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Blending w/Photo Art Blends & Click.Masks {how-to}

In Thursday’s newsletter we announced our 6th set of Photo Art Blends. These come with 7 different types of 12×12 blends with Photo Transfer Edges (5 each for 35 total): Grunge, Wood, Folded, Concrete, Bokeh, Glass, Cardboard, plus 4 creative Click.Masks for added creativity. This set, like the other 5, comes with a PDF tutorial with step-by-steps plus many examples/recipes using the set.

Today I wanted to share a before and after of a piece I just made, in memory of my mom and her love of autumn.

Here’s how the photo started after it was cropped square. With the breeze blowing and a slower shutter speed, the original image is almost painting-like. See the camera setting specs below.  FYI…for more information and ideas on creating abstract blur images right within your camera, see our blog here.

Canon 7D, Tamron 70-300 Macro, ISO 200, f/5, 1/60 second (some motion in breeze)

To create an even more realistic painting effect, I blended the image into 24 Grunge PhotoBlend6 for paper-like texture and softening of the image. To do this, I first clipped the photo to 04 Click.Mask {recolored to white} and set the Click.Mask to Hard Light blend mode at about 80% opacity. I added 3 layers of the word art, each set to Overlay blend mode. I wanted to keep it simple as the painterly photo is the focus.

Here are the Layers that make up the piece, showing the order of each layer and their settings (click to enlarge).

And, our big iDSD Sale ends Midnight CT, Monday, November 4. See the shop and Sunday’s newsletter for more details. Thank you for your support for the past 10 years of digital scrapbooking fun!

Happy Creating!

Michelle and Team

It’s that time of year {calendars}!

Wow, is this year flying by or what? Halloween is just around the corner, and we all know what that means…Christmas decorations are hitting the department store shelves. Like I need reminding that the insanity of the holiday season is about to take over my life! So why don’t we all get a head start on our holiday presents before we’re bombarded by Black Friday ads and we end up buying gifts we know nobody wants in the first place.

Calendars. Everyone wants one, everyone needs one. But why not give the gift of memories as well? Anyone can get a cheap, tacky calendar from the kiosk in the mall filled with impersonal stock photos, or even better, photos of Johnny Depp. I mean who doesn’t love 12 months of Captain Jack Sparrow? I digress…

Combining digital scrapbooking with calendars is the recipe for holiday gift success. And this year, we have 7 new styles in 5 sizes! Every month of the year, your friends and family will flip the calendar to see beautiful photos of loved ones, combined with soft and pretty art that match virtually anyone’s decor.  It will mean so much more than the cake pop maker they will never use, or the red and green striped socks they will probably re-gift anyways. And did I mention it can be done on budget, too!? 4×6 prints go for around 20 cents a piece, and even if you go bigger, it still won’t cost you as much as the calendars you buy in the store. Also, if you print at a local printer, you won’t need to pay for shipping!

Handmade is the way to go when it comes to gift giving, ask anyone and they’ll tell you the gifts they’ve received (or given) that they remember most, are the ones that came from the heart and were handcrafted by someone they love. Check out our various styles of calendars in the shop, there’s sure to be something there for everyone on your list, even the pirate lovers ;)

Happy gift making!

Rachel & Team

One Template = Endless Possibilities {ideas}!

tonya regular. supplies

My absolute favorite products to use when scrapbooking are templates. They’re already set up to be beautiful layouts, so all I need to add my photos and grab a kit or paper pak to match. SO simple. But the other fantastic part about them, is that you can move everything around, change the colors, add word art and additional elements, duplicate layers, remove layers, and completely transform them! That’s what our creative team did with this beautiful new set of templates made by Melinda. Introductory sale through Monday, September 2!

As you can see, just by using a different page pak, the templates take on a completely different look. So every time you use one, it’s like you have created a totally new layout. Don’t be afraid to mix and match kits to make something really unique! This first template is perfect for Project Life or Instagram photos!

beth ervin. supplies

melinda ver meer. supplies

rikki donovan. supplies

karen wilhelm. supplies

tonya regular. supplies

rikki donovan. supplies

Follow us on Pinterest for more digital art  and photography tips/inspiration!

Happy creating! Michelle and team

Crazy for Circles {inspiration}

SO. I have a confession (this is Rachel by the way:)). I’m a little obsessed with circles. And by a little, I mean A LOT. Just look at my Instagram feed

There’s just something about them. They’re playful, fun, and we see them everywhere. In the moon and stars; in stop lights and car tires; in plates and bowls; in cookies and pies (those are the best circles, right??); and in camera lenses.

rachel shefveland

This week we had a Crazy for Circles Challenge for our creative team. They could use any of the products in our store to make circular themed layouts and show off their photos! One of our newest products allowed for some very creative works of art to be made. This really awesome kit comes with a tutorial PDF on how to use these templates and recreate the effects used in some of the examples shown here. It’s fun and addicting to see what different blending techniques can achieve! Check out our Click.Artistry ShapeBlends and see what I mean!

michelle shefveland

michelle shefveland

rikki donovan

rachel shefveland

Our new Be Bold papers & alphaset helped form these lovely circle layouts…layout details in our gallery here.

tonya regular

 rachel shefveland

beth ervin

tonya regular

beth ervin

Circles are fabulous things to draw inspiration from. All around us there are so many forms of art that contain circles: from quilts, watercolors, and photography, to sculptures, jewelry, and even furniture. Search your world for all things circle and make something beautiful! PS…if you can’t get enough of these circles, you have to see our Crazy for Circles pinboard on Pinterest!!!

Happy creating! Rachel and team

Capturing the Everyday with your Mobile Device {fave iPhone apps & new art}

Lots to share today! We just released 6 fun new everyday products (our newsletter with sale goes out Friday morning – check your inbox!), and the team’s been busy showcasing their summer memories with them.

One main reason most of us scrapbook is to remember the daily happenings in our lives…those little things that make our life ‘our life.’ Like what games we enjoy, what restaurants we like to go to, what activities our kids are in, how we spend our time, our hobbies, and on and on. Our mobile devices are with us when we are living out these moments and they make capturing them slick and easy.

With my iPhone 5 I use Camera+ as my camera app of choice. It allows me to select separate focus and exposure points via touch screen. Awesome! Our favorite go-to apps for editing on the iPhone and Rachel’s iPod Touch are Mextures, VSCO Cam, Snapseed, and PicTapGo. And then we use Dropbox or email to get the images onto our computer where we can play with them and our art.

Here Rachel shares snippets of her week using her iPod shots blended with our newest Click.Masks 40.

She gave the two layouts’ photos more depth using Snapseed’s Tilt Shift function (a type of selective focus blur effect mimicking a shallow depth of field). This works for these images since they were all shot at eye level and have a foreground and background. Here one before and after:

Here’s how to achieve the effect in in Snapseed:

Open Snapseed app (available for Apple or Android)

Open photo

Scroll along bottom and select Tilt-Shift button

Four horizontal lines will appear. The blurred section will be between the two centermost lines. To increase this space, press two fingers on screen and spread them outward. Press Apply when satisfied. Note: you can rotate the lines to rotate the direction of the blur, as well.

That’s it! Press save. Share to your desktop via preferred method (Dropbox, email, etc).

With this next layout, she captured a fun birthday meal at a local eatery. Since it was shot from above, everything is on the same plane and a Tilt Shift effect would not be recommended. Another great everyday design element is to take photos of road signs, city signs, restaurant logos/menus and use them on your pages.

While on our recent vacation to Montana, we made fast friends with the neighboring horses. I always had my iPhone with me when going for walks and this beauty, in particular, loved posing! A quick moody edit in VSCO Cam and the photo was ready for making a poster. For a unique design twist, I layered our new Everyday Art Journal Cards 2 all over the landscape background, using Multiply blend mode within Adobe Photoshop Elements (Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro would give same results). It gives a fun patchwork texture effect without being overpowering.

Here are how some of the layers are stacked and blended (click to enlarge):

Rikki loves using our Scrap.Templates and Scrap.Frames with her iPhone/ Instagram shots to quickly share her everyday moments. She says she is now completely addicted to Instagram!

These are just a few of the ways our mobile devices and apps make everyday digital scrapbooking even more fun!

And see our Everyday gallery for layout details and more of our newest inspiration by the team!

Happy creating! Michelle and team

Let Music Guide Your He{art}


Music is a source of inspiration for so many people. It can be uplifting, calming, energizing, and thought provoking. All music is an art form, from classical to hard rock and everything in between. So whatever music gets you in the mood is probably also inspirational in some way. For me, it’s a mix of folk and pop music. Artists such as Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, and Ingrid Michaelson could keep me going for days.

To celebrate our love of tunes, we just released That’s My Jam Elements & Papers:

A very fun trend that is happening in the social media world, is sharing lyrics. Whether it’s tweeting them, adding them to Instagram photos, pinning them, or posting them on Facebook, they’re just about everywhere. If you haven’t noticed, just look around and you will start to see them all over the place.

There is a super easy-to-use iPhone app called Over that allows you to choose unique fonts to write on your photos with (for mobile devices). It’s 99 cents, and definitely worth it. But there are plenty of good apps out there that offer similar services for free (such as Phonto for both Android and iPhone), just without as many cute fonts and graphics. Either way, I love to see the creative ways people are using typography in their photos, and my favorite things to write about are music lyrics. There is always a great lyric for basically every situation, so it’s versatile and quite addicting!! Remember to credit artist and use only for personal use.

And of course, lyrics are a great way to express emotion and interest in your scrapbook pages and other digital art. Sometimes a song can bring back memories of a certain time, event, or person, and what better way to hold on to that memory than scrap it?! Other things that lyrics complement well are everyday layouts about the music phase your going through, a concert you attended, or even just to scrap about your absolute favorite band. Here’s a layout I made a while back that features the lyrics to Hey Soul Sister by Train. It was a song I listened to over and over again and felt very connected to. So when I hear that song, it reminds of that time in my life.


And lyrics aren’t always necessary to create a music-themed layout. Rikki Donovan kept a record of the songs played at a concert she went to in Munich. Playlists are a great thing to scrap about because when you look back, you can remember certain songs that were specific to a period of time.


Using these fun cassette tapes from our That’s My Jam element pak, you can feature an album that you love in a creative way, like I did with the following page. (I love the Great Gatsby soundtrack that came out recently. I still haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m just dying to!!)


Adding a lot of words to a layout can be difficult because it can sometimes look too cluttered. So I’ve compiled this list of free fonts that work well when filling a page with words, such as lyrics. All free for personal use at dafont.

Our creative team came up with more creative ways to use music in art…enjoy!




Our 7 new releases are on sale through Monday, along with a great sale (newsletter goes out Sunday morning; free sign-up here). – Rachel and team

Travel Journals {ideas & inspiration}

Last weekend I went to spend a few days with my sister, Alyssa in Arizona. She’s been there since August for a one-year internship, and I’ve been meaning to pay her a visit…time was almost running out! The month of May might not have been the wisest time to go to Phoenix (temps in the upper 90s!), but it still was such a fun time!

rachel shefveland

We went shopping in SanTan Village, hiking at Superstition Mountain, hot tubbing late at night, walking in the community gardens of Argitopia, and out to eat at a really cool local diner. It was wonderful sister bonding time :) And since I might never make it back to AZ, I made sure to have a camera on hand at all times!

rachel shefveland

I captured some sweet moments of our little adventure, and now I want to make something special out of them. All over the place I see people making super adorable travel journals and albums and I want to join in the fun! I’m still trying to decide how I want it to turn out, but I’ll share some of my internet inspiration with you. Maybe you have some great travel pics that are just dying to be placed in a an album made from vintage postcards, I know I do!!! -Rachel

#1 – instagram desktop flip album via heidi swapp // #2 – instagram album via studio calico // #3- alaska travel album via saturday morning vintage // #4 – vintage postcard travel journal via a beautiful mess // #5 – diy pocket travel journal via simple as that blog

Don’t forget to check out the new art in the shop & gallery this week!

And see all of the team’s ideas using these new products in our travel gallery here.

Mom made the layout below remembering her and Dad’s photography trip last summer to Bayfield, Wisconsin with the new products. Check out that rainbow!

michelle shefveland

Oh, and if you’re like us and dream of traveling to far off places (like we do!) check out our Let us be Adventurers pinboard on Pinterest!

Happy creating! Rachel and Team

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 2 | 10th Birthday Celebration {freebie & more}!

rachel shefveland. da vinci papers, flair, & scrap.words, tea stained elements

We’re back for day 2 of our 10th Birthday celebration, focusing on natural light photography and the organic color scheme of blue and brown. Together they make beautiful digital art! Today’s new products in the shop are the Da Vinci Collection Papers and Flair and today’s coordinating freebie, Da Vinci Scrap.Words (download link is at end of post). All included in sale.

Here are a few more layouts using the new art:

And for our how-to we’ll share how to make this blended collage using painted and lacy click.masks.

michelle shefveland. whispers of time, graffiti grunge, click.masks 26

The photo is the main focus of this layout and I was looking for one with soft light. When we were in Phoenix in March we did a short photo shoot in a field across from our hotel. The low angle of the sun made for sun pretty rim light as seen in the photo selected. FYI…when we travel via plane, we take lightweight gear and our lesser quality lenses.

Camera specs: Canon 7d, Canon 50mm/1.8, ISO 100, f/3.2. 1/320 second shutter speed, +.67 exposure compensation (I normally overexpose when shooting into the sun)

For more beautiful light photography inspiration, see our Soft and Beautiful Pinboard here, Golden Light Loves here, and Photo Tips and Ideas here.

See our quick and easy golden light photo boost how-to on our blog here.

Now for the how-to using Photoshop Elements:

  1. Open two papers, drag and drop top one onto base paper. Resize top paper to be slightly smaller. Add a soft drop shadow. See our custom drop shadow tutorial here.
  2. Open a click.mask of choice. We used a painted one from the new Graffiti Grunge Pak. Drag and drop it onto the papers.  Position as desired with Move Tool.
  3. Drag and drop photo onto layout. Size and position over click.mask as desired.
  4. Clip photo to mask (Ctrl+G; Cmd+G on a Mac). Reposition if needed.
  5. Add elements and word art from Whispers of Time Pak. Rotate and set word art on Color Burn Mode at 60% opacity.
  6. For added texture we applied a lacy click.mask from set 26, set on Multiply Blend Mode. For more color we clipped an apple blossom photo to the lace (think of all you can do with papers and photos with click.masks!).
  7. That’s all there is to it! Here’s the main part of the Layers Panel (click to enlarge):

And, below is today’s freebie. Enjoy and see you again tomorrow! Michelle and team

Da Vinci Scrap.Words Freebie Download (10 png files – 6 MB zip file – expired Sunday, 4/28/13 at 8:00 am CT)

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

Day 1 | 10th Birthday Celebration {freebie & more}!!!

michelle shefveland. tie dye dreams 2, get it framed 5, this is life 1

They say time speeds up for us as each year passes. Wow, I’d say! When we started Cottage Arts 10 years ago this month, our oldest Alyssa was just a mere 12 years old and last week she was surprised with a wedding proposal!!!!! We are blessed and give thanks for this family business that has allowed us ample time with our three children as they grow.

So time for a party to say thank you for 10 years of support! Prizes and entry details are outlined in Friday’s newsletter (no purchase necessary to enter). To receive future newsletters, free sign-up is here. We’ll likely be sending out another newsletter or two during the celebration, if you missed this one.


  ALL Downloads on SALE 33% OFF
thru Monday, April 29, 2013! (including photo art blends)

Plus additional special offer…save up to 40%!

And for each of the next 4 days we’ll have inspiration and a blog freebie download for the day here, which will expire at 8am CT the next day (like always, they’ll be available in our shop if you miss them).

Today’s theme is Instagram and Chalkboard art. We released a new set of Chalkboard Love today (plus 6 other new downloads). Using the new art and hand drawn chalky AlphaSet, we’ve created a modern 12×12 Quick Page for you. Rachel filled it with recent Instagram shots.

rachel shefveland. freebie below

Last week I got my first iPhone (5) after being an Android user for 4 years. Love both for different reasons. Kris, Rachel, I, and most of our team love playing with mobile apps and Instagram. Follow us on Instagram here to see how we’re using this evolving technology! More to come on our favorite iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch apps!

AND…we’ve curated a really cool information-packed Instagram Pinboard. Below are a few pins. Enjoy being inspired with DIY projects using mobile phone photos!

instagram pinboard

Below are today’s new releases.

And here’s the freebie we promised! Simply add your own images and personal journaling.

InstaLove Quick Page Free Download (Expired 8:00 am 4/27/13) by Michelle Shefveland and Rachel Shefveland

If you missed the freebie, it is now available in our shop here for $1

See our QuickPage/ScrapOver tutorial for Photoshop Elements here and for Corel PaintShop Pro here.

Come back tomorrow for more goodies, info on the prizes, and inspiration!

Enjoy! Michelle Shefveland and team

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