Gelli Arts and Water Bottles

May 30, 2013 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

I had picked up a big powerful water spray bottle from Target, for use with painting and stamping. I wanted to try to use it, but I also wanted to test out some stencil and stamp designs I have been working on. Of course, I love using stencils and stamps with Gelli Arts, so I veered that way. I pulled out my paints and Gelli Arts Printing Plate, and started making some prints with my stencils. But then I decided to give that water bottle a try too.

The results were pretty fun, and I merrily played for the better part of an hour going through quite a bundle of paper ;-).

Here are some of the prints I made…

Gelli Arts Print Stencil No Water Spray

Gelli Arts Print with Stencil- No Water Spray


I like the way the paint diffused when spritzed with water….

Gelli Arts Print Stencil diffused with Water Spray

Gelli Arts Print with Stencil- with Water Spray


Here the background is a Gelli Arts print using the water bottle, and I added the bird shadow in Photoshop…

Gelli Arts Print Stencil diffused with Water Spray

Gelli Arts Printing Plate Storm Clouds


I have a few more that I would like to play with in Photoshop, so I will work on those over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Photoshop Color and Pattern to our Glamour Girl

May 24, 2013 in Digital Related Posts, Photoshop Posts by Ursula Smith

Well now that we have the shape of the drawing looking a bit better, it is time to have some fun! The drawing is still in black and white, but I wanted some color. And texture. So I took one of the prints from one of my Gelli Art Printing Plate sessions and brought that into Photoshop as another layer. Since that layer at this point would be sitting on top of the drawing, in the stack of  layers, you can’t see the drawing now. However, we can fix that with something called “Blend Modes”.

If you look to the top right of your layer’s palette, you could change the Opacity of the texture layer and you would then be able to see through the top layer to the image of the drawing below. This can sometimes work depending on the look you are going for. It is the equivalent of using vellum, or tracing paper, or tissue paper on a collaged piece. If that top paper is translucent enough, you can see the layers underneath. However there is a better way.

If you look to the top left of the layer’s palette, you will see a pulldown, that by default is set to “Normal”. This is a list of blending modes, and they determine how that layer, that you have selected at the time, will interact with the layer(s) underneath. There a lots of folks who understand the mathematical calculations of how black, white and colors will interact, but I am not one of them (sorry, Dad!). I usually just scroll through the different choices to see what things look like in the different modes. As I have mentioned in another post, if I know I want to lighten something, I will usually use lighten or screen mode, and I will use darken or multiply for a darkening effect. However, there are lots of other modes including ones that reverse colors, and so you can get some surprising and cool effects as you wander through the list of blend mode choices. It is especially interesting when you have 2 layers that both have colors and patterns.

In this case, I used a blend mode of  Overlay. Actually, I used a my Gelli Art prints a couple of times, and some used other blend modes like lighten and darken, and some of these layers were masked to only interact with certain portions of the drawing. See more about this later.

I then decided that I wanted to black out some of the space behind the girl. A quick way to do this is to use the Ctrl key (command on a Mac), and click on the layer with the subject, in my case the girl. NOTE: I had no background around the girl’s head at this point so this trick will work: when you control click on a layer, it will select the non-transparent areas of your layer. In this case, it selected the girl’s head. Since I really wanted to select the background, I used Select->Inverse (shortcut is Ctrl-I) to change the selection to the opposite, which is the space surrounding the girl’s head.

Then, I used an adjustment layer of Solid Color, and chose black as the color. The Solid Color adjustment layer will create a new layer filled with the color black, but in this case, the girl, which is not selected, will be masked out. So, only the background is covered with black- the girl is left looking like she did before the adjustment. Remember that Adjustment layers are found at the bottom of the layers palette, and the icon looks like a half black/ half white circle.

When you choose an adjustment layer, a layer mask is automatically created for you in that adjustment layer. It will show up as a rectangular thumbnail, next to the thumbnail of the actual layer image, in the layers palette. Usually it is all white, allowing the adjustment to be seen/applied through to the layers below it. However, if you have a selection at the time, when you choose to create an adjustment layer, only the area that is selected at the time will be filled with white. The rest will be filled with black, and just like black paper, you can’t see through it, so the adjustment will not show in the non-selected portion.

Photoshop Glamour Girl Multiply

Photoshop Glamour Girl Fill With Black Multiply Blend Mode


You can also use layer masks directly on a “normal” layer (as opposed to an adjustment layer), in order to hide some of that layer. If you choose a layer in the layer’s palette, and select a portion of that layer, you can then choose the button to create a layer mask. The layer mask will show up as a rectangular thumbnail, next to the thumbnail of the actual layer image, in the layers palette. The “Create Layer Mask” button is down at the bottom of the layers palette, and it looks like a square with circle in the middle of it. Now when you click on the “Create Layer Mask” button, only the area that is selected at the time will be filled with white in the mask. The rest will be filled with black, and just like black paper, you can’t see through it. So the portion of the layer that was not selected, and has the mask filled with black, will not be visible. Unless you delete the layer mask, or paint with white over the black portions of the mask. Then those portions of the layer will be visible again. This is a nice way of “removing” a portion of an image in a layer, without actually deleting the pixels. So if you want some or all of that image back, you can either paint with white on the mask, and that will reveal the hidden portion or remove the mask entirely to show that entire layer again. Just make sure that you have clicked on the layer mask thumbnail in the layers pallete, if you want to paint on the mask.

I played with several copies of the Gelli Art print and sometimes I used layer masks to only show portions of that particular layer. I used different blending modes to lighten the texture over the girl’s face, and overlay or multiply in other areas.

Photoshop Glamour Girl lighten

Photoshop Glamour Girl With Gelli Arts Print as Background Lighten Blend Mode


Then I added color to her lips and eyes, just like I added black to the background, and just masked off everything in the image except for her lips and eyes respectively. I used some cool eyelash paint brushes  to paint on eyelashes.

Photoshop Glamour Girl with eyelash brushes

Photoshop Glamour Girl Eyelash Brushes


Finally I applied some more textures and colors using more of the darkening blending modes to darken the area surrounding the girl. And I added a photo that I had taken of some Holiday lights to give that sort of “Bokeh” effect. In order to get that shot,  I took the picture at night and first focused on a tissue held in front of the camera. Then I took the tissue away and snapped the picture and it blurred what it thought was the background, which was actually the lights.

More blending, and she was finished. For now ;-).

Photoshop Glamour Girl with bokeh lights

Photoshop Glamour Girl With Bokeh


I love playing with Photoshop with my drawings. I can get some cool effects by combining drawings with Gelli Art prints and photos. The sky is the limit!! Enjoy!

ATCs April 2013 and Mother’s Day

May 16, 2013 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

This past week was a fun one. I received ATCs in the mail from our April swap and Mother’s day cards too! I love getting real cards, especially hand made ones, in the mail. Nothing will make you feel more special than receiving something that was hand made by another.

Here is the beautiful Mother’s Day card, I received from my Mom:


Mother's Day Card


And she used EasyScraps stamps ;-). Thanks Mom!!

April’s theme was Springtime in Paris. I chose to use an old photo and add some parisien images, and then I colored it with Pan Pastels. I love using Pan Pastels for their soft look, but they have great coverage!

Here is my ATC:


April 2013 ATC Paris Theme


And here are the ATCs I received in the swap! Such different interpretations of the theme!


April 2013 ATCs Paris Theme


Many thanks to:

Kim- was our lovely Hostess this month!




and of course our special girls: Isabella, Bea, and Hannah!! Thanks ladies!!!

Photoshop Glamour Girl Makeover Highlights,Shadows and Color Fill

May 10, 2013 in Digital Related Posts, Photoshop Posts by Ursula Smith

If you have been following along in this series, I now have the Glamour Girl’s face shape changed to be a little more pleasing, and now I am going to work on adding some shadows and highlights in preparation for adding color and texture. This way, the facial features should come through a little bit better.

Photoshop allows you to work on a photo or image in many ways that are non-destructive to the original image. Chief among these methods are the Adjustment Layers that will let you change contrast, make an image black and white, add color,  change color, and more. Even regular layers themselves enable you to change the look of your image, especially when used in conjunction with Blend Modes. In this post we will examine Blend modes, and generally this is one of the features of Photoshop that I almost always use during a session. In the next post we will look more at Adjustment Layers.

The next step in my makeover is to give the face a little bit more contrast and dimension. I sketched her pretty quickly and didn’t go back to flesh out :)) the shading details.

I create a new layer (either using the Create New Layer button on the very bottom of the layers panel, or by Layer->New->Layer). I change the name to Shadows. I then take the paint brush and using a soft round brush with black as my foreground brush, I paint on the underside of her cheeks, and anywhere else I want to put more definitions in the shadow areas.  I can change the opacity of the layer and/or play around with blend modes.  The opacity slider is on the right near the top of the layer’s pallete. It is normally set to 100%, but if you lower that number, ithe layer will become more transparent, including any effects cause by using blend modes, and the layer(s) beneath will show through more. When using blend modes, a lower opacity will lessen the effect of that blend mode.  In order to change a blend mode of the layer in the layer’s pallete (in this case I was on the layer where I painted the shadows), click on the pull down to the left of the opacity slider that by default has “Normal” as the value. You will see a whole list of different methods to try, and each one will have a different effect of how the current layer will interact with the layers below it.

Blend modes are not something that beginning Photoshoppers will venture to use. But, they are fun and often lead to magical effects that you most often can’t get with “real” art supplies! You can try different blend mode values to see which effect you like. Blend modes allow the top layer to interact with the layer underneath in different ways. Some Blend Modes enhance the dark colors in the image underneath, some do the opposite. Some modes will change the appearance of the colors in the layers. I usually just go through each in turn to see what blend mode I like. Multiply will usually darken the images, while Screen will typically be my choice for lightening an image. Again, you can change the opacity of the layer as well, in order to lessen the effect of the blend mode. In this example case, I used Darken for the shadow layer.

Photoshop Glamour Girl added shadows

Photoshop Glamour Girl After Shadows


You can change the blend mode in many different places within Photoshop to alter the way that, for instance paint, or layer effects like strokes or pattern overlays, interact with the layers below. And yes, you can then also change the blend modes and opacity of the finished layer as well, to alter the interaction with the layers below.

Back to my girl, I then wanted to add some highlights to make her cheeks stand out. I painted with white on a new layer and then played around with blend modes until I got the look I wanted. I ended up using the Soft Light blend mode. I also set the opacity down just a bit. I still wanted the shadows and highlights to stand out a little more because I knew I would be doing some other things on top of this image, and so I wanted to give a bit more structure to the drawing. If I were to use this as is, then I would soften the effects by lowering the opacity on these highlight/shadow layers a bit more.

Photoshop Glamour Girl added highlights in Photoshop

Photoshop Glamour Girl After Highlights

You can also try to duplicate the layer that is blending with the layers beneath it, and blend mode effects quite often are enhanced. For instance, try this- open a photo in Photoshop. Duplicate the later of the Photo, and set the blend mode to “Screen”. Your photo just got lighter. Now duplicate that second layer, and the image will be lighter still.

Finally, I decided too add just a tiny bit more ooompth to the mid tones of the image. To do this, I first tried finding the color gray to paint with, but I had trouble finding the correct gray. Rather than wasting a ton of time, I instead painted with a color and then  threw away the color using Hue/Saturation. You can do this by adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I will cover Adjustments layers in a different port, so for now let’s just do it the brute force way, which works perfectly fine in this case. Paint over the parts that you want to deepen in any color, I chose red. Then use Image-> Adjustments->Hue/Saturation. Move the Saturation slider down until you get the color gray that you want. Then you can adjust the opacity, and play with the blend modes. The nice thing about Adjustment Layers is that you can go back later to re-adjust the Hue/Saturation. But again, we will talk about in a future post. I brought the opacity way down on this layer so I would be left with just a bit more gray in a few areas.

Photoshop Glamour Girl added mid tones in Photoshop

Photoshop Glamour Girl After Midtones

Next week will will start adding some color!

It was only a minute ago

May 4, 2013 in Mixed Media Posts by Ursula Smith

Sorry folks, this post if for me. My daughter is growing up, and it is bittersweet to watch. So I am working out my feelings with a post using pictures of her when she was just a sweet little toddler. I’ll give some Photoshop tips along the way, so maybe you can use those to work on your own precious memories!

Upon looking at this photo, I decided that I wanted to  blur and de-saturate the background. The first thing I did was click on the photo layer and choose (right mouse button click) “Convert to Smart Object”. This will allow filters to be applied in such a way that they are able to be modified at a future date. So I can always go backkepp and tweak the blur if I want to.

I used the quick selection tool to select the greens in the background and then used the quick mask tool to refine the selection around the hair. Then I chose the filter Gaussian Blur, which will be applied as a smart filter (because we did the step above), and it is also smart enough to create a mask to only blur the portion that I have selected.

Using Selection tool in Photoshop

Selection to use for masking
You can see the photo as a smart object (circled in red), and the mask created for the smart filter blur (circled in blue) in the photo below…
Photoshop Smart Filter
Using blur with smart object

Let’s take a side trip here. Adjustment layers let you do things to layers in Photoshop without directly applying the adjustment ot the photo itself. So you can get rid of the adjustment, without disturbing your photo if you decide you don;t like it. Every time you create an adjustment layer, it creates a mask. Masks are black and white. If the mask is all white, any adjustment you have made using adjustment layers will be visible and will apply to all the layers beneath it. If you have trouble with masks, and can’t remember how they work, the standard “White reveals, black conceals” rhyme that all the Photoshop folks use, might help you. For me I could never remember the correct way, until I started thinking as if the mask were made out of paper. black paper will cover up anything beneath it. So in this case, black will hide the effect of the adjustment. So then I could remember that black conceals. The other way I thought about it was white knights are the good guys, so the white mask will help or allow the adjustment to do it’s magic. The black knight will try to thwart the good magic of the adjustment, and so will hide it. Use whatever means makes sense to you to remember how layer masks work, because once you figure it out, you will see how powerful they are.

So now I have a blur filter with a mask for my selection. I clicked on the masks and then used right mouse button-> “Load selection from mask” to select the background again. Then I chose to create an adjustment layer of “Hue-Saturation” and moved the Saturation setting down to get rid of some of the color in the background. Once again, my selection was used to create the proper mask, so that the adjustment was only applied to the background.

You can see the adjustment layer to de-saturate, with the mask circled in red in the picture below…

De- saturate In Photoshop

Adjustment Layer- Desaturate

The final thing i did was add a soft white border around the edge of the photo. To do that I used a color fill adjustment layer, and chose the color white. Then I clicked on the mask, which was all white, and which will reveal the adjustment to all the layers below. So everything is now white. But I used the lasso tool to create an organic rectangular selection around the mask and then used the paint bucket to fill with black. That black hides the adjustment so that everything beneath that part will not be filled with white. So, you can now see the image below in that portion. The white border had a really sharp edge, so I chose Window->Properties to see the properties of the mask itself. Here I could feather the mask so that the edges of the white border were much softer. And viola!

In the picture below you can see the color fill adjustment layer on the left, circled in red. Then on the right, you can see the properties panel for feathering the mask so that the white border has a softer edge…

Smart filter vignette In Photoshop

Vignette with color adjustment layer


Here was a different look, where I used the white color fill adjustment layer, and then used a grunge brush as my eraser and erased on the mask. I used the eraser, but it wasn’t at full strength so that I could go  keep erasing, and build up the look gradually. It wasn’t what I wanted for this photo, but it might be cool for an antique look.

White Grunge in Photoshop

Grunge look using erase on Color fill


Here is the final result…


Blurred Vignette Frame in Photoshop

Final adjusted photo


Another photo in the series…


Blurred Vignette Frame in Photoshop

Another adjusted photo


My final thoughts…


Soft Painting in Photoshop from photo

Another adjusted photo- more filters
Thanks for letting me share my feelings with you ;). Maybe you can try it on you own photos. Enjoy!