Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Get your Book on {how-to & new art}

Friday, March 15th, 2013

scrapbook-page-573 rachel shefveland. layout details

With our new La Librairie Collection (papers, elements, journals, and click.masks) release this week, we’re all about books! So let’s show a fun how-to for turning your favorite ‘read’ into a vintage book cover.

Simply take a photo of your book from straight above, upload to your computer, and open this image in your image editor (such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements).

Create a digital layout by opening a paper and one of the digital art journals. Position the journal where desired.

Now, drag and drop the book photo onto this digital layout.

Move and resize the book photo over to the right side of the journal using the Move Tool.

Now, simply clip the photo layer to the journal cover (select Layer>Create Clipping Mask or Layer>Group with Previous)!

And for more dimension, texture, and a vintage vibe…play with the layer blend modes. Rachel duplicated the book layer and set the top one to Soft Light at 70% opacity and the lower layer to Color Burn at 20%.

Here’s how the Layers Panel looks for the clipped images…


Voila! Pretty book cover that blends beautifully with the old world charm of this collection. Finish your layout with dimensional ephemera. Don’t forget to add realistic drop shadows.

For a detailed how-to, see our drop shadows tutorial here.

See more team creations using this versatile collection in our gallery here.

scrapbook-page-574 rachel shefveland. layout details

And visit Pinterest for our Reading Nook inspiration!

pin_books pinterest

Happy creating! Michelle

Remembering Mom {how-to & freebie}

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

rememberingmom2013-quietheart-springfreebie michelle shefveland. quiet in my heart pak,  in my garden danglies, spring watercolors freebie

Hello dear friends…on February 1, 2013 my beloved mom, Judy Terhaar, lost her six-year battle with breast cancer at 67 years young. We miss her so, but are grateful she is now at peace. Her journey has been a huge part of my life, and I am so thankful to have been able to be with her every step of the way. My life is forever changed.

Here are the layers that make up the piece. To blend the softened edge wedding photo (using the Eraser Tool with a large soft-edged brush), I set it to Overlay blend mode right above the layered paper from our new Quiet in My Heart Pak. Click to enlarge.


This layout was made with a new freebie kit from Sunday’s newsletter (02/17/13). If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign-up here to have access to it from our next newsletter.


Bless you.


Inverting Click.Masks {how-to}

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

12_dec_courtyard rikki donovan. details here

Hi. Rikki here today with a fun how-to using our Click.Masks in a different way, opening up even more creative possibilities!

I love masks and use them on almost all of my layouts one way or another. Masks are versatile. You can even get more use out of them by inverting them.

Here is how you do it (using PS CS 2 – Adobe Photoshop Elements follows similar steps):

I had this layout almost done, but felt like there was something missing around the edge. invert-4

It was too light for me and I wanted something like a green frame around it, not too dark, more like a grungy mask. But I had no frame mask that I could use. So I decided to use a clipping mask from the Nature’s Sketchbook Photo.Blends No. 3 and went for mask 08. invert-5

Shift+drag the mask onto your layout, so it is positioned in the middle of the page. invert-3

Create a new layer above your mask layer. Ctrl+click (Mac: cmd+click) on the thumbnail of your mask layer to select it and press Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection (Mac: Cmd+Shift+I).

Make sure your new empty layer is active in the layers palette and fill the selection with black. Make the layer with the original mask invisible. invert-2

Now you have a new mask that frames your page. Choose your desired paper (I used a green paper from the Soccer Page pak), drag it on top of the new mask and clip it to it with Alt+Ctrl+G (Mac: Optn+Cmd+G). If you find it too strong an effect simply change the opacity of the mask layer to let the underlying layers show through.

Here’s the final layout:

12_oct_autumn_park rikki donovan. details here

And this is my layers palette: invert-8

You might ask why I didn’t just put the green paper at the bottom, use the mask as is, clip the other paper to the mask and put it on top of it so it shows only in the middle of the page. Two reasons:

  1. I wanted to use my frame paper on top of another masks (you can see it in the layers palette below the frame mask) and had I used it as a background I couldn’t have done that.
  2. If you use the frame mask you can let the bottom paper shine through by lowering the opacity. Here is an example to show you the difference.

On this next layout I’ve begun, I would like a wooden background paper peeking out in the middle and a colored paper around the outside. (I am using papers from Winter Birch papers and mask 02 from Click.Masks 22).


Now, with one of my regular photo masks I would need to use the colored paper as background and use the wooden paper to clip it to the mask on top. It would look like this: invert-10

My layers look like this: invert-9

Looks ok, but I would like the wood grain of the background paper to shine through to make it look a bit more organic. However, in above page I have no wooden background, but only a wooden spot in the middle, right?
But when I do the inverted mask trick I am able to adjust the amount of wood grain to expose.

It then looks like this: Click_mask 22, 02

And the layers: invert11

Here’s the final result!

12_dec_courtyard rikki donovan. details here

And now, have fun inverting masks!


For the Love of Dance {how-to}

Friday, December 21st, 2012

alyssa-dance rachel shefveland. details here

My sister Alyssa is a dancer. Now I don’t mean that her profession is dancing, or that she teaches dance, or that she even takes dance lessons (well she used to). But Alyssa just dances. Constantly. Around the house, in the grocery store, when she’s driving (you thought texting while driving was bad!), and probably even in her sleep. People are always telling me, “Did you know your sister bounces when she walks?” She really does; it’s like her feet just can’t not dance! Before she was walking, she would move her little baby body to the music (which my parents constantly had on when we were growing up — whether it was Kenny Loggins, Journey, or Alabama, it was always a jam session). She went to three different dance studios from the age of 5 to 16, took ballroom and African jazz dance classes in college, and continues to find outlets for her dancing needs (even when it’s doing pirouettes through the aisles of Target and I’m pretending like there is absolutely no relation…). But to be honest, it’s what makes Alyssa, Alyssa, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So, I made this layout to capture one moment of her dancing journey. Here’s a little how-to on creating with Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and our new products this week (on sale through Sunday, December 23).

  1. Open Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements
  2. Open a 12×12 paper (we used 01 from Nutcracker Christmas) cottagearts-nutcracker-prev_0
  3. Open a second 12×12 paper (we used 05 from Nutcracker Christmas). Drag and drop it onto the 1st paper. Position and resize as desired with the Move Tool. screenshot1_0
  4. Experiment with layer blend modes to see which looks best with the papers you have chosen. A quick reminder as to how to do this, select the dropdown that says Normal located in the Layers Panel and scroll through the options (to give this dancer a subtle look, we set the blend mode to Screen)  screenshot2_0 screenshot3
  5. To soften the harsh edges seen here, select the Eraser Tool and choose a soft round brush with a large diameter (1000px) and an opacity of about 60-80%. Stroke the brush in a straight line against the edges of the paper, erasing as much or as little as desired. screenshot4 screenshot5
  6. Here we decreased the opacity of the paper to 75% to really blend it in nicely, experiment with the opacity to see what you like. screenshot6
  7. Open elements, frames, photos, etc. that you wish to place on your page. Arrange as desired. screenshot7
  8. This photo of Alyssa is too harsh against the rest of the page. To give it a softer blended look, we set the blend mode to Overlay. Then duplicated it, set the blend mode of the copy to normal and the opacity to 80%. screenshot8
  9. And there you have it, multiple blend modes to make one beautiful piece of art! alyssa-dance
  10. Here are all of the layers that make up this layout: screenshot9

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you from our family to yours!


P.S. I used to dance a bit, too, in my younger years…

rachel_dance layout details

rachel_dance2 layout details

Wintry Blending {how-to}

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

scrapbook-page-540 michelle shefveland. layout details here

I so love how deep red pops in a snowy photo! This coat was Alyssa’s Christmas gift last year, and for how much I love photographing it, it seems it was my gift to myself!

Our newest Click.Masks 36 make for fun wintry blending. Having white in the background paper behind them really makes the the snowflakes in them pop.


The layout above really is a snap to create, as the click.mask does all of the work.

Here’s how using Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements:

  1. Open a 12×12 paper (we used 01 from Evergreen Dreams)
  2. Open your desired elements and word art, like our Evergreen Dream Danglies. Drag and drop them onto the paper. Position and resize as desired with the Move Tool.
  3. Open click.mask (we used 01 from set 36). Drag and drop onto your layout. Position it as desired. winter-blending1a
  4. Open photo. Drag and drop onto your layout. Position over the click.mask.
  5. Clip photo to click.mask (select>Layer>Create Clipping Mask) winter-blending1
  6. Enjoy the painted texture and wintry accents of the click.mask! winter-blending

That’s all there is to it!

Here are all of the layers that make up this digital layout:


Happy creating! Michelle and team

Personal Journal Blending & More {how-to}

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

scrapbook-page-536 rachel shefveland

Rachel here with a quick how-to on using your journaling as an artistic accent for your scrapbook pages. I recently returned from an exciting and wonderful mission trip in Guatemala. Throughout the experience, I wrote down everything that happened, because I have a pretty weak memory and I definitely didn’t want to forget anything! Although my journal entries are personal, and I’m not to keen on sharing them with the world, I still wanted to incorporate them into my layouts. Follow along to see how I did it:

Open Photoshop Elements (Photoshop follows similar steps)

Open a background paper. This example uses 02 Thankful Paper12 from Thankful Page Pak.

Open a photo that you want to blend into the paper. Drag the photo onto the paper.

Resize and position where desired using the Move Tool. To create a more cohesive look, make sure it extends from top to bottom, or side to side.

Experiment with blend modes until the photo is blended nicely into the paper. Blend mode used: to Hard Light at 45% opacity.

Using the Type Tool, click and drag a text box over the entire photo and fill it with journaling (Font used: Lisa Script). Blend mode used: Overlay at 70% opacity.


To make a textured paint brush effect:

Open a photo mask from Click.Artistry Click.Masks 35 and a paper from Thankful Page Pak. This example uses 01 ClickMask35 and 08 Thankful Paper12.

Clip paper to photo mask (Layer>Create Clipping Mask or shortcut Ctrl+G; Mac: Cmd+G).

Experiment with blend modes on the photo mask (not the paper). Blend mode used: Linear Burn at 70% opacity.


I finished this layout with elements from Thankful Page Pak.


Save as layered .psd file to be able to edit in future

Flatten Image


And, here are two more pages documenting more images from my adventure (both using our new Thankful Pak, on sale for Digital Scrapbooking Day through Sunday, Nov. 4).

scrapbook-page-537 rachel shefveland

scrapbook-page-538 rachel shefveland

I’ll be back Sunday with more details (and more photos!) from my trip. See you soon!


Mosaic Calendar Cover {how-to}

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

2013-cd-photoblendcover1 michelle shefveland

With just releasing our 10th year of calendars here at Cottage Arts, we are now having a blast playing with them for our own use for the coming year. Since I seem to have a bit of a love of nature photography and photo blends, I’m creating one calendar full of them. For the cover, I came up with this mosaic idea and wanted to share how easy it was to create.

Open Photoshop Elements (Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro follows similar steps)

Create all 12 months’ photo blends using the CD Case set (square) using the step-by-step tutorial (printing, cutting, and display info also included). Save each month without the calendar overlays (in high quality jpg format), as well, to use on the cover. For our samples we also added various word art from our shop.


Open 02 ScrapTemplate14.psd from Scrap.Templates 14

scrap_templates14 02-scraptemplate14-cottagearts

Open one of the month’s photo blends (without the calendar overlay on it as described above)

Drag one photo blend onto the ScrapTemplate

Resize and position where desired using Move Tool


Move the position of this photo blend to the layer right above the desired photo mask you want to clip to

Clip photo to photo mask (Layer>Create Clipping Mask or shortcut Ctrl+G; Mac: Cmd+G)


Repeat for remaining images

Save as layered .psd file to be able to edit in future

Flatten Image

Resize to 4.75×4.75 inches to fit the CD Case size (Image>Resize)

Open Title1 from the CD Case Calendar Set

Drag Title overlay onto mosaic

Position where desired. I decreased the opacity a touch so it was slightly transparent

Add one of the Photo Art Blends and play with the layer blend mode (I used #25 on Darken), if desired

Print directions are included in tutorial for this set

Here’s another similar version created with a collection of favorite poppy images.

2013-cd-photoblendcover2 michelle shefveland

And, Beth went a totally different direction and used the calendars themselves in a mosaic card.Very creative idea.

everyday_resize2 beth ervin

And, we couldn’t not share at least one digital layout in a mosaic style. Great for photos all from the same shoot.

emily_scrapframes6_inspiration_scrapwords michelle shefveland

Happy creating!


Golden Light Blend Love {how-to}

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

click-mask-blend supplies here

Using more of my golden light images from our garden taken this summer, I created this quick blended collage using vintage paper Click.Masks 30.

cottagearts-clickmask30-prev v2012_07_10a164copy d2009_06_19a52-sunflare10 d2009_06_13a48camera-raw

FYI…camera specs: canon 7d, tamron 28-75mm/2.8 lens, iso 320, f/3.5, shutter speed: 1/100 second, shot at 8:50 pm on june 13, 2012 in central minnesota (sunset that day was 9:01 pm)

Below is a shot of the Layers Panel (in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop) and how all of the layers are blended together to make this layout.


Also demonstrated on this piece is another use for our Photo Art Blends 3. As shown above, we blended #04 (30 – 12x12s are included in this set) into the mid-striped Everyday 15 Paper using Hard Light blend mode at 55% adding color, texture, and a photo tranfer-like edge. We also decreased the Saturation a touch on the Photo Art Blend (shortcut: Ctrl+U or Cmd+U on a Mac).


To learn more details about how to use our creative Click.Masks see how-tos on our blog here. Our Photo Art Blends each come with a PDF step-by-step tutorial with sample recipes.

Happy blending! Michelle and team

Golden Light Love {photo editing how-to & tips}

Friday, September 21st, 2012

2012-07-13-20-48-06-copy michelle shefveland. shot with HTC MyTouch4G cell phone. editing how-to below

As autumn approaches, warm golden light images are on my mind. Lots of idea sharing below, plus a fun tip on how to easily give your light-filled photos a boost in Photoshop/ Photoshop Elements.

We are fortunate to have a summer retreat with a big sunset view over a lake. Each evening I am in awe of the unique gift presented to us. And neighbors often witness me running out to capture the skies, with whatever camera I can grab first…be it the cell phone, point and shoot (Canon S95), or Canon 7D…any one of them is fabulous at capturing skies and sunsets. So I’ve shot lots…and lots of sunsets.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way (all images shown were shot at our lake place over the past four years with various cameras)…

Set your camera to cloudy white balance for vibrant, warmer hues. Or increase the saturation on your cell phone camera settings.

Add people for interest. When looking at the whole scene, your camera will naturally silhouette figures in the foreground, as well as trees and grasses. This is because the sky is SO much brighter and the camera thinks there is a lot of light. Our family likes to have fun being silly. This shot below captures that characteristic. Tip: when shooting movement in such low light settings, bump up your camera’s ISO to increase the shutter speed.

jumping_mshefveland shot with canon 7d

If you are focusing/light metering on your subject and you want them silhouetted, you will need to adjust your exposure compensation very low and depending on the light in the background, it could be up to -2 EV. This is really trial and error because the light levels change quickly during a sunset.

Try different angles, lie on the ground, get high on a hill, move to the end of a dock, shoot in front of trees or grass, etc.

kayaking_mshefveland shot with canon 7d

Experiment with blur and moving the camera. See more ideas and tips on abstract blurs on our blog here. If you have an image stabilizing lens turn that function off, as well as any image stabilizing setting on your camera (even cell phones have this feature).

blur_mshefveland shot with canon 40d in june, 2009. iso 125, shutter speed .4 seconds, set on tv mode

d2009_06_20a47-copy_1 shot with canon 40d in june, 2009. iso 200, shutter speed .6 seconds, set on tv mode

Play around with varied levels of sunset. Often the most vibrant hues are about 15-30 minutes AFTER sunset, as shown above. And, beautiful sunflare is easier to capture with the sun higher in the sky as below.

d2009_06_13a54-copy2-copy shot with canon 40d in june, 2009

Get out on the water itself…in a kayak, canoe, boat, whatever. You can reach out and touch the reflections, as in this black and white water lily image shot right at dusk.

sunset_mshefveland2 shot with canon 40d in june, 2009

Our little editing how-to today will use two simple shots from a cell phone camera, demonstrating how anyone can achieve this type of image. No need to have a big DSLR. Light, composition, and subject matter are key. Editing done in Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, however, most versions of PSE, PS, and Paint Shop Pro would all follow similar steps.

My current cell phone is a HTC MyTouch4G Android system. Love it. With an 8MP camera, it also has touch screen focus and light metering…amazing. I find I now try to automatically do the same on the back of my Canon 7D! Sure, it is nothing compared to a DSLR, however, it is always with me and when using light to my advantage, the results can be quite spectacular.

We use DropBox to automatically transfer cell phone images to my computer system where we have easy access to use them in our digital artwork.


This image was shot at Munsinger Gardens, St. Cloud, Minnesota (overlooking the Mississippi River) on September 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm. Sunset was 7:05 pm. I like the shadow play and light hitting the cobblestone path. But it’s quite drab and cold, as shadows close to sunset are very cool. Let’s boost it a bit.

Open Adobe Photoshop Elements

Open  Photo (File>Open>Browse system for Dropbox folder)

Now for the super easy effect.

Use shortcut D to set the color chips to their default of Black and White.

Make the foreground color chip a bright orange. Click on the color chip and enter color number F55714. Click OK to set color.


Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map) to the Layers Panel.


It will look pretty weird at this point…no worries!


Now, simply set this Gradient Map to Soft Light blend mode.


Ta da! That’s it.


Here’s the before and after. A nice subtle, realistic transformation.

Now let’s see a bit more of a dramatic change.


This image was taken in central Minnesota on July 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm. Sunset on that day was 8:58 pm. It had just started drizzling with the sun peaking out of the clouds, making for dramatic colors and light. All I had on me was my cell phone camera and it didn’t let me down.

I followed the same editing steps as above, however, set the blend mode on the orange-white gradient map to Color Burn at about 40% opacity. Play around with the opacity as Color Burn is intense.


Note: One thing to be aware of is cell phone camera photos are often noisy in the shadowy parts of the image (as of 2012). I reduced the noise (Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise>play around with settings) and added a duplicate layer of the image. To this duplicate I applied a small Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur>1-2 pixels). I set this blurred layer on Soft Light Blend mode.

So that’s all there is to it! Play around with shooting and editing sunset shots and see how creative you can be!

As added inspiration, see our golden light loves Pinboard here.


Golden Love element tip: Experiment with Color Burn or Linear Burn blend modes with our elements to give them a boost when paired with autumn hues (as done on the layout below).

sunsetperfectday-everydayautumn-fresco2_1 everyday autumn elements, fresco 2 papers, click.masks 32, this is life 5 scrap.words

With instagram and our Photo Booth Strip Templates, I tried to instill in the collage below the peace of being able to experience such beauty.

summerlake2012-photostrips-offbeatenpath13-frameblends michelle shefveland. frame blends 2, off the beaten path 13 papers, photo booth scrap.templates, letting go pak (hinges), words to live by

Here’s some modern art I just made using some sunset images of golden autumn leaves with our new ShapeBlends geometric templates. So fun. They come with a PDF step-by-step tutorial, so you can easily get similar dramatic results!

goldenlight_perfect-day_shapeblends1_fresco2 michelle shefveland. shapeBlends 1, everyday autumn elements, fresco 2 papers

Happy golden light shooting! Michelle and team

Using Frame.Blends/Instant Date Stamp {how-to}

Friday, August 24th, 2012

bayfield2012sail-chevron-frameblends1.jpg michelle shefveland. supplies

A quick and easy how-to…using our new Frame.Blends and one of my favorite date fonts: Misproject. This font gives a distressed vintage date stamp look. Let’s just add two other steps to give even more realism (like you really stamped it on your page).

We’ll also show how fun, easy, and versatile the Frame.Blends are! They come with and without a subtle photo blend overlay and are sized perfectly for your instagram shots (or any other square photo). See below for how you can combine the two versions for more variations.


Here’s how:

  1. Open Adobe Photoshop Elements (or Photoshop/Corel Paint Shop Pro)
  2. Open 12×12 background paper of choice (Chevron Blends)
  3. Open Frame.Blends (opened both 10 and 10Blend)
  4. Drag both onto paper (they are identical except for 10Blend having a ready-to-use texture overlay included)
  5. Open 4 photos (mine are instagram shots) img_20120617_183410.jpg
  6. Drag onto layout
  7. Resize and position photos, as desired
  8. Adjust layer position of both Frame.Blends to be on top of photos in the Layer Palette (non-blend frame should be on top) frame_blend1.jpg
  9. For some layouts or images you may desire less texture on the Frame.Blends (which is the reason we offer them plain and with a photo blend overlay; you can use them in duo). Play with the opacity of the 10Blend FrameBlend to preferred amount of texture and color. In this sample we set the opacity to 35%, since instagram shots already have texture applied.
  10. Using Type Tool, select Misproject font, color, and size desired
  11. Type date as shown with spaces to look like a vintage postage stamp datestamp2.jpg
  12. Now…simply rotate font a touch with the Move Tool so it isn’t perfectly straight
  13. And, decrease the opacity to let the layer beneath it show through for more realism (will vary based on color of text and layer beneath – sample used 62%) datestamp1.jpg
  14. To complete, we added a frame and word art quote from Words to Live By Scrap.Words, changing the color of the frame to a warm gray (shortcut: Ctrl+U; mac: Cmd+U) to match the photo corners on the frame.blend. We used the frame to hold a bit of journaling on the top left edge. bayfield2012sail-chevron-frameblends1.jpg
  15. That’s it!

In this next two collages, Marie creatively used Frame.Blends to accent her word art.

watercolor-paper-opt.jpg marie di raimondo

watercolor-o-pt_0.jpg marie di raimondo

For the soft piece below, I combined a painted Click.Mask with a Frame.Blend trio for extra softness. Works well with baby shots.

hannah-blossomblends-frameblends1.jpg michelle shefveland. supplies

Note: our What’s New newsletter went out Friday afternoon, with a great sale on all Element Paks (including the Frame.Blends), coupon code, and lots of new products!

And, here are more ideas using Frame.Blends from our team. All layout details in our Frame.Blend gallery here.

philip_kayak.jpg michelle shefveland

201207_sunset.jpg tonya regular

bayfield2012-naturesketch10-worldtravels-frameblends.jpg rachel shefveland

bruzeklove-4-2012-simplyyou-scrapblends1.jpg michelle shefveland

borntocreate2012-piecesme11-12-frameblends1.jpg michelle shefveland

blossom2012-roadless-simplyyou.jpg michelle shefveland

alyssa-grad2012-chevronblends-lovegrows.jpg rachel shefveland

Happy creating! Michelle and team

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