Thursday, 29 May 2014

digi how to | drop shadow

When I posted last week on how to create the white photo frame, I got a few follow up questions. I will adress them in the coming posts, and I thought I'd start with drop shadow basics today.

Please note: what I write here is accurate for the full version of Photoshop. I haven't worked with PS Elements for seven years, so I dare not say how it works there. There are plenty of tutorials to be found just a Google search away, though, so I hope that is ok.

So doing a basic drop shadow is very easy, but the effect is very powerful. If you have ever looked at a digital page that does not have any drop shadows applied, it will look very flat and off. Even if you don't want to spend lots of time playing and messing with your shadows, just adding a basic shadow will do lots to your page.

So, here we are with the layered Photoshop file of a Project Life page:
 photo ITM_Screenshot_shadow_1.jpg

You can see on the photo frames and paper layers that there is a shadow applied. On the bottom right you see the layer's palette and you can see on the highlighted top layer that there is a small eye with the words "Drop Shadow" under it.

Here's how to add a drop shadow:
1. Double click on the layer you want to add the shadow to (not on the text, that will only highlight the text).

2. A new little window opens up with the layer styles. Tick the very bottom box on the left where it says Drop Shadow.

3. Choose your variables.
For basic paper shadows, these are my choices:
 photo ITM_Screenshot_shadow_2.jpg

Blend mode: Linear burn (colour is a very dark brown)
Opacity: 75%
Angle: 120 degrees
Distance: 8
Spread: 0
Size: 18
Noise: 0%
Tick the box "Layer knocks out Drop Shadow"

4. Click ok. That is it!

So that is what I have found works well for me for paper shadows. Sometimes I have to lower the opacity, or change the colour. This is especially true if the paper under my shadow is very dark.

For other items, such as 3D elements the settings need to be different. A big fabric flower will have a much larger shadow than a vellum paper. But, and here's a life changer, I don't fiddle with that. Why? Other people have done it before me! And they have created short cut solutions for it.

I have purchased drop shadow actions from two designers:
One Little Bird - she also has a really good tutorial (much better than my hack job) on it here.
Gennifer Bursett

I use these action sets all the time. All the time. On all my elements. Sometimes I mess with them after application, sometimes I don't. To be honest, I spend more time on shadows on my "regular" scrap pages than on my Project Life pages.

I also really like the effect that the wave distortion, as is explained in this tutorial on the Lilypad, has on drop shadows. I use that one often, though not on my PL pages.

As always, just give me a shout if you need further explanation or suggestions!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

digi how to | simple white photo frame

I have had a few questions lately on how I create the white frames in my Project Life layouts, and I thought I would try to explain how easy it is to make these simple white frames. Really, don't ever buy a simple white frame! You can do it yourself in two minutes or less!

OK, so here is a Project Life layout just to remind us what the white frames look like.
 photo 84_bhpl_lindaroos_140505_r_web.jpg

Here's a screenshot of the layout zoomed in on my workspace in Photoshop. You can see the actual layout on the left and the layers palette on the right.
 photo ITM_layerspalate_screenshot_1.jpg

In the layers palette, you can see that I have created one layer that is the white frame. The white frame is created by drawing a rectangle with the rectangle tool, making sure that my chosen colour is white.

On top of the white frame layer there is another layer that is the mat for the photo itself. The mat is created in the same way as the frame, but slightly smaller than the frame rectangle.

On top of that is the actual photo that I have dragged into my file. The photo is "clipped" to the photo mat. You clip by hovering the mouse between the two layers so that you see a white square with a black arrow beside it and then holding down the Alt key while left clicking. Doing it this way instead of cutting the photo to size means I can play with cropping, size, and placement of the photo in a non destructive way. The size of the mat stays the same.
 photo ITM_layerspalate_screenshot_2.jpg

Here I have hidden the photo mat and photo to show what the white frame looks like.
 photo ITM_layerspalate_screenshot_3.jpg

And here I have hidden the frame to show what it would look like to just have the photo mat and the photo.
 photo ITM_layerspalate_screenshot_4.jpg

As you can see the drop shadow is applied to the frame layer since that is the one that is on the bottom of the three layers.

I have been digi scrapping since 2007, so these things are like second nature to me. If you have other questions I would be more than happy to answer them as best I can. Just give me a shout here or on Facebook.

However, if you want to become proficient in digi scrapping I highly reccomend taking a class or two. I have been a very happy customer of Jessica Sprague's most excellent classes. She has state of the art videos, she explains everything very well (and she is funny too), and the kits that come with the classes are lovely. Her classes will give you a good foundation to build on.

Be well everyone, and just give me a shout if you need further clarification!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

free class from jessica sprague

Guys, check out this free class by Jessica Sprague!

Jessica has compiled a class where she teaches five different awesome things you can do with Photoshop. Way cool!

(Click on the image to go directly to the class)

Don't miss it!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Italy album sneak peek number two

I am still plugging away on my Italy album. I had to take a couple of weeks' break and now I'm up to 28 pages (or 14 spreads). I just finished day four of the trip. Whew! I think I'll get to somewhere around 60 - 70 pages when I'm finished (so if someone happens to own Shutterfly, give me a heads up, ok).

I am doing mostly multi photo pages but am trying to liven it up a little with some full bleed photos. So here is the second sneak peek, also a full bleed. The photo was taken in Siena. I made the word art, which by the way actually looks like word art with grunge and everything when it is much bigger than this.

Thanks for the comments y'all have made for me in the last couple of days. Lots of love!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Photoshop tip - Improve exposure to part of a photo with a gradient layer mask

Whew that was a long title! But that is exactly what this tip is about. We will improve the exposure to a certain part of a photo by using a layer mask.

As you all know I was recently in Italy and had the chance to take lots and lots of photos of beautiful places. Of course not all of them came out looking like spreads from a magazine. But no worries, right, since our beloved Photoshop can help me improve my shots by a long way. Don't we just love it?

So, here is my original photo of the duomo in Florence. Beautiful building. Huge. Difficult to shoot at noon in the scorching sun.

See how the building itself is pretty decent looking? I metered off the building when I took the photo but in doing so the sky was blown out and pale. This makes the overall impression of the photo pretty blah. Let's see what we can do to improve this.
(Please note that I use the Swedish version of Photoshop so all you English speaking people, please don't be confused.)

1. Open your photo in Photoshop

2. The first thing we have to do is to add an adjustment layer. An adjustment layer will give us the chance to edit without touching the original layer and that is good because if we change our minds we can just delete the adjustment layer and everything will be back to normal or we can do further edits to that individual layer. Click on the little circle icon for adjustment layers in the layers palette and choose levels.

3. Pull the black slider as far to the right as needed to darken your blown out portion just enough to make it look good again. One thing to remember is to not go too crazy here but to make it match the colour and exposure of the rest of the photo.

4. As you can see by the image above by doing so we have automatically darkened the everything else as well. Of course we don’t want this so to remedy that we will use the gradient tool on the layer we just created. In the layers palette click on the layer mask icon to make sure the layer mask is activated. You can see that it is by the frame around the icon.

5. Now press G to access the gradient tool. If you have the paint bucket activated in the tool bar you might have to change it to the gradient tool.

6. Click on the small arrow next to the preview of the gradient type in the options bar. Choose black, white from the fly out menu. Then choose linear gradient which is the button furthest to the left out of the five buttons to the right of the preview.

7. You will now get a cross hair marker. Click and drag a line from where you want the gradient to start to where you want it to end to make a selection of where the layer mask should be doing its magic. In my case this is from the top of the building to the top of the photo as it is the sky part of the photo that I want the layer mask to be active.

8. When you let go you will see that Hey Presto! the rest of the photo will be back to the original exposure. In the layers palette you will also see that the mask is black at and then fades to white. The black part hides the levels adjustment we did in the first step and the white shows it.

9. Depending on your individual photo you might have to do some cleaning up where the mask meets the original layer to make it look really good. You can use the dodge/burn tool for this.

Here is my edited photo. Better, no?

Have a go at this, it is so easy but effective. I would love to see your results so if you do try it out then link me up!

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, 10 May 2008


Anyone who knows me can attest to my life long love of ice cream. As a small child I would eat so much ice cream that my stomach would get so cold that I had to spend hours in the bathroom. LOL, I have learnt to restrain myself now but I still love it.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Again, with the colour pop

I stumbled across yet another colour pop tip and this one I liked so much that I had to put it here. It's a live video, and be warned - the sound is horrible, that shows from start to finish how to edit a photo to bring out the colour without getting "lobster people", lol.

Check it out!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Colour pop tip

I found an article that presented a great way of making the colours of your photo pop in Photoshop and thought I would share. A quick and easy way of doing it is using hue/saturation. This way is a little more work but looks beautiful.

1. Duplicate layer and set the blending mode to multiply. Set the opacity to 15%.
2. Duplicate layer again and set the blending mode to soft light. Set the opacity to 20%.

The first layer will make the colours stronger and the second layer will up the contrast.

Go ahead and try it and let me know what you think!