Month: May 2017

White on White Plus Pink

With the warm weather and longer days now, when Kate spends the night we enjoy being outside together. Last Saturday, I suggested that she help me pick enough peonies to fill a watering can. Just so you’ll know, a grandmother who also likes to play with her camera, someone like me for example, sometimes plans for these photographic adventures. This time I suggested to Kate that she might like to wear the dress that I’d given her for Christmas to pick the pretty flowers. With her hair in a loose bun and no shoes on her feet, she danced out to the peonies with that watering can in hand. And if you are wondering how I got her to sit still for a moment, Kate climbed up on the table when I asked, “Can you see the robins nesting in the deck eves?” This photo isn’t perfectly cropped in camera; I often have no more than a moment to capture Kate before she’s on the move again

To create this page, I first duplicated the photo and applied a filter using Topaz Simplify. I reduced the opacity of the Simplify layer and masked it as well to reveal more of Kate’s face in the original photo. With the strong backlighting in the photo, I added an adjustment layer on screen blend mode to get a more high key look.

Then I clipped all the photo layers to the fotoblendz layer of file 4 from MultiLayered FotoBlendz No. 6.

To hide more of the houses in the background behind Kate, I used the quick selection tool to create a mask and then filled back in the area I wanted to reveal with a soft round brush. The texture of the fotoblendz mask is still there despite the layer mask that I added. This layer is on normal blend mode at 100%.

To each of the other layers in the psd fotoblendz file, I clipped a Simplify copy for a painterly look and adjusted how much was revealed with a layer mask or by changing the opacity. I also stamped a brush from ArtsyPaint No. 11 on a new blank layer and clipped another Simplify copy to the brush. Just above Kate, I placed a glow from FotoGlow Mix No. 1 on blend mode lighter color and WarmGlows No. 8 on hard light in order to add a soft simulation of the direction of the sun.

To add texture without bringing in additional color, I pulled spackle transfers from Artsy Transfers Sage and positioned them along the lines of the table

Next, I added a transfer and two copies of artsy paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Hope. I masked a portion of the transfer and set the opacity to 40%. I reversed the two copies of paper 1 and added inverted masks to reveal just the edges with the spackle and touch of pink.

I placed 5 layers of file 3 from Artsy Transfers Anything. Using the psd file allowed me to delete any color layers that didn’t work with the other textures on this page.

Finally, I placed the little bird from a friend, added a title and journaling, splatters and a flower from UrbanThreadz Flowers No. 1.

Keeping the both background and textures white on white with a touch of pink gives me a delicate high key look and keeps the focus on the soft photo. I have some other photos of Kate playing with the peonies that I will include on an opposing page of a two page spread.


Every fall, sunflowers bloom on a little prairie near us. The sunny yellow is stunning against a blue sky. Bees flit from one bloom to the next. I took my granddaughter Kate to play among the blooms a couple of years ago; she was delighted of course! I’m looking forward to walking this prairie again this fall. I chose this photo to create this page because I loved the focal cluster of sunflowers.

After placing solid paper 4 from ArtPlay Palette Sol, for a little more depth, I placed artsy paper 1 above on normal blend mode at 40%. I placed my photo, duplicated it and applied a painterly effect with Topaz Simplify.

With fotoblendz overlay 4 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 10 highlighted, I pressed option and clicked so that I got the marching ants. Then I went back up to highlight the photo Simplify layer and clicked the icon at the bottom of the layers panel to mask my photo layer. On my mask, I also stamped brushes from ArtsyStains No. 3 and AnnaBlendz Artsy No 7 to reveal more of my photo. Adjustments to the photo and changing the blend mode to multiply made the blue in the sky disappear.

Next, I used a combination of the Quick Selection Tool and the delete key to extract the sunflowers most clearly in focus on a duplicate of the original photo on normal blend mode at 100%. I gave that layer a drop shadow. Above that layer I placed another copy of the Simplify layer, attached the same mask and reduced the opacity to 30% on normal blend mode.

For additional texture, I placed transfers from ArtPlay Palette Sol and ArtPlay Palette Shine as well as transfer 5 from Artsy Transfers Shine above and below my photo layers.

Next, I placed the layers of psd file 3 from MultiMedia Suns No. 3 below my extraction layers.

I added urban threadz from UrbanThreadz No. 3.

Finally, I added a title using a font called Garden Pro. To that I added a wood layer style as close to that on the wooden sun as I had. I used an ornament included with this font that looked like the sunflower leaves and gave that the same style. I placed a copy of an extraction above the leaf and tacked both the flower and ornament down with a button thread. On the right, I placed a yellow button and gave it the same layer style before tacking it down with another thread from ButtonThreadz No. 2.

I love the sunny, cheerful look of my artsy sunflower page!


Inspiration: a Brush and a Memory

I’ve photographed this door at Lauritzen Gardens both open and closed and from both the back and front. I once photographed my oldest grandson, Owen, looking through that door in just about the same position as that large ceramic pot. Owen, about 5 at the time, had his hands on the door frame as he looked through the open door at the flowers beyond. This door from Anna’s new brush set, Doors No. 2, is the impetus for this page about a memory. While much of my inspiration is based on photographs, sometimes, all it takes is a sketch like brush to inspire me to create a page.

I placed this brush on my new blank document first, changed the blend mode to multiply and recolored it to match the bricks in my photograph.

I then placed my photograph above brush 2. I used Topaz Simplify to give the photograph a more painterly look. After resizing the photo to roughly match the brush, I added an inverted mask and used several AnnaBlendz Artsy brushes to bring back in just the part of the door that I wanted to overlay on the brush. I added another copy of my original photo layer above and applied the find edges filter.

Below the door brush layer, I placed another photograph that I’d taken with my cell phone the same day. I gave it a painterly look with Topaz Simplify. Using an inverted mask, I brought back in just enough to created a garden beyond the door. The first layer is on linear burn and the second on overlay. I applied the find edges filter to a copy of the original iPhone photo and changed the blend mode to darken at 50%. From all the layers in my photo group I created a composite.

Next, I placed file 1 and file 4 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 10. To each, I clipped not only a copy of the composite but also solid paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Autumn Soul in order to fill in the transparency in my composite so that I could cover any black in the overlays. I added two textures from TapedTextures No. 7 for a little more dimension on the door frame. Both copies are on normal at 100%.

Finally, I added a title, journaling and a dangling thread from ButtonThreadz No. 1 to connect the title and photo.

Every time I capture this door with my camera, in my mind I see my grandson with his arms spread wide touching the door molding, a memory which always makes me smile.

Capturing Success and Struggle

While I am not a daily photographer, I enjoy capturing family moments with photos and stories that I will compile in a book at the end of the year. This page is about my granddaughter Kate and her reticence about learning to swim. It wasn’t that she didn’t like playing in the water or sliding down a water slide. She simply didn’t want anyone holding her in deeper water. She was afraid.

I took a little different approach on this page regarding combining photos and words. I used the photos to tell the story of her success and the words to tell the story of how she overcame her fear. I wrote wanting her to remember that success often involves struggle. Kate loves going to swim lessons now, but initially she cried as she clutched the bars of the bench on which she sat. It has taken her three months to get to the point that she’s happy about going to swim lessons.

I used Anna’s templates for this double page spread, specifically two templates from Simple FotoBlendz Template Album No. 3. The template design works well with other templates that I used for earlier pages, Serious About Play and Happy Place.

Except for a few changes to the fotoblendz masks on the templates, I used the templates as Anna designed them. On the large blended photo on the left, I added another copy of the photo above the fotoblendz layer and an inverted mask. With a brush from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 8, I used white as my foreground color to reveal the rest of my granddaughter’s leg. I also used transfer 1 from ArtPlay Palette H2O to fill in the water over the area that I masked out. On the right side, I used an overlay from the same palette and masked out the parts I didn’t want to extend the water across both pages.

Next, I clipped the other photos to the smaller frames and added adjustment layers. I recolored some of the stains or clipped a transfer to them.

Finally, I added a title and fish element from ArtPlay Palette H2O before finishing my journaling.

I have finished one more page for my book, a page with a significant family story about success and what it sometimes takes to achieve success. I do not have a set number of pages planned for this book project. I’m trying to keep this project simple and relaxed this year. The templates are making it easy to put the pages together.


Simple Organization for a MAC

The fall of 2011 marked the beginning of my first artplay with Anna Aspnes Designs. Over the last seven years, I have collected more than 30,000 pieces, including templates, brushes, papers, bows, buttons, masks, overlays, multimedia files, etc. Initially, I tried cataloging each piece in Lightroom. However, I soon abandoned that idea because of time and focus. Now, I import only my photos and scrapbook layouts into Lightroom for tagging and cataloging. It’s the photos and pages that I print or publish in books that are in Lightroom. The pieces of Anna’s designs are my tools for creating my pages.

As a MAC user, I have been asked how in the world I find anything in one folder containing 30,000 plus items, especially without Bridge, Photoshop’s companion, or Window’s ACDSee. The answer, I simply search for what I want with Spotlight, a feature on any MAC. Searching a MAC with Spotlight is far faster than using Bridge.

Note: First, a big thank you to Anna for labeling her artsy products so well. It means that with a minimum of effort on my part, I can have an easy organizational system. Second, unfortunately I don’t have a quick system for PC users as I have been a dedicated Mac user since my first Apple IIc in 1984.

Today, I am sharing how to set up a saved search on my MAC. There are a couple of other simple things I do to facilitate my searches, for example adding the words, “kit preview”, “brush preview”, “mask preview” or “paper preview” to the file name of Anna’s previews. That’s the only extra labeling that I do. I don’t use the template previews; I place only the templates in my Anna folder. The screen below shows my kit previews.

Note: Below is my folder of Anna Aspnes’ products. It does not include the abr files. Those are in another folder that I access with a brush program specific to Mac OS, Brush Pilot.

To create your search:

Navigate to your folder of Anna’s products in a finder window (or the one you’re considering using after you feel confident enough to put them all in one folder).

Highlight the folder you want searched. In my case, it is named AAspnes in white letters in a gray box just under the icons. In the rectangular box with the search magnifying glass icon, type in a word, i.e. charm. Everything I have that is labeled “charm” appears.

Click the little + sign and another drop down menu will appear with more search options. Leave “kind” and “any” as they appear as your choice.

Put your cursor back in the search window and press the delete key until the criteria  you entered previous disappears. See the screenshot below. Do not use the tiny x in the spotlight field to clear the field before saving your search.

Click the “Save” button on the right side of the finder window. A dialogue box will appear. I deleted the word “searching” so that I just had the name of the folder in which all my Anna products are stored.

Be sure to check the Add to Sidebar box so that your search is always available in your sidebar from any finder window.

That’s all you need to do to set up your initial search. Now I can search
quickly for fotoblendz, red buttons, twigs, leaves, kit preview, solid paper, artsy paper, template etc. with minimum effort when I’m creating a scrapbook page.

Maintenance for my digital supply organizational system is minimal. When I get something new, I label the previews only with what category it is, i.e. mask preview. I add that at the end of the preview file name. There are times when I search the previews with a category to see what I have. Then I move all the products to my AAspnes folder. After saving the zip file with it’s contents previews to an external drive, I place the previews inside my AAspnes folder and delete the zip files.

Basically, with the spotlight field blank and “kind is any” selected below, you are saving a search for anything in the one folder that you chose. Now, with a finder window open I can drag a file right over to my document and the name of the file will show in the layers panel. I hope this helps those who are wondering whether there is a simple way to organize on a MAC.

Serious About Play

Kate is very serious about her play. When she says “talk about it” or directs saying “play with me”, that means let’s pretend play now! Every time we repeat the lines of a story we’ve read together or stop to examine something interesting, she is learning as she plays. It has been quite a while since we’ve walked out to the little bridge on the creek among the trees beyond the pond. The area was covered with dandelion seed heads on Thursday.

Every time we go out on an adventure together, I’m playing and learning too. I play with Kate and learn a little more about how to work more quickly with my camera to capture our moments together. I’m very grateful for the time with Kate and for a process that allows me to bring together some photos to create another story page. We are both very serious about our play. Today, I share part of my Photoshop play with some photos that I captured on an adventure Thursday afternoon.

I began this page with a composite of a photo and the psd layers of file 3 from MultiLayered FotoBlendz No. 7 and AnnaBlendz Artsy Brushes No. 8. I made adjustments to the large mask and clipped the composite to that layer. I duplicated the composite and clipped it to the other fotoblendz layers.

Note: Near the bottom of the layer’s panel is the folder that contains the original layers I used to create this composite. They are all linked. I sent a copy of the original photo to Topaz Simplify to get the painterly look for the background and attached a layer mask to that copy and masked out my granddaughter to allow the original photo of just her to show through. There is also another layer on soft light above the Simplify and original layers.

I used the same process using file 4 from Multilayered FotoBlendz No. 7 for the second photo. This time, I turned off two of the layers that didn’t work with my photo’s placement. I again made some adjustments directly on the mask as well as an attached layer mask with AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 8.

Next, I placed the layers of templates 4 and 5 from WaterColor Template Album No 4. While I used primarily the frames, I also used a texture and recolored the stains on template 4. I used the same photo treatment on all the framed photos. To create the out of bounds effect, I duplicated the photo layer and moved it above the frame. I stamped with brushes from ArtsyStains No. 3 to fill in the area.

For more depth I added png files from Spackle Textured No. 6. I stamped a paper texture from Paper Textures No. 3 on a new blank layer. I used brush files from MiniDots No. 1 to create the look of dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.

Finally, I incorporated my title with the layers of MultiMedia Suns No. 1, added another dandelion and wrote my journaling.

I think one could say that I have definitely been seriously playing this weekend.


An Afternoon in a Garden

I walked in a peony garden with my camera and iPhone this afternoon. The light was a bit harsh, the wind was blowing and it was a tad hot, but I enjoyed every moment at Lauritzen Gardens. I discovered that what I couldn’t capture with my camera and a 60mm macro lens, I could capture with my phone and it’s wider lens angle.

My own peonies aren’t blooming yet and those at Lauritzen Gardens today were just beginning to bloom. So I will be returning in the next week to see what else is blooming.

I practiced filling my camera frame with a peony. This is a tip that I learned from a class, Creating Painterly Photographs. These photos are straight out of the camera.

There is a lovely pond area surrounded by benches. Its a beautiful site for just sitting. As I looked around for something different to photograph, I noticed the water bubbling. I think it’s going to make a wonderful texture to apply to another photo.

There is a small prairie in the middle of the botanical garden. Only one lonely plant was blooming. I am not sure yet whether I prefer the one with the path in the distance or the one surrounded only by the prairie grass.

Yes, I had a lovely afternoon with my camera!

A Little More Practice

After I have attended a class or video event, like Sunday’s NSD ArtPlay Un3dited, I like to practice with the concepts shared so that they become part of my repertoire for creating art within Photoshop. It’s especially fun to experiment with the ideas in a different way, to see what variations are possible. I began this page with a photo I captured early in April and the layers of transfer 5 from Artsy Transfers Pierian.

After placing my photo on a new blank 12×12 inch document, I exported it from Photoshop into Topaz Simplify and worked with the plug-in’s adjustments to add a more painted look to my photo. I duplicated the original twice and used the Find Edges filter on each copy with a one on color burn at 20% and another on multiply at 60%.

Next, I created a composite. I added a layer mask and applied a layer from artsy transfer 5 to the mask. For a painted texture, I added solid paper 5 from ArtPlay Palette Moorlands on multiply at 50%.

After creating another composite, I reduced the size 50% and placed it to the left using the texture in the solid paper to guide me. Then I attached a layer mask and used brushes from ArtPlay Palette Moorlands, Clouds No. 1, an edge from Easy Torn Edges Layered Templates No. 2, applying two different techniques that Adryane shared on Sunday during NSD ArtPlay Un3dited Event.

After finishing my composite, I added bird layers from MultiMedia Birds No. 1 and brushes from Take Flight No. 2 behind the cutout openings. I also created a cluster with elements from ArtPlay Palette Pierian and ArtPlay Palette Moorlands for interest and to create a spot for a title.

What I enjoy about my experimenting is learning some new techniques for working with layer masks. This new learning fits so well with Anna’s Advanced Brushes Class. I think that I’m ready to use this information in a new way now.


NSD ArtPlay Un3dited Event

This weekend, many scrapbookers have been participating in National Scrapbooking Day via special video events, sales and classes. During Anna’s event this afternoon, ArtPlay Un3dited, she demonstrated design principles using five different layout variations. As part of Anna’s event, both Adryane and I, as CT members, shared a layout. I had the opportunity to share how I combined Anna’s Artsy Designs with an orchid photo to which I applied a painterly look.

However, I was more interested in learning more about Adryane’s techniques for creating a collage with cutouts than my own page. She is an outstanding artist with a unique approach to scrapbooking. Before the event, she gave me a copy of her presentation. So I had time to create my own page following her instructions. I loved applying the techniques Adryane shared on her Anaphora page using photos of my granddaughter.

Anna will be making this video event available soon.

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