Cardinal Christmas Freebie!

We recently released our Cardinal Christmas Collection and have a little freebie below for you made from it: a 4×6 Quick Page Photo Card (or frame cluster for your digital layout). Instructions are included in the zip file.

Here are some of the 2013 holiday art collection kits and layouts made with them from the team. Layout details in our gallery here.

And here’s some holiday Pinspiration from our curated collections. Click to enlarge.

Click here for FREEBIE download (3 mb png file). Enjoy!


Michelle and team

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

Up your Photo Game {contest}

Hi all! If you’re looking for a fantastic way to get out of a creative rut or to push your photography skills, I highly recommend getting involved with Instagram or Flickr groups. This morning, I had the lovely surprise of being nominated for photo of the month with @childrenphoto on Instagram with the above photo. A fellow photographer found my photo and asked me to tag it in their group, so I did, and then the same photographer nominated me. I’ve never been in a voting contest before as I’ve never entered, however, this honor is pretty cool. Tag your Instagram photos #ourchildrenphoto to be added to this group and be considered for daily and monthly contests.

This photo was a blessed, split-second capture and one of my all-time most meaningful.

My Instagram photos can be seen at @cottagearts, and are about 99% iPhone 5 shots going forward, with a focus on nature. The above image was shot with a Canon 7D.

Using IFTTT, my Instagram images are auto posted to Flickr, too. Isn’t technology amazing?!!!

Regarding upping your game, a favorite group I subscribe to on Instagram for daily challenges is @joshjohnson. Really motivating daily inspiration! Such talent in the phoneography community; I am in awe.

If you’re on Instagram, say hi! And letting your creativity soar. I normally post a photo or two a week, but do hope to get more active going into winter.

FYI…my last three Digital Workshop how-to articles for Somerset Memories Magazine have focused on creating art with your cell phone photos. See more information on my latest article on our blog here.

this is life 5 scrap.words, iPhone 5

See more phoneography tips, app faves, and inspiration on our blog here.

Happy shooting!

Michelle and team

Big DSD Sale & Spooky Effect for Halloween Photos {how-to}!

michelle shefveland. return of october papers and elements

Halloween. In Minnesota this is basically equivalent to braving the freezing temperatures in costumes covered up with winter coats, hats, and scarves, so all the kids look like little puff balls running from house to house, collecting as much candy as they can before their toes freeze. It’s truly a sad story…however, it’s fun to watch when you’re not the one out in the cold! Honestly, who doesn’t love Halloween? Dressing up like someone (or something) else for a night and eating only candy for the next week. Perfection.

But seeing all the great photos on Facebook the next day of the jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treaters is the real treat, am I right? So today we’re going to show you a fun little tutorial that will add a little spookiness to your pictures before you share them!

Spooky Photo Effect:

1. Open Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

2. Open the photo you want to edit. I picked one Mom took last year around Halloween, with the street light hitting the autumn leaves just right. It already looks a bit spookish. Let’s see if we can make it even scarier!

3. Set the Foreground color to white and the Background color to black (Shortcut: X).

4. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the Tool Bar (Shortcut: M). Set the Feather to 50px. Click and drag the cursor diagonally from one corner of the photo the the other to create a selection of the entire photo.

5. Create a new layer by selecting Layer>New>Layer, or by clicking the New Layer button in the Layers Panel.

6. With the new layer selected in the Layers Panel, select Filter>Render>Clouds. Then select Select>Deselect (Shortcut PC: Ctrl D, Mac: Cmd D).

7. Set the opacity of this layer to 30-40%.

8. Click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers Panel (box with circle inside). If you have PSE version 8 or below, forgo this step and use the Eraser Tool instead for the next step.

9. Select the Brush Tool from the Tool Bar (Shortcut: B). Select a medium sized, soft, round brush. Set the foreground color to black and the brush opacity to 30%. Making sure the layer mask is selected, brush around the edges and in the middle of the photo in irregular strokes and different directions to create a more random, realistic fog look.

10. Next, we will add a greenish-blue tint to the photo by clicking on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button in the Layers Panel (half gray/half white circle) and then selecting Levels. Click on the RGB Channel Picker (drop-down menu at the top of the Adjustments Panel (PSE) or Properties Panel (PS), and select Blue. Find the output levels near the bottom of the panel, move the white slider (right) to the left, until the photo takes on a greenish tint, and the move the black slider (left) to the right until blue tones start to show.

Here is a screenshot of the complete Layers Panel

11. Save in .psd format to retain layers and allow for future editing.

12. Save as medium quality .jpg to upload to social media site (you may need to resize smaller) or high quality full-size to your preferred print vendor.

Here’s another one I edited to spook-ify a photo of our carved pumpkin.

 rachel shefveland. hallow-eek pak

Speaking of Halloween, below are some of our fave Fall and Spook-ilicious kits in the shop. With our 3-day iDSD Everything Sale of 35%+ off, you’ll have lots of shopping fun over the weekend (FYI…our newsletter went out late Thursday night).

Happy creating!

Rachel and team

Get Moody with Somerset Memories {resources}

michelle shefveland. mextures iPhone appthis is life 5 scrap.words

We’re excited to share my latest Digital Workshop column in the Fall 2013 issue of Somerset Memories, on newsstands and available for order. In this step-by-step article, I’ll lead you on a journey of creating soulful, moody art pieces, using Adobe Photoshop Elements or your cell phone apps.

Get this issue for a very limited time on Stampington’s site here. For the past nine years I have been a columnist with Stampington and consider it a highlight in my digital art journey.

Also featured is artwork from team members Rachel Shefveland, Beth Ervin, and Melinda Ver Meer. Congrats everyone!

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

Creative Borders {ideas}

Ever make a scrapbook page and say, “there is something missing here, but I have no idea what?” Well it could be missing a border, or at least for me that’s often the case. Something that forms a decorative edge on your layout, giving it a balanced feel…something that draws your eye into the story of the page. You don’t have to use actual borders; you can use just about anything in your digital stash! With the new products in the shop this week, you can make a variety of unique borders for your art. Check out these simple ideas!!

rachel shefveland

Stack two papers on top of each other, with two edges of the bottom paper sticking out from beneath the top. Give the top paper a custom drop shadow to make it look realistic. This will give the scrapbook page a composition that draws the eye back towards the main focus of the page, instead of drifting off the side.

michelle shefveland

Lay the edge of a paper with complementary colors over one side of your layout like Michelle does below. It will look almost like a ribbon, and you don’t even have to add a drop shadow! But it doesn’t end there: On the same page, she also uses the bottom of a frame cluster from Scrap.Frames 28 as a border at the top. The two custom borders work beautifully to bring everything together as a cohesive layout.

michelle shefveland

You can do the same thing as above, but with all 4 sides of the paper showing, giving the layout a full border that keeps everything nicely balanced.

rachel shefveland

Use the edges of our Scrap.Journals for a chunkier border to fill a large space. This one includes a little word art, which gives it a double use – score!! Be creative and layer elements to get even more unique effects!

michelle shefveland

Below, Tonya creatively uses stitching and mini accents to make two opposing side borders, and an embellished ribbon to balance her travel journal page. So eye catching!

tonya regular. supplies

tonya regular. supplies

Enjoy more inspiration with these new product layouts and those in our creative team gallery! – Rachel & team

rachel shefveland

michelle shefveland

tonya regular

karen wilhelm

beth ervin

Announcing our 3rd Online Class at Digital Scrapper – BONUS ends Friday!

Hi all…lots to share today! We’re excited to announce our third digital art class with Adobe training experts, Digital Scrapper: ClickArtistry – Photo Art Blends. Rachel is co-teaching with me and Kris played a technical role in video production and testing. A family labor of love for the past few months!

In the old days, creating a Polaroid transfer was cumbersome and involved messy chemicals and hit or miss luck.

But all that has changed with the digital age.

In this exciting class, we will lead you step-by-step in 10 Lessons (and 4 videos) through the process of creating unique fine art pieces out of your own photography, using our new, innovative techniques and digital art tools… without the mess, chemicals, and expense!

To Make Great Art You Need The Right Tools!

WE have included a one-of-a-kind designer art/digital tool collection that will guide you in making beautiful art with your images. It includes all-new art:

  • 18 innovative Photo Art Blends (5 styles in varying sizes)
  • 10 different Photo Transfer Edge Frames
  • 8 artistic Word Art Overlays with inspiring quotes
  • 12 custom Gradients
  • 18 Designer Textures in 3 sizes each (8×10, 12×12, and 12×18 – 56 total)

Get Inspired!

In this class you’ll have access to many examples of gorgeous photo art blends to get your creative juices flowing.

In addition, We also offer special printing tips and ideas for DIY display projects.

Here Are Just Some Of The Specific “Gems”

You’ll Discover In This Unique Class of 10 Lessons (along with 4 videos):

  • Add light leaks to your photography. It’s all the rage, and it’s very easy to do with our custom gradients!
  • Edit your photos in 3 different trendy styles: moody, vintage, and retro to use in your digital artwork and scrapbooking
  • Blend our art textures with your images for spectacular results. (Includes cool bokeh textures!)
  • Add the perfect sentiment to your photo by choosing from our word art collection.
  • Apply custom artistic edges to your photos with our frame collection. This transformation takes seconds, but it will look like you slaved over it!
  • Use our designer art to enhance traditional digital scrapbooking so that your pages stand out like a neon sign in the gallery!
  • Display your amazing new art as home decor, and create unique DIY gifts.
  • Plus you’ll be inspired by our Pinterest boards that relate to the class lessons. (You’ll get tons of ideas from this alone.)
Important Note: for those who have any of our earlier Photo Art Blends, you will be happy to know the Photo Art Blends included are all new, involving different techniques. Combined with the textures, photo transfer frames, gradients, word art, and retro photo editing tutorials, this class shares Michelle’s never-seen-before creative process from start to finish.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. This class is hosted at Digital Scrapper, not Cottage Arts. But you do NOT have to be a premier member of Digital Scrapper to sign-up for classes at Digital Scrapper.
  2. You will need to have a separate log-in for their site, as your Cottage Arts log-in does not transfer to their site.
  3. The class is self-paced with forever access. However, Rachel and I will only be in the class forum (for seven days) for this first introductory offering as part of the Bonus offering. We can be reached at any time in the future for feedback or to answer questions.
  4. Bonus art will be e-mailed separately when the class begins.

Contact us with any other questions.

Learn more about the class and Early Bird Bonus at Digital Scrapper!

P.S. This class is Self-Paced and you will always have forever access to it, but the bonuses go away on Friday, September 20, 2013 at midnight Eastern time. See Digital Scrapper owner Linda Sattgast’s testimonial, along with past students’ comments, on the Class Information Page on their site.

P.P.S. Check out our Pop Art Posters and Soulful Silhouettes forever access classes on their site, too! You can always contact us via the online classroom at any time with questions.

Happy creating!

Panoramas: Simply Shot {how-to}

michelle shefveland. scrap.templates 8 (great for panos!), outdoor adventure stickers

Hi all! Kris here today with a fun cell phone how-to…

Without a doubt, photographers are huge winners of the smartphone competition between Apple’s iPhone (IOS), Google’s (Android), and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Just recently Nokia announced a 41 Megapixel camera on its most recent Windows phone the Lumia 1020!  Perhaps the coolest new feature these smart phone cameras and apps have is fast and simple panoramic shots.  On our recent trip to Montana, we couldn’t resist at least one panorama shot every place we went and usually more than one.

This post is going to focus on the Panoramic capabilities of the most recent versions of IOS (6.0) and Android (4.2). The process is so simple, you can’t help shaking your head in amazement the first time you try it. Here are the steps for both phones. If you are using an older iPhone or Android version, see the bottom of the post for third-party apps that can give you great end results, although not quite as simple to use. Again, keep in mind that you’ll need IOS 6.0 or later or Android 4.2 or later to use the approach shown in this post.


1. Open the camera app and press the Options button at the top.

2. Press the Panorama button

3. Position the camera to the left most point of the panorama shot you wish to take. If you want to pan right to left, just tap the arrow and the direction will reverse. Now Press the shutter button (camera icon) at the bottom of the screen.













4. Move (pan) the iPhone continuously and slowly to the right. Be sure to keep the arrow moving along the blue line to keep the panorama as straight as possible.

5.  Either pan for the full 240 degrees that is the default size, or press the done button when you have what you want.

6. Here are two quick final results I got by varying where I stood and the degrees I panned.


1. Open the standard camera app:

2. Press the camera icon  to pop-up the options, and then press on the panorama icon:
3. Now position the camera at the left or right most point of the panorama you wish to capture. You’ll be able to go either direction.

4. Press the blue capture button and the capturing process begins.  Move (pan) the camera slowly to the right or left and notice how the progress bar below the image will move as you pan. You can wait until a full 180 degree capture is made, or stop at any point by pressing the blue button.

5. Once you stop, the panorama will begin to render. This may take a few minutes, depending on how powerful your phone is.

Here is the final image:

Add some word art 

Now you can edit the image to your liking, including the addition of word art. Here’s another example:

Still using an older smartphone?

If your smartphone is using an older operating system that doesn’t support the newest native Panorama apps, there are some really good apps that might work for you. These will work a bit differently and might not be as simple, but will still provide excellent panorama shots. A web search will find you others as well, but these seem to be amongst the most used out there.

Coming soon, I’ll show you  how Google’s “photospheres” and “tiny planets” have made the next leapfrog in panoramic technology. It is a decent bet that the next iPhone, due out this fall, will include a similar feature.

 iPhone Panorama Apps:

 Android Panorama Apps

Have fun shooting! Kris Shefveland and 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

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