My Favorite PSE Hacks

7 Hacks PSE

Photoshop Elements is such a great value, providing most of the features of the full version of Photoshop. But, every once in a while, Elements users would love to have access to a few features of the full version. The great news is sometimes you actually can! Here are some of my favorite Photoshop Elements “hacks” in the form of actions, scripts and styles that allow you to get the most out of Elements as possible!

1) Title Builder

titlebuilderI cannot resist a coordinating alpha on my scrapbook pages. I know that lots of people avoid alphas simply because they don’t want to have to copy and paste and position all those letters on their page. But, it doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming any longer! As long as your alpha letters are saved individually and named with the letter, this handy script will let you type in the word you want to spell, point it to your alpha folder, and open and position each letter while you sit back and enjoy a sip of tea! It’s really that simple. The hardest part of this script is installing it. But, Anna includes instructions on exactly where to copy the files.

2) Group Layers
ungroup There is nothing more frustrating for PSE users than opening a template with grouped layers, and finding it unusable. This handy tool will allow you to ungroup layers so you can manipulate them again. Or, tidy up your layout by grouping like layers together. This is a must-have utility!

3) Drop Shadow Styles
When it comes to drop shadows, I like to keep things easy peasy. The best way for that is to grab some shadow styles that make applying realistic drop shadows a one-click process. It doesn’t get easier than that. Many designers (including moi) have drop shadow styles available for sale. Check your favorite store for a basic set you can use over and over again.

4) Distorted Shadows


When I’m ready to take my drop shadows to another level, this shadow magic action is my answer. I recently learned this method of warping the drop shadow for a more realistic look. This action puts the shadow on it’s own layer so it can be distorted.

5) Smart Objects

Smart Objects…what would I do without them? Smart objects are one of those features that does not exist in Photoshop Elements. But, you can access their power with an action. What do smart objects do? Simply put, they store the entire original pixel data of a layer in the document, rendering the resizing, rotate and transform data only when it’s rasterized or saved out as a flattened file (ie. jpg). This allows you to pull elements, papers or photos onto your layout, immediately make them smart objects while they are still 100%, then resize or rotate multiple times without losing any quality. (NOTE: smart objects will make your layered files larger in file size.)

6) Brush Settings
Most of know how to load and use digital brushes, but many do not know about all the options available in the brushes settings. This handy article from Adobe covers them all really well. Learn how to scatter your brushes, fade them, adjust the spacing and hue. They open up a world of options when you know how to use them. My favorite brushes? Glitter! Here are some of my glitter brushes, already set to scatter glitter across your page.


7) Blending Modes
Linear Light? Color Burn? Overlay? Luminosity? Photoshop Elements can access the same blending modes at full Photoshop. But, understanding exactly what these modes do and how they work is not intuitive. Adobe put together a great explanation of each blending mode. A little deeper understanding of the various modes will help you decide which ones are best to use in a specific situation.

This post original appeared at DigitalScrapbookingHQ. Thanks for looking!

TEMPLATES: More Tessellations


These fun tessellating patterns can add a punch to your layouts. Or, designers can use them to create awesome patterned papers!

4 12×12 tessellating patterns in PNG format
4 .PAT repeatable patterns for Photoshop

Personal use, S4H and Designer use okay.


STYLES: Enamel Dots Basics


This set of 8 styles will transform a plan dot into a beveled one. Choose from 4 colors (clear, cream, pink and black), each in 2 bevel styles. Apply to different colored dots for different effects!

TIP: Hold in the shift key and apply a drop shadow style to the dot to “add” any drop shadow style you like!

8 bevel styles (.asl format)
Install Instructions (PDF)
(No drop shadow styles are included. You must add your own.)

Tested in PSCS5-CC, and PSE11-13. Mac and PC. (Older versions may work, but have not been tested.) Personal use, S4H or Designer use at no additional charge.

SHAPES: Chalk It Up

shapes chalk it up
NOTE: This set was part of The Digi Files in May 2014. Please check your stash before purchasing!

3 chalkboard backgrounds and 20 shapes (both plain and chalkboard styles) for use in creating your own elements, word art, subway art, posters, craft projects and more! Designed to go with my class LEARN IT: Chalk It Up @ Scrapbookgraphics Learning Loft.

3 chalkboard backgrounds (12×12, JPG)
20 plain shapes (png)
20 shapes with chalkboard effect (png)
(Shapes include journal cards, banners, bracket, circle, labels, ovals, rounded rectangles, squares, strips and tags.)

Personal-use, scrap-4-hire and designer-use okay.

PATTERNS: More Patterns

NOTE: The download for the video is 144mb and may not be suitable for dial-up or limited bandwith users.

If you love the pattern maker, you’ll love this set of pre-designed patters in .PAT format. Simply fill your layer with one of the patterns, color it and stack a few more on top to create a variety of unique combinations. Great for patterned papers or clip to any shape for use in element creation. You get Wavy, Doodle Dots, Chevrons and Boxes. Each set comes with 3 or more variations for layering.

Pattern Maker Video Tutorial (which also demonstrates More Patterns)
Wavy Patterns
Doodle Dots Patterns
Chevrons Patterns
Boxes Patterns

Designer, Scrap-4-hire and personal use okay. Tested in PSCS4-CC, PSE7-11, Mac & PC.

PSE Users can load pattern files through their Preset Manager.