Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Memory-Keeping with Not-So-Great Photos

I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously lousy at getting good selfies. Maybe I’m too critical, or maybe I just don’t look good in photos. But when the only photos I have of an event I really want to scrap about are those nasty selfies, what’s a woman to do? Such was the day I went to the beach on the Wild Atlantic Way… the ONLY day out of the whole two weeks I was in Ireland this time when it rained. It was also the only chance I would have to walk on the beach at Kilkee, where my 3x great-grandparents were born. So I went ahead to walk on the beach (although I didn’t walk the cliffs – I AM a bit of a chicken) and took the nasty selfies, then scrapped them into a minimalist layout for the January Color Challenge.

When I say it was raining, I’m not talking about the soft, misty rain Ireland is usually known for; it was more like a prairie downpour. My hair was plastered to my head and my jacket was soaked through. (And I was freezing… in July!)

If I was going to do something with these photos that I could live with, I was going to have to think a bit. I made a copy of my photo so I’d be playing with it and not the original.

Then I did something I’d never done before… I checked out the possibilities in the Effects menu. I played with each of the options to see what they do, and some of them will be given more attention in upcoming tuts. Imagine my surprise when I found an even quicker-with-fewer-steps sketch effect than we’ve looked at in other tuts.

Just one click and I had a sketch!

The effect produced another new layer.

The details are pretty blown-out, so I thought about how to find them again. (Although I wasn’t really upset that the crowsfeet are gone!)

I used the Levels adjustment (Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels or CTRL/CMD>L) to darken the outlines. With Levels, pushing the Input Levels dark value slider to the right as shown and the Output Levels light value slider just slightly to the left allowed some colour to leak back in, but also brought the details and textures back. The raindrops on my glasses are more obvious now.

I wanted a tiny bit more sketchiness so I duplicated the sketch layer (right-click on the layer then select Duplicate Layer or CTRL/CMD>J) then played with the Levels again. Can you see the difference in the histograms between the two images?

Just for fun, I played with some Blend Modes too. Some of them give really interesting results… There are no limits on creativity here!

I chose Pin Light. The only difference it makes is to brighten the image up a bit. And maybe sharpen the sketch effect a smidge.

Lowering the Opacity of that layer lets a bit more colour show through without losing the total sketch effect.

But naturally, I have to play a bit more.

I tried all the Modes then settled on Overlay.

That’s more like it! Some of the gray is gone,, the details are sharper and there’s a hint of colour.

After I Merged all the layers, this is what I ended up with.

And my final layout looks like this… The blended photo in the background is simply clipped to a mask then the mask’s Opacity was lowered a bit to blend the background a bit more.

Tutorial Tuesday (Inspiration)

What’s Your Super Power (Word)?

Happy New Year! Are you ready for 2019? I know lots of you, like me, were happy to see 2018 to the door. When I was thinking about topics for this week’s tutorial, I had a few ideas, but my thoughts kept returning to just one. If you’re into social media, I know your Facebook and Instagram feeds have been flooded with chatter about New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re like me, resolutions are just wishes! Experts say it takes three months of repetition for a change to become a habit; how many of us actually stick to those diet plans, those vows to exercise more, that vague promise to ‘be more organized’, for that long? <insert laugh track here> Resolutions are things we have to DO. And I don’t like being told what to do. <wink>

What works better for me is to choose a ‘power word’ for the upcoming year, a word for me to strive to BE. If you’ve seen the annual challenge by the maven of scrapbooking, Ali Edwards, called One Little Word, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Choosing that one little word is harder than it sounds. Like making resolutions, it requires a certain amount of introspection and soul-searching. The first time I chose a power word was at the beginning of 2010. I was going through a very difficult chapter in my life then and had no idea how it would come out in the end. But I’d been through tough times before and I knew I’d come through this one too. So the word I chose was PERSEVERE. Yes, it’s an action, something I had to do, but it was also a state of mind and a state of being. Guess what… I PERSEVERED and came out the other side in much better shape than I expected. This time last year I was in a great mood with a new grandchild on the way and a trip to Ireland to find my roots in the offing. My power word was ANTICIPATE… and ANTICIPATE I surely did! By the end of the year, it had morphed into ENDURE after my husband’s accident in September. Thankfully things are 90% back to normal, and I’m entering into 2019 on a more optimistic footing. I know this year will bring challenges… after all, it’s LIFE, and that’s a challenge all by itself. But with my rose-coloured glasses firmly in place, I’m choosing POSSIBILITY as my power word this year. I usually tend to look at the glass as being half empty, but I’m making a conscious affirmation to look at the POSSIBILITY that things will go well.

Now, how do YOU go about choosing a power word for the year? If you’ve already made some resolutions, you can use them as a framework. Do you see a theme? Is there an impending event in the future that you’re already aware of, either with excitement or dread? Are things going well for you, or are you really struggling right now? There are a number of online resources designed to help choose a power word. One that I particularly like is found at Heidi‘s blog Happiness is Homemade. She has a list of options, and one of them is sure to resonate with you. Another resource is on Jess‘s blog, Cultivate What Matters.

When you go to scrap your power word, the only constraint is your imagination. You could  choose a grungy, moody art journal style if that’s how you’re feeling, you could find a photo or a few that represent the theme, you could put it into a word cloud. You could create an acrostic with it and embellish the meaning using synonyms. So many options!!

I scrapped my guiding word today, with ADB Designs‘ gorgeous Coming to America bundle. My photo was taken in October when my husband, my son and I made a previously-planned-therefore-not-going-to-be-postponed-even-for-a-knee-injury trip to British Columbia. It’s the view from Tower Ranch Hillside Park in Kelowna, a spectacular vista I’ve fallen in love with. To me it’s the visual representation of POSSIBILITY – the sky really IS the limit!

Next week we’ll get back to the nuts-and-bolts of digital scrapbooking. Thank you for indulging my navel-gazing!

PS… for Rochelle (roxyrenders): Your comment on my Happy Holidays layout reads: “Wow- what kind of magic did you work on the wordart stamp? It almost seems as if it is glowing!” Simple little tricks! I first duplicated the mask/stamp layer. I applied a fine glitter style to the bottom-most of the two, then decreased the opacity of the layer to about 50% – that’s what creates the glow. Then on the upper layer, I clipped an ivory-and-gold foil brocade patterned paper (from JoCee DesignsDecember bundle) to the mask, then changed the Blend Mode to Hard Light. It’s just that easy!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

The EYE-lets Have It!

I’m still working my way through years worth of scrapbooking magazines trying to figure out why I kept them in the first place. While I’m at it I’ve been looking for more paper-scrapping techniques I can translate into digital ones, and finding some solid inspiration. Today I want to show you how I’ve used an eyelet from the GingerBread Ladies‘ collab It Comes with Spring  to secure my photo and frame to my paper stack… just like I would have when I paper-scrapped. (This collection was the Free-with-Purchase gift in March 2016.) The rest of the layout is created with Connie Prince‘s Snowflake Kisses , LDrag DesignsJolly Holidays alphas and Aprilisa‘s Picture Perfect 177 templates from the December Buffet for the Buffet Challenge.

Once I had my eyelet in position and resized to fit within the edges of my paper frame, I clicked on the Elliptical Marquee tool.

I set the tool’s settings to Fixed Size, then experimented with the dimensions until I got a circle the correct size. Both dimensions for width and height must be the same. 50 pixels by 50 pixels works.

I made sure the frame’s layer was my active layer and clicked just inside the edge of the eyelet to make my circular selection.

Then I used the arrow keys to nudge it into place with the hole in the eyelet in the center. Once I had it positioned properly, I used the Edit>Cut command (CTRL/CMD>X) to create a hole in the frame paper.

There! Now I can see the corner of the photo. On to the next step.

I repeated the same steps, only moving my active layer to the photo layer.

I cut the corner of the photo off…

but, because I’m using a template, the photo clipping mask is still there.

Oh wait!! There’s a Work Smart Not Hard lesson here! If I make the CLIPPING MASK layer the active layer, I can cut BOTH layers with one click.

I kept repeating the layer>select>cut steps for each paper layer until I could see my background paper.

You’ll notice as you go along that the drop shadow from each paper layer is visible, but there’s no shadow on the actual eyelet. I used the default drop shadow styles to apply a narrow shadow with the light source coming from the same direction as the template’s layers.

I could leave it with just a single eyelet, but that doesn’t work for me. So I Copied the eyelet layer (CTRL/CMD>J) and nudged it over, then followed all the same steps as before to make a nice hole all the way to the background paper.

Then I did it all one more time to create 3 eyelets lined up along the top edge of my frame. To quote my friend Sandy, 3 is an esthetically pleasing number.

For balance and symmetry, I decided to put another 3-eyelet set in the diagonally opposite corner.

In this corner, there are different papers in the stack under the frame, so I had to pay attention to the paper I could see in the hole. It’s really not that time consuming to copy and cut three more eyelets.

There it is! The background paper!

I have a feeling the eyelets in the lower right corner won’t be visible on my finished layout, but I’ll know they’re there!

If you can think of a paper-scrapping technique you’d like me to translate, please let me know!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Gentle(wo)men, Start Your Ovens!

The inspiration for today’s tutorial came from a Facebook post by one of my coworkers. She had spent the day making and decorating sugar cookies. (The photo above isn’t hers, it’s from The Girl Creative‘s blog.) As I was looking at her cookies, it occurred to me that I could probably make digital sugar cookies (bonus – NO calories!) and so I gave it a shot. It worked well, so I’m going to share the recipe with y’all. I started with a 6 inch by 6 inch square blank canvas. (P.S. Don’t be thrown by the number of screenshots in this tut. I’ve included practically every step, although we’re using a lot of techniques I’ve already shown you.)

I looked through all of the Custom Shape tool‘s menu – it’s the one that looks like an amoeba. The menu has a lot of options for shapes, most of them geometrical. But that won’t make this technique easy, so I only looked at the amoeba menu.

If you click on the triangle along the right side of the box I’ve circled below, the amoeba Custom Shape menu opens. I chose to look at them all to find the one that would work best, so I went with All Elements Shapes then scrolled until I found the one named Nuclear.

Because snowflakes in nature are perfectly symmetrical, I changed the settings for this tool from the default, which is Unconstrained, to Defined Proportions. If you’re into Working Smart Not Hard, you can also Simplify the shape by selecting that in the settings.

Getting these shapes in the exact spot you want them isn’t easy. But you can click-and-drag out your shape then move it to where it needs to be. Once it has been Simplified, you can easily resize it too.

If you didn’t Simplify in the Shapes menu, do it now. Right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select Simplify Layer.

Not looking much like a cookie cutter now, is it? We’ll have to fill in those open areas using the Paint Bucket tool.

There we go! I could go ahead and just use this shape, which is more like a flower than a snowflake, but would still totally work. But if you know me at all, you’ll know I’m going to do more.

There are two ways to do this next step. I’m going to use the Elliptical Marquee tool. The other way would be to use the Custom Shapes tool and choose the Circle.

Because symmetry is still important at this point, I changed the settings to Fixed Ratio. This is handy for making perfect circles, but also can be set to make perfect ellipses too.

It’s possible to perform this on the same layer as the original shape, but I choose to put the outline on its own layer.

So I added a blank layer above the shape and made my Stroke outline here.

The stroke can be any size. Once I’d made my circle I filled it in with the Paint Bucket.

This is my cookie cutter. It needs a little adjustment – look closely and you’ll see the circle isn’t centered on the nucleus shape. I need to fix that!

Now that both layers were aligned properly, I Merged the layers into one shape. (CTRL/CMD>E)

Then I Duplicated the shape layer and set it aside for later. Right-click on the layer then select Duplicate Layer, or CTRL/CMD>J.

I didn’t need to see that duplicate layer at this stage, so I closed the eye and made it invisible.

To turn the shape into a cookie, I applied a Style. I used this creamy acrylic one from Miss Mis‘s Hustle and Heart layer styles set. Another option for this step would be to use a chipboard Style, such as one of Just So Scrappy‘s Cabin Fever chipboards (included in the GingerBread Ladies December 2017 Challenge Reward collab of the same name). That would allow you to condense this step and the next 9 into just a SINGLE WSNH step!

The only problem with this is that the cookie is too shiny. The colour looks good, and there’s a nice dimension to it, but I changed the Style settings, essentially turning everything off and shifting the light source. To adjust a Layer Style, rignt-click on the fx symbol on the layer in the Layers panel and this menu will open up.

Now it still has some dimension but the shine is gone. I’m still working on the bottom, original layer.

I picked a nice, toasty golden brown to “bake” my cookie.

Then I opened a new layer above the base layer, and selected a brush from one of the presets that came with my software. It’s called Pastel Light 118 pixels and I used it with the default settings that opened with the brush menu.

I picked a spot on the edge of the cookie, then clicked and dragged the brush all the way around the shape.

Remember this from when I showed you how to do digital inked edges? Same technique exactly. I CTRL/CMD>clicked on the layer thumbnail of the cookie layer while working on my brush layer. That selected the edges and the inside of the cookie.

Next I Inverted the selection – moving the chosen area of the layer outside of the cookie. Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>I.

Then I simply Cut away the brush that falls outside the cookie. Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X.

Voilà! My cookie is baked to golden perfection!! Now to add the Royal Icing. (Or Royal Frosting, if you prefer.)

Here’s why I had you Duplicate the shape layer. I’m going to flood that top shape with my Royal Icing. But first, I resized the shape so some of the cookie layer is visible. The easiest way is to click on one of the little boxes at the corners of the bounding box then go down to the menu and type in a number less than 100. I chose 92%, which exposes some of the cookie layer but not too much. You can also just move the corner you’ve clicked on inward until it looks right.

I used another Style, this gel blue one from Just So Scrappy‘s Lucky Me. [GingerScraps is lucky to have designers who create layer styles, like Misty (Miss Mis Designs), Katie (Just So Scrappy/Ooh La La Scraps), Aimee Harrison, Marina (Magical Scraps Galore), Lina (LDrag Designs), Jo (JoCee Designs), Natasha (Ponytails Designs) and our lovely guest Karen (Snickerdoodle Designs).]

I made some tweaks to the layer style to make it look more like a flood of Royal Icing.

Then I got to the good part! I changed my foreground colour to pure white (which can be quickly selected by typing “ffffff” into the box at the bottom right of the menu).

Next I chose my Pencil tool from the Toolbox and adjusted the tip size to about 25 pixels.

If you’ve been adding realism to your stickers and overlays, you’ll already know how to draw a line with the Pencil. But if you haven’t read that tut, or you need a refresher, all you have to do is click at the starting point of your line, hold down the SHIFT key and click where you want the line to end.

You can turn on the Grid as shown below to help figure out where to start and stop your lines. View>Grid or CTRL/CMD>’

I used just the Pencil tool, but you could also use Brushes for adding detail to your snowflakes. Don’t worry about precision; if you were making real sugar cookies you’d be doing all the piping freehand, right?

You can make your snowflake as complex as you like. I played around for about 10 minutes, using the Pencil and changing the tip size.

No comment.

Now to turn all those lines and dots into Royal Icing. I applied a basic Style from the presets in Elements to add a Bevel. I experimented with all of them until I got the look I was after. In the end I went with the Simple Sharp Inner bevel.

It looks pretty good as is, with the default settings for the Bevel style menu.

Now, I could have stopped here and called it good. But again, anyone who has read my tutorials before know I had to experiment some more. But I’ve learned to do my experimenting on a copy layer… CTRL/CMD>J

Then I cleared the Layer Style (Bevel) by right-clicking on the layer in the Layers panel and choosing Clear Layer Style.

Then I hit that top copy layer with another of Katie’s Styles from Lucky Me, the gel white.

Then I decreased the Opacity on that layer to 46% (after some waffling).  Now the sharp edges are a little softer, and so are the shadows. Much better!

Once I was happy with my finished product, I Saved my cookie as a .png (which preserves the transparent background). Now I can use the cookie on a layout!

Of course, I didn’t stop there. I went back and deleted the snowflakey layers and started fresh. This time I stayed really basic. I just used one of the preset snowflakes from the Custom Shapes menu! The Styles I used were exactly the same.

If you’ve never saved a creation as a .png, or if you’ve forgotten how to do it, here are the settings I use.

And again… one of the Custom Shapes snowflakes, but with some personality.

Are you hungry now?

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Shaving Shadows

As you’ve already figured out if you read my tutorials regularly, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like things to look a certain way, and will try whatever it takes to get the effect I want. Shadows are something I don’t like to compromise on, and I often create custom shadow layers for my layouts. But I’m also a bit of a procrastinator and leave things until the 11th hour… and then I run with drop shadow styles, either ones I’ve loaded into my Styles menu or the ones the designer has added to the template I’m using. These Styles are limited in what can be tweaked, and when I’m building a cluster, sometimes the shadows just look wrong because the style isn’t more adjustable. In that case, if I’m in a real hurry, I look the other way, but I’m not happy about it. So when I discovered a Work Smart Not Hard method of customizing drop shadow styles,  I was all over it! I was absolutely giddy!! It IS possible to erase JUST THE SHADOWS quickly and easily, to give that realism to my clusters!

There are a number of designers who have collections of drop shadow styles for sale. They make short work of shadowing a variety of elements with a single click. But they have limitations in the adjustments you can make to them. At least that’s what I always thought…

The image below shows the software’s adjustment menu for Styles. You can open this menu by double-clicking on the Style icon (the little fx icon on the right hand side of the layer in the Layers Panel). Whatever settings you choose, Elements applies across the board.

Now, if I try to erase any part of the shadow on this layer, I run the risk of erasing the flower too. But with the shadow style left intact as a style, when I erase part of the shadow, I also erase the part of the flower that casts the shadow. And it looks very odd.

If I Simplify the layer (as I remind you constantly to do with your special effects), Erasing will erase everything equally; who has time for zooming in, using a tiny Erase brush and going pixel by pixel to erase just the shadow? I don’t.

See what I mean?

Here’s where the fun starts. If I Select the flower by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the image thumbnail in the Layers Panel

and THEN Simplify…

I can Invert the selection at any point either before or after Simplifying and it works just the same. To Invert, click on Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>Shift>I which moves the marching ants from the edges of the image to the edge of the document and Selects everrything in between – the shadow.

Now I can Erase just the shadow!! At this step I can use the Eraser brush at 100% opacity to completely remove the shadow, or I can decrease the brush Opacity to whatever I want to just to lighten the shadow in that area. Or I can partially erase, partially lighten. It’s a bonanza of options!

You may never have a reason to use this trick, but I’m glad I shared it with you.

Tutorial Tuesday (Digital Scrapbooking)

8 ball, Corner Pocket!

Last week when I was struggling to find a topic to write about, I asked the GingerScraps Ad Team members for some ideas. Teresa suggested I do something about pocket scrapping. I have to tell you, I was floored. Pocket scrapping isn’t my thing and it’s really not my comfort zone either. I know it was a big part of the digi world several years ago, and I flirted with Project 52 (there’s NO WAY I could commit to Project 365 and I admit it!) but I wasn’t all that successful. So I had some learning to do before I could present myself as an expert. Ha! The EXPERT is Becky Higgins, the developer of Project Life. She has an app for that in addition to a whole paper line for pocket scrapping.

What IS pocket scrapping? Basically, it’s a clean-and-simple style of layout based mainly on a grid. It’s ideal for documenting the memorable (and the ordinary) events of our lives. Each section of the grid or block can hold a photo, a pocket/journal card, art work or a cluster of embellishments.

Why is it called pocket scrapping? It has its roots in paper scrapping, and it makes use of vinyl pockets of mainly two standard sizes, 2″x3″ and 4″x6″. Digital pocket scrapping follows the same format, and it lends itself very well to hybrid scrapping. You can create your page, print it and then attach buttons, ribbons, lace and pockets holding ephemera to the page.

Most of the designers on the GingerBread Ladies team here create kits and templates that work beautifully for pocket scrapping. In fact there are pages and pages of kits tagged for this style of memory keeping. And it’s easy to find them, too! I thought about giving you a list of designers whose products are amazing for pocket pages, but it would be a lot faster just to show you how to see them for yourself.

I’d love to show you some examples I found in the Gallery. This one is from trina513. I like that she’s used her Instagram photos.

minicooper452 created this one. The photos tell a story, and the journaling preserves the excitement of the day.

This one by emscraps is obviously a Project 52 layout. Em has managed to maintain her P52 for years now!

Belis2mi has documented a special day for her children with this layout.

I really like the feel this layout from amyjcaz has, with the photos of how she spent her day at the beach.

Because I live in cowboy country, this one by psychozoe caught my eye right away.

And then there’s this one from firstoscartgrouch that’s so whimsical and fun.

After looking at all these examples of pocket scrapping and seeing the individual stamps of each scrapper on her layout, I decided to give it a shot! It’s pretty amateurish, but maybe if I do a few more…

Next week there will not be a tutorial. We’re going to visit my parents and then our daughter in her new home in the mountains for a few days and I just won’t be able to squeeze in a blog post. I’ll be doing all the driving so I’ll be seeking a horizontal surface!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Making a Stylish Sandwich

A few days ago I got a private message from Heidi1472 wanting to know more about using styles. I linked her up to some of the tutorials wherein I’ve used styles, but then I thought, “Maybe I should do a quick tut about putting multiple styles on a single layer, because maybe people don’t know that’s a thing.” So here it is!

First, does everybody know how to load styles into the Photoshop Elements? In Versions 12 and up, it’s super-easy. All you have to do is open the Styles menu on your workspace then click on the icon that looks like a stack of paper in the upper right corner. This sub-menu opens up. Click on Load Styles then find the folder holding the styles you want to use and it’ll do the rest.

I wanted to load the styles that Natasha of Ponytails Designs had created for the GingerScraps 10th Birthday MEGA collab Indian Summer.

So I found them in my stash and loaded them up. They’re BIG files, so they do take a few minutes. Don’t panic!

I had this great photo I found on Pixabay of some Amur maple leaves with some gorgeous bokeh in the background. So I decided to punch it up with a brush and a combo of styles.

I never did get to use the lovely brush Wendy of Neverland Scraps  created for us for the July 2018 Brush Challenge. It seemed perfect for this technique.

I created a new layer above my photo, shrunk the brush down a little to fit into the left-side area of bokeh and dropped it down. Then I added another layer, adjusted the angle of the brush and did it again. I ended up doing this process a total of 4 times. Putting each brush on its own layer lets me have a lot more creative control over what happens next.

Here’s what I mean about putting the brushes on their own layers.

Now it just looks like a bunch of fruit flies on a chunk of mango, but it’s not going to stay like that. See how most of the brush bits are inside the bokeh area?

Because I want the technique to highlight the bokeh and not the leaves, I went back and erased the bits of the brush that sit on top of the leaves, one layer at a time.

Then I made a copy of EVERY brush layer. You can do it the hard way, selecting the layer, right-clicking on it, selecting Duplicate Layer, waiting for the pop-up then clicking on OK, or you can WSNH and just hit CTRL/CMD>J.

In some spots, the brush still peeks out from behind the leaf, and that’s what I wanted. Then I hid all the COPY layers for later.

Now for the fun part! I clicked on the Styles button and found my GingerScraps Indian Summer glitter styles.

I started with my first brush layer and used the medium orange glitter style on the sparkles.

I let the colour and intensity of the bokeh guide my colour choices. The second brush set was over a lighter golden area so I went with the gold glitter.

The third (original) brush layer is in a darker area, so it got the darker orange glitter.

The brush at the top was over a darker area so it seemed the red glitter was right for it.

It looks really good, but where’s the layering part? I started unhiding the COPY layers one at a time and applied a glitter style to each of them too.

For the most part, I put a lighter colour of glitter on top of each original layer. I also decreased the Opacity of the COPY layers to 40%. That gives the brush layers a soft glow and a slightly different colour.

When I got to the red glitter layer, nothing looked right until I tried the GRAY glitter on the COPY layer.

You can see the red around the edges but it’s mostly covered up. But wait. I’m still going to decrease the layer’s Opacity to 40%.

Voilà! A sort of ruby look to it now.

Oh but wait, we’re not done yet! I selected all the layers and Merged them together. (CTRL/CMD>E)

If you’re a faithful reader of this tripe, then you know I still had another idea. So I made a copy of the merged brush layer.

I chose to use a soft yellow gloss style from Misty’s Miss Mis Designs‘s Hustle and Heart styles set (not shown). Then I again lowered the Opacity to 40%. It looked “okay”…

But when I moved that layer to underneath the glitter layer, it really gave a lovely glow to the brushes. I LOVE how it looks!!

Sadly, just as I was getting to the very tail end of my layout, my laptop crashed. So if you were hoping to see the final result, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait… I have to do it all over again, from the beginning…… and that’s gotta wait until after I play with y grandchildren for a few days. See ya next week!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Sketchy Simplified

Today’s tutorial doesn’t need a lot of explantation. It’s a little goodie I stumbled on when I was playing with this photo. I took it with my cell phone camera and was pleasantly shocked at how it came out, even when blown up in PSE. The sky is very flat, but that’s how the sky looked for much of my time in Ireland, so I’m not obsessing over it.

I’ve been playing with these Guided Edits just to see what they do, and the Orton Effect is amazing!

With this one, you can click the Edit button several times to create an additive change to your photo. But I only clicked it once.

The difference isn’t obvious, but it’ll be quite apparent once I change the settings.

See the change now? I barely moved the Blur slider to the right, I think the numeric amount was 4. But the whole image is softer and dreamier.

I played with all the sliders; the Noise one was the one I really wasn’t sure of. But in the end, I moved it to the right about 12 and the stone is starting to look sketchier.

By pushing the Brightness slider over about 1/3 of the way between the default and the max, I got this nice look.

As you can see, there are now 3 layers there when I clicked through to the Expert editor. Each layer can be further adjusted, Blend Modes changed to suit your mood and Opacity lowered. But I was happy with it so I just Merged them all.

But I tried a few more things on this image. I Duplicated the image layer so it would remain unchanged before I went on the add a Filter.

Filter>Stylize>Find Edges is the filter I used.

Don’t be alarmed! A simple tweak will make this work.

All I did was pull the Opacity of the top layer down to 32%.

And all that was left was to Merge the layers again. Then I saved the resulting image for use in a layout later. I plan to use it with a mask (or two) to blend it into the background a bit and that’ll add some life to the sky.

This should work with just about any photo with strong detail. Give it a whirl!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Creating ‘Mazing Monograms

Lately I’ve been really interested in designing labels for decorative items I’m planning for my home. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun and lets me use my creative eye, PSE skills and a little ingenuity. When my grand-daughter was born late last month, I thought I should design a monogram to use as the title of a layout introducing her to the world. I think we all know what a monogram is. But did you know there are some conventions around them?

Monograms have been used for about 2 millenia. Yep, they’ve been around since about 350BC when they began to appear on coins issued by Greek cities, identifying the coins as having come from there. They’ve also been used as signatures by artists and craftsmen, especially when trade guilds began enforcing their rules about membership and took measures against those engaging in those activities without authorization. They later were used as signatures of monarchs and noblemen to identify their holdings, their armies and their money.

Individual monograms came into use as a natural continuation of their use by Important People. They can be part of the letterhead on personal stationery, to identify one’s luggage, to fancify their handkerchiefs, shirts and ties and oh, yeah… wedding invitations! If the monogram is that of a woman, her surname initial is the central, larger one, with her first initial on the left and her middle initial on the right. For men, that convention is often ignored, and their initial are put in order of appearance in their name. Engaged couples may choose to have their two first initials entwined and newlyweds might have one member’s first initial on the left, their joint surname initial in the middle and the other member’s first initial on the left.

The example below has my grand-daughter’s initials following the first individual convention. I used MainType 7.0 (as described in the tutorial on organizing your fonts) to find the perfect font for the job. The font I ended up using is one I picked up at the FontBundles July $1 event. It’s called Quiska Regular and it’s gorgeous!

Once I’d settled on my font, I opened a new 12×12 document in PSE. I like to work large and then resize because detail is so much more visible. Then I found the font in my Type tool menu. (Keyboard shortcut is just the letter T.) I increased the size of the font to 100 pixels. And last, I changed the colour to that luscious fuchsia.

I put each of my 3 letters on their own layers. I know I’m going to want to make adjustments to one or more letters, but not necessarily all of them at once.

I’m not lecturing you, really… but remember to Simplify those letters as you go along. Elements has a bad habit of messing with your existing text should you decide to change fonts or colours if you don’t take that step. Once the layer is simplified you can’t change the font, but you CAN resize, recolour and play with it.

For that middle initial I changed the size of the font (just by typing in the number I want into the box I’ve circled below) to 150 pixels.

Then I went back to 100 pixels for my last letter. You’ll notice they’re randomly placed, and that doesn’t matter, because Elements has tools to fix that.

While I was playing with the letters, I didn’t like the size differential so I decided to increase the size of the smaller letters by 20%, to 120 pixels. Then it looked right!

By selecting all three layers, I could then use the Align tool to line up the horizontal centres of the letters.

I wanted a little bit of an overlap on the letters to tie the monogram together. So I used the Distribute tool too to shift the letters based on their vertical centres.

All that’s left is to Merge the layers together to make a single object. They’re already all selected; right-click on them and select Merge, or just hit CTRL/CMD>E and they’ll unite.

Those of you who read my tripe weekly will know that I wasn’t serious when I said I was done. I decided to add some flourishes to my monogram. I love brushes and have quite a collection of them that I’ve often downloaded free from Brusheezy.com. The one I opted to use here is part of a collection called 20 Dividers V2. Did you know that if you hover the cursor over your workspace you’ll get a preview of the brush just like I’ve shown you below? You’ll know what it looks like and can then adjust your size and angle before you even use your brush.

I know I sound like a broken record. Good habits are important to streamline your workflow and prevent oopses. If you put your brushes on their own layers, you have total control over them. If you put them right on your paper, you can’t do anything with them – can’t change their colour (easily) or opacity, increase or decrease the size, apply a style, copy them or any other tweak you might decide is needed. So just put them on their own layers!

For balance I want a second flourish; duplicating the layer is the easiest way to ensure they’re identical. Either right-click on the layer and select Duplicate, then click OK in the pop-up menu or simply CTRL/CMD>J to copy it.

Then I flipped the second brush vertically so the two brush layers are mirror images. The easiest way to do that is to grab one of the middle handles on the bounding box then drag the handle in the direction you want the flip to go. (Either horizontally or vertically.) Don’t obsess over dragging it to exactly the same size, because you can simply type -100 into the corresponding box in the tool options below. Then the software does all the work. WSNH!!

Again, let the software do the work to Align all the layers again. I opted to then select the two brush layers and shrink them somewhat so they were closer to the same scale as the monogram. Then I Merged the brush layers into one.

I might be done… but then again, I might not be done! Let’s see what we can do to really make this monogram pop. I’m going to use a Bevel Style.

I have the letters layer selected and used the Inner Ridge Bevel. It looks like enamel and I love it!

Then I selected my brush layer and hit it with the Scalloped Edge Bevel just to give it a bit more weight and dimension.

Isn’t that amazing?! And so simple!! I saved it as a png file so I can use it as the title for my layout when the time comes. Keep your eye out for it in the Gallery!

I’m departing tomorrow (July 11/18) for a two-week genealogical expedition to Ireland. So there won’t be a tutorial next Tuesday or the Tuesday after. If I’m not totally whipped when I get home again, there MAY be one ready for the 31st. Think about what I can teach you next. Sláinte!!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Like a Broken Record

I was fooling around with a thought I had to see how it would look and a tutorial was born! I love papers with a small pattern repeat and I adore embossed cardstock. But I can’t always find what I want when I want it, so I decided to give creating my own a try. It’s so simple!! (But let’s not put our awesome designers out of work, ‘k?)

I started out with a plain Kraft-coloured cardstock from Scraps N PiecesOh Canada… Eh! collection. Then I opened a new document (CTRL/CMD>N). I knew I was going to use something that would resemble a tile effect and chose to work on a 300 x 300 pixel square canvas. Our 12 x 12 inch layouts are 3600 x 3600 pixels, so this size will be 1/12th of the length/width of the overall cardstock.

I opened up the Custom Shape Tool menu then chose All Elements to see every shape available.

I played with more than one of these shapes before I settled on this one.

I put my cursor at the upper left corner and pulled the shape diagonally across my square canvas to completely fill it. The colour I used isn’t important because I’m going to change it later. I wanted something I could see easily.

Then I clicked Edit>Define Pattern. This is going to allow me to use this little doodad as a repeating pattern on my paper.

The Pattern Name menu opens up. I gave it a name that meant something to me and would be easy to find later. There’s a clue in there as to where we’re going to end up.

If you’re familiar with my tutorials you’ll know I always tell you to work on a separate layer when using brushes. It goes double for patterns!

You may have noticed that many of the Tools in Photoshop Elements have multiple options. The Paint Bucket has one I’d never used before but now that I know what it does, I’m SOLD! With this versatile tool you can fill an area with colour or……. a pattern!

Make very sure you’re working on the new, blank layer. Click on the Pattern Fill button, the one that looks like a square with a bunch of diagonal lines through it.

When the Pattern Menu opens up look for your new pattern.

Elements will open up your pattern in the active box as shown.

Now just click anywhere within the borders of your canvas. It’s like magic!! I have 144 little repeats of my pattern creating an Argyle effect. I could stop here and have a cute custom patterned paper. I’d love to do something like this with a tone-on-tone, or with either white or black. Then I’d Merge the layers and save it somewhere I’ll be able to find it again.

But you know me… we’re going to keep going. I want to show you how to turn it into embossed cardstock, so turn off the visibility to your cardstock layer and have your pattern layer selected. Then Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color.

In this menu, click the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask then click OK.

Use the same colour as your cardstock by clicking on it with the Eyedropper.

Merge the Color Fill layer with your pattern layer. Then you’re going to hit it with a Bevel Layer Style. Bevels are included with the software and can be found in the Styles menu. Below I’ve used the Simple Inner bevel. It’s a nice, rounded bevel that raises the pattern off the surface beautifully.

If you feel that the bevel is TOO obvious, you can click on the fx icon on the layer and adjust it to suit. (This is the only Bevel I adjusted while putting together this tutorial.)

Turn on the cardstock layer and voilà… Merge the layers and now you’ve got a custom embossed cardstock.

Some of the other Bevel styles work for this technique too. Let’s look at the Simple Pillow Emboss.

Is this the effect you were expecting? It looks a lot like those sheets of die-cut chipboard!

Simple Sharp Inner looks like this on just the pattern layer.

I really like the look of this one.

One last one… Simple Sharp Pillow Emboss.

This effect is really interesting. If I went into the fx controls and reversed the direction of the bevel it would raise it off the paper. Might be worth trying!

I can think of a long list of ways these simple techniques can be used to elevate my scrapping. Can you?