Month: April 2016

Blending Modes and Levels Adjustment Layers

During the next few weeks, members of Anna’s Creative Team will share ideas for using blend modes on scrapbook pages. I thought that I’d share a quick tip for using a levels adjustment layer and blend modes to change the color of elements, specifically two of the buttons on a page that I created with Anna’s new Tribute Template Album No. 1.

You don’t always need to adjust color with a hue and saturation adjustment layer. In fact, if you only want to darken or lighten an element, the lightness slider in the hue and saturation adjustment panel isn’t the best way to go. I have placed a copy of the original buttons next to the buttons that I adjusted so that you can see the difference made with a quick change in blend mode using a levels adjustment layer.



To add a levels adjustment layer, click on the element layer that needs adjustment. Press the option (alt) key and click on the add adjustment layer icon. Choose levels from the pop up menu. When the dialogue box comes up, check the box that says “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask”. Before clicking ok, select the blend mode that you want to use from the drop down menu. Which blend mode I choose depends on what my element or photo needs. I don’t generally change the opacity until I see the effect of the blend mode on the layer. These steps are the same whether adding a levels adjustment layer to a button or a photo.

On the left side, I wanted to darkenScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.19.02 PM the yellow button to better match the warmer yellows in my photographs. To do that, I clipped a levels adjustment layer to the button and changed the blend mode to multiply and opacity to 50%.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.21.41 PMOn the right side, the tone was close to my granddaughter’s shirt, but by adding another levels adjustment layer, this time on screen blend mode at 50%, I matched the photo color exactly without adding to my file size.


With all the photos on a two page, multi photo spread like this, I like being able to quickly make adjustments to my photos and save file size. I often use levels adjustment layers to lighten and/or add contrast to my photos rather than duplicating the photo layers and changing the blend modes of the new layers. I generally use screen blend mode to lighten photo exposure and soft light or overlay to add contrast to a photo.

This year, I have been wanting to connect the stories of current photos with earlier photos. The photos on these two pages were taken over nine years with at least three different cameras. That can create problems trying to bring unity to a page. I have added at least one levels adjustment layer to all the photos on this layout, once masking out parts of an adjustment layer on multiply blend mode. There’s also an added benefit to using adjustment layers. In addition to being quick and easy, I can always make additional changes to any adjustment layer. Making changes to my photos with levels adjustment layers helped coordinate the different photos on my page without adding to my file size. I hope you’ll try changing blending modes with levels adjustment layers.2016-04-29_ChildrensMuseum


Outside My Creative Routine

After sharing with a friend in January that I wasn’t feeling especially creative after finishing my 2015 book project, more like burned out I’d say, she gave me some valuable advice about this activity that I’ve been engaged in for the last five years, specifically scrapbooking. Remember this is supposed to be a hobby, its supposed to be fun, and it’s not supposed to be stressful or keep you awake at night. If any of those statements are not true, then you need to ask yourself how you can move back in the right direction.

So I stepped back a bit creatively to spend time considering my focus for this year and determining reasonable goals for my photography and scrapbooking. That’s one reason why I’ve been reevaluating my style. I remembered writing a list defining my style several years ago, but even after reorganizing my hard drive I couldn’t find it. When I have this feeling of not wanting to create, I often find that distractions, i.e. organizing my external hard drive or scrolling Facebook, while pleasant, are generally useless for fostering my creativity. So I’ve begun a new list describing the characteristics of my photo centric style. For example, I often blend and/or extract my photos on neutral papers.

However, I am learning that sometimes it’s good to try something new when you don’t feel especially creative, do something outside your normal creative routine. I’m not really a stripe person, but for this layout, I experimented with a stripe paper from Anna’s new ArtPlay Palette Sunkissed. I decided that I liked the added interest and balance the paper provided with the weight of the tulips.

2016-04-24_SunPleaseBackground SunPlease_ATSunkissed_lkdavis_600

I don’t know if you are into making lists the way I am, but this is the beginning of a descriptive list of my photo centric style. I may incorporate stripes into my new list following my latest experiment. Over the next few weeks, I’ll add to this new list as I pinpoint more characteristics of my current style.

  • color photographs on solid neutrals
  • blending
  • extractions
  • journaling

What would your list look like?

Finding Your Style

As part of a photography class, I am walking Lauritzen Gardens once a month this year. The photo below captures part of the Victorian Garden, a gift from the Hitchcock Foundation in memory of two sisters, within Lauritzen Gardens. While the temperatures are still too cold to plant vulnerable annuals, the tulips and daffodils are in full bloom at the moment. I am enjoying capturing the seasonal changes with my camera, especially trying different aperture settings and working the angles. Once I import my photos into Lightroom, my perspective changes as I begin to think about creating art with a photograph. For example, I created the page below with this photo.

2016-04-17 124949SunKissedVictorianGarden_SunKissed_lkdavis

This next photo was the source for another layout.

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Despite appearing quite different, both layouts reflect my style as I created pages with some photographs that I made on my walk in the gardens. To both photos, I applied a custom filter using Topaz Simplify. On both layouts I used masks and blended the photos. On both pages, I extracted part of a photo and used threads to anchor the extractions. On both pages, I wrote some journaling and added the date and a title.

At one point, I wondered if I had my own style; I read an interesting article about finding your own style in the October 2012 issue of Masterful Scrapbooking. The article stated that eventually you find your style if you remember why you’re making pages, use products you like, practice what you’re good at and continue to develop your skills. Blending, artistic filters, extractions and journaling reflect my preferences and strengths for creating an artsy page; they are part of my style. The way I work with color, my preference for solid colors and texture, my emphasis on balance, the products I use are part of my style. My scrapbooking style is as distinctive as my writing voice and the photographs that I make. I want my family to see and hear my voice in the pages that I create because it is for them that I am making photographs and creating pages.




Often, I find inspiration from a class or presentation, as I did at today’s Scrapaneers Live. While Anna didn’t get to finish sharing all twelve artsy hacks that she had prepared due to weather induced technical problems, I wanted to experiment with one strategy she shared, modifying a frame with a fotoblendz mask.


First, I placed only the frame, text box and art strokes from Artsy Layered Template No. 75 on a new blank 12×12 page. Rather than use the mask that came with the frame, I clipped my photo to the layers of file 1 from Hipster FotoBlendz No. 6 following Anna’s instructions for deleting the frame’s shadow.


Then, I added the layers from transfer 2 of Artsy Transfers To the Moon below the masked photo, recolored the pink stains and adjusted the size.


With the addition of a file from MultiMedia Moon No. 1, a button from ArtPlay Palette To The Moon and two threads from UrbanThreadz No. 10, I complete the artsy look of my page.

My journaling connects a memory of my grandson to the photo, a handy technique when you don’t have a photo of someone that exactly matches the story you want to tell.

The journaling reads: Owen often shares little snippits of science with me on the drive home from karate. Last week he was telling me about black holes. I’m sure he’s told me something about the moon’s phases, craters and gravitational influence on our tides. He’s going to shake his head in disbelief when he sees this page. It’s art, I will explain by quoting Picasso, “Everything you can imagine is real.” The moon is more than a small dot in my photo.




“It’s not wet,” Kate said.


Kate painted this morning. She knows how to get clean water and wash off her brush so the paints don’t get mixed up. She knows how to keep the paint on the paper. I set her painting aside to dry once she’d finished. Interestingly, she didn’t take home her painting this afternoon. Instead, she chose another painting to share with mommy.

“It’s not wet,” Kate said when she got up from her nap. “Mommy’s going to think this is beautiful,”repeated Kate as we prepared to go home.

I can think of a number of things that mommy might be thinking as she raves about Kate’s painted tigers, aside from how beautiful they are now that they are no longer wet.

  1. It could have been an American Girl or Madame Alexander doll
  2. One painted hand, that’s better than her clothes, the table or walls
  3. I don’t have to clean up the paint

However, Grandmas simply try to enjoy these moments without too much thinking.



Love You to the Moon


After selecting a cupcake for her daddy’s birthday yesterday afternoon, Kate sat in a chair on the porch waiting for the party to start. She had put her boots on backwards and plucked a flower off my violas. I snapped some photos of her with her mischievous smile, sitting on that chair in front of bricks, part of a window and a doorway. When I saw Anna’s new MultiMedia Moons No. 1 this morning, I thought of my happy granddaughter. Some pages are just fun to create. That’s the case for this page.


The first thing I did was extract my granddaughter from the chair and background. I used the quick selection tool to outline her body before clicking on the add layer mask icon. Then I used the refine mask edge. I gave the layer two custom shadows. After adding one drop shadow, I created a new layer with just the shadow. I warped it by pressing control + t and chose skew from the pop up menu. I blurred the shadow layer. Then I gave the photo another shadow, created a new layer, warped it and moved that shadow layer to the left.

Next, I created the background by blending two copies of solid paper 2 from ArtPlay Palette To The Moon with solid paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Wild Autumn. I changed the first copy to color blend mode at 100%. The copy above I changed to vivid light at 45%. Above those two copies, I placed solid paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Outer Space on screen blend mode at 100%. The last paper created the starry look for the sky.


Then I placed the second psd file from MultiMedia Moon No. 1 below my photo layers. I enlarged the layers 10%. I adjusted the position of the photo, placing the photo and shadow layers above the frame and clipping another copy to the moon mask. Below the photo copy, I clipped transfer 2 and solid paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette To The Moon to the the moon’s crescent mask. I added a color overlay style to change the charm to pink and moved it to the left. I added urban thread 7 from UrbanThreadz No. 10 to tack down the charm.


To give my page more light and color, I added several glow layers from MultiMedia Stars No. 2. I changed the blend mode to linear light. The silver circles are also from MultiMedia Stars No. 2.


I added some additional white with two brushes from DifferentStrokes No. 8 and a splatter from 8×8 Artsy Layered Template Album No. 1.


To finish my page, I added two different sprinkles files, one from MagicSprinklez No. 3 and the second from MagicSprinklez No. 6 below the moon mask and shadow. I placed two copies of the word art, To The Moon WordART Mix No. 1. I recolored one white and the second pink. Then I erased the word moon on the white copy so that the pink showed. That created a visual triangle of pink on my page.

Finally, I want to thank Adryane for her inspirational page, Star Bright. Some pages really are fun to create. I can’t wait to share this one with Kate.



Depth and Dimension


Anna Aspnes’ UrbanStitchez are a favorite for adding depth, dimension and texture to my scrapbooking pages. Today, I thought I’d share how I combined them along with template layers from 8×8 Artsy Template Album No. 1 and some TapedTextures to create depth and dimension on this two page spread.

Create Extractions and Blend Sketches

After extracting my grandson and creating sketches from copies of five photos, I blended the sketches into two solid papers from ArtPlay Palette Forester. I had already blended the papers together using the gradient tool on layer masks. I used brushes from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 4 and a soft round brush to blend the sketches into the paper. Once my photos and sketches were in place, I considered how I might create more depth on my page.


Use Template Layers and Taped Textures to Create Depth

My first thought was to work with the template’s layers that I had already placed on my page above the two blended solid papers. I adjusted the placement, recolored and/or masked eighteen layers of template pages 8-9 from 8×8 Artsy Template Album No. 1.

Note that I adapted this template to a 24×12 page by enlarging the layers about 15%. The page design of this template with its text placement and series of masks going across the top inspired my photo placement. After enlarging the layers, I moved them all to the left which left space for a larger photo on the right. I will include this page in a book for family that I will publish at the end of the year.


Next, I positioned several png files from TapedTextures No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 above the template layers. Both the template layers and taped textures added more depth to the page.


Add UrbanStitchez

However, while I liked the increased depth and texture on my page, I thought that my extractions appeared ungrounded. I began experimenting with the UrbanStitchez. I dragged a png file of UrbanStitchez 5_9, a fine gauge stitch, onto my document below all the extractions, but above the taped textures and layers from 8×8 Artsy Template No. 1. I positioned the first png file roughly along the foreground line between the sketched player on the right and the extraction of my grandson dribbling the ball. I added a layer mask. With a small, hard round brush I masked out any stitching that appeared where I didn’t want it over the sketch or extraction. I added two more copies of the same png file over the foreground line, flipped one horizontally for variety and added a layer mask to each in order to hide unwanted stitches running along the line in the sketch.


Repeat Using Additional UrbanStitchez

I followed the same process for adding stitching to each of the other sketch lines, but I chose a different stitch for each row. In all cases, I did not increase the stitch size. Instead I pieced png files together by overlapping the stitching. Then I added layer masks so that they looked like one continuous line. I also used the mask to hide any unwanted stitching that might show above a leg or foot. For the second and third rows of stitching, I used png files from UrbanStitchez No. 7. Finally, I grounded my grandson and his dad with two more UrbanStitchez from UrbanStitchez No. 2.

Note: I could also have used the .abr brush file of the stitches and stamped each on a new blank layer. As described above, I would have added layer masks to erase unwanted stitches.



I then added a stitch from ButtonThreadz No. 1 to tack down the green button on the left before adding journaling, a title and the date.


By placing the UrbanStitchez over the basketball court lines, I emphasized the depth in the scene and added dimension to my page. I also grounded a photo extraction by adding UrbanStitchez below the extraction. Template layers, TapedTextures and UrbanStitchez are all great tools for adding depth and dimension to a page.


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