Friday, May 8, 2009

Quick Photoshop Tutorial

I've joined a new message board called From C to Shining C, or FCTSC.  Anyway, there's a section where members of the board create once a week challenges for the other members, Monday-Friday.  My friend Diane who manages her own blog as well, has generously donated her time, creativity and talent in doing "Digital Challenges" on Thursdays.  She uses a program made by Creative Memories, and wanted me to do a quick tutorial for those people who do digital creating in Photoshop for yesterday's challenge; you can see it on her blog.  I said that I would be more than happy to help her out.

Yesterday's challenge was to "Make your own digital element from a photograph".  Basically, take a picture of any object -or even a person would work- and turn it into a digital element.  Diane cleverly used a gingersnap cookie to embellish a digital 'layout' with the recipe of gingersnap cookies on it.  And I'm going to give basic steps on how to create digital embellishments in Photoshop!  (You can see the blog post by clicking this link)

First step.  Go through your pictures and decide which photograph you want to create an element out of.  Unfortunately, my selection on a good quality picture of an object were limited... that is to say it was not blurry, cut off or low quality in anyway.  I did have a picture of some fish my husband caught in 2007, so that's going to be my digital element!

Here's the picture.  Seeing how the tail of the bottom fish is cut off, I decided to use the top fish instead.  I use Photoshop CS3; for those who use another program it should not be difficult to follow this tutorial since I'm just using very basic instructions, nothing too fancy.  I resized this picture, however; I'm not going to resize the screenshots of photoshop too much so you can see in detail what you have to click and use.

First step, crop the picture down to remove as much of the picture as possible, and so you can have just the object being turned into a digital element.  You do this by selecting the crop tool (in the red circle) and by making sure that there are no numbers in the "Width" and "Height" spaces, that way you can freehand the cut rather than be limited by ratios.  If you are not satisfied with how you cropped the image, you can just undo it, and then redo it again.

Next step, you need to select either the background or the item itself, by using the wand tool (blue circle).  I did the background as you can tell, but if you decide to do the item, make sure after you select it that you go up to "Select > Inverse" in the toolbar and inverse the selection, so your item is not selected, but everything else is.  Then go to the erase tool (green circle) and just erase everything that's selected.  Once you've erased everything, but if there's still stuff that you were not able to select (as you can see in my screenshot, I had that problem) deselect it by going to "Select > Deselect" and then carefully use your eraser tool -making the eraser smaller if you have to- and erase the extras.

Once you do that, your image should look something like this.

The white and grey checkered background means that there's nothing there in the background, and if you were to put it over something, there will be just the fish (in my case).  If you are going to save your image and use it for later, make sure that you save it as a Photoshop image, or in PSD format.  If you save it as a JPG image, what it will do is put the background as solid white; and that will create problems as using it as an element later in a layout.  My other recommendation is that you save it as the largest size possible; since you can always shrink it but you lose quaility if you try to increase the size after a reduction in size.

To use it as an element in a digital layout or creation, first reduce it to the size you want to use it at.  Then open up the new image, and keep the orginal open, select your "move tool" (the very top one) and then click and drag your element onto your digital layout page.

As you can see here, when you click and drag the fish over ot the digital layout, it automatically creates a second layer where the fish is it's own layer.  And you can also see that the fish is still in it's orginal image; it does not cut and paste, but simpily makes a copy of the image.

One thing that I've learned when using Photoshop; layers are your friends!  It makes mantipulating individual elements that much easier.  You can switch around the layers to create a different effect, you can adjust the opacity of one item and keep it completely solid with another one... possibilities are endless.

Well, except in my case; I'm not sure what I'm going to use this fish element in...


  1. I loved your tutorial on the elements. Nice clear instructions. Now could you show us how to do Diane's 4th challenge using photoshop? Please, please! Not a clue how to do it.


  2. Sure thing! Will start on that now.