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Elements (PSE)

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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Good morning!  Today I would like to share with you how easy it is to create your own inspirational stones!

Last week, I released Rocky Mountain Dreams, a personal-use scrapbook kit.


One of the kit extras was Inspirational Stones.


As I was choosing which words I wanted to use for this project, I kept thinking that the words which were important for me to use might not be the words that YOU want for your own scrapbook pages.  So I went out into my yard, found some of the most interesting stones I could find, photographed, extracted them, and put together 3 sets of Stones.

Using the Stones in combination with my (or any) Imprint Styles will allow you to create stones to personalize your scrapbook layouts, or make unique elements for scrapbook kits.  (These products are CU friendly, in case you are a designer.)



Stones are available as individual products, (Stones, Set 1, Set 2, Set 3) but are also offered as a Collection with the Imprint Styles as a free bonus.

Okay, now let’s get to work! I am going to assume that you are familiar with getting Styles loaded or installed into Photoshop.  If you would like a refresher, here are 2 previous tutorials that will help:

How to Load Photoshop Styles

How to Load Photoshop Styles in Photoshop Elements  

Here is a stone from Set 2 (stone 7), with a layer of text on top of it.  It doesn’t matter what color text you use, as it will not be detectable after you apply the Imprint Style to it.


Here is a copy of my Styles Panel, with the Imprint Styles outlined in red for you to see:


There are 15 Styles available for you to choose from.  The fun part is simply applying each style to your chosen text to see what works best with the color stone you are using, the font you are using, and the look you are going for.

I have applied 4 different Styles to the word “explore.”


I like the first style best on this stone color, so let’s work with that one (Style #11).

You have 2 method options now:

Method #1:

1. Rasterize your text (right-click on the Text layer and choose Rasterize Type).  (PSE users will “simplify” their text.)

2.  Right-click on either your Text or Stone layer and select Merge Visible (assuming these are the only 2 layers on your document). That’s it. You’re finished!



Method 2 (and my preferred method because it offers more flexibility):

1. Rasterize your text (right-click on the Text layer and choose Rasterize Type).  (Again, PSE users will “simplify” their text.)

2. Rasterize the Imprint Style that has been applied to your text.  This will merge all of the effects.  To do this, right click  on your Text layer and choose “Rasterize Layer Style.”

3.  Having a rasterized text file to work with will give you increased flexibility as you search for the perfect look for your Stone. It will allow you to play with Blending Modes and Opacity Levels of the text layer, as well as duplicate that layer if you like for even more blending/opacity options.

In the image below, I duplicated the flattened text layer and changed the blending mode of the duplicated layer to Linear Dodge. I like how it gave a lighter edge to the left of the letters.  I’m happy with either of these results.

If I wanted to, I could duplicate the text layer yet another time for even more options, such as applying a 2nd Imprint Style to just that one duplicated layer.



Method 2 is really important when using lighter colored stones. In the image below, you will see 2 samples.  In the top sample, I have created the stone using Option #1. When the Style is rasterized, due to the nature of the style, you will see the gray tint in it. On darker stones, we don’t notice that; on lighter stones, we do.

In the bottom sample, I created the stone using Method #2.  Because I had a rasterized text layer on it’s own layer, I could change the blend mode of the Text to Overlay – which looks better on the light colored Stones.


I absolutely love this layout created by Norma, a member of my Creative Team, and also a member of the Studio CT.  She did use a Rocky Mountain Dreams Inspirational Stone – but if that stone hadn’t been perfect for her layout, she would have been able to create her own!


The key – and the fun – is just to experiment until you are happy with your results!

Here is a stone to add to your own stash! I hope you find the perfect layout for it.  Just click on the image below to download!


(For the purposes of this tutorial I was using Adobe Photoshop CS6; however, this technique also works in Photoshop Elements.)

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Last week we looked at 3 ways to make selections in Photoshop, using the Lasso Marquee, the Magnetic Lasso, and the Polygonal Lasso Tools.  If you missed that tutorial, you will find it here:  Making Selections in Photoshop, Part 1. This week we will look at 3 additional ways to make selections using Quick Selection, the Magic Wand, and Color Range.  Let’s get started!

Today I am working in CS6, and am using a photograph of my own.

The Quick Selection and Magic Wand Tools are nested together on the Toolbar, in the 4th grouping from the top.



QUICK SELECTION TOOL:  This tool creates a selection by finding the edges of an image, as you paint on it loosely. (There is no need to be super careful about going right up to the edges of the object you want to select.)

  •  Click on the Quick Selection Tool to activate it.
  • Use the selection options in the top Options bar to Create New, Add to, Subtract From, and/or Intersect selections.  (We covered these options in The Marquee Tools in Photoshop, Part 1.).
  • Click on the Brush options to choose your brush size, hardness, spacing and angle (also Pen Pressure if you use a tablet).  Experiment with different options to see what works best for what you are trying to select.
  • Checking “Sample All Layers” will do just what it says – create the same selection from all of the layers below the layer you are working with.
  • Checking “Auto-Enhance” will reduce any jaggies on your selection.
  • Paint in your image with the Quick Selection Tool to make your selection.

I used a size of 53, hardness 100, and spacing of 70 to create the selection you see below by just painting over the yellow part of the flower. The selection tool did a really good job; however, there is one small area in between 2 petals that didn’t get selected, and part of the ladybug did get selected (which I didn’t want to happen).


I decreased the size of my brush to 20, selected the “Subtract From” option in the Options Bar, and gently nudged the selection line on the blue part of the image toward the yellow flower.  The selection snapped to the edge of the flower.  I did the same with the lady bug to deselect it.


MAGIC WAND TOOL:  This tool creates a selection based on the differences in brightness value within an image. When we choose to use the Magic Wand Tool, we have some additional choices to make in the Options Bar.


  • Click on the Magic Wand Tool to make it active.
  • Make any “Add to,” “Subtract From,” or “Intersect With” choices in the top Options bar.
  • Next we are able to choose our Sample Size. I believe this is new to CS6. When we choose a Point Sample and click on our image, Photoshop will find all of the colors in the image that correspond to the color in the Point where we clicked.  When we choose a 100 by 100 Average sample, for example, Photoshop will include in the resulting selection all of the colors in the image that are contained within the 100 by 100 sample area.


  • Next we can choose our Tolerance.  The default Tolerance level is 32. This generally works well.  We can change the tolerance value, which ranges from 0 to 255, as we wish.  The higher the value, the more variations of your point sample will be “tolerated.”  In the sample below I clicked where the red “X” is located, and you can see the differences between the lower and higher tolerance values.


I have played around with both options of Sample Size and Tolerance, and sometimes like the results that one tool gives better than another.   My suggestion is to just play around with both options on your image and see what works best for you and what you are trying to select.

  • Again, we have the option of checking the Anti-alias box (which I recommend doing).
  • We also have the option of choosing “Contiguous” in the Options Bar.  Checking Contiguous will tell Photoshop to select only adjacent pixels.  In the images below I clicked in the darkest part of the sunflower.
  • As with the Quick Selection Tool, we can also choose to Sample All layers.


COLOR RANGE: Making selections by Color Range is one of my favorite ways of doing so.  The particular method I will explore here is not available in Photoshop Elements, like the Magic Wand and Quick Selections Tools are; however, there is a work-around that I will share with you at the end of this tutorial.

  • In Photoshop, to make a selection using Color Range, we  need to go to Select > Color Range


  • Once we do that, the Color Range dialogue box opens.  Here is where the magic happens!


  • In the “Select” box, we can use Sampled Colors (the colors we click on), or we can access the drop-down menu and choose specific colors, highlights, midtones, shadows, skin tones, and even out-of-gamut colors.
  • If we check the Localized Color Clusters box, our resulting selection will be constrained to the color that we clicked on.
  • The Fuzziness slider increases or decreases the color values, or the amount of “color variation” of the color that we click on.  The selection that is made is reflected in the black and white image below the Range slider.
  • The Range slider allows you to choose more or less of the image that is to be sampled.  The higher the value, the more of the image is included.

In the image below, I have clicked on the brown center of the flower, and set the Fuzziness to 77%.


What we see reflected in the black and white selection area, will tell us what is being selected.  The white part is the selection.  Here is the resulting selection, as shown on the photograph:


The dark brown that I clicked on is selected; but I want to include some of the lighter shades of brown also.  I decreased the Fuzziness to 49, and that looks much better.


However, the selection still isn’t what I am looking for though. I want to select all of that brown.  I can do that by clicking on the eyedropper with the plus sign next to it, and then clicking on the image again, in one of the lighter brown spots.  (Alternatively, I can click in the black and white selection box as well, if I know exactly what parts of the image I wish to include in the selection.) This selection is a lot better, as you can see reflected in the black and white box image box.


Because we added more color to our selection, we picked up some brown to the right of the image.  We don’t want that, and there’s an easy fix for it.

Go ahead and choose Okay to create your selection.  You will see marching ants on your image indicating what part of the image has been selected.  Let’s make the assumption that you want to change the color of your selection.  Click on the Hue/Saturation Adjustment icon in your Adjustments Panel to add a new adjustment layer.

Now look at the layer mask. The white “smears” to the right of the mask indicate the part of the selection that we don’t want.   To remove those:  select a soft  brush, click on the mask to make it active, then paint white on the mask to remove the part of the selection you don’t want affected with your Hue/Saturation adjustment. Once you are satisfied, go ahead and double-click on the little rectangular grey and white box to the left of the mask to make your Hue/Saturation adjustment level active, and then make the color adjustments that you want to make.  (Alternatively, you can make the adjustments first, and then paint away, on the mask, the parts that you don’t want.)


Using the Color Range Tools take a little practice, but can be extremely effective in making accurate selections.  But as with all tools, some work better than others, depending upon what image you start with, and what your goal is.  The key is…. experiment! And if one method isn’t giving you what you want, try another!  The more tools we have in our arsenal, the better selections we will be able to make!

This has been a very long tutorial.  Thank you for staying with me, if you’ve made it this far!

Disclaimer:  This is by no means meant to be an all-inclusive or comprehensive tutorial on selection tools.  It is, however, written with the hope that the information presented here will spark your interest in a selection method you may have not considered before, or has created in you the desire to learn more about the tools that you already use.

Photoshop Elements Users:  There is a work-around for working with Color Range in Photoshop Elements.  The path is:  Enhance > Adjust Color > Replace Color.  Here is a YouTube video by Jon-Paul Jones that I hope you will find helpful.

See you next week!

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Making Selections in Photoshop, Part 1

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 2 August 2014
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Over the past few weeks, we have been talking about creating selections using the Rectangular Marquee and Elliptical Tools.  In general,  Photoshop offers us multiple ways to accomplish the same goals, and so it comes as no surprise that other tools are available for us to utilize when we are making selections.  Other selection Tools […]

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The Marquee Tools in Photoshop, Part 2

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 26 July 2014
Thumbnail image for The Marquee Tools in Photoshop, Part 2

Last week we looked at a few features of the Marquee Tools.  In case you missed “The Marquee Tools in Photoshop, Part 1,” you will find it HERE. In the image below, I have the Elliptical Marquee Tool selected. Because I have a Marquee Tool selected, options associated with the Marquee Tools are now available […]

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The Marquee Tools in Photoshop, Part 1

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 19 July 2014
Thumbnail image for The Marquee Tools in Photoshop, Part 1

This week I was asked by a new digital scrapbooking enthusiast to explain the Marquee Tools in Photoshop.  Those of us who have been using Photoshop for any length of time use these tools routinely and, most likely, without much thought.  But as I reflected upon my beginning experience with Photoshop, I recall being confused […]

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Creating your own Style Strip for Photoshop Layer Styles

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 5 July 2014

For the past few weeks, we have been looking at Photoshop Styles.  Here are links to past tutorials, in case you missed one: Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash Exploring Patterns in Photoshop Styles Adjusting the Pattern Size in Photoshop Styles Many of you have written to tell me that you like that I include, […]

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Exploring Patterns in Photoshop Styles

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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Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 7 June 2014
Thumbnail image for Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash

I’m a big fan of Photoshop Styles.  I love to create them, use them, and try to convince everyone I know that they’re one of the best Photoshop tools there is!  Today I will show you how you can get some extra mileage out of any Styles you already own, and how to look at […]

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Using Blend Modes in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 31 May 2014

Using Blend Modes in Photoshop gives us many options for creativity.  Blend modes change how two layers interact with one another.  Results depend upon many factors….. which can make using blend modes (somewhat) unpredictable but fun! For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using Photoshop CS6.  The Blend Mode option is located at the […]

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