Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 2018)

Double Indemnity? Nope, Double Exposure!

Here we are, at the very end of 2019!! I hope you all had some wonderful times with family and friends over the holidays. If you’re celebrating tonight, stay safe!!

Are you ready for another Guided Edit? This one was only introduced with the 2018 version, but I LOVE it!! It’s under the Fun Edits tab and it creates a double exposure almost automatically. It caught my interest when I started seeing lots of double-exposure photos popping up on my Pinterest feed after I Googled PSE techniques. All the how-to’s were for Photoshop‘s full version and try as I might, I wasn’t getting the results I hoped for when I tried to find a work-around. Then I tried this. I know you’re going to love it. I’m playing with photos I downloaded from Pixabay and chose a black-and-white close-up portrait as my base photo.

Once I clicked on Guided>Fun Edit>Double Exposure this is the menu that comes up. (Remember, if you click on Cancel, you’re back to the Start Menu so be very sure that’s what you want to do…)

For this tutorial I just took the most basic route possible with my photo choices so as to make it as straight-forward as possible. I’ll be playing with it a lot more in the weeks to come, so you may see another more complex tut later. The Edit tools are lined up top-to-bottom for easy progression through the steps. If your photo needs to be cropped, this is when you’d do it, with the Crop tool. The Guide suggests cropping so your desired focal point is in the centre.

There’s also the option of Selecting only a portion of your photo. I skipped both the Crop and Select steps altogether.

Now, the software has some images already embedded in the Edit that you can use for your double exposures: a forest scene, a cityscape and some clouds. Here I’ve superimposed the forest scene over my photo; if you look in the upper left corner you can see the girl’s eye, but it’s pretty well concealed.

Thankfully the software knows that might not be the look you’re after. The Intensity of the superimposed photo can be easily adjusted by pulling the slider to the left. Here you can see the difference it makes to decrease it to about 47%.

There’s also the opportunity to move the superimposed image around a bit by using the Move tool. It can be activated either by clicking on the tool image in the upper left of your workspace, or by clicking on the tool bar in the menu.

The cityscape almost completely obliterates the original photo. Good thing it’s adjustable!

I decreased the Intensity to about 35% and the resultant image is really moody. It suggests the girl is homesick for this view, at least in my imagination…

What will the clouds do? Well, at first glance, we can see her nose and chin fairly clearly, but not her eye, and I think the eye is the key.

I’m conflicted as to which emotion this evokes. I think she looks wistful, so maybe it’s dream-like.

Okay, before we move on, I want to show you how to use another of your own photos. So instead of using a preset, I clicked on Import a Photo. It opened up Windows Explorer and let me find a suitable photo for the look I’m aiming for. Once I clicked on the thumbnail in the photos folder, I clicked on the Place button.

Wow! That’s a really dramatic image!! I don’t even know if there’s any adjustment needed.

But just to be sure, I decreased the Intensity  by 50%. There are still more ways to manipulate the image so let’s keep going.

Before I moved on, I opted to shift the rocks in the superimposed photo down and almost off her face. It makes the sky more of an element in the image and you can’t see the demarcation where the superimposed photo ends. Further down the menu, there are some more Effects presets. So working with the image with the superimposed photo at 50%, let’s hit it with each of the Effects to see what they do. The very first one, top left of the tool menu is No Effect… just the way it is.

I’ve circled the Effect with each image so you can see what they look like right out of the box. This one adds a lot of colour.

This one makes the original image more vivid and increases the contrast.

Here, it’s basically a black-and-white version. If my original photo had been a colour portrait, it might make a big difference to use this Effect.

This one is a soft, rainbow-hued look.

I think this one would be amazing with underwater photography, or for photos with a beachy, watery theme.

This adds a touch of cool colour to a tonal black-and-white image.

I’m showing my age. All that’s missing is a prism in the middle.

The last one gives the whole image a warm, golden look.

After seeing them all, I decided I like the third version best. I decreased the Intensity to 50% again and have a really eye-catching image. I might add an inspirational quote into the dark area to the right of her neck. What do you think?

Before I shut down for the night, I decided to play with a couple of other photos I had. The one of the stone bridge provided a perfect frame for a superimposed face, but I didn’t take the time to figure out how to use the Guided Edit. Instead… I took a lot more time doing it manually. Duplicated layers, layer masks, erased areas, clipping masks, more layer masks to bring out the blue in her eyes, blend modes, sheesh. There’s gotta be a better way! When I find it I’ll share it with you!

I hope that whatever 2019 brought your way is greatly improved on in 2020! I know there are big things coming up for our family, details to follow. Happy New Year, dear GingerScrappers!

Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

Beyond the Ordinary – Holiday Photos

Wow, can it really be only 8 days until Christmas? Even fewer until the first night of Chanukah… Families all over are getting ready for the Main Event and of course, no special occasion is ever complete without the photos to prove it happened. I think I can speak for most of us when I say I’ve taken a LOT of really ho-hum photos over the years. If you’re like me and browsing through the Gallery in late December makes you envious of the amazing photos OTHER scrappers have scrapped, I’m going to offer some thoughts on how to make our holiday photos better. I’m not going to completely rehash this tut from last year but some things do bear repeating.

First, make sure you have fresh batteries and a large SD card for all the great shots you’re going to take. If you’re into phonetography, you might want to trim your in-phone collection by saving them to your computer or the Cloud, then deleting them from your internal storage.

Make a list – physical or mental – of the shots you MUST have. We all have our own preferences for what we want to document so don’t feel like you’re being forced to conform. But there are some sort of standard images we all like.

Even if you feel like decorating for the holidays is a dreaded chore, take some photos of the process. Get a shot of the decor while it’s still in the box. If your kids are helping, turn them into models for your portfolio. Remember to get down on their level. Even the cutest kids aren’t great photo subjects if they’re always shot from above. And get in close!!!! I know I’ve mentioned before that the best crop is the one you do in the viewfinder. so fill the frame! Don’t be afraid to zoom in. Same goes for your pets, if you want them in your photos.

When shooting your tree, look for a different approach than the typical 8-feet-away-so-the-whole-tree-and-gifts-are-in-the-shot. Maybe take some close-ups of your favourite ornaments. Use a portrait mode to soften the background and make the ornament totally the focal point. Get down on the floor and shoot up toward the topper, or shoot down through the branches and make the presents the subject. Turn off all the room lights and shoot the tree with just the tree lights. Experiment with shutter speed and aperture to create some lovely bokeh effects. Add a human or a pet to the frame. Or take a photo of the lights reflected in a window. (If you don’t want your reflection in your photo, stand at an angle to the window and look carefully at what’s in the viewfinder.) Or take a photo of the tree THROUGH the window! Turn off your flash though, so you don’t spoil the shot.

If you’re celebrating Chanukah, there are lots of great ways to take photos of your menorrah. A series, with each night’s new candle lighting, would make a lovely layout. Look at the angles. On the last night, when all the candles are burning, an angled shot from one end with each flame visible would be incredible. Some of my favourite photos of my grandsons are of them lighting a candle, with the soft glow of the flame on their cheeks and wonder in their eyes. (Their mom takes amazing photos.)

We’ve all got a folder full of group photos where everybody is stiffly lined up and fake-smiling at the camera. So how can we take better group shots? Having the subjects doing something together is a good start. If you have snow in your area, have the group build a snowman, or have a snowball fight. Or play football in the snow. Beach ball volleyball (in sand or snow) would make some entertaining shots. But if you just have to have a posed group shot, give some thought to who goes where. If you can arrange the people so that their faces form little triangles, you’ll have a nicer image. Have them turn their shoulders toward each other or the centre of the photo so they can get a bit closer together. Make sure you’ve chosen a landscape setting so everybody will be in focus. Think about trying not to cut people’s legs off. If you can, shoot everybody down front from the waist up. Your subjects will thank you.

Do you go all out with a gorgeous table-scape for your guests? I’ve never done it, but I love seeing how others do it. If you’re hosting and have your table all set well in advance (like the experts recommend for sanity’s sake 😉 ) take a few minutes to look at it with your photographer’s eye. Take a shot of a single place setting. Try and get the whole table in a shot, easiest if you shoot from one end. Take a closeup of your crystal.

Don’t forget to get some shots of the dinner prep. Be stealthy and get some candids of the main cook, or if that’s you, get some of your helpers. Look for interesting camera angles of your turkey, ham or standing rib roast. Ask someone to be the carver and get some action shots. And look for smiling faces as the meal commences.

What about gifts? Well, there’re lots of opportunities around gift opening. Get down on the floor with the kids. Try to capture the moment when they identify what’s in the package. If it’s your thing, you can take some of them channeling Vanna White, holding up a favourite gift. If there’s a very special gift being given, arrange for it to be delivered when you have a moment to frame your image. I really wish I had a photo of myself when I opened a gift from my sister quite a few years ago. It was a resin frame with dragonflies on it, but what made it truly special was that it held a photo of me with my grandfather, who died when I wasn’t yet 4 years old. If you know in advance, you can be ready to catch the emotion.

After the dust settles, you can relax, but don’t forget there might still be some great photos yet to happen. Like when a child falls asleep in the middle of a game, or the dog takes off with a long piece of ribbon… they could be the best shots you get all day. But don’t concentrate so hard on getting good photos that you don’t have fun! At a family reunion, my niece made a point of taking a selfie with every single one of us, and they were all fantastic. If you have mad selfie skills, give it a whirl. You might surprise yourself!

I’ll be taking next Tuesday off, as I expect most of you will too… bigger fish to fry! Merry Christmas! Mazel tov! Kwanzaa blessings to all!

 

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

DIY Christmas Card Workshop

Woohoo! I’m on deadline today!! Things are looking up. Today’s tutorial isn’t necessarily scrapbooking-related, but it definitely uses digital scrapbooking supplies. It’s also not really in time for this year, but it can be a thought for next year. I’m going to show you how to make 2 personal Christmas cards from 1 sheet of cardstock. The resulting cards are 4 1/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches. You can get 50 envelopes that will hold these beauties at Michaels for $8 (Canadian, so about $5 in the US).

If I would have been thinking I could have skipped this step by putting the dimensions in reverse in the New Document screen. But I didn’t so I had to Rotate the canvas 90°.

Next I snapped a line across the centre of the page, and another from top to bottom. I used the Ruler and the Pencil Tool. To snap a straight line in a project, select the Pencil Tool and set the size of the line you want. I wanted these lines to be faint, so I went with 1 pixel. Line up the cursor with the halfway point along one side of your canvas. You can see a moving dashed line on the Ruler so you’ll know when you’re in the right place. Click once just barely inside the edge of your canvas. Then hold down the Shift key and move the cursor to the same spot on the opposite side and click again. It’s just that easy. Then do the same with the top-to-bottom centre point. These are guidelines for placement of elements and for cutting and scoring later.

Then I opened up the folder where I’d collected the objects I wanted to use. I have a photo taken several Christmases ago, a 3D snowflake from Lindsay Jane‘s Snowed Under kit and a mask from PrelestnayaP‘s December Wishes.

Working in the lower left corner of the canvas, I opened up the Shape Tool, chose the Rectangle, set a Fixed Size of 5.25 by 4 inches and chose a darkish green colour.

The resulting rectangle will fit inside the guidelines for one card. and by Simplifying the layer, I can make adjustments to it as needed because it’s now a Smart Object.

The next step is to add the mask. I resized it to fit inside the green rectangle completely.

The photo went on top of the mask and was resized to approximately the size I’d need. I want the deer and some of the illuminated snow visible later.

Clipping the photo to the mask is simple. Right click>Create Clipping Mask or CTRL/CMD>ALT>G for more recent versions of PSE or just CTRL/CMD>G for versions pre-15.

Final position tweaks included a little shifting and a little more shrinking.

I chose a gold colour from my photo to use for the sentiment. Here’s where all those amazing fonts you have in your stash will come in handy. You can make this text as personal as you want, even making it family- or person-specific. But it still looked like it needed something. So I CTRL/CMD>clicked on the green rectangle layer’s thumbnail to select the outer edges of the rectangle. Then Select>Modify>Contract.

I pondered for a nanosecond how much I should shrink my selection and settled on 25 pixels.

And then I added a Stroke to the new selection. Edit>Stroke (Outline) Selection

I then used the same gold as for the text and added my Stroke. The position for this isn’t a make-or-break thing, so don’t obsess over it.

Yes, I think that’s what it needed.

The final step for this card is to add a trademark to the back. I went with the green for this.

Knowing that it’s on the BACK of the card and should be readable with the card right-side-up, I Rotated the text 180°.

I’m going for 100% honesty here… I saw a card like this second one on Pinterest so I’m not taking credit for the idea. (Ignore the typo on the screenshot please!) I added a new blank layer to the stack and Loaded some watercolour Brushes. These are from a set of 20 free brushes from Brusheezy. I chose 3 shades of wintery blue for the brush area.

I layered the brushes, each on its own layer so I can make adjustments to just one – or all – if I need to.

For a bit of contrast I chose an aqua for the topmost brush layer.

I added in the snowflake and sized it appropriately. But it wasn’t quite enough by itself. So I added a Layer Style from Ooh La La ScrapsIn the Frosty Air collection.

It still was missing something so I turned off the snowflake layer for a second and added a white paint splatter. That makes a big difference!

A few words and it’s pretty much what I was looking for.

A trademark on the back in the dark blue and it’s finished!

I saved the file as a .png so the printer wouldn’t need to add a white background to everything. To turn this into cards, I’ll load up my printer with white cardstock and print several copies. Using my guillotine cutter I’ll cut the cards apart on the top-to-bottom guideline and score then fold along the side-to-side guideline. I choose to print my sentiments for the inside of the card on resume paper (it’s a bit fancier than regular printer paper) and trim to fit the inside of the folded card. Word art would be perfect for this! Another option is to use a sentiment stamp and ink in a colour to match the front of the card. All that’s left is to sign them, pop them into their envelopes and mail them!

Whew… two weeks until Christmas Eve! Better get on that!

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)

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 (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)

Making the Most of Milestones

Before I get into today’s discussion I want to thank all of you for your get-well wishes last week. I’m not completely back to normal but can see it from here. I had bronchitis and am still coughing, but no longer running a temp, waking up with a vicious headache or feeling like I’d been run over by a train. I’ve eaten a party-pack of Popsicles over the last two weeks and think I’ll need to keep them in the house all the time now. I forgot how much I like them!

Here in the northern hemisphere, kids are going back to school and summer is winding down. Is it just me or has the first-day-of-school photo shoot gotten as complicated as wedding photos? When my kids were still in school, first day photos were taken standing by the front door for a height reference, with various grimacing and bellyaching. These days it seems, there must be props, special backdrops, dozens of poses and expense. But what can the average mom do to commemorate their precious kiddos’ first days without the headaches? Turns out getting memorable shots doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. Let’s talk about how!

Think about it ahead of time! Planning is never wasted and in this case it can be squeezed in wherever you have a free moment. Think about what you want, how much time you want to put into it, how much advance prep you want to involve and don’t forget to think about your child’s personality. If you have a few minutes, take a look on Pinterest for ideas so you can start palling for them.

Don’t be a slave to the calendar! Nobody’s going to change dramatically in a few days so those first-day photos can actually be taken the weekend before, when nobody’s rushing to get out the door. The weather doesn’t have to be a factor if you don’t take those photos on the exact first day. It’ll also give you a chance to be sure the chosen first-day outfit still fits, is clean and doesn’t have buttons missing.

You don’t need to buy a bunch of props! A simple chalkboard or whiteboard can be highly useful. You can write whatever you want on it and change it between kids. Have your child write his name on the board, then write in the date and their new grade. Simple! Felt signboards can be just as useful, if you already have one. The child’s name, date, grade and school name will all fit on the small ones. An apple, a couple of books or handful of pencils will work as visual connectors to the occasion. Backpacks, lunch bags, new shoes, all those things can serve as props. One image I think would be awesome is of their new shoes, on their feet, with their new backpack leaning against their leg.

Simple backdrops are free! Think a brick wall, the sidewalk in front of your house, their school, a school bus 0r even the siding on your house. Brick walls are classic school images and are nicely neutral. Stand slightly to the child’s side so you’re not perpendicular to the wall, have the child lean his shoulders against the wall then turn a little toward you and start shooting! Have your child stand on the sidewalk with her backpack in hand. Use the portrait setting on your camera, crouch down so you’re on the same level as her eyes and snap! The background will be slightly blurry but still be recognizable. It’ll give the sense of the journey about to begin. Another really effective pose has the child/children walking down the sidewalk AWAY from you, maybe glancing back over one shoulder. OR – use sidewalk chalk to write out the important stuff then have the child lay down on the sidewalk looking up at you. Or shoot down looking at their feet with their new grade in chalk on the pavement. Shooting with the portrait setting from the sidewalk in front of the school can give nice depth of field to provide that sense of growing up and away. If there’s a big sign in front of the school, you could pose your little person sitting cross-legged on the concrete anchoring it to the ground. Another option is to have them posing as if they’re entering the school. And even if your child isn’t going to ride the school bus, they’re dandy backdrops. If your house has clapboard, aluminum or vinyl siding, those horizontal lines can provide a handy journaling spot right on the photo. Simply pose the child to one side of your frame so you have some lovely white space there.

Teenagers can still have first day photos! I know mine gave me serious eye rolls every year after they finished middle school. But I still made them stand there for 10 seconds while I snapped off a quick photo. One way to make it less onerous for them is to print out some little signs on plain paper for them to hold up, using hashtags (let them choose for even more cooperation) like #senior, #backtoschool, #lamephotoday or #almostdone. Tater Tots and Jello has a nice collection of printables all ready for you. Oh, and let them decide how they pose.

Telling stories is what it’s about! Especially for the really little ones, that first day of school is going to be exhausting. They’ve gotten up earlier than they have in weeks, they’ve had a lot of overwhelming new experiences and met a ridiculous number of new people. So you might want to get a photo of them as they arrive home, looking tired and out-of-sorts. One idea I particularly like is the t-shirt one: buy an oversized t-shirt in your little one’s favourite colour (at the moment, ’cause we all know that’s going to change!) then have “Class of [graduation year]” printed on the front. Each year, take a photo of them wearing it. It’ll perfectly chronicle their growth and development and eliminate the conundrum of “what to wear”. Another way to capture that changeling changing is to take a first day photo AND a last day photo for each year. Oh, before I forget, I saw a brilliant idea yesterday. Print out LAST year’s first day photo as an 8×10, frame it in a dollar store frame and have your child hold it in front of them. Perfect record of them as they grow!

These tips can be applied to other occasions as well with just a little thought and very little money. Look online for free printables. They’re everywhere and for every possible event. I’m looking forward to seeing all the back-to-school layouts that I know will be filling up the Gallery any day now!

Tutorial Tuesday – Back to Basics

Anatomy of a Well-Composed Layout

Last week’s tutorial about stacking papers brought this comment from Franghurst: “I found this article very useful.  I have never stacked a paper digitally and I now feel comfortable enough to give it a try.  It’s great when you give us a brand new idea about doing something but I must admit, I like the articles when you go back to the basics.  It’s fun to be reminded how to do things that you learned about a while back.” Of course, that got me thinking. And thinking some more. Today we’re going to go right back the most basic aspect of scrapbooking: composition!

When I look at the layouts in the Gallery, there are layouts that snag my attention right away. I think you know what I mean. There are some things these really fabulous layouts have in common: they’re well-composed. It might not be obvious what makes them catch the eye, so let’s talk about the six basic components of composition. These are focal point, leading lines, balance, rule of thirds, white space and movement.

Focal point: Usually the purpose of a layout is to showcase a photo, or photos. So typically they will be the focal point. But not always. Sometimes the scrapper wants the focus on the story it’s telling, and sometimes the focus is on some other aspect of the layout. This piece by shawnbear is definitely focused on the large photo. She has used several tools from the composition list to achieve her goal.

The size of the photo is the first tool; the rays of paper and the column of elements does the rest.

Leading lines: What exactly are leading lines? They are whatever linear aspects of a layout that lead the eye right to the focal point. Like shawnbear‘s papers. This layout by gwalters goes even deeper into leading lines because they’re both in the main photo AND the layout.

The wire of the fence draws the eye to his face. with one eye framed by them. The chevrons lead the eye to her title. And the concentric paper squares emphasize the converging lines of the layout quite neatly.

Balance: There are lots of ways to create balance in our layouts. The goal is to have areas of equal weight. Flissy61 has done just that.

She’s got the large blended photo balanced by the trio of smaller photos at the bottom. Let’s talk about those small photos for a second. Notice how she has a photo of just the sculpture and a photo of just her daughter, flanking a photo of both. Bingo! Balance. Then she’s used repetition to add more balance to the image with the two vines and the pennants.

Rule of Thirds: This is something I discussed in a previous tutorial on taking better photos. The “Rule of Thirds” means imaginarily dividing your image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, then placing any (or all!) intersection of those imaginary lines over a focal point. lmtroch has done that in her layout below.

Do you see it? (My lines might be a little off… I eyeballed them.)

White space: This isn’t a literal thing… more of an uncrowded area of the layout where the eye can go to rest. Jill is a master at the use of white space – literally in this layout!

I think white space is a vastly underused tool. But see how effective it is to have these two large areas of just paper.

And last is Movement. By this I mean the way the layout guides the eye around to take in all its components. becky_a makes it look easy.

It really doesn’t matter where you start with this layout, your eye is moved around the whole thing perfectly. Here again, the placement of her photos is key; they all are facing the centre of the layout – harmonious and very pleasing. The bubbles act as a vector to move the viewer, as does the piece of string. And the three little flower clusters keep things on track.

Okay. There you have the factors that create strong compositions. I invite you take a good look at each of these layouts and see if you can pick out each of the “rules” in them. You might also take a critical look at the templates you really like and analyze what makes them attractive to you. I bet you’ll find at least a couple of ways to fit them into the “rules”!

Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

Anatomy of a Paper Stack

I don’t often give a lot of thought to the process of creating layouts, but a comment I received from becky_a on a layout I prepared for Katie of Just So Scrappy and Ooh La La Scraps with her August Buffet collection Live Life started me thinking about it. The two layouts I created for this collection were a little unusual for me, because I didn’t use templates for either of them. (I just couldn’t find one that I liked enough!) The layout becky_a commented on is this one:

… and this is what she said: “I love stacked papers like this and I have the most difficult time making them look right, lol. You make it look so easy.” I had to go look at the layout because I wasn’t sure what she meant! And then I thought maybe it might be worth talking about.

There are no rules for paper stacking. None. It’s pretty much a free-for-all! You can use whatever papers you like, mixing patterns and colours, shapes and angles to suit your whims. Let’s talk first about choosing papers. I’ve always struggled with boldly-patterned paper. They don’t often work with my style of scrapping, but using them in a paper stack like this is one way I can feel comfortable using them. As you can see, that black and white patterned paper is pretty bold! But it’s black and white, so it can work with pretty much anything. I like the paper closest to the photos and elements and largest by area to be relatively neutral, so it doesn’t draw the eye away from the meat-and-potatoes part of the layout. If I’m not planning on journaling ON that paper, patterns can work. I also like to mix up scale. A bold paper needs to be balanced by some smaller patterns or solids. But that doesn’t mean you CAN’T use another bold pattern, because you can resize to so it works well with  your other papers and what you’re doing with them. This is pretty much how I approach paper stacking all the time, whether or not I’m using a template; I like to contrast bright with neutral, bold with subtle, pattern with solid and to have some visible difference between them. But that’s how JAN stacks papers. I’ve seen lots of fabulous stacked-paper layouts where the scrapper has used a monochrome palette, mixed lots of patterns together or only used solids, so as I said, no rules!

Let’s look at this layout, also with the same collection and sans template. I use the Marquee tool and Inverse (Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>Shift>I) to cut my random shapes. To make concentric circles or ovals, I make a copy of the first oval then use the Select>Modify>Decrease path, typing in a pixel count to make the new oval smaller. Clip a paper to it and move on.

(My daughter and sister might not like to know I’ve called them both weird people. Or maybe they’d take it as a compliment. IDK!) When talking about colours, I often pull colour from my photographs. OR… I go for contrast. Here, the photo is pretty neutral, so the red, orange, purple and green from the kit all work together. You can see that I’ve mixed in some ovals and rectangles, some pennants and the square background papers. I’m going to tell you how I do those backgrounds, which might be news to those still learning digi-scrapping but is probably old hat to the more experienced in the group.

First step is to choose your papers. Then open a new 12×12 (or your favourite dimensions) canvas on your workspace. Decide which paper will be your main background, the one you want right under your elements and photo(s). Decide on the order of your other papers, keeping in mind the aesthetics of the layout as a whole. I usually use 3 papers for these stacked backgrounds because, as my dear friend Sandy Scott likes to remind me, 3 is an aesthetically pleasing number. You can drop them all onto your layout, turning visibility off to the topmost ones so you can see what you’re doing as you climb the stack. Or you can add them one at a time. Whatever suits your workflow. I’m showing them all piled on at once and in the screenshot after this one, you’ll see that the topmost paper is invisible.

To make a visually pleasing rotated stack, you’ll want to make the upper papers a bit smaller than the background paper. (Or not. Remember, no rules!) The easiest way to do it is to click on one of the corner “handles” on the bounding box, then either pull that handle in toward the centre, or take the quick-and-lazy route and type a number into that box I’ve shown you here. That keeps the papers centered one on top of the other. Just make sure you’ve got the Constrain Proportions box checked so it shrinks the paper in both horizontal and vertical planes.

Then rotate that second piece of paper. The Pivot point selected is the centre one – the default. The angle will be half of the percentage by which you’ve shrunk your paper, unless you want your corners to extend off the page. There are two spots where you can see the angle you’re rotating to, the black pop-up box and down in the Tool panel. I usually just eye-ball it.

I like to keep the papers in a rotated stack, other than the actual background, all the same size. It’s obviously not required, it’s just my OCD-ness. Shrinking the paper is done in exactly the same manner.

Then I tip the next/top paper in the opposite direction, to about the same angle. And that’s all there is to it! Shadow those babies up and you’re ready to move along.

The second example is even more straightforward.

When you’re doing this kind of stack, if you want a symmetrical border of the background paper visible, make sure your Pivot point is in the centre. It’s important! Typing a number into one of the dimension boxes – either one is fine, as long as you’re Constrained – is quick.

But if your Pivot point is in the lower right corner, for example, when you type in your number, this is what will happen. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because there are ways it can make your workflow more streamlined if you want to work from a corner out. (You can tell this screenshot was an after-thought. Sorry!)

Here, you can see what decreasing the paper size by 5% for the first one and 5% MORE for the second one will look like. You can use any amount you like; if you want a wider border of your very bottom paper, go with a bigger drop. If you want one border wider than another, choose a smaller or larger decrease. A nice solid paper with a narrow gap looks really good. Oh, and you CAN use a decimal in that box. You don’t have to go with whole numbers.

All of these tips can be applied to any stack of papers you might contemplate, either as part of a template or freehand. Give it a shot becky_a, you’re probably underestimating yourself a LOT!