Instructions for Digital Downloads
Digital Downloads will come in either JPG and/or PNG format, and occasionally in PDF format. If available, the PNG format is the recommended one to use because the areas in the image which should be left transparent will remain so in PNG format. If you layer another image behind the digital download image in a digital photo editor that supports layers (like Photoshop), then the other image will be able to show through the transparent areas of the digital download.
Pages in the JPG format are still fine to use, however any transparent areas will be saved as white on these pages. Any other images layered below this image in a digital photo editor that supports layers (like Photoshop), will not show through. That is, unless you manipulate opacity of this image or select and remove any white areas, or erase part of this image.
Some of the Digital downloads will come in PDF format as well. This is an additional format for items like card fronts or digital downloads that are smaller than an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper. This will make it easier to print out the images. In the case of smaller card fronts or backgrounds, I will usually make the pdf contain as many copies of the image as will fit on one 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper. That way you can print multiple copies without having to go into a photo editor, and/or waste paper.
If you wish to use the digital download in a piece of digital art, than you will need to open it in a photo editor of your choice. I have included some tips on using digital downloads with Photoshop, but you can do similar things with other photo editors. Within these photo editors you can do such things as add text, change colors, re-size the image, combine other images, change the opacity, etc.
If all you plan on doing is printing, you can open your digital download and just use the print option from the program that the image was opened with. As mentioned earlier, for digital downloads that are smaller than an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper, I have included a PDF version in order to make it easier to print.
Instructions for using Digital Downloads in Photoshop
These instructions will help you get started on your way to using Digital Downloads. Hopefully, you have read all the notices and you are very comfortable using a photo editor that has layering capabilities, like Adobe’s PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements, or Corel’s Paint Shop Pro.
I will use commands from PhotoShop because that is what I am most comfortable with, but they are pretty basic commands so they should be easy to translate within other photo editing software.
My Most Used Photoshop commands
Below you will find some helpful tips on the commands that I use most in Photoshop. All can be used with the digital downloads to get even more functionality out of them, beyond simply printing them. You can create an entirely new piece of digital art by adding and combining other digital images with the digital download.
Most of the commands probably exist in other Photo editors, so hopefully this will help even if you are not a Photoshop user.
Open the digital download in your photo editor of choice. My first suggestion is to then save that image as a copy, so that you don’t overwrite the original image. Save it in a format that will preserve layers (in Photoshop, this would be the .PSD format). The image should be the top most layer in your new (copied) image.
This file will be the start of your new piece of digital art.
If you wish to layer additional images either on top of, or beneath the opened digital download image, then you can open another image in Photoshop. From that image file, use the command to Select-> All and then Edit->Copy the image to the clipboard. Return back to the Photoshop window of the digital art page you created in the previous step, and Edit->paste. This should paste the copied image as a new layer into that file.
You can move the copied image above or below the digital download in the layer stacking order. If you move your copied image below the digital download than that image will be able to show through any transparent areas of the digital download.
You may need to resize your images when working with multiple images. See the transform instructions below. If you need to resize the image in order to use it for the web, see the Resize Page instructions below.
Repeat the Open, Copy, Layer and Resize steps on any additional images that you will be using in your digital art file.
Feel free to add any additional items that you wish to the your digital art file, including journaling, titles etc.
When you have gotten to a point where you are happy with how the new digital art file looks, you will need to save it. Actually depending on your version of Photoshop you should do this every so often to avoid losing work, if Photoshop or your computer crashes. Some of the newer versions have an autosave feature built in, but just to be safe, you should save periodically.
Choose File -> Save As to save the page with a new file name or to save it as a different format. Choose File -> Save to save the page in the current format, with the same file name. Note that this second option will overwrite your current file and the previous version of this file will be gone.
Again, I recommend that you save the image you are working on multiple times during an editing session. Once as a copy (using a different name than the original Digital Download file name) and several times, using a simple save, while you are working on your images. Then you can perform a final save when you are finished editing the page.
When you perform the final save, you may choose to save the page as a flattened image, meaning that all the layers will be removed and there will be only a single layer remaining. If you save the file as a JPG, the layers will be lost automatically. I usually save the file twice- once in a format that preserves the layers (like .PSD), and once in a single layer format, like a JPG or PNG.
Preserving the layers will allow you to go back and more easily make changes if you need to. Saving a page as a JPG or PNG will remove all the layers and you will not be able to get the layers back.
Once you are finished editing, and have the page the way you like it, you may need to resize the page if you are going to use it on the computer for display. Computer displays usually use a much lower resolution than printers do. The easiest way to do this is to use the File->Save For Web command.
Once you are finished editing your page, you may print the page. For print purposes, you should leave the page at the original resolution.
You may also print the digital download initially, and use it in a more traditional manner. You can cut the image, glue, stamp on it, etc.