Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Yes my last post was in September. I won't bore you with the "I've been so busy" stories that we are all too familiar with :-P Fact is I need to learn to say no. I know how just don't know when, lol. Everything seems like a good idea or a worthy cause or like it will be fun. Then I kill myself with the fantasy that I can do it all if only I get more organized or quit wasting time. And I make myself miserable about the things I don't get to. Well I've come to the conclusion after trying it that way, that if I don't "waste time" I will lose my mind. [I could write another whole post on why such things as sitting on the couch with your family, or playing ZUMA are NOT wasting time] And you can be the most organized person in the world but you still just get 24 hours to each day; and sleeping for some of those hours is not optional. So I recently began shedding, not pounds...though I need to make that resolution too, :-{ ...but things to do. So my New Year's resolution is to continue to reassess the things I spend my time with and continue to shed, with the goal being that I actually will get things done in a timely and regular fashion. It really is a question of having clear priorities and being realistic about how much time you actually have to give. Oh and I also need to learn to let other people do some of the things on my list. And I perseverate, cause I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I need to learn to say good enough, I'm done. For now, the blog is still something I want to keep. The hope is I'll actually post on a more regular basis. Wish me luck or pray for me.

And here's a recent project just so this post will have something for the eyes...

My daughter was in this production. She loved every minute she worked with such a talented cast and crew. As a cast mom, I too had a blast. It was pure Joy. Another parent and I volunteered to be the "official" photographers. I created the photo collage in Photoshop CS2 and then sent the file out for offset printing onto 11x17 poster paper. The posters were sold as a fundraiser. This is most definitely a project that I do not regret giving my time to.

I made heavy use of the Place command, using it to add each photo as a smart object, so that I could manipulate them as much as I needed to until I was certain of their size and position. Another great thing about adding them as smart objects is that you can still edit the original file and have those changes automatically reflected back to your project. Say I found a flaw in an image, wanted to color correct it or remove that red scarf on the floor for example, I could double click the image in the layer palette, which would open up the original file for editing. Then save the changes back to the original file name and location and voila the changes are included in the placed layer.
Each layer also had a layer mask, so that I could re-edit the cropping with ease. Needles to say at one point it was a gigantic file that really taxed my system. It never got too big but if it did I could have just rasterized the layers I was least likely to want to change. I haven't actually counted but my best guess is there are more than 30 different images in this collage. [see the previous post for more on using the Place command and rasterizing]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Great site to share, Blend Modes, Place command, Smart Objects, Rasterize & Layer Masks...Oh my!




Check out the title on this page! I'm sure some of you would LOVE to know how to do this. Guess what? I followed a tutorial over at Actionfx. The site offers all kinds of layer styles, actions, brushes, tutorials and what have you for photoshop junkies. And this weekend Al Ward is offering a huge discount on an annual membership! So today is a good day to go check it out. There are freebies available to non members too!!

So now more about the page. I can't tell you how I made the title, that just wouldn't be fair to Al. But I will say that in the final step I used a different blend mode than the one in the tut. (I used "COLOR") I play with blend modes ALL THE TIME because it is just so easy to scroll through them and SEE which one gives you the best result. I highly recommend this kind of play. It is a great way to learn just what each mode is capable of giving you. To your computer a blend mode is a set of instructions that tells the current layer how to interact or "blend" with the layer beneath it. By default it is set to normal, which means NO interaction. The layer simply sits on top. As if one sheet of paper lay on top of another. By choosing a different blend mode you can really make some photoshop magic happen. Here's how to play...
Go to the box at the top of the layers palette where by default it says "Normal" and click to drop down the menu. Choose the next mode down and then use the scroll wheel on your mouse or tablet to watch what happens as you scroll through all the modes. Cool!

I will share how I added the small photos in the ovals. There are many ways to do this but I think this is by far the easiest and quickest. [Note: It uses layer masks a feature not included in Elements. But don't fret I include an Elements work around]

With your 12x12 layout open go to File>Place...
a dialog box will open allowing you to browse through all the files on your computer. Find the photo you'd like to add and click "Place." The chosen photo will appear as a smart object on a new layer, centered and resized to fit If you've never used the Place command before you are about to fall in love with it. You can move and resize to your content before choosing to commit to the placement by clicking the arrow at the top of your screen [just like committing text.] For this layout I didn't worry about placement at this point. I just made sure the part of the photo I wanted to highlight was the size I wanted it to end up. It is important to get the size right now, while it is a smart object, because the next step is to rasterize.

Warning :-) In this paragraph I will give a brief explanation of vectors, smart objects and rasterization. If that is getting more technical than you care for, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. Here's the way I picture it. In photoshop there are three ways to create an image. One is a simple map of where the dots go and what color they should be. This is a raster. Another is a vector. These are a set of instructions, or mathematical formulae that tell the computer how to generate the image based on input from the user(where and how large you make it for example.) The last is a smart object, which is like a vector in that it is a set of instructions but in this case the instructions are the original file you start with, as in a photo added using the PLACE command. The plus of the raster is it uses less memory. So your file size is smaller and your system can run faster. The downside is your ability to manipulate it's size and shape is limited. Try to make it too much larger and you'll get those ugly jagged edges. The plus of the vector and the smart object is much greater ability to manipulate the size & other features without loss of quality. All text begins life as a vector. That is why you can change size, font, color and so on so easily. Shapes are also vectors. And any layer that is a smart object "remembers" all the original file's information while being manipulated. So you should not rasterize a smart object or vector until you are sure it is the size you want it to be. If you rasterize a text layer you can no longer change the font. But you will want to rasterize in order to make your files smaller, your system run faster and in the case of this layout to cut the ovals.

Okay so back to cutting those ovals. Once you have the photo the size you'd like it to be, rasterize the layer. You do this by right clicking on the active layer in the layers palette and choosing "Rasterize Layer" from the pop up menu. Next select the oval marquee tool. Drag an oval over the photo to select the area you want to keep. You can move the oval, if you need to by hitting the space bar while dragging & before releasing the mouse button. Hitting CTRL D (command D on a Mac) will make the selection go away if you need to start over. (A keyboard shortcut I use alot!)
Once you have your oval selection just the way you like it, click on the layer mask button at the bottom of the layers palette. [If you've never used this before, it is the one that looks like a rectangle with the circle inside it] This will automatically create a mask with the inside of the oval visible and everything else blacked out. Right click on the mask in the layers palette and choose "apply layer mask" and the mask will go away and the cutting is done!

One of the advantages of using the mask is that it is not a permanent change until you apply the mask. So if you don't like what you see, you can delete the mask and start over. Also you could grab a white brush and paint white around the oval to return some detail. This would be an easy way to make a brush stroked edge for example. Don't like what you see, paint black over the white areas and they will be masked. You can go back and forth with black and white on the mask as much as you need to get it right. Far superior to the Eraser or to selecting & cutting!

***Elements Users...when you get to the step where you have the oval selection, Go to Select>Inverse and then Edit>Cut. You won't have the same flexibility using a layer mask gives you, but you can still make oval insets on your pages without having to make the hefty investment in the full photoshop program!***

Finally I added a stroke and bevel to the ovals and placed them in the top left corner. The journaling is done in a blue color sampled from the water, using the same font that I began with in the title. There is another stroke and bevel added to the background photo layer. It's color varies as you go around the edge because of that COLOR blend layer I mentioned above.

Wow I covered alot of technical stuff today! Email me with questions, I'd be happy to answer:-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Haven't shared a card in a while....

...So how's this one?




The background for this card features a technique from the June/July 2008 Technique Junkie Newsletter. Pat calls it Al float. When I first saw the name the old science teacher in me immediately thought I was going to do something with aluminum foil floating on water, but it turns out Al is short for Alcohol as in Alcohol ink, not the chemical symbol for Aluminum. Funny how our mind set can change how we perceive things. Any way Alcohol ink was WAY more fun than aluminum foil but I'm sure Pat has a technique in her arsenal somewhere that uses aluminum foil as well. LOL! And this technique was so much fun I didn't want to stop. So now I have a stack of background papers...A ready stash for when I need a quick card.

The featured stamp is from Stamping Up from a set called Heartfelt Thanks. (if you are reading this Pat, yes you did sell it to me. See I AM using them ;-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bandanna Layout Share



Hi all,

Tomorrow I pick up a friend at the airport and we check into a hotel for a scrapbooking weekend. I know she has been planning all of her layouts and will be ready to be very productive. I have not even decided what I want to work on and packing, well I still have to start. I haven't been feeling very creative lately which is the reason the planning has not been happening.
It's also been a somewhat busy summer. Touring colleges with my rising senior was great; we just said goodbye yesterday to my brother in law who was visiting from Italy.
One of the big highlights of my summer was my extended weekend away with my husband. We celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary in July on Block Island, RI. This layout is a picture of us taken on our anniversary. I think we are cute, I sure felt cute that day :-)
The pages are decorated with a technique from the latest issue of the Patstamps Technique Junkie Newsletter. The technique is called Bandanna. These are 8x8 pages. The page on the left is just the technique and journaling on what began as white cardstock. On the right the inks and stamps were applied directly to the photo. There was a white band at the bottom of the photo paper before I began. You can see the color is much more vibrant on the photo paper but I also had some trouble with the ink coming back off the paper when I wanted to add more.
One of my favorite hybrid techniques is to resize a photo so it is 8 inches wide or tall and whatever works out for the other dimension, then print onto 81/2 x 11 photo paper and cut into an 8x8 square and scrap and/or journal on the blank part. That is what I did here.

The stamps are from Close to My Heart: Adorable Backgrounds and Soul Mates

Well wish me lots of creative juice and productivity at CropClassix.

Valerie

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Planet Photoshop Teaches Crumpled Paper


Hi :-)

I've been meaning to add this fabulous site to my sidebar for some time now. As I absolutely can't believe some of the real high quality tutorials that are available FOR FREE. The Blog is called Planet Photoshop. The blogger is Corey Barker, one of the leading educators in his field and author of many great books. Today I was there and played around with the lesson on how to make crumpled looseleaf paper. Yes you could crumple up a piece of the stuff and scan it, but you would still have to remove the background and deal with the shadows on the edges. By the time you have done all that you could have made one digitally from scratch and learned some useful photoshop shortcuts and features in the process. Oh and with the layered psd saved on your computer you can add writing to the paper that will also be crumpled, and change it for future use! The tutorial shows you how. So here are some cool links for you...

Link to the How To at Planet Photoshop

Link to downloading the one I made as a png for FREE!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Creating a Custom Photoshop Brush from a Stamped Image

Hi! As promised in my last post here is the tutorial on how to take a stamped image and use it to create a custom brush in Photoshop. I am using CS3 in the tutorial but this is basically the same in Elements. But first, some art to share. This is a digital page I created using the technique. The shamrocks are a rubber stamp from Hero Arts. In real life it is a 1 x 1 inch stamp. Limitless resizabilty is one really cool reason to use this technique.



The "Irish Eyes" font is called Family Tree from Creating Keepsakes. You may recognize it from a previous post. I'm surprised by how useful a font it has been for me. To think I was on the fence when I downloaded it. The journaling is my own handwriting.(I love my Wacom tablet, well I'd be lost without it in my business) The paper texture is an easy thing to do in photoshop (to see full size click on the image)

I have created a detailed .pdf with step by step screen shots. You can download it here. What follows is a brief summary.

1. Stamp your image with Black Stazon ink on white paper and scan it. Save the scan as a .jpg.
2. Open your saved scan with Photoshop.
3. Select Edit > Define Brush Preset
4. You will get a dialog box. Name your Brush and click OK
5. Your new brush is now available to you in your brush palette! Take a look and go play!


Some important notes


1.Stamps are copyrighted images. So any electronic reproduction, including a photoshop brush is protected by the copyright. Therefore you should not share and certainly not sell brushes made this way.

2. Your new Brush will remain available in the brushes palette until you reload, replace or reset the the brushes. Then you will lose it. To avoid this you must SAVE the brush as part of a set. The pdf gives details on how to do this.

In future posts I will discuss more about playing with brushes. You will see it can be lots of fun to make your own brushes from your stamps! Go play and PLEASE show me what you've done:-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wow June is almost over!!

My goodness it has been over a month since I have posted. Yikes what have I been doing? Working and volunteering seems to have swallowed me whole these last few weeks. Well this is just a quick post to let you all know I'm still thinking about you. Things are beginning to settle back to normal so I will be posting another tutorial soon. I'm working on one that shows how to convert a stamped imaged into a photoshop brush.
Why do this? Ever think you had the perfect stamp but it was the wrong size? Don't have just the perfect ink color? Your computer can rescue you from these dilemmas.
Why not just scan into word or some other desktop publisher? Well if you ask that question then you have never messed with the brushes palette and all its powerful magic. Stay tuned....

In the meantime I have actually eked out some time for cards and scrapbook pages, so here's some art work to take a peek at:


A card I made for a friend. It's sentiment is a little ironic given how I've been to0 busy to post :-) The background is Cuttlebugged, [have I said how much I love the cuttlebug before?] Ink was applied to the folder before embossing [Thanks to Technique Junkie for teaching me this idea]and then to the paper after embossing. The stamps are Close to My Heart. I stamped on an ink jet transparency to create the overlay.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More on Converting Photos to Stamplike Images

Remember my post from a few weeks back when I described a simple photoshop technique for converting a photo into an image that looks rubber stamped? Today I'm sharing another cool project using this technique and adding an extra step for more versatility. Here's the photo I began with. Again it is from istockphoto. I love this service I can always quickly find the high quality image I need and download it for just a few dollars.



So just as before I converted the image. To read the instructions see my older post A Cool Photoshop Discovery Here is how it looked next:



Now I wanted to be able to add color behind the black lines so I needed to remove the white. There are a number of different ways to do this. Here is the one I found easiest. Before beginning you must use a file format that supports transparent backgrounds, such as .tif or .gif. If your image is a .jpeg simply use the Save as... command and save it as a .tif. Secondly, your image must not be on a background layer. If it is a background layer you can convert it by right clicking on the layer in the layer palette and selecting Layer From Background

At the top of the screen click on Select. From the drop down menu choose Color Range.








You will get a dialog box that looks like this. At the top of the box select Sampled Colors. Now when you drag the mouse over your image the cursor should turn into an eyedropper. This tells you that photoshop is ready to sample wherever you click. Place the eyedropper over a clear white area and click. If you have the radio button for selection clicked you will now see a mini image in the dialog box that looks something like your larger image. The white areas will be selected. The black will not. When you click OK to close the dialog box the selection will be made. You should now see the "marching ants" all over the page.



The next step is simple. Go to Edit and select Cut. Or if you prefer keyboard shortcuts press CTRL X. All the white should disappear. Here is what the tree image looked like at this point.




Now you can do all sorts of things with this image! As luck would have it, just after I created this tree "stamp" while I was still wondering what I was going to do with it, I discovered that my 13 year old daughter's Middle School production of "Into the Woods" was in need of promotional posters. Naturally I volunteered for the job. I opened up my tree "stamp" added a blue gradient layer below and a yellow radial gradient between the blue and the stamp for the moonlight. I used a Creating Keepsakes font called Family Tree for the play's title. The posters are a big hit at school. Here's how they turned out.




Oh and I'm also helping with props. Papier Mache here I come! When oh when will I rubber stamp or scrapbook again? LOL Don't get me wrong-I love seeing my daughter perform and I like helping with her productions. By the way if you are curious she will be Jack's mother. I think she is perfect for that part. I can hardly wait for show time.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Before & After: A Restoration Story

Let me get a little personal...
In 2006 my brother was diagnosed with cancer. His tumor was located in an area where it could not be removed surgically so radiation and chemo were his only treatment options. Because they had to replace surgery rather than enhance it, my brother's treatments were intense and debilitating; his battle was difficult. It also happens that he lives far enough away that I don't see him very often. Another brother was "appointed" the supportive sibling so as not to overwhelm Jim with visitors. We are seven children. While I understood that this was the best way for Jim and his family, it left me feeling helpless. I kept wishing I could just hug him. Instead I sent that message along through other channels and prayed.

The good news is that Jim's cancer is now in remission and his prognosis is excellent. In celebration of his victory, Jim hosted Thanksgiving dinner at his house this past November. While sitting in his living room, I noticed his baby picture on display. I remembered it from our childhood when Mom used to display it, but I was surprised by how badly faded and damaged it had become. Jim's not that old! But then I believe the photo was done by a bargain basement door to door salesman. I actually remember my Mom turning one away once! (Did I just date myself? LOL) Anyway to get back to the story, I am a photo retoucher and restorer, and this job not only looked interesting but it immediately appealed to me as a nice gift that I could surprise my brother with. My way of saying, I am glad he is alive. So I asked my sister-in-law if I took it home with me to scan and restore, would Jim notice the photo was missing. She thought it unlikely he would notice, so while Jim was busy elsewhere I wrapped up the photo and put it in my bag.

Now as I mentioned before I don't get to see Jim that often and I wanted to give him his new photo in person rather than mail it to him. Well it took a few months, but I recently presented Jim with his surprise. His response was more than I had anticipated. He was deeply touched and I felt wonderful to be able to touch him so. He had never noticed the photo missing but one of his daughter's exclaimed, "I'd wondered what had happened to that!"

When my Mom saw the new photo, she joked, "Jim can't have it anymore. I want it back." Oh, the beauty of digital, I easily made another copy so now they both have it.

Here is the before and after...




I share this story to remind us, scrapbooking is not just a fun hobby because photographs are so much more than just pictures.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Silliness

You know how we all love to send jokes in our emails? My brother sent this to me yesterday...



Well the prose made me giggle but to me there was an obvious missed opportunity on the illustration. So I loaded it into Photoshop and....voila...

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Cool Photoshop Discovery - "Make" Your Own Landscape Stamp


Recently I was viewing some of the wonderful artwork on my favorite blogs and egroups, when I came across a card that I wished I could CASE. The trouble was it called for a kind of stamp that I don't own yet (notice the operative word..."yet" lol).
So if you know me then you know not having what I need is like throwing me a challenge. It's an invitation to get creative.
In this case the problem was I didn't have any highly detailed landscape stamps. I began to think, "can I create an image that looks like a landscape stamp using photoshop?" I sat down at my computer and began to play. This is the photo I started with. It is a stock image I purchased at istockphoto.

Do you know how exciting it feels when you're just stumbling around, experimenting with ideas and you discover something you think is really cool AND IT'S EASY? Well that's what happened! After I succeeded in making it look like a stamped image, I stretched it and printed it onto 12x12 cardstock. This is what the cardstock looked like.






And here's the scrapbook page I made with it. It was perfect for these photos of my daughters on St. Pete's beach in Florida, taken way back in February of 2000!

Intrigued? Want to learn how to do this? There are only two simple steps! NOW do you want to know? Oh, and it works in Elements too!!

Open the image you wish to turn into your "stamp"
1.Go to Filters>stylize>find edges...
(This looks pretty cool but it's not a stamp yet)
2.This step is a little different in Elements and CS
ELEMENTS: Go to Filter>adjustments>threshold...
CS: Go to Image>adjustments>threshold...
a box with a little graphy thingy that has a slider under it will pop up. The graph usually looks like a hill. I find sliding the arrow until it is under the uphill slope usually works well. Where to put the slider varies depending on the image you are working with. Moving to the left makes it whiter; to the right makes it blacker. I've found the final image will be a bit darker than the preview, so you may need to experiment to get it just the way you want it. If you don't like it the first time just undo the threshold step and try again!

That's it! It's ready to print and play. You will see more of this technique on my blog! I LOVE it!!

If you try it I'd love to see what you do! Post a link here or email me and I'll post for you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Adobe Releases Photoshop Express Beta


Hi all. If you read my blog because you think you might want to get into Photoshop, then you must check out Adobe's new website. It's a cross between a photo storing site like Photobucket or Picasa and Photoshop "lite". For FREE you can store up to 2GB of photos and link to them from your blog, Facebook or whatever. But the really cool part is there are a host of editing tools also available. You'll find the standards like cropping, rotating, sharpening, and red eye removal. But even more fun are the one button special effects. If you've ever done spot color with Photoshop (you know the look, everything is black and white except one color) you'll be amazed with the Pop Color feature. Just click on the color you want to "pop" and everything else goes black & white. How cool is that? And its FREE! No software to buy and never learn. I urge you to go play! Here's the link

Photoshop Express Beta

Saturday, March 29, 2008

April TJNL is Out!



My April 08 issue of The Technique Junkie Newsletter arrived in my mail today! It is gorgeous and so inspiring. Thanks to a fever of 103, I actually had time to play today. Well not my fever, my thirteen year old's. I was supposed to accompany her to our History Day Competition but this is her second day of running a high fever so I ordered her back to bed. Hopefully she will be well enough to take her Confirmation exam tomorrow and attend her cousin's Baptism. What a weekend to get sick, and she worked so hard on her History Project too. As they say in Italian, "Peccato" (It's a shame)

So back to the newsletter. It is brimming with techniques I am itching to try. My prediction is that this one, called "Waxy Cuttlebug" is going to be a big hit. We all LOVE our Cuttlebugs, don't we? And here is another cool use for all those embossing folders we've been collecting :-)

The card is for my Niece who will be baptised tomorrow. I'm sure my Brother and SIL are way too busy to see my blog before they see the card-lol

The spectrum is ColorBox Atlantis, Flowers are colored with SU, Regal Rose and Handsome Hunter. The stamp is unmounted and I lost track of it but I think it's DRS.
It is mounted on black CS from Michael's and SU Regal Rose. And the ribbon, yep you might have guessed it- that big box from Costco again. Oh and the name is done with rub-ons from Melissa Frances.

Ok full disclosure here, some of you already know, I see Pat a few days every week, as she is my scrapping buddy and I help with the newsletter. Nonetheless it was still great fun to receive it in the mail today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Technostamper Challenge Card and a Free Download!



This is my favorite Technostamper sketch yet. I don't know why but the arrow really got me energized. Maybe it was because I immediately saw how cool it would be with the Good Times paper collection from Close to my Heart. Or perhaps I was thrilled by the idea of using a photoshop text template for the arrow. In any case when I was done I couldn't stop staring at it. Okay so I'm being a little vain here, but I just love this card. LOL

I created the arrow in much the same way as I created the shaped text I discussed in a previous post. As I said before if you use Elements you are in the funny position of being able to import and edit text templates but not create them. So again I offer my arrow to you for free! Click here to go to the download page. Send me a link to your artwork, I'd love to see what you do with it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Playing With New Toys



Where does inspiration come from? If you are me the answer is anywhere and everywhere. For today’s card it was a combination of my weekly trip to Stop & Shop and my desire to play with some of my new toys.

Yes those Cuttlebug folders and dies were beckoning, as were the new markers, papers and scallop punch from Stampin Up! And then all the Easter displays in the grocery store got me thinking, I just must do something with a bright Spring palette.

I think I still have something to learn about coloring embossed die cuts with markers but overall I’m happy with this card.

I used the Bold Brights SU palette; sorry I don’t know all those color names for the papers. The Cuttlebug toys are Happy Birthday embossing folder and Disney Take the Cake Cut & Emboss. The sentiment is SU Birthday Whimsy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sketch Challenge and a Hybrid Card




It's been over a week since I've posted. Needless to say I've been busy. But it is a happy busy. I was in Mystic, CT with my business two weekends ago and I am still working on fulfilling orders. If any of my Mystic customers are reading, thanks for a very successful weekend! And don't forget you can still place orders with me via email or with my online order form. (See the link to my website in the left hand column)

I am also very happy because I just signed up with Close to My Heart as a demonstrator! I've been thinking about this for a very long time. I love their products and I haven't been buying them for some time now because I've been waiting until I became a demonstrator-duh. So I finally took the plunge. My starter kit is due to arrive Wednesday. I await it eagerly.

Now don't tell CTMH, but just before I left for Mystic I received a big box from Stampin' Up. I got all the SAB sets. (Never mind CTMH, don't tell my husband...shhh) It's been so difficult staring at that box and not finding the time to play with the toys inside. Well, yesterday I got them all mounted and today when I got home from work I dropped everything and sat down to play. Yeah! Finally!

So this idea has been stirring around in my head all the while that I've been waiting to get to those stamps. It went like this, "hmmm lots of talk about hybrid scrapbooking going on. Why not hybrid card making?" So the first thing I did was sit down at the computer. I began browsing my photos for inspiration. I found this photo that my daughter took in France last summer. (I let her go without me, darn!) So I opened it in Photoshop, cropped it and removed the people on the path. Then I used another recent purchase of mine - a set of 300 dpi watercolor images from Wetzel & Co. I used two watercolors to alter the photo. One as a color filter and the other to add texture. I layered the color image on top of the photo, set the blend mode to Hue and the opacity to 50%. Next I added the texture layer. I converted it to B&W, used a levels adjustment to increase the contrast, set the blend mode to overlay and adjusted the opacity down to 85%. These are the three original images I used:


Here is the image when I was done editing:



Now it was time to get my hands dirty, literally! I'd been itching to give the Reinker Splash Technique from the Feb issue of Technique Junkies Newsletter a try. Well I think it was a little over my head because I made a mess and played around alot before I got the piece I chose to use for the strip down the side and the sentiment oval. I used alcohol inks - a first for me! The background is stamped with En Francais by SU and the sentiment is from the SAB set Merci.


Oh and I should not forget to mention the layout is Technostamper's Monday Lunchtime sketch Challenge #8 - are we up to 8? I missed last week so I've lost count.


So a new TJ technique, MJ's sketch challenge, Photoshop, and two of my new stamps. So how many birds did I kill with that stone? Happy, Happy Me!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Technostamper Challenge #6



It's Monday, that means it's time for another Technostamper Sketch Challenge. I hope you are having as much fun with these as I am. Be sure to check Mary Jo's blog for a link to all the other players.

I really enjoyed making today's card. In part because I got to use my just arrived Cuttlebug! Thanks Mom & Dad for the birthday present :-) Yes, I had a birthday last week but we need not discuss that further ;-} I used an adaptation of a technique called Aged Metal featured in the February '08 issue of The Technique Junkie Newsletter for the background. The sentiment is stamped with Versamark and then colored with Perfect Pearls.

But another thing that made working on this card so much fun was the lucky accidental discovery I made when I decided to dye a white flower black. At first I smooshed my Stazon pad onto it but there was lots of white on the flower and black on the paper under the flower. So the frugal me started thinking, "I'm going to waste a lot of ink this way; there must be a better way to do this." So I put the flower on top of the pad, then not wanting really black fingers, I grabbed my embossing stylus and rubbed the flower into the pad with it. Voila! The flower is perfectly dyed. I can't wait til I need to dye another flower, this was so much fun. I just may go buy a whole bunch of white flowers lol.
Stamp: Anna Griffin
Ribbon: that big box from Costco again
White metallic flower: Home Grown Bloomers by Crafta Frame

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Shaped Text Blocks and Blog Freebie!






The original photo in this layout was a 5x7. It lives in a frame in my living room because I love it so. The photographer who gave me this picture captured my daughter just as she was going over one of her very first little jumps. It was a beautiful Fall day, the colors on the trees behind her made a lovely backdrop. It wasn't until I scanned it and zoomed in that I realized how the photo captured the look of concentration on her face. So instead of scrapbooking the whole 5x7 I decided to enlarge and crop.



The area to Catie's right just begged to become the journaling block. What I did next can only be done in later versions of Photoshop and can not be done in Elements. But don't worry there is a workaround so skip ahead if you have a version of photoshop without the pen tool.


I selected the freeform pen tool, set it to "paths" and drew the shape by tracing just along the outside of Catie. Then I switched to the regular pen tool, still set to "paths" to close the shape with nice straight lines on the other three sides.



To set the pen tool to paths click on the icon at the top left as shown in the illustration here:



Once the work path was completed, I selected the type tool and clicked inside the shape. When you do this you will see parentheses appear next to the type tool icon, indicating that your type will be enclosed in the path you created. Then it was just a question of typing my story and the text automatically took the shape I had drawn. How cool is that?



Now I realize most digiscrappers have Elements or an older version of PS, but here comes the good stuff. You can still get this effect because although you can't create these text blocks you can insert them and edit them. There are numerous digital stores that will sell you all kinds of shaped templates, but I'm going to give you two for FREE! Follow this link to my website and you can download as my gift to you two text templates. One is a full circle, the other is a heart

Jessica Sprague created a great video tutorial showing how to insert Text templates into Photoshop Elements. Click here to view this video.

BTW the girl in this photo is the same child featured in the previous post "Out of Control." Just thought I'd share that for all of you who fret about not being caught up! In my opinion the pictures aren't going anywhere, so relax and scrap 'em when you can :-)



Click here to download FREE Text Templates

Monday, February 18, 2008

Technostamper Sketch Challenge #5


Once again I am playing along with the Monday Lunchtime Sketch Challenge from Technostamper. Today's card will go to a neighbor who is expecting twins. I hope she likes it and I hope you do too!


DP: Doodlebug Designs

Stamps: Image: Marcella K; alphas: CTMH

Ribbon is from a big box I bought at Costco a year ago

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

HP offers Free Online Scrapbooking Class

Enrollment is open now through March 1st for a FREE online class in hybrid scrapbooking offered by Hewlett Packard. Here's the link to the course description page. I've taken an online course with them, they are very well done and totally geared to the beginner. They go over all the basics, plus there is a class forum for further discussion of class topics and questions to the instructor. If you've been wanting to learn more about using your computer as a scrapbooking tool I recommend checking this out!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Out of Control?

I've always really loved this photograph of Catie when she was sooo little (she's 16 now). As scrapbookers you know how it is, you have favorite pictures and they intimidate you. You wait forever to scrap them because you want so badly for the page to be as wonderful as the photo. For me this is one of those photos. I scanned it just to enlarge it. The plan was to make it a 5 x 7 and do one of those one photo traditional 12 x 12 layouts, gushing with praise of just how precious this baby is and embellished with adorable things.



But once I had photoshop open a voice in my head said, "hmm, what could you do with this digitally?" When it comes to digital pages I love the kits as much as anyone and have folders full of them to prove it. But I also love that I can create a page that is ALL my own. No purchased papers, or embellishments. And that was the direction I decided I wanted to go in with this photo.



What happened next I can only describe as a total loss of control. An urge I decided to go with and explore. Since I loved the picture so much, why not just feature it? I could have made it 12 x 12, but I felt there was more impact in repeating it, and layering it so that in places only the eyes or some other small parts were featured.



So here's my final result and I'm just not sure if I love it or I've lost my mind. So I turn to you for your opinions. Here's what Ive heard from my daughters. The child featured in the lo thinks its "creepy." Her sister is just jealous that it's not a lo of her. LOL

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Lunchtime Sketch Challenge

I never got a chance to do last week's challenge but this week I'm in again! Here's my interpretation of Technostamper, Mary Jo Price's sketch.


The sketch reminded me of quilting, so I decided to use the faux stitching technique from the 4/06 issue of the Technique Junkie Newsletter.

Thanks again MJ for another inspirational sketch!

The Stamps are Stampin Up, A Beautiful Thing

Designer Paper is from the Magnolia Collection by My Mind's Eye

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Do You Like My New Look?

Today's art to share is my new header! I just created it today using photoshop. What do you think? I also changed the blog template to match the new header. I think the overall look is easier on the eyes.

For the photoshop curious, the header features two images I downloaded from istockphoto :the watch and the grunge film frame. The flourishes are from brushes I downloaded (for free!) from Obsidian Dawn. If you make sure to "stamp" each brush mark on a new layer, you can resize, erase, skew, rotate, etc. to your hearts content to get it just the way you want it.

The background is a fill layer to which I added a linen pattern overlay and lowered the opacity of the pattern overlay to 38%. I played around alot with opacity and blending modes in this design. I love to experiment that way. I'm very happy with the new look. I hope you like it too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Posies For You


It's a simple card because I had to make 17 of them. I just wanted to share my first project using the Posies For You stamps I won at Leigh O'Brien's blog. The set came just in time for the Valentines that I was planning to send to GIs in Iraq & Afghanistan. They just seemed perfect for this project. Thanks again to Leigh and Anna Wight of Whipper Snapper Designs. Also thanks to the Stamping Scrapbookers Yahoo group colour challenge for inspiring the color palette. I chalked the bucket but did the rest of the coloring with Sakura Glaze markers. I like the contrast betweeen the soft and bold effects.

Find It With An Image Search




The idea for this page lived for months in my mind. My son who has major issues with foods related to his OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) has nearly lived off of French Fries for most of his life. So you see I just had to have this page in his book. Every time I shopped for scrapping supplies I would look for anything, paper, stickers whatever of French Fries. No Luck. The closest I ever got was a picnic set that was mostly Burgers and Hot Dogs, two things Anthony NEVER eats. Alas I eventually realized I was on my own. Well actually I take back the “Alas” because I do so enjoy having to wing it from time to time. One of my Fave resources for finding what I need is the Google image search. You are probably familiar with Google searches but I’m surprised by how many people I talk to who have never explored some of Google’s more targeted search options. If you are at Google’s web site you’ll find them at the top left hand side of the starting page. If you have the Google tool bar installed on your browser click on the little black arrow next to the “G”. There is an assortment of cool options. My two favorites: “images” and “shopping” :-} The image search further allows you to filter for the size of image you are looking for, saving you time. I searched for French Fries and followed the links to the images I liked. I saved the image to my computer by right clicking on it and choosing “Save picture as…” from the pop up menu. In the LO I printed the fries twice, cut some out from one image and popped them on top of the other. (In good conscience I can’t take credit for this idea-Thanks Pat!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday Lunchtime Sketch Challenge #2

One good thing I can say about my decion to blog, it motivates me to try the techniques and ideas that I usually never find the time for. Don’t we all just have so many other things to do? And, honestly, there are just too many fun things to try! :-)Today I’m playing along again with Technostamper, Mary Jo Price’s Monday lunchtime sketch of the week. Here’s my creation. I hope it inspires you. MJ’s sketches sure do get me going.



Credits: Stamps are from Above the Mark
Designer Paper is Blush from Basic Grey
Cardstock Bazzill
Corners of the square are punched with Ornamental Bracket by Anna Griffin

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Won! And More...

WooHoo! I was a winner at Leigh O’Brien’s blog, Sunflower Studio! I won a set of stamps from Whipper Snapper, called Posies for You by Anna Wight. Thanks Leigh and Anna! I look forward to their arrival. Leigh made such a beautiful card with those stamps I simply had to enter the give away. You can check it out here.

I’ve seen this week’s Monday Lunchtime sketch challenge from Mary Jo of Technostamper. You may recall last’s week sketch had me rushing to give it a try. Well, she’s done it again. There is just something about her sketches that I find inspiring. Thanks MJ. I hope to post my card tomorrow.



Now for todays art share. As I’m sorting through photos certain pictures just scream at me to scrap them digitally. This one taken at Disney MGM studios in 1995, when Catie was three years old, was one of those pictures. I knew I had a story to tell and the dark left side of the photo seemed a great place to put it. I also wanted to incorporate Catie’s drawing. I thought I would scan and resize the drawing and add it to the layout. I put the photo aside and scrapped the rest of our Disney trip with paper, scissors & glue. Then one day as I was visiting some of my fave places on the web I came across this kit by Rhonna Ferrer, called Honey Bee. It seemed perfect for this photo. So I downloaded it and immediately got to work. The journaling was cathartic, as this was not an episode I was proud of. Catie, who is 16 now and fully recovered from the “trauma”- lol- had a good laugh when she saw the title. “Oh Mom, you’re being so dramatic,” she said. I answered her with, “Not at all, that is exactly how I felt.” Then when she read the journaling she hugged me and told me I was forgiven. Now isn’t that a great reason to journal?


Here's the journaling:

I read up before the trip. I knew the ride would be too scary for you but I wanted to see it. I knew it would be cool. I’d figured Dad, Anthony and I would go on the ride and You, Nonna and Juliana would wait and meet us when we got off. What I didn’t know was that the ride would end at a completely different location than where it began and that Nonna didn’t want any part of trying to find where we would be let off. Split second decision time- do I sacrifice? No, I rationalized. I warned you that there would be a scary part and I told you not to be scared because it would be fake. You were a bright three year old but that was asking way too much of you. When the explosions and the shaking and the fire began you screamed in a way no mother ever wants to hear her child scream. In spite of my trying to comfort you, you seemed to be in fear for your life. If you weren’t traumatized, I was – a moment as your Mom that I am decidedly ashamed of. I’ll never forget the tears and screams that I could not abate with all the gentle reassurance I could muster. Nor will I forget that almost every picture you drew for months afterward were pictures of a Disney World Earthquake. I’m sorry.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Paper to Digital to Paper Again

I began scrapbooking in 2001. My first book was a simple compilation of family events from the spring and summer of that year. Whenever I pull that book off the shelf I have to fight the urge to redo all the pages – I’ve learned so much since then! But I’ve sworn an oath not to do that. To do so would be to erase my growth as a scrapbooker. That would be personal history lost and isn’t preserving history what scrapbooking is about anyway?

I am working on a collection of volumes devoted to my second child, Catie who is presently 16 years old. My goal is to chronicle each of my three children from birth through High School graduation and to have each one done shortly after they graduate. My eldest, Anthony was finishing up his freshman year of college when I finished his books. For me that was close enough to my target to be happy. But I digress. As I was compiling the books for the kids I realized that some of the events I wanted to include were already scrapped in older books. Rather than do the same photos all over again from scratch I thought I’d move things along by scanning the old pages and using those copies on a new page.

The glorious part of this for me was now I could eat my cake and have it. The original page stays untouched in its album but I get to “redo” it digitally for the new book!

Here is the scan of the original page from the summer of 2001. It’s hard for me NOT to cringe when I see it. The paper colors are dull, it lacks balance, the stamping isn’t done very well and where’s the title?



So into Photoshop I went; what a power rush it gave me. First I extracted the stamped images and pasted them onto new layers. Then "erased" the original stamped images by cloning the background over them. Cool, now I was able to move the stamps to my heart’s content! Oh, and darken them too.

Calling up the clone stamp tool I completely obliterated the unreadable lame attempt at journaling I’d made back in 2001. Call up the text tool and POW new Title, new journal block.

When I was done with the digital editing I printed the page onto 8.5 x 11 photo paper and took it to my work table to incorporate into my new 12 x 12 page. Some matting and embellishing and I soon had a page I could get excited about. I was especially pleased to finally use those slides I’d made at CKU back in 2004! Here's the final page for Catie's books. I love the transformation! What do you think?


Stamp credit: Stampin Up: On The Beach: 2002

Fonts used: Title: Dirtfont; journaling: Catchup thin

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Technostamper's Sketch Challenge

Yesterday as I was traversing the blogosphere I came across this sketch challenge put up by Technostamper aka Mary Jo. The sketch really sparked a creative urge in me and I rushed to my work table to give it a try. As a cardmaker/stamper I'm still a beginner. But I've recently resolved to give it more time and push myself this year. I have to do something to justify all the rubber I've collected! So the challenge was just the thing for me.

To challenge myself further I decided to limit myself to using paper scraps only (you should see the huge supply of scraps I've amassed, I throw nothing away!) and to use a technique from The Technique Junkie Newsletter. I chose Pastel Embossing from the October 07 issue. The stamps I used are Stampin Up. I struggled with the thought of adding more embellishment but ultimately decided to keep it simple because that's what I think I loved about the sketch in the first place. What do you think?




I plan to post some fun ways of mixing stamping with photoshop soon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

If You can't Find It, Make It!










Today, as promised, something simpler. However the basic idea is the same as yesterday. You can sum it up by saying, “If you can’t find the paper you want: MAKE IT!” Yesterday I showed how I made Les Miz paper; today Major League Baseball. In both instances I searched in vain for the paper I wanted to do the spread. I could not believe that the folks at Topps had not caught on to the scrapbook craze and licensed someone to do paper. Then, I think it was my dear husband who said to me, “Duh, they’d have to pay the players royalties.” That’s when I realized it was time to warm up the lamp on my scanner. I did this spread before I started my business and invested in my wide format printer. So I had to make the paper 8.5 x 11. But think about it, how many times have you cut down a 12 x 12 piece of paper to use it as an accent? So the lack of a wide format printer should not stop anyone from making their own background papers.

So here’s how I did it. I went into my son’s room and grabbed the first stack of cards that I saw. Luck would have it that they were all either Mets or Yankees (Grandpa is a Met fan, Anthony roots for the Yankees) I arranged the cards on the scanner bed in a way that visually pleased me, saved the scan as a Bitmap and printed the paper using Windows photo printing wizard. Simple, no special software required.

This idea will work for just about anything. Want sewing paper? Throw a bunch of notions and fabric on your scanner bed. Does your two year old love cheerios? Cover your scanner with clear plastic, nice & flat, and then lay on the cheerios. Instead of closing the lid throw a large piece of white paper or fabric over the top; scan, save and print.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Digital and Paper: Hybrid scrapbooking


Hi, this is my first ever blog post. I've been thinking about this ever since my good friend, Pat Huntoon, started her blog. Well here I finally am, wish me luck. I plan to share my artwork, and tips on how I've created my pieces. I have a love for finding new ways to use my computer as a scrapbooking tool. I am an advanced photoshop user but I will share simple techniques for beginner's as well as tricks that don't require any special software.
To begin with today I'll share one of my all time favorite hybrid scrapbook spreads. The term hybrid scrapbook refers to when you use the computer as well as traditional paper and glue materials to create your page.

For this page I scanned the cover of the novel "Les Miserables" into photoshop. I duplicated it many times, each one on a new layer. Then I played with placement, color, and blending modes and then grunged it up a bit. I was just thrilled with the result. I printed the resulting background paper onto 12 x 12 white cardstock then finished the page in traditional paper scrapbooking fashion. The bands of color across the bottom is a real ribbon, the photo and its mounts are glued on. The title was sooo much fun to do. I used photoshop to extract the scanned title from the book cover, imported that into the Silhouette software and then cut the letters out of Bazzill cardstock using the silhouette. Yes, I have some really cool toys. I promise my next post will be simpler but I really love this page. I hope you will too.
Let me know if you'd like me to post more detailed instructions.