I’ve decided something. Photoshop is a lot easier when people who know it well are doing most of the work for you. With designing for Hampton Art (Studio G) and Provo Craft, I have to do a lot of drawing and font work. I use the program Illustrator to make it all happen because I need the flexibility of vector artwork to manipulate things easier. In fact, I just finished a whole batch of Halloween designs for 2010 and ended up with about 230 individual designs when I was done. Whew! Glad that assignment can be checked off my list!
Although it is in the same family as Illustrator, I have an extremely limited knowledge of Photoshop. But it’s true that all of these programs are ones in which they become easier the more you use them. I started playing around with collage storyboards from House of 3 because I wanted to be able to put more photos in a smaller space on my blog. One reason why I like the templates from House of 3 is that they come with simple instructions to teach you how to use it or to refresh your memory – which I seem to need a lot more these days.
So now that I have been getting more confidence with the collage templates, I have ventured into adding papers and embellishments to them (as you saw on the pages I did for Cole’s birthday photos). I know that for some of you these steps might seem elementary. However, some of you are probably like me and have not ventured into digital scrapbooking because you’re not sure how to start learning.
Here’s my suggestion to those of you who have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Learn what it means to work with “Layers” and practice using the tools within those layers (Jessica Sprague teaches great classes online for digital scrapbooking). Layers are like working with a pile of scrapbook stuff. Some things are on top of other things and if you want to manipulate or move something in the middle of the pile then you have to click on that “layer” to get to it. Plus, you see whatever is on top of the pile so you can move layers around in order to “see” the right stuff.
It works the same way if you are scrapbooking by hand as well. You layer and tuck things under, over and around other elements. Layers are everything in Photoshop. Once you start playing around with layers and the tools (i.e. commands) that manipulate the layers, you pretty much just need to practice to get better. There are a lot of possibilities with just a limited knowledge of Photoshop.
But here is something that is FABULOUS about the scrapbooking world and all of those highly talented people in it. Just like the collage storyboards from House of 3, there are scrapbook pages, desktop wallaper, blog headers, cards and invitations (and anything else you can paper craft) out there already layered and ready for you to drop your photos into. For me, it’s the true meaning of “simple scrapbooking” because someone else has done so much of the work. This is extremely helpful because I need to be able to spend less time starting from scratch so that I have more time to design things for my job. Plus, it’s always more fun to use someone else’s designs for the simple fact that they are NEW TO ME and it’s so fun to work with new things.
Yesterday I got my daily (I think it’s daily) email from www.designerdigitals.com. I often don’t have time to do much with the emails but yesterday they were offering their “Thrifty Thursday” deal. It was a scrapbook page (darling!) that was layered and I decided to give it a try.
What I loved about working with this layered page template is that I realized that it is a great way for someone who is sort of familiar with layers and tools to try some things in Photoshop. Each of the elements on the page are on their own layer, which means that if you click on one layer then you can move that element around and fiddle with it. This template also comes with simple instructions for adding your photos using a clipping mask – just like the collage storyboards I have been using.
So here is what I came up with making my own little tweaks and additions to the DesignerDigitals layered page:
I changed the background paper by dropping in one of the free downloads I got at shabbyprincess.com. I added Coleman’s name using the text tool (it looks like the letter T in Photoshop). I moved things around by clicking on the correct layer and then moving that item with the move tool (it looks like a black arrow). I added some text to the little tag and clipped my photos the way the instructions told me to.
It took me about 30 minutes to fumble my way through it. I guarantee that it would have taken a lot longer (and probably been more expensive) to do it by hand. And with digital photos, all of the supplies I needed for this layout were in the same place – on my computer.
So if you are thinking about learning how to do some digital scrapbooking but are nervous because it seems so overwhelming….take heart. I know how you feel and I want to tell you that it’s easier than it seems when you start by using the talented work of others to help you. “Standing on the shoulders of giants” is what they call that.
Give it a try and I hope that you enjoy my own little educational journey as I practice Photoshop along with you!