Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

spring is in the air…and in our photos, layouts, art {how-to & new art}!

Can you smell that? I think it’s finally spring! Seriously this has been the longest winter of my entire life. Now that we can be sure there will be no more freezing nights, we can get the garden started! Super excited about planting some flowers and veggies this year. We expanded our garden and spent the whole weekend digging. It’s a glorious thing to feel the sun on your back and dirt under your nails when it’s been over 6 months of bitter cold temperatures and unending piles of snow.

My favorite type of plant, and I think I’m not alone here, is the succulent. Any variety. The past few years we have collected a variety of pots (some meant for plants, and others not so much: AKA tea cups & mason jars) from garage sales, thrift stores, and just looking through our cupboards. Mom and I love creating little collections of succulent plants and bringing color to nearly every room in the house. We’ve also been having fun taking photos of our arrangements and posting them on Instagram. They’re adorable, right? So this week’s new products in the shop reflect a flowery, springtime, botanical feel. Now go take some pictures of those gorgeous flowers that I know you have blooming, and scrap ‘em! :)

One of my favorite products lately has been our Stitched Botanicals Papers. We’ve got 3 sets of them, each is a really cool different color palette. But the best part is that you can use them without frames or click.masks, or anything really. I’ll show you a super quick tip on how to use the stitching as borders or “frames” for your photographs.

The following steps are done using Photoshop (Photoshop Elements follows similar steps):

1. Open one of the Stitched Botanical Papers, and some photos you want to use in your layout.

2. Drag one of the photos onto the paper and place it in one of the areas that is surrounded by stitching. It could be in the middle, or on the edge. Either way looks really cool.

3. If your photo doesn’t fit perfectly into the space, that’s OK! Just grab the handy Marquee tool (make sure it’s set to the rectangle shape) and click and drag the mouse to select the area you want to remove from the photo. Then click Edit>Cut (Control-X on PC; Command-X on Mac) to trim it to the size/shape you want.


4. You can either stop here, or use blend modes to make it look like it’s a part of the paper and the stitching will even show through the photo! Just experiment to find one that works best, I find that layering the photo on top of itself and using more that one blend mode makes it even more integrated into the paper. On this image I used Multiply at 35% opacity on the bottom layer photo and Soft Light at 85% on the top layer.


5. Repeat the above steps to add more photos to the same layout if you want! And that’s it! Awesome & easy, right?

Here is the completed layout, and another using the same technique (both include the new products in the shop):

SAVE up to 40%!! Here are this week’s six new products, on sale through Wednesday, May 15, 2014 (plus all Page Paks on sale – newsletter goes out Tuesday morning with details).

Have an awesome week and enjoy the weather people! – Rachel

Need any garden inspiration? Then just check out what all those creative folks using Pinterest are up to; plus we’ve got a great collection going on our Green Thumb Dreams board.

Day 4 | 10th Birthday Celebration {freebie & more}!

Rikki Donovan

It’s the last day of our 10th Birthday celebration! Thanks for enjoying the freebies and for all of the kind words. Today, we have another fun how-to and useful set of art journal cards as our last freebie.

First, Rikki here to show you how I created the blending effect on the layout above. It looks more complicated than it actually is!

I started with this image of a magnolia which was taken with my iPhone 3GS and then run through Snapseed, one of our favorite mobile device photo apps.

I then treated it with Photo Art Blend 10 from set 3 (at 79% opacity and Overlay blend mode).

My second image is this one:

I converted the photo to black and white (using PS or PSE’s Convert to Black and White function).

I moved the photo on top of the flower photo, clipped it to the photo (see our clipping tutorial here) and adjusted the size so the people in the photo sort of fit into the flower in the right spots. By lowering the opacity to about  58% I could see the flower underneath and move the photo around and still see what I was doing.

I settled on a position for my photo and created a layer mask for it. With a soft round brush in black I removed all the parts of the photo I didn’t want, so that only the area around the boys and the people in the background remained. Without everything else my photo now looks like this.

And like this with the flower:

Now I started playing around with opacity and blend modes and ended up with an opacity of 75% and the Multiply blend mode. I especially love how the pattern in the pavement reflects the curve of the flower petal.

I added the word art to the photo and all the other little tidbits to round the page off nicely.

This is what my Layers Panel looks like when completed:

Enjoy using this technique in endless ways!

Here’s our Sweet Silhouettes Pinboard for more blended photo ideas!


More Blending Tools!

michelle shefveland. marbled hues papers, by the sea aj cards, by the sea 2 brushes, organics 2

For additional blending fun, we’ve released another beautiful set of By the Sea Brushes in the shop.

And here’s our coordinating free download, perfect for Project Life or other Photo a Day projects.

By the Sea Art Journal Cards FREEBIE (9 jpg files – 3 MB zip file – expired Tuesday, 4/30/13 at 8:00 am CT)

If you missed the freebie, it is now available in our shop here

Monday’s the last day to enter our random drawing for 5 great prizes (details in last Friday’s newsletter). We’ll be choosing the prize winners this coming Friday.

Happy Creating! Rikki and the team

Day 3 | 10th Birthday Celebration {freebie & more}!

rachel shefveland. organics mini, marbled hues papers

Halfway there! Hi ya’ll, it’s me, Rachel, here to share in the fun! It’s day 3 of our 4-day 10th Birthday celebration everybody. Today we’re enjoying the rich colors and textures of nature. New products in the shop include the Organics Mini Pak, a beautiful assortment of wooden and homemade elements & papers. Also, we have some really neat photo transfer frames, and coordinating Marbled Hues Papers which is today’s freebie (download link is at the end of this post). All included in the birthday sale. Check out some of the art below!

Okay so I am really excited to share this tutorial with you. You know how everywhere you look on Pinterest (if you’re not on it, get there!) there’s another DIY this, and “I made this for less than X dollars” that? Well look again, because I just made the coolest frame for free. Wait…what’s that? FREE!!!

This winter we were remodeling our kitchen and looking for new flooring. Most home improvement stores provide free samples of their wood and laminate flooring (I think some might charge a nominal fee), so we ended up going home with 8 4×4 wood tiles from our little shopping expedition. After we decided on a flooring, we just had all these samples lying around. Honestly I thought they were way cool, and quickly my mind began churning with thoughts of DIYing with them. And this is what I came up with!

The frame was incredibly easy to assemble; it probably only took about 5 minutes tops. Here are the steps if you are interested in making one of your own. Which of course you should!

  1. Go get those tiles! (8 if you are doing a 12×12 frame, 9 if you want to make more of a canvas-type thing) I can’t say for sure which stores will supply them, I can only vouch for Home Depot, but you will probably have luck at a number of large home improvement stores. Mix and match textures, colors, and materials!
  2. Buy or re-use a 12×12 canvas or board or mat or anything that is 12×12 inches. We had an old outdated art print which my father was about to donate, but thank heavens I snatched it back at the last minute. Whew.
  3. Heat up your glue gun! While you’re waiting, arrange 8 tiles around the outside, make sure you like how it looks, because once you glue them down, you’re stuck. Pun intended.
  4. Apply the glue to the back of the tiles and place them down where you’d like, but make sure you leave the middle space blank so you can place a photo there! Press and hold the tiles down so they really stick.
  5. Print a 4×4 photo, or cut a larger photo down to size. Use a paper friendly adhesive, like tape, to secure it place. You don’t want it to be permanent, because you will mostly likely want to change it in the future. We used a vintage photo of my great grandparents (not square).
  6. You are done. Stand back and marvel at your thriftiness.

Wait, I’m not done! You can also save yourself a trip to the store by following my directions on how to make a mock version of the above frame.

  1. Go the Cottage Arts Shop and download the Organics Mini Pak. Included is a digital version of my homemade 12×12 frame.
  2. Print it out with your printer. Or get it printed professionally and have it mailed to you, which will also save you a trip if you’re a home-body like me.
  3. Buy or re-use a 12×12 canvas. Using a paper friendly adhesive (rubber cement or Mod Podge may come in handy here) apply the paper to the canvas.
  4. Print a 4×4 photo, or cut a larger photo down to size. Adhere this to the blank space in the middle.
  5. There you go! Totally awesome and you didn’t even have to leave your home. How cool.

And, if that wasn’t cool enough, I also made this new photo clothesline in my room. I printed one of the new scrap.frames from set 27 to use with the right most Italy image.

See more Get It Printed posts here.

Below is today’s freebie! Have fun and we’ll be seeing you for the final day of our birthday celebration tomorrow! Rachel and team

PS. Click the link to see our Going Organic Pinterest board which is sure to fill your dreams with making things from pallets, sticks, or tree trunks. (Yeah yeah I’m a hippie, I know.)

Marble Hues Paper Pak Freebie Download


  (4 jpg files – 10 MB zip file – expired Monday, 4/29/13 at 8:00 am CT)

If you missed the freebie, it is now available in our shop here

Oh, and don’t forget to read the newsletter for details on how to enter our prize giveaway! Another newsletter is going out Sunday morning, if you missed Friday’s. Enjoy!

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

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.

rachel shefveland. layout details

And visit Pinterest for our Reading Nook inspiration!


Happy creating! Michelle

Remembering Mom {how-to & freebie}

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}

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.

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.

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

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.

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:

rikki donovan. details here

And this is my layers palette:

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:

My layers look like this:

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:

And the layers:

Here’s the final result!

rikki donovan. details here

And now, have fun inverting masks!


For the Love of Dance {how-to}

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)
  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.
  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) 
  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.
  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.
  7. Open elements, frames, photos, etc. that you wish to place on your page. Arrange as desired.
  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%.
  9. And there you have it, multiple blend modes to make one beautiful piece of art!
  10. Here are all of the layers that make up this layout:

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…

layout details

layout details

Wintry Blending {how-to}

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.
  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)
  6. Enjoy the painted texture and wintry accents of the click.mask!

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}

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).

rachel shefveland

rachel shefveland

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


Mosaic Calendar Cover {how-to}

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

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.

michelle shefveland

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

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.

michelle shefveland

Happy creating!


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