Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Hello everyone! Beckie here bringing you a new Tips & Tricks post! SP is always so great about including lots of textured elements in her scrapbook collections, including ribbons and strings. Today I wanted to share with you a little tutorial for using layer masks (and the burn tool) to make your ribbons POP! I intentionally created this tutorial for you today using Photoshop Elements (version 8) – to help you learn how to use layer masks in Elements. Versions of Photoshop have a really great “layer mask” feature, but we have to do a few extra steps to access this feature in Photoshop Elements, which I’ll explain here :) I have a lot of content to cover today…so let’s get started!
:::Lay out your materials:::
We’re going to work on a simple example today to create the effect that a ribbon is threaded through paper! I created a sample layout that consists of two papers (from the Darling Paper Collection) and a blue ribbon (from Occasions). I also like to add drop shadows at this point, which makes it easier to see the dimension of the ribbon and the paper in subsequent steps. Adding shadows on your ribbons is essential to pulling off a realistic effect on your layouts and projects.
:::Cut Slits to thread your ribbon:::
Obviously we’re not really cutting any slits, nor are we actually threading our ribbon :) But that’s the easiest way to describe the next step, digitally! We’re creating “slits” in the top layer of our paper, through which we’ll “thread” our ribbon! Simply select the top layer of paper in your layers palette, then use the rectangular marquis tool to create the two parallel rectangles at each point in your ribbon where you wish to create the appearance that the ribbon has been threaded through. I created one set of holes on each side of the center bow.
:::Create Layer Mask:::
If you have Photoshop, the next set of steps will be slightly different (and much easier!). But for Elements users…
- Select your ribbon layer in the layers palette and then click on the little half black/white circle at the bottom to create a new adjustment layer. The type of adjustment layer you create really doesn’t matter, but I usually select “brightness/contrast”.
- Elements will create the new adjustment layer above the ribbon, but for our purposes, we need it to be below the ribbon - so move it down now.
- With the ribbon layer selected, click CTRL + G to group the ribbon with the adjustment layer. Your layers palette should be arranged like the sample below.
Photoshop users: Select the ribbon layer in the layers palette and then click on the “Layer Mask” icon at the bottom of the layers palette.
:::”Thread” ribbon with the layer mask:::
- OK – this next detail is VERY important! You want to click on the layer mask of our brightness/contrast layer. Click in the area I’ve circled in red below.
- Now press the “b” key (or click on the brush tool in your toolbox), and be sure that your foreground color is black. When using layer masks, remember that white reveals, black hides. We want to hide a portion of our ribbon to create the appearance that the ribbon is underneath the paper slit we created. Be sure you have a hard edged brush.
I’ve zoomed way in below to show you what we’re trying to do. There’s one more trick that comes in really handy, and that is to use the SHIFT key to create a straight line between two points with the brush tool. To do this:
- Click at the top of the ribbon, exactly where you wish to “erase” it to reveal the paper beneath. Then, press and hold the SHIFT key, and then click at the bottom of the ribbon. You’ve now brushed a straight line between those two points, which effectively “erases” the ribbon where you brushed! I brushed a line once to remove the left side of the ribbon, then repeated to remove the rest of the ribbon on the right. Do this for each of the slits you created.
If you make any mistakes and remove too much of the ribbon, no sweat! All you have to do is switch your brush color to white and paint over the area you want to add back in (that’s the beauty of layer masks!). Then switch back to black to carefully remove the specific area of the ribbon over the paper slit.
We could stop there and your results would be pretty great. But we’re going to use the BURN tool to add more depth and realism to our threaded ribbon! Look at my finished product below. Notice the subtle “shading” of the ribbon right next to the paper slits below? See how that shading creates the effect that the ribbon is actually wrapped beneath the paper slits? Let’s BURN!
:::the Burn Tool:::
- Locate your burn tool. It took me a while to find it, as it’s hidden from you in Photoshop Elements if you haven’t used it before. The burn tool looks like a little hand making a circle, but it’s probably hidden under your sponge tool (a yellow block). If so, right-click on the sponge tool to reveal the burn tool.
- Be sure your ribbon is selected in the layers palette.
- The process for burning is very similar to what we did when we brushed on our layer mask to “erase” the ribbon. I left the default tool settings, which is exposure at 50% and range is Midtones. But I did two passes with the tool. First, I positioned my burn tool where you see the red circle below. I clicked, pressed and held SHIFT, then clicked at the bottom to draw a straight line down.
- Then I repeated the process at the yellow circle position, to make the burn effect darker closer to the paper. The burn effect is cumulative, meaning, each time you pass over a spot with the tool - it will continue to darken. I repeated this same process for the other three sides of the paper slits we created previously.
Well that wraps up a simple example with basic masking and burning techniques!
How about two more examples? Both of these simple photo mats were created with a straight edge ribbon that I altered using the eraser tool and the burn tool. For this photo of my daughter, I used the eraser to slightly round the edges then the burn tool to create the depth and shadow to finish the illusion that the ribbon is wrapped around the photo.
This final example was also created from a straight-ended ribbon. I used the circular marquis tool to create circles in the white paper, then used the eraser tool to round the ribbon ends to create the appearance that the ribbon was threaded through the holes. Again, the burn tool provides perfect depth and dimension to finish off the effect :)
Well that’s all I have for you today! I hope you learned new ways to make use of your ribbons. I can’t wait to see your creations in the Gallery!