Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Hello ;o) Beckie here again, bringing you another installment of Shoppe Tips & Tricks!
As I was preparing a list of topics for this series, one of the things I was most eager to share with everyone is how to use actions to speed up your workflow. What we’re going to explore today is how YOU can create your own custom actions to help you automate those functions you repeat with every layout!
NOTE: You cannot create actions in Photoshop Elements. You can, however, install some types of actions created in Photoshop and successfully run them in Elements. So if you’re an Elements user, keep your eyes open for actions you can obtain to work for you!
What is an action?
An action is simply a way to “record” a series of steps to have them accessible to play back with the simple click of a button! I’ve created many of my own personal actions that I use ALL THE TIME. By automating the mechanics of many activities you execute with each layout, you’ll be amazed at the time you save! More time creating – less time clicking!
Why would you use actions?
We introduced you to actions last week when we brought you the interview with Sarah and encouraged you to download her free photo enhancing actions. Photo editing is just one of MANY uses for actions, and is one example of the type of actions available for sale (or as freebies) around the digi world. But there are other activities, like file management (a boring, necessary evil for digi scrappers!) and shadow work (often a matter of personal preference/style) that may be better to create yourself. Below are the actions I’ve created for my personal use:
- Save layout for Web & Print. Once I complete a layout, I need to create a small version of the file that I can upload to on-line galleries to share with family and friends. At the same time, I like to create the high-quality .jpg that I will later upload to an on-line print service. I have one folder where I put all “web” copies, and a separate folder where I place all “to be printed” copies.
- Shadows. As with many of you, I’ve developed my own preferences for applying shadows to the elements on my layouts. Some methods of applying shadows have 5-6 steps, and considering the number of elements on one layout, it’s easy to see how the time adds up! Also, since realistic shadows look different depending on the element on the page, I use a combination of two different actions: one for “deep” shadows (thick things, or things farther away from the page) and one for “simple” shadows (primarily paper elements that just need a little definition). I won’t be getting into the details of creating shadows this time – but I’ll be back in TWO WEEKS with a detailed tutorial! so stay tuned if you’re interested! (I’m in the process of learning PSE8 so I can explain it for both Photoshop AND Elements!)
- Save photo for web and print. I take a LOT of photos, and sometimes *gasp* – I print a photo. Without a scrapbook page. I know, I know – it’s blasphemy :o). I also save copies to share with family and friends on places like Facebook and Flickr. Once I’ve cropped and edited the photo, it’s really helpful to just click ONE button to save it at the right sizes and the right locations automatically!
- Add borders to photos. Remember that Edit/Stroke trick we learned in the first Shoppe Tips & Tricks post? The exact same technique can be used to add a border to a photo! Sometimes I go with the clean/simple white-ish border approach, other times I’ll distress/age up the border that I add. But just clicking one button to create the basic border is super helpful!
So how do you create them?
The best thing to do is to take a moment to create an action the next time you’re creating a layout. When you reach an activity that you’d like to automate (shadows or file saving, etc) – just follow these steps! Let’s say you want to create an action to save a scrapbook layout to print at a later date. Once you’re all done with your layout and everything is how you want it, you’re ready to follow these steps:
1. Open the Action Pallette in Photoshop. If you can’t find it, go to “Window–>Workspace” and select “Default Workspace” to make your setup look like mine (but don’t be mad at me if everything moves around on you, LOL!)
2. Next you’ll need to create a new “set”, or “folder” to house your own custom actions. I created one called “My Custom Actions” (I wasn’t feeling overly creative that day, LOL!). Click on the little file folder at the bottom, type the heading name you want for your group of actions, then click “OK”. Now is probably a good time to move your mouse over the rest of the buttons at the bottom to see what they do, too!
3. Now we need to create a new action. It is very important to create the action at the right place, so be sure to click on the line you just created (Mine is called “My Custom Actions” and has the little file folder icon next to the name). Now click the Create New Action button at the bottom (the little piece of paper with the lifted up corner). Use the dialog box to give your new action a name – I use “Save for Print”. Confirm that “Set” contains the name of the action set you created in the last step (“My Custom Actions” or something else). You can even assign a function key to your action if you’d like! When you’re all done, click “Record”.
You’ve just told Photoshop to record the steps you’re about to perform!
4. Go through the steps just like you normally would to save your layout to be printed later! For me, it’s the following:
- File –> Save As
- Browse to the folder where you wish to save the finished layout
- Confirm the filename is what you want. I use a year, month, description format for my titles: “2010 05 Lawson playing DS” as an example, where the year/month represents the date of the activity. This way, even when I don’t scrap chronologically, it’s easy to get all the pages in order later!
- Under “Format” – use the drop down menu to select .jpg
- Click “Save”
- In the JPEG Options box that pops up, set the quality to 10 (I read somewhere that this is “good enough”, and I’ve printed hundreds of layouts this way and they all look beautiful!). Click “OK”.
I go ahead and close the .psd file also before I stop recording the macro. If you prefer to leave the .psd open, that’s fine too!
5. Once you’ve completed all of your steps, just click “Stop” (the square button). And you’re DONE!
6. To run your action, just click on the play button (triangle). Or, if you assigned a function key at the time you created the action, you can simply hit the corresponding function key!
A few additional notes:
- If you want to save for web and save for print all in one action like I have mine set up at home, just finish one save function, leave the .psd file open, then do the other save function, and close the .psd file. That way – with one click of the button – you’ve saved the file two ways and closed up the .psd file!
- You have the option to have dialog boxes on or off. Dialog boxes are the prompts for input (in the example above, the prompts to specify the file name, to set the quality of the JPEG, etc). I generally leave them OFF because it all runs as one smooth step. This works well because I always give my file its custom name at the time I create the .psd file. If not, I’d have to leave the dialog boxes on so I could type in the custom name during the execution of the macro. The default is to have them on…but you can easily turn them off! See those check marks along the left edge of the Action Pallette in the image above? Just un-check them to turn off the prompts!
- If you want to learn more about actions, Google “photoshop action tutorial” and you’ll see a ton of sites pop up! I’m sure there’s much more that can be done if you’re interested in reading more! :)
I also feel like now is a really great time to say – I am by NO MEANS an expert in this stuff! I just like to play around and hope that you’ll find these tips helpful. I’m ALWAYS looking to learn new things, so please feel free to leave comments below! Tell me what YOU’VE automated as an action, any other new tips you’ve learned related to creating Actions, or even any questions you have. I’ll do my best to answer them :)
Oh – and we’re always open to suggestions for future Shoppe Tips & Tricks! Next up will be creating custom shadows! :o)
I hope everyone has a great day!! Thanks again for stopping by!
Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Hello everyone! Beckie here again with this week’s Product Spotlight!
I’ve been digi scrapping for less than two years, and many of SP’s older kits are still new to me. So I always feel like a kid in a candy store when it’s Product Spotlight time…yippee! As I was searching for a kit to scrap pics of my sweet little man Lawson, and I remembered seeing this AWESOME collection perfect for boys! I am so eager this week to showcase WONDERFUL!
Isn’t it…well…Wonderful?? :o)
I love so much about this kit – the colors, the perfect punch of black, the fun accents and cool metal fasteners!! I asked the fabulously talented Shabby Princess herself to participate this week…and here’s the gorgeous layout she created for us!
Mariquita from the incredibly talented Shabby Artists team created this gorgeous layout of her daughter playing soccer! I love the repeated star stamps!
Wonderful was just the right kit to showcase some of my recent favorite photos of Lawson. I love to let the style of the papers and elements influence the creation of a layout, and I thought this kit would be perfect for something a bit cleaner than my normal style. I’m so thrilled with how my layout came out – and by keeping the design clean and simple I got it finished in no time! Just an hour from start to finish! :o) (oh, and I used some of those incredible clipping items from Scallops, Shapes, and More, too!)
I hope these layouts have inspired you to take a fresh look at this (and other) older kits in the Shoppe!
And this week only you can pick up the WONDERFUL Collection for $4.88 (25% off)!
Have a wonderful week everyone, and thanks so much for stopping by the Shabby Shoppe Blog today! Be sure to check back tomorrow for another installment of Shoppe Tips & Tricks! And don’t forget – tomorrow is the last day to enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Sarah’s store at My Four Hens Photography!
Product Spotlight, Uncategorized
Monday, May 17, 2010
Happy Monday morning (is that an oxymoron? lol)! SP here :o) Thought we would start the week off with some ‘favorite things’! Every Monday, we will be posting something about fashion or beauty or home…or just shopping in general lol! So, this week…I decided to talk ETSY! Etsy is a website where you can buy and sell various handmade items (along with vintage items and craft supplies, etc.). I know that MANY of you are already avid Etsy shoppers…but I wanted to show some super fun ‘stuff’ that I think most of us digi scrappers would love (or need lol)! I will be linking to the Etsy seller’s shops and not directly to the product shown…simply because most of these items are one-of-a-kind and once they sell…they are gone! However, if you love something and can’t find it in the linked seller’s shop…consider sending them a message via Etsy’s site to see if they can create a custom listing for you (I have found that most sellers are soooooo super nice and happy to help in any way they can)! Of course, keep in mind that what I am showing is just a tiny little peek at what you can find at Etsy! You could literally spend hours just browsing camera straps alone lol…and I hope you will :o)
So here goes…first – a couple of my fave things that I have purchased at etsy for my adorable niece! Thanks to my SIL for the adorable pic of her in the apron dress (how stinkin’ cute is that?)!
(Camera Straps) So, there are LOTS and LOTS of camera strap options at etsy! You can choose from straps that simply slide over your existing camera strap…OR…get one that totally replaces your camera strap! I have the latter (but will no doubt be buying some of the strap ‘covers’ as well at some point lol). Many will come with a ‘minky’ backing which I absolutely love! Ya know…especially for us girls who have dSLR cameras…they get HEAVY…and that super soft, plush minky lining really helps. Anyway, I’ll show you a few of my faves that are available at etsy right now (the sellers shops will be linked below)! But, just remember that at etsy…most everything is one-of-a-kind…so once someone purchases these…they will be ‘gone’ :o)
Don’t those just look YUMMY?! There are three different Etsy sellers represented above…and here is the info for ya if you want to go shopping! The strap on the left (brown and blue damask) is made by AUGUST BLOSSOMS (she has lots of gorgeous designs)! The strap in the center (bright and beautiful) is made by COTTON CANDY (again…lots more in her shop)! And, the strap on the right (damask with pink minky backing) is by PHATSTRAPS (lots and lots of camera straps available).
(Cellphone/Gadget covers and cases) Ok, so we all know that we can easily purchase covers and cases for our phones, ipods and gadgets at just about any tech or department store. But, why…when you can get super adorable versions that are handmade and do the job (as well as show off your personality and style)?! At Etsy, there are tons of choices and options for just about any kind/brand of phone, ipad, kindle, gaming devices, etc.! So – check them out! Here are a few that really jumped out at me (the sellers shops will be linked below).
Just love, love, love all of those! Again, three different Etsy sellers shown above…and here is the info and links to their shops :o) The cover/sleeve on the left (bold floral pattern) is from WALLABY BAG CO (lots of other adorable options, too). That super cute crocheted bag in the center is from WEE WITTLE TIDS’ BOUTIQUE (they offer so many crocheted items…all equally gorgeous)! And, the pretty sleeve on the right (green) is from THA MEOW DESIGNS (again, lots of great options to choose from).
(Camera Bags) There are lots of functional and gorgeous camera bag options available all over the internet…including Etsy! Most of the Etsy sellers offer lots of different fabric options as well as custom combinations – so you can find the bag that fits your camera (and lenses, accessories) and your personality perfectly. Here are a few beautiful options (seller’s shops linked below).
While the bags shown above are generally for dSLR cameras…Etsy also has many options for smaller, point and shoot cameras – so be sure to check them all out! The camera bag on the left (black and white damask) is from XCESSRIZE (many more fabric options). The bag in the middle (colorful paisley) is from JANINE KING DESIGNS (again, lots of fabric options). And that gorgeous bag on the right (bold pattern with polka dots) is from GYPSY ROSE HANDBAGS (many, many options on both fabrics and sizes, etc.).
(Premade Scrapbooks/Albums/Brag Books) So, I know that as digi scrappers – many of us do not have all of the scrapbooking supplies laying around for creating gorgeous ‘traditional’ albums! So, if you are itching to have a beautifully crafted album – check out Etsy! There are lots of sellers who create scrapbooks and albums that are ready-to-go! All you have to do is add your photos and/or journaling! You can find them for specific themes…or just for everyday photos – some sellers will even customize the title for you :o) They are especially nice if you are looking for something super special as a gift (think about a special wedding album to give to the bride or mother of the bride…a newborn baby album, etc.). Check out some of these (seller info will be linked below)!
Knowing the amount of time, talent and supplies that goes into creating albums like these – I really think that these are a great deal and ‘concept’! Especially if you have no desire to purchase and store all of the ‘stuff’ necessary to put these albums together! So, the album on the left (you are so sweet) is from PAPERSILLY…love it :o) The album in the center (you are my tweetheart) is from EFFORTLESS HEIRLOOMS. And that super cute album on the right (birds of a feather) is from WHATCHAMADOODLES (lots more great options)!
(Pampered Pets) If you like to pamper your sweet little pet (they are members of the family, too!) – then you have to check out all of the fun stuff available at Etsy! From dog collar and leashes to beds, clothing, carriers and custom dog tags – they have it all!
Seriously – if you love buying special things for your puppy, kitty (or other pet) – you will just love shopping on Etsy! Those super cool and unique initial dog tags (on the left) are from URBAN PUPPY (love those). The gorgeous dog collar (in the center) is from MIMIGREEN (lots of fabric options). And, the super sweet star dog collar (on the right) is from byNICOLA (she offers lots of color and graphic options)!
Alright…so I have shared some fun items with you…but as I’m sure you know – there are a gazillion beautiful products available at Etsy…so have fun shopping (all the while, supporting talented artisans…many of which are stay-at-home moms trying to add to the family income)! Consider checking out the amazing handmade clothing (especially for kids…just do a search on APRON dresses lol)…jewelry (so many gorgeous pieces…especially in silver and beadwork)…purses and handbags…kids hair accessories…home decor – you name it! Just know that all of the time you spend shopping at Etsy can seriously cut in to your digi scrapping time LOL!
Please note that the photos above were taken by the Etsy sellers (not me) :o) If you are one of the Etsy sellers that I featured…and would prefer that we not use your photo – please just let us know and we will be happy to remove it ASAP :o)
THANKS SO MUCH for stopping by the BLOG! We have a fun week planned with lots of great posts and content…so be sure to check back!
Beauty & Fashion, Uncategorized
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Happy Saturday everyone! Beckie here with this week’s Layout of the Week AND a weekly re-cap with important dates you might want to know!
As you might have already determined, I’m a sucker for a gorgeous photo! I’ve had my eye on several beautiful layouts already this week. But when I saw this one posted on Thursday, I knew right away this was the winner! I just LOVE the multiple photos included. Each one by itself would be truly stunning, but together, they tell me so much! I can see the gorgeous bush in full bloom backed by a brilliant blue sky. I can see that these beautiful flowers are loved for their simplicity, highlighted so well as simple arrangements in classic jars. For me, this is photo perfection! (And truly- the photos themselves are technically wonderful!)
The layout itself is equally stunning! note how well the light green papers perfectly pull out the gorgeous color in the dogwoods. The flourish stamps along the edge of the main photo add such delicate detail. The subtle punch of pink adds wonderful contrast and femininity. Overall – I think the entire layout is just perfect :)
Can you tell I love this? :) So here you go! congratulations to this week’s winner of a $10 gift card to the shoppe: onraspberrylane for her layout “Dogwood”!
And now on to a quick re-cap of important dates and activities for you!
- Nicole posted this Easy-as-Pie template challenge! the winner will be announced on May 22nd so you still have time to enter for your change to win a $25 gift card to the Shabby Shoppe!
- I posted earlier this month about our search for new Shoppe Pre-Team members! Applications are due by 5/21 so there’s still time to apply if you’re interested! We’ve had some super talented applicants so far, so keep them coming!
- Finally, we recently introduced you to Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography. Read our interview with Sarah and find out how you can enter to win a $100 gift card to Sarah’s store!
And that wraps up this week at the Shoppe! Everyone have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday!
Layout of the Week, Uncategorized
Friday, May 14, 2010
happy Friday :o) SP here! Every other Friday…we plan to bring you a fun food post! We will share recipes and ideas…and maybe even show you some fun kitchen gadgets! It’s probably no secret that I love to cook! Well, let me qualify that…I love to cook what I love to cook lol! Meaning, I do NOT enjoy cooking the every night dinner (ya know…MOM – WHAT’S FOR DINNER?) – but I DO enjoy baking fun (and yummy) desserts…and cooking food that looks pretty (lol) and tastes ‘special’! I am often told that I go ‘overboard’ when it comes to ‘entertaining’ and preparing food. But for me – that’s where the fun is – it’s all about making things special and putting a lot of thought, love and care into whatever it is! So – with all of that said – I am going to share one of the easiest (and shortest lol) recipes I know…and one that ALWAYS gets rave reviews! So here goes our first FOOD FRIDAY blog article :o)
Yep…you read that right…OREO TRUFFLES lol! I want to start by saying that I am NOT a chocolate lover…but even more than that – I cannot stand Oreo cookies lol! HOWEVER – somehow – when you combine them with cream cheese and coat them with chocolate…I seem to very quickly get over my aversion to both LOL! With only three ingredients – it doesn’t get much easier. I will tell you that this can get a little messy – but it is a SUPER SUPER FUN recipe to make with your children or grandchildren (you just have to be careful with the melted chocolate – but kids love making the balls). When these are complete – you are left with something (at least to me) that no longer tastes like oreos with cream cheese…because it somehow transforms into a ‘real’ truffle…with all the richness and taste of a gourmet chocolate. Also know that these are very rich lol – I can’t eat more than one at a time…AND…they taste better after a night in the refrigerator! So, let’s get started! I will post the recipe and instructions (along with some tips) here in the post – but I have also created a 4×6 recipe card for you. Please feel free to download it so you can print and add to your recipe box :o)
Oh…one more thing – I want to make it clear that I did not invent this recipe lol! It comes from one of my favorite recipe sites and you can find it HERE (note: I have never tried these with baker’s brand chocolate).
That’s right – just THREE ingredients! And best of all – you can completely ‘customize’ those three little ingredients to your liking! We almost always use DOUBLE STUFF oreos, for the extra creaminess it gives to the truffles. But, why not try the MINT oreos? How delicious would that be?! Cream cheese…go for whatever brand you like best…and even try a low-fat version if you want (but seriously…if you are going to DO IT…just DO IT, right? lol)! And for the chocolate…I have found that the EASIEST is to go with the almond bark that is found in just about all grocery stores. You can buy it in white or regular chocolate and it melts so easily. You can also go with good quality chocolate candy melts…or your favorite chocolate. Each type of chocolate will melt differently – so just keep in mind that your end goal is to melt the chocolate and eventually have it ‘set’ or harden over your truffle mixture. I generally go with the chocolate almond bark and then add in about half a bag of white chocolate chips. I find that this gives the bark a better taste…and a creamier texture. Again, experiment with different chocolates…different brands – just have fun!
So to get started…you will want to crush one package of oreo cookies in a food processor (if you do not have one – you can place the oreos in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin, can, etc.). Your goal is to end up with finely crushed oreos which will make the ‘filling’ nice and creamy. Now, add one (8 ounce) package of cream cheese to the crushed cookies (you can mix them in the food processor or by hand). OPTIONAL STEP: you can chill the mixture for an hour or two as this will allow you to roll ‘prettier’ balls. Roll the mixture into balls (or any shape you like). I like to use a small cookie scoop (remember that these are super rich…so the smaller the final truffle…the better) – but you can also use a melon baller, or your fingers :o) Now, if you want to actually enjoy making these…this next step is NOT optional LOL! REFRIGERATE the balls for several hours BEFORE covering with chocolate. At this point – your balls are a mushy mess…kinda warm and very prone to falling apart and just melting away when you add the hot chocolate. So, trust me – you want to CHILL the balls before going further (I even put mine in the freezer sometimes to speed up the process).
You guessed it! After the balls have chilled – it’s time to melt your chocolate! I prefer to use a double boiler (oven/heat-safe bowls placed over pots with simmering water will work just fine) – but for most chocolate, a microwave will work fine as well. You just want to be sure you do not get your chocolate too hot (that is not a good thing…it will sieze up and then there is nothing you can do with it). There are several different ways you can go about covering your balls with chocolate. I have tried them all, lol – and none are ‘perfect’…but ALL are MESSY lol! You will want to have some wax paper or a silpat sheet ready for your truffles, before you get started! You can use toothpics to help you roll the balls in the melted chocolate…slotted spoons…skewers – anything you can think of. Something I often do is just place my chilled balls on wax paper and simply spoon chocolate over the tops of the balls. In the end, the bottoms of the truffles are not coated…but this is a super fast and much easier option if you are in a hurry (that’s what I did for the pics in this post – if you roll the entire ball in chocolate – yours will be prettier lol)! If you wish to add sprinkles, sugar or crushed oreos…be sure to do so before the truffles harden. You can also decorate them with extra chocolate (place in a decorating bag or even a ziploc bag with a small hole cut in the corner). Store in refrigerator until ready to serve (they only get better the next day)!
That’s it – you’re done :o) I can honestly say that I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love these! They go so fast at parties and everyone is always asking for the recipe! Most cannot identify the ingredients…but it’s fun to ask and see if anyone can lol! Everyone is always amazed to find out that there are only three ingredients…the main one being oreos lol! I hope you will give these a try – let me know what you think :o) And…here is the recipe card…
Enjoy :o) Be sure to stop back by tomorrow to see which layout Beckie chose for Layout of the Week!
Food Stuff, Free (not desktops), Uncategorized