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Designer Tools & Tips

Last week I was asked by someone new to digital scrapbooking if she, as a personal-use scrapbooker, was allowed to purchase commercial-use products.  The answer is a resounding YES!  Commercial-Use (CU) products are very often created with both the designer and the personal-use scrapper in mind.

While, in general, the Terms of Use (TOU) of most commercial-use designers are similar, as with any product, it is always important to consult the individual TOU prior to use.

Today, however,  I would like to focus on the use of commercial-use products for the personal scrapper, specifically overlays, textures, and papers. And even more specifically, using these products with blend modes to stretch your digi-stash in 4 creative ways.

For those of you unfamiliar with Photoshop Blend Modes, or for a refresher, here is a list of our blog tutorials in which we explored different aspects and/or usages of Blend Modes.

Blend Modes – Just what are they?

Using Blend Modes in Photoshop

How to Quickly Change Blend Modes

Using the Screen Blend Mode in Photoshop

Using Blend Modes to Edit your Photos

Working with a Less than Perfect Photo

Transparencies vs Overlays

Adjustment Layers 101

Here are a few brief reminders:

1. Blend Modes are located at the top of the Layers Panel and are accessed by clicking on the down-pointing arrow, which opens a drop-down box. Click on the mode you would like to apply to your image.

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 2. There are 5 groups of Blend Modes.  Each group is separated by a dark dividing line.  Blend mode affects how pixels on two different layers interact with each other.

  • Group 1: Affects the overall darkness of an image
  • Group 2: Affects the overall lightness of an image
  • Group 3: Affects both the lightness and darkness of an image
  • Group 4: Creates inverted affects
  • Group 5: Affects the colors of an image

3. Use the arrow keys to quickly cycle thru Blend Modes.

4. Experiment with opacity levels as well as Blend Modes to get the exact look you are seeking.

Four ways to use Overlays and Textures Creatively

1. Create additional papers for kits you own:

Use any kit paper and increase its versatility by combining it with an overlay of your choice.

Example: Do you love striped paper but the kit you want to use doesn’t have any striped paper in it?  Create one yourself using a striped overlay.

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Use any of your favorite overlays (think stripes, dots, circles, patterns of any type!) in combination with kit papers to expand your options.

2. Add more or different textures to images:

Use Blend Modes to add texture to your papers, embellishments, text, or photographs to create additional interest.

Example:  Many designers include lightly textured Cardstock in their kits.  Cardstock, Krafts, and similar papers are a useful complement to patterned papers.  But what if the overall tone of your layout is grungy and the cardstock is not?  It’s easy to add grungy texture (or any texture) with the use of texture overlays and blend modes.

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Create different artistic effects on your photographs using textures too.  Here is an example of one of the perhaps lesser-used blend modes, Hue, used on a texture, which was placed on a layer above a photograph.

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You could also add a mask to the texture and paint it away from the model in the photograph, leaving the background in neutral tones but putting the color back on the model. This would create that lovely hand-tinted look on the photograph.

3. Use overlays to create entirely different looks to papers you already own.

In the image below, I used the same brown paper from The Long Road Home, placed a Painterly Set 2 paper on a layer above it, and changed the Blend Mode of the Overlay to Color Burn.  Compare how different it looks to the results we got above using the same paper but a different overlay and blend modes.

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Don’t restrict your use of overlays with solid papers though! You can get some great results with a little experimentation!

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4. Easily add folds or creases to your papers using overlays.

Sometimes adding crumples, folds, or creases to papers is just what is needed on a particular layout.

Experiment with blend modes and opacity levels, as always; but also experiment with the positioning of the overlay and paper in relation to each other. Sometimes having the paper in the top layer works beautifully!

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We’ve talked a lot about blend modes over the past months, and I hope that you have had some time to experiment with them.  I  hope today’s examples inspire you to go even further in your experimentation!

If you have been shy about purchasing CU Overlays, Textures, Transparencies, or Papers, now is the time to stock up and and try out some of these techniques.  Visit our CU store, now through February 2nd, to save 50% on these products.

overlay-saleShop by your favorite designer, or go directly to the Overlays and Textures category.  You will find a wide variety of products to choose from!

Credits: Products used in these examples were provided by Jilbert’s Bits of Bytes, JanetB Designs, and SnickerdoodleDesigns.

Links to the mentioned products are:

Tell Me Again PU Kit, Super Stripes Set 1, the Long Road Home PU Kit, Grungy Screens Set 2, Painterly Set 2, Firm Foundation PU Kit, Texture Overlays Mixed Media 1, Whites Crumpled.

 Here’s an overlay sampler for you to experiment with!  Just click on the image to download.

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If you would like to keep this tutorial on your computer for easy reference, you may download a PDF here.

See you next week!

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Adjustment Layers in Photoshop offer us the opportunity to make many creative decisions in our work.  They can be intimidating at first; so today let’s take a look at some basic information about Adjustment Layers.

For the purposes of today’s tutorial I am using Photoshop CC2014. Please check your own Photoshop version to see how these tips work for you (but I’m pretty sure they are the same in most versions).

There are multiple ways to create a new Adjustment Layer:

1. In the Layers Panel, click on the layer to which you would like to add an Adjustment Layer. This will make it the active layer.   Go to the top Menu Bar and click on Image > Adjustments> then, in the pop-out window, select the adjustment layer you would like to apply.

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2. Select the Adjustment you would like to apply from the Adjustment Panel.  If you do not see an Adjustment Panel go to the top Menu Bar and click on Window and check “Adjustments.”  The panel will open in a tab on the right. Hover your mouse over the icons and the name of the Adjustment will appear.

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3. Press and hold the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac). In the Adjustments Panel click on the Adjustment you would like to add.   A window will open, offering several choices.   In the image below you will see that I have chosen to add a Levels adjustment.  Photoshop assigns the name of the Adjustment to the New Layer.   This is my favorite way of adding an Adjustment Level because in the window that opens, we can make several choices which can save us time later.

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  • We can rename our Adjustment Layer if we like.
  • We can also choose a color to apply to the layer in the Layers Panel. This makes it really easy to locate specific layers later.
  • We can set the Blend Mode.
  • We can choose the Opacity of the Adjustment Layer
  • We can also “Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask.”

In the image below you can see that I set my Blend Mode to Multiply and my Opacity level at 55%.   I chose to color code my layer yellow, and by clicking the “Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask” I have constrained the Adjustment Layer so that it will affect only the layer it is clipped to (as opposed to all of the layers beneath the Adjustment layer.)  We know that the Adjustment Layer  (Levels 1) is clipped to the WoodlandWinter-p4 because the Levels layer is indented and also has a down-pointing arrow in front of the Adjustment icon.

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 If you are using Method #1 or #2 to create a new Adjustment Layer, but would like to constrain the effect of the Adjustment to just one  layer, hold down the Alt Key (Win) or Option Key (Mac), and then click on the line separating the adjustment layer from the layer to which you would like it applied.

Once you apply an Adjustment Layer, you can turn on and off the visibility of that layer by clicking on the “eye” icon. This is nice when you would like to compare your “before” and “after” images to see if you would like to keep the Adjustment.

Photoshop Elements users:  Your path to these  options is slightly different:

1.  In the top Menu Bar:  Layer > New Adjustment Layer, then choose the Adjustment you would like to apply.

2. You can add a new Adjustment layer by clicking on the circle (half blue/ half white) at the top of your Layers Panel. A drop-down menu will open with your Adjustment options. Once you make your selection, a Window will open with adjustment options.

Note: In the lower left corner of some Adjustments, there is a small square with a blue down-pointing arrow to the left.  Check that box to constrain your Adjustment to the active layer.  If that box is not checked, the Adjustment will affect not only the active document but also all of the layers below. If the chosen Adjustment does not offer the Clipping option, you can manually apply it by holding down the Alt key and clicking on the line inbetween the two layers you would like clipped together.

I hope this has been helpful for those of you who are beginning to familiarize yourself with Adjustment Layers.

If you would like to keep this tutorial on your computer for easy reference, you may download a PDF here.

If you are a visual learner, you can view this tutorial on SnickerdoodleDesigns YouTube Channel  and on theStudio’s YouTube Channel.

Please head over to YouTube and take a minute to Follow both channels.  Each Channel will have some exclusive videos, so by following both channels, you will be sure not to miss a thing!  Thank you!!

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Blend Modes in Photoshop change the way in which layers interact with one another.

“(The Blending Mode) Screen brightens by lightning the lower layer based on the lightness of the upper layer. The result is always lighter, and makes it a good mode for correcting exposure in photos that are too dark.”  -Sara Froehlich

Let’s look at two practical ways to use the Screen Blend Mode!

Photo Editing:

I took this photo of my grandson, Tyler, and his face was shadowed.

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There are various different ways to fix photos like this, but I like to start with the easiest way to see what kind of result I can get.   I followed this process:

1. Duplicate the original photo.

2. Change the blend mode of the duplicated photo to Screen.

3. The result was good, but a little too strong for my taste.  I reduced the Opacity of the Screen Mode to 76% and was happy.

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Designer Tip:

I find myself using Screen in my design work too.

When I was creating the Woodland Winter Snow Overlays, I found it very difficult to work with small white snow flakes on a transparent background. I placed a layer of black underneath my working layer so I could see what I was doing.

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When I was finished with the design and saved the files in png format, to preserve the transparency, I realized how difficult it was to view the files in my software program.  I did not want to have to open every overlay and place it on my document to see what it looked like; but even more importantly, I didn’t want you to have to do that.

The solution?  Save the white overlays with a black background so they would be easy to view.  All the user would have to do is change the blend mode of the overlay to “Screen”

Do you see anything different about the 2 photos below?

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Left photo: I placed one of my original files (white snow on transparent background) on a layer above the photo.

Right photo:  I placed one of the Snow Overlays with the black background on a layer above the  photo and changed its blend mode to Screen.

The end result is identical.

And I didn’t have to open every overlay to decide which one I wanted. I can easily see them in my software  program.

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Maybe you have some white patterns on transparent backgrounds in your digi-stash and wish they were easier to view?  Just open them, one at a time, place a black background underneath the pattern, merge the documents, and save as a jpg (not a png).  That’s all there is to it!

(Don’t forget, it’s always best to work with a duplicate of your original image.)

Perhaps you are interested in trying the Screen Blend Mode but don’t have the need for snow overlays?  I just released 4 Sets of Grungy Screens which are perfect for adding texture to photographs, embellishments, word art graphics, and backgrounds.   You can find them in my Commercial Use shop here at theStudio as individual sets, or as a value-priced Collection.   Below the product preview is a sample for you to download and experiment with. 

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 Click on the image to download this Grungy Screen to experiment with!

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If you would like to keep this tutorial on your computer for easy reference, you may download a PDF here.

If you are a visual learner, you can view this tutorial on SnickerdoodleDesigns YouTube Channel  and on theStudio’s YouTube Channel.

 Please head over to You Tube and take a minute to Follow both channels.  Each channel will have some exclusive videos, so by following both channels, you will be sure not to miss a thing!  Thank you!!

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How to Create a Soft Lantern Glow

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 3 January 2015
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Several months ago, we talked about Using the Lens Flare Filter in Photoshop to create a light flare in a lantern. Today let’s look at how to create a soft glow, using a brush. Here is a candle holder that is included in my Woodland Winter kit.  Let’s add a lovely soft glow to it. […]

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Combining Smart Objects and the Free Transform Tool

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 27 December 2014
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Last week we looked at Creating Perspective Easily with the Free Transform Tool.   We learned how to apply perspective to a photograph in order to match the perspective of a frame.   It was a manual process, but very easy to do. Back in August we looked at Editing Images on the Fly, Utilizing Smart […]

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Creating Perspective Easily with the Free Transform Tool

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 20 December 2014
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What is perspective, and why is it important to us in digital scrapbooking? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “perspective” in this way: a :  the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically :  representation in a drawing or painting […]

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What is a Smart Object?

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 13 December 2014
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Today let’s take a look at Smart Objects in Photoshop, and how they can help us in our digital layouts and projects. So just what IS a Smart Object? “A Smart Object is a container in which you can embed raster (e.g. PSD, JPEG, TIFF) or vector (e.g. AI, PDF, EPS) image data from another […]

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Customizing Word Art

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 6 December 2014
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I love quotes. I love seeing quotes turned into word art graphics. But sometimes the positioning of the words in the graphic don’t suit my layout.  Have you ever found yourself in the same situation?  Let’s take a look at how easy this is to fix! If you need a refresher on different selection methods, […]

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Text on a Path in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 29 November 2014
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I have been asked by several of you to write a tutorial on how to type text on a path.  I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is! Today I am using Photoshop CC2014. I believe this works similarly in  most versions of Photoshop. The image below shows the text circle we will […]

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PNG vs. ABR files – Which should you use?

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 22 November 2014
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I love Photoshop brushes because they offer so much versatility. Today let’s take a closer look at them. Many designers, when creating brushes (ABR files) will also include the “stamped brushes” in PNG format. So when you purchase a product that comes with both PNG files and ABR files, which should you use?    Let’s look […]

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