Anyone who frequents the Fabulous Adventures of Listgirl blog should be able to make sense of the title of my post. Christine and I met through scrapbooking back in 2008 and became fast friends, and in 2009 we flew out to San Diego to blind them with our pasty white midwestern skin and geekiness. Her blog regularly features snapshots from their daily life, accounts of their fitness goals and accomplishments, and – my favorite – a whole lot of food photos. Todd and Christine don’t mess around when it comes to food, and it’s one of the biggest motivations we had for flying our lily white carcasses out there last year. Have stretchy pants – will travel.
Out of the masses of food photography that Christine featured, a single trend started to reappear that came to be known – in our house – as “The Todd Shot”.
We. Love. The Todd Shot.
Many people try to capture the essence of The Todd Shot, but few succeed.
Todd goes for it 100%. Mouth wide open, hunger crazed eyes – it’s a tough shot to pull off. It’s about 10% love of food, 90% complete lack of self-consciousness.
See what I mean? I wasn’t “all in”. I started laughing so I couldn’t pull off the crazy eyes, I was self-conscious about the Internet seeing my dental work. Todd Shot FAIL.
I couldn’t even look him in the eye. I didn’t DESERVE to.
Later that same trip, Todd had to right my enormous WRONG by attempting the Never Before Seen High Risk Of Being Bludgeoned By A Life-Size Vegetable (or Fruit?) Todd Shot – which will forever go down in history as one of the funniest moments of my life. Watching him stalk this giant tomato in order to achieve the shot was one of the highlights of my life.
The other day when I was working from home I sat down to eat lunch with Nicholas. I made “seven ingredient sandwiches” because Nicholas likes to have a name for his food and I’m really creative like that, can’t you tell? He and I don’t get many chances to sit down and have an actual homemade lunch together. When he’s out of school we pick up a lot of food on the go (bad mom!) and on the weekends our eating schedule is all over the place. While we ate we had a chance to talk about what he was looking forward to this coming school year and his favorite highlights of this past summer – and because I appreciated the moment so much I ran into One Little Bird World Headquarters (a.k.a. my new office) and grabbed my trusty Nikon.
And Internet, I am here to inform you that out of the ASHES OF MY SHAME has risen a phoenix. Granted, it’s just a little baby phoenix – but I have hope. Because completely unprompted, and despite the fact that he has never read the Listgirl Blog (sorry Christine!), he struck this pose:
We still need to work on the crazy eyes, but I figure a few days of starvation will cure that. You have to SUFFER for ART, child!
Confession: I am a complete sucker for what I like to call “scattery bits”. I have a hard time passing them up if they’re included in a kit. Sort of like “glittery bits”. So you can imagine the froth I work myself into when I have “scattery glittery bits”.
In my soul I’m a very carefree spirit and adore when pages have a windswept, unstructured look. It seems as though it would be effortless enough to achieve, and perhaps it is for some people, but when I sit down to create it the obsessive compulsive inside me screams “nooooo, things must be lined up!! LINE IT UP!!” If I’m being completely honest, I consider it “wild and crazy” when I take a composition and rotate it about 5 degrees. Hold me back! What’s next? Dancing on bars?!
In paper scrapping if I wanted to create a random scatter of items I’d probably just take a handful of stuff and throw it at my page, then glue things down wherever they landed. Photoshop could seriously benefit from a “Throw Crap At The Page” Tool. Can you imagine? In my mind’s eye I can picture it. I’d be able to select a couple of items via a file browser, set up a few parameters, and then click a “Throw This Crap At The Page!” button.
Maybe in CS6?
For now, in order to create seemingly effortless scatters I was left with no other option but to devise a completely regimented way to achieve a totally non-regimented look. It forces my inner obsessive compulsive to swallow a few mood tranquilizers and allows my free-spirited hippie soul to dance around with glee.
Note: You can click on any of the screenshots below to open up a larger version.
Step 1: Select a basic round brush and increase the size to about the dimensions of the items you’ll be scattering on your page. I’m going to be scattering little paper flowers, so I chose 250px.
Step 2: Create a new layer on your document for your brushwork, and now we’ll tweak the brush settings in the Brush Palette. You can access your Brush Palette by clicking on the bucket full of brushes over by your layer palette (if enabled), via the toolbar at Window < Brushes or by pressing F5. Copy the following settings as your brush specs:
Step 3: Now you can sample a brush stroke on your page. Try clicking and dragging your mouse across the page in a straight line from left to right and see where your dots fall. No two scatters are ever alike, so sometimes I will Undo (CTRL+Z) a few times and try again until I get a scatter that I like.
Step 4: Now I’m ready to drag my elements onto the spaces I’ve mapped out with my scatter brush. Just open and drag them on like you normally would, resizing them to the approximate dimensions of the circles in your Scatter Brush (and rotating them slightly as you go, if you’d like).
Step 5: All that’s left to do is delete (or hide) the layer that has your brush stroke on it, and shadow your elements. (For tips on creating realistic drop shadows, you can visit my Drop Shadows: The Basics post.)
So there you have it! A way to overcome your obsessive compulsive tendencies and create a windswept look on your page. You could adjust the sliders in your brush palette to create an infinite number of scatter variables. I didn’t touch on it here, but if you use a square brush (instead of a round one) you can also mess with the Angle Jitter in the Shape Dynamics tab to distribute your elements at pre-defined angles. You can also create multi layered scatters by distributing one element, using your scatter brush again, then scattering a different element.
It’s no “Throw Crap At A Page” but it’s pretty close!
Now here’s the part where I shamelessly promote myself:
Paper and flowers are from Abide by One Little Bird (that’s me!)
You can visit my Mind-Blowing Drop Shadow Tutorial for my tips and tricks on shadowing in Photoshop.
Subscribe to my newsletter, The Cage Liner, for exclusive savings on One Little Bird products and the latest news from The Cage.
Have you stopped lately and thought to yourself “How is it June already?” That’s what crossed my mind when I typed the subject of this blog post. June? That means the boy will be out of school next week and proclaiming that he’s bored, and there’s nothing to do. That’s how I know that summer is here! All the whining and complaining are a tell-tale sign!
I said in my sneak peek that I am totally smitten with this kit. A lot of times I sit down to work and let ideas come to me as I go, but I pictured this kit in my head before I ever even opened my store back in January. I had a color palette all chosen, a list of the items I wanted to include, and for the past few months I’ve been waiting for summer to arrive because it feels like summer to me. And to my fellow moms of boys, don’t let the pink turn you off. I make sure to include a yellow and/or brown version of every element – I never let pink stand in my way, haha!
Little Honeybee in my store today, and 20% off until the end of the day Sunday (June 6th).
I’ve also added this little bitty scrappy alpha to my store. I love itty bitty alphas because they work so well for titles, subtitles, dates, monograms, elements … they’re so versatile! This one coordinates perfectly with Little Honeybee, but it’s neutral enough for any page.
Then Renee (a member of The Flock) asked me if I could include some NUMBERS for the tidbit alpha and I thought that was such a good idea that I should have done it all along! And since I already had everything packaged up and ready to roll out, I decided to offer them as a blog freebie.
– DOWNLOAD HERE –
I’ll be back in a day or two with some inspiration from The Flock! So be sure to stop back in!
This is a post I’ve been working on for a while. My most asked question in digital scrapbooking is how I shadow and/or whether or not I could do layer styles or actions of my shadows to sell in my store. If I had one (or a dozen) tried-and-true consistent ways of shadowing I would give it a shot. The fact of the matter is, though, I have no magic formula for shadowing an element. It always depends on the colors, where it’s located on the page, what’s near it, what the element is made of, etc.
I do have some jumping off points, though, and I’ll gladly share them (for free!) for Photoshop users here on my blog. You may be able to easily adapt these to other programs, but the screenshots and instructions herein are from Photoshop CS4. There’s nothing I do that isn’t also available in earlier versions of Photoshop, it’s pretty basic.
I’m no rocket scientist. For the sake of brevity, though, I’m going to assume you already know where all the buttons are for adding drop shadows and how to bring up the right-click menu and such. If you’re to the point in scrapbooking where you’re working on your shadow realism, chances are you know those things already.
I’m going to start with this sad little unshadowed flower on a piece of light kraft paper. Frown with me, everyone. Poor little sad flower laying there with no depth. I chose a flower because it has enough variables to learn from, and the kraft paper because shadows show up really well against it.
Ok, now get ready for an intense, mind-blowing shadow revelation here, folks. You may want to sit down with a towel underneath you for this one. For my drop shadow settings the most important part as far as I’m concerned is to change the blend mode from “Multiply” (default) to “Linear Burn”. This makes all the difference for me.
I’ll give you a bit of technical mumbo jumbo to explain why I prefer this mode, then you go ahead and decide whether you want to use it or not. Multiply “multiplies” the average color intensity of the top layer with the average intensity of the bottom layer. This produces darker colors within the composite image and creates contrast. Linear Burn also produces darker colors within the composite image, however the main difference is that Linear Burn breaks the bottom layer down into its individual color channels (for scrapbooking those are your R(ed), G(reen), and B(lue) channels) to determine the degree of darkness for each pixel in the top layer. Channel information for each color is used and the darkest color’s intensity is increased by a certain degree. So your shadows have more variation throughout, depending on all the colors beneath them.
If you decide to stick with “Multiply” then there’s no shame in it. However, if you switch to “Linear Burn” don’t come crying to me when your shadows take on a new level of AWESOME.
On my pages my light source is usually set to the upper right corner – at or around 42 to 45 degrees on the little spinny box. I shadow things like stitches and staples at 90 degrees with my light source coming straight down from the top of the page. My shadow color (totally subjective, whatever floats your boat) is #2c1901 which is a really deep orange. It’s almost black, to the naked eye it’ll look black.
The Linear Burn blend mode tends to produce darker shadows in general, so if you’ve been using Multiply at about 70% opacity, you should expect that your opacity levels will drop a bit with the change in blend mode. Tinker around with them until it looks about right to the naked eye. What I tend to do is find the point where it looks okay to me, THEN I move the opacity up by another 5% or more. (So if I fall on 35%, I’ll actually move it up to about 40%) because I err on the side of them being too dark and I recognize my “inner wuss”. You know, the wuss that tells me “No no! That’s too dark! Everyone is going to laugh at you!” Move it up another 5% and tell that inner wuss to stuff it.
Make sure your “Global Light” box is unchecked. Mine is always unchecked. Then if you monkey with a shadow later on down the road it won’t affect all of your other shadows.
The sliders are going to vary by element. Here’s a quick (and very general!) idea of approximate values:
So at this point you’ll have a fairly static, uniform shadow for your element. If it’s an item that’s fairly solid (acrylic pieces, sequins, etc) I’ll usually leave it as a uniform shadow. Those things don’t have a lot of “flex” on your page so the shadow would naturally be very precise.
For items like flowers, leaves, ribbons, bows, etc. you’re going to want to mess these shadows up a bit. In real life they wouldn’t necessarily lay perfectly on the same plane on your page. So this is where you’ll right click on the shadow in your Layers Palette and choose “Create Layer”.
Hey and look, someone magically named my layers for me! Haha. You’ll notice that on your new separated shadow layer, the blend mode is still “Linear Burn” and the Fill is set to the percentage you specified within the drop shadow dialogue. So you can continue to tinker with that Fill setting as your page develops if you find that you need to change the strength of the shadow down the line.
People ask me whether I use the Warp tool to alter my shadows, and there are some instances (very few) where I do. Usually just with skinny frames or small pieces of paper. My tool of choice is the Smudge Tool (R). You’ll find it over in your toolbar just beneath the Paint Bucket. Click and hold it down to see all the options (or press Shift + R a few times to cycle through them without using your mouse).
Up on the top select a large, soft brush. Something substantial. You’re going to want to move more than a couple of pixels here. My image above is pretty poor, but I selected a 300px brush with a hardness of 0%, and then set the strength (along the top bar) to 50%.
You can adjust that Strength slider depending on your needs. Basically the stronger the Smudge Tool is set, the more exact your move is. SOMETIMES that means you can end up with “lumpy” shadows if you use it at 100% strength. If you move the Strength down to about 50% you’ll gently “smudge” your shadow in the direction that you drag the brush. Just like the tool says. Truth in advertising!
Now you’ll just return to your Drop Shadow layer, and gently (no sudden moves!) drag the Smudge brush over the edges of your shadow – pushing and pulling them around until you achieve the desired effect.
The reason I prefer this over the Warp tool is that it’s a little more organic. A little more subtle. The Warp bounding box gives you about 20 points where you can adjust the shadow, and those points never seem to be exactly where I want them to be. With the Smudge Tool if I just want to bump the petal of a flower out a little bit, I can do it easily without affecting the rest of the shadow.
This is a much happier flower. I’ve zoomed in on it because it deserves a close-up with a shadow like that:
You can consider this a job well done at this point. You’ve messed your shadow up a bit, made it a little less refined. You’ve unleashed your shadow’s liberal, tree-hugging, fly-by-the-seat-of-its-pants unpredictability. But if you want to take it to the NEXT level. Read on. Because after this, your shadow will be so free-spirited you’ll be able to buy it a Prius and teach it how to make its own granola bars.
I want you to select that Drop Shadow layer, Duplicate it (right click then “duplicate layer” or CTRL + J). Now you have two identical drop shadows and they’re going to look a skosh dark just for a few seconds. Select the bottom shadow layer.
And then run a Gaussian Blur Filter on it (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with a radius of about 30 pixels (variable, mess with this to your liking)
With the blurred shadow layer still selected, gently bump it (using your arrow keys) a few times down and a few times to the left (or in whatever direction you shadow) to move it further away from center. And adjust the Fill Opacity down to about 20%. You want it to be fairly light, it’s a secondary shadow. Then move up one layer to your non-blurred shadow layer, and adjust the Fill Opacity down on that one by about 20% (if you were at 45%, move it down to 25-30%).
Below you’ll see the slight difference this makes in the depth of your shadow. The one on the left is just one shadow layer that we tweaked with the Smudge Tool. The one on the right side has the two shadow layers, with the Gaussian Blur one bumped out about 10 steps to the left and 10 steps down (I use the arrow keys to do this).
The absolute last step I usually take after shadowing an element is to select the layers for the original element and the two shadows, right clicking in my layer palette and selecting “Link Layers”. Many times I’ll also “Group Layers” immediately after that to keep everything together when moving it around. These are just general housekeeping steps.
For the sake of this little How To I used the flower, but the same dual-shadow technique can take a lot of elements from “not bad” to “Wow, that looks touchable!” Buttons almost always benefit from a second shadow layer, I always shadow them using the techniques in this post. The same goes for curly, swirly ribbons. On those I go a little more wild with the Smudge Tool and mess the shadows up REAL GOOD by pulling the shadows for the “high” parts of the ribbon pretty far away from the original image. Bows are another one that, at the very least, you need to tweak with the Smudge Tool. Depending on where you have the bow on your page (close to the background or layered up and away) there’s sometimes no point in putting a second shadow layer on them. Nevertheless, you’re not out anything if you try it.
My hope is that this at least gives you one new tool in your arsenal. Like I said in the beginning, there’s no magic bullet for shadowing every element, it all comes down to tinkering. The more you tinker, the more commonplace these things become and the faster you fly through them.
Shadow Like Me Layer Styles
I’ve gone ahead and created Layer Styles of my most-used shadow settings and they’re for sale in my shop – so if you want to save yourself a few steps and apply some shadows in a jiffy, then please check them out. They’ve been tested in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and they’ll fast-forward you through the first couple of steps in this tutorial. Happy Scrapping!
I could write a million different posts about the ways that Lightroom finally won me over – it was a slow courtship but the more I learn, the more I wind up loving.
This is one that streamlines my scrapbooking workflow, though, so as I was importing photos today I took a screenshot to share it here. I used to keep a separate folder on my hard drive of “photos to scrapbook”. These were photos that had a story I wanted to preserve OR photos that were just cute – which can be few and far between sometimes with the boy. Although in his defense, he has really started to accept my fairly constant barrage of shutter clicks. I think one day he just lost the will to fight it and adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy towards the whole thing. There are even some days when I can simply say “Nicholas, I don’t have any recent pictures of you” and he will WILLINGLY COME TO ME and even … brace yourself … give me suggestions!
Also, I debated whether I should even share this because it may be too shocking for the Internet. But last week? He even put on a different, nicer shirt for his photos. After you pick your jaw up off the floor you can continue reading.
Back to my tip! I’ve stopped using the “photos to scrapbook” folders and I now manage this entire thing through Lightroom Collections because it’s SO quick and doesn’t require me to move any photos around on my disk.
On the left pane in the library, down in “Collections” I created a new collection (by clicking on the “+” sign on the right side of the header) and I named it “Photos to Scrap”. Then I right-clicked on the new collection and chose “Set as Target Collection” (see image below, it’s clickable for the full size screenshot)
After these two steps are complete, all I have to do is hit the “B” key when highlighting any photo in my catalog and it will add it to my target collection – which in this case is always my “Photos to Scrap” collection. Since I import all my photos off of my memory card through Lightroom anyway, I set these “scrappable” photos aside right after import by taking a quick spin through the new photos and hitting “B” on the ones I may want to put on a page. I don’t post-process them at this time – mainly because I still do the bulk of my post-processing in Photoshop – but it’s an extremely quick process (literally the press of a key) to collect all these photos in one spot so that I don’t have to spend precious time sifting through photos every time I sit down to make a layout.
Creating several collections isn’t quite as slick. You can only use the “B” key on one collection at a time, so you’d have to switch your target collection to direct photos to a different one. The easiest way to add photos to additional collections, though, is to simply drag them over. You’ll see the photo count climb up to confirm that your photo was added.
After you’ve used a photo in your collection, you can right click on it and select “remove from target collection” so that your collection always contains only photos that are waiting to make it to the page. (This doesn’t remove it from your disk – don’t worry. It’s still there under your regular folder hierarchy, just removed from the “Photos to Scrap” collection.)
It’s just one of the ways that Lightroom improves my efficiency. I hope to share some more as time permits because I found Lightroom quite … annoying when I first installed it. (No offense, Adobe!) It took me a while to figure out how to really customize it to my needs, but now it saves me a TON of time.