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Elements (PSE)

Last week we talked about Using the Liquify Filter in Photoshop.  Many of you wrote to say that you have not used Photoshop Filters before.  So today let’s look at another filter that can be helpful to you in your scrapbook layouts: the Shear Filter.

The use of paper strips is very popular in layouts.  Here is a beautiful example of this technique:


This layout was created by Cathy (forum name; britnkaysmemaw2), using Tell Me Again, a collaboration between ADB Designs and myself, SnickerdoodleDesigns.

I think Cathy’s layout is perfect as it is, but what if she wanted to put a slight curve to the green paper strip under her photograph, or wanted to add other paper strips with just a slight bend in them?  The Shear Filter can help with that.

The Shear Filter can be found by going to the top Menu Bar and clicking on Filter > Distort > Shear.  The path is the same in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.


In the image below I have opened a paper from Cool Beans.  After placing a blank layer above the paper, I used the Rectangular Marque tool to create a rectangle of my desired width, then filled it with color.


I used the keyboard shortcut Control + D to deselect the rectangle. Alternatively, I could have gone to the top menu bar, and Select > Deselect.

Next, with the rectangle layer active, I followed the path:  Filter > Distort > Shear to bring up this dialogue box:


Here is where the magic happens!  In the grid in the upper left corner, there are 16 boxes, separated by dotted lines.  In the middle is a darker line. Adjusting the positioning of this line, will adjust the curvature of the rectangular strip that you created.  I want just a very slight bend in my strip, so moved the top part of the line only slightly to the left and the bottom part of the line only slightly to the right.  We can see the adjustment that I am making reflected in the view box.  (Be sure that “Wrap Around” is checked, for this technique.)


Once I was satisfied with the curvature on the strip, I clicked OK to commit the change.


Now I have a pretty shape that I can use however I like.  I elected to rotate the shape and clip a paper to it.  I then placed a pre-made Cool Beans Cluster on the shape, and my page was finished in mere minutes.


It’s as simple as that!  I hope you enjoy exploring the Shear Filter this week!

The beautiful cluster in the image above was created by Renee, a member of my Creative Team.  You will find it on our Facebook Page for you to download and enjoy.  If you have “liked” our Page, just click on the FREEBIE tab underneath the Facebook Cover to access the download link.  And if you haven’t “liked” our page yet, just click on the “Like” tab in order to gain access to this and other freebies in the future.


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One of the things that intrigued me most, when I was first learning to use Photoshop, was the Liquify Filter.  If  I didn’t like the way something looked  in a photograph, I could fix it.  A quick tuck here and there, and that not-so-perfect photo could be looking pretty good!

Today I want to share with you how you can make the Liquify Filter work for you when you are creating a layout.

As a designer, it’s sometimes difficult (for me) to make certain choices when designing a kit.  For example, will a straight ribbon be more useful? A curly one?  Perhaps one with a wave?

Let’s look at a straight ribbon today and see what we can do with it, using the Liquify Filter.  By familiarizing ourselves with this Filter, we can make slight changes to elements when we need to.

The Liquify Filter can be located under Filter > Liquify. I have found this to be the case with most versions of Photoshop, as well as Photoshop Elements.  Here is a screen shot from CS6:


I love the straight ribbon pictured below but if I wanted to add a charm to it, it wouldn’t look very realistic, because of the thickness of the ribbon.  So let’s see what the Liquify Filter can do to help.


I clicked on the Ribbon layer to make it active; then went to Filter > Liquify.  A new screen opened.  The Liquify tools are on the left, and with other options on the right.


On the left side, we have the: Forward Warp Tool, Reconstruct, Pucker, Bloat, Push Left, Hand, and Zoom Tools.

Without going into the Advanced Mode, we have 2 choices to make on the right side: Brush Size and Brush Pressure (if using a tablet).

The Forward Warp and Pucker Tools are what I want to look at today.  The Forward Warp Tool pushes pixels in front of your brush, as you nudge them along. Let’s start with that one.

I chose a large brush (1350 pixels), because I would like to create the impression that my ribbon is compressed where I would like to attach the charm. I placed the cursor under the ribbon and gently nudged the ribbon up; then placed the cursor above the ribbon and gently nudged the ribbon down.  I like to take multiple small “passes” at this, so might do this 5 or 6 times, in slow nudges.


This is looking pretty good, but we can make it look better by switching to the Pucker Tool (3rd tool down from the top).

After selecting the Pucker Tool, I placed the cross-hairs right in the middle of the area I wanted more tightly compressed. I left-clicked my mouse button and didn’t let go. The Pucker Tool slowly compressed, or moved the pixels toward the center of the brush tip, until I let go.

If I didn’t like the results, I could click on the Reconstruct Options or Restore All button, to begin again.

Before leaving the Liquify Filter Window, I clicked back on the Forward Warp tool and put a few slight bends in the ribbon in other areas, just for a little more interest.

And here is the realistic-looking  result:


For more fun with the Liquify Filter, experiment with the other Tool options. They can be quite fun!

The paper, ribbon and charm used in this tutorial are included in my newly released Cool Beans personal use kit.

Robyn made a beautiful cluster for you to download today.  You can click HERE or on the image below to download.  If you are wondering how all of these elements go together, be sure to take just a minute to read my Cool Beans product description and take a look at the Tip Cards.


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When deciding upon the name for this blog post,  I just could not resist playing off the song title, ” The Shadow of your Smile,” a beautiful piece that has been recorded by so many fabulous vocalists.  But today I will not be talking about songs, but rather about shadows on Photoshop Styles.

Some Photoshop Styles come with shadows, and some do not. There are reasons to create styles both ways, and it’s truly a designer’s preference.

If you want to use a Photoshop Style that does not have a shadow, if you are using a Style that has a shadow that is not quite what you are looking for, or if you want to create your own custom shadow, you can easily make those changes!

Today I am using Photoshop CS6, but these tips should work in most, if not all, versions of Photoshop. This works well with Photoshop Elements too; although paths may be different depending upon what version you are using.

Let’s start with this example.  I have applied a new style of mine, String Photoshop Styles, to the text and flourish below.    When I created the style, I elected to add a slight shadow to it.



Photoshop users:

  • If you do not see all of the layer style effects visible on your layer, click on the down-pointing arrow to the far right of the layer to expand the effects panel.
  • If you do not want a shadow at all, click on the visibility eyeball near the Drop Shadow effect to turn it off.


  • If you want to adjust the size, color, or other options of the shadow, double-click on the effects panel to open  the Layer Style dialogue box, then make your adjustments in the Structure area.


  •  If you want to create a custom shadow:  As in most things with Photoshop, there are multiple ways to accomplish the same task.  This is my favorite way to add a custom shadow to  an element that has a style applied to it.
    • Expand the Effects panel, and click on the visibility eyeball near the Drop Shadow to turn it off.
    • Create a new blank layer below your element that you wish to create the custom shadow for.


  • Click on the Thumbnail of the element you wish to create your custom shadow for.  This will select the element.  You will see “marching ants” around the element, confirming the element is selected.


  • Click on the Blank Layer that you created to select it.  Go to the top Menu Bar and choose:  Edit > Fill > 50% Gray. Click OK. Click Control + D to deselect your element.  Now you have a “shadow” (the 50% gray) on it’s own layer, ready and waiting for you to manipulate in your favorite way to create your custom shadow. I used the Warp Tool on the shadow of the flourish, pictured below.


For Photoshop Elements users:

  • In PSE you will need to double-click on the “fx” style icon on your layer to open the Style Settings box.
  • If you do not want a drop-shadow, remove the check mark in the Drop Shadow box.
  • If you would like to modify the shadow, you may do so here. You have the option of changing the size, color, distance, and opacity of the Style’s shadow.


  • You may follow the same method, as described above, for creating a 50% gray layer to manipulate.   PSE does not have a Warp tool; however,  Kimberly, of Kimberkatt Scraps, wrote a tutorial “Creating Custom Shadows in Photoshop Elements,” that I’m sure you will find helpful!

Shadows can make or break a layout.  They can be tricky  to get just right.  I hope this tutorial has given you some tools to get started on your journey.

If you prefer not to go through the steps required to get a shadow on it’s own layer, Boop Designs has an Editable Drop Shadow Action available that works perfectly in both CS and PSE.

It’s Labor Day Weekend!  Visit both our Personal and Commercial Use stores where you will be able to choose your favorite kits and tools to practice with, and save while doing it!





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by SnickerdoodleDesigns 23 August 2014
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by SnickerdoodleDesigns 2 August 2014
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by SnickerdoodleDesigns 19 July 2014
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by SnickerdoodleDesigns 5 July 2014

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by SnickerdoodleDesigns 14 June 2014
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Last week we talked about Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash.   Thank you for communicating with us via the Comment Section, which follows each post.  We love hearing your ideas and receiving your input.  Since there were some comments on extracting a designer’s pattern from a set of Styles, let’s explore that a little further […]

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