During this Design Cuts Live session, we were joined by Anna Aspnes, one of the biggest names in the digital scrapbooking world. Anna has been visually storytelling and designing digital artistry resources for over 17 years, and as such is a master at creating dynamic scrapbooking pieces!

In this session, Anna used her Summery Digital Artistry Bundle resources to demonstrate how she applies an array of beautiful overlays to her photographs.

Brief Explanation of Two-Part Project

The first part includes taking a simple unedited photo. Here Anna has taken a photo from a vacation in Mexico.

Anna then shows the image after using overlays from the ArtPlay Summery Bundle. The products in the bundle can be used as overlays to enhance and manipulate images.

In the second part of this project, Anna shows how to incorporate the edited image into a scrapbooking or memory-keeping design. All techniques done can be performed in both Photoshop and Photoshop elements.

The ArtPlay Summery Bundle

The ArtPlay Summery Bundle consists of the ArtPlay Palette Summery, which is delivered in three different folders. ArtPlay Palette Summery A, ArtPlay Palette Summery B and ArtPlay Palette Summery C.

Within these folders, you will get a brush set that includes the PNG and ABR files.

You will also get the elements that are dimensional. Some of them have cast shadows included. Others are individual PNG formats to which you can apply your drop shadows.

You also get the Paperie which includes both Artsy digital paper designs as well as solid papers.

The Artsy digital paper designs can also be combined with the transfers and overlays, which are available in PNG format.

The Transfers and Overlays are in two different folders, i.e. in ArtPlay Palette Summery B and ArtPlay Palette Summery C, to accommodate those digital designs.

 The bundle also includes coordinating Artsy Transfers. Artsy Transfers differ from Transfers and Overlays in that they are delivered in PSD format.

Drag the image selected into the Photoshop workspace as shown below.

You can manipulate all of the different layers that make up that element individually. In contrast, the Transfers and Overlays in the ArtPlay Palette are delivered in single PNG format only.

This bundle also has MultiMedia Suns, and these are built in the same way as the Artsy Transfer Summery files and are delivered in multi-layer PSD format. It means that you can go in and turn off the visibility of the layers. You can rotate them, recolor them, reposition and resize as preferred.

As with all collections, there is a set of WordArt, which is both in an ABR and PNG format. The ABR file can be used with the paintbrush tool. The PNG file can be used as an overlay.

And then, finally, you have the Summery Edge Overlays. These are 12 x 12-inch overlays, but of course, they can be customized using the tools and elements in Photoshop.

So, all in all, there are five different products, all bundled together and conveniently coordinated so that you can elevate your photos.

Photo Project Part 1 

The first part of the project is to elevate your photo. 

Upload photo

In your Photoshop or Elements workspace, click on the file and then open it. Next, select the photo you want to elevate and double click on the image to open it into your workspace.

Duplicate your image

Always work on a copy of the image. This prevents you from accidentally saving over the original photo. Go to image and then click on duplicate and select Ok. Click on the X mark in the top right-hand corner of the photo to close the original photo out.

Open and add digital files.

Start opening the digital files one by one and add them to your image to enhance the artistry. You can navigate to the files by going to File and then open. Another option in windows is to just navigate to the folder, directly access some of the files and drag them directly into the Photoshop workspace. 

Transfer Selective Files Directly 

Go to the ArtPlay Palette Summery C folder and then go to Transfers and Overlays 2.

Add ArtPlay Palette Transfers number eight and six to Photoshop. To add them in one go, select transfer 6, hold down the control of the command key and then click on the transfer 8.

Make sure you add these images onto the Photoshop background as shown below.

Pro tip: This helps in being very precise with the transfers and also saves time.

Start with single layer transfers because they add many different element properties in terms of texture, color, and value to your photos.

 To move the transfers onto your photo, select the move tool from the tools panel. Ensure that your auto-select option is unchecked.

Simply drag the image onto your background. Play with the different overlays if you want to. You can keep it on the normal overlay. You can also go ahead and change the size of the added overlay.

You can also rotate it. There are many different ways that you can manipulate the overlay. Once you've finished with the manipulation, you can click on the X to close it out. You also have the option to manipulate the opacity. Notice that the more the opacity slider is moved to the left, the transfer becomes more transparent.

Similarly, you can do the same with the second transfer. Again, place the transfer over your layout.

If you want to remove parts of it, you can add a mask. Select the eraser tool. Go ahead and use round brushes to remove areas of that transfer.

You can also change the blending mode. If you bring the cursor down the menu, it will show how the overlay will interact with your photos. You can also change the opacity. There are lots of different ways that you can manipulate any particular photo using ArtPlay Palette transfers.

Coordinate Artsy Transfers With ArtPlay Palette

Now repeat the same process with the Artsy Transfers that coordinate with the ArtPlay Palettes. Navigate back to ArtPlay Summery Bundle and select the Artsy Transfers. Select Artsy Transfers number 2. Drag your image to the background.

When you bring it in your workspace, you'll notice all of the different layers become available. It's important that you drag the Artsy Transfers file into the background of your Photoshop or Photoshop elements workspace so that all of these individual layers remain intact. If you drag the file directly onto the photo layer, then all of the layers will condense and you’ll end up with a single layer in the PNG format version of the transfer file.

Select the individual layers by clicking on the layer in the last panel and then simply drag it over onto your photo.

Select an optimal blending mode. In this case, you can select vivid light as the yellows and oranges are visible through the sand. Go ahead and just adjust the opacity slightly.

Here you have some great gold paint left which would look fantastic up in the sky. Resize that by using the bounding box and transform controls, or you can rotate it slightly.

Pro Tip: Align texture with the area of the clouds.

Now, drag an art stroke. Align that with those curves in cloud air. Build up the layers to accentuate and add visual interest to all of the photos. And then, once you're finished with the file, close it out. Reassess the positioning of the layers in your current design. Bring the first transfer that you added from the ArtPlay Palette up slightly. Add some visual interest to the dock area of these umbrella structures.

Introduce the Overlays. 

Go to Art Play Summery Bundle and navigate to Summary Edge Overlays.

All of these are 12 x 12 format and they have a lot of motif stain textures in that square format, but you can make these fit any format that you are working with as long as they have linear or vertical horizontal edges.

Open one into your workspace and then with the move tool drag it over to the canvas. Notice how you can place the corner flush against one of the corners. You have the choice to resize it to make it fit both corners.

If you want to, you can use the eraser tool or a mask to remove the area, or you can simply use two versions of the overlay added where you have one corner flush with the corner. Then you can duplicate that layer by dragging it down to the new layer icon in the layers panel. That will be at the top of your panels if you're working in elements.

So that's going to intensify and then you can shift up the bottom corner. What you're essentially doing is using the same overlay twice. And then again, you can use a brush for simple edits. Anna has used the eraser tool.  You can go in and just modify any of those areas and remove them.

You can also go in and recolor a particular overlay in order to better suit your image.  Select the first copy and go to edit fill.

You want to make sure you have the Preserve Transparency box checked and then access the contents box and choose the color option. That's going to open up a color picker and this will allow you to sample a color from your layout design or choose it manually. For example, you can select mid-gray if you are applying blending modes. But if you want to add some color, you can add a bit of a punchier color.

Pro Tip: You want to make sure you have that Preserve Transparency box checked because this will ensure that you don't flood the image with color. Otherwise, it will fill the entire layer.

You can play around with the blending modes. You can select screen options or any other effect you like. You can also reduce the opacity. If you wanted to tweak the color, you could go to image adjustments, Hue/ Saturation in elements.

Adjust the color with hue and saturation and you can remove some of the color. In addition, you can change the Hue and lightness. There are many different ways you can tweak color after you have applied it to the overlay.

Select that second copy of that overlay and go to edit fill. Sample from the yellow and you can adjust recoloring to the area. 

You can apply different blending modes to that overlay. You can select Linear Dodge.

You can resize any area. You can also pull it off the edge.

 The area of the overlay is impinging on text. You might want to take that eraser tool.

Adding Context to Image

To add some contacts to your image, navigate to ArtPlay Palette Bundle and go into the Summer WordArt No.2.

These files are delivered in two different formats. You have the ABR format, which can be loaded into the brushes panel in Photoshop or Photoshop elements. If you want to learn how to use these ABR files quickly, select the image you want to use, hold down that control or command key, and then select any of the other files that you want to move into your workspace.

Drag this over and individually move these images onto your canvas and then move them into position as shown in the images below. You can also rotate and resize them.

You can also recolor them by editing, filling, and making sure the Preserve Transparency box is checked and then select a mid-gray color.

You can change the effect of that by changing the blending modes and select Color Burn. Decrease the opacity so that it blends nicely with the other elements in your design. And then repeat that same process with the second title. In this case, you can place it diagonally to the other words and canvas that gives a nice contrast to the natural, horizontal and vertical lines of your layout design. You can resize it. You can rotate it and then click on the checkmark to accept that transformation.

Go to edit, fill and then click Ok. You can use a lighter approach. So instead of choosing some of the darker blending modes, select options from the light category. Select Screen option and make refinements using that opacity slider to complete the transformation.

Go to the ArtPlay palette, to the first folder which includes the dimensional elements. These elements typically have drop shadow layer styles applied, but you can also add them to your layouts and your images as overlays and drag them over onto your working file.

Add a Color Burn blending mode, or maybe go with one of the lightened options. Some of these aren't going to work as well as others. Soft Light and Pin Light work well. You get a nice pearlized effect of that shell. And then you can go ahead and reduce the opacity as you prefer.

Pro tip: You can also change the order of your layers by dragging them up or down the layers panel.

Move the image around to find the best fit and notice if the dark areas become more prominent as you move around. Find the best approach and the best position, and then leave it there.

You might want to go back to one of your other layers at this point. You can turn the layers off and then turn them back on and see how the changes affect the complete composite.

Pro Tip: If you are unable to find an overlay, you can click the auto select option and you might have a better go at finding it.

Reduce the opacity. Notice how it blends better when you start manipulating the different effects and maybe take that transfer and drag it up over the cloud area.

Add Paperie

For the final technique, you need to select the last layer in your layers panel and then navigate to the Paperie folder. Use the third Artsy Paper and bring that into your workspace. Drag it down, and it's important again that you have your cursor at the very last layer of the layer stack and the latest panel so that when you introduce this layer, it's going to be deposited right at the top of the layer stack.

You can now play with the different blending modes and notice how those can brighten and increase the colors of your layout design. Select Overlay. Notice how that kicks up those yellows and blues. And then again you can refine this by bringing down the opacity slider to find the best fit for your image. And again, if you turn off that visibility slider, you can see the effect and perhaps make further adjustments.

Saving the file

Once you have your image complete, then you can go to file 'save as'. You want to keep this as a PSD file. The reason is that you might decide you want to make changes to this, and so if you have the PSD files saved you can close it and open it as many times as you like and make those different edits.

You're also going to want to save this as a JPEG file. What this does is creates a JPEG version or a flattened version of your file so that you can use it to incorporate it into a new memory-keeping or photo artistry design.

Photo Project Part 2

New Canvas

Go to file 'new', establish a new canvas for your layout. Select 12 x 12 format. The important part is that you have a resolution of 300 pixels per inch, which ensures good print quality when you take these images and start printing them as individual prints or photo book projects.

Create a layout foundation

Create a layout foundation by using the papers from the ArtPlay Palette.

In Artsy papers, the design work has already been done for you. However, you also have the option to take one of the solid papers and then place a variety of transfers on those Artsy papers to create your custom designs. This gives you greater flexibility but also takes a little bit more time.

Select Artsy paper number 3 and drag it directly onto your canvas. Previously, all of the files went into the background and then we manually moved them. But because this paper is 12 x 12, it's going to fit flush to the edges of your canvas and give you a really nice foundation.

Select a transfer

The next step is to select a transfer. Blend a photo into the background and use your edited photo or the elevated photo you have just been working on. Navigate to your Artsy Transfer and use transfer number 5. Select folder C and drag the image into your workspace and then directly onto your canvas.

Blend your photo to the left-hand side—flip the tranafer on the horizontal axis. Go to edit, transform, flip horizontally, and then notice how you can place that transfer flush against the top left-hand corner of your layout design. Access the copy of the photo that you were working on earlier, your master photo number 2.

Bring that into your workspace. Directly drag it onto the canvas. Before you do that, make sure that the photo is directly above the transfer layer in the latest panel and ensure that you have the photo layer selected. Essentially, this transfer layer is going to be your mask layer. And then, the photo is going to conform to the shape of that underlying layer, via the clipping process.

Go to layer, create a clipping mask. You can also use the shortcut keys, which are Alt+Ctrl+G or Option+Command+G. Resize the image. Select the transfer layer. You don't want to have the photo layer selected for this approach. You want to have the mask layer selected.

Play with the different blending modes and find the effect that you like the most. And in this case, select exclusion if you don't like what you're seeing on the screen in conjunction with the clipping effect.

You can then go to image, adjustment levels and Photoshop elements.

Adjust lighting levels, and you can start moving the shadow levers and the highlight levers. Notice now how you can make quite a fun effect simply through clipping that photo to a transfer, adding a blending mode, and then modifying that photo layer.

Go to image adjustments and then Hue/Saturation again in Photoshop elements and adjust color hue and saturation. You can tweak the color of that image ever so slightly as well. It would be kind of nice to have the blues coordinate with the blue in your paper design.

Add in elements

Introduce a couple of elements into the mix. Let's go back to the main folder and access the elements folder. Select the frame layer. Go with the horizontal layer and bring it into your background because it's a layered file.

You'll notice a frame layer, a photomask layer, and a drop shadow layer. These are delivered this way to allow you maximum customization. Drag all those layers onto your canvas.

Place your image slightly off-center and close out the original. By having these different layers, you can change the blending mode of the shadow. You can then go and change the color of that shadow. Select a brown color.

Reintroduce Master Photo Image

Reintroduce that master photo image on which you worked earlier and drag it directly above the mask layer. Resize it so that it fits within the bounds of the frame. You want it to overlap just slightly so that it completely covers that underlying photomask and then repeat that clipping mask function by clicking on layers and then create a Clipping Mask.

Now you have a nice focal point, supported by this interesting repetition or duplicate copy of the image in the background with all of the fun effects.

Embellish the photos

Embellish the photos and provide support through both motif and context with words. Go back to the ArtPlay Palette and introduce some elements. Select two elements, one tape and the other a flower element. Drag both of these directly onto your canvas.

Notice that you need to click on the checkmark at the top of the screen when you bring multiple elements. Incidentally, in Photoshop elements, that's going to be on your bounding box.

Click the checkmark and every time you click on that checkmark, it will introduce a new layer. Add some tape to adhere this framed image to your design.

Go to layer style, drop shadow, and for very flat elements, you want to have much smaller drop shadows than if you have a more dimensional version.

The shadow here is entirely too much. Anna likes to have an opacity of 30 - 40 and blend mode on color burn. You can select gray or brown and then adjust the distance and the size according to the elements. In this case, it's a very flat element, so minimal shadow is needed. You can enter the values using a keyboard of one pixel and maybe even bring that opacity down to give it a more realistic look.

Move the flower layer to the top because you always want your more dimensional elements to be on top of the less dimensional ones. You can go with a much larger drop shadow layer style by repeating the process.

Increase the distance, size and then also increase the opacity slightly.

These are the elements that require you to add dimension. You can also resize them. There are elements in ArtPlay Palette that are all included in their folders, such as Raffia, and are delivered in multiple formats. A PNG file is also included that includes both the element and the shadow, and then those files layered independently so that they offer the same control in using those pieces.

Drag the PSD image from the Raffia folder into your workspace background. You have two elements, the shadow and the actual element itself, all lined up. So select both those layers by holding down that shift button on your keyboard, as shown in the image below.

Drag them into position. You can remove the shadow if you want to.

By selecting one layer, you can go in and can change the fill or opacity, depending on background layers. If you have a dark background, you're going to want to increase the darkness to see that shadow.

 You can also change the color by going to edit, then fill. Select a reddish-brown color and click ok. You can see how that just naturalizes the overall look of the piece.

Add MultiMediaSuns

Now it’s time to add MultiMediaSuns. Bring in the number 2 file and drag that into your workspace.

Pro Tip: Make sure to drag off the canvas.

This will give access to all of the layers of the element. Ensure that you have your cursor, the top of the layer stack, or a selected layer at the top of the line stacks.

This is because when you introduce these layers, they're going to be deposited directly on top. Notice now how that brings the eye from the left-hand side to the right-hand side. It sort of connects the photo with the edge of the canvas. There is a lot of visual interest on one side but a lot of white space on the other side so that you can resize the image slightly.

Go in and start playing around and see if you want to remove some of the layers. So, for example, you might want to remove the layer or you might want to reorder the layer by dragging it down to the latest panel.

Customize the layer by selecting the eraser tool and going in and just modifying. And you can go ahead and nudge it across using those arrow keys on your keyboard.

Add context from WordArt

Now add context with a title. Select the last layer and go to WordArt. Select the same WordArt and drag it in, placing it over the area as shown below.

Add a little bit of visual interest by rotating it. Incidentally, you could get the frame layers, and you could perhaps turn that slightly too. That's going to give it more of an organic feel. Notice how that just shifts the overall perspective.

Fill in the titles with the color gray, usually a mid-gray with that Preserve Transparency box checked. Go to edit, fill and then click on color. Select mid-gray.

Play with the different blending modes. Depending on what color you've chosen and the colors behind the title, it really will determine the overall effect of the color burn.

If you decide you want it dark, you just go to image adjustment levels, and you can increase that shadow lever. You can also do the reverse by boosting the highlights and making it much lighter. Notice that if you move the title around, the dark areas beneath actually make the title more visible than the lighter areas.

Create text box

Create a text box by selecting the Type tool.

Add in the story that goes with a particular layout design. Then you can resize it and can also select all of the text by re-selecting that text tool.

You can use the tools at the top of your screen to select different fonts. You can change the type of font and its size and alignment. Select the one which is in a readable form. That way, the viewer of your pages can easily see and read what you have written.

Congratulations, you have elevated your photo and incorporated it into a scrapbooking design.