I love to play with elements by tucking in leaves and ribbons and creating little clusters. That’s exactly what I did on when I had fun scrapping this page about my daughter.


Layout by Heddy. Supplies: You + Me = Fun by Pink Reptile Designs, Studio 68 and Studio Basic and DSD 2012 template by Sara Gleason

Psst… Do you want to know a secret?

This page is a mess “behind the scenes”! Let’s lift a few things up and take a peek.

Behind the purple flower are some leaves where I erased the stem (and evidently did a messy job of it!):


Under the jean pocket is a tucked in ticket. It was long so I just erased all the parts that might have stuck out.


If I take away the “love” journal mat, we can see some more leaves with the stems erased. And look! I forgot to take out that flower guide from the template I used! Oops!


And yet another messy leaf over at the right-side:


Remember, nothing is irreparable – if you erase too much, you can always hit “undo” or just delete the layer and then pull in a fresh element from your supplies folder.

So keep in mind that some of those pretty pages you see in the galleries might be “hiding something”! Smile

Journaling On Patterned Paper


Supplies: Heart On My Sleeve by Jumpstart Designs

When I’m shopping for digi supplies, it is the patterned paper that usually sells me on a particular kit. I love small, tight patterns that are easy to use in layering. I also love pops of colour in paper.

We’ve shared some articles over the years about patterned paper:

Patterned papers add interest and carry the colour scheme on the page. But, they also present some challenges. Today let’s talk about how to journal when using patterned paper. How do you make your journaling stand out?

Choosing the Right Paper

Journaling directly on patterned paper can be tricky if you want the text to be readable. I found this lovely example by Kjersti at Sweet Shoppe Designs. Here she’s used a delicate tone-on-tone patterned paper as the background of the page. It adds just the right amount of interest, but still allows the journaling to be readable.


Layout by Kjersti. Credits: Spring Awakening by Kristin Cronin-Barrow and Sugarplum Paperie; Dream Land Part6, by Eudora Designs

Here’s a page I put together, also using a softly patterned background:


Layout by Heddy. Supplies: Musings by Pink Reptile Designs; iDSD templates by Crystal Livesay

Using Paint to Journal On

Using paint to create a journaling spot on patterned paper is a great trick. You can easily change the colour of the paint to suit your layout and then journal on it.


Layout by Heddy. Supplies: Plant Your Story Journaled Vol. 1 by Sara Gleason; Everyday Moments by Lauren Grier and Jenn Barrette

Work With the Pattern

When working with stripes or chevrons, try writing within the lines, like Heathergw at The Lilypad did on this lined paper:


Layout by heathergw. Supplies: I am a Prince – elements by Little Butterfly Wings; I am a Prince – papers by Little Butterfly Wings; Flairs & Borders by Little Butterfly Wings; March 2013 Template Challenge Freebie by Amy Martin; The Dry Ribbon by Heather Joyce

And Julifish at Sweet Shoppe Designs placed her journaling in one of the large circles on her background paper:


Layout by Julifish. Supplies: Spring Blooms by Juliana Kniepp and Penny Springmann

Use a Heavy Font

A thick or heavy font will stand out against a busy patterned paper. RebeccaH at The Lilypad did a great job making her words readable against the big chevron background:


Layout by RebeccaH. Supplies: Mark My Words Alpha by Pink Reptile Designs; ‘Sup Yo by CD Muckosky; Big & Bold Papers by Allison Pennington; Journal Cards No. 1 by Pink Reptile Design; Insta-frame Templates by Sahlin Studio; I Am A Prince Elements by Little Butterfly Wings; Dayplanner by One Little Bird & Paislee Press; Love Me Tender Alpha by Pink Reptile Designs

Use a Tag

Sometimes I forget about tags. I have hundreds of them, but they’re such a basic item they’re easy to overlook. A tag is a great choice when the background is just so busy that no other tricks will work.


Layout by Heddy. Supplies: Do You Remember kit by Dunia

We have so many options for including our stories while working with patterned papers!

Making a Repeated Element Overlay


Credits: Starfish by Forever Joy Designs, Chipboard Action by WendyZine and Krystal Hartley, Doodle Action by WendyZine

I was reading The Sweet Shoppe’s challenges for the month of March when I came across this one that I thought sounded very interesting:

Challenge 2. – Babe Erin inspired me with her ingenuity on creating her own overlay. She used laced snowflakes to create this stunning layout. Create an overlay on your layout using one element repeated.

Here’s Erin’s sample page. Isn’t it amazing?!


Page is linked to credits

I loved the idea of creating an overlay! What a fantastic way of adding texture and working with a kit! This is exactly why I am such a fan of reading and participating in challenges – they provide such great inspiration!

I decided to try out this technique here:


Page is linked to credits

It’s a super-easy way to add texture. Here’s what you need:

  • A simple element with enough space around it to allow the background to show through. Items that will work well are things like stars, snowflakes, and hexagons.
  • A solid paper background. (You want the element to be the star of the page here.)

Here are a few examples:


Credits: Starfish by Forever Joy Designs


Credits: Forget the Clouds by EH Studios

And that’s all there is to it! A simple way to add texture to your page and make the most of your digital supplies.

How to Combine Templates


Supplies: Enjoy Life by The Cluster Queen

A while back, Steph did a great post about combining two templates into one to stretch your digi supplies and make a page that works for your photos and journaling.

We thought it would be a good idea to share how to do that, step-by-step. Don’t worry – it’s very easy!


I’m going to work with templates from the following template packs:



Step 1: Open both templates in Photoshop. I keep them “floating” rather than “docked” so that I can easily drag layers between the two template files.

Step 2: In one of the templates, select all the layers by going to the layer palette and selecting the first layer and then holding down the SHIFT-key and selecting the last layer.


Step 3: With the Move tool active, drag the selected template layers onto the other template to combine them.


Step 4: Play with the groupings until you’re happy with how to they work together. Add or delete layers, flip sections and resize as desired.

If you’re using pre-shadowed templates, don’t forget to adjust the shadows on all the layers to match each other, since the two templates might have different shadow settings.


And that’s all there is to it! Now I have a two photo template with a busier design and lots of room for journaling!

PS. Congratulations to this week’s reader, CFile, who has won $10 to Heather Joyce’s store. Thanks for commenting!

Sizing Layouts


Supplies: Seaform journaling card by Becky Higgins, DJB Mrs. Webster font by Darcy Baldwin

When we create a scrapbook page, many of us eventually create three separate electronic files for the same page:

  1. Working Copy: Layered file containing the scrapbook layout
  2. Print-Ready Copy: Full-size high-resolution flattened layout for printing
  3. Web-Size Copy: 600×600 pixel, 72 dpi resolution flattened layout for use in galleries or emailing

Here is a screenshot of page that I created and saved as a layered TIFF file:


Supplies: Shaped Up Vol. 5 Banners by Amy Martin, Easy Peasy by Pink Reptile Designs, font is DJB Mrs. Webster by Darcy Baldwin

The layered file as the following image size settings:


The 300 pixels/inch resolution is important – that is the value needed for high-quality printing.

Let’s work with this layout and create the print-ready and web-sized copies that I’ll need:

The Print-Ready Copy

Many scrapbookers scrap and print their pages in the 12×12 inch format because that is the size that for which most papers, elements and templates are optimized. However, some people find that 12×12 is quite large when printed. To solve this problem, many digital scrapbookers take pages created in 12×12 and print them in 8×8 size. It’s a more manageable size, and fits on a standard bookcase. Some printers, like Persnickety Prints, are able to take a 12×12 image and print in 8×8. For some other printers, you’ll have to resize the image.

Going back to the scrapbook page above, I save a print-ready copy by:

  • Retaining the same image size and resolution as on my layered TIFF file.
  • Flattening the image.
  • Apply a sharpening action. (Ever since reading Wendy’s article on sharpening for printing, I include this as a step.)
  • Saving as a JPG at maximum quality.

Saving for Web

To save for the web, take either the layered file or the flattened JPG and change the image settings to:


I apply a web-sharpen action and then use the Save For Web feature in Photoshop. Because most galleries require images that are under 150 k in size, I optimize the image for that size and save as a JPG.


Now my saved-for-web version is ready for the gallery. You can see it here in a gallery at 600×600 size.

Using Resize Actions

If you’re using Photoshop, you can record your own actions for commonly performed tasks like resizing a layout for printing and for web posting. If you don’t have a full version of Photoshop, there are commercially available actions that you can purchase to automate these tasks for you. (For example, WendyZine has this resize/sharpen action for saving to the web.)

To Keep or Not to Keep?

A common question asked among digital scrapbookers is “Do you keep your layered files after your page is done?” There is no right or wrong answer. Here are various strategies:

  • Keep both the layered file (e.g. TIFF, PSD) and the flattened 12×12 layout. Who this works for: Risk averse scrapbookers with lots of memory space available.
  • Keep just the flattened 12×12 layout. Who this works for: Scrapbookers who are confident that they won’t want to tweak a layout later or need to correct a spelling mistake and scrapbookers who need to conserve memory space.
  • Hang onto both files, but delete the layered file once the page is printed. Who this works for: Scrapbookers who are want to be able to fix a mistake right up to the print order, but who won’t reprint later if they find an error in the printed page. Works for people who eventually want to free up space on their computers.

Steph: Where Do You Print Your Photobooks?

Probably the biggest question I see in my inbox from readers is, “Steph, where do you print your Photobooks now?”  It’s usually written after someone reads the Photobook Printing Review post I did a while back.

My answer has always been the same: I still print my photo books with Adoramapix. I did print one book with another company since I wrote that review, but I was so disappointed, I’ve since stuck with Adoramapix.

Here’s the list of why I still choose Adoramapix for printing my photobooks:

Print Quality

It always matches what I see on my monitor. There aren’t any surprises (note: I calibrate my monitor). The prints are photo quality and don’t have the graininess or noise that so many other photo books have.

A Custom Cover That Is Easy To Design

I love that I can design the cover to wrap all the way around the spine of the book and what I see in the Adoramapix software, is how it will print. I don’t need to use any templates or anything special to have the cover look exactly the way I want.

Custom Inside Covers

It’s so fun to be able to design the inside of the covers to coordinate with the opposite pages and/or the cover.

Thick Pages

I love how thick the pages of the book are!  There will be no bent pages in this book!


Lay Flat Binding

After having photo books with lay flat binding, I don’t think I can ever go back!  Sometimes, I have to look hard to see the seems.

Double Page Spreads

I can upload a 24×12 double page layout and drag and drop the whole thing onto a page and just click on “fit to page” and that’s it! I don’t have to divide the layout into two 12×12 layouts in Photoshop first.  No worrying about lining up the center seems on two 12×12 layouts.


One of the only concerns I hear from readers (before they try Adorampix) is the price. I promise you, considering the quality of their books, it is a VALUE! But, they do quite often run HUGE sales, so sign up for their newsletter (I think you have to register to get on the list). I have found that when they show the sale price for a 14 page 8×8, the same discount usually applies to the same size with more pages.

There is a sale going on now (ends 2/14) and you can get a 14 page 8×8 book for $9.99 (WOW!) (regular price is $25.95) using the coupon code: PXLOVE8x8

You might want to check out their blog, where you will find links to all of the different places you can connect with them to find out about sales.

From the readers that have tried Adoramapix photo books for their printing, I usually hear that they are converts too.


More Simple Tricks from Jacki


Jacki here, with part 3 of my keeping it simple series. If you want to refer back to my previous posts, check out:

If you’re like me, you have some old scanned photos that desperately need some repair work. When my daughter was born, a friend gave me a roll of film. I didn’t know it until I’d already taken my photos in to be processed, that it was slide film! The processor didn’t catch it either and was very apologetic. All I had of my daughter’s birth were these awful looking green photos. I cried! Fifteen years ago I didn’t have a digital camera or photo editing software so the photos stayed as they were in her photo album. With her birthday coming up, I wanted to try and repair some of those photos. There are a number of tutorials out there to walk you through the restoration process of an old photo. However, I don’t have a lot of time, nor do I have fancy editing software. I want something I can do in ten minutes or less.

From awful to useable. The photo I wanted to repair is one of my husband at the hospital holding our brand new baby girl. It was taken with slide film and was scanned a number of years ago. In addition to being green and awful, it has scratches, dust, and various unsightly little spots. Here are the steps I used:

a. Adjust the lighting levels.

b. Try auto color correct.

c. Use the magnetic lasso tool to select and “protect” part of the image.

d. Copy-paste the selected area into another layer.

e. Use color variations to adjust the background.

f. Use the burn tool to darken areas not scanned well.

g. Use the spot healing brush and cloning tool to repair spots, scratches, and unwanted distractions.

h. Merge the layers.

i. Reduce the noise of the image with despeckle.

j. Crop the photo.

The first step I normally take is to look at adjusting the lighting levels of the photo. (This was covered in simple tricks for photo editing.) Then I play with the lighting using Auto Color Correct. Oftentimes what happens is that parts of the photo look good, and parts do not. So to allow more flexibility, I “protect” part of the photo. Using the magnetic lasso tool, I select the part of the photo I want to duplicate. That way I can mess around with the background without altering the area I want to protect. (For me, the Auto Color Correct made the people look very red.)



The magnetic lasso tool attaches itself along a line of color. It’s smart enough to follow it (which just amazes me!). But you have to control it. I click often along the line I want selected. Once you complete the loop (the beginning and end of the lasso meet), it will show marching ants and your selection is ready to copy and paste into a new layer.


Now I have the freedom to play with the background without worrying about how the people look. The slide film made the photo very green so I went to Enhance>Adjust Color>Color Variations and decreased the green. Immediately the background color looks better. (You’ll notice how red the people look so it’s a good thing they’re “protected!”)


Since this photo was made digital via the use of a scanner, there are lines and splotches that need to be fixed. Using the burn tool, you can darken areas to reduce that unwanted look.


Careful not to get carried away. Thankfully you have the option of “undo!”

Next I used the spot healing brush and the cloning tool to repair unwanted little spots, scratches and other distractions.


I did the same with the layer of people, repairing unwanted spots. I also desaturated the people a bit since the coloring was a bit strong (Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation). Once I was happy with both the background and the people in the image, I merged the two layers.

The overall image still looked grainy to me, so I used the Despeckle tool. In Photoshop Elements, go to Filter>Noise>Despeckle. You’ll notice that your image will look softer as a result. You can play with Noise, increasing or decreasing the effect.


Step back, look at your photo and if you like what you see, go ahead and crop it. Make sure to save your image under a different name so that you have both the original and the improved. Here are mine:



From awful to usable! I’m good with it and it took me less than 10 minutes. Now I can post it on my husband’s Facebook page to remind him of what we were doing 15 years ago!

Here’s another example of a photo I fixed using the same steps above. This one I’ll post on my son’s Facebook page, reminding him to hug his sister on her birthday. J



Go ahead and give it a try!

P.S. the title graphic was created with Kaye Winiecki’s Framed Affection elements kit.



Credits: The Silver Reed by Heather Joyce and I Believe In Miracles by Pink Reptile Designs

With the new year just around the corner, many scrapbookers are planning on starting a new project. Here is a list of a few ways to consider documenting your 2013.


To do Project 365, you commit to taking at least one photo every single day for an entire year. (Hint – go easy on yourself if you miss a day here and there!)

I’ve seen Project 52 interpreted as a photography challenge (52 weekly photos) and as a scrapbooking challenge (52 layouts). It’s whatever works for you!


Project Life was created by Becky Higgins. Using a simple grid format and pre-sized journaling cards, you can document your life quickly and consistently. It can be paired with P365, but it does not have to be! Some scrappers do a 2 page spread every week and others scrap as they have material. You could even do it on a monthly basis. Project Life is whatever you want it to be.

NEW 52


Peppermint Granberg of One Little Bird Designs and Christine Newman of Listgirl started the New 52 project. Basically, you try something new-to-you each week, take a picture and write about it. You can note it on your blog or scrapbook about it.


The “Take Twelve” challenge encourages you to take 12 photos on the 12th day of each month.



    At the end of every month, Katie answers a standard set of questions. It’s a wonderful keepsake to see what has happened each month – and can even be the starting point for future scrapbook pages. I haven’t done a round-up every month, but I have scrapped a few and I love how easy it is to answer the simple questions and document an entire month.


    Lynette at NettioDesigns documents her favourite things and moments from each month. What a great and positive gratitude project!


    Ali Edwards documents a Week In the Life each year. This project aims to capture all the little moments in a typical family life through photography and journaling.


    I love to follow Ali Edwards’ December Daily album as she documents her family’s December days.

    Are there any other projects that you would enjoy learning more about? What projects are you considering for 2013?

    Using the opacity slider


    One of the simplest tools to use in Photoshop programs is the opacity slider. If your not familiar with what it is, the opacity slider is a way to adjust the opaque-ness or “see-through-ness” (sounds like an official term, right?) of an item.

    Here’s an example:

    I opened up a paper and put a photo on top of it. I have not made any adjustments to opacity yet.


    Now if I have the photo selected as a layer and I use the opacity button to get to the slider, I can change it to whatever level of “see-through-ness” aka opaqueness that I want.



    This is what my photo looks like at 50% opacity.



    Why is this useful? Take a look at what I can create with just a little sliding around! No blending, no special tricks, all I did was to lower the opacity on the photo and let some of the background paper show through. Super easy!


    By the Sea by Flergs & Kay Miller


    What else do I use the opacity slider for? Making sure my fonts don’t float! I don’t use the full Photoshop program so I can’t use the tip in this post, but I have a quick workaround for it in Photoshop Elements. When I add a text layer on top of a paper or photo, I simply lower the opacity on the text just a little bit to make it look like it is written (or even stamped) right onto the paper.

    Here’s an example of text typed on a background paper with no opacity change.

    humanity no opacity

    By the Sea by Flergs & Kay Miller. Lobster font.


    You can see how the word just kind of sits on top of the paper.



    Now I lower the opacity to 80%, the text looks like it blends a bit more with the paper. If you were to color on a real piece of paper with a marker, there would be a bit of bleed-through or even an indentation from a ballpoint pen. It’s more natural for our eye to see that the words are part of the page.



    I also liked the softened color with the opacity change.

    humanity 80 opacity


    Finally, the task I probably use the opacity slider the most for is to just lighten up an intense color a bit. The red paper on the background of this page is just a little too bright for the photo and title.

    sweet memories bright

    Kristin Aagard Santa’s Little Helper. Cindy Schneider layered December titles.


    I put a cream colored paper under the red paper in the stack. You can also use a white or even a light beige or grey paper for this trick – just experiment a bit.


    When I lower the opacity on the red paper, the color is softened up by the cream color underneath being able to show through a bit. This is very subtle, but it makes a difference. Here’s what it looks like with the red at 85%.

    sweet memories softened

    I like to use a lighter color paper underneath from the same kit in case I want to lower the opacity a lot. That way, the texture that shows through matches the look of the kit.

    Here’s what it looks like with the red paper reduced to a 50% opacity level. This is a great way to get more color choices out of your kits!

    sweet memories 50


    Next time something doesn’t look quite right on your layout, try playing around with the opacity slider. You’ll be surprised at what a big difference a little sliding can make!

    katie big

    How to load actions


    Big news hit digiland earlier this week with the release of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11. It’s no surprise that a new version was released since that happens every fall, but this one is a game changer for digi scrappers. No longer do we have to consult a long strand of instructions just to figure out where to put actions! It’s just as simple to install them as it is in Photoshop. In fact, the whole process is very similar!

    Want to see? Of course you do! All you have to do is go to the “more” folder on the bottom right hand of the screen and choose the “actions” menu. You will see the actions that you have already loaded.


    You can load a new action at any time by choosing the drop down menu on the far top right of the actions menu.


    Then you will navigate to where you have stored your purchased actions and load the one you want with one simple click! Once you find your folder with the action you want to install, you might need to choose between PSE or PSCS. You can go ahead and look for a PSE option, but the cool thing is you can just install the action file that comes in the PSCS folder. That’s why it’s so easy to install now, because you only need the action file and not all that extra stuff to trick PSE into working with it.


    Now just select the action you want to load. You do have to load them one at a time, there doesn’t seem to be a way to batch load them all at once.


    After it’s loaded, just choose the first action listed in the folder and hit the “play selection” button. That’s all there is to it!


    The nice thing about this actions feature is that there are several options to clear or reset actions. If you need any further information, you can always check out the “Actions Help” area which leads to this page on the Adobe website.



    Want to know an even easier way?

    Wendyzine and I have been emailing back and forth the last few days as I’ve been learning all the new tricks in PSE 11. She asked me to check and see if PSE 11 could handle installing actions in the same ways that PSCS could. The answer is yes!

    Easy Alternative #1 – When you pull up the list of actions to load, you can just double click on the action you want instead of selecting it and hitting the “load” button.



    Easy Alternative #2 – When you are in your folders in Windows Explorer, you can find your actions there and double click on them to install. You just need to be sure that PSE 11 (or a version of PSCS) is the default program for opening actions.


    What if you haven’t upgraded to PSE 11 or you don’t use a full Photoshop program? How do you load actions in the other Photoshop Elements programs? We still like to refer you to the free set of instructions that Wendyzine has provided for our readers.  Be sure to check out the path to follow for your specific version. It’s not as intimidating as it seems. I used to be very scared of actions and I just sat down and opened up Wendy’s PDF every time I needed to install one. Before too long, I could do it from memory, without any help. If I can do it, anyone can! That said, I’ll take the new and improved action management of PSE 11 any day! Smile

    katie big

    P.S. The title graphic was created with Kate Hadfield’s movie night doodles