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

shadowmagic

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

smartobjects
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.

glitter

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!

TOOLKIT: Blurb

Everything you need to add bleed for Blurb’s Large Square and Small Square Photobooks. You get the resize actions and templates for the left and right side pages. (Blurb has extra margin built into the spine side of the page.) In addition, you get Photoshop PSD/TIF layered templates for their premium and standard covers.

INCLUDES:
Small Square Left Page Resize Action
Small Square Right Page Resize Action
Large Square Left Page Resize Action
Large Square Right Page Resize Action
Page templates (PSD & TIF format)
Cover templates (premium and standard options)
Video Tutorial (mov/wmv format)

TESTED IN PSE6-10 and PSCS2-5.5 ONLY. (Actions may work in other versions, but they have not been tested.) Mac & PC Personal Use/Scrap-4-Hire only.
(Specs taken from Blurb’s website. Photobooks not included.)

Special thanks to the Studio Girls for use of “Twilight Brew” in the video tutorial.

Action: Flare It

By customer request, this set of brushes, plus action, helps you add a bit of umph to those sunny photos! From adding a lens flare to a flash or reflection to painting color back into sunsets, this handy set can help you recapture a little of what your camera may have missed. Check out these before and after shots….

INCLUDES:
5 brushes (abr format)
1 action
Video tutorial included
This action set is for personal and S4H use only. Photographer use is permitted under the S4H license.Tested in PSE6-10, PSCS2-5.5.

Action: Scrap It Album 1

Scrap a complete photobook album quickly with this complete set of actions! Use any kits and photos you want. Just like my other Scrap It actions, this set will lead you through making each page, step by step. There are 20 page actions and 3 alternate designs. In addition, you get a cover and back cover actions, add 2- and add 4- element actions, resize and crop actions, save jpg with and without sharpen actions. Video Tutorial, PDF Tutorial, and Supply Cheat Sheet also included. You can scrap an entire album as simply or as embellished as you want. Just prepare your photos and get started!

Plus, most actions allow for a lot of flexibility. Move things around as the action runs in some cases. Or, make adjustments later. All layers are left intact!

Lovely Miss Kait said, “Thank you for the action. I wouldn’t have made this album if it hadn’t been for you. Not this quick anyway.”

INCLUDES:
18 different layout actions
Add 2- and Add 4- Element actions
Resize and Crop actions
Rasterize Action
Save JPG (w/ and w/o sharpen) actions
18 Layered PSD/TIF templates
Video Tutorial
PDF Tutorial
Supply Cheat Sheet
Installing Actions Tutorial

This action set is for personal and S4H use only. Photographer use is permitted under the S4H license. Create stunning albums for your client quickly.

Tested in PSE6-9, PSCS2-5. Kit not included. (Special thanks to the Studio Girls for use of “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” and to LovelyMissKait for her sample pages.)

Toolkit: Shutterfly 8×11

A while back, Shutterfly changed their 8×11 (Classic) book size to add more bleed. I finally found time to update my toolkit and it’s been re-released. It’s on sale for one week for just $2 to allow anyone who wants to upgrade to get it at the special pricing. There is just one caveat. And that is Shutterfly cannot tell me how the changes affect their “peek-a-boo” window for this book size. I did my best and added the extra bleed the same way I did it on the other pages. However, please know that this is my best guess and not official. I do not claim it is accurate. It’s always a good idea to take special care looking at your proofs when creating your books. And, if possible, leave some extra room in your design for any discrepancies.

If you have any questions, let me know! Here’s what’s included in the 8×11 Toolkit:

Version 2b: NEWLY UPDATED 09-11. This 8×11 size book was changed by Shutterlfy in 06-11. This download includes new 8×11 templates. (See note on Peek-a-boo template below.)
Version 2.0: NEWLY UPDATED 10-09 TO INCLUDE NEW HARDCOVER OPTION.

These innovative products by Wendyzine Scraps have been designed to help you design and prepare your 8×11 (formerly Classic) Shutterfly Photo Books according to Shutterfly’s specificatons.

INCLUDES:
Blank layered 11×8.5 page templates in PSD and TIF format
Blank layered template for new hardcover option in PSD and TIF format
8×11 (Classic) Action for resizing your 11×8.5 layered Photoshop file to Shutterfly’s specs
Square Action for placing square layouts onto a Classic photo book page, with credits or journaling
Peek-a-boo template (shows through optional Die Cut Window) in PSD and TIF format (NOTE: This template is my best guess. Shutterfly could not supply the actual specs. “As for the die cut cover specs, we do not have those at this time. Our All New Custom Path is a new product for us and we are working on focusing the slight variations that may occur with our new method to be sure that your image would appear in the window of the book cover.”)

NOTE: These products have been tested on PSCS2-5, PSE6-9. This product is available in a Personal/Scrap-4-Hire Use version as well as a Professional/Designer Use version. If you purchase the Professional/Designer Use version, you may use these items in the creation of products you sell. You may NOT sell this product AS IS, or as a kit containing only these items. A Professional/Designer Use TOU will be emailed to you, so be sure your profile is up to date.

PHOTOBOOK NOT INCLUDED, BUT CAN BE ORDERED FROM SHUTTERFLY.COM.

 

Keepsake Template

This sweet and simple template set will help you preserve that special moment in time when a new baby arrives into the world. Record historical events, cultural happenings, and other fun facts related to the day and year of birth. Scrap a page in 12×12 or print one out to be framed…a special gift for that new Mom in your life!
INCLUDES:
12×12 Boy Template (TIF & PSD format)
12×12 Girl Template (TIF & PSD format)
8.5×11 Boy Template (TIF & PSD format)
8.5×11 Girl Template (TIF & PSD format)
7 doodles (PNG format)

Personal use or S4H only.

Push a Button and Watch It Scrap

My ScrapIt Actions and Power Scrap It Collab with Katie were featured on The Daily Digi on Saturday. Check out the post for a fabulous interview with Katie, and a fun video of Steph scrapping a layout with one of the ScrapIt actions!

 

In honor of this special feature, all the original ScrapIt Actions are on sale through the end of August!

Saving Layered Tifs

I’ve had this question a few times this week, so I thought I’d post the answer right here!

Why do your actions/scripts save as Tifs instead of PSDs?
In most cases, if you use the right settings, a layered TIF will be smaller than a layered PSD. Layered TIFs use lossless compression, which means the image is not degraded at all like it is when you save a JPG. When you save a layered TIF, you can choose from several different settings. If you use the setting for the smallest file, it does take a little longer to save. In my experience, saving a layered TIF saves up to 40% over the layered PSD file.

What are the optimal settings for a layered TIF?
1. Be sure to check the LAYERS button in the first SAVE AS dialogue box.
2. On the second dialogue box, choose LZW Image Compression.
3. Choose PC or MAC (depending on your computer) in the Byte Order section.
4. Choose ZIP compression for the smallest file. It does take longer to save.

Are there any disadvantages with layered TIFs?
The disadvantage of layered TIF is that it the layers can only be opened in Photoshop/Elements. If you try to open a layered TIF in another program, such as Paint Shop Pro, it will open as a flattened file.

Let me know if you have any questions about this or anything else! Happy Scrapping!

Power Scrap It Video Tutorial

Want a closer look at what the Power Scrap It Scripts and Actions can do? Take a look at this video. (Be sure to read the PDF tutorial included in the purchase as well as it contains more important information!)

CLICK THE IMAGE TO PLAY THE VIDEO. Or, Download for WINDOWS or MAC.

Script: Power Scrap It Collab

Be sure to stop by ScrapbookLady Pages to read what Katie had to say about this set we collabed on, and to see some wonderful sample pages she created using these scripts and actions. (Hint, hint, she might just have a coupon for you!)

I recently had a revelation. When I’m working on a major album, I change the way I scrap. I don’t work on one page at a time. I work on like tasks in smaller chunks of time. I’m more productive when I group like tasks together over a series of pages. This revelation, though new to me, was not new at all, as I came to find out!In fact, Katie the Scrapbook Lady (from ScrapbookladyPages & The Daily Digi) pioneered an entire method based on this idea called “Power Scrapping.” The concept is simple, but, well, powerful! Instead of thinking in terms of one page at a time, start thinking in terms of scrapping tasks like sorting photos, matching them to templates and kits, pulling in papers and elements, etc.Katie and I have teamed up to take Power Scrapping to the next level with this unique set of actions and templates. You can quickly start new layouts, import templates, rotate, flip or flop them, add photos, batch add elements, papers and more with or without shadows! This set of actions does all the busy work for you, leaving you more time for the part you love… the creative part!

This set includes actions and scripts, along with the optional templates. You’ll get a video tutorial on using the actions and a PDF on how to install them correctly. Pay careful attention on where to install your scripts and actions. It’s not hard… just copy and paste to the right location for your version of Photoshop or Elements and your Operations System (XP, Vista/W7, Mac).

YOU GET:
8 12×12 PSD/TIF templates with a variety of photo options (by Katie the Scrapbook Lady)
4 Layout Starters (8×8, 12×12, Custom, Template)
5 Rotaters (Rotate templates left, right, 180° or flip up or down)
3 Photo Placers (Adds photos and lets you position them.)
4 Add Actions (Add an element, paper, title or journaling)
5 Batch Add Actions (Add an entire folder of images in 5 shadow options, large and small, top and bottom, or no shadow; PSE users see the tutorial for special instructions)
PDF Tutorial (Installating and explaining each action)
Video Tutorial (On using the Power Scrap Actions)

Personal use and scrap-4-hire use okay. Tested in PSCS3-5, English only; PSE 6-9.