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Elements (PSE)

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about seasonal photos.  Do you prefer posed photographs or spontaneous ones?  Do you like to creatively edit your photographs with filters, actions, or adjustments?  Today let’s take a look at a simple way to create some dynamic black and white images.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am working in Photoshop CS6.  I will also note the options available for this technique in Photoshop Elements 12. Please check your own software version to see how this tutorial will work for you.

This is a picture of my dog, Riley.  I love the splash of color his Santa hat gives the photo, but let’s see what a black and white photo would look like.


To add a Black and White Layer Adjustment we can:

  • Go to the top Menu Bar:  Image > Adjustments > Black & White
  • OR, go to our Layers Panel, and click on the 4th icon from the left (the circle that is half black and half white)
  • OR, go to the Adjustment Panel and click on the rectangle (2nd row, 3rd from left) that is half black and half white)

Once the Adjustment is applied, we might find ourselves absolutely happy with the image. If that is the case, we can just save the image as we normally would and be done! But Photoshop gives us creative control in the Black and White Adjustment Panel, if we would like to make further adjustments.


This is the result I received from applying just the Black and White Adjustment. It’s not bad, but I would like to see the Santa hat be a little more prominent, not fading into the background as much as it does.


Photoshop offers use some Presets to experiment with, and here is where the fun begins.

  • Try ticking the “Auto” button first to see if you like those results. You might find exactly what you are looking for!
  • Experiment with any of the Presets in drop-down box. Tip: Use the down-pointing arrow on your keyboard to quickly cycle thru the Presets.
  • If you find a Preset that you like, but the effect is too strong for you, experiment with blending modes on the adjustment layer.
  • Experiment with the color sliders for a fully customizable effect.
  • Remember you can combine adjustment layers too. (For example, I also added a Levels Adjustment to the image below.)

Here is the end result I was happiest with:


(Black and White Adjustment Layer; Custom Slider Adjustments; Levels Adjustment)

There is no formula for getting the “right” look for every picture. Each picture will be different.  Experiment with all of the available options to see what works best for your photograph.  If you don’t like the results are you getting, just go back to the Preset drop-down arrow, click on “Default,” and start all over again!

Photoshop Elements Users: The path you will follow is:  (Top Menu Bar)  Enhance >  Convert to Black and White.  You will find “presents,” which Elements refers to as “styles” on the left of the options window, and Color Adjustment Sliders on the right.  Use the Undo or Reset buttons to undo any changes.

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s fun! And that’s all there is to it!

Download the PDF of this tutorial here, and watch the video on YouTube by clicking here or on the image below.


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Are there times when you need to resize multiple layouts to meet particular specifications?  As a designer, perhaps you need to resize Creative Team layouts or images for blog posts?  As a Creative Team Member perhaps you need to resize your work for forums?  As a personal scrapbook artist, do you need to resize your work to upload to print sites?  These are just a few instances where you might wish for a way to resize quickly and efficiently.  There is good news!  Adobe has provided a way for us to do this in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  Let’s take a look at that  process today; but before we get started, here’s some news I hope will be helpful for you.

Going forward, you will be able to download a PDF of our tutorials so that you can keep them on your own computer for easy reference.  You will also be able to watch the tutorial on YouTube, which will be helpful for visual learners (like me!).  Links will be at the bottom of each post. We hope that you will find this helpful!

For today’s tutorial, I am using Creative Cloud 2014.  I tested this in CC2014 and Photoshop Elements 13.  Please check your own software version to see how this works for you.

Let’s look at Photoshop first:

1.  Follow this path:  File > Scripts > Image Processor


Here is a screen capture of what the Image Processor looks like:


2. Select the folder that contains the images you wish to resize.

3. Choose the location where you wish to save the resized images.

4. Choose the size and type of file you would like your resized images to be.

5. You may also choose to run an action on the images if you like.  For simple resizing, I leave this unchecked.

6.  Click RUN and Photoshop does the work for you!

I usually choose to have  my resized images placed in my original folder.  Photoshop will put the resized images in a folder that it names JPEG. This is what that looks like:  (resized images in JPEG folder, in addition to the original images).


In Photoshop Elements, there are just a few differences to note:

1.  The path to locate this option is:   File > Process Multiple Files.

2.  You have the option to rename files if you wish in the “File Naming” section.

3.  Image Size:  If “Constrain Proportions” is checked, you need only enter the width or height.

4.  You can add Quick Fixes (similar to running Actions in Photoshop), and you can also add Labels.

Important Note for Photoshop Elements users: Photoshop Elements will REWRITE over your images if you choose to save the images in the original folder.   Unless you want your original images resized permanently, choose to save the resized images in a different location.

And that’s how easy it is!  I hope you have found this tutorial helpful!

Credit:  The layouts shown in this tutorial are from my creative team, using “Free to Be,” a SnickerdoodleDesigns mini-kit.

Download this tutorial in PDF format.

Watch this tutorial on YouTube.

See you next week!


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Several weeks ago, Su, one of our blog readers commented on a post and mentioned the Stroke Command.  Today let’s take a look at how the Stroke Command works.

The Stroke Command works in conjunction with Selection Tools. In order to place a Stroke around an object, that object must first be selected.

The Stroke Command is located in the top Menu Bar:  Edit > Stroke


Let’s first create a shape, using the Custom Shape Tool.  I have chosen to create a label.  Shapes are created as Smart Objects.  The Stroke Command is not available for Smart Objects, so I needed to rasterize my label.  I did that by right-clicking on the Shape layer and choosing “Rasterize Layer.”


Now I am ready to work with the label.

A common way to use the Stroke Command is to Control + Click on the shape layer icon to select it; go to Edit > Stroke, select the options that we would like to use, and then press OK.    In the image below I selected a bright yellow color and set the Stroke at 25px to get this look.  Now we could go ahead and embellish that in any way we like.


I think this method is the way that most of us are first introduced to the Stroke Command, but let’s look at another way to use it that gives us greater flexibility.

1. Create a selection using any Photoshop tool (shapes, brushes, a drawing tool) or use an embellishment that you  particularly like.  (To select the object, Control + Click on the layer thumbnail).

2. Create a blank layer below your selection: Control + New Layer icon (This will create your layer beneath your active layer, as opposed to above it.) Making sure that your Shape is selected (it will have marching ants around it), click on the blank layer to make it the active layer.

3. Edit > Stroke

4. The Stroke dialogue box will open.  Choose your preferred Stroke width and color.

5. Choose whether you want the Stroke on the Inside, Center, or Outside of your selection. (Tip: When working with an object that has points, choosing Inside will result in nice sharp points, while Center and especially Outside will result in blunted points.  I used Center in the above above, and Inside in the image below for your reference.)

6.  You may also set Blending Modes and Opacity levels here if you wish.

7.  The Preserve Transparency check box will not be enabled if there are no transparent areas in your image.  If you do have transparent areas in your image, check this box to protect those areas.

8. Click OK.

You should now see the Stroke on its own layer.  Don’t forget – if you put the Stroke on the Inside of the Shape as I did, you won’t be able to see it until you move the Stroke layer on top of the Shape layer.  If you put the Stroke on the Center or Outside, it will be visible immediately.


Because the Stroke is on its own layer,  you now have a lot of versatility.  You can save your Shape and Stroke as a template, and easily change colors as needed.  You can clip a paper to the Shape, and clip a different paper to the Stroke – or leave it a color, if you like.  Try applying a Photoshop Style to Stroke (maybe a glitter, to give the Shape a nice look), or Bevel or Emboss the Stroke for a different look.  You can make the Shape invisible, and use the Stroke only as a unique element.  This would be fun to do with a font, creating a unique title on your scrapbook page. You could even apply a Stroke to your Stroke if you wanted to!

To create the look below, I followed these steps:

1. Turn the visibility of the Shape off.

2. Select the Stroke that was previously created (see above).

3. Apply a 10 px white Stroke with the Center option chosen to the yellow Stroke.

4. Apply a slight drop shadow to the Stroke.

5. Control + click on the Shape thumbnail, still keeping the Shape itself invisible.

6. Click on the Background paper (in this image it is labeled “Layer O”) to make it the active layer.

7. Control + J to duplicate the part of the background.  This duplicate will be in the shape of your selection.

8. Change the blend mode of the duplicated background piece to Overlay.

9. Include text on your Shape as you like.


And that’s how easy it is to get creative with the Stroke Command!  I hope this tutorial has given you some new ideas on how to use this versatile tool!

For the purposes of this tutorial, I have been using Photoshop CS6. These options are also available in Photoshop Elements 12, and most likely previous versions as well.

The paper used in this tutorial is from Misty Autumn, a collaboration between Fancy Bird Design and SnickerdoodleDesigns.  Today, Monday, November 3rd, is the last day the Misty Autumn Page Kit will be offered at a savings of 50%, in celebration of Digital Scrapbooking Day. The Misty Autumn Collection, however, is always available at a 60% savings.

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