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Designer Tools & Tips

Many of you have requested a tutorial on Clipping Masks, so let’s take a look at how useful these can be.

I am using Photoshop CS6 for this tutorial, but the same instructions apply in Photoshop Elements as well.

In the image below, I have clipped my text to the brown paper on this Monkey Business border.  Let’s see how I did that.


This particular border is a PSD file.  The white, torn paper is the bottom layer, and the brown paper is the top layer.  I want to clip my text to the top layer, keeping it off of the torn layer,  to create a realistic look.

I’ve turned the white-torn-paper layer off for better visibility.  I created a new blank layer above the brown-paper layer, and typed my text.


Before going any further, I used the Check Spelling feature in Photoshop to make sure I hadn’t made any spelling errors.  (Check Spelling is not available in Photoshop Elements.)  To find this tool in Photoshop:  Edit > Check Spelling. (For more on this feature, read Check Spelling in Photoshop, a previous Studio Blog post.)

Once I was satisfied with my text, I clicked and held down the ALT key, then hovered my cursor in between the text layer and the brown-paper layer. A down-pointing arrow and little square box appeared, indicating that I was about to clip my text to the layer below (brown paper). (In Photoshop Elements, you will see 2 intersecting circles instead of the square box.)


That is exactly what I wanted to do, so I clicked my mouse, and the text was clipped to the brown paper.  Notice that there is a down-pointing arrow on the Text layer now, and the thumbnail is indented to the right.  These are indicators that the Text layer is clipped to the layer below.

In the image below, you will see that the text is now constrained to the brown paper.  I’ve turned the visibility of the white-torn-paper back onto check how the border looks.  It looks great to me.  Now I will just need to turn the Knit layer off, trim the border, save it as a PNG, and it’s ready to be used on my scrapbook pages.


I used this layered border file because I think it easily demonstrates the clipping technique.  However, you do not have to be working with PSD files to utilize clipping masks.

In the image below, you will see that I created a circle using a shape, placed a Monkey Business Knit over the shape, and clipped the Knit to the circle. (I added a slight bevel and drop shadow to the shape – not the knit -  just for effect.)


That’s how easy it is to work with clipping masks!

Credits:  Monkey Business is a brand new collaboration between LouCee Creations and SnickerdoodleDesigns.  You will find Monkey Business in both designer’s stores.  Enjoy Introductory Sale Pricing of 30% off through April 20th, or chose the  entire Collection at a 48% savings – which is your best value!

 And here is a beautiful cluster to help you get started with your own Monkey Business layouts!

monkey cluster_Revised copy 2

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Did you know that you can apply a shadow to a Group in Photoshop? I didn’t for the longest time! Here’s how!

Below is an image showing 2 groups.  Each group contains  letters which spell one word.


(If you are wondering how/why some of the layers have a colored label, read Giving Photoshop Layers a Color Label on our blog.)

I would like to add the same shadow to every layer. Typically I would select the first layer I would like to shadow, hold down the Shift key, then select the last layer I would like to shadow. Doing so would select the first, the last, and all of the layers in-between.  When I next clicked on a drop shadow style, it would be applied to all selected layers.

An alternative way, when you have items in groups, is to just click on the Group Name and click on the style you would like to apply. All of the layers will be shadowed, just as in the above noted manner, but in a simpler, faster way.

In the image below I have selected the Group 1 – Monkey layer, clicked on my shadow style, and the task is complete… without any selecting of layers.


This is just a very quick tip to make applying shadows to multiple items save you a few seconds.  And in the course of the day or a week, saving seconds can definitely add up!

Note: Groups are not available in Photoshop Elements.  Photoshop CS6 was used in the screen shots for this tutorial.

Credits: The alpha in the images above was created by Lou Cee Creations, and will be included in a new collaboration with SnickerdoodleDesigns. Think feisty, think mischievous, think fun!

Sneak Peek

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Last week we explored ways of Adding Shadows to Lace in Photoshop.  Today let’s take a look at how to accomplish this in Photoshop Elements.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using Photoshop Elements 12.

Pictured below is a lace flower template, which has been stylized with a lace style.  (Flower Lace Templates, Set 1, a collaboration between Jilbert’s Bits of Bytes and SnickerdoodleDesigns; Irish Lace Styles by SnickerdoodleDesigns).


As Stash Empress noted in the “Warning, this action is addicting!” forum thread,  PSE does not allow the user to use blending modes on drop shadows that have been applied to an element.  So let’s separate our shadow from our element!  That way we will be able to manipulate the shadow anyway we like.

There are several ways to do this, but let’s look at what I think is the easiest way.

1. Duplicate the lace flower.  You can do this in several ways.

  • Go to File > Duplicate
  • OR with the flower layer selected, click Control + J
  • OR select the flower layer and drag it up to the New Layer icon at the top of the layers panel

(Don’t you love that Photoshop gives us multiple ways to do things?)


2. Click and hold down Control, while clicking on the thumbnail image of the bottom flower.  This will select all of the flower pixels.  You will see marching ants around the parts of the flower, indicating they have been selected.


3.  Click on the Color Picker to choose what color you would like your shadow to be.  Since I am demonstrating this on a gray background for easy visualization, I will choose a gray color a few shades darker than my background.  (Please see last weeks tutorial, Adding Shadows to Lace in Photoshop,  for tips on how to choose shadow colors.)  With medium gray selected as the Foreground Color, go to Edit > Fill Selection.  The Fill Layer dialogue box will open. Select Use: Foreground Color, then click OK.


Turn off the visibility of the top flower, and you will see your “filled” layer.  This is what we will use as our shadow.  Because it is on its own layer, we can manipulate it any way we want.


4.  Select the Move Tool (keyboard shortcut:  Control + V), and nudge that “shadow” layer into the position you would like.  I’ve moved mine a little to the right, and slightly down.


If you would like to play with Blending Modes, now is the time.  Just stay on your “shadow” layer, and cycle thru the Blending Modes at the top of your Layers Panel until you find the look that you like.

The shadow is a little harsh for me, so I applied a Gaussian Blur of 10% to it. (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur), and I lowered the opacity to 75%.  I also linked the lace flower and the lace shadow, so that they would move in tandem with one another when I moved them later.  (To link layers, click and hold Control, select the layers you would like to link, then click on the chain icon to the left of the layer thumbnail images.)


Now your lace flower is ready to use as-is or use in combination with other flower layers.

Check out the “Warning, Using this Action is Addicting!” thread for some AWESOME examples of flowers some of our Forum Members have created using  Jilbert’s Paper Flower Action  and our Irish Lace Flower Template Collection.  (She has this in PSE and CSPS versions!)

Jill’s Paper Flower Action works on all kinds of flower templates.  I just clicked on “Templates” in the CU Store and found multiple flower templates on the first page. There are three pages! So go browse thru all of the pages and see what treasures you can find.  I have a feeling you might find some great sales on them too!

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What happened to my flower?

by Jill Schwegel 18 March 2014
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Unless you’ve been hiding away in some remote cabin without any internet access, you’ve read or seen the results of an action I released last month … the Paper Flower Action. I have been blown away with the response to what started out as a whim and all the excitement it’s generated. And, while there’s […]

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Adding Shadows to Lace in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 15 March 2014
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St. Patricks Day is right around the corner!  In 2011 I visited Ireland and fell in love – with the people, with the beautiful country, and with Irish Lace. Last week I released some Irish Lace products, and I have received multiple emails this week asking me the best way to shadow the lace.  Today […]

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Using the Color Picker in Photoshop Elements

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 4 March 2014
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I usually write tutorials with Photoshop in mind, and add a short paragraph on how to accomplish the same thing in Photoshop Elements. Today I would like to reverse that, and focus on Photoshop Elements (PSE). For the purposes of this tutorial I am using Photoshop Elements 12, but I believe this tip will be […]

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Working with Layer Masks in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 15 February 2014
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Let’s take a look at Photoshop Layer Masks today, and how they can help us in creating our scrapbook pages. To create a Layer Mask, you must start with an open document. Here is a cluster, with all of its layers visible. I have placed my Forever Friends Charm on top of the cluster of […]

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Invert Adjustment Layer in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 8 February 2014
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Today let’s explore the Invert Adjustment Layer option in Photoshop. An Invert Adjustment Layer inverts the colors of a selected layer, causing those colors to become their opposites on the color wheel.  For example, black will become white, white will become black, purple will become green, and red will become purple.  The Invert Adjustment acts […]

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Lock Image Pixels in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 1 February 2014

For the past 2 weeks we have been exploring the “lock” options in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  In case you missed those tutorials, you will find them here:  Lock Options in Photoshop and Lock Transparent Pixels in Photoshop.  Today we will look at the last remaining lock option:  Lock Image Pixels. The Lock options are […]

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Lock Transparent Pixels in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 25 January 2014
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Last week we looked at two of the Lock Options in Photoshop. If you missed that post you can find it here: Lock Options in Photoshop. Today we are going to take a look at the Lock Transparent Pixels option in Photoshop.  This is like magic! The Lock Transparent Pixels option is located at the […]

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