Kate celebrated her fourth birthday this past weekend. As she gets older, more of her personality comes through in her photographs. I actually try to make photos that convey her personality and show her different expressions, photos that express her pleasure with a gift, the way she licks the frosting off a cupcake, the way she laughs and smiles. Those expressions are what I wanted on this two page spread which I will add to this year’s book.


One of my favorite photos from her birthday party was this one of her delight upon receiving a pink car. No, it isn’t a perfect photo. 2016-08-27 145446It’s grainy because I had set the ISO high to give me the shutter speed I needed. It’s also much darker on one side. Before exporting the photo from Lightroom, I adjusted the white balance and increased the exposure and clarity.

After placing the photo on a new 24×12 inch document in Photoshop, I ran it through Topaz Detail module to smooth the grain. Then I added two levels layers, one on screen and another on hard light. Rather than extract Kate from the scene, I added an inverted layer mask and blended in just the parts that I wanted with a soft round brush.


My next step was to figure out how to include the other nine photos I had exported from Lightroom and placed with their visibility turned off on my new blank document. Not many templates have spaces for more than five or six photos. In addition, I needed to balance the weight of the large blended photo on the left side of my two page spread. I found Anna’s MonthReview Template No. 34B in my stash, a template I bought several years ago but hadn’t ever used.


After deleting a couple of textures, I duplicated one frame, reduced it’s size and moved it into the blank space on the template. Although there are nine photos on the right side, the light background and simple white frames do not overwhelm the large blended photo on the left.


I added or stamped on blank layers additional stains, recolored them pink and changed the blend mode to linear burn.


Next, I began building the background for my title. I opened three different psd files from WatercolorBalloons No. 1. I recolored the individual balloons to coordinate with Kate’s tutu. Below the balloons, I placed a light leak from LightLeaks No. 3, changed the blend mode to linear burn and reduced the opacity.


To finish my page, I added a title just above the watercolor balloons and gave it a sticker effect. Next, I placed balloons from ArtPlay Palette Happy Birthday and recolored them with a style layer. I tacked them down with button threads from ButtonThreadz No. 2. On the balloon on the right, I added text and warped it with the warp text tool. With a few splatters, buttons and additional threads my page was finished.


Combining templates with a little blending made it easy to create this artsy two page spread. I think these MonthReview templates are especially effective to scrap an event with all the white space and multiple masks with simple white frames. In a way, this two page spread looks similar to the design I used in last year’s book. For many of those pages, I combined a one photo artsy page with multiple photos on one of Anna’s FotoInspired Double Templates to create my two page spreads. This year I am looking for simple, informal artsy templates that accommodate more photos to create a book. I need to remember that just because a template is titled Month Review doesn’t mean that’s it only use, not when I want more spaces for photos from a party, trip or event.