In this session, we were joined by one of our favourite digital storytellers, Anna Aspnes. Anna tells incredible stories through digital scrapbooking and photo artistry and she designs digital products and classes to help creatives bring their own narratives to life. With over 17 years' experience in digital art, we know the lessons Anna has to teach will only enhance your projects.

During this session, Anna showed us how to blend photos using multiple clipping masks, colorise with artsy papers, apply blending modes, create balance in your layout designs, add subtle text, add depth, and apply dimensional elements to really elevate your photo artistry.

Create a Layout

Pick any photo to begin with. You could even use a model’s photo to begin this project. The idea is to blend the photo that you want to use with the photo artistry. 

Create a new layout and size it to 12 by 12 inches at 300 PPI. Use the Gentle Morning Collection that comprises an ArtPlay Palette with a number of different elements included. Start with a blank page and navigate to the first part of the ArtPlay Palette and select the papery one. Now, select the solid papers and drag them directly onto your canvas.

Blend the Photo

Technique number two is to blend your photo using multiple clipping masks. Take the two photos together and blend them using clipping masks to create a double exposure type effect. You can do this by holding down the control + command key on your keyboard and place them on top of each other. 

Pro tip: When you're working with design elements and creating a layout design, place them slightly off center. This gives it more visual interest.

Now select other images to blend as shown in the image below. To do this, select both the pictures, drag and clip them on the mask layer. Make sure that the photo is completely covering the black area of the mask. Then, go to the layer and create a clipping mask. Do the same process with the other image too and blend the two photos onto the layer. 

Use the transparent overlays that you get with the Pipe Palette. To do this, go to the second folder of the Art Pipe Palette, choose a transparent overlay as shown in the image below and drag it to the layer, creating a clipping mask.

Add the third photo of the flower on the layer. Resize, rotate or move the photo to find the best fit. You can reorder the layers too and blend the photos with the blending modes. You can also add effects to the image by changing the color of the blending mode. 

Colorize the Images

Clipping the photos to the mask blends them with an artsy effect. Then, adding the blending modes elevates the effect. Colorize the photos by turning off the layers. Play around with the different options by applying a blending mode to the layers and mixing them together. That way you get the texture of one paper coming through onto the texture of the other paper. 

To lighten the photos, select the clipping mask and set the clipping path. Remember to have the top layer selected and then drag the paper on it. Then go to the layer and create a clipping mask. You will notice that when you have two images clipped to one clipping mask, it brings the color down. Now add different blending modes. 

Use the erase tool, or a layer mask and brushes to remove segments that are extra. Click on the mask layer, ensure that your foreground color is set to black and the ground color is set to white. Now erase the edges and give it a smooth transition.

Align Brushes

Create balance in your layout design by aligning brushes. Load the ABR file into the latest brushes panel. Then, select your paint brush tool and pick a color. Change the size of your brushes to give a better visual of the brushes. Now stamp it onto the new layer and change the blending mode. Use the linear burn and transform the controls by slightly rotating it. 

Next, pick a dark brown color and play with the blending modes. Add texture and some visual interest to bring the piece together. Then, rotate it and stamp it on the canvas, moving it around again and again like a jigsaw puzzle analogy. You’ll notice it aligning with the edges. Align means following the line of the underlying artistry and strengthening or emphasizing that line.

So create a new layer and add brush strokes as well as some paint splatters. Stamp this again and rotate it, or you could geolocate that layer and then rotate it. Make sure to add some variations while doing this. 

Change the rotation, size, color and add visual interest to it. Go to image adjustments levels, and make that darker by increasing the shadows. Adjust the hue and saturation in elements to enhance the design. 

Add Context

Pick the Gentle Morning Collection and choose the Script Tea’s Nature. You’ll find various overlays in PNG format. Select as shown in the image below and drag them in on your main layer, by holding control + command. Place one of the context’s on top and one below, giving it a visual triangle. Duplicate the layer, invert color and add the layer on top. 

Now add more texture by using transfers and overlays. Hold down the control + command key, add both the paper texture and gold texture to the composition. Align this to the edge of the lines with the underlying flower. Add blending modes, multiply and then highlight, adding to the texture. 

Add more texture by selecting two PNGs from the folder. Select some wrinkled paper texture and drag them to the composition. Change the color option as required, then duplicate the layer to add more intensity and adjust the opacity.

Add Embellishments

Add another context by typing in ‘e’ and add it onto the composition. 

Change the color and reduce the opacity, softening it. Also add ‘class of 2021’ onto the composition. Select your elements such as the leaf and drag drop them onto the composition. Apply the blending modes and change the color as needed. 

Pro tip: Use the PSD file for embellishments as it gives it more dimension.

Add your embellishments and change the shadow, giving it a brown hue. Drag and drop the elements by holding control + command and add it onto your composition. 

Cluster all the elements together, giving your pierce an edge and giving it weight. Add buttons, sky elements, threads and a patch. Add a layer of shadow, letting the elements protrude off the page. Adjust and enhance the color, hue and saturation. Create layers between the clipping sets and then blend the photo. Select the Paintbrush Tool and access the blending brush to blend in. Change the color of the background with the color picker. Use the eraser tool and reduce the size of the brush, changing the opacity to give it clean edges. 

Voila, it’s done! You have mastered the art of creating photo artistry.