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The Art of Collaboration

I have been making photographs this month, more than I can possibly scrap. The photos are all in Lightroom, labeled and tagged. That’s good. troll_screenshotaYet, I have that overwhelmed feeling as the year draws to a close because I feel the pressure of needing to finish this book project. It’s so easy to procrastinate when I’m feeling uninspired. So I sent a friend, Adryane Driscoll, this photo along with a dozen others on a blank 24×12 inch document via Dropbox and asked if she would be willing to collaborate again on a two page spread using Anna’s new template set, Project Template Album No. 2.  I could end this post with the statement that Adryane and I both enjoyed ourselves immensely as we collaborated to get this page finished. However, I thought you might like to read a bit of our informal Messenger exchanges after Adryane opened the psd file with all those photos as well as some final thoughts on collaboration.

Messenger Excerpts and Screenshots

Adryane: I will send you my thinking on one side. It’s just an idea. And it needs a lot more twigs. I still need to mask behind Kate and figure out a good way to get the bridge to the other side.

Linda: I have some other shots that show the entire bridge at the same angle; I think you could paste them together to blend it across the page.

Adryane: No worries. I have some of the other photos on the second page. I will send it to you later today. My extractions are nowhere near as good as yours. This is just idea.

Linda: I’ll look at the extraction. Extractions depend on the background, especially hair. I can blend in the whispy part of Kate’s depending on the background, especially those difficult curls.

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Adryane: I still need to work on moving the bridge from the right to left side. Nor have I finished adding elements or completed all the shadows. I do like the snip snap part as a visual with the other journaling.

Adryane: If my computer could laugh out loud it would have when I tried to email you a 742 mb file. Don will send you a link. Be sure to change, modify and delete at will! I used templates 4 and 8 from the new album, Project Template Album No. 2. I also added more twigs.

 

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Linda: I will extend that bridge and add journaling in one textbox. Will you write something for Kate too?

Adryane: Yes. Take your time. I will think of something to write. You’ll do the title work, correct? Why is the file size so big?

Linda: I can’t see anything that looks like it might be adding significantly to the file size. I often clip photos to stains and brushes. That shouldn’t make that much difference. Love the way you did the troll and ground coming from the bridge in the photo on the left.

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Linda: I think it still needs a little something although I don’t know exactly what. I used an alpha of Anna’s to create part of the title and combined it with a font group. I used a color overlay in the styles panel to adjust the color. Re-adjust it if you want. I put some of the title in pink to pick up the pink in Kate’s outfit.

Linda: You might want to work with my shadow on the left bridge. I had to use a layer mask to get it off her skirt. It is on a separate layer. There is now a double drop shadow on separate layers for the right bridge.

Linda: Do you think we should add a bit of texture to Mr. Troll?

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Adryane: I like the wood alpha. I will try it to one of those fancy uppercase letters that you often see in old books when you read “Once upon a time…” and determine if it’s too much. The bridge blending is fantastic! Did you get the file size down?

Linda: Not a lot, 866 mb. However, it uploads to dropbox. Just takes time. I guess I could have zipped it before uploading. It says only 5 minutes left.

 

Adryane: I had to take off the title because it seemed like too much with my troll redo. What do you think? When you said the troll needed texture and my kids said it was a fail, my idea for the threadz and leaves came to mind almost immediately.

 

Linda: He looks wicked with the green and brown leaves!! I like the troll better now. He looks much more than Paul Galdone’s drawing, I like the added depth. Yes, I love the leaves, threads and bees! Maybe I can put a smaller title on the right side?

 

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Adryane: It may not need a title. Your previous title looks great. Why don’t you remove my journaling and run the title across the top. The right side is too heavy for a split title. With the added leaves, threads and new grass, I think the right side is done. I recolored the leaves to go with those Kate is holding.

 

Linda: The weight with the branches moves across both pages and the troll goes across the gutter nicely with the leaves!! I love the way you used the threads, what a great idea for his hair. Don’t stress about time. I love the back and forth between us, the exchange of thinking! I wouldn’t have thought to work that way with the troll; he looks great!

 

Adryane: My kids are happy with the troll now. They thought I didn’t try hard enough with the first version. You also may have a better way of extending the grass on the right. I used one of your photos but the grass had to be enlarged quite a bit to fit the mask so it doesn’t quite match the original photo. I think it would looked better without the white space to the left of Kate.

 

Adryane: I’ve been playing with the title work. I like the idea of keeping the font the same throughout in order to avoid a too busy feeling. The font for the O is Preciosa. It’s a free at dafont.com. It looks very fairytale-ish

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Linda: I like the title, but your journaling isn’t there, nor your signature!!

Adryane: You will have to make the mask on the left larger so that it comes up more toward the title. That will take away that floating feeling of the title. I moved the title under the branches in the layers panel.

Linda: Did you use the warp tool to reshape the make of the vertical masked photo on the left?

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Adryane: Yes, I warped the mask. Try extending that green grass with the bridge to the next page. I think I would try joining them right above the bridge before extending  the mask upward. The grass area is too large and too far up on the page. I know you have the idea. Piecing is not my strong suit.

Linda: Just a little, something light. Since the bridge goes across the gutter, the grass can go across as well. I know what to do to fix the masking of the grass. I’m going to see what I can do to get the text with your journaling on the right to work, especially since your journaling fits the picture story so well. Let me see when I do with it.

 

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Linda: I re-imported and merged masks from template 4 and 22 together.  The original mask of 4 has a flourish and edge, so that’s why there is more white space now. I placed the mask, stains and flourishes of template 22 toward the left. I think the flourishes work well with the flourish looking letter O. The dots in the title lead right into the journaling on the right. I may add a little light on the right with a glow.

Adryane: Looks great. Thank you for doing this with me. It’s not easy giving someone else license with your photos :). Your genius has made it all work. You got the mask just right so the grass is the same and light enough so the journaling works. I like the lighter look in the top right corner. It looks so much better now that you’ve remasked the right side. The flourishes are just right with the title.

Final Thoughts on Collaborating

Adryane and I worked on this layout on and off for three days. We’d like to share a few tips if you decide that you would like to collaborate with a friend.

  1. Exchange psd files only once or twice so that you are working with the same original file. After that, we learned that it is easier to share thinking and suggest changes using screen shots in messages rather than uploading large psd files through Dropbox.
  2. Collaboration is a different relationship than the teacher/student relationship of teaching. As Adryane said, “It’s about having a shared vision that two people create instead of one person. Collaboration involves sharing ideas, techniques, and relying on and learning from each other’s strengths.”
  3. People have time constraints, dinner to make, appointments to keep so collaborating as Adryane and I did won’t work for everyone. Collaboration even with a friend requires extra time.
  4. Have a clear goal. In this case, Adryane and I worked on one layout that will be part of a book I’m creating this year. Her advice: “When you are working on something that may end up in someone’s book, it’s nice to consider that person’s style and to add some of your own style.” That this page reflects both Adryane and I makes it very special to me.
  5. Collaborating with a friend is also a good way to overcome stagnation and get support when you are feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. It’s a good way to try something different.

As a digital scrapbooker, I love having a friend with whom I can collaborate. However, online classes also help me develop my skills in Photoshop. If you are looking for another way to make connections with others interested in digital scrapbooking with Anna Aspnes’ Designs, I encourage you to look at Anna’s new class, aA Project. I’m looking forward to the learning and support I need to finish up this year’s book project.

Heart Art

Sometimes, I make photographs without any thought about creating a scrapbook page. 2016-02-21 131136I captured these glass figures in February at an exhibit of 32 glass sculptures by Craig Mitchell Smith in the conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens. I don’t always initially see the possibility in a photograph for creating a piece of art. However, I remembered this photo when I opened Anna’s new palette, ArtPlay Palette Plumeria. A friend suggested that the figures looked like ghosts. I think wraiths might be more apropos for this page since they appear to be dancing above the water. The artist called this sculpture “Gravity Landscape”, but I don’t quite understand that title. I also wonder what the artist intended by placing a heart inside each figure. At any rate, this is one of those artsy photo pages created without a story in mind, but simply for the joy of experimenting.

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I began by placing solid paper 3 from ArtPlay Palette Plumera on a new blank document. I rotated it clockwise in anticipation that by using a fotoblendz mask the texture above it the paper would show through my photo.

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Next, I placed mask 2 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 9 and clipped a copy of my photo to the mask. I added a levels adjustment layer on color burn at 20% above the photo. I love that the transparency of the mask reveals part of the paper below.

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In order to get the figures to show more on my page, I extracted them from another copy of the photo using an inverted mask. I added a vibrance adjustment layer at 45% and a levels adjustment on soft light at 50%. I gave my extraction a small drop shadow. In this case, the extractions also created depth by making the figures pop from the background.

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I placed one transfer and an art stroke from the new palette above the original photo. I masked out a part of the art stroke. To recreate the look of water, I added stains from Artsy Layered Template No. 233, two additional transfers from ArtPlay Palette Plumera and an overlay from ArtPlay Palette Heart No. 1. I changed the blend modes of three, one stain to darken, one transfer to multiply at 40% and the heart transfer just above the paper to overlay.

(Note: templates are a great source for not only stains, but journaling boxes and frames as well.)

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Finally, I placed artstroke 2 below the extractions to balance the black on the other side. With two more hearts, word art from Art WordArt Mix No. 1, a button (recolored slightly), a thread from ButtonThreadz No. 1 and journaling, my page was finished.

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Sometimes, I surprise myself with what I can create with a photo, an artplay palette and a little experimenting with blend modes in Photoshop. I will print this one just so my family will know that on occasion I deviate from my normal style simply for the sake of experimenting with art.

Two Page Design

Kate celebrated her fourth birthday this past weekend. As she gets older, more of her personality comes through in her photographs. I actually try to make photos that convey her personality and show her different expressions, photos that express her pleasure with a gift, the way she licks the frosting off a cupcake, the way she laughs and smiles. Those expressions are what I wanted on this two page spread which I will add to this year’s book.

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One of my favorite photos from her birthday party was this one of her delight upon receiving a pink car. No, it isn’t a perfect photo. 2016-08-27 145446It’s grainy because I had set the ISO high to give me the shutter speed I needed. It’s also much darker on one side. Before exporting the photo from Lightroom, I adjusted the white balance and increased the exposure and clarity.

After placing the photo on a new 24×12 inch document in Photoshop, I ran it through Topaz Detail module to smooth the grain. Then I added two levels layers, one on screen and another on hard light. Rather than extract Kate from the scene, I added an inverted layer mask and blended in just the parts that I wanted with a soft round brush.

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My next step was to figure out how to include the other nine photos I had exported from Lightroom and placed with their visibility turned off on my new blank document. Not many templates have spaces for more than five or six photos. In addition, I needed to balance the weight of the large blended photo on the left side of my two page spread. I found Anna’s MonthReview Template No. 34B in my stash, a template I bought several years ago but hadn’t ever used.

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After deleting a couple of textures, I duplicated one frame, reduced it’s size and moved it into the blank space on the template. Although there are nine photos on the right side, the light background and simple white frames do not overwhelm the large blended photo on the left.

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I added or stamped on blank layers additional stains, recolored them pink and changed the blend mode to linear burn.

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Next, I began building the background for my title. I opened three different psd files from WatercolorBalloons No. 1. I recolored the individual balloons to coordinate with Kate’s tutu. Below the balloons, I placed a light leak from LightLeaks No. 3, changed the blend mode to linear burn and reduced the opacity.

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To finish my page, I added a title just above the watercolor balloons and gave it a sticker effect. Next, I placed balloons from ArtPlay Palette Happy Birthday and recolored them with a style layer. I tacked them down with button threads from ButtonThreadz No. 2. On the balloon on the right, I added text and warped it with the warp text tool. With a few splatters, buttons and additional threads my page was finished.

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Combining templates with a little blending made it easy to create this artsy two page spread. I think these MonthReview templates are especially effective to scrap an event with all the white space and multiple masks with simple white frames. In a way, this two page spread looks similar to the design I used in last year’s book. For many of those pages, I combined a one photo artsy page with multiple photos on one of Anna’s FotoInspired Double Templates to create my two page spreads. This year I am looking for simple, informal artsy templates that accommodate more photos to create a book. I need to remember that just because a template is titled Month Review doesn’t mean that’s it only use, not when I want more spaces for photos from a party, trip or event.

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Focus the Eye with a Frame

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Kate really enjoys playing in the sand at what we describe as the shady park. 2016-05-18 093417However, those trees surrounding the play equipment create shadows that make photography more difficult. Note the harsh light in the background and to the left of my granddaughter. Changing light and her constant movement are why I often set my camera on aperture priority and auto ISO. With those settings I can concentrate on framing the scene, getting my granddaughter’s face in focus and blurring the background by setting the aperture to f/5.6. Those settings usually give me enough depth to get her face in focus if I hold the camera securely and put a focus point on her face. However, framing the scene is still difficult for me. In this shot, I cut off some of the sand toys. The exposure is a little dark. Despite the problems with this photo, I liked Kate’s expression, her hands squeezing the sand and the little truck. I knew that I could fix the exposure, use the Clone Stamp to erase the price sticker on the little truck and mask out the cropped sand toys.

Framing helps focus the eye on what is important on a page, in this case my granddaughter as she played in the sand with the toy truck. Below are highlights of the steps that I followed to create this page as I worked the new MultiMedia Frames No. 3.

Drag the layers of psd file 3 from MultiMedia Frames No. 3 onto a new document. Clip the photo to the fotoblendz mask and a copy of the photo to the stain. Add adjustment layers as needed to correct photo exposure. Clip solid paper 6 from ArtPlay Palette Swell above each photo layer on normal blend mode at 50% opacity. Mask out what you do not want covered with sand by adding a layer mask.

Note that I extracted my granddaughter from another photo copy and placed it below the solid paper 6 layer because I thought the appearance and shadowing looked better in that order. I also created a copy of the extraction’s mask for the paper. Order in the layers panel depends on how the layers blend together.

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Place transfer 7 from ArtPlay Palette Swell below the psd multimedia frame layers. Create another copy of the photo and place that below the transfer. Add a layer mask to the photo and blend into the background paper, solid paper 2, using AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 7 brushes. Clip a copy of solid paper 6 at 50% opacity to the photo layer and mask as needed. Stamp brush 3 from Oasis No. 2 on a layer below in a color to coordinate with the photo.

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Place another copy of the extraction and layer mask along with the adjustment layers above the frame. Use a round brush to adjust the extraction’s layer mask to reveal and/or hide parts covering the frame. Attach a layer mask to the frame’s shadow to lighten as needed.

Note that at this point I used the Clone Stamp to erase the distracting price sticker on the little yellow truck.
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Add overlays 2 and 3 and the art stroke from the ArtPlay Palette Swell to finish the background. Place png wooden word art 2 from Beach WordArt Mix 1 and add a subtitle as shown on the collection preview. Change the elements included with the frame as needed. In this case, I substituted the branch and sand pail charm from  ArtPlay Palette Swell and tied both down with png file 3 from ButtonThreadz 2. Add journaling.

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By using a frame on my page, I have focused on my granddaughter and hidden what was distracting in my photo. You might be wondering why I didn’t simply erase portions of the frame to achieve the out of bounds effect. One reason I prefer working with an extraction is because that allows me the option to add shadows to part of the photo and create more depth on my pages. As I explained in previous posts, Inspiration and Changing Focus and a Tip for Extractions, the effects created with shadows are not possible by erasing parts of a frame or blending.

I am not especially fast at creating my pages, but I finished this page in under two hours even with the extraction. Practice helps, especially if you know the different tools in Photoshop or PSE that are available for extractions.

Knowing how to extract from a photo, the selection tools available as well as how to refine extraction edges makes what appears difficult really very easy. Anna is offering a new course, ExtractTHIS, which is available at a 50% discount if you sign up for Flipping Clipping Live. At the moment, Anna’s site is down for maintenance, but if you email her, she will register you for classes. I don’t think that there is one best way to extract from a photo. My process depends on the photo, what I am trying to achieve and my comfort level with different options. Anna’s class is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to refine my skills, especially important to me as extractions are definitely characteristic of my current style.

 

 

Inspiration

Inspiration for a story doesn’t always occur when I make a photograph. For example, I made some photographs of my grandchildren on Mother’s Day, but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write. I could have written about the little gnome and grass covered rabbit that my grandchildren brought me for my garden, gifts my son thought were hilarious. 2016-05-08 170133-2I know because he smiled the way I remembered him smiling when he’d done something as a boy, something he thought I’d find very entertaining. I could also have written about my grandchildren’s antics while being coaxed to sit together on the little bridge in the wooded area behind our house so that I could make this photograph. However, it wasn’t until Wednesday morning that I found just the story I really wanted to write. Unfortunately, there was simply no time to make any photos Wednesday morning. I was much too busy. So I used a photo I made on Sunday, a photo filled with memories, to write a different story for a scrapbook page.

One morning a week, I am in charge of getting my four grandchildren out of bed and off to school. For some reason, my skills as a young mother and a classroom teacher haven’t transferred to my current grandma status. This morning, I re-entered the kitchen to hear Corbin ask if he could have a cookie. ThisMorningICan'tRemember_lkdavis_600I didn’t immediately notice that he already had most of it in his mouth when I said, “not until you finish your pancakes, so put it back.” I looked up to observe Owen across the kitchen putting two of those cookies in a baggie. He said they were for snack. I questioned, “5th graders have snack time?” “No,” responded Logan as he helped himself to what was left. Then Kate started crying because there were no cookies left for her. Was it like this when my two kids were little? Surely not, but I can’t remember now!!!

I don’t think my family will care that I didn’t capture any photos of what happened on Wednesday morning. I anticipate that they will remember sitting on the bridge and may even laugh at grandma’s story, at least the two older boys will laugh. I can already hear my son laughing.

2016-05-13_WithoutExtractionFor those of you who read my last post, I shared a tip for adding dimension to a layout by extracting part of a picture. Take a look at my page without the extractions. Do you see the difference in depth? Without the extraction, I also do not have the flexibility to place color and texture below their legs. Extracting is a simple process.

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After adding some adjustment layers to the photo, I duplicated both the photo and adjustment layers. Next, I extracted my grandchildren’s legs from the copy using the Pen Tool before placing the selection on a layer mask. That allowed me to refine my extraction. Finally, I gave my extraction layer a drop shadow to add even more depth.

Before concluding this post, I want to thank Adryane for sharing her ideas for using the Line Tool at Anna’s latest live event on Saturday, ArtPlay Unedited 2. If you look carefully, you will see the lines I drew on the faded frame of mask 2 from Camera FotoBlendz No. 1 in order to balance my framing lines on the left and bottom of my page. Click on the screenshot below to see the products I used to create this page.

 

 

 

Changing Focus and a Tip for Extractions

As I go through Anna’s gallery, I often think about the different purposes for engaging in scrapbooking, knowing that for many digital scrapbook artists the time with small children lies in the past or future. Family has been a major theme for many of my pages. However, it won’t be long before my last grandchild heads off to school in 2018 and my focus will change.

I am thinking now about what stories I might write and photographs I will make when Kate does begin school. I know there are stories that I haven’t told about photos still quietly residing on my hard drive. I imagine that I will compile some of those stories on scrapbook pages. I imagine that I will create more art with my photos, try new techniques and experiment with upcoming trends. Maybe I will find some better approaches for working with those 1970-80s photos of my own children. I am sure that I will continue to develop my skills and style. As a grandmother I know that change will come whether I want it or not. This is part of the reason that I am grappling with creative balance this year, something between artsy pages for the sake of art and pages with family stories for a 2016 book.

Despite my changing focus, I think extractions will remain a characteristic of my style. I love the dimension created with extractions. With all this practice, they are certainly getting much easier and faster for me. So using a two page spread that I’ve just finished, I would like to share another tip for using extractions, specifically an extraction of just part of a photo so that it extends beyond a mask and/or frame.

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I love the look of part of a photo Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.43.12 PMextending beyond a frame as on this page using Anna’s Artsy Layered Template No. 125 and Artsy Layered Template Duopack No. 10. After resizing and clipping a photo to a mask, I duplicated that photo and moved the copy up above the frame. I often extract what I want to keep with the Quick Selection Tool and then click the add layer mask icon to place the selection on a mask. Sometimes, I use the Pen Tool, however for this photo, I simply attached an inverted layer mask to the photo copy and then used a hard round brush to bring back just the part of the photo that I wanted to extend out of the frame. The screen shot of my layer’s panel shows the original photo that I clipped to mask 3 and the duplicated photo (with the word extraction added to the layer name). I placed the duplicate above not only frame 3 but also frame 5 so that Kate’s feet would drop over the frame onto the black and white photo below.

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After I finished extracting her feet using a hard round brush on inverted layer masks, I added a drop shadow to the layers to make the extractions appear more realistic.

 

I actually extracted just part of a photo on both sides of my two page spread. On the left, I created a custom mask for the original photo and then duplicated the photo, placing it above the original masked photo. From the photo copy, I extracted using the Quick Selection Tool just enough from the photo to allow my granddaughter’s feet to dangle over the bridge. I gave the extraction a drop shadow. On the right, I extracted her legs and feet again so that they extended out of the frames. I also gave those extractions a drop shadow. While I used the Quick Selection Tool on the left side, I used an inverted mask and the Brush Tool on the right side.

Whether you use the Pen Tool, Quick Selection Tool or Brush Tool to extract doesn’t really matter as all three are simple techniques when combined with a layer mask for creating partial extractions to extend from a mask or frame. I hope this provides an idea for working with extractions on whatever type of scrapbook pages you create. The full layout screenshot links to this page in Anna’s gallery with a complete list of products used.

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Below are two additional examples of placing a partial extraction above a frame and applying a drop shadow to the extraction. For information on the supplies used on the layout on the left click this link. More information on the layout on the right is available here.

Blending Modes and Levels Adjustment Layers

During the next few weeks, members of Anna’s Creative Team will share ideas for using blend modes on scrapbook pages. I thought that I’d share a quick tip for using a levels adjustment layer and blend modes to change the color of elements, specifically two of the buttons on a page that I created with Anna’s new Tribute Template Album No. 1.

You don’t always need to adjust color with a hue and saturation adjustment layer. In fact, if you only want to darken or lighten an element, the lightness slider in the hue and saturation adjustment panel isn’t the best way to go. I have placed a copy of the original buttons next to the buttons that I adjusted so that you can see the difference made with a quick change in blend mode using a levels adjustment layer.

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To add a levels adjustment layer, click on the element layer that needs adjustment. Press the option (alt) key and click on the add adjustment layer icon. Choose levels from the pop up menu. When the dialogue box comes up, check the box that says “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask”. Before clicking ok, select the blend mode that you want to use from the drop down menu. Which blend mode I choose depends on what my element or photo needs. I don’t generally change the opacity until I see the effect of the blend mode on the layer. These steps are the same whether adding a levels adjustment layer to a button or a photo.

On the left side, I wanted to darkenScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.19.02 PM the yellow button to better match the warmer yellows in my photographs. To do that, I clipped a levels adjustment layer to the button and changed the blend mode to multiply and opacity to 50%.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.21.41 PMOn the right side, the tone was close to my granddaughter’s shirt, but by adding another levels adjustment layer, this time on screen blend mode at 50%, I matched the photo color exactly without adding to my file size.

 

With all the photos on a two page, multi photo spread like this, I like being able to quickly make adjustments to my photos and save file size. I often use levels adjustment layers to lighten and/or add contrast to my photos rather than duplicating the photo layers and changing the blend modes of the new layers. I generally use screen blend mode to lighten photo exposure and soft light or overlay to add contrast to a photo.

This year, I have been wanting to connect the stories of current photos with earlier photos. The photos on these two pages were taken over nine years with at least three different cameras. That can create problems trying to bring unity to a page. I have added at least one levels adjustment layer to all the photos on this layout, once masking out parts of an adjustment layer on multiply blend mode. There’s also an added benefit to using adjustment layers. In addition to being quick and easy, I can always make additional changes to any adjustment layer. Making changes to my photos with levels adjustment layers helped coordinate the different photos on my page without adding to my file size. I hope you’ll try changing blending modes with levels adjustment layers.2016-04-29_ChildrensMuseum

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Influence of Design Principles

I don’t often know how I want a page to look until I begin to play in Photoshop. I know it’s far more efficient to draw a sketch of a page before beginning to create. I don’t. That’s probably because I generally think about the photograph first, it’s orientation and perspective, when I begin to create a scrapbook page. However, just as often, the inspiration for choosing a photo comes from an ArtPlay Palette or .abr brush. That is the case for this page, Perfect Now.

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When I opened up Anna’s new ArtPlay Palette Portiére late yesterday, I knew I wanted to use the transfer with brick and green paint as well as a brush from ArchiTextures No.5. Sometimes, it’s like that, I see a design element and it triggers an idea. That’s when I remembered a photograph of a brick wall surrounding some yellow glass pansies at a Craig M. Smith exhibit in a conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens.

Since my photo had a vertical orientation, I decided that would guide my page design. However, first, I tested out that transfer I wanted to use by placing it in the top left corner and then turned off it’s visibility. Next, I placed the photo on the left and reduced the size to better fit my 12×12 page. With a layer mask, I blended the photo into a solid paper from the ArtPlay Palette before stamping the iron gate brush on a new layer above the photo layers. I think of this brush as a second door suggesting an unknown and/or unconventional meaning to finding art behind doors.

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I turned back on the visibility of the transfer and brought more light into my scene by adding FotoGlow Mix No. 2.

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As I’m working, I think about design principles. In this case I needed to balance the weight of the transfer in the upper left corner. To do that, I added the frames from Artsy Layered Template No. 224 to my layout and adjusted their position to fit my vertical design. I clipped photos to the masks. The textbox is also a part of the template.

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Another design principle I consider when scrapbooking is repetition. By adding a splash of yellow with an artsy stain stamped just above the transfer in the upper left corner, I repeated the color and created a diagonal line of yellow leading the eye across my page. By adding more yellow with a photo below the slide viewer as well as stamping a green stain on a new layer and placing an overlay in the lower right corner, I strengthened that diagonal line of yellow and balanced the weight of the transfer even more.

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Over the foundation that I created for the framed photo with an overlay, brush, texture and slide viewer in the lower right corner, I added a cluster of small elements. Finally, I placed the word art and a beaded thread to finish off my page. I switched out the beaded letters in order to spell “now”.

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So maybe it’s okay that I don’t draw a sketch of my page before beginning to create. While I may not have begun with a clear vision of my final page, what I know about design principles influenced my thinking as I worked on this scrapbook page.

 

Programing My Wacom Tablet’s Function Keys

For those of us who participated in Anna’s class, PenPlay Live, a recurrent question about programing the function keys on a tablet prompted a lot of discussion. Before sharing my own current approach to those function keys, I should begin by saying that I never programed the keys on my older Wacom tablet, the small CTH-480, that I bought late in 2013. I doubt I even looked at the Wacom preference panel more than once or twice over the two years I used the tablet. I simply learned to use the pen with the tablet for extractions and detail work on masks, the task for which I purchased the tablet. However, that changed for me when I bought a small Intuos Pro on sale last November to use with my 15 inch MacBook Pro.

Now, unless I am typing text, I am constantly using my pen and tablet: in Photoshop, Lightroom and the Finder. For me, this tablet and pen are more sensitive than my older tablet although I do not think the tablet’s trackpad is quite as sensitive as my Mac’s trackpad. While some tablets have only four function keys, all tablet preference panels have the same options available for programing the function keys.

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My small Intuos Pro has 6 function keys and a little wheel. Over the last three months, I experimented and programed the keys on my tablet based on what worked for me. I am used to a touch pad; I want that function on my tablet always available. Since I can always turn touch on or off inside the Wacom Desktop Center if needed, I changed the default for the top function key so that it would bring up the Mac’s Launchpad showing all the available apps to open. That function key opening the Launchpad is consistent no matter which program I am in with my tablet.

The screen shot above shows how I programed the six function keys in Photoshop. I go back and forth between Photoshop and Lightroom. I chose to program the second key essentially the same way for both applications. Photoshop takes me back to Lightroom. LightroomFunctionKeysLightroom’s second function key opens a copy of a jpg or original psd file in Photoshop for editing. The four other Photoshop function keys in the screenshot above are keystrokes that require two hands or a long reach if I’m using my keyboard. For example, I have to press shift + option + command + E to create a composite in Photoshop. Since I use this command every time I create a two page spread, I programed that for a function key. The other function keys are all programed with keystrokes that I use frequently. My objective was to program the functions so that I would be able to keep my pen in my right hand. I can access the control, option, shift and command keys with my left hand. My tablet has a wheel which I’ve programed to zoom in and out in Photoshop. For other applications, it scrolls up and down. FinderFunctionKeysFor the finder, I kept the Launchpad function consistent, but programed the other keys to open windows, create new folders, place something in the trash and empty the trash, all requiring both hands on my keyboard. Will this work for someone else, not necessarily. At the moment, it works for me. Each tablet user has to decide what works best for them. I do recommend that everyone open the Wacom Desktop Center to backup and/or restore your preferences to your computer. I was glad I had a preference backup when I updated my driver on Monday. Great class wasn’t it, now I need master all the concepts Anna presented!

Grain or Noise in a Photo?

My photographs often look grainy/noisy whenever I increase my camera’s ISO while maintaining an aperture of f/5.6 and a shutter speed fast enough to capture an active preschooler in a low light situation. As I was placing these two photos on a new blank 24×12 inch document in Photoshop, I thought about that grainy quality. Since my granddaughter was playing with some superhero comic figures in one of the photos, I decided to use a plug-in for Photoshop, Topaz Clean, to give the photos a cartoon or comic effect before I blended them together to create the background for my page.

I liked the effect on the large photos so much that I gave the smaller photos the same effect with the plug-in before clipping them to the small frames included with the template.

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To finish this page, I recolored some of the stains that were also included with the template, added some artsy transfers and elements from ArtPlay Palette Euphoria and created a title with Photoshop’s custom shape tool to mimic the word pieces with which my granddaughter played.

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My page is finished, but I’m still thinking about what more I can do with the settings on my camera to improve the quality of my low light photos. I know my granddaughter is going to want to go back to the museum when she sees the photos on this page.

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