Tutorial Tuesday | How to Use Alpha Sheets

Welcome to another edition of Tutorial Tuesday here on The Digital Press blog!

Today, I am going to show you how to use that full-page alpha sheet that comes with some digital products.  If you are not sure what I mean by that, I am referring to the .PNG file that contains ALL of the letters/numbers/punctuation in one place (as opposed to the individual .PNG files you sometimes get for each of those items).

Full alpha sheets are really simple to use, but it just takes a little knowledge of the tricks behind doing so. You’ve probably realized, over time, that if you simply try to click and drag a single letter over to your layout, you will end up getting ALL of the letters. But fear not! I’m here today to help you learn how to easily select and use just the letters/numbers you need.

So, lets get started…

Today, for this tutorial, I am using products by Dawn by Design. She has some lovely alphas to mix and match in your layouts, and many of those alphas include a full-page alpha sheet.

When I open the alpha sheet in Photoshop (PS), it looks like this:

You will notice that this is a .PNG file, which means it has a transparent background and the individual letters arranged across the canvas.

In order to arrange these letters into words on my layout, I will need to first select and copy individual letters. I can either drag the entire alphabet onto my layout and work from there, or I can copy individual letters from the original file and drag them over to my layout one at a time. Either way… in order to grab just ONE letter, first I have to select the letter I want to use. There are many ways to do this, but I will share with you some of the easier ways!

First, you are going to need to know how to use some of your selection tools… so let’s get familiar with the Marquee Tool, the Lasso Tool, and the Magic Wand Tool.

Here is how to use each one.

1. Marquee Tool — this is perhaps the easiest method, as you simply click and drag to draw out a box surrounding the letter you wish to select…

2. Lasso Tool — sometimes the letters are too close together to use the marquee tool easily.  In these instances, the lasso tool works wonders. I prefer to use the polygonal lasso, as I can control where the lines go.  You simply left-click to anchor a line into a point, and then click and drag to draw out a shape around the letter you want to use…

3. Magic Wand Tool — this one is a little trickier because there are more variables to consider, but some people prefer to use it. It is a good tool to use in really ornate (or messy) alphas, as well. To use the magic wand, you want to zoom in a bit on the letter you want to select. Then, using your little wand, click on the letter…

You should see the marching ants form around the letter. If you see marching ants on ALL of the letters, you will need to go up and check the box next to the word contiguous. This constrains the selection to pixels that touch each other…

Whichever method you chose, you should now have your letter selected. At this point, you can simply hit Control-J (or Command-J for Mac users) and it will automatically copy your letter onto a new layer. Now, simply drag that layer over to where you want to place your letter…

Repeat this for each letter you need to use on your layout.

And there you have it! Now you know exactly how to handle those full alpha sheets like a pro!

The beautiful thing with using these full sheets is that instead of having to go back into to your folders and open a new letter file for each letter  you need, you can simply open this one file and select the letters you need as you form your words. This will save you time, and it will save your computer from having to switch back and forth all the time.

And just for fun, here is the layout I made using Dawn’s Sophisticate Kit and San Serif Stamp Alphas, I also used Legacy Templates from Calista’s Stuff…

Now go give it a try, yourself, and show us in the gallery all of your beautiful pages!


Erin is an artsy crafty kind of girl who is currently dabbling in far too many things, but is working hard to enjoy every moment of it, while avoiding the rain, which is difficult due to living in the land of many rains. She is slowly learning to use her smart phone to capture all the fun little bits of life that would otherwise go unremembered in the busy craziness that is raising a family!

Tutorial Tuesday | Creating Photoshop Actions

Welcome to another edition of Tutorial Tuesday here on The Digital Press blog! Today, I am going to talk to you about quickly creating actions in Photoshop — cutting down the time it takes to perform repetitive tasks, and leaving you more time to scrap! If having more time to scrap interests you, creating actions is a really simple answer. They are easy to create — and can be used for simple as well as complex tasks.

First off, you’ll want to create your own Action Set to house all of the bright and shiny new actions you are going to create once you fall in love with actions (and you will!). Creating your own Action Set will allow you to find your actions quickly.

How to Create Your Own Action Set

1.  Start with a blank Photoshop canvas or open up a scrapbook page or photo.

It doesn’t matter what you start out with when you’re creating an Action Set. You just need something open.

2. Open the Action panel

Open the Action panel by clicking Window > Actions.

3.  Click on the icon on the top right of the Actions panel. It looks like 4 lines atop each other.

A pop-up window will appear. Choose “New Set.”

4.  Name your Action Set

A dialog box will appear. Here you will type in the a name for your Action Set (your name perhaps?). Then click OK.

5. That’s it!

And now that you’ve got your action set created… let’s move on to actually creating an action or two…


How to Create an Action

1. Begin with a blank Photoshop window, a photo or a scrapbook page

What you start with is completely up to you and depends what you want your action to do.

TIP | Out of an abundance of caution, I make sure that whatever layout or photo I have open is a copy, or that I’ve saved it before I write my action so that I don’t inadvertently write over my original file.

2. Open the Actions panel

Open the Actions panel by clicking Window > Actions.

3. Now you are going to begin writing your Action

Click the Create New Action button on the bottom of the Actions panel (it looks like a piece of paper with a folded corner). An alternative is to choose New Action from the Actions panel menu.

3. You will now name your Action, choose where it’s going to be saved, and begin recording

  • The name I chose for my sample action was “Save for Web 900px” (the name you choose will obviously depend on the action you are going to create). Examples of actions you may want to write may be to “Save to JPG,” “Save to Web,” “Add guides to a layout,” “Change a photo to black and white,” “Warp a shadow,” “Frame a photo,” etc. You get it… the sky’s the limit!
  • I placed my action in the Action Set I created above — “Barbara’s Actions.”
  • NOTE: there are other options you can choose in this dialog box, but it’s ok to leave them at their defaults, which is what I do.
  • Then, click Record to begin recording your action.

7. Now the fun (recording) begins!

Any steps you take from this point on will be recorded in the Actions panel. Perform all of the commands and operations you want your action to record.

FYI, if you look at the bottom of the Actions panel at this point you will see a Red Dot which indicates that you are recording an action.

RecordButton

8. Stop Recording

When you’ve finished recording all the steps you want included in your action, you can either click the Stop Recording button at the bottom of the Actions panel (it looks like a filled in white square) OR you can choose Stop Recording from the Actions panel menu.

That’s it — the basic “how-to” of recording an action!


So as not to ignore the obvious, let’s go over the steps of how to play/use the action you just recorded!

Play the Action You’ve Just Recorded

1. Have a file open in Photoshop

2. Open the Actions panel.

The Action panel is opened by clicking Window > Actions.

3. Navigate to the action you want to play and hit the PLAY SELECTION button.

The Play Selection button is the right pointing triangle button on the bottom of the Actions panel.

So, what do you think? Recording actions is not so difficult, right? It’s basically just the act of coming up with an idea for an action, naming it, clicking record when you’re ready to start recording, and stopping the recording when you’re done — just like you would on a tape recorder. [NOTE, I  know, I said tape recorder. That’s because I’m old. LOL!]

Enjoy. They sky’s the limit … really! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them here in the comments — or in The Digital Press forums — and I (or one of the many other scrappers in The Digital Press world) will be happy to help you out!

Happy early Thanksgiving everyone!


BarbaraAbout the Author:  Barbara is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She’s a mom to two adult “kids” (an almost 21 year old son and an 18 year old daughter). In her free time (since her kids are adults, like it or not she has plenty of free time) she loves to tell her family’s stories through digital scrapbooking, learn all she can about Photoshop and Lightroom, take photos, travel and hang out with her family. Life is good!

Hybrid How-To | Napkin Rings

Hi, everyone! Kate here, bringing you another edition of our Hybrid How-To series on The Digital Press blog!

Today, I am going to show you how to use your digital scrapbooking stash to make some really cute paper napkin rings. It’s so easy!

Thanksgiving is next week for those of us in the United States, but this would make a fun addition to any table setting. There are so many digital kits to choose from… and you could easily find one that matches the theme of just about any dinner party!

Supplies Needed

–White cardstock paper
–Scissors or a cutting machine (I used a Silhouette)
–Adhesive or fastener of your choice (I used a stapler)
–Photo editing software (such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, etc.)
–Digital scrapbooking kit of your choice (I used Gather by Dunia Designs and Little Lamb & Co., shown below)

Instructions

1. Use your photo editing software to design your rings. I made mine 1.5″ wide and the length of the paper I was using (11″). If you don’t plan on using a cutting machine, my tip is to keep the design really simple so it’s easier to cut by hand…

2. Print and cut. I used a Silhouette for mine because the wreath has a lot of intricate details and the whole inside needed to be cut out…

3. Wrap the long edges together and adhere to form a ring. I used a stapler for this, but you could use double-sided tape, or even glue. Then, you’ll use adhesive (glue dots, tape, etc.) to attach your decorative piece to the ring you’ve created…

4. Once you’re finished, fold the napkins however you like, slip the rings over them, and you’re all finished. They’re ready for your table! So easy, right?

I hope that you have enjoyed this edition of Hybrid How-To, and that you will give this a try and come up with some of your own napkin rings! Don’t forget to visit the CROSSWORD SECTION in The Digital Press forum, and jump into this month’s Hybrid Challenge if you are thinking of trying this project. You can earn points toward discounts & FREEBIES!


Kate About the Author  Kate is on the hybrid team here at The Digital Press. She lives on the Utah/Colorado border with her husband, 5 kids, 10 chickens, and a dog named Gracie. She’s a city-born girl who found she’s really a country girl at heart. She can be found outside, barefoot, and probably in her garden.

Tutorial Tuesday | Frame It Up

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog!

So what are we talking about today? Good old frames.

What comes to your mind when you run across a frame or set of frames in kit? Put a photo within it? Well, yes, that’s what I do too! Mostly. But then… frames can also be so much more, and I am hoping I can illustrate some examples for you today. I am using the term “frames” loosely — the same tips can apply to simple photo borders, etc.

So… let’s dive right in! Here are a few of my favorite ways to use frames while scrapping a page…

1. Doing what it says on the box

Frames, when used correctly, can add so much to a digital layout — just framing your beautiful photos and adding prominence. Take at look at the example shown below; it wouldn’t quite look the same without the white border frame around the photo, would it?

Frames don’t have to just be boring rectangles or square, though. Other shapes work just as well. I experimented with triangular frames in the next example, moving them around to suit my photos (and also splitting one photo between two overlapping frames; more about this later)…

2. Showing off details/key parts of your photo

I am sure you emply a lot of different means to bring out the details in your stories. Sometimes I like to do that by repeating a series of photos, and also highlighting some aspects using frames. In the following example, the different frames (and especially the one with multiple colored arrows) worked really well to show the dynamics between the sisters…

3. Adding dimension & focal points

I love that a frame can be used to add dimension to a layout. One of my favorite techniques is to clip a photo to a mask but use the frame on top of that to selectively show off some part of the photo or generally use it for a ‘cool’ effect. Here are few different examples of this technique…

In that first example, above, I used the “stack” of frames to add dimension to this 100% digital (flat) page. Stacking the frames is a fun way to create that effect. Here’s another example of that…

I love the effect that’s created here, of a stack of framed photos (arranged slightly askew, as though the photos were casually left on a table). It really creates a great dimensional effect with minimal effort, don’t you think?

In the next example, though, I used a combination of a frame and a mask; this helps add a focal point onto the layout and also ensures that the two duplicate photos — one clipped to the paint mask, and other to the frame — are linked so any adjustments are consistent between the two.

4. Using frames as design elements

Frames can also be used as design elements to accessorize your layouts.

In the next example, TDP creative team member Corrin used the frame on top of her cute photo (slightly askew) to draw attention to the photo. And it looks brilliant, doesn’t it? It definitely adds to the fun quotient of this layout…

In the next layout, I have used couple of frames — one for the photo and other just to add layering as well as partially show off the journal card underneath…

And in this next example… loads of frames! Looks like I have gone overboard! …but I love the quirkiness it adds to my layout…

 

5. Frames on pocket pages(?!) Yes! Why not?

So far, we have largely gone through examples of using frames on traditional layouts. But what about pocket pages? Well, they are definitely not out of bounds!

In the next example, I have used some photo borders and a few other frames placed here and there. It definitely adds so much detail to the layout and helps move the eye around — taking in all the different aspects of the story captured…

6. Splitting a photo into multiple frames or putting multiple photos in a frame

You can play around with how you want the photos split — it may be a subtle effect, as in the first layout… or a more dramatic split, as in the second layout…

Hugging-arms-Christmas-Day-2015-copy-for-web

Conversely, sometimes I struggle with cropping my photos just right to match the frame I’m using. Fret not! Creative freedom to the rescue! You may choose to use a photo and a Journal card together in a frame like TDP Creative Team member Anika has done here…

Or you can crop and size multiple photos in one big frame…

So these were just a few tips to enhance your layouts with frames! Hope you found them useful. I think the most important rule to remember is that there are no rules! It’s all about your interpretation, and if it works for you.

I can’t wait to see some of your creative uses for frames — do share your layouts with us in the gallery, and link us up in the comments below this post! As always, happy scrapping!


Profile pic avatar small

About the Author Shivani Sohal is a donner of many alter-egos. A finance professional by day in busy London, she morphs into a seemingly normal mum of two in the evenings and weekends. She is constantly found with her fingers in too many pies and juggling the metaphorical balls. That is living on the edge for her; aided by the two ankle biters and a darling hubby who define the warm and mushy for her. She is ferociously dedicated to memory keeping — almost immune to any nay-sayers (or equally-disruptive crying children or annoying house fires!); keeping her head down and forging ahead at all times.

Tutorial Tuesday | Adding Texture

 

Is your life lacking texture? 😉

Or more specifically… are your digital layouts flat and boring? Or are you finding yourself, on occasion, using digital products that are texture-free (to enable home printing), but you want to use them digitally and you wish they had just a touch of texture?

Well, today I am here on the blog to show you an easy way to add texture to non-textured items (journal cards, papers, elements, etc… any texture-free digital image, really!).

For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be using journal cards to show you the technique… but remember, you can also use this method for texturing items such as digital papers, some flat elements (think: stickers), and even your own photos, if desired!

Here’s the process…

  1. Begin by opening your un-textured journal card in Photoshop (PS)… or similar photo-editing software program.
  2. Select a textured digital paper from your stash that has the texture you would like to replicate on your journal card.
  3. Place the textured paper on the layer above the journal card. Re-position it and re-size it desired.
  4. Next, de-saturate your textured paper (i.e. remove the color / convert it to black and white).
  5. Change the blending mode of the de-saturated textured paper to Soft Light (or Overlay).
  6. Duplicate the textured paper layer (if needed) for more texture… or… you can also decrease the opacity to lessen the texture that’s added.

Want to see this technique in action? Here are just a few examples of the variation you can achieve by using different textured papers…

For the examples you see, above, I used cards from Documenting Everyday Filler Cards and Hello June (both designed by Dunia Designs). Additionally, the textured papers I used are (from top to bottom): Happy Tales Papers by Anita Designs and ninigoesdigi (top row), from BeachyKeen Cardstock Sand by Karla Noel (2nd row), and from Standing Tall by Kim B Designs (3rd and 4th rows).

Here are some extra hints to help you with this technique:

  1. If your journal card becomes too pale after adding the texture… you can either (a) make the texture/overlay layer darker… or (b) try increasing saturation of the base card to restore some of the original color (be careful w/ this 2nd solution, however, to make sure you don’t substantially change the color of the card in a way that no longer matches the rest of the kit you’re using).
  2. Adding texture to a white card can be difficult. Try changing the white slightly to an off-white (or slightly grey) color to enable you to see your desired texture effect.
  3. Similarly, the same difficulties can apply to completely black cards (but less commonly). In these cases, you can slightly lighten the black color of the base card.

I hope this very simple texture technique is helpful for you! Don’t be afraid to try different blending modes to achieve other effects, as well. I can’t wait to see what you can create as you give this new process a try!


AvatarAbout the author  Carolyn lives with her partner and 2 rescue dogs on 5 acres of paradise in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Her camera, along with an assortment of lenses, is never out of sight. When not taking photos, she loves cooking and gardening and, of course, scrapbooking.

Hybrid How-To | Custom Desk Calendars

Hello everyone! It’s Tanya here, and I’m excited to share another Hybrid How-To post here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’m going to show you how to use digital scrapbooking supplies to create adorable desk calendars that are perfect for holiday gifting and more!

Every year since I’ve been hybrid crafting, I have wanted to create a cute desk calendar using digital kits. I’ve been at this for a while now, and so it’s been a long time coming… 😉

The minute I saw Dunia Designs’ new 2018 calendar cards in the shop, I told myself…“That’s it! The time is NOW!” It’s also the perfect time to get started on my Christmas gifts (can you guess what everyone is getting this year?!).

Supplies Needed:

  • Digital kit(s) of your choice (the kits I used are shown in the image, below)
  • Pre-designed calendar cards or pages (optional; you could also make your own while working… I used Dunia’s, linked above)
  • Printer
  • White cardstock (& solid coordinating colors for layering, if desired)
  • Paper trimmer
  • Corner punch
  • Display for your calendar

Here’s a quick peek at the six kits that I chose to use for the first half of the year (based on the fact that I decided to pick a different kit for each month; something that corresponds with that month’s season/theme/holiday/etc.)…

first 6 kits

Additionally, here are the 6 kits I chose to use for the final half of the year…

If you didn’t want to use a different product for each month (and/or you wanted to use fewer kits in total, etc.)… you could simply choose one overall theme and use that for your calendar (using just one kit… or one color scheme… etc.). That’s the fun thing — it’s all up to you, and there are no rules!

Next, after choosing the products to use, it was time for me to begin designing each of my cards. Here’s what the calendar cards looked like before I began embellishing them…

I used Silhouette Studio to create my cards, but you can you any photo editing software.  There is some editing that you can do in other programs that I have not learned to master in Silhouette Studio (for instance, one of those things is shadowing; I’m getting better, but not quite there yet!)…

So, the first step is to drag the calendar and the elements from where you saved them on your computer into the workspace of your software (as shown below). I usually fill my workspace with several elements that I think I might like, that way I don’t have to go back and forth so much later. For the ones you don’t end up using… you can either move them off to the side or delete them…

Once  the elements were available on my workspace, I started dragging them onto each card and positioning them as desired…

Next, I drew a rectangle around the calendar so as to create a border area. As I designed each card, I was able to add digital papers (as backgrounds/borders) to match each month…

This next step may vary from software program to software program… but once I had all of my elements in place, I chose a background paper from the ‘fill paper’ menu in Silhouette…

Here’s a look at all of my finished cards, after I was finished designing them in my software program…

Aren’t these so fun?! I can’t wait to make more! 🙂

After I had finished designing all of the months/cards in my software, I was ready to print. I found that I was able to fit 4 cards/months to a page when printing…

At that point, I used my paper trimmer and cut away the margins. I also used a corner rounder for the corners of the cards…


All cut out and ready to go…

Here are a couple of ways to display the calendar (both are frames; I took the glass out of the black frame)…

After framing the calendar cards, I decided that I might re-size some of my future batches to fit into a 4 x 6 frame (although, I should note that you should always be very careful about re-sizing things to make them bigger than intended.*

Another idea for displaying the calendar is to add a piece of coordinating cardstock paper as a backing to each card, as shown here…

Here’s a look at the same card… one (left) without a cardstock mat behind it, and the other one (right) with a coordinating mat added. It also shows another cute way to display the calendar… a little easel that I found at WalMart in the craft aisle…

Anyway, isn’t this a cute (and quick/easy) project? I can’t wait to make more of these calendars for Christmas gifts! We will be starting a new weekend schedule where I work, and I think I may make each of my co-workers calendars that have the weekends they will be working circled. Oh, the possibilities… can’t wait to get started!

Meanwhile, I cannot believe it’s almost time for Thanksgiving.   Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving to everyone. This is such a wonderful time of the year to reflect on how much we have to be grateful for.

I hope that you have enjoyed this edition of Hybrid How-To, and that you will give this a try and come up with one of your own calendars! Don’t forget to visit the CROSSWORD SECTION in The Digital Press forum, and jump into this month’s Hybrid Challenge if you are thinking of trying this project. You can earn points toward discounts & FREEBIES! I hope that you will join in!

 

*re-sizing digital images downward (to make smaller) is always AOK; re-sizing upward (to make bigger) should always be done carefully and is not usually advised, due to the effect on image quality; print quality can degrade; things can get blurry or pixelated; etc.


Tanya

About the Author  Tanya is a part of the hybrid team here at The Digital Press. She has been hybrid crafting for at least 14 years now, and loves creating and sharing those creations with others. Her all-time favorite tool is her Silhouette Cameo. She has been married for 28 years to her high school sweetheart, Richard and has two sons: Chris, 25 and Chance, 20. She also enjoys crocheting, photography and woodworking.