Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Quick Trick: Select SUBJECT

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3ZGrH2z

Gradually, oh-so-gradually, Adobe is adding more functionality to Photoshop Elements and bringing it closer to Photoshop itself. Today I’ll show you one of these game-changing tools. It’s one that I’ve used a LOT in the last few weeks. For this tutorial I’m going to selectively edit a photo by lightening and brightening the sculpture while making other adjustments to the rest of the image.

Introduced in Elements 2020, there’s now a Select>Subject option! There are two other ways to access this function: CTRL/CMD>ALT/OPT>S is the keyboard shortcut. I’ll show you the second way in a moment.

Elements uses AI to decide what the subject of the image is, and that takes a few seconds. It’s not always perfect, as you can see here – it missed the lower corner of the sculpture. But that’s easy enough to fix.

Here’s another back door into the function: the Quick Selection (aka the Magic Wand) Tool. See the Select Subject button? This is also where you can add or subtract the parts Elements didn’t get right. There’s a lot of power in these Tool Options, but we don’t need them for today’s purpose.

I’ve discovered it’s a good habit to develop to shift the edge of my Selection by a few pixels to make sure all the tiny details are included and to keep the actual edge of the Selection from being too visible later. Select>Modify>Expand is the choice I make most often. 5 pixels is usually enough.

Here’s and extreme close-up of that 5 pixel shift.

The next few screenshots will show the specific adjustments I made to my image. There are as many other possibilities as there are Edits: blurring the background, changing the background, removing the background, moving objects in the image around, copying the subject onto another image… wherever your imagination takes you. But let’s see if we can bring out the detail in the sculpture a bit using Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness/Contrast…

Oh THERE you are!

Once I had the sculpture looking better, I turned my attention to the background. The tweaks it needs are different from the sculpture. All I needed to do was Select>Inverse (CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>I).

This time I used Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Shadows/Highlights…

It really didn’t need much.

Once I was satisfied with the separate adjustments, I hit Select>Deselect (CTRL/CMD>D). I subsequently made a few more slight adjustments using some of the things we’ve talked about previously: Fill Selection>Content Aware to remove the fire hydrant and the light on the wall in the background, Shake Reduction… and Haze Removal…

Here are the Before and After images. Thoughts?

See you in April!

Tutorial Tuesday (Individual Style)

Challenge Spotlight: Color

Wow, you ladies are totally rocking the Challenges for the Scrapathon!! Every one of the Challenge Galleries is brimming with new layouts. Incroyable! I’m trying to shine the Spotlight on a different Challenge each month until all of them have been discussed but I also don’t want to keep y’all here all evening so I had to make a decision. Rather than showcasing every layout posted to the Challenge I chose for this month – there are 58 of them – I opted to go with every fourth layout, beginning at the beginning. So the layouts I’m sharing with you today from the Color Challenge Gallery are (sorta) randomly selected. As usual, each layout is linked to itself in the Gallery so you can provide your own feedback to the GingerScrappers; just click on the scrapper’s user name.

First, let’s talk about the Challenge criteria. For the Color Challenge, hosted each month by the inimitable Aimee Harrison, we’re provided with a color or color swatch for the Challenge palette. Because this is also Scrapathon, Aimee added a theme: My Scrapping Friends. So each of the Challenge layouts must have the same palette and the same theme. How did they do?

Our first layout is from pjm117. Full points for the colors, but she seems to have missed the part about the theme. That photo though! So CUTE! I like that she added some dusty mauve and white to the palette, and her clusters are gorgeous!

Next up is this pretty one from pizzaz. She went with a softer, brighter green, and more pastel blues and yellows, Those pops of orange are very eye-catching. But alas, she too missed the theme.

SusanSays has the color, 100%. And her photo is so sweet. The banners really move the eye around the layout. Theme? Um. No.

Here, snickels has also used the palette with an almost perfect tone match. The blue stucco on the house is front-and-centre, contrasting nicely with the palette. Theme?

Tamsin McAtee met the first part of the Challenge quite ably, but again, the theme is missing. (Maybe random selection wasn’t the best way to go?) I do like how she’s tucked her elements behind the photo to anchor them.

Windswept‘s layout is beautifully created. The green is muted so the blues and yellows really pop. Her title is cleverly arranged.

I think Kristi Martin has hit both targets. Somebody in her craft circle has to be a scrapper, right? I like that she’s added some brown to augment the rustic aspect of the retreat’s location.

Now we’re talkin’! Flighty-188 has the theme fully locked down. Her cluster hits just the right notes. And those colors are definitely there.

Lucky lawyerlyn got to meet one of her favourite digiscrap designers. She kept her layout simple so the photo could take centre stage. Palette? Check.

The palette chigirl used is muted but ticks all the boxes. The theme? Maybe. Whatever they were doing, they clearly were having fun!

I absolutely LOVE the papers lilholmes6 has used, and how they showcase her photos. (I also love tulips!) Now, if only the theme was “spring”. <sad trombone>

Yes! This layout from macsandy scored ALL the points! They’re scrapping the old-school paper way and all the elements she used are related to the theme.

AlyciaIN has also ticks all the boxes. Makes me nostalgic for the crops I used to enjoy so much… although I brought my laptop, not a bag full of paper and glue.

Is there anything better than having friends who share your passions? KatherineWoodin is surrounded by them. I see several laptops in her 2011 photo too.

What a clever take!! AJsRandom plays with words, but still hits the mark. Her simple layout really captures the essence of the Challenge.

Hazel’s learning the ropes at day care so she can become honeybee‘s scrappin’ buddy. This layout is simply beautiful. The way the patterned paper is masked behind the photos leads the eye around and the scattered beads accent everything.

Purple71 brought the color, but not the theme. I like the cutouts behind her photo and use of the journal card though!

This layout by hichchei makes me smile, although I’m not fond of Irish stereotypes. She’s got the main color palette nailed, and added a rainbow of other colors to the mix.

The last layout of the day is from digiscrapmomma. Colors? Check. Theme? No check.

Okay, now I have to go back to the Challenge Gallery and take a closer look at the ones that fell in between the every-fourth-layout to see if I could have gone with a different randomizer… I feel like I was scoring a figure skating or gymnastics competition!

I hope you’re seeing signs of spring where you are (northern hemisphere peeps). The golf course behind our house is currently hosting a large flock of cobra chickens and the racket they make is unreal. I think our resident coyote might have fallen into the water hazard trying to catch supper last night.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Deckle the Halls

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/40dpsoB

Ellen (gmae) asked for a deckle edge tutorial almost instantly after last week’s tutorial appeared. So I obliged. I’ll show you a couple of ways to do it; the hardest part is the math!

Start off with a new blank canvas. Make it a bit bigger than your desired paper strip/tag/photo mat. Then turn on the Grid. View>Grid.

Let’s review how to set your parameters for the Grid. You can choose the colours for your Grid and Guide lines – helpful for those of us with old eyes – and the details of your Grid. Click on Edit>Preferences>Guides & Grid.

I’ve found that light red works well for my Grid lines, so that’s what I’ve chosen. I’m old enough that I learned feet and inches before Canada went to the metric system and I still think in feet and inches, so my Settings reflect that. There’s a Gridline every inch, with 4 Subdivisions of each large section, or every 1/4 inch. These Settings are completely up to you and how you think, so set them up for success.  Just pick them so that they make the thinking and mathing easier.

Now make a Custom Shape. Straight sides – square or rectangle – will be easier than curves for your first attempts, especially when it comes to mathing.

Make sure you Simplify the Shape Layer. Elements won’t let you do anything with that shape until you do. Right-click>Simplify Layer if your version doesn’t provide a Simplify button.

Because this technique requires uniformity in the size and placement of the bites you take out of the edges, you may benefit from a Guideline of your own. Drag out an internal border using the Rectangular Marquee Tool using the Grid to help you keep it consistent. Alternatively, you can CTRL/CMD>click inside the shape layer thumbnail then Select>Modify>Contract to the distance you want.

Drop a new blank layer onto your layer stack above the shape layer, then Edit>Stroke (Outline) Selection. You want it on its own layer so you can make it disappear when you’re finished with it.

Choose a contrasting colour (so you can see it), decide on a Width (I went with 5 pixels) and a Location (I went with Outside).

After you’ve got your personal Guideline in place, turn off the marching ants by Select>Deselect Layers or CTRL/CMD>D. Elements won’t let you do anything else while the ants are marching.

Activate the Eraser Tool. Choose a hard, round brush, and make the diameter something manageable. I’m using 100 pixels. Then, using your personal Guideline and the Subdivisions on the Grid, position the Eraser cursor so the edge of the cursor’s outline is touching the Guideline you created and the crosshairs are centered on the Grid Subdivision line. Click to take a bite, then move on to the next spot as shown.

Here’s a closer look.

Once you’ve gone all around the edges, you’re done and your personal Guideline can be deleted or turned off. If you want to go for a postage stamp look, leave the Guideline there and that layer active. Go back to Edit>Stroke (Outline) Selection.

This time you’ll want the Stroke to hang over the edges all the way around. You might have to try a few Widths to get it right. You can’t really make it too big! I ended up at 45 pixels.

There shouldn’t be any little bits of the deckle edge visible.

Again, with the Stroke Layer active, CTRL/CMD>click on the Shape layer thumbnail to Select the deckle edge.

To remove the parts of the Stroke hiding the bites, Select>Inverse or CTRL/CMD>SHIFT>I to move the Selected part OUTSIDE the Shape layer’s edges.

Then Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X to make the Stroke layer deckled too.

Here’s another sample for you. I used the same size Eraser, 100 pixels, but instead of using an inner border as a guide, I positioned the cursor’s outline so it intersects the corners of the Subdivision. That positions the Eraser perfectly each time and the bite is quite a lot shallower.

I felt the corners were a little too acute so I nobbled a tiny bit off each one and this is the end result.

There are so many ways this can be customized by varying the Shape used for your Eraser, but that’s a whole other conversation!

I hope if you’re in the part of the country getting blasted with yet another blizzard that you’re safe and warm, and don’t have to leave the house until it blows over. Oh, and Happy Pi Day!

Tutorial Wednesday (Photoshop Elements)

Weaving – the Digital Way

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/428oL1i

Sorry to keep you waiting! When Ginger send me an idea for a tutorial that I really loved, I had no idea it would end up being much more complex than at first glance. I scrapped the first two attempts at making this a coherent process and I think you’ll find it’s not as bad as all the screenshots – and your faithful demonstrator – make it look. (However, this tutorial will require intermediate-to-expert familiarity with the Elements software.) It started with Ginger sending me a link to this layout by trinanne; she used this month’s brush and clipped her papers to it over and over. Of course, I had to take the long walk sown the garden path instead…

Now, obviously, if we’re weaving a bunch of papers or ribbons together, they’ll look best against a neutral solid background. I’m using 10 different patterned papers and a solid cardstock from the February 2023 Daily Download Noteworthy, from Miss Fish.

I decided it would work best for the way I was seeing this in my head if I created a bunch of paper strip Clipping Masks. If you’d rather use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to cut strips, that’s up to you. I want to have some variations in width, some crooked and torn edges, and one strip will have a deckle edge. (Instructions not included.) To make those individual features work best, the adjustments are made to the Mask to ensure the patterns on the papers aren’t distorted. I’ll be making a roughly 8 inch by 8 inch square, 10 strips in all. Here’s a tip: When using the Custom Shapes Tool you can specify dimensions and with only one click, you’ve got the desired shape in the desired size. I’m using a Width 8 inches, Height 1.5 inches for my first strip Mask.

Don’t forget that when using the Custom Shape Tool, the resulting shape is a Smart Object – it’s locked and can’t be altered unless you Simplify it. More recent versions of Elements includes a Simplify button bar in the Tool Options. If your version doesn’t show it there, right-click on the layer and choose Simplify Layer from the drop-down menu that appears.

Here I’ve created all 5 of my horizontal Clipping Mask layers. I’ve changed the foreground colour a bit for each to help keep them separate in my mind. You can see there are some thinner and some thicker strips. Next I’ll make 5 vertical strips the same way.

All 10 strips are there now. Let’s Clip some papers to them!

I know you all already know how to Clip papers to template spots but I’ll review anyway. With your paper right above the object you’re Clipping to, right-click on the paper layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. Alternately, you can use a keyboard shortcut. For versions 14 and earlier, CTRL/CMD>G will do it. For versions 15 and later, CTRL/CMD>ALT/OPT>G. My fingers just go there almost automatically now, I’ve used that shortcut so often.

Here are the 5 horizontal strips with their papers Clipped in place. The process is identical for the vertical strips.

Just like that.

I’ll show you how to make them look a little less deliberate in the next few screenshots. Here’s why I opted for Clipping Masks and not just Marqueeing out a bunch of strips. If I decided to Image>Transform>Skew a paper strip, the pattern would also Skew and it would look awful. So instead, I’ll Skew the Mask, giving it crooked ends, and the paper will stay unblemished. Skew only allows the corners to move in a single direction.

To make each paper strip more manageable, after I make my tweaks to the Mask, I’ll right-click>Merge the paper and Mask layers into a single layer. The shortcut is CTRL/CMD>E.


Here I’ve made a bit of a curved cut into the end of the Mask. The Smudge Tool will give that effect, or you could use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to Cut (CTRL/CMD>X) away a thin curved sliver. That method will give you a cleaner Cut.

Why not, indeed?

For this strip I used Image>Transform>Distort. With that command, each of the corners moves independently in all directions.

Another variation on the Smudge Tool.

Now let’s get to the WEAVE. First you’ll need to decide which strip to start with. I’m going to skip the first vertical strip and pass the pink striped strip then the multi-striped strip underneath my red-and-white horizontal strip. I Selected the edges of the first horizontal strip by CTRL/CMD>clicking on the layer thumbnail in the Layers Panel. Then I made the pink striped layer my active layer. To make it look like it passed behind the horizontal strip, Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X removes that Selection from the pink striped paper.


Alternate this process for each of the horizontal layers.

Here is what it looks like before the dimension of shadowing is added.

Add a new, blank layer at the top of the stack of layers. This is where you’ll put your shadows. Decide where your light source is. That will determine where your shadows will lie. I like my light to come from the upper left, at 120°. Because some of my paper strips don’t have sharp, straight edges, I created custom shadows for those layers. (Custom Shadows – Jan’s Method) If you’re going with straight edges you can ignore that. Instead, use the Pencil Tool. For the horizontal strips, you’ll be drawing in your shadows inside the edges of the paper horizontally. For the vertical layers, you’ll be drawing your shadows inside the edges of those papers vertically. The Radius for your Pencil lines can be fairly small, since the papers will be laying tightly together. I used 4 pixels but 5 or even 8 won’t be too big. Set your Foreground Colour to black (000000) Click the cursor right inside the corner of the paper square you’re working with.

Then hold down the SHIFT key and click the cursor in the opposite corner. Here I’ve made a horizontal line. Don’t be too fussy about making it perfectly straight, because it’s not going to be noticeable later.

After you’ve got all your paper rectangles outlined in black, add a Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur to that layer.


Don’t go overboard here. The Blur is to soften the lines, not make them blend right into the paper! If you can’t see anything in the Preview Pane, click your cursor in a spot where you know there’s a line. It’ll pop up in the Preview Pane and you can gauge how far to Blur. 2.3 pixels worked well for me.

Last thing to do is to change the Blend Mode to Linear Burn and drop the Opacity to about 60% and it’s done! Now to decide how to use the weave…

You can Save this weave as a PSD to allow for alterations later, or as a PNG to preserve the transparent layer behind. Or you can just go ahead and scrap on top and around it.

Til next Tuesday!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Quick Trick: Content-Aware Fill

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

We all have those photos that just don’t… quite… make us happy… but the memory is important. I have a lot of photos from my two visits to Ireland where the subject is ancient and meaningful, but the trappings of modern life just intrude. Cars, signs. poles, wires, you know what I mean. If they’re in the photo it’s because I couldn’t get the image without including them. Here’s how I make them disappear.

Okay, so the wire in this photo isn’t really that bad. But it bothers me enough that I’m going to eliminate it. These thatched cottages in Adare, County Kerry, have been there for at least a couple hundred years, long before electricity and cable TV. In the past, I would have used a combination of Spot Healing and Clone Stamping to hide it, but not any more!

First, I’m going to make a mask for it using the Pencil Tool. Since it’s essentially a straight line, that’ll work well. I chose a hard, round brush a bit wider than the wire.

This mask needs to go on a new blank layer so that its’ edges can be Selected in the next step. So I plopped down a new layer.

Next, I put the tip of my pencil down at one end of the visible wire and clicked.

Then, holding down the SHIFT key, I put the tip of the pencil down at the other end and clicked again.

By clicking on the mask/red line Layer Thumbnail (the little image that shows what’s on the layer), I’ve told Elements I want the edges of the line Selected. That turns on the marching ants. Then I clicked Select>Modify>Expand so I can be positive I’ve gotten ALL of the stuff I want gone covered.

It doesn’t need to be expanded much. 5 pixels for this is enough. That’ll move the marching ants away from the original selection by 5 pixels in each direction.

This step is optional, but I feel like it’s needed here because of the straight, sharp line. The edges could be visible in the finished image and I’d rather they not. Select>Feather or CTRL/CMD>ALT/OPT>D will open a new option menu.

The edges just need a touch of softening so a Feather Radius of 5 pixels is likely enough.

Now, prepare to be amazed! Make sure your photo layer is active – not the mask layer – and click Edit>Fill Selection…

Choose Content-Aware from the Fill Layer options menu. Content-Aware Fill was introduced in Elements 13, so if you’re using an earlier version, it won’t show up for you in the options. Sorry…

The image speaks for itself.

To turn off the marching ants, click Select>Deselect or CTRL/CMD>D. And it’s done!!

I took the original photo in May 2014, but now, it could be any year.

I’ll just show you another quick way to eliminate distractions before we go. It’s thought this castle was built around 1216 on the shore of Lough Leane, near Killarney, County Kerry by an Anglo-Norman named Roche. Over the last couple of centuries it’s fallen to ruin. And those signs have GOT to go!!

This time I used the Lasso Tool to draw a rough circle around the sign and post. As long as the line you create with it crosses itself you’ll be able to “close the loop” and have a specific Selection. Don’t be too fussy, because it doesn’t matter!! (**You won’t have a red line around your loop. I did that to make it easier to see where I’ve got my marching ants.**) Then again, Edit>Fill Selection…

And choose Content-Aware again.

A really close look will tell you Elements has Cloned the shrub to the left of the Selection to fill the space, but the average eye won’t notice.

The owners of the property has tried to make the “historical marker” thing blend in with its surroundings, but it’s a fail for me. So let’s disappear it too.

Back to Content-Aware.

Hmm. Elements has Cloned part of the fence post and it looks dumb. It’s outta there!

I made a new, smaller selection to capture only the offending fence post and Filled it with Content-Aware and now it’s perfect!

Now that I’ve started, I’m hooked! I’ll be spiffing up a LOT of photos, and getting much better results, in the coming days.

Anybody jumping into the Scrap-a-Thon? Since my son has finally recovered from his injury, life is back to normal for us and I should be able to take part. So excited!! See you on the weekend with the Designer Spotlight.


Tutorial Tuesday (Individual Style)

Challenge Spotlight: Word Art

This month we’re looking at Word Art, the challenge sponsored and hosted by Cheré Kaye Designs. The supplied word art looks like this:

Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have no possible use for word art, but there are so many ways to be creative with it if you just give yourself permission. I’m going to show you, in the order they were posted, the first 16 layouts posted to the Word Art Challenge Gallery using this exact word art so you can see some of the ways it can be made your own. Each layout is linked to the Gallery so you can get a better look or offer some good vibes to the scrapper. Just click on the scrapper’s Forum handle!

The first layout is from demma_b13. She’s used the word art exactly as it was designed, pulling the colours for her layout from it and adding some photos of a very sweet little gnome to go with her kit selection. I like how she’s “painted” the big heart over the edge of the top photo. That touch of transparency is divine!

Here, trinanne has used the word art as is too, but made it the focal point of the layout, surrounded by photos of her loved ones.

As you can see, scrapcrazy has departed from the traditional. A simple layout about a very handsome dog needed something a little less “romantic”, so she recoloured everything to work with her photo and kit choice. I’m intrigued by the gradient effect she’s used on the outline for “love”. So cool!

Here again, the unaltered word art is supported by the colours in both the photos and the kit dkane has chosen. Just gorgeous!

For her layout, lulutoo has recoloured the letters in “love” to coordinate with the russet and peach tones of her kit. Those colours work so nicely with her vintage-looking photos.

When I first looked at alexandergirl68‘s layout, I didn’t notice that the mask she used makes a heart, I was so caught up in the photo of that precious baby! For the word art, she dispensed with the white border, pulled from the varied shades of russet ink for the letters, and added a shadow to make them look cut from cardstock.

branma has left the word art unchanged and used the same background paper as trinanne to show off her photos. Those pops of black add dimension and interest. The depth of her shadow gives the word art a embossed appearance.

Here, dhariana has recoloured the word art, ditched the white border and added a stitched border to the “love”. Clever!

Look at these kitties! The nuzzles! alasandra has clipped two different papers to the letters in “love”, while sticking closely to the original palette.

When creating her layout, firstoscartgrouch used the colours in the word art for inspiration, leaving it as it, but adding some flowers and a bunny sniffing them to replicate the subject of her photos.

I like how larkd has incorporated the word art into her clustered border. The purple in “hello” is the only place purple appears on the layout, causing it to draw the eye to her photo.

Here’s a novel idea! Not only has chigirl recoloured the word art to coordinate with her layout, she’s turned it into a tag.

The word art’s original colours wouldn’t work at all with ranchcreations‘ photos, so she clipped a paper to it. By using a brown paper for the word art and for the brad border under her square photo, she’s bringing the eye right to her large photo.

The word art on nimble4u‘s layout looks like it’s made from something very sturdy and offset with those foam tape things paper scrappers and card-makers use.

I would have known this is a KatherineWoodin layout anywhere! Katherine is so diligent about chronicling life every day; I stand in awe. She recoloured to pick up the colours of the boys’ uniforms and their basketballs. The way she’s shadowed it, it looks like it could be acrylic, not paper. Good job, Katherine!

We’ve seen quite a lot cats this time around! (I’m not a cat person, but know a few.) Our last layout is from lebjs, where the word art is as designed. She’s cleverly used strips of white as whiskers to give her main photo the appearance of a cat’s face. So sweet!

I wish someone would have used some layer styles to really customize the word art. Maybe I’ll do a mock-up to see how it would look.

I have a question for you all about dating your layouts. Do you include the date? How do you do that? Do you have a preferred method of including it, such as using a tab or paper strip? I’m working up an idea passed on to me by gmae (Ellen) and need your input. Please send me a private message (ObiJanKenobi) and share your wisdom!

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Pattern Files, Custom Shapes and Styles Mash-Up (Replay)

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

Well, my son hasn’t bounced back from his infection the way I’d hoped. He’s fine… just not back to normal, so that means I’m not back to normal either. I’m feeling a little depressed and unmotivated. Hence the reprise of an older tutorial. This one came about when Ellen (gmae) and her sister Carol (gnana96) wanted to learn more about using Photoshop Elements in more creative ways. Since we’ve been talking about Styles a lot lately, this seems to be a good fit.

I don’t have the original screenshots any more, so I’ll caption the images where the red type on gray background makes them impossible to read.

First thing I did was open a blank canvas so I could experiment.

Time to play around with some of the lesser known and underused features of Elements

One of the items Ellen mentioned was shapes. I touched on the Shape tool in the tutorial about rounded rectangles, but there’s a LOT more to it than that. Let’s look at the Custom Shape tool, the one that looks like an amoeba. Below is a screenshot of where to look for the tool in the Tool panel, as well as what the menu looks like. As you can see, there are a number of categories; if you know what kind of shape you’re looking for you can zero in by selecting the category and carrying on. I usually look at them all.

That little window holding all the thumbnails is teeny-tiny and only shows about 12 thumbnails at a time, so I made the window bigger. There’s a wedge-shaped collection of dots in the upper right corner of the window frame that I clicked and dragged on to make the window really big. Now I could get down to business.

For this demo I decided to choose a Grecian key shape. To create your shape, you put the cursor on your work surface and drag it across the screen. You can adjust proportions by moving that cursor around or you can tell Elements that you want to “constrain proportions” by clicking on that control bar I have circled below then entering in the dimensions you want. You can set it to create the shape from the centre out, or from one corner. If you’re particular or you have a specific idea in mind then select the controls you need to make the software work for you.

Grecian key shape… nice for a border

There are two ways to Simplify this shape layer. You can select it in the Tool options panel (for Elements 14 or later), or you can right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select it there. Why Simplify the layer? That’s how you get a transparent background! With a transparent background, your shape becomes a “smart object” that you can move around, resize, rotate, skew and any other alteration you can think of. You want to have as much control and as few CTRL/CMD>Z moments as possible.

Two ways to Simplify the shape layer. That’s how you get a transparent background.

We’ve talked about Styles a lot lately, so this is just a review. There are dozens of embedded styles in the software; they’re found in the Effects panel you open by clicking on the big fx button at the lower right of your workspace. We’re focusing on the Styles section of this set. Open up the menu by clicking on that little bar the arrow indicates and select Patterns to see this menu. These files have .asl as their file type. and are stored in the Presets folder of Elements on your computer. Hover the cursor over the thumbnails to see what Elements calls each pattern.

Let’s look at two different Pattern Styles on identical shapes

The software needs to know where you want to put the Pattern Style, so CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail to select the contents of the layer. Voilà… marching ants!

This Pattern Style gives the look of polished copper

CTRL/CMD>click on the layer thumbnail and get those old marching ants

This is what the Copper Pattern Style looks like on the Grecian key shape. To apply the style double-click on it.

This Pattern Style gives the look of polished copper

I wanted to show you one more of the choices from that menu, so I selected the top strip of the Grecian key shape.

Marching ants on the unaltered layer for a side-by-side comparison

Hmm… dry mud? Why not!


Let’s just refresh our memories about those style files several of our GingerScraps designers include in their collections. (Aimee HarrisonMiss Mis DesignsJust So Scrappy/Ooh La La ScrapsKristmess and Magical Scraps Galore are the ones I can think off right off the top of my head.) I used a different custom shape for this part.

Refresher on Styles… two ways to Simplify

I’m going to apply a glitter-gloss style from Miss Mis Designs’ collection called Hustle and Heart.

The menu for that Style group looks like this.

You’ll notice that this type of Style adds some dimension and reflected light to the shape.

There are many embedded Style categories, as I mentioned. What do the ones in the Complex styles folder do? (OMG, I have a typo on my screenshot! Oh well…) This particular style adds dimension, reflected light and drop shadows all with just a double-click.

Here’s another Complex style that looks like enameled or epoxy’d metal. Think of the ways you could fiddle with that!

Ellen also had Swatches on her list. There are a few choices with this one. To see the swatches you can click on the Window tab at the top of your screen and select them from the drop-down menu. Or, if you’re in the Text tool clicking on the Color box as shown will open up the same menu. I rarely use this feature because it’s so much easier and more satisfying to use the Color Picker tool (eye-dropper) to select a colour from either my photo or one of my papers/elements. The sky’s the limit with that method; this one is quite limited.

Here’s a happy little accident I experienced while I was experimenting. I checked out the Wow styles way down at the bottom of my (lengthy) styles list and the Wow Neon style looks like that fancy coloured Niobium wire.

See what I mean?

The style adds a drop shadow, which I felt might be a bit too far from the text for wire, so I opened up the fx menu on the layer to tweak the shadow and noticed that I had the option of changing the colour in there too.

Pulling the shadow in closer to the text looks like this. There are other ways of amping up this look too, by copying the original layer above the one the style is applied to and then applying another style to that layer, playing with the opacity until it looks incredible.

Now to the heart of Ellen’s question. Pattern files. Those ones with .pat as the file type. There are some designers who include a .pat file along with a .asl file in their kits. There are also a number of embedded .pat files in the software. I wasn’t able to find a shortcut for installing these files, so below I’m going to give you the steps for installing them manually. After you’ve extracted the .pat file from your downloads, copy the file (CTRL/CMD>C) then in Windows Explorer, look for the path I’ve shown. C:> Program Files (x86)> Photoshop Elements> Presets> Patterns. then paste the file into the folder. (CRTL/CMD>V)

Now let’s play with some .pat files! When you use a font for anything, you have to Simplify the layer before you can make any alterations to it. Don’t worry if you forget this step, because Elements will remind you. But ONLY with fonts!

Now how do we access those Pattern Files? By using the Pattern Stamp tool, of course! It does the same thing as the Clone Stamp tool, but rather than stamping a sample from the image you’re cloning, it uses a pattern. If you use the keyboard shortcut <S> you can toggle between Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp easily.

The Stamp uses Brush tool options to select the area it covers. I used a hard square brush for my sample, but it really doesn’t matter what shape you use. You’re just going to click and drag the brush over the item you want to use the Pattern Stamp on anyway. Make sure you have NORMAL selected in the Mode box, otherwise you won’t see the effect you think you should.

This is where Elements hides those .pat files. There are several defaults, and any that you’ve installed into the Patterns folder will appear in the menu.

The Pattern Stamp will cover everything unless you select where you want it to go. So make sure you’ve selected the areas to apply your pattern to.

Do a quick visual check to make sure all the settings are correct.

Click and drag your Pattern Stamp brush over your selection… Bingo!

It looks neat, but I want it to look even neater, so I added a Bevel.

I used the Simple Inner bevel to add dimension.

Then I added a stroke to the resulting rounded text.

And here’s how to find the .pat files you’ve installed. My experience with those that come in kits is that they’re generally just glitter, but I only have the two you see below so what do I know?!


I haven’t completely wasted the last two weeks; I’ve been watching Facebook reels (lots of reels… so many reels!) of Photoshop tricks that I just may be able to replicate in Elements. It’ll take some experimentation but I think I should be able to make them work. Stay tuned! Next week I’ll be letting YOU shine in the Challenge Spotlight.


Tutorial Tuesday (Fonts)

More Hearts and Flowers Fonts

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3k05qOr

It’s been a rough week at our house, meaning no time for me to do anything really inspiring. But I’ve been seeing a LOT of inspiring Valentine’s Day projects so I had a thought… Surely there are some great new Valentine’s Day fonts and dingbats that y’all can use those Styles we talked about last week to make REALLY fabulous. And there are!! I’ve got eleven FREE fonts and six dingbats for your scrapping pleasure, from dafont.com. (If you want any of these, just click on the font’s name and you’ll be linked up.) Ready?

Couple Valentine is a fancy, all-caps font that would be perfect for pretty much any application. Titles, subtitles, journaling – all of it! I love that.

This romantic script font, Mybook Again, is another multipurpose gem. I could see this on wedding invitations, all kinds of wedding favours and Valentines. It’s beautiful, don’t you think?

I really love these bubble fonts like Romantic Love. There are SO many ways to use them and so many things you can do to zhuzh them up.

Pink Valentine is so retro and cute! It brings me right back to my teenage years when I still had rose-coloured glasses.

This font could be right out of a fairy tale. Lovaline Story is another versatile font that is suitable for any purpose.

Candy Kisses would make beautiful titles. Beyond Valentine’s Day and weddings, I’d probably use it for baby layouts.

Beauty Heart is a lovely farmhouse-type font. I’d love to see it with a glossy Style so it looks like candy.

I like the heart ligatures on Finding Love. It’s yet another all-purpose font with infinite options.

Ooh, here’s a swashy script called Jully Julia. It’s perfect for subtitles and journaling.

I don’t know that I’d use You Are My Valentine for journaling, but it would be good for titles and subtitles.

I was looking for dingbats when I found Quirky Love. It’s already pretty fabulous, and has potential to be even more so! Doesn’t it look like leather?

Now for the dingbats. Heart Salads is the first set I’ve found that has an anatomical heart in it.

I can see so many things that can be done with Romantine Dingbat. Yes, most of them involve hitting them with a Style… or three.

I love these heart emoji dings, don’t you? Fluffy Hearts Ding just makes me smile.

PW Little Hearts covers the gamut of things we love. That heart-with-the-ball-of-yarn would make a great element for a cat layout.

These are pretty romantic hearts in Vanlentines Day TBF. I think my favourite is the solid heart with the stars along the right side.

Last, but not least, we have Merciful Heart Doodle. I might use this one to create a border. What would you do with it?

Now I must run… gotta deal with all the errands I’ve put off for the last week while my son has been sick. Hopefully I’ll get ’em done before the rain turns to snow…

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Loading Those Styles Files

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

Back a couple of weeks, I said I’d put together a quick tut on how to load Styles into Elements. That’s where we’re going today. It’s really easy, but I can complicate anything! I’ll show you the easy way, and the more complicated way then let you decide how you’ll do it. Sound good?

But first, let’s talk about Styles a little bit. What are they, anyway? Essentially, they’re little automatic scripts that allow you to alter and enhance individual layers in your Photoshop Elements layouts. They include things like shadows, glitter, metal, fabric, gel, wood, cork, texture… so many different Styles exist and more are being created all the time. Several GingerScraps designers create Styles that coordinate with their kits. In fact, many of the GingerBread Ladies‘ collabs have Styles files in them, so you’ve probably got a bunch you aren’t even aware of! Let’s get you up to speed!

There are two ways to access your Styles portfolio. One is to click the Window tab along the top of the workspace then choose Styles from the drop-down menu. The second way – the one I use because it’s right there – is to click on the Styles button at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Once you’ve accessed them, there’s a Style Picker bar at the top of the Layers Panel.

Here’s the Style Picker. It will let you see all the Styles that are already Loaded. Elements includes several default Styles embedded in the software (Bevels, Complex, Drop Shadows, Glass Buttons, Image Effects, Inner Glows, Inner Shadows, Outer Glows, Patterns and more) That little stack of lines to the right of it is where the actual Styles Menu hides.

Let’s click on the stack of lines. Now choose Load Styles.

Here’s where I can complexify things… I learned how to find where my computer puts things and have worked out my own workflow using that knowledge. With Styles (and Brushes, which are Loaded in exactly the same way), I rename the files then move them into the folder where Elements will look for them first. I’ve outlined the path here. The path is C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements [Version #]\Presets\Styles. This makes it easier for me to find them later but it’s not the only way to manage them.

You can see that Styles files have the tag .ASL or .asl after the file name. Knowing that, you can let Windows search for your Styles. (Sorry Mac users, I know nothing about file searches in the Mac OS.)

Here you can see there’s at least one file I haven’t renamed. 😉 And it’s the file I’m going to use… To locate the folder it’s hiding in, I right-click on the file name and choose Open File Location from the drop-down.

Now I can go back to the Styles Menu, because I know where the file is, and retrieve it.

Click on the file and then Load. DONE!

The set is there, open and waiting for me to decide which one I want to use. Hovering the cursor over the thumbnail will tell you what the Style has been named by the designer.

I tried the two blues, but liked the black best. As I’ve shown in other tuts, the Style can then be adjusted by double-clicking on the fx icon on the layer and playing with the settings.

There are lots of sources of free Styles online. Some Photoshop Styles will work with Elements and some won’t. Brusheezy, which I’ve shared before, is pretty good at separating them out. I’ve linked you up if you’d like to explore.

See you in February!




Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Quick Trick: Controlling Camera Shake

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

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot of “nice” photos that miss being GREAT photos because they’re a little blurry. Sometimes it’s a focus issue, sometimes it’s camera shake. Because there are times when you can’t just whip out a tripod and get those magic moments captured perfectly, you’re okay with compromising on clarity for the sake of the memory. Well, I think I’ve got something that might make those “nice” shots a lot less woozy! This automatic enhancement was introduced with Elements 14; if you’re working with an earlier version, sorry. 🙁

Let me introduce you to one of my new neighbours. She and her family were some distance away and it was super-cold outside so I didn’t want to go outside to take photos. I used the zoom lens – which destabilizes the camera a bit – on one of my point-and-shoot digital cameras and shot them through the living room window. I knew they’d be soft and a bit fuzzy, and I accepted that.

I didn’t know about this trick until last night. It’s going to be VERY useful! Click on the Enhance tab and scroll down to Shake Reduction…

Elements will automatically make an adjustment to your photo. You’ll get a little preview of what will happen, and you can fine-tune it later. See the slider labeled Sensitivity? You can tweak that too, but be careful. A little goes a long way! Make it too sensitive and you’ll see a white outline around your subject.

The important part of the photo is her face, so I’ve drawn a box around her head and chest, and Elements starts working on it. See that thing in the middle of the box? It’s a progress bar, showing you where in the process your photo is currently. When it’s finished the icon disappears. Then, if you’re happy, click OK.

Here’s the Before image up close.

And the After image up close.

And a side-by-side… The change is subtle, but visible. You can see it even in the foliage.

Not bad for a couple of clicks!