Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Building Strong Borders with Brushes

Woo hoo!! I’m BACK!! Did you miss me?? Our move went pretty well, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and all that entails. We’ve been in the new house a month and are gradually sorting out our lives, finding out how to get to the stores we like and settling in. The dogs have made meeting our new neighbours pretty easy – they don’t have any hesitation or social-distancing skills at all. Everybody has been very welcoming to both them and us. Getting down to work writing a new tut has made me feel more like myself too. So let’s get after it!

Awhile back I asked for some topic suggestions on the GingerScraps Facebook page. This is one of those, from Shana, who asked for some tips on using brushes to create custom borders for her layouts. This might not be what she was expecting, but here goes!

The area around our new house is quite natural and there are so many wildflowers in bloom right now, so the concept for this border will build on the photos I’ve taken in the last month. I went through my stash and found a kit that will work beautifully with them, it’s CathyK Designs‘s Back to Nature. This solid paper is from the kit.

The colour I chose for my brushes is a medium brown. Don’t be too concerned about the colour choice you make, because changing the Blend Mode later might give you something unexpected, or you can always change it to something you like better later.

When I set up my “new” laptop several months ago, I discovered that I’d forgotten how to keep my brush library built in to Elements 2019, so I’ve changed my workflow with brushes, only loading the ones I want to use. Not sure how to load brushes? Click on the little icon that looks like 4 short horizontal lines at the upper left of the Brush control menu. Then select “Load Brushes“. Click on the set you want to add then click on Load. I put all of my brushes into a dedicated folder so I don’t have to hunt for them.

I might sound like a broken record, but this is VERY important. ALWAYS put your brushes on their own layers! If you forget and put the brush directly on the layer you’ve got active, there’s nothing you can do with it other than Undo. On their own layers they become “Smart Objects” and can be manipulated in many ways.

Because I put them on their own layers, I usually make them as big as possible, and then size them to fit my vision. I downloaded this set of free floral corner brushes from Brusheezy.com which is one of my favourite sources for free goodies.

I then positioned and sized my corner brush to be slightly less than 1/4 of the available area.

Then I made a Copy (CTRL/CMD>J) of the brush layer, grabbed one of the side “handles” (the little open square on the bounding box) and flipped the whole brush horizontally. I used to make myself crazy trying to get the exact dimensions with my mouse as I worked, but soon figured out that it’s much easier and more precise to just start the process, then tell Elements what I want! The Transform menu, which activates when you start the flipping process, has boxes for both height and width, so you can type in whatever you want there.

I decided I didn’t want to have upside down bows on my layout, so I went with a different corner brush for the ones on the bottom.

This one I just rotated 180°, resized and slid into place.

Another Copy, Rotate and slide for the opposite corner and it was time to tie the corners together. For this task I used a set of floral divider brushes I also got from Brusheezy.

I liked the look of this butterfly divider, but didn’t like that it messed with the bows at the corners. That’s easy to fix, and because it’s on its own layer, I won’t be mangling anything else.

I wasn’t sure if the butterfly would work at the bottom, but just in case, I made a copy of the layer before I altered it in any way.

I flipped the second butterfly layer vertically, moved it out of the way and then turned the visibility for it off.

Using the Eraser tool on the original butterfly layer, I erased all the areas that impinged on the corner brush layers.

Like that!

On to the bottom of the paper. Mmm. Nope. Upside down butterflies don’t work any better than upside down bows. I turned that layer off for now but it’ll be deleted.

I picked this divider brush from the same set and it works much better. Just had to remove the parts that overlie the corner brushes.

But….. it needs to be tied together at the sides too.

I like this divider brush, also from the same set.

It needed to be rotated 90° to work with the corners.

This time I didn’t need to have the brush where it was going to live to erase the extra stuff.

It fits in the gap so neatly!

I made a copy of it and flipped it horizontally to slip it into the other side.

Once I was happy with where everything sits and how it looks, I went ahead and Merged all the brush layers into one piece.

Now for the really fun part! I actually tried ALL the Blend Modes. Some of them turned my brown border to a beautiful red, but that wasn’t in keeping with my vision. I decided I liked Darker Color.

But instead of playing with the Opacity, I copied the border then applied a paper style I bought at Creative Market to the bottom layer.

After some experimenting I realized I needed to put a thin stroke around my upper brush layer, and the reason for that will become apparent in a minute. I put the stroke on its own layer too. To do that I added a new blank layer above the brown brush layer, then clicked on the thumbnail of the border layer to Select the outline. Applying the Stroke to that selection on the new layer gives me a perfect outline of my border.

I used the same brown and went with just 2 pixels’ width, applied to the outside of the selection.

Just like that.

I turned visibility for the layer I added the paper style to off so I could concentrate on what was happening to the brown layer. I changed the Blend Mode to Soft Light and like it a lot more.

It looks so different, but it’s pretty good!

Once I brought the Opacity down to 85%, I could see a hint of the paper texture and the border looked more like it belongs on the base layer. I like the way it came out, so I saved it both as a .psd (with editable layers) and a .jpg so I can use the paper for my layout.

Hopefully I’ll have time to get my layout together soon so you can see the full effect!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Be A-Frayed, Be Very A-Frayed!

When I asked the GingerScrappers on Facebook for tutorial topics, I got some great suggestions. This tutorial was inspired by Lisa, who asked me to figure out how to fray paper like fabric. I had a couple of ideas, but I wanted to be sure it would work, so I used a FABRIC object to test my theory. This is the outcome. I’m pretty sure I’ve also solved the paper-fraying goal as well. If, at the end of this tutorial you’d like me to do a follow-up with paper, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll do it. It’ll involve filters……

My fabric object is this sweet denim pocket from Laurie’s Scraps (one of our April Featured Designers!) Toy Chest kit. I plan to put a hole in it and then patch it. So let’s get after it! (Yes, I have Cuomo Prime Time on in the background.)

Something about the very narrow margins around this pocket bothered me. I like to have a bit more transparent workspace so I’m just going to enlarge the “canvas size”. CTRL/CMD>ALT>C for you keyboard shortcutters, or Image>Resize>Canvas Size for the ones who are new to Work Smart Not Hard.

The margins don’t have to be huge so I just pulled 6×6 out of the air and typed it into the boxes. Now, see that tic-tac-toe board near the bottom of the menu box? Well, it lets you decide where the extra canvas goes! You can add it to one side or the other, top or bottom, depending on why you’re adding workspace. If I was making a cluster, for example, I would have an idea of where things in the cluster would be added and put the extra space where it would do the most good simply by clicking one the associated square to set the new Anchor Point. (I was yesterday old when I noticed that…)

For the sake of clarity I chose to use just an elliptical shape with the Marquee tool to make my hole. But whatever your vision tells you is what you should do. I could have used a custom shape or polygon of any kind, and that might make a really interesting look on a layout. Once I had my ellipse pulled out, I Cut the area inside it out. Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X.

So now I have a hole in my pocket. How am I going to make it look like a REAL hole? With the Eraser tool to start with. I have the Brush selected as my Eraser type, and a very small size with 100% Opacity to completely erase my threads. Zoom is your friend for this technique.

Denim is a twill weave, with diagonal grain, so my “threads” are following that direction. I used the Eraser to remove bits of the fabric past the edge of the cutout. There’s no need for precision for this step – actually for any of it! – so I just randomly Erased sections of random lengths, and some of them are quite squiggly. That’s good! I worked my way around the hole; I went clockwise but it doesn’t matter how you do it.

So this is what I had once I’d created my threads. The bones are there, now to put the flesh on them!

Next I chose the Smudge tool (the one that looks like a finger) to soften and stretch the threads into the hole. Again, I used a small diameter brush, and not-quite-full Strength to make my threads threadier.

I put the Brush down on the denim then click-dragged the Smudger over the thread and out into the hole. To make a longer thread, start a little farther from the edge. Again, randomness and imperfection are the right things here, so make sure they’re not the same length or going in the same direction.

Everything about this technique is what you’re happy with, so don’t be too fussy about any of it. Just keep working it until you’ve got a good collection of stringy things in there.

Yep, you can criss-cross some of your threads! Those holes in your jeans will have some criss-crossed threads so why not?!

It’s starting to look more real by the minute, but there are still some things needed to get it right. The places where I Erased into the denim look too symmetrical and sharp so that has to be fixed. I’ll use the Smudge tool for that too.

But I’m skipping ahead here. Those threads are still too dark to look like a real hole, so I chose the Dodge tool to lighten them up. Remember Dodge lightens, Burn darkens? Well, just make sure you’ve got DODGE selected. Again a small diameter, 50% Exposure and Midtones will be the settings. Now I’m just going to brush that Dodge tool over the threads and into the denim around the hole a bit.

Better already! But not quite there. Close…

I moved back to the Smudge tool to soften up the edges. Same settings as before makes it simple to switch between tools.

I was most definitely NOT precise with the Smudge tool here, running it up into the denim to soften the areas where I’d already Dodged. Now it’s looking like a real hole in real denim!

I just switched back and forth between the Smudge and Dodge tools until I was happy with my holey jeans. It looks pretty good!

Then I put a piece if this pretty pink patterned paper from Connie Prince’s Denim and Pearls extra paper pack behind the hole like a patch. A drop shadow layer in between and I think it’s darned near perfect!

Please let me know in the comments if you’d like me to do this again with paper to show you the tricks for that. Kellie, I haven’t forgotten your scene cleaner request, but it’ll take quite a bit more time to put together than I have just now. I promise, it’s coming!

I’ll be taking a month off while we’re moving – the movers are here next Wednesday already! Look for a new tutorial – maybe the paper version of this one – around the end of May. Stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

In the Background – Harnessing the Power of Your Software

I hope you weren’t thinking I jammed on you again this week. I made some serious miscalculations… My son had a liver biopsy today and although I knew we’d be at the hospital for several hours, I underestimated both the amount of time we’d spend sitting and waiting, as well as how draining it would be on both of us. And I overestimated my enthusiasm for going all day without food, fluid or a bathroom!

Susan said she’d like to try her hand at making her own custom backgrounds and I just happened to be fooling around with a few ideas for a layout that would work into a tutorial on using ordinary items in extraordinary ways. So this is the result. I’ve put most of the instructions right on the screenshots (there are 37 of them but don’t let that intimidate you – I’ve shown literally every step) so I’m not going to add a lot of text in between them. I hope you like the final result! I started by choosing a solid paper, a patterned paper that fit into the desired theme, a mask and an edge mask.

My paper is going to be soft and faded, but all the things I’ve done here can be customized to whatever look you want. I think it could easily be bent to a very bold, colourful, evocative layout, or boho’d up for an art journal layout. The limit is your imagination!

I love using Fill Layers to change colours on “flat” items like this edge mask.

I’m planning to use a heritage photo for my layout and opted for a sort of sepia palette.

This is the most important thing to remember when you’re changing colours with Fill Layers. Check that box!

Merging layers is the best way to ensure the changes you make are going to actually be applied where you want them.

I changed the Blend Mode to Pin Light. (I tried them all to see what each did before I settled. That’s the fun part of this process!) Then I thought, “How would this look with a Filter applied to it?” So I opened up the Filter menu.

Again I tried a few, but decided Texture>Patchwork would look good.

Okay, I know this change is really subtle, but you can see that it changed the colour and added a nice depth to it.

On to the mask. I love Irina’s masks. They’re just gorgeous and can be used so many ways.

Rather than clip a photo to the mask, I clipped a patterned paper to it.

Okay, that’s nice, but not exactly what I want.

Tweak, tweak.

Once I had it kinda-sorta where I liked it, I Merged the two layers so all the rest of the changes were sure to go where I wanted them.

Something as simple as changing the Blend Mode to Overlay makes it look completely different.

I decided it needed a little more presence so I copied the pattern/mask layer. That layer I left untouched.

Okay! Now for the really fun part!! Brushes. If you don’t have many, you should check out the sources for free ones online so you can build a collection. Remember, ALWAYS put your brushes on their own layer. You need to be able to make adjustments JUST to the brush.

I have a collection of brushes, some I bought and some I didn’t. This set of handwritten ones was a purchase years ago… store has been long forgotten so I can’t even point you to it.

It was too stark so I changed the Blend Mode to Color Burn.

I want the writing to be there, but not “THERE”. So I also decreased the Opacity to 35%.

In keeping with my theme, I added a swirly brush in one corner.

And Copied it…

For symmetry, I flipped the copy and them moved it up into the top corner.

… then Merged the two layers.

And I Copied the new merged layer so I could put swirls into the other corners too. But after that, I’m done with symmetry!

There they go…

Do you need some hints?

The fact that I moved the swirly layer under the handwriting layer isn’t a crucial point, but I did want my handwriting to sit on top of the swirls. Then I went with Overlay on the Blend Mode.

They were still too obvious so I turned them down to 50%.

I had this goal of creating something that looked aged and a little distressed so naturally, I wanted a coffee ring on it somewhere!

But where? By putting it on its own layer, I can move it around until I like it.

I think this is the spot for it.

This brush set is amazing! It has about 8 different styles of lace and can be used in so many ways.

But it couldn’t be so in-your-face. Overlay at 37% is where I stopped.

I stopped playing with it and just looked at it for awhile. What was missing? What didn’t need to be there? Well that bald spot to the right of the masked paper needed some attention. So I added a grid brush that sort of follows the contours of the mask’s edge.

Some fine-tuning …

and a little resizing and I’m so happy with how it turned out. Now to do the layout………

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

It All Comes out in the Wash-i

This week’s tutorial is brought to you by Shana Read, whose suggestion for a topic in response to my Facebook plea last night was the one I could get together the quickest. I’m finding I have even less motivation “in these uncertain times” – so tired of that cliché!! – than I usually do and was in need of a good kick in the butt. There were some great suggestions offered up and I’ll be working on them in coming weeks. But first, we’re going to make digital Washi tape look real!

I started out with a cardboard tag, a pretty piece of Washi tape and some heavily-creased cardstock from the GingerBread Ladies‘ collab Entertain Me. I didn’t deliberately choose that kit, although it seems weirdly appropriate. I did, however, deliberately choose the creased cardstock, because it’ll make the tutorial more meaningful.

I added a drop shadow to the tag, setting it at the same angle as the shadows cast by the creases on the cardstock. I like consistency and when I’m shooting for realism, that’s one of the key aspects.

Those of you who are using my custom shadowing method can skip down about 6 steps… For those who need a refresher or who haven’t tried it yet, this is how my custom shadows start. I create a new, blank layer underneath the object I’m going to shadow. The keyboard shortcut for this process is to hold down the CTRL/CMD key and click on the new layer icon, the one that looks like a sheet of paper with the lower left corner curling up.

Still on that blank layer, I CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail – that tiny picture of the object you can see on the layers panel – to select the edges of the object, tape in this case.

Next, click on the Paint Bucket tool so you can fill the outline of the tape.

The colour I like for shadows is 313131, which I just type into the box I’ve circled below. It’s a medium grey and works pretty well for most purposes.

With that grey as the foreground colour, click anywhere on the blank layer. The outline will fill with grey like magic. To get rid of the marching ants, either click Select>Deselect or just use the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD>D. We can’t leave it like this though, because it shows through the tape and looks like junk!

I like to move the shadow to where I’d like it to be before I start tweaking it. So I nudged it over a bit to the left and down, again keeping the same angle of light as seen in the shadows cast by the creases. The only drawback to that is that the tape is semi-transparent and now there’s a white strip at the top. I’ll show you how to take care of that in a minute.

But first I’m going to change the Blend Mode (that button at the top left of the layers panel just under all the icons) to Difference. You’re going to love it!

Can you see the shadow peeking out at the bottom edge of the tape? I know you can see the tag showing through it. I could leave it like that, but that’s not how I’m made. So let’s keep going.

To adjust the shadow layer, I use the Smudge tool. It looks like a hand in a white glove with the index finger stuck out. I tend to use a fairly big brush and a very light touch. I start a bit of a distance from the edge of the shadow and just slightly move the brush toward or away from the object being shadowed, depending on where the light source is, and how much of the object would actually be touching the paper if it was real. In this case, I brought the shadow away from the tape a little where it comes off the tag and onto the cardstock to suggest it’s not stuck down quite as tightly there. Then I pushed it back toward the tape a little where the tape crosses the crease, because it would be adhering more closely here. For this kind of detail, I use a very small brush, still with a light touch. It’s better to go a tiny bit at a time so you know when to stop than to try and do it all in one step and have to start all over.

To eliminate that white strip at the top, I used the same small brush to very carefully nudge out the shadow right to the edge of the tape. There’s a hint of the shadow coming out from under the tape at the top, and that only adds to the realistic look.

So how do we make the tape look even more realistic? Easy! We’ll use the Dodge and Burn tools. Dodging and burning are old tricks used in print photography to spot-improve exposure. Dodging lightens an area while burning darkens. If you have trouble remembering which is which, just think of a burnt stick… it’s black! The edges of my tag are nice and straight so this technique will be simple. I started with the Burn tool and changed the Range to Shadows from the default Midtones.

With the TAPE layer active, and a small brush size selected, I set the centre of the brush tip over the spot where the tape and the paper meet, with the width of the brush on the area on top of the paper. Holding the Shift key down, I clicked at that spot then moved the brush tip down to the spot at the bottom of the tape and clicked again. There’s a very faint darkening of the tape along the edge. As long as I hold down the Shift key, I can go back and forth between the top and the bottom of the tape as many times as necessary to build up a nice sharp edge.

The last pass over the edge is with a wider brush to make the tape look like it has been pressed down firmly with a finger.

Then I switched to the Dodge tool and a large-ish brush.  There will be more light hitting the tape where it sits on top of the tag, so we need to lighten that area just a bit. Using exactly the same steps but with the brush’s width sitting on top of the tag, I Dodged that edge.

Can you see the difference where I’ve already done the D&B? Let’s move over to the crease that runs under the tape. The shadowy area is a bit more pronounced here so with a small brush and the Exposure set to 70%, I Burned the tape where it overlies the shadowed edge of the crease. If I remember correctly, I made 4 passes top to bottom and back up, so a total of 8 clicks.

The section of tape that runs along the domed part of the crease needs to be lightened quite a bit to give the crease back its dimension. I Dodged with a brush sized to just cover the crease edge-to-edge. It took several passes to get it right, but like I said before, building up a little at a time gives you control and you’ll know when to stop.

Once I was happy with the creased area, I moved over to the top edge of the tag. The Dodge tool was active so I did that phase first. There’s a lot more tag covered with tape at this edge so I used a big brush with its width sitting on top of the tag to “elevate” the edge.

Don’t worry about being too precise with positioning the brush tip. If you’re past the end of the spot where the tape and tag touch, it doesn’t matter; the tool won’t do anything to the inactive layers – the paper and tag layers. It’s actually better to go a bit past than it is to stop too short. After I Burned the stuck-down area it looks like real Washi tape and real cardstock. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t once you get the hang of it.

So there you have it, Jan’s technique for adding a shadow to Washi tape. I suggest that if you’re going to do this, turn the visibility of all the other layers off so you can see exactly what you’re doing. Dodge and Burn even the parts that will be hidden by other layers, for the best results. You never know when you might resize an element, or move things around… right?

See you all next week!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements 2019+)

Jan has a Challenge for All Y’ALL!

We’re living in interesting times. I know we’re all afraid and worried about what’s happening and what’s yet to come. And we have no control over any of it. I also know that humans are remarkably resilient, we’ve lived thorough hard times before and come out of it stronger, and that this is temporary. While we stay in our homes (or, because we provide an essential service, we’re going to work anyway) we all have lots of time for our thoughts to add to our stress. Rather than throw the Serenity Prayer your way, instead I want to extend a challenge to you. I’d like you to find a photo that speaks to the part of you that isn’t afraid, the part that still has hope. It can be a photo you’ve taken, or someone you love has taken or one you found on an open-source photo website like Pixabay. (Just looking through those sites is a terrific distraction!) Then I want you to find an inspirational quote to match the optimism or spiritualism of your photo. And then I want you to create a meme with it! (No, you don’t have to share it with anyone unless you want to, but it might be a comfort to somebody you know who seems to be doing okay but really isn’t.)

Photoshop Elements 2019 and 2020 have a Guided Edit that makes memes easy to create. It’s found in the Fun Edits menu as shown below. But don’t worry if you’re working with an older version. The same steps can all be done manually.

This is the photo I chose to work with. I had quite a few from Pixabay that would have worked but I like the thumbs-up gesture and the sunbeams that to me represent God’s love. The Edit menu looks like the screenshot below. One warning: don’t hit the Cancel button at the bottom unless you really like starting over from scratch!

First step is to click on the Create Meme Template button. Then a progress bar pops up.

Oh… hmmmm. Let’s keep going. There has to be a way to change that border!

The next step is to add the text. My quote is one from Benjamin Disraeli and it’s pretty spot-on. Once you’ve clicked on the Text Tool button, the same Text interface we’re all comfortable with opens up.

The default text is Impact Regular, but I want a script font so I looked through my vast collection and tried Hysteria Regular on for size. (See the image above for what it looks like.) I thought it was weirdly appropriate.

But it wasn’t quite the look I was after so I went back to my fonts and chose Steady Style Script Regular (another appropriate choice!) instead. In later versions of Photoshop Elements, it’s easy to find a script, or a typewriter or a sans serif font just by typing the style of font you’re looking for in the box. I typed in “scrip” and all the fonts in my collection with “script” in their name were displayed.

After I typed in the first part of my quote at the top of the meme, I clicked on the checkmark to Commit the Current Operation. The software needs that instruction to move to the next step.

Then I typed in the second part of my quote. The Edit allows for moving the text, and knowing I wanted to include the author’s name as credit for the thought, I moved the second line of text up a smidge. Then I Committed the Current Operation again. Without taking that step, I couldn’t move on with the Edit.

Aha! Here’s where I can do something about that border that I don’t think suits my meme. I moved the slider to make the photo bigger, then noticed the Fit Photo to Canvas tick box. So I ticked that box!

If I’d decided I still wanted a border, just not THAT border, this is where I could have changed it. And there’s an option to add an Effect to the photo. I like the photo as is. I apologize, I didn’t actually play with those steps so I can’t show you what the options look like. But you can always experiment if you like!

Now that I was happy (more or less) with my meme and having not been able to add the author’s name onto the meme, I clicked on the Next button and then chose Continue Editing in Expert.

When the Expert work space opens, you can see all the layers Elements has added to the image. Now I can decide where I want to put my author’s name.

But first, to protect my other text from accidental messing up, I Simplified both text layers. Then I moved them closer together, bracketing the sunbeams.

After I changed the font to a typewriter one, I added Disraeli’s name onto the image. To make sure the text layers were properly centred, I selected all three text layers and the (invisible) background layer, then Aligned the layers by the Middle.

And here is my finished meme. To all the folks who are still standing between us and disaster, I salute you.

Edited to add: The typo in my original version was bothering some readers enough that they pointed it out to me. So I’ve cleaned it up and replaced the final image. (I didn’t do ALL the screenshots – there are 9 of them in all – and it would have been a ton of work.) Keep on swimming, friends!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Jazzing Up a Font

Wow, how much the world has changed in one short week! Our provincial government has declared a state of emergency, although the total number of cases of COVID-19 in our province is still under 100. We’ve been sticking close to home since last Thursday night, which is giving me time to do all the things on my task list. This post is late because I got sidetracked painting the family room… hope the buyer – whoever that ends up being -approves! But let’s get into distraction mode for a bit.

Maybe you’ve seen my layout in the Gallery, the one where my granddaughter is eating her peas with her tongue. This is how I created my title. I started with one of the fonts I linked you up with last week Floral Capitals. Everything I’ve done in this tutorial has been shown to you at least a couple of times before, so if you’re a faithful reader, you might even predict what’s coming next as we work through. There are a lot of steps but I’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you. Whenever I do something that I’m making up as I go along, I like to make some copies of the original layer so I’ll still have one untouched one should I need it. Here I made 2 copies and turned their visibility off.

I analyzed the font’s appearance and had an idea of what I wanted to do. I knew the border would be different so I started off on the bottom layer by Erasing the middle parts of each letter, leaving just the border. Then I made a copy so I could quickly reset if I did something I didn’t like.

Next, I Selected the edges of the floral design by Clicking on the Layer Thumbnail of the lower copy of the original.

Now the Marching Ants come into play.

Now that Elements knew I wanted to work with just the Selected areas of my title, I added a new blank layer between the copy of the border layer and the lower copy of the entire title.

With the new blank layer active, I hit Select>Modify>Expand. I want to adjust the areas selected just a tiny bit.

But I only needed to adjust it a smidge, 1 pixel wide.

Still on that blank layer, I added a Stroke to the Selection. Edit>Stroke (Outline Selected Area).

Again, I went with a skinny stroke, only 2 pixels wide, and I chose this carnation pink, pulled from one of the papers I planned to use for my layout. (Diva-tude from Jumpstart Designs.)

Here you can see the pink a little if you squint.

When I turned off the rest of the layers, now I could see clearly where the Stroke went.

Using the Paint Bucket, I filled in all the letters with the same pink.

Yep, then I Erased the fancy parts, leaving just the pink letters.

I zoomed in quite a lot so I could clean it up to the best of my ability.

To give the letters some more presence I went to the Styles menu and chose Bevels.

I like to use Simple Pillow Emboss, because it’s pretty predictable.

See how it adds weight to the letters, and puts a bit of shading around them too?

The Bevel default is 21 pixels, which is a bit too much for the look I’m after, so I decreased the size down to 7 pixels. Now the letters look like die cuts.

One way to check for stray pixels after you’ve extracted something, as I’ve done with the letters, is to apply a Style or a Shadow. Those stray pixels pop out like zits before a big date. That makes them easier to remove. (If you’re only looking for stray pixels, you can clear the Layer Style when you’re done by right-clicking on the layer in the Layers panel and selecting Clear Layer Style from the menu.)

Okay, mission accomplished. Onward and upward! I turned off all but one of the layers, the lower copy of the original title. I Erased the borders on this layer, since I have plans for the ones I’ve saved down at the bottom of the pile.

As I was getting the screenshots edited I discovered I’d missed one… an important one. I added a black chipboard Layer Style from Ooh La La Scraps’ All Hallows Eve to this layer. It adds just a bit of a flocked look to the outline. I played with the Layer Style settings.

But all I did was increase the Bevel a bit, from 10 pixels to 15. That sharpened the edges just a bit.

Next, using the Rectangular Marquee tool I dragged out a box just inside the outline of the first letter and used the Paint Bucket to Fill it with this dark olive green, also from Diva-tude.

And I did the same with all the rest of the letters.

It’s looking pretty good but it still wasn’t where I wanted it so I added a few more little tweaks.

I turned the border boxes layer back on and took a good look at them.

They needed to be punched up just a tad, so I added a Stroke.

It had to be a narrow one so the border didn’t run into the fancy part. 3 pixels worked. I could have put the Stroke outside the boxes, but then the boxes might have coalesced. Instead I centered the Stroke on the lines.

I found this perfect pink Glitter style in ADB Designs’ Holiday Joy styles kit. So it went on the borders.

OOH! So close!

Last thing I did was to add an epoxy Style (from Mommyish at another store) to just the pink letters.

And then I was happy!

You can use these tips on other detailed fonts, and experimenting is fun! I hope you give it a try!

Tutorial Tuesday (Potpourri)

Spring-y Fonts (Part 2)

Are you ready for some fresh new spring-y fonts? I last did a spring font post a year ago and figured it was time. (Plus I’ve been so busy trying pretty much single-handedly to get our current house ready moving out of. I’m getting tired of the smell of paint!)

All the fonts below are free for personal use at Dafont. They’re ones I haven’t shown you before, and there are a couple that would be perfect for titles. See what you think!

CF Springtime is one that I might use for a title or two. It’s got good weight and with the leaves, it’s just a bit different.

This isn’t a font but it’s so pretty! These wreaths, or whatever we want to call them, can be used as photo overlays, to frame photos, to frame other fonts and so many other possibilities. You’re looking for Spring Romance.

Here’s another font just screaming to be used in titles. It lends itself well to multiple modifications, and if I can find some time, I’ll play with it so you can see what I mean. Floral Dawn sounds so poetic!


Can you see this one as a title font? How much fun it would be to deconstruct it and use multiple colours to make it really pop. Floral Capitals might be my favourite of the bunch.

This is just a cute little romantic script with curlicues and everything! Flower Shop could be a journal font, don’t you think?

I like the graphic effect this one has. Imagine it clipped to a pretty green paper, maybe with a glitter style added on top. I’m not really loving the name the designer gave it though… Forced Flowers.

Sweet Duck has three different options and all of them are pretty awesome.

I threw this one in just for fun, for all of us arctic blonde hippie chicks. The 70s were the BEST decade ever… LMS Hippy Chick says so!

How do they come up with these names? LRT Chickenhawk… it’s cuter than its name, for sure.

And last but not least, I’ve got a dingbat for you. KR Spring Me has an assortment of spring-y images you could use as stamps.

I’ve linked up each font for you so if you see one you love, go and grab it! I have a couple of ideas for tuts for next week but haven’t decided which one I’ll go with. Stay tuned!


Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Let’s Play Stump the Chump!!

Well, you ladies are all too kind! I’m glad you weren’t disappointed there wasn’t an actual tutorial last week. And thanks for the suggestions for my new user name. I think glee is the winner and I’m going to go with ObiJanKenobi.

Speaking of glee, she was the first to send me a link to one of her layouts to see if I could discern which of my tutorials she used to create it. This is the layout she linked me to:

I’ll admit, she didn’t make it easy on me! SO I’m going to just make a guess or two. I’m pretty sure I see some elements of Making a Stylish Sandwich in there., and maybe some Style(s) Savvy. I also see some Blend Modes? Say What?. She’s probably used a few more too, but I’m stumped.

Next I got a link from Ellen (gmae). She sent me this layout to scrutinize:

Again, I see a couple of techniques. One is Word Art Wizardry.  Another is Heritage Photos Get a Makeover.

And then almost right after Ellen’s message, I got one from her sister Carol (gnana96). Her layout has me completely stumped.

I think I detect some custom shadows, but it’s not obvious to me which of the half-dozen shadow tuts I’ve written. Help a girl out here, Carol!

This was a real challenge for me and I’m sure I’m at least 90% wrong with my guesses. And that’s OKAY!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’m painting bathrooms, cleaning ovens and all those nasty chores I like to procrastinate about because they’re not fun. But nobody wants to buy a house that’s not spic-and-span, right? We’ve booked our movers so I have a definite deadline now……… I promise to make time to bring you a new tut next week. Spring is coming, so don’t forget to put your clocks ahead on Saturday before you go to bed so you’re not late for church!! (How embarrassing is that?!)

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

A-Tinting We Will Go 

How did it get to be February already? The older I get the faster time flies. The last week has really kicked my butt, let me tell you. So I thought we’d try something very simple but incredibly beautiful today. I love this photo (from Pixabay) but I think it could be even prettier in black and white. With a little hint of tint…

In Photoshop Elements there are several ways you can convert a colour photo to black and white. Probably the easiest is to click on Enhance>Convert to Black and White (CTRL/CMD>ALT>B) as shown. Or you could use Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation then pull the Saturation slider all the way to the left. But… using the method shown gives you some added options that don’t involve fiddling.

When you use the Enhance>Convert to Black and White tool, this menu opens. The default setting is for Scenic Landscape, but there are multiple style options you can choose from.

There’s a slight but visible difference when I change the style to Portrait. The image is a little sharper and the contrast is a little higher. For this technique, that’s perfect.

I plan to blend this photo into the paper shown below. It’s from January 2020’s Daily Download, Toujours from Key Lime Digi Designs and The Cherry on Top. I’m going to choose a colour from it to tint my photo.

I decided that the soft green would be lovely, so I grabbed my Eye Dropper tool and clicked on the spot shown.

Next I clicked Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. The green that I chose is the foreground colour so it will be the colour used.

I made sure the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask was selected.

The Color Picker still opened so I had the chance to verify the green is what I want.

And there it is… the Fill Layer. Now what?? As you can see there are two separate layers there, with the colour layer on top. I changed the Blend Mode to Color.

If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the days when the colour on those old tube TVs would go wonky and everything was really green. Look familiar?

So I lowered the Opacity of the Fill Layer to 51%. Now there’s just a faint green glow.

I had already chosen a masked template that would work nicely with this photo. It was a freebie from Promethean Concepts in the A Love for Layout Templates Facebook group in December 2019.

Here’s a tip for ensuring the part of your photo you most want included within a mask makes it onto your layout. Rather than dragging and dropping it ON TOP of the mask, clipping and fiddling with it, try dragging and dropping it UNDERNEATH the mask and moving it around.

It isn’t exactly perfect, and I know I don’t want any harsh edges visible. I didn’t know this trick until just recently, but when using a mask like this it’s possible to use the Clone Stamp tool to extend a photo out to the edges of your mask.

I wanted more of the pearls and her hair inside the mask, so before I started playing with the Clone Stamp, I clicked Image>Transform>Skew to adjust the shape of the mask just a bit by pulling the lower left corner down and to the left, the lower right corner just over more to the right.

Then I moved the photo layer ON TOP of the mask and clipped it in place. I’m going to Clone the window, curtains and the top of her head to cover up all that pink that’s still visible from the mask. Once I’ve done that, I’ll use the Healing Brush tool to make the Cloned areas less obvious.

And there’s my finished blend. I’m pretty pleased with it, and with how little time it actually took to get the effect. I’d say 20 minutes, tops!

My finished layout looks like this:

Will you give this a try? Shout-out to Ulla-May for the inspiration.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

It’s a Total Eclipse!

Greetings! As promised, today I’m going to show you a paper-to-digi technique that CalGirl (Steph) brought to my attention. It’s called the Eclipse Technique, and I’ll tell you, the digi version is a LOT less work than the paper one. To get this effect with paper, first the letters need to be cut from the foreground paper. Then several layers of each letter are cut from the background paper, stacked and glued together onto the back of the foreground paper letters. Then some foam adhesive pieces are added to the bottom of the stack, the stack is stuck into the cut-out areas and it looks like this card created by Amy Koenders from Stampin’ Up. It’s a really pretty look, and so simple to obtain digitally.

I think the best choice for a background paper for this technique will be a solid, but a paper with a tiny print might work well too. To look really fabulous, the foreground paper should have some sort of design. In the card image above, the pine branches and cones were stamped onto the foreground paper. Digitally, that’s a step you can skip unless you really want to do it. When you see my finished layout you’ll know how I went on that. I planned to use a template for my layout so I did the process with the papers I planned to use, in the way I planned to use them. The solid is from the GingerBread Ladies Warm and Cozy January gift-with-purchase collab, and the foreground paper is from Ilonka DesignsRejoice kit.

The font I used is called Amadeust Regular. Choose a font that has some oomph to it, so you get the full effect. (Although we’re not gluing together skinny little strips of paper so I bet it would be fine to go with something more scripty or delicate too.) Make sure you have two copies of your foreground paper before you go on to the following steps. Turn the visibility of your top layer off so you can see what’s happening.

You can use any colour you want for your text because that layer is going to be deleted later. This it the title for my layout. At this stage, your text layer needs to be underneath your lower paper layer; I’ve made it visible here just for clarity.

Now Select your text by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the Layer Thumbnail. That will turn on the marching ants.

Make sure your active layer is the lower paper layer now. You’re going to Edit>Cut the text out of your lower paper layer. Keyboard shortcut for this is CTRL/CMD>X.

With both the text layer and upper paper layer visibility turned off, you can see the background paper through the “holes”. When you add a drop shadow to that upper paper layer, the appearance of your cut-outs will change.

If you want to, you can move your text layer up to just underneath the upper paper layer, but it’s not essential. Again, Select the outline of your text the same way. CTRL/CMD>Click on the text layer thumbnail. But this time we’re going to shrink the selected area just a tiny bit. Select>Modify>Contract is shown.

In the dialog box for that task type in the number 2, which will move the marching ants toward the centre by 2 pixels. It doesn’t have to be much, just a wee little bit.

The next step is to Invert the Selection. Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>shift>I.

With this step we’re going to cut away everything BUT the letters themselves. Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X.

Aha! See the red outline of my text? That’s exactly what I wanted to see.

The original text layer has served its purpose, so you can go ahead and delete it, or simply turn it off.

I made a copy of the INSIDE letter layer and will be working on the very topmost layer in the next step.

Here’s the fun part. We’re going to apply a Bevel Style to that topmost layer. Click on the Styles button at the lower right of your workspace and choose Bevels from the Styles menu.

I tried almost all of the Bevels on for size before settling on the Scalloped Edge style shown below.

It’s not exactly what I was looking for so I made some adjustments.

To adjust any Style or Effect on a layer, double-click on the fx to the far right of the layer in the layers panel. The menu box has several options you can change. I adjusted the Lighting Angle to 120°, which is the angle my template uses. The default setting for Bevels is 21 pixels, but that’s not the look I want so I decreased the amount of Bevel down to 5 pixels.

Then to make the offset look a little more obvious, I added a solid colour Fill Layer in the same turquoise as my background paper to the bottom letters-only layer. Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color.

Ensure the box next to Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask is checked and that the Opacity of the fill layer is 100%.

Then I Merged the two layers together.

Here the only layer not visible is the original text layer. I think it looks pretty awesome! I know it seems like even more work than the paper version, but it’s an illusion. Explaining it all makes it look like more work than it is.

When I put my layout together, I decided to add some brushes and some glossy glitter to the patterned paper layer. See how the white brush crosses the edge of the “O”? I love this technique and I think I’ll be using it a lot more.

Thanks Steph!