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Photoshop tuts for digital scrapbooking

How To Dress-Up Your Black & White Word Art

I love black and white word art because of its versatility.  Used on a page without shadows it appears to have been stamped on your paper.  It’s easy to recolor your word art.  Most photo editing software packages allow you to choose the element and apply a new color.  But, what if you want something more?  Something that melds perfectly with your layout and is a small work of art on its own?

Photoshop is a great tool to help you create unique word art starting with any plain black and white piece you already have.  Here are a few examples of what you can do with just a few simple steps:


Three ways to make your black and white word art more interesting1.  To recolor your original in Photoshop, simply right click on the layer and choose blending options.  Select color overlay and then change to the color of your choice.  Try picking up another color in you LO for a perfect match.

Note:  because the holly in this particular piece is not solid, you may want to play with the blend modes when changing the color to preserve the design

 2.  Dress it up a little – Using the magic wand set to contiguous, select each letter in the word “Christmas”.  Use the paint bucket to fill with the color of your choice.  Do the same with the word “beginning”.  Because the holly wraps over and under the word, set the magic wand tolerance to a small number (I used 10) so that you only pick up the black letters and not part of the holly.  Zoom it in to make sure you get all parts of each letter.

3.  Dress it up a lot – Make your black and white word art match the kit you are working with by choosing papers from the kit to clip to different parts of the word art.  If you are using patterned papers you may want to make your original selections of the paper much larger and resize them down to take advantage of the pattern, otherwise it might get lost since word art tends to be small.  For this piece I chose a green embossed velvet paper and copied a selection and then pasted it over the word Christmas.  Resize it so it fits just over the word and clip (Cntrl + G).  Copy and paste your paper selection for the word beginning.  Because of the holly, you will want to use your magic wand to select just the letters.  Then with the paper selection you pasted over it chosen select copy and then paste.  Your pasted selection will fit right over the letters without attaching to any of the holly.  Create a new layer, and change the blend mode in the layers palette.  I used “hard light” for this piece.  Clip the layer to the word art and then using the paint brush, paint the holly leaves.  Create another layer with the same blend mode and clip it to the piece, paint the red berries.  Note:  Both colors could be painted on the same layer, but I just find it easier to keep them separate.  To change the color of the original word art without affecting your painted layers make a selection just a bit larger than the piece itself.  Create a new layer (just above the original word art) and fill with the color of your choice.  Clip the layer to the word art and then erase any portion that covers the holly to bring back the painted layers.

The word art used in this tutorial is the December word art freebie available on the Quotes page buy kamagra online of my website for the month of December.  Don’t forget to visit the homepage to pick up the other December freebies.

How to Change a Square Frame to a Rectangle without Losing Perspective

Sometimes when you’re working with a kit you have a beautiful square frame, but you really need it to be a rectangle for the photo you intend to use in your layout.  You can simply stretch the frame in one direction to get a rectangular frame, but the result is less than perfect.

As you can see, the top and bottom portions of the frame are wider as the result of stretching.  There is a relatively simple way to work around this problem.  It’s a few more steps, but the end result is worth it.

Start by dragging you square frame onto your work area.  Mark the center point of the frame with a guide.

Using the rectangular marquee tool drag out a rectangle over the center of the frame.  Make it larger than you actually need, but don’t get any of the top and bottom parts of the frame in the selection.

Copy and paste the selection and then move it out of the way for the time being.

Drag a guideline to one edge of the original frame.  Use the marquee tool and the center guide line, cut the frame in half and paste the cut piece back onto the page.

Using the guide line on the edge of the frame, drag the cut half of the frame into position.  Drag the center section that you copied earlier into position between the top and bottom pieces.  Adjust the top and bottom up and down until your frame is the desired size.  Make sure that the center section is the top layer.

Depending on the pattern on the frame, you may see a clear line of demarcation where the center section overlaps the top and bottom.  If you have enough overlap you can fix this by using a soft brush to erase just a small portion of the overlap.

You know have a perfectly proportioned rectangular frame.

This technique can be used on frames with larger patterns, it just takes a bit more time and effort to match up the pattern.  It can also be used in reverse to change a rectangular frame into a perfectly proportioned square frame.

Make Your Photos Pop with this Quick PS tip

Use this very simple Photoshop tip to give all your photos some pop!

Step 1:

Open the photo you want to enhance and make a duplicate copy (it’s always a good idea to do any work on a duplicate image rather than your original).  On your new image, right click on the background layer and click “duplicate layer”

Step 2

With the new layer selected click on the filter menu at the top of your screen.  Choose Blur>Gaussian Blur and choose a setting (I used 11.5 for this pic).

Step 3

Open the blending options drop down menu at the top of the layers palette and click on “overlay”.

Notice how much punch the colors have in the “after” image.  If you used too much blur you may lose some detail in your photo.  If that’s the case, try using the “soft light” blending mode, or just go back and use a smaller integer for the gaussian blur.  Experiment with other blending modes of different results.

Quick Photoshop Tip – “Knockouts”

If you’ve ever made quick pages or layouts where you’ve cut out part of your background and then decided later that you want to rearrange elements only to find that part of the background is gone and now needs to be replaced, this tip is for you.  Photoshop has a great blending option called “knockout” that allows you to “knockout” or make transparent everything below the layer you have applied to blending option to.  I love this for quick pages because once I put a frame on the page, add the knockout layer and link them I can move the frame anywhere on the page and see what the final result will be without actually removing any of the background elements.  This is especially handy when you have cluster frames with lots of element layers that are under the frame, yet shouldn’t show through the photo opening.

Step 1:

Place your frame anywhere on the page.  Using one of the marquee tools, select the area that you would like to “knockout”.  Note that you can see both the background paper and part of the cattail element through the photo openings

Step 2

Add a new layer, making sure that it is below your frame.  Use the paint bucket to fill the area you selected in the previous step.

Step 3

Right click on the new layer and select “blending options”.  When the pop up box opens make sure “blending options: custom is highlighted (if it’s not, you won’t see the proper options located in the center box).  Where it says knockout, choose “deep” from the drop down menu, then change the fill opacity to zero.  Note:  make sure you use the fill opacity slider under advanced blending options, not the top “opacity” slider.  Click OK.

The result is you can no longer see anything that is below the knockout layer.  If you link the two layers together, they can be moved anywhere on the page and the knockout will remain in the photo openings.

This tutorial was done using Photoshop CS and my Beach House kit.  The page seen above is available as a quick page in the Beach House album.

Photoshop Text Tip

Sometimes, your font choices can make or break your layout.   Changing font styles can be a tedious process if you continuously highlight the font on your page and choose a new font from your drop down list.   Today I’m going to show you how to quickly scroll through your font list in PS so you can preview different fonts in a jiffy.  This tip will also work in Photoshop Elements.

  1. Type your text onto your page.
  2. Commit to your font choice by clicking on the text layer in the layers palette.
  3. With the text layer highlighted, go to the top of your screen and highlight the name of the current font.
  4. Use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to quickly scroll through your font list.

As you use the arrow keys the text on your layout will change

PS text tipRight click on the image above and save to your computer for easy reference.

Extra:  if you highlight the text on your page, then highlight the font size at the top of your screen you can use the arrow keys to change the size of the font one point at a time. This is useful if you need to preview miniscule changes in your font size.

Stay tuned for more tips and techniques from db Designs.

Make Stunning Titles For Your Holiday LO’s

Every other month, Scrap4Brains hosts the Font Free 4 All challenge at Digitals.  She hunts up several interesting fonts and challenges you to use at least one of them in a LO.  Her choices for the November/December challenge included “Holly Nites” by Jester Font Studio.  It can be downloaded free of charge for personal use.  While the font can be used “as is”, it’s a great font to play around with for interesting effect. It’s a bit difficult to see the detail in this font in a digital LO, but when you print your LO it comes to life!

Holiday Title Using Holly Nites font

Holiday Titles Using "Holly Nites" font

In a few simple steps you can turn this font into a stunning title for you holiday LO’s.

  1. Choose a font color and type your title.  With this font I like my title to stretch all the way across the page so you can see the detail.  If you need to, you can adjust the size of your title using “free transform” on the text layer.  Place your title where you want it on your page.
  2. Create a new layer under the text layer.
  3. Set the style for the layer – I used CWC_DaisyDreams_Glitter green
  4. Using a small round paint brush, carefully paint the glitter style on the layer you just created.  Stay within the font itself and erase any areas that show outside of the font.
  5. Create a new layer on top of the first glitter layer.  Set the layer style – I used the Daisy Dreams glitter in the dark pink color.  Adjust the brush size so one click will fill each berry.  Click on each berry until they are all filled.  Because the pink area was so small, I adjusted the pattern overlay size.  To do this, right click on the layer and choose “blending options”.  Click on the words “Pattern Overlay” and use the scale slider in the center section to reduce the size of the pattern.
  6. Merge all three layers and using the blending options add a bevel and a shadow.

This is just one example of how this font can be altered.  You can also try beveling just the text layer for a different look. Try it out using different styles and blending options for a myriad of possibilities!

Christmas Past & Christmas Presents

Since 2008, I have been designing Christmas ornaments that I give to my family and friends as gifts during the holiday season.  This LO represents only a small portion of the ornaments I’ve designed and given away over the years.


Handcrafted Christmas ornaments by Diana Burton

Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments


All of my ornaments are designed on the fly and it is one of the most creatively satisfying things that I do.  Once a year, usually during October or November, I go the Michael’s or Joanne’s to start the process.  I walk through the holiday aisles and checkout out all the new goodies for the year.  When something catches my eye it goes into my cart and the process begins.  I wander around looking for other items that I can add to my designs.  Most of my designs incorporate ribbon in one way or another, simply because the holiday ribbon selection just can’t be passed by!  After perusing the holiday selections, I wander the rest of the store simply because anything in the store could possibly find its way into one of my designs–sheets of copper, tin, and different colors of wire are just a few examples.  I usually do three ornaments each year.  Here are this years ornaments:


2011 Christmas Ornament Designs by Diana Burton

2011 Ornament Designs


All of this years supplies were bought at Michael’s with the exception of the tinsel garlands, that I purchased at Kroger’s.

Top Right

You will need:

  • Round glass ornaments
  • Red tinsel garland
  • Gold mesh ribbon
  • Ashland Berry Garland
  • Merry Minis – Christmas Figure ornaments
  • Hot glue gun

Pull the ornament hanger off the top of the glass ornament and set aside.  Cut a piece of garland that is just a bit longer than your ornament is tall (use a longer piece if your garland is skinny).  Push one end of the garland into the opening in the top of the glass ornament.  Use a pencil or the handle of a paint brush and gently push the garland until it is inside the ornament. Replace the hanger.

Pull two branches off the Berry Garland.  Put a drop of hot glue on the metal hanger and place the two branches so they point downwards at a pleasing angle.

Tie a bow with the gold mesh ribbon and glue it over the ends of the Berry Garland.

Choose one of the Merry Mini Christmas figure ornaments and cut off the hanging string.  Put a dab of hot glue on the back of the ornament and place it beneath the gold mesh ribbon.

Tip:  I like to brush a small amount of clear nail polish on the ends of any of my ribbons to keep them from unraveling and looking fresh for years to come.

Bottom Left

You will need:

  • Flat, round glass ornaments
  • 5/8″ green polka dot grosgrain ribbon
  • Red tinsel garland
  • Merry Minis – Christmas Figure ornaments
  • Hot glue gun

Stuff the garland into the ornament as described above.

Tie the ribbon at a diagonal across the glass bulb.  Once you have it where you want it,  put a dab of glue underneath it to secure it in place.

Choose a Merry Minis – Christmas Figure ornament, cut off the hanging string, and glue to the glass below the ribbon.

Bottom Right

You will need:

  • Flat, round glass ornaments
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Gold glitter spray
  • Gold/Silver tinsel garland
  • Merry Minis – Star Ornament
  • Small pearls

Remove the hanger from the glass ornament.  Squirt a blob of black paint inside the ornament, taking care not to get any paint on the outside of the ornament.  Place your finger over the hole and shake the ornament until the whole inside is covered with black paint.  Let the paint dry overnight.   Tip:  if your paint is very thick, you can add a small amount of water to make it spread better.  Be careful not to add too much–the paint won’t adhere to the glass properly.

Once the paint is dry, spray the outside of the ornament with the gold glitter spray.  Let the glitter dry for 10 to 30 minutes before handling excessively to avoid fingerprints.

Replace the metal hanger into the glass bulb.  Cut a small piece of the Gold/Silver tinsel and glue it around the metal hanger.  I’ve found that it works best if you put a dab of glue in the front center, place the tinsel and then put another dab on the back center and wrap each side around.

Choose one of the Merry Mini – star ornaments and cut off the hanging string.  The star will be glued to the ornament on two of the points so it will actually protrude from the ornament.  Test your placement by putting the star against the glass and holding it down by the wire loop that held the string.  The wire loop will be the bottom connection point.  Put a dab of hot glue on the wire and on the point of the star directly above it.  I placed mine so that it is canted and somewhat off-center.  Place the star on the glass and press into place, making sure that your two glue points are securely attached.  The opposite side of the star should stick out into thin air giving the illusion that the star is floating.

Put a small dab of glue over the wire loop on the bottom star point and push in the pearl.

Tip:  An easy way to get rid of any of those pesky strands of hot glue that you’ll find on any project that uses hot glue is to blow it with your blow-dryer–the strands will disappear.

I inevitably have product left over each year, but that’s OK with me as you never know what other project it may find its way into.

I hope you enjoyed my little off-topic tutorial!  Keep in mind that you can use any materials you want to make your ornaments, mine are only suggestions.  I saw some very cool garland colors this year that were non-traditional, but would make gorgeous ornaments.

Making Your Photoshop Shadows a Separate Layer

Sometimes, for the sake of realism, it’s nice to be able to have your shadow as a separate layer from the element you are shadowing.   For instance, in the screen shot below, the frame itself should be shadowed, but the stitching, since it should look like it’s stitched to the paper, should not.  This is easily achieved in Photoshop.

How to:

  • add the shadow to your element in the regular manner
  • in the layers palette, right click on the shadow effect to open the new drop down menu
  • click on “create layer”
screen shot #1

figure 1

Figure 2 shows the new layer that contains just your shadow

  • choose the shadow layer in the layers palette
  • using the eraser tool and a soft brush, carefully erase the shadow under the stitches.

figure 2

This technique is great for clusters that include a “stamp” as the bottom layer.  The stamp shouldn’t be shadowed because it is supposed to look like it’s stamped onto the page, but the rest of the cluster pieces should probably be shadowed for realism, so just add your shadow, create it as a layer, and erase it from under the stamp.