossing tutorial from last week, so it seemed like it was meant to be. Here’s the photo that caught my eye, from the Stampin’ Up design team. Do you see where I’m going?

If you’ve read any of my other tutorials, you’ll know that I like to do things like this on their own canvas, and I like to work large, then make small. To that end, I opened up a 12×12 canvas on my workspace. Then I browsed through my brush collection until I found a great set of snowflake brushes that came from a former GS designer, Pretty in Green.

I like the look of my inspirational image so I’m going to use black, but of course you do you!

I enlarged the brush to its maximum size. It can always be resized later (as long as it’s on its own layer).

Then I dropped a tonal paper from Connie Prince‘s pretty Snowflake Kisses kit UNDERNEATH the brush layer.

I’m not going to pretend that the next few steps didn’t take a lot of trial and error to get it right. The first step is to click on the Layer Thumbnail of the BRUSH layer to select the edges of the brush.

Then I clicked Select>Modify>Expand to make the selection bigger.

Here’s where the take-a-guess-and-hope-for-the-best comes in. I want all the various parts of the brush area to be contiguous with the others. I finally settled on 75 pixels.

Because the brush was designed by a human and not a machine, the hearts weren’t exactly and precisely spaced away from the solid line outline so the pixel width had to accommodate for that in order to eliminate the gaps. When you try this yourself you’ll soon see what I mean. But the gaps can’t stay, they mess up future steps so getting it right now is vital.

I played with this whole technique for several hours before I got it all settled in my head. I want the paper to be a solid background for the brush, and that meant I had to eliminate those “coffin” areas. I knew I’d have to ensure there are NO tiny little open areas in the paper when I “fussy cut” it, so to make sure I got the job done in the most efficient manner I put a blank layer in between my paper and my brush. (If you look closely you can see the marching ants around the edges of the selection.)

But first I had to fill the selection to be able to see where the little gaps might be. On the blank layer, I chose the Paint Bucket tool and my black foreground. Then I clicked on a random spot inside the snowflake shape.

Of course, the marching ants still outlined the “coffins” so they’ll have to be manually filled.

To turn off the marching ants, you can click Select>Deselect or you can use the keyboard shortcut D.

Then I went back with the Paint Bucket and filled in each “coffin”. After they were all filled in, I clicked in several more random spots inside the outlined area to fill in as many of the invisible gaps as I could.

Then, just because I had tried to make this technique work as simply as possible about a dozen times already, I zoomed in on my black snowflake and using a black round brush, I covered up any remaining gaps.

There are two ways to use this shape as a clipping mask. This is the labour-intensive way. With the PAPER layer active, click on the mask Layer Thumbnail to select the edge and get the marching ants. Then click Select>Inverse (CTRL/CMD>Shift>I) to have the PAPER selected, not the shape.

Now you can Edit>Cut (X) the paper surrounding the mask away.

Now the mask layer can be Deleted. (Obviously, to Work Smart Not Hard, I could have moved the mask layer below the paper layer then Clipped the paper to the mask… which is what I did with the second example below. Live and learn!)

To get the flocked look on my brush, first I applied a Bevel Layer Style. Just as I did last tutorial, I clicked on the Styles button at the bottom of the Layers panel, then chose Bevels>Soft Pillow Emboss.

The default settings are fine, so on to the next step.

It’s a really good idea to Simplify layers when you’re planning to layer Styles, like I’m going to do here. Otherwise that bevel could disappear.

Several GS designers create Style sets to go with their collections but Katie of Just So Scrappy/Ooh La La Scraps is the only one who has a FELT style. I used JSS Lucky Me‘s black felt.

Look at that! And I Simplify

Now to do the digital version of “fussy cutting”, which leaves a thin white edge around the image. Super simple with a Stroke! Edit>Stroke (Outline Selection)

I just pulled 30 pixels out of the air and applied it to the INSIDE of the edge.

For those of you who have paper-scrapped, you know how the Stampin’ Up designers got the elevated look with their ornament cutouts. They used double-faced foam tape. Digitally, it’s a simple shadow! If you need a refresher on creating custom shadows, you can find my quick-and-easy method here. It starts with a blank layer UNDERNEATH the cutout.

I clicked on the cutout Layer Thumbnail with the blank layer active.

Then I Filled the outline with black.

So there’s the basic shadow layer. Clicking D gets rid of the marching ants and clicking V activates the Move tool.

I decided that I wanted a right-sided 30° angle on my light source so I nudged the shadow layer over as shown. To turn a flat black blob into something that looks like a shadow, it’s necessary to Blur it. Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur it, to be more precise.

To see the effect the Blur filter has, you can click on an edge with the cursor and it’ll pop up in the box as shown. Slide the handle to the right until it looks good to your eye. I went to 11.1 pixels.

I always change the Blend Mode for my shadow layers, which will change the transparency and the overall effect, but it’s an optional step. With this one I used Color Burn. It’s important to do this step BEFORE you adjust the Opacity, because the Blend Mode tool will stay turned on if you do it later, and then when you use your arrows thinking you’re going to nudge something, it isn’t going to move, but it might change colour or disappear altogether…

And then adjust the Opacity to what looks right.

Then I went ahead and made a second snowflake cutout using (most of) the same steps.

When you have two objects overlapping, the shadow will look different where the items actually touch. So I used the Smudge tool (the one that looks like a fingertip) to push the shadow a little closer to the upper layer and to pull it away a little where there would be more space between the paper and the background. It’s subtle but it does make a difference. (Take another look at the inspiration photo if you’re still confused.)

How did I do?

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Digital Duplication: Embossing

Lately my head has been turning toward the upcoming holidays, and crafting handmade cards for those special people in my life. I’m also always seeking inspiration for my next tutorial… and suddenly several trains of thought collided in my head. There’s a paper-crafting technique that I LOVE, especially for cards, and it occurred to me that I should figure out how to achieve the same look digitally. That technique is called heat emboss resist, and when you do it on paper it’s a lot of messy steps. Using Versamark ink and a favourite stamp, you first make your stamped image on your paper. Then you sprinkle embossing powder over top of the wet Versamark. Then you heat the powder, which melts, adheres to the ink and gets a nice shine on it. Then you can paint over it with either ink or watercolour. The end result is a raised image that repels the ink or paint, and allows the embossing powder colour or base paper to show through. See the photo below that I borrowed from cardbomb.com. You can see the dimension and the way the paint is repelled. So how can that be done digitally?

from cardbomb.com

I had to play around for quite awhile until I had it all figured out. But first, I wanted to create a suitable canvas for this project. I took three papers from Lindsay Jane‘s Denim and Flowers collection and the mask created by the lovely Jenn of Shepherd Studio for the September Brush Challenge.

I dropped the solid aqua paper on my workspace, then added the purple solid on top of that. Of course, that made the aqua paper disappear. But by changing the Blend Mode on that purple paper, I can create magic! (But magic usually means trial-and error!)

I settled on Color Burn for my Blend Mode and this is what happened.

But just to be REALLY fancy, I also used the patterned aqua paper.

For that I chose Luminosity.

This is what happened with that move. But the rest of my efforts will be wasted if I leave it like this.

So I dropped the Opacity 50% and now I like what I see.

Then I added the mask onto the canvas.

I decided I wanted a purple mask, not black, so I went to my purple paper and chose a spot with the Eyedropper tool, then made it a bit darker. You can see the difference in the color selector box to the upper right of the menu box.

To change the mask’s colour quickly and easily, I clicked Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color….

Then when the tool menu opened, I made sure the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask was checked. The tool will then only fill the selected area with the new colour.

Boom! I like to Merge my Fill Layer with the layer under it so they stay together for later. But you don’t have to do that.

Now I’m going to use a Brush… the digital equivalent of rubber stamps. I ALWAYS put my brushes on their own layer for greater control. If I need to make the brush bigger or smaller, change the orientation of it, copy it or reverse it, I can. Oh, and I can apply Styles to it too…

I didn’t need to play with this brush (created by the talented Karla Noël) to get it to look right, other than to adjust the size so it fits into a solid area of the mask. The colour of the brush doesn’t matter for this technique, so I went with black for maximum visibility.

I want the paper to show through so I moved the brush layer under the mask layer then clicked on the Layer Thumbnail to select the edges of the brush. With the MASK layer selected, I Edit>Cut (CTRL/CMD>X) the brush outline out of the mask.

Remember, I was experimenting and taking screenshots as I worked, so there are some unnecessary steps in here, as you’ll see later. I wanted to give the brush some dimension so it looks like heat embossing, so I clicked on the Styles button at the bottom of the Layers panel then chose Bevels. These styles come embedded in the software. The style I used (after I tried almost all of them!) is the Simple Pillow Emboss style, with the default settings.

This is what it looks like with the default settings. It surely does look like puffy paint!

Here’s where some of the unnecessary steps come in, but bear with me. I duplicated the embossed brush then went back into the Styles menu and chose Wow Plastic, which also is embedded in the software. I chose the White one down there at the lower left.

Black’s gone!

Here’s where you’ll be shaking your head because I’m working hard, not smart! I made a copy of the copy layer with the white plastic style applied. I didn’t need to do it, as I learned in a moment… Then I selected the mask layer. Because I’m going to move it.

By putting the mask layer underneath all three brush layers, I can see all sorts of effects that were invisible before.

So I checked out the fx on the bottom, embossed-only layer. No adjustments to be made there.

But the middle layer, that’s where there’s a ton of potential. I want the brush to look grounded but also dimensional. So I played with the settings here and settled on what you see. Can you see the changes?

Here’s where I found out I wasn’t smart. But I have what looks a lot like a white heat-embossed stamp on my layout, “resisting” the watercolour mask.

I thought I’d leave it at that, but then I started thinking about transparent embossing powder – which really is a thing – and how it would allow the background paper to show through. Could I digitally duplicate that? Let’s see! Up to this point, I’ve blended the papers and merged them, dropped the mask on the paper and recoloured it then added the brush (just one layer) and used the Soft Pillow Emboss style on it. The mask layer has its visibility turned off for now. In the Wow Plastic styles set there’s a Clear one. What does that do?

That’s what it does! But it still needs some help to look more realistic.

With only a single brush layer there’s only a single fx to play with. I made some tweaks, but I’m not sure they’ll be right until I add the mask.

Oh. No. That’s not quite the look I’m after, so I made a few more fx adjustments.

But it still didn’t look quite right, so I lowered the Opacity to 50% and NOW I’m happy!

There’s just a hint of shine on it, some dimension and it looks just fine!

Is there a paper-crafting technique you’d like me to translate to digital? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.