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Elements (PSE)

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 by the different options that are available once a Marquee Tool is selected.  So let’s take a look at what Photoshop offers us with this simple but powerful tool. Hopefully, this will be a reminder for frequent PS users, and helpful for new users.

For the purposes of this tutorial I am using Photoshop CS6; however, what I will cover today should be the same in all versions of CS and most, if not all, versions of Photoshop Elements (PSE).  (Please note that PSE does not offer the Single Row or the Single Column Marquee Tool.)

The Marquee Tools are located in the vertical tool bar.  Notice the small black triangle in the lower right corner of the tool icon, which indicates that this is a grouping of similar tools.  We can click on or hover over the triangle to see what tools are available within a group.  Once a specific tool is selected, its icon will be reflected in the toolbar.  That icon will change when another Marquee Tool is selected. In the image below, you will see that the last Marquee Tool I used was the Elliptical Marquee.  You will know that because the Elliptical Marquee Tool icon is visible in the toolbar.  You will also note that with the Marquee Tool Group (in CS), there are 4 Marquee Tools available:  Rectangular, Elliptical, Single Row, and Single Column.


To use a Marquee Tool after it is chosen, you simply need to click on an open document, and while holding the mouse button down, drag out the shape you would like to have as a selection.  Once the selection is made, release the mouse, and you will see “marching ants,” which indicate the area that has become a selection.


When using the Rectangular and Elliptical Tools, we are not constrained to any particular size.  We can create the height and/or width of our selection according to our needs.

However, if you would like to constrain the proportions of your Rectangular or Elliptical selections, there’s an easy way to do it.  Once you have selected the tool you wish to use, click on your document.  While holding your mouse button down, depress and  hold down Shift + Alt at the same time.  Drag out your shape, then release all keys and mouse button. (Be sure to click on the document first, before clicking/holding Shift + Alt, or this will not work.)


The Single Row and the Single Column Marquee Tools will give you a selection, just one pixel in width. Personally, I rarely use either of these Tools.

Now let’s take a look at the options we have in the top Options Bar.  We can add to, subtract from, or intersect our selections. This is what I recall was most confusing for me as a new Photoshop user.


The first icon in the red circle above indicates a New Selection.  When we hover over the second icon, we see that the description is “Add to selection.”  To use this option, create your first selection; next click on the “Add to selection” icon; then click on your working document and drag out your second selection (overlapping your selections). Once you release the mouse, after making your second selection, the two selections will be joined.  Here’s an example:


The same principle is true of the next option, which is “Subtract from selection.”  If we had chosen that option in the above example, the result would look like this:


The final option is “Intersect with selection,” and the result of choosing that option would look like this (the portion of the circles that overlapped, or intersected, becoming the active selection):


Using the options in the Options Bar can be really helpful to create specific or unusual shapes. It is also helpful if you create a section and then decide to add to or subtract from it.  Rather than deselecting, and starting all over, just choose the add-to or subtract-from options and finish your selection.

In the image below, I missed selecting the elf’s foot, so I would chose the “add to selection” to select it and make the selection of my elf complete.


There are a few other choices we can make in the Options Bar, and we will cover those next week.  I hope this tutorial has been helpful for those who are new to Photoshop, and a good review for those of us who have been using Photoshop for a while.

Credit: The elf in the image above is from Holiday Hoopla, a collaboration between Kimberkatt Scraps and SnickerdoodleDesigns.  Visit theStudio’s Christmas  in July category to pick up this and other Christmas kits at a savings of 50% thru July 31st!

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For the past few weeks, we have been looking at Photoshop Styles.  Here are links to past tutorials, in case you missed one:

Many of you have written to tell me that you like that I include, what I call, Style Strips in my Styles products.  Many of you have also asked how to make your own Style Strips for Styles you own or ones that purchase from other designers.  It’s very simple to do.  Here’s how:

1. Here is a template that I created for my Style Strips.  There are 6 squares, and each square is on it’s own layer.  You can make your own template with as many or as few squares as you like, or you may download my template for your use at the bottom of this post.


2. Load or install the Photoshop Style that you wish to create a Strip for.

3. Go back to the template and replace the name of each layer (in my preview named “Product Name”) with the name of the Style you wish to create the Style Strip for.

4. With the first layer in the template selected, click on the first Style that is in the Style set you are using. In the image below, you will see that I am creating a Style Strip for my Leather Styles-Set 1, so I have changed the names of my layers to reflect that information.   I have also applied the first Style in this Style Set to the first square.


5.  To complete the Strip, I would just need to click on the next layer (SD_LeatherSet1-2) to make it active, then click on the Leather-Set1-2 Style in the Styles Panel to apply it to the 2nd rectangle (that is on the 2nd layer); then click on Layer 3, and so on.


6.  Once the Strip has been completed, save as a PSD or TIFF, and file it in your choice of places.  I like to keep my Style Strips together with everything else that goes with that product (.asl file, tutorials, and such).

Note:  If you are creating a Strip that has more than 6 Styles in it:  1. Create a new document (size dependent upon how much space you need); drag the original template onto the new document; duplicate the number of layers (squares) that you need; create your Style Strip; crop the transparent pixels on your new document; and save as noted above.

Using Style Strips is helpful when you don’t want to load or install Styles. Just open the PSD (or TIFF, depending upon how the Strip is saved), right click on layer of the Style you want to use and choose the “Copy Layer Style” option.  Right click on the layer you wish to apply the Style to and choose “Apply Layer Style.”  Using Style Strips is especially helpful for those who have Photoshop Elements versions that do not allow “loading” of Styles.

I hope this little trick makes working with Styles easy and convenient for you!

Download my template here, or click on the image below, if you would like to use it.




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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 today.

The pattern of a Style, is in part, what creates the personality of the Style.  There are a lot of other choices a designer will make when creating a Style (such as Bevel and Emboss, and so forth), but the pattern itself, in general, is what first catches our attention.  Here are some examples of what I mean:


Here we see Stratified Rock, Marble, Chipboard, Leather, Rusted Metal and Snow & Ice patterns.

They all are very different, and we would select one of them for use, based on the pattern that we see.

The pattern size itself can vary within a Style.  Some designers create their Style patterns at 600×600, some at 900×900, for example, or various other sizes.  There is no “right” or “wrong” size for a Style pattern.  It is simply a creative choice.

We can turn off all of the designer choices for the style, leaving only the pattern visible and available for our use. This can be helpful in some situations. (For one specific example, please refer back to Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash.)


One suggestion offered by a reader last week was to  create a new document, fill it with the pattern, and save that document as a jpg, to create a Style Sheet.  Or alternatively to define the new document as a Photoshop pattern and save it for later use.  Here are a few points to remember, when choosing to do that.

In order to see the full pattern, and no more than the full pattern, we need to know the size that the pattern was created.  If we hover our mouse over the pattern file inside the Styles Panel, we will be able to see the size of the pattern.

In the image below, you can see that my Stratified Rock pattern is 1024 x 1024.


That means, in order for me to see the full pattern, and no more than the full pattern,  I would need to create a 1024 x 1024 document and apply the style to it.

Here is what that would look like at 1024 x 1024, with all of the options invisible, with the exception of the pattern:


 Now let’s Fill a 3600 x 3600 paper with the pattern (Edit > Fill > Pattern):


Not very pretty is it?  Why does it look so different at this size?  Because the pattern size is 1024 x 1024, so it must repeat itself to fill up the 3600 x 3600 document.   In the image below, I have isolated the 1024 x 1024 pattern by applying a black stroke around the pattern, for a visual reference.


I think there is value in using the above document when clipping to a line-art, as demonstrated in last week’s blog post, but the same thing can be accomplished when applying the style to your line art or embellishment and turning off the options you don’t want to include, as demonstrated in Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash.

Some digital scrappers, however, prefer to use Style Sheets, rather than Styles.   For this reason, many designers will include Style Sheets in their Styles packages.  If you prefer to use jpgs instead of Styles in your work, and a designer hasn’t included Style Sheets, you can create your own Style Sheets as described above. However, if you do, please be sure to read the Designer’s Terms of Use.  Extraction of the pattern might be a violation of their terms.  Here is, in part, one of the TOU’s that came with a Style that I, myself, purchased for my own use:

“The Buyer shall not copy, modify, reverse compile, or reverse engineer the Product…. ”

It would be very easy to create a Style Sheet for your own personal use, but, in time, forget it actually was an extracted pattern from a Designer’s Style.    This would be a concern when using the pattern in a layout or project, which required proper designer credit (for example online or in a printed publication).

The safest course of action, always, is to ask a designer if you have any doubts at all about their Terms of Use.

If you prefer to simply use the Style as it came, but modify it to your needs, you can easily do that by scaling the pattern in the Styles panel.  We’ll talk about that next week!

P.S.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I used my own Styles as an example, simply because it was easier for me to do so.  Please visit our Commercial Use store to view the 446 Photoshop Styles we have for your designing pleasure, all created by our talented Studio designers!

I have some new Stratified Overlays in my CU shop.  These Overlays are sister companions to the Stratified Rock Styles.  You may download a Sample Overlay here.




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