Tutorial Tuesday | Brightening Dark or Dull Photos

Have you ever just been browsing through the gallery and seen a page that really just POPPED right out at you? More often than not, that page popped like that because of a gorgeous photograph that the scrapper used. Photographs, and I mean really good photographs, can really make even the most simple page shine!

I hear scrappers comment “Well, I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t have time to learn, so I just use whatever photos I have!” Believe me when I say, “I GET THAT!”  Life is crazy!  At least I know mine is, and I don’t want to spend hours tweaking every single photo I put into our memory books either.

But what if I told you that you could tweak most photos, even the photos you take on your phone, just a little, and improve their appeal incredibly?  Would you be interested to learn how?

Here at The Digital Press we are starting a simple Tutorial Tuesday Series entitled Quick Photo Fixes.  Little tips and tricks to help you step up your everyday photos quickly and easily, so they shine on your layouts and even make those layouts pop right out of the galleries.

Today I want to start with something simple – brightening dark/dull photos.  We all have photos that we took (often with our phone) that are just too dark and drab feeling.  Sometimes they are WAY too dark and you can barely make out the subject matter, but a lot of the time photos are just dark enough to look muddy and dull. They are still usable, but they don’t say WOW! Today I want to show you three simple ways you can brighten those photos and make them stand out just a bit more.

Now, before we start, I want to say that in the world of photography, how under or over exposed a photo is has really become a very personal and artistic thing.  Some photographers swear by certain levels and others just go with what makes them happy.

Here are two different portraits taken from a popular photography site – both are beautiful, and tell their story well, but have different levels of brightness/exposure and so create a different feel.

Since we are working on photos to use in our family memory keeping, I want you to feel free to go with whatever level of brightness makes you happy or fits the mood of your layout.  I personally tend to lean towards brighter, lighter photos with lots of contrast, and sometimes get told mine are “overexposed.” But that is OK with me, because I like the way they feel.  Unless you are a professional photographer and make a living on other people’s desires and opinions, don’t let other people’s aesthetics make you doubt yourself. These are your memories, you make them as bright and happy as you want!

Now, for the fun stuff.

These days I find I am taking a lot of photos with my phone, mostly because my favorite DSLR is starting to die on me and I can’t face the pain of admitting that. But also because I almost always have my phone with me, but my big bulky camera, not so much.  Camera phones really have come a long way, but I find mine still tends to struggle with getting the brightness levels right – especially when we are indoors, and I currently live in the Pacific Northwest where rainy season has taken on a new meaning – even for this Southeast Asian Tropical family – so most days we are inside.

However, I have found that most of the time I can correct the dark drab look of my photos, through one of these three different methods.


The quickest and easiest method is to play with the Brightness and Contrast.  Granted, this won’t always do the trick, but it is a good place to start if you are new to photo editing or get overwhelmed in PS or PSE when playing around with photos.  It is pretty quick and simple, but it will still make a lovely difference in your photo.

Take this photo for example.

I took this photo of my daughter in a little shop outside a Thai village up in the mountains somewhere.  It was the middle of the day, very hot, very bright outside, but there was no lighting inside the shop except what came through the windows. That made the shop nice and cool, but it also meant that my photos ended up pretty dark.

To correct this, I opened up the brightness/contrast control panel.  You can find it under Image>Ajustments>Brightness/Contrast.

That will open up this little box with sliders for both brightness and contrast.

I brightened my image just enough to bring her face to the right skin tone and leave behind that grey tinge.

Then I added some contrast to bump the shadows back up and bring some pop to the photo.

You will notice that this washed out the background a bit – after all there is a LOT of bright sunshine poring in from those windows.  In this case, I don’t really care, because the background was not so important to this photo, but there are techniques that allow you to adjust for that.  We will cover those at a later date.

Here is a side by side of the original and final photo.

The whole process took less than a minute, and now I can plop this photo into a page.  The photo is not that great to begin with, a bit grainy because my phone was an older model, but the final product has much more appeal to me than the original photo.


A second way to brighten up dark dull photos is by playing with the Levels.  This method is my personal favorite, and although it can seem a bit scary if it is unfamiliar to you, it is really not that difficult to get the hang of.  I like adjusting the levels because it gives you more control over all sections of your image, from shadows to highlights, while allowing you to make more subtle adjustments, and yet it stays pretty simple if you want it to.

I took this photo of my youngest on our front porch during a rain storm.  While there is obviously some light, the photo still ended up dark and dull feeling.  We can easily fix that with levels.

To adjust your levels go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and you will get a little box like this.

The graph that comes up that looks like a mountain range is called a histogram.  A histogram is nothing more than a graphical representation of the tonal values of your image – so basically it shows the amount of tones of a particular brightness found in your image.  Simply speaking, the blacker, or darker tones, are to your left while the whiter, or lighter tones, are to your right.  A good image will have a “mountain range” that spreads pretty evenly through all the values, stretching from left to right.  You can see from my histogram above, that this photograph is missing most of the lighter values to the farthest right.  We correct that by adjusting the sliders that you see at the bottom of the histogram.

For my photo I started with the right most slider, and pulled it towards the left, until it was right at the edge of my “mountain range”  That brightened up the lighter areas of my photo.

I then pulled the leftmost slider over to the right a little, to deepen the darker areas back up a touch.

You can also adjust the middle slider to correct the mid-tones if you feel the need.  I adjusted mine just a bit to bring back the facial features and little details of the photo I wanted to capture.

And again, in just a minute or so we have taken a dull photo up a notch to a fun, colorful capture of a playful moment. There is a lot more you can do with levels if you really want to learn, but this simple step will give you a bit more control over your photos.


Finally, the third way to quickly brighten dark/dull photos is to use Curves.  You find curves in the same place, go to Image>Adjustments>Curves.

Now, there is a whole lot that you can do with curves, and it can get complicated.  However, for the sake of today’s tutorial we are going to keep it simple.

This time I am using an image that my oldest took in the car.  The selfie camera on his phone is not good at all, and it came out really dark!

So I open my image and go to adjust the curves. Again, a little graph will pop up, this time showing both your histogram, and a line running diagonally through it.

To adjust your curves for brightness, you want to make sure that the RGB path is selected in the channel drop down menu and then you are going to place your cursor on the mid-point of the line and drag it slightly higher.  You generally don’t need to move the line too far in order to change up the image, but you can move it around a bit, both up and down from the starting line, to get an idea of what happens when you do.

Here they are side by side, still not the best image in the world (what kind of face is that anyway ) but much better than the original don’t you think?

So, I hope that gave you a few new ideas on how to quickly brighten up dark or dull photos and really help them pop.  If you find one method does not give you the results you want on a particular photo, then try one of the other two and see if that works better.  Or, if you really want to have some fun tweaking your images, you can combine two or even all three of these techniques to really add contrast and color to your dull photos. If all of that still seems like too much work, you might want to look into some Photoshop Actions.  There are some really fun ones out there for the daring, and just plain simple ones as well for everyday fixes like this one. Some are free, and others cost a bit of money, but actions really do make photo edits quick and easy.  I use actions for a lot of my photo helps, so feel free to ask for recommendations if you don’t know where to look.

Thanks so much for following along with me, and have fun making those everyday photos just a bit more appealing!

ErinErin 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!

Hybrid How-To | Paper Pouches

Hello, everyone! Kate here to show you how to create these fun paper pouches — just in time for Easter!


  • Digital kit of your choice (I used It’s a Spring Thing, found in the Juno Designs shop here at TDP)
  • Scissors or a straight cutter
  • Adhesive (for this project, I prefer glue dot strips OR hot glue)
  • Sewing Machine


1. Print your chosen digital papers and cut into rectangles. Mine are 4″x5″ and 3″x5″…

2. Add the adhesive of your choice to the short edge of the rectangle and roll the paper up, adhering to the other short edge. You’re basically making a bunch of paper tubes.

3. Pinch one open end of the tube together and sew along the edge. Fill with candy, but don’t overfill or you will have trouble getting the other side to close. Once it’s filled, pinch the other end together — in the opposite direction (see below) — and sew along the edge…

And that’s all there is to it! I like to display these in a glass bowl on the coffee table, but they would also make an awesome edition to an Easter basket.

Want to give this a try (and earn challenge points toward the March 2017 challenges here at The Digital Press)? Come check out our monthly hybrid challenge information in the forum HERE.

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 | Quick & Easy Photo Collage in Lightroom

I love creating pocket pages, and I just recently discovered that I could quickly and easily create photo collages in Lightroom to use on my layouts. It’s a fantastic time-saver, and I’m here today to show you how to do it, too!

First, I collect all the papers and photos that I want to use in my collage, and place them in a single folder on my computer’s desktop.

Next, I import all these files into Lightroom. For my example, I chose to only use patterned paper… but you could use journal cards, too!

Next, I went to the Print Panel. You can see that I have a bunch of pre-made templates (the best thing is that I found them free on the web, but you can also create your own)! These templates can be edited to fit your needs or you can create your own!

In the Print Job drop-down area, input the dimensions you like. In this example, I chose 9″ x 8″ for my size. In the Print To field, make sure it says JPEG file and that the file resolution is set to 300ppi.

In the Cells drop-down area, I edited one of the sizes in the Add to Package area to 4″ x 3″ (the size of most journaling cards).

Then I added six 4″ x 3″ boxes to my photo collage by continually clicking on the 4″ x 3″…

Next, I added the photos and paper I wanted to use simply by clicking and dragging the photos and paper onto the collage…

And finally, here is a look at my finished photo collage.

I clicked on Print to File in the lower right hand corner and saved my collage…

Then, I opened up my collage image in Photoshop to complete my Pocket Page with some embellishments/etc…

[ products used –My Garden elements, papers, and extra papers by Meagan’s Creations ]

And that’s it! It’s so simple… and such a great time-saver. 🙂



About the Author  Krista Lund is a mom of 3, married to her high school sweetheart and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of her favorite things are brownies, chips ‘n’ dip, taking pictures, and documenting her family’s story.

Tutorial Tuesday | Creating Your Own Shadow Styles

Today I’m here to help teach you how to create your own shadow styles, save them to your computer, and use them again in the future. Such a time saver!

As we develop our scrapbooking craft, the tips and techniques we learn along the way help us to work faster — and processes get easier. That’s the goal, right?  When we’re itching to create, we don’t want anything standing in our way — not laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, work, or a commute. Nothing. We want to scrap. Period. 🙂 Anything we can do to speed up the process of creating, especially when the mojo is flowing, is welcomed!

With that in mind, I wanted to show you a quick and easy way to add shadows to your layouts — and also save those shadow styles for repeated use in the future. It’s easier than you might think!

When I was first exploring digital scrapbooking, shadows (and the process of shadowing things in Photoshop/etc.) used to scare me. Let’s be honest… it’s a little intimidating for a beginner! Some designers here at The Digital Press offer shadow styles for sale in the shop… with the idea being that you can install the styles on your computer, and then with a few simple clicks of the mouse, voila! Instant shadows! Super time-saver.

For myself, now that I am almost 15 years down the digital road… I find that I’ve developed my own “shadowing style” over time — it is personal to me, based on my own preferences about how things should look. The trouble is… it often takes a lot of time to customize shadows over and over. For instance — I might find myself applying a particular shadow depth for some items, a specific shade of brown (instead of the default black), a certain blending mode, and even specific changes to the opacity of the shadows. On a good week, I can scrap five pages or more… but that’s a lot of added shadow work! So the idea of being able to quickly click-and-apply my own shadow styles was very appealing.

To take a look at how this works… let’s start with an unshadowed version of a page I created for this month’s scraplift challenge (I’ve deliberately left my shadowing off this copy of the page so I can walk you through the quick steps for creating — and using — your own, personalized shadow styles)…

As you can see, with regard to what needs to be shadowed — I’ve got some large flowers and some small flowers, a piece of flair, some papers, some thick and thin string elements, and even a small crotchet piece. Each item needs its own shadow, and based on my preferences… each of these items would be treated a little differently.

Let’s take a look at the large yellow flower and start there.

Click on the “fx” button at the bottom of your Layers Palette and select Drop Shadow …or use the menus and go to Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow. Either one will give you a pop-up menu in which to create your shadow. As you can see, I like a large, feathered shadow for my  larger flowers (or similarly-sized elements). Oh, and in case you’d like to know, my “brown” color is #30200E.

See the difference on the yellow flower (lower-right corner) now?

Once you have the foundation of your shadow set, instead of hitting that “OK” button… click “New Style” instead. Give the style a name you’ll easily remember, and now click “OK.” How easy was that?! You’ve just created your own, personalized shadow style! Repeat this step for each of the different design elements.

But how do you actually use these styles once you’ve created them?

If you don’t see the Styles palette in your workspace, go to Windows > Styles. When this panel first opens, you might see something like this – but don’t panic! (and please don’t judge, haha! …I have a lot of styles in Photoshop!)…

You’re probably wondering how on earth are you supposed to find the styles that you just created for yourself? I’ll give you two tips that will help:

  1. You can change the “view” for the palette to something that’s much more manageable. In the upper right-hand corner of the Style box, there’s a drop-down menu button — click on that. I like “Small List” or “Large List” as my preferred viewing format as it gives me both the display icon and the text label, like Large Flower.
  2. As you create or add styles, they will be at the bottom of your list; they append each time. Scroll down.

To apply your new styles, click on the element layer to make it active, and then click on the appropriate style. See? Two clicks of the mouse and you are done! You can even select multiple layers by holding down the Shift key and then apply a single style to them all at once (which is very handy when you’ve got a lot of paper layers, or if your scrapbooking style includes a lot of clustering).

Remember the non-shadowed page that I started with (see above)? By using my own custom styles, I was able to shadow the entire layout in a matter of just minutes — seriously, minutes! (even with further customizing a shadow or two)…

[ Credits: I Can Do This | March 2017 Collaboration kit from the designers at The Digital Press ]


If you’re in a time-crunch, or you just find yourself repeating the same steps over and over again while shadowing your scrapbook pages… creating your own personalize styles might just be the short-cut you are looking for! Easy to create. Easy to use. What more could you ask for? 🙂

KatAbout the Author  Kat Hansen is a creative team member here at The Digital Press. A Director of Human Resources by day, she loves the opportunity to spend a few hours each evening being creative. Vacation memories feature pretty heavily in Kat’s scrapbooking pages, as do her son and “daughter” (of the four-legged furry kind). Kat has quite the sense of humor (she “blames” her father for this), which she incorporates into her journaling and memory-keeping.

Hybrid How-To | Create A Robot Party Favor

Hello everyone! It’s Tanya here for this week’s Hybrid How-To… to show you how to make a fun and easy robot party favor! 🙂

The minute I saw this adorable new Automated | Kit by Laura Passage, I knew I had to do something with it. My friends ask me all the time, “why do you make all these wonderful things and you don’t even have small children?” Want to know why?! It’s because I looooove hybrid crafting and sharing those craft ideas with you. I always hope that it will inspire you to take a shot at hybrid crafting and create something fun.

I don’t think Robot party favors were Laura’s original idea for the kit, but that is one on the reasons I love hybrid crafting… there can be soooo many uses for a single kit!

I used my Silhouette Cameo for this project… mainly because I’m spoiled by it! There are other ways to achieve the same results, however, and you don’t need a cutting machine in order to do this project.

To begin, you will need to separate the pieces of each robot so that you will be able to cut each different piece of the “puzzle.” To do this, open the element you want to use and copy it a couple of times (I do this just in case I need to go back to the original for any reason). Next go to trace, uncheck the high pass filter and then select trace and detach. As you move the threshold slider to the right, you can see the parts that will detach (highlighted yellow in the image, below). I will do this a couple of times, each time moving the slider to highlight more of the image to detach.

In this next image, you can see the other part of the image that will detach…

To get the rectangle (shown below, circled), I simply picked the rectangle tool and drew it out to the size I needed…

Next, you can see how I organized all my pieces on the mat (this is also how I will set up my scrap pieces of card stock when I actually cut with my machine)

Don’t forget to turn on the cut lines, as shown here…

For the base piece, I opened the trace image box and chose the trace outline box

The neat thing about using card stock (as opposed to printing and cutting using digital papers/patterns) is that you can use up all your old paper scraps. As you can see, below, I actually chose the colors that were in the kit… but you can use any color scraps you have on hand. You can see here that I was able to put five different colors on the mat at the same time… and boy, is this a time saver! (also, if you scroll up, 2 images above, you can see how the paper scraps in this next image match the layout of images I created in the software).

Here’s a look at all of the pieces, once I removed the excess cardstock…

As you can see in the next image, I actually had to re-cut a few pieces because my calculations were off. Oops! (not that I really calculated anything; I eyeballed it!)…

And finally, once you have all of the separate parts cut out… you will simply group them together to put into a cellophane bag (for the end-users to be able to assemble and create their own robots!)…

Here are the tags I created to tie to the gift bags…

And that’s it! A ready-made party favor to send with your guests, so they can go home and assemble their own robots. So much fun!

I hope that you have enjoyed today’s Hybrid How-To here on The Digital Press’s blog. Now it’s your turn to create something fun (with or without a cutting machine)! If you would like to earn points toward TDP’s monthly challenge system, visit the corresponding monthly Hybrid Challenge in the forum’s CROSSWORD SECTION (you’ll find it stickied up near the top during March 2017). We’d love to see your creations!


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

Tutorial Tuesday | Documenting Kids’ Artwork

If you’ve got children, you’ve probably also got an ever-growing assortment of art projects slowly accumulating dust and fading in the sunlight somewhere in your house.

You’ve probably also decided — maybe more than once — that it’s time to organize said pieces, and/or *gasp!* archive them into the recycling bin. Today, I am here to share a couple of ideas about preserving these amazing masterpieces (a.k.a. glimpses into our children’s lives at a certain age), while simultaneously reducing the clutter associated with this endless stream of kids’ artwork.


How? When new artwork comes into the house, I photograph it. I do this for all things I think I might want to keep — drawings, handwritten stories, paintings, decorated bags… all of it. I try to do this immediately (or at least within a day or two), because then the art hasn’t had time to get damaged by sunlight, dirty fingers, angry siblings, the robot vacuum, being stuffed between sofa cushions, left in the bathroom, misplaced or (let’s admit it) recycled in a fit of clutter-induced pique.

I usually try to photograph artwork mid-day, and I do it indoors in indirect natural light so there are no harsh shadows. I lay flat pieces on the floor, and photograph from directly above, usually against a background that’s a different color than the artwork so that it is easier to extract in Photoshop (if desired). For dimensional pieces, I try a variety of different angles to capture the depth and/or texture of the piece. Once I have my photos, I can take my time deciding how to archive them without having to worry about the artwork degrading or disappearing. This also allows our family the ability to enjoy the originals for as long (or short) a time as desired.

While I prefer to photograph my kids’ artwork… there are also other methods that can be employed. If you own a scanner, you can always scan the flat pieces. There are also plenty of apps out there that you can use to “archive” artwork, but I’ll admit that that particular avenue hasn’t ever held as much appeal to me. Occasionally we’ve had cute little pictures turned into tangible items such as note cards, magnets, or pillows… and/or we’ve framed our favorite finger-paintings… but in general, I much prefer photographing everything and using those photos in my memory-keeping. Shoving the old artwork deep into the recycling bin before the kids wake up seems a bit heartless, and so the photography-to-scrapbook method as worked out to be a fantastic compromise.


Once you have your artwork recorded, there are a handful of different things to do with the photos to get them off the computer and into your scrapbooks. Here are just a few ideas…

  • Scrapbook an entire page to showcase a specific piece of art
  • Use a single piece or artwork to support a page about some aspect of your child’s personality (or even about an event)
  • Turn a single piece into a pocket card and include it in a weekly or monthly summary page (or an “All About Me” page)
  • Accumulate pictures of artwork over time, and then have them all printed and bound into a single photo book that’s all about the art

My kids (and others) enjoy seeing their creations incorporated right into our family albums. Recently, for instance, I made this page about a little book my son recently made at school…

To create the above page, I individually photographed each two-page spread of his book, and then I extracted the photos in Photoshop (I also extracted the “written by” line and name from a photo by removing the white background). If you look closely, I also included a “translation” of the text in the border; be sure to include a translation or explanation if the subject matter isn’t immediately apparent, and/or if your audience isn’t fluent in “emergent speller.” 🙂

This next page highlights a single drawing, as well as the original photo that inspired it. I used a similar extraction technique on this picture…

Finally, this next one highlights the mailbox my daughter dreamed up and constructed (with recyclables! and a little adult help) for Valentine’s Day. I love the detail images, such as the eyeball and the painted heart (“it’s a v-neck sweater,” I was later informed).

The artwork photography technique also works well for a host of other types of kids’ art, including…

  • Dimensional ephemera (like egg-carton caterpillars, foam-ball-and-pipe-cleaner ants, decorated rocks, and Valentine mailboxes, as shown above)
  • Artwork items that you want to record in multiple spaces (say, in both a family album and in a child’s album… or even one you send out to the grandparents)
  • Anything made out of colored construction paper

As you can see, though… it doesn’t really matter which method you use, as long as you record and document it. Whether you photograph and scrap your child’s artwork to preserve color, prevent damage, reduce clutter, record a memory, or capture a moment in time… the general idea is to get it photographed and get those pictures scrapped before the memories are faded just like the construction paper they were created on.

Including your kids’ masterpieces is simply another great way to document your child’s (or entire family’s) story, while also reducing some of the household clutter at the same time. Win-win! 🙂


About the Author  Carrie is a creative team member here at The Digital Press. She and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, year-round, near their home in Colorado. In addition to scrapbooking and the occasional hybrid home decor project, Carrie also reads voraciously, accumulates fabric, makes soap, brews beer, grows hops, and tries to keep indoor plants alive.

Tutorial Tuesday | The Field Blur Technique

I have a hunch that I’m not the only member of Apple’s demographic who was excited to get the new iPhone 7 just for the upgraded camera! Yes, I confess, it’s true.

One of my favorite features of the new iPhone 7 camera is the Portrait Mode on the camera. In this mode, you set the focus to your subject and the background blurs out… as if you were taking the shot with a DSLR to control the depth of field. The resulting shot can be really dramatic and look quite professional — even for point-and-click phone camera photographers.

Here’s a look at the difference…

Because I loved this effect so much, I wondered (a) what could non-iPhone 7 users do to achieve the same result? …and (b) whether there was an easy method I could use in Photoshop to achieve this effect on older photos, for use on my scrapbook pages. Photoshop did not disappoint. I checked out the Field Blur filters and found that it is super easy (like, 2 minutes or less!) to create the same effect. Here’s how it’s done…

1. Open your photo in Photoshop (*NOTE* I’m using Photoshop CC 2017 for the following examples)

2. Choose Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur

3. You’ll wind up with a little pin graphic pointer which you can use to drop multiple pins in strategic places on your photo. Each pin drop tells Photoshop to blur that surround area to the level you specify using the adjustment ring (the circle around the center of the pin). To adjust any pin, click on the adjustment ring and drag your mouse around the wheel to the desired level. A setting of “0” means that no blurring will happen in that area.

*NOTE* To get the look you want, you’ll have to experiment and place multiple pins. What I found to work best for me was to place a “row” of pins within the boundaries of the subject… but toward the outer edge, and then also place another “row” of pins just outside the boundaries of the subject. On the inner row, I set all of the blurs to “0” and on the ring (just outside the subject), I set all of those higher (I used “25”).

4. I also dropped a couple of other pins around the rest of the image (outside the subject) to ensure that the entire background was blurred. The beauty of this technique is that you can adjust the blur intensity on each pin, in case there are areas where you need to ease into a more intense blur over a span of the image. You can always move any one pin (or delete it) by clicking and dragging on the center of the pin.

5. If you’re curious to see how the mask looks without the image, hold down “M” and you’ll be able to see the blur mask. Wherever you see white… that’s where blur is applied. Black areas are protected (no blur), and gray areas are areas of partial blur.

6. When you’re finished, click “OK” at the top of the filter window.

That’s all there is to it! It’s a technique that is super easy, once you get the hang of it!

Here’s a comparison of the photo straight from my iPhone 7 with Portrait Mode (left), and the one I doctored up in Photoshop (right)…

Pretty close, right?? The effect really makes your subject pop, and takes out any distracting background features.

Here’s a layout that I created using my image, along with KimB Designs’ Be Brave Kit and a template from Stripped Down (Vol 1) Templates by Laura Passage…


ShannonAbout the Author  Shannon has been completely addicted to digiscrapping since she began in early 2016 (though she’s been a scrapper since 2000). Her early morning ritual of a few quiet hours of scrapping while sipping a chai tea is her favorite part of each day. She is also the owner of a web design company, and when she’s not at the computer designing websites or digiscrap layouts, she’s probably hiking one of the local mountains in her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. She is an avid reader and loves to travel to foreign countries.

Hybrid How-To | Bag Toppers

My daughter passed out donuts to her entire 5th grade class for Valentine’s Day. She wanted to add a little card or something she could sign her name to, so I whipped up these bag toppers we could staple to ziplock bags. It was such a quick project… and I was thinking it would be just perfect for any party favor. Throw the candy/treats/toys into any size bag and add the personalized topper. Fun and simple!

The first thing I did was measure the width of the bag. I used regular old sandwich bags for the donuts… each of which measured about 6.5″ wide. I wanted the front of the design to be 1.5″ x 6.5″ — making the total dimension for each topper (front and back) 3″ x 6.5″.

To do this, I clipped patterned paper to a simple rectangular template I made (see image, below), and then I designed the front of the topper using digital elements from the same kit. I kept my design flat — so it ended up being a simple flat digital design that I could easily print off (i.e. no extra cutting or assembling of extra embellishments/layers). I thought it would be easier that way since I was making like 30 of them. 😉

*PRO TIP* When creating your rectangular designs… make sure the “front” of the design stays on the bottom half of the template so it won’t be folded over to the back once you attach them to the bags.

After creating the design in Photoshop… the next step is to print, cut, and fold each topper in half. I filled all my bags with donuts, sealed the bags, and then stapled the toppers onto the zippered portion of the bags…

Here’s a look at the back (left) and front (right) of one of my topper designs…

This project literally took me about an hour from designing the toppers in Photoshop to completing the finished project — with no fancy cutting machine required. I hope you’ll give it a try!

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 | Creative Journaling

I recently found out that breaking up is easy to do! Oh it’s okay, really… I’m only talking about breaking up the journaling on my digital scrapbook pages. 😉 I’m here today to share some tips for this process.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about digital scrapbooking is because the pages I am creating today will be a legacy for future generations to enjoy years from now! I am in the process of creating books for our two beautiful grandbabies, and I try to include as much information as possible on each page.

While I’m comfortable with journaling on the pages, I have recently felt that I am in a rut with regards to the actual placement of the journaling. Simply put, I realized that my process was only to “find a spot I like and start typing and stop when the story ends.” The journaling I do is usually along one edge or the other – or smack dab in the center of the page. I have been known to ramble… and ramble… so I started thinking more about the placement and how it affected the visual composition of the page.

When I created the page shown below, I concentrated on breaking up the journaling. I wanted the words to become part of the overall design of the page, and I wanted them to flow together with the photos and the other elements of the layout.

I realized that by breaking up the journaling on the page, it gave the reader a little visual break. Perhaps even a chance to contemplate what they just read before moving on… or a breaking point to examine the photos after reading part of the story… or simply to admire the other aspects of the page. It also allows the eye to flow around the page rather than concentrating on one big block of text.

Here are a few tips you can employ in order to break up your journaling while scrapping your memories…

  • Use your title work to break up the sentences/paragraphs (this technique is shown above)
  • Similarly, you can break up your story by placing word art and/or elements right in with the journaling itself
  • Align the text differently throughout your page (right / left / center… you’ll note, above, that I changed the alignment depending on which side of the page the journaling appeared)
  • Use “bullet” type journaling — placing the bullet points randomly around your page
  • Place the photos and elements on the page first, then fit the journaling to align with the photos (something I did when I created the page shown above)

There are many more ways to achieve this, but I hope the tips I’ve shared here have at least given you a bit of journaling inspiration today! Thanks for stopping by the blog for another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series… and until next time, “Happy Scrapping!”


Jill WAbout the Author  Jill has been digiscrapping since 2006 when she came across it (quite by accident) while Googling “computer crafts.” Since that time, her love for the hobby has only increased! Her love of photography melds perfectly with digital scrapping, and she is thrilled that she has the opportunity to be part of The Digital Press creative team!

















Tutorial Tuesday | Combining Templates

Do you ever struggle to find a template that’s just right for the photos you’re trying to scrap? If so, I have a quick tip for you today!

I love using templates to speed up my scrapping while also making layouts with a beautiful design. Sometimes, though, I can’t find the perfect template to match my photos/topic. What’s a scrapper to do, you ask? My solution: combine templates to create one that perfectly suits my images!

For the example I’m showing you today, I chose to work with a template set from our newest designer at The Digital Press — Jen C Designs’ You’ve Been Snapped Vol 1. Here is a look at the original template set (before I made any alterations to any of the templates)…

I love the layered paper background in the template shown at the top right… but I knew that I needed quite a few more photo spaces. I looked at the other templates in the set, and found the one at the bottom right, which featured three additional photo spots. I also liked the arrows on that second template!

To combine the two templates…

  • First, I opened one of the two templates (the one shown at top right, above) in Photoshop.
  • Next, I opened the second template (the one shown at bottom right, above)… and I selected all of the layers that I wanted to use and dragged them over into the first template.
  • After a few quick tweaks and a bit of re-sizing here and there… I had an all-new template that would work beautifully for my photos.

Here is a look at my resulting layout after combining the two templates…

Once you give the idea of combining templates a try, I think you will see that the possibilities are endless! You’ll never be stuck looking for the right template again… but you can still benefit from the ready-made aspects of using layered templates (paper layers, embellishment placement, page balance, etc.). It really stretches your template stash, too… as you can use each template as-is, and then combine them to create new options from the same set!

I hope you’ll give combining templates a try… and if you do, I’d love to see your finished page! Load it up in the gallery at TDP, and leave me a link to it in the comments, below. 🙂

About the Author  Katie is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and their four sweet but crazy boys. When she’s not dodging Nerf bullets or trying to dig out from under the never-ending pile of laundry, she enjoys photography, cooking, going to Disney World with her family, and, of course, digital scrapbooking.

Hybrid How-to | Creating a Hybrid Page Using a Digital Template

Hi everyone, It’s Saturday and time for another edition of our Hybrid How-To series here on The Digital Press blog!  Today, I’m here to help show you how easy it is to create a hybrid page using a digital template.

I love working with paper and physical elements/stamps, but sometimes I also miss being able to change things and make adjustments like I can with my digital layouts… so hybrid projects are my favorite way to make pages. The best of both worlds! I also think digital kits are a fantastic way to stretch our crafty budgets; we can print and cut as many times as we like.

When I make a hybrid page, I like to use the digital templates I have in my stash… and let me tell you, it’s really fun and easy!

For the layout I am making for today’s tutorial, I used two different digital products — a template from Sahin Designs — January 2017 Layered template 1

…as well as a digital kit by Little Lamm & Co. — Nonpareil Scrapbook Kit

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’d like to celebrate my loves, so I’ll be making a page about them.

I’ll start out by creating my page in Photoshop, using my digital template and the digital items that I plan to print out. Here’s a look at the template, before I begin working…

…and here’s a look at the template once I’ve added my photo, digital papers, and embellishments…

After I have all of my printable items sized the way I want, I separate each of the pieces (see image, below right) and save them all as a PNG file to print and fussy cut. Although I have a Silhouette Cameo, sometimes I simply fussy cut just because I love it!



I also print out the papers for the larger circles… and these I actually cut with my Silhouette Cameo (see full printed papers in image, below right)…


As you can see, I duplicated some elements. I do this often just because I want to have some cute stash ready to use.

Here are my pieces printed and cut…


After I have all my pieces cut out, I just put them back together on a physical 12×12 page and then add my elements, stamps, hand-stitching, and some spray ink splatters, as shown here…

And there you have it! A beautiful hybrid page without all the guesswork or the need to re-print several times to get things right. 🙂

If you’d like to give this a try, too, don’t forget that you can earn challenge points at TDP! Come visit the CROSSWORD SECTION in The Digital Press forum, and you’ll find this month’s Hybrid Challenge thread (for each month’s Hybrid Challenge at TDP, you get to choose one of the month’s “Hybrid How-To” tutorial posts from here on the blog and make your own version). If you choose to give today’s project a try… all you have to do is make a hybrid page using some digital elements and papers, along with a digital template as your foundation for the composition of the page. You’ll see how fun it is! Give it a shot, and share your final results with us! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Have a great weekend you guys, and happy scrapping!

AndreaAbout the Author  Andrea Albuquerque is part of the Hybrid Creative Team here at Digital Press. Andrea has been a scrapper since 2010 and a photographer since 2012. Although she adores the flexibility and creativity of digital, she can’t resist playing with paper, paint, and embellishments… so hybrid scrapping is the perfect medium for her! She lives in Brazil with her hubby.

Tutorial Tuesday | Scrap Your Current Favorites

I often find myself struggling to ensure that I’m present in our family’s scrapbooks. Anyone else have this trouble?

Often, it’s just easier to focus on all of the photos and stories about my children, my husband, and our other friends and family. It’s easy to simply forget to ensure that I’m present, too! Today I’m here to share a few ways for you to easily document yourself and your life when you’re preserving your family’s memories.

One simply way to ensure that you are included in your memory-keeping is to create a monthly “Current Favorites” layout that captures the things you’re enjoying in any given month. It’s almost like adding a time capsule to your scrapbook… you will be amazed at how much these simple memories can transport you back into a time in the past when you are looking through an album!

For myself, I tend to try to capture 12 things that I enjoyed during the month. Things such as… a book I read, a food I loved, a favorite TV show, or even something I worked hard toward throughout that month.

Here are a few examples of the memories I was able to capture during 2015, using this memory-keeping technique…

The thing that I’ve come to love the most about these pages is how easy they are for me to create! I can make them simple… or add a ton of elements. I can create them with photos… or without. I can be super creative and think outside of the box with them… or I can make them very quickly and easily. No matter what, however, they afford me a great way to tell the story of MY life over 12 months. I have loved looking back at my pages over 2015, and it’s so fun to see a full year’s worth of the things that I loved. I know that it will be so fun to continue to revisit these in the years to come!

Other options to make this type of project work better for you…

  1. Change the time frame of the pages — you could create them monthly, weekly, or even just quarterly (whatever works better for you and your schedule)
  2. Finding and using a consistent template is another way to make page development quick and easy
  3. Use the same digital kit for each of your “Current Favorites” spreads, to keep things simple
  4. Switch it up and do a “Current Favorites” page for other members of your family, as well (possibly even including your pets!)
  5. Use the concept to document particular categories of favorites… such as your favorite foods, favorite TV shows, favorite books, etc.
  6. If “Current Favorites” doesn’t work for you, you can even try other titles such as “Random Highlights,” “Month in Review,” or simply “Favorites”
  7. Make an entire “Favorites” mini-album to catalog all of your favorites… documenting your thoughts, moods, trends, and treats in one album to enjoy later

I hope this overall idea might give you another way to include yourself into your scrapbooking! It really does add something special to your memory-keeping when you ensure that you and your life are represented! 🙂

Happy scrapping!


About the Author  Amy lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband of  15 years and their 11 year old boy/girl twins. Their 20-year-old daughter recently finished her final year at West Virginia University in December 2016, and will begin graduate school in the fall at Clemson! Amy has been scrapbooking since the early 1990s but discovered digital scrapbooking in 2005 when her twins were born and has primarily scrapped digitally since that time. She is passionate about telling her family’s stories and documenting their life together! Amy is a huge reader (mostly literary fiction), and is a pop culture junkie! She also LOVES all things beauty & makeup!

Tutorial Tuesday | Crop Tool in Lightroom

Today we are going to talk about the crop tool in Lightroom. I absolutely love this tool, and I think you will, too!

Mainly, I love this tool when I am sorting through pictures that I would like to print and put into frames. How many times have you struggled to make the photo you want to print the right size to fit in a particular frame? If you are like me, this happens a lot! That’s where this crop tool comes in really handy.

If you are a Lightroom user, you can find the crop tool in the Develop module within the software program. First, select the picture you want to crop… and then click on “Develop” near the top right. The crop tool is a small rectangle box found just under the histogram. I have highlighted it in the picture below…

When you click on that crop button, you will see a few different options. Click on the one that says ”original” and then, in that drop-down menu, you will see various size options.

The size options are the typical photo sizes: 4×6, 5×7, etc. (basically, the most common frame sizes). There is also a custom option in case you have a frame that does not match the given sizes.

When you select a particular size, a hand icon will appear on your image. You will be able to move your image with this hand and decide what section of your image you want printed and what section you want outside the printed area.

In my image below, you can see that I have chosen the 5×7 size. Once I selected that size… I could then move the highlighted part of my image (shown below with the 9 rectangular boxes) to select the area of my image that I want included when I crop the original…

This next part is what I like the best, however… the option to easily switch between a vertical and a horizontal orientation (portrait or landscape) with a simple keystroke.

See, the thing I struggle with most when framing photos is trying to use a horizontal picture and make it fit in a vertical frame (or vice versa). It is almost like putting a square peg in a round hole, and I have wasted quite a few photo prints trying to do just that! Lightroom has a very easy fix for this, however.

Once you have selected the photo/frame size in your drop-down menu, you can simply press ”x” on your keyboard. The crop orientation will then change from horizontal to vertical and you can go about the business of moving the active area of the photo to crop it down to just the portion you would like to print. Yes, it’s that easy! I use this technique a lot! You can see the vertical crop in the picture below. You can toggle between vertical and horizontal by pressing “x” multiple times.

I hope these simple Lightroom tips and tricks will help you more quickly process and prepare your photos — whether for printing and framing, or for exporting to Photoshop in order to scrapbook them, etc.

If you have any questions… definitely feel free to reach out to me using the comments on this post, and ask away!


About the Author Pallavi resides in the United Kingdom with her husband and their son, Rajveer. She has previously lived in Calcutta, Pune, San Francisco, Chicago, London, and Mexico City. She reflects all these places in her pages as she captures her everyday stories. She is an alumnus of Northwestern University, and currently she is learning photography and working towards getting to a healthy weight. Her days are full and she loves it that way!


Hybrid How-To | Printing & Cutting Digital Elements

It’s Saturday… and time for another edition of our Hybrid How-To series here on The Digital Press’s blog! Today, I’m here to help you all see how easy (and fun!) it is to use digital embellishments in your physical projects (like mini albums, and more)!

For those of us who can’t resist pretty paper and embellishments — digital kits are a fantastic way to stretch your crafty budget. For me, patterned papers and adorable die-cuts are probably the best thing about crafting. I am always a little reluctant, however, to use pretty items from my stash because they’re just so cute. For me, the real beauty of digital products is that I can print and cut as many times as I like. Buy a digital kit once, and you can use the items contained within it again and again and again!

For the mini album project I am going to show you today, I chose two kits from The Digital Press — the Go.See.Do collection by Mari Koegelenberg, and also Laura Passage’s Project Twenty Fifteen | July kit, both shown here…

I like to choose kits that are versatile and can be used for lots of different topics or occasions. Although each of these two kits are travel-themed, there are also plenty of generic elements and papers that I know I can use for so many different purposes (and also, for other projects in the future, as well!). For instance, see those tags and labels above? Or the word art stamps, flowers, stars, etc. in this next kit…

For my project, I documented some of our family travels from 2016 in a handmade mini-album.

I used a variety of methods to create the pages. For instance, as shown in the photos below, I created pages by printing out some of the digital papers as foundations for each page; some I made rectangular, and others I notched so that they were flag/pennant-shaped.

Once I had the foundation pages, I came up with some interesting things to attach to each of them (in addition to the photos). For example, I upcycled some old clothing tags to add a bit of interest… creating a title tag with date (top photo, left). I also upcycled some old envelopes that I saved from Christmas, and turned them into pockets (middle row, left). I filled a plastic page protector with sequins and sewed it shut (middle row, right). I also used various fasteners (paper clips, mini clothespins, string, etc.) to add dimension and decoration to each page. So easy!

But the main embellishments on my pages came from the digital kits. Not only did I print out the papers to create pages, I also printed out some of the flat elements and added them to my pages after cutting them out.

I’m lucky enough to own a Silhouette, and the best feature of a cutting machine is the ability to quickly print and cut the adorable elements found in digital kits. The Silhouette makes it a cinch to create my own die-cuts. Today, I’ll take you through the basic steps to trace an element and ready it for cutting.

Step 1:
First, you will need to set up your page to the correct size and add registration marks. These are printed on your page and used to align the cut later (see the marks in the corner of the page in the image below). Then you will drag and drop your digital element onto the page (that car is cute right?!). Anything in the cross-hatched area shown in the picture below won’t be cut… so make sure you position your element in the main body area. In order to cut around the outside of the element, click the Trace button. Then click Select Trace Area.

Step 2:
Now you will drag the box around the shape. The software analyzes the shape (yellow means that it won’t cut in that area). Depending on the shape and color, you may need to drag the sliders for High Pass and Low Pass filters (the more contrast in the image, the better the results). Note that in my example image, below, the car windows are not highlighted in yellow — so the Silhouette can cut the window detail if I want. I just want to go around the outside of the car, however, so I chose Trace Outer Edge.

Step 3:
Voila! In the next image, I moved the car so that you can see the cutting outline that has been created. I group the object and the outline together so that they can be moved around the page easily.

Now that we’ve dealt with how to trace an element… give it a try! Go wild and look at all of those fabulous elements in your digital kits in a completely new light. Think of the things you can do!

As shown in the next image, I added a couple more elements to my project. The trace function did an amazing job on the bicycle shape…

Another way to make the most of those great digital elements is to combine them to create your own elements. Above, you’ll see the yellow tag with “Family Time” written on it. To create that, I dropped the “Family Time” word art from the Project Twenty Fifteen | July kit onto a block of yellow paper… and then I inserted a tag shape over the top. Now I have my own custom-made tag element!

Of course, if you don’t have a cutting machine, you can also do all of this by hand. Fussy cutting is very therapeutic! I often find myself cutting out shapes by hand just because it’s relaxing and a lot quieter! 🙂

Here are a few more photos of my finished project… so you can see a few more examples of the fun things you can create when you print and cut digital elements…

Are you up for a challenge? If you come to the CROSSWORD SECTION in The Digital Press forum, you’ll find this month’s Hybrid Challenge thread… and if you try one of the two hybrid projects we’ve featured on the blog this month, you can earn challenge points for January! For today’s project, all you have to do is print and cut some digital embellishments and include them on a hybrid project of some kind. It doesn’t have to be a travel album — it can be anything, really (a card, a physical scrapbook page, a mini-album like mine, etc.) — as long as you can decorate it with some cut-out digital elements, any project goes! Give it a shot, and share your final results with us! We can’t wait to see what you come up with…

About the Author  Morag Cutts is part of the Hybrid Creative Team here at Digital Press. Morag has been an avid scrapper and photographer for ten years.  Although she adores the flexibility and creativity of digital, Morag can’t resist playing with paper and embellishments – so hybrid scrapping is the perfect medium for her!  Morag lives in the UK with her hubby, two kids and recently adopted puppy.


Tutorial Tuesday | Extracting Digital Elements

Today I am here on the blog to share with you how to use simple extraction techniques to create your own digital elements from journal cards (or similar). This is a fun little trick I find myself using over and over on my layouts… and it is a really easy way to create your own customized embellishments and extend your digital stash!

The journal card I will be using for this tutorial is from Anthology | Pocket Cards by Little Lamm & Co., shown here…

First, you will want to open the journal card you want to use in a photo editing program (I am using Photoshop Elements 10 (PSE10) for this tutorial). Select the Magic Wand Tool on your toolbar…

With the Magic Wand tool, hold down the Shift button and click your mouse on the element/shape you want to remove from the journal card (here, you will see that I selected the orange area). Once it is selected, you should see little “marching ants” around the element…

***TIP*** to select the insides of letters — like the portions of the letters O and E, shown here — hold the shift key and click the inside of the letters so those areas are surrounded by the ‘marching ants,’ too.

Now you will need to right click (with your mouse) on the selected element and it will pull up a menu that looks like the image below. Move you mouse down and highlight ‘Layer via Copy’…

Once you do that, you will see a copy of the selected element in your layers palette. In the layers palette, de-select the original layer of the journal card… and you should be left with the extracted element. Voila! Now you can drag and drop that element anywhere you want onto your layout!

You can see examples of how I used this technique on this layout…

On the layout shown above, I used this extraction technique to create the “stories” circle brush on the top left photo, and also to create the navy word strips (shown at lower left).

Once you know how to extract simple digital elements, the possibilities are endless! You will find that this trick opens up a whole new world… with not only journal cards, but many other items found in digital kits (i.e. you can create a flower sticker from a floral paper… or word art from papers/cards… and more!).

If you try this trick or your own, please share your finished project with us in TDP’s gallery! We’d love to see what you come up with. Happy Scrapping 🙂

JenniferHigniteJennifer Hignite is a mom of three boys and new homeowner with her fiance in the mitten state of Michigan. When she is not scrapbooking, she enjoys photography, decorating, and shopping at Target.

Tutorial Tuesday | Text Boxes

Hello everyone! Today I’m here with you on the blog to go over some of the basics of using text boxes, while also exploring some of the lesser-known functions. I will also share some thoughts on how journaling doesn’t always need to be about documentingsomething; it can very well be simply used as a design element.

I will be demonstrating the methods shown in today’s tutorial in Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11); the information should translate very similarly to other versions of PSE and/or to Photoshop (PS) itself.

So… let’s get started!

1. Using a basic rectangular text box

Choose the text type tool on your tools panel and draw the boundary of the size of the text box that you would like. Once you have done that, you will see the flashing point of the cursor inside the box. Any text you add will be automatically wrapped to fit the boundaries of this box.

Re-sizing: Once you start your journaling, you may realize that you need more (or less) space that you initially thought when you created the text box. Fear not! Simply drag the diagonal corner of the box outward or inwards to the desired size. Note that the default settings in PSE will either make the text smaller or larger to fit proportionally into the newly-sized text box. You will simply need to change the font size back to what it was originally… and then carry on!


2. Adding a bit of flair to the text box

Imagine that you don’t want your text box to be nice and clean (straight lines, etc.). There are some very simple ways to add a bit of a ‘zing’! Consider the warp text tool; it changes the shape of the box (and in the process, the text within it) to create some very unique results. What better way to add some playfulness to your layouts!


3. Using other shapes as text boxes
Text does not have to be limited to the rectangular or square shapes; we can use other custom shapes too. There are many ways to do this… one of which is to actually create a path that follows your shape. Not all versions of PSE have this capability, however, so I came up with a “hack” that allows you to create a faux-text-path, of sorts. 🙂

To do this… choose the shape you want to use, put it onto your page (temporarily), and then with the text type tool selected… follow the same steps as described above. Because the text is on a separate layer from the text, you can approximate the shape you chose with the text itself. Then, once the underlying shape is hidden (something you can do by clicking the “eye” shape to the “off” position in the right-hand layers palette area)… you will have an interesting shape of journaled text…


4. Using Text as a design element

Another way in which text boxes can be used is as a design element. There are quite a few ways to do it. Repeating captions or phrases in an interesting shape, warping text to fit in with the design of the layout, blending it with the photo, etc.

I’ve created a few examples for you here. In the first layout shown below, I have used the text “on a shape” option to write a few phrases in a circular path. Copying this multiple times and nesting the circles within each gives a nice effect…

In this second layout, I have followed he same approach… but instead, I merged all the various text in the shape of the heart and blended it with the background…

As you can see, there are lots of uses for the text box… and fun little tricks you can use to open up its many possibilities and realize the many different ways it can be put to use. If you try some of these tricks or your own, please share your finished project with us in TDP’s gallery!

‘Till next time… keep scrapping and keep sharing. 🙂

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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.

Hybrid How-To | School Valentine Exchange

Okay, I don’t know about you… but I totally CANNOT believe Christmas has already come and gone so quickly! Where in the world did this past year go? It’s 2017! I think I would love for things to slow down a bit, but I know that isn’t possible. 🙂

I know that most of you likely aren’t thinking about Valentine’s Day already (heck, most people don’t even have their Christmas decorations put away yet!)… but ready or not, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Therefore, I thought I would get a head-start and today I will be showing you several fun hybrid Valentine’s ideas! Some of them are for Valentine’s that have candy, and some are for those that do not. Either of them can be tweaked to your liking.

For this project, you do not need to have a cutting machine. All projects can be achieved with the supplies listed below. I did, however, use my Silhouette Studio Design space to create my ideas… although similar things can truly be achieved in any photo editing program.

There are tons of digital kits that would be great for this project… and remember, just because it isn’t actually a Valentine-themed kit doesn’t mean it can’t be used for Valentines! For instance, the kit Kindess is Cool (by LJS Designs) has a lot of Christmas-themed elements in it, but I also thought the bear would be adorable for Valentine’s Day. You could even use robot or space-themed kits for Valentine’s Day. This holiday is fun because you can come up with so many Valentine puns… just let your imagination run wild!

In the end, for the projects I will show you today… I decided on these two kits — It’s You I Like by Dunia Designs… and Kindness Is Cool by LJS Designs (I also used the coordinating Kindness is Cool Journal Cards that match the main kit).

The first 2 projects are related, and they’re both perfect for non-candy items like pencils. To begin, I simply drew out a 8.5″ x 11″ square and added the heart paper shown here…

Next, here is the image that I created using the digital elements from the same kit…

If you are using your cutting machine, simply print the image above, place it on your mat and send through to the cutter.  If you will not be using a cutting machine, print your image and follow the steps found below.

Here is a close-up look at what I created…

Once you have your papers/elements printed out… you will punch the layered pieces…  assemble them with the double-sided tape or glue dots (whichever you prefer and/or have on hand)… and then you attach them to the pencils and add a bow. Ta-da! That’s it! Pretty easy, huh?

For this next version, you will trim your printed paper down to the size you want (I cut mine to 2″ x 4-1/2″ and then after trimming, I used a corner punch and rounded the corners). Use the same punched embellishments from the first project, shown up above, and tape them to the center of your trimmed digital paper, as shown below. All you have to do then is add your pencil and that’s it! SO EASY!

The next idea is perfect to use as a plain Valentine’s Day card (and/or when paired up with a candy treat)… it’s super cute and super easy! Again, it can be created in just about any photo editing software; I used my Silhouette program to do mine because it is just as easy and sometimes even simpler than using Photoshop, etc.).

First, I picked out a journaling card from the set I was using, I added some embellishments, and I personalized it…

Next, I sent it to my printer and cut with my paper trimmer. I also made cute little envelopes out of white printer paper to go with the cards. You can tape a piece of candy to the back or not, whichever you decide…

As you can see, there are several quick and easy ideas to create unique and personalized treats for your child’s Valentine’s Day party. They don’t have to be exactly like the ones I’ve done here; you have plenty of time (as of right now… LOL) to get started and come up with a cute idea that you love! So rummage through that craft closet, pick out your favorite digital kit, and get started!

I’m always here to answer any hybrid questions you may have, so leave me a note in the comments if you need to know anything. Also… if you want to earn challenge points at The Digital Press during the month of January by creating one of these items… head over to the forum and join into our monthly challenge system!



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.

Tutorial Tuesday | How to Create a Gratitude Album


Hello TDP Fans! I am Krista and I am back on the blog to show you how I quickly made a Gratitude Album for me to record daily a sentence or two and a photo of what I am thankful for.

Step 1: Go shopping or pull from your stash. I raided the Autumn and Thanksgiving categories in the TDP store. I found tons of great product. I ended up choosing 3 collections and some embellishment packs that coordinated well together.

Materials- Gratitude by Anita Designs | November Documented by Dunia Designs | Happy Together by Juno Designs | Highclere by Little Lamm and Co

Step 2: Pre-plan and create your pages. I knew I wanted each day to fit on a 6″x4″ layout. This would allow for me to use a 2″x3″ Journal card on one half and a photo on the other. Earlier in October to get ahead of the game I created all 30 days of my layouts so that each day in November I could plug in my photo and journaling and be done! We all know how busy November can get so why not help yourself out and get your pages done early?!

Here are a few of the pages I pre-created:

Step 3: Each day take some time to complete your pages by adding a photo and 1-2 sentences about what you are Thankful For that day.

Step 4: Print out your layouts and slide them into a photo album. Voila! Complete Gratitude album!




About the Author  Krista Lund is a mom of 3, married to her high school sweetheart and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of her favorite things are brownies, chips ‘n’ dip, taking pictures, and documenting her family’s story.