Category: Tutorials

Hybrid How-To | Selfie Shots in Mini Frames

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Hybrid How-To series on The Digital Press blog! Today I am here to show you how fun and easy it is to add selfie shots into cute little mini frames on your physical scrapbooking layouts. For the purpose of this tutorial, I’m adding mine into a Traveler’s Notebook spread (so you can see how tiny they can be!)…

Before we dive into the details of this process, though, let me introduce myself! I’m Wendy Morris-Saponaro, and I’m a “seasoned” hybrid memory-keeper and super excited to be on the creative team here at The Digital Press as a hybrid artist. I’ve been a scrapbooker for about 20 years in creating for many scrapbooking manufacturer companies… from Prima Marketing to several online scrapbooking companies. Yes, long long time… within the past few years with the changes in the scrapbooking industry, I’ve leaned more to hybrid scrapbooking (using digital supplies to create physical paper layouts/projects)… and typically in the Traveler’s Notebook format. I never see my addiction ending anytime soon. HA!

First, let’s take a selfie… get ready, smile, pose….

You know you are as guilty as myself in grabbing your phone, which is pretty much always glued in your hand, to snap that necessary selfie before picking up the fork and knife, jumping on this-or-that ride, or standing in front of a landmark sign… right? My husband would have his fair share on comments for my selfie shots that consist of about 20 takes before I pick only one from the batch that I like. Ha!

Let’s dive into a few ways that you can use your never-ending stream of phone camera selfies and incorporate them into your next digital or hybrid scrapbook layout…

Browse Through All Those Selfies

You might be amazed at how many selfie photos are sitting on your phone that you are planning to scrapbook but never print out. In selecting my photos, I browsed through my iPhone (i.e. “solo” selfie, selfies with others, etc.). The auto Selfies folder on the iPhone is a great jumpstart to see what is sorted there to select photos.

I use an Epson XP-6000 printer, and I just arranged my chosen photos in a collage format on a 4×6 photo sheet in the Epson app… and then printed out my top three choices. Don’t be afraid to use duplicate photos if they are your favorites. Just do you! Ha!

Also, to add, my two-page layout is a Traveler’s Notebook-sized spread, so I was focusing on selfies that would fit a vertical style for the flow of layout. You could easily adapt to a horizontal format, however, if that is your preference.

Frame it Up

I’ll give you a helpful clue… you’ll want to look for a collection over at The Digital Press that has photo frames in the kit…

I chose the GRL PWR Kit from ninigoesdigi for my layout. The photo frames in the package of elements from the kit were just perfect for framing my selfie photos. I used the Cricut Design Space software to re-size the photo frames to a mini version. Then, I used my Canon printer and Cricut Explore Air 2 to “print and cut” the frames to the perfect size for my photos, as shown here…

When you choose to print your digital papers, elements, and journal cards, the awesome thing is that you can re-size things to a preference for the size of your project.

As a hybrid artist, I love this ability to customize the digital elements to the size needed for my project!

As you can see, above, I grabbed up some of the items from the elements pack in the kit to print and add as fun bits here and there.

Compliments that Pack the Punch

As you will usually find in 99.9% of my layouts, I use stamping as a compliment to “telling the story” around my photos. I have MANY stamps (no shame in that)! HA! I used some stamps to compliment around the theme of ‘girl power’ in my layout, as shown in the next couple of images…

Also, as a fun touch, I love the ombre effect to the paper in the GRL PWR Kit …and the letters “GRL PWR” (shown below) were already in the ombre effect in the elements pack. I wanted that bold effect of the letters as the title…

Then, I accented the title with stamped phrases and wording here and there.

I also used a ticket stub stamp…

…and I even added bits of patterned paper from the GRL PWR Kit to some of the ticket stubs as accents and to add variety.

Here’s a look at the overall effect on the right side page of my finished layout…

Isn’t it a fun project?

I challenge YOU to look through your phone and grab up a few selfies to scrapbook, also — either in digital or a hybrid format. Share with me your thoughts in the comments section of this post after trying out my tips for inspiration.

About the Author  Wendy has a strong passion for the arts, lots of creative spirit, and is fearless in working with new products and techniques. During the day, she works full-time as an Audit Manager. Wendy and her family live on the Gulf coast of emerald waters in Navarre, Florida. Her husband is from Italy and is an amazing Executive Chef at an Italian restaurant in Navarre. Her daughter is a Yorkie named Principessa. Wendy has over 20 years of experience in the scrapbooking industry. She has been published several times in print and online scrapbook magazines, and has designed for several manufacturer’s creative teams. Wendy is currently designing for The Digital Press as a hybrid artist.

Tutorial Tuesday | Photography with Window Light

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today, I’m here to show you ways that you can capture photos using the light from the windows in your home.

Have you ever avoided taking photos in your home because the lighting isn’t great? Or looked around and wished you had gorgeous natural light flooding in, as with the beautiful homes we see in magazine spreads? Me too! I love our current home, but it has several rooms that are rather dark. As I eventually discovered, myself, window lighting has so much potential — even if it’s hard to see at first.

A few tips before we begin:

  • I highly recommend pulling out your DSLR if you have one. If all you have is a cell phone camera, however, that’s OK! Explore all the options and controls available in your camera app and ensure you’re making the most of your images.
  • Turn out the artificial lights! These techniques rely on having only the light from the window affecting your subject.

Ready? Let’s go!

Where’s The Light?

I love our kitchen, but it’s dark. There’s one window behind the sink, but it only gets indirect sunlight and the rest of the kitchen pretty much stays in shadow…

While it’s true that good light makes an image, the same can be said for shadows. Having both shadow and light gives much more depth to an image,  and shadows can help hide the junk in the background that you don’t want to see anyway! As you’ll soon see, this kitchen window has become my absolute favorite spot to capture photos in my home.

Once I even had to stop mid-chop to capture a photo of cilantro as I was preparing dinner!

Now that we’ve focused on figuring out where the light is… let’s explore all the ways we can utilize the windows in our home to capture amazing photos.

Photograph At An Angle To The Window

Stand perpendicular to the window. This means to stand so that one of your shoulders is toward the window, and one of your shoulders is away from it. The subject should be right in front of the window. This allows you to capture strong directional light and shadows moving across your subject.

Here is my son standing in front of the kitchen window, and my left shoulder was toward the window. Notice how the light falls off and the right side of his face and body is in shadow?

Here are two more examples using the same kitchen window. I placed these flowers in a cup on the kitchen floor and pulled out my macro lens! I love how the light just kisses the flowers and then dies off, leaving the rest of the image in shadow. You can’t even see the floor just a few inches below.

*TIP* If you do product photography, for an Etsy shop or another type of online sales listing, consider using lighting like this!

And just to show that I do have more than one window in my house, here’s my daughter and our cat Tiggy. In this instance, my right shoulder was toward the window. These windows happen to be much larger than my kitchen window, so you can see that the image overall is pretty well lit even though we still have those awesome shadows in there…

And one more of yet another cat, Pinkie Pie (we have four cats!). This is a window in my daughter’s bedroom…

Photograph Straight On To The Window

OK, so now you know how to use the window when you are standing perpendicular to it. But you can also shoot straight on to the window, as well. Here’s another shot of the cats in my daughter’s window… only this time, I was directly facing the window…

This presents challenges, as the outside will often be much brighter than the inside. In this example, I used the meter of my DSLR to set the exposure for the front yard, which resulted in the cats being in shadow. I focused on their ears so I could capture the outline of their ears in focus. I think this works because cats have a distinctive silhouette and this lets me tell the story of two cats staring out into the trees in the front yard.

And now, back to my favorite kitchen window. You’ll notice my kitchen’s a mess, dishes all around, even a dead plant off to the left! I want my kids to look back on our photos and connect with what they see, so I don’t stress over clutter or creating a perfect frame. I just had my daughter hop up on the counter and I snapped this. Took just a few minutes!

A few things to note:

  • While I am facing straight to the window, my daughter’s body is at an angle to the window so the light can touch her face. I had her slowly turn her head back towards the window just until I saw the light outline her sweet face and then I took the photo. If she was sitting with her back fully to the window and looking directly at us, her entire face would be in shadow and we wouldn’t be able to see her.
  • It’s totally OK if the window itself is blown out when you attempt this type of photo (“blown out” meaning that the image data is so bright that it has become fully white and lost all detail).
  • I set exposure off her face — that little patch of skin on her left cheek — to get the results here. You can easily play around with the exposure in your editing software later.
  • It’s very difficult to capture this type of an image with a cell phone. Most cell phones will try to auto-meter and it’s nearly impossible for the phone to determine what it should be metering for (and thus, it will probably over-expose the image — i.e. make the interior of the home appear fully lit).

Get Out There And Practice!

I took these photos in a camper we rented over spring break last year…

Once you learn to manage window light, you’ll see opportunities everywhere! At stores… restaurants… even in campers!

There’s no substitute for practice. If some of these techniques seem confusing, pull out your camera and try to replicate the setups from the sample images. I’ve been known to use a doll in place of a child because the doll listens to my directions much better than my kids do. As you practice, really focus on “seeing” the light and shadow, and notice how small changes in positioning can make a huge difference in the impact of the photo.

A few things to consider:

  • What is the story you’re trying to convey? Are things properly illuminated (or hidden!) to support that message?
  • Editing is key. Remember that what I’m showing here are edited images! Now, I’m pretty lazy… so the editing on these is pretty basic. But I do like to enhance contrast a bit so my images pop.
  • Explore black and white. The high-contrast images you get from directional lighting naturally lend themselves to gorgeous black and white edits.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to try using window lighting in your home in new ways when taking photographs. I’ll be back later to show you tips on creating amazing photos using the artificial light in your home!

About the Author  Beckie is a creative team member at The Digital Press and who lives near Austin, Texas. In addition to scrapping and photography, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and ignoring household chores. 

Tutorial Tuesday | Photo Repetition

Greetings happy scrappers, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! This week, I am going to share some creative ways to use the same photo multiple times on your layout in order to draw attention to and highlight the important details, and more!

Using the same photo repetitively on your page is also a fantastic way to bring cohesiveness and interest to your project. As with every aspect of scrapping, there is no right or wrong way to use a photo more than once on your page… and it is fun to try different techniques!

Therefore, I’ve compiled the following list of tips/ideas for doing so…

Blended photo | In the two examples shown here, the duplicated photo has been subtly blended into the background. Placement of the blended photo is important, because you want the viewer to be able to see the main subject of the photo…

Whether the blended photo takes up a portion of the background, or fills the entire background, the effect gives the page a soft, airy feeling…

Cropped photo | Cropping the duplicated photo is a great way to emphasize your favorite part of the picture. The cropped photo can be laid on your page as a shape (square, rectangle, triangle, etc.), or the cropped area can be blended into the background. Either way, the duplicated photo provides a path for the viewer to follow on your layout…

In each of these two examples, the most important part of each photo has been cropped and placed strategically on each page, creating visual triangle…

Here’s another example in which the image on the left is simply a cropped/zoomed-in version of the same photo on the right…

Creative cropping | In the next example, not only is the cropping super creative, but changing the photo to black and white gives the page some added interest. Think outside of the box when duplicating your photo!

Macro cropping | Cropping the photo so it appears that it was taken using a macro lens really adds a fun aspect to the layout. When using this technique it can appear that you have used two totally different photos, when in fact it is the same one duplicated…

KIT & TEMPLATE: As the Leaves Turn by Designed by Irma:
FONT: Touch by Karla Noel:

As you can see, using repetitive photos on your page is a great way to add interest to your pages… and really, the sky is the limit as to the ways the duplicated photo can be scrapped. Thanks for stopping by the blog today! I hope you’ll find this installment of Tutorial Tuesday to be useful the next time you work on a project!

Until next time… happy scrapping!!

About the Author  Jill W is a creative team member at The Digital Press and has been scrapping for over 13 years. She resides in Northwest Illinois. In addition to scrapping, she enjoys spending time with her family — especially her three young grandchildren (ages 6, 4 and 2). Retirement is getting closer for her, and she is anxious to travel the country with her husband, taking photos and scrapping them as they journey across the USA.

Hybrid How-To | Decorative Peat Pots

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Hybrid How-To series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I am going to show you how to print digital elements on tissue paper to make these pretty peat pots.

This tutorial is about making the peat pots, yes… but really, it is going to teach you the trick for printing on tissue paper — a skill which opens up a bunch of new crafty possibilities. Peat pots are the object I chose for this, but you could use the tissue paper on lots of other mediums — from those cute metal buckets, to the glass inside a picture frame, to bowls or plates, etc. So many options!

Supplies Needed

  • Digital elements of your choice (I used Starting Fresh | Blendable by Calista’s Stuff)
  • Photo-editing program such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
  • White tissue paper
  • Cardstock
  • Tape
  • Peat pots
  • White acrylic paint
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint brush & foam brush


  1. First, we need to size the elements for the peat pots. Mine needed to be about 2.5″ in height (but it didn’t matter how wide)…

2. Next is the printing. Cut the tissue paper down to about 1″ smaller than what your printer will allow. The trick to printing on tissue paper is to tape it to a piece of cardstock and send it through the printer that way.

Here’s a look at my tissue paper after I’d sent it through the printer, with the painty elements printed onto it…

You’ll note that I had a little ink spray on my page, but it didn’t matter because I knew I’d be cutting all of that away.

3. The next step is to paint the peat pots. The white acrylic paint will help hide the edges of the tissue paper. I just used a big paint brush and criss-crossed a pretty thick layer all over the pots, leaving some of the brown color showing.

4. Next, cut the images out of the tissue paper. Nothing precise, just follow the basic shape of the image…

5. After that, we’ll Mod Podge the tissue paper images onto the peat pots with a foam brush. Once the tissue paper is wet, it will rip easily… so make sure you brush carefully.

That’s it! So easy, right?

Here’s a look at the final project. The Mod Podge finish makes them shiny and so pretty…

Another look…

These peat pots took me less than an hour to make, and they will make a perfect addition to my spring decor. I think I’m going to fill mine with some fake nests and eggs. 🙂

I hope you’ll give this project 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, a dog named Gracie, and a cat named Kit. 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 | Creating a Pop Art Effect

Hi everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’m going to show you how to create a pop art effect with your photos — either for fun, or as a way of using your imperfect photos in a creative way.

We all know that life sometimes gets in the way of the perfect photo. Sometimes that one blurry photo is the only one you have of a wonderful event, and the memory deserves to be scrapped even if the photo is less-than-perfect! I have found that applying a pop art effect is a great way to use those imperfect photos in a fun way.

For instance, here’s a photo that I want to use from our recent trip to Rome…

You’ll see that I’m all hot and bothered in this photo, and that’s not exactly the type of photo I want to record forever in the pages of my album! So… I decided to give the photo the pop art treatment, instead.

The process might seem a little complicated, but trust me, it’s worth the trouble! Let’s get started.

Step 1: Select your photo and open it in your photo editing software. I use Photoshop CS5, so depending on your own software, it might look a bit different for you (hopefully similar enough, though!). In the Layers Palette, double click on the “Background” layer to unlock it… and rename it to “Photo” or something suitable.

Step 2: Create a new layer underneath your Photo and rename that layer “Background”.

Step 3: Select the Paint bucket tool (G) and fill your Background layer with white.

Step 4: Now we want to remove the unwanted parts of the photo. Select the Pen tool (P), making sure that it’s set to “Path”. Continue to create a selection around the part of your photo that you do want to use.

Step 5: After creating a closed path, right click on the photo and select “Make Selection” from the pop-up menu. Enter “0” as Feather Radius on the next menu.

Step 6: Invert the selection (Shift-Ctrl-I) and press Delete.  You now have your photo subject on a white background.

Step 7: Desaturate your photo (Shift-Ctrl-U).

Step 8: Select the Crop tool (C) and crop your photo to make it visually appealing.

Step 9: Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and adjust the sliders until your photo has pronounced lines (and the imperfections are balanced out!). Merge the adjustment layer with your Photo layer.

Step 10: Go to Filter > Artistic > Cut-out and apply the filter to your Photo, with settings more or less like mine in the image. If your Artistic filters aren’t showing up in Photoshop, a quick Google search will yield a video that explains how to enable these filters.

Step 11: Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels and adjust the sliders until you are left with only black, white and 2 or 3 shades of grey in your photo layer.

Step 12: Apply a Cut-out filter again (see step 10), this time changing only the “Edge Simplicity” setting to 4.

Step 13: Now is a good time to save this project! Then open a new project – I used a 12 x 12 inch canvas to get a feel for the size of the photo on a scrapbook layout. I named the new canvas Pop Art – this is where the magic is going to happen!

Step 14: Drag only your Photo layer to the new canvas, and rename the layer “Photo”.

Step 15: Put the Photo layer into a Group (Ctrl-G) in the layers palette, and rename the group “Set 1”.

Step 16: Create a new layer in the group, underneath your Photo layer, and rename to bg 1 (this will be your photo’s background).

Step 17: Select the Shape tool (U), making sure the rectangle shape is active.

Step 18: With the “bg 1” layer selected, create a rectangle underneath your photo, with the same size as your photo.

Step 19: Now duplicate your Set 1 group 3 times, so that you have 4 groups.

Step 20: Spread the groups evenly on your canvas.

Step 21: Open your inspiration colour scheme – I wanted to use the kit All the Feels | Happiness by Juno Designs and Amanda Yi for my layout, so I decided to use those colours in my photos too.

Double click on the thumbnail of the background layer in Set 1 to open the Colour picker and fill the rectangle with your chosen colour.

Step 22: Create a new layer between the Photo layer and the background layer, and rename the layer to “Photo Colour”.

Step 23: Choose a colour for your photo by using the Eyedropper tool (I).

Hold Ctrl and click on the thumbnail image of your Photo layer (in the layers palette) to select the area in your photo. Make sure the Photo Colour layer is selected, and fill the selection with your chosen photo colour using the Paint bucket tool (G).

Step 24: Select the Photo layer, and change the blending mode to “Screen”.

Step 25: Repeat steps 21 to 24 for the other 3 sets too.

Step 26: You can increase the Saturation on your Photo Colour layer if you want to. Do this by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue / Saturation and adjusting the sliders.

Step 27: You can now drag the Photo groups to any layout you want to make, and enjoy your fun pop art photos!

 Here is the layout I created with my improved photos:

As you can see, the pop art effect really adds a fun element to the page, and I don’t have to feel embarrassed about scrapping with such a bad photo! 🙂

I hope you all enjoy creating the pop art effect… and please don’t be scared to use bright colours!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Christelle is a creative team member at The Digital Press, happily creating for all of the talented designers. She’s originally from South Africa, and has recently relocated to the UK with her husband. She loves scrapping her 3 lovely step-children and 4 beautiful nieces and all of their (mis)adventures. If she could, she’d travel all the time, but for now she makes do with traveling as often as possible. Her other hobbies include machine embroidery and sewing, as well as reading soppy romance!

Tutorial Tuesday | Using Themed Kits Creatively

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’m here to to share a valuable tip to help you see the boundless possibilities of using themed kits for non-themed or (totally unrelated-themed) layouts or projects. It’s a great way to stretch your stash further!

Have you ever seen a themed kit in the store and thought, “Gee, that’s gorgeous… but how would I use it for [insert holiday, event, special occasion] when that’s not something I celebrate or have photos for?”

Think outside the box and RE-PURPOSE items!

Yes, really, it’s that simple! “Re-purpose” can mean everything from simply leaving the item as-is and just using it in a different way — to actually re-coloring, modifying, or editing the original design (and if doing the latter, always remember to credit the designer when sharing your layouts or projects, noting that some elements may have been modified).

It’s always helpful, as you look at kits in the store, to keep the following strategies in mind:

  • There are probably going to be patterned papers in the kit, and maybe some solids, too. Solids, of course, are versatile and can be used repeatedly — but what about the patterns? Look them over and see what you might be able to use for something else. Here’s an example of papers from a birthday-themed kit (Yay, It’s Your Day by ninigoesdigi). I could easily use 12 of the 16 papers here on just about any layout, so this is a great option for me…

  • Treat elements the same way. Using another birthday-themed example (Celebrate | The Elements by Mari Koegelenberg), you can see that there are several elements in this preview that would work across many layouts or projects — the stars, brads, photo frames, and flowers, for example. However, even some of the not-so-obvious items can be used elsewhere, too, as I’ve detailed on the following image…

  • If the color palette isn’t exactly what you’d like, think about re-coloring options (check out this previous blog post for a few easy how-to steps on re-coloring elements).
  • Lastly, look at items that, with a small modification or two, would be perfect for your needs. Masking and rearranging items works really well with word art and word strips (hint, I modified a word strip on my page). Here’s a quick how-to on word art (I’m using Photoshop CC)…

Let’s say I wanted to combine the “hello sunshine” and “spring vibes” wordart from Rachel Etrog’s April Documented kit to create my own that says “hello spring”…

I’d start by applying a mask to the “hello sunshine” wordart…

Making sure the mask is selected in my layer (just click on the white square to be sure), and with black as my foreground color, use a large brush to ‘paint’ over or mask the word “sunshine”. A quick reminder with masks: black conceals, white reveals. If you accidentally hide too much, just flip your brush color over to white and reveal the word art again…

Repeat the process with “spring vibes”, and then move the two pieces of word art together to create something new…

As an example of how re-purposing can work, I took a winter/Christmas-themed kit (Merry Christmas by Anita Designs), shown below, and used it to document a walk around the local botanical gardens in the middle of summer. Here’s a look at the themed kit I used…

I selected papers and elements that were generic in nature, and also made a few edits to the word strip and word art elements. Here’s my result, creating a summer-themed layout using a Christmas-themed kit…

Taking an out-of-the-box approach to your kit selections can open the door to so many new opportunities that you might have otherwise just ignored. Why not give this a go and see what re-purposing papers and elements can do to expand your digi-stash!

About the Author Kat Hansen is a creative team member here at The Digital Press. Recently returning home to Australia, Kat is transitioning back into life “down under.” She’s currently using her creative time as a way to reconnect with her home town, often spending afternoons with her camera, just wandering about. Vacation memories feature pretty heavily in Kat’s scrapbooking pages, as well as her health and fitness journey. She’s looking to do more “all about me” (AAM) pages in 2019. Kat has quite the sense of humor (she “blames” her father for this), which she incorporates into her journaling and memory-keeping.