Have you ever looked at a super cool digital scrapbook page, and wondered, “How did they do that?”. I have! I’ve spent half the day looking at something and experimenting in Photoshop, trying to figure out something that I’ve seen on a layout and want to know how to recreate for myself. There are a lot of fun little tricks you can do to spice up your digital artwork. This month, I’ve picked out five of my favorite, go-to tricks. And I’m going to show you how to do them!
1. Cut Outs
Cut outs are pretty popular on layouts, and the good news is that they are pretty simple to do anywhere on your page. There are a couple of different ways to make a cut out in PS, but for this example, I am going to show you how to do it by creating a circle shape (instead of using your marquis tool), so that you can see how to do it with any shape you like (not just circles or squares).
To demonstrate how to do a cut out, let’s take a look a the picture below. We want to cut out a circle from the patterned paper, so that the background layer of paper (and anything else we want under our cut out) will show. Like a window. So, your first step is to create your shape for the cut out.
Next, select that shape with “marching ants” by clicking Command (Mac) or Alt (PC), and then clicking the shape in your Layer Palette.
From the Layer Palette, select the layer that you would like the cut out to be on (this would be the layer that the patterned paper is on). Before you do anything else, make sure you rasterize that layer. Then, simply click your delete key. Now, go to the layer that you created your shape on. Delete that layer. Then, you will see your cut out.
But it looks a little flat, doesn’t it? It just needs a little bit of dimension – it needs a drop shadow for that cut out. To create a realistic looking shadow, you need to select your cut out layer. Double click it from the Layer Palette, and when the Layer Style menu box comes up, select Drop Shadow. Below are the settings I use for most of my cut outs, but you can play around with the settings to get the effect you like.
Once you are satisfied, click OK. And now you have a fun looking cut out layer, that you can add a photo or an embellishment under if you like. I think it looks pretty cool!
2. Pattern & Texture Overlays
I love overlays! Not too long ago, I was afraid of trying them. It sounded like something I would need to know a lot of difficult settings for, but as it turns out, PS makes it so simple to add pattern or texture to an item. Now I do this all the time. I’m going to show you how to add an overlay to a filled, colored layer to give it some texture.
To get started, you need a texture that you like. It can be pretty much anything, but for this example I chose a 12×12 inch piece of crumpled brown paper from my stash. The first step is to create a custom pattern in PS using this piece of paper. Go to your Edit menu, and select Define Pattern.
In the pop-up box, name your pattern and click OK. This saves that piece of pattern as a file in PS.
Next, create a new 12×12 inch document in PS. Use your Paint Bucket Tool to fill your page with any color you like.
From the Layer Palette, double click on your layer so that your Layer Style menu box comes up. Select Pattern Overlay from the items on the left of the Layer Style menu box. Choose Overlay from the Blend Mode drop down box. Opacity can be 100%. Click the arrow next to Pattern, and select the custom pattern you just created a moment ago (it should be the very last item on the list of patterns). You can leave the scale at 100%, and leave the check mark next to Link With Layer. Click OK.
And now you have created colored 12×12 paper with your custom texture overlay! And you don’t have to limit yourself to textures – any pattern (for example, a patterned paper you might have in your stash) can be made into an overlay as well!
3. Stroked Border – With A Pattern
I’m sure you’ve all seen photos with the cute white trim/border around it (or, a stroke, as it’s called in PS). I like to add a stroke to a lot of my photos, and actually to elements too. Did you know, you don’t have to limit yourself to plain colored strokes? You can stroke with a pattern. For this, you’ll need a pattern that you want to use (and either a photo or an element that you want to add stroke to). Refer to the “Pattern & Texture Overlays” that I just showed you how to do if you want to create a custom one, or you can also use any piece of paper from your stash to create a pattern. I created a new custom pattern from a piece of paper that I had. Once you have already created your pattern, you’re ready to begin. Select the item you are adding the stroke to. I’m just adding a stroke to a photo.
From the Layer Palette, double click your layer and when the Layer Style menu box, select Stroke from the items listed left side.
I chose the size to be 30 px, and for position, I chose Inside. You can leave your blend mode at normal, and opacity at 100%. From the Fill Type drop down box, select pattern, and some new options appear. Use the arrow next to Pattern to select your desired pattern, and for scale you can either leave at 100%, or adjust it to your own size preference. Leave the checkmark in the box next to Link With Layer, and click OK. And now you have a patterned stroked border on your item!
4. Doodled Borders
Doodled borders can be pretty fun on a page. You can use them around shapes, photos, ABCs, and pretty much anything else. They are not terribly difficult, although there are a few extra steps, and I’m going to show you them so you can start putting your own doodles around… well, whatever you want to. I’m going to put a doodled border outside of the picture that I just added the patterned stroke to in the previous example.
Select your item with the “marching ants” by clicking Command (Mac) or Alt (PC) and clicking the shape in your layer palette.
Now go to your Layer Palette, and create a new layer.
From the Layer Palette, select the new layer you just created. Then, go to the Select menu, choose Modify and then Expand.
You will get a pop-up menu box, and you can expand by however many pixels you like. I am using 25 pixels.
Click OK, and your “marching ants” have suddenly spread away from your item. Now, you need to stroke this. Go to your Edit menu, and select Stroke.
From the pop-up menu box, you can make the stroke as thin as you like – I just picked 5, and choose a color. You can leave the rest of the settings as they are, and click OK.
Deselect your stroked line by going to the Select menu, and selecting Deselect. See your border? Right now it’s just a straight lined border. We’re going to change that next.
With your stroked border layer selected, go to your Filter menu. Select Distort, and then Wave.
A menu box comes up.
Change your number of generators to 4. Your Type should be Sine. For Wavelength, select a Min. of 25 and a Max. of 100. Amplitude should have a Min. of 25 and a Max. of 50. Scale should have a 5 for Horiz. and 6 for Vert. Make sure Repeat Edge Pixels is selected, and click OK.
And there you have it, a wavy doodle border.
You can play around with the settings (like the stroke thickness for the doodled line, or with the Wave settings) if you want to get a slightly different effect.
5. Create A Digital Stamp/Brush
Creating your own brush is something that you can do easily and use to create your own digital stamps. The last thing I’m going to show you today is how to make your own digital word stamp by creating a custom brush.
To start, just open up a new document in PS. Using your text tool, select your font (note: you can find lots of free fonts online by doing a Google search – and you can even find “distressed” looking fonts to get the more authentic “stamped” look) and type a word.
Now switch to your Move tool.
Go to Edit, and Define Brush Preset.
You will get a pop-up box. Name your brush, and click OK.
Select your Brush Tool, and then go to the Brush Presets Palette. You should find your new custom brush all the way at the end of your loaded brushes.
Select your brush, and then create a new layer from the Layer Palette menu. You now can “stamp” your new brush, or digital stamp, anywhere on your new layer! And, as a side note – creating brushes is not limited to just text – you can use shapes, and much more!
Thanks so much for checking out this month’s tutorial! I hope you had some fun learning some new tricks, and have even more fun playing around and being creative in PS. Happy scrapbooking!