Letterpress in Photoshop Elements (a work-around tutorial)

I love Photoshop Elements. I have used it from day one of my scrapping life and for the most part, I find no reason to ever switch. It is a powerful program that does everything I want it to do. Well, almost.

I will admit that PSE has a few shortcomings. They took me years to notice, but they are in fact there. There are just some things that can’t be done the way they can be in Photoshop.

One of the things that is severely lacking in PSE is options in layer styles. We don’t have nearly as much control over the styles as do PS users. Our option dialogues are often lacking and we are stuck with the default choices.

An example of this is in doing letterpress. I was so excited to find this tutorial for creating this look on my pages, but a few minutes into the video and I realized that I was out of luck.

Never one to give up that easily, I found a simple workaround for PSE. Although I wouldn’t say it looks as good as it does in PS, it works for me.

The tutorial stated to apply an inner shadow to the layer you want to make into letterpress. I did that.

But that is as far as I could go in the tutorial. While PS users get an extensive dialogue box for inner shadows, PSE users get a default setting with no options to modify anything but the direction of the lighting. Unfortunately, the default setting is less than impressive:

It’s way too much. It must much more of a cut out than a letterpress look. But then I remembered an old trick I learned for PSE. You can scale the effects of a layer style. It was worth a try!

And this was the result:

Depending on the color of the type and the color of the paper, it is definitely worth playing around with scaling percentage and the lighting direction until you get something you like.

I could have stopped there, but I did one more thing to add a bit of realism. Because the paper I was using was quite textured, I decided to let a bit of that texture show through the pressed type. I did this by changing the blend mode to overlay.

And here is the final layout:

It’s not perfect, but then again, I don’t usually aim for perfect. I aim for done.