Welcome to my blog! I write, and take photos, and use Photoshop every day. I love learning and surprises and my sweet family and being a transplanted southerner.

A's to the Q's. :)

First up, from Nic:

Q: Where/When did you learn photoshop? How long have you been working in it (scrapbooking context or otherwise)?


A: I actually started out doing web design with Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver, in 1998. I designed web sites on the side until I graduated from college, and then became an instructional designer for a software company in Minnesota. I designed their web-based training system, as well as contributing individual courses (which is why I’m so sensitive to very small details in explaining stuff online). I moved into user interface design in 2003, when I began using Photoshop and Illustrator for mockups and wireframe diagrams. That’s when the real Photoshop education began.

When I started scrapping in 2004, I used Photoshop and Illustrator to lay out pages, edit photos, and print titles and journaling, but resisted even trying all-digital pages pretty strongly (“I’m too tactile.”  “I spend too much time in front of the computer already.” “What will I collect and hoard?” Sound familiar?). But I was so inspired by the work of Rhonna Farrer, and all the awesome stuff she can do that is impossible in paper, that I tried it in October of 2005, and was hooked. In fact, my Hall of Fame entry 3 months later had 6 digi pages and 4 paper ones. Just exactly the kind of mix I still do.

What I’m trying to say here with my own example is that learning Photoshop (because it’s easily the most complicated piece of software I’ve ever used) is a process, and learning to use it well and artistically is also a process. You can point to a beginning date, but never an end one, because there is no point at which you “know everything” about the program. The reason for this is that, like a SUPER complicated paintbrush, Photoshop is a tool for creativity, which is boundless and limitless as long as you don’t allow limits to be set.

Stepping down off soapbox now. :P

Next up, from Dierdre:

Q: Is the special issue going out to CK subscribers or will we need to seek it  on newstands?


A: The special issues of the magazine are not part of the subscription, so you’ll have to go find it at your favorite spot for picking up magazines. The price tag is higher, because there are about three times more pages of content and almost no ads.

Also from Dierdre:

Q: Where do you recommend a “newbie” to digi/hybrid scrapping start? There is almost too much info out there now, I don’t know where to begin.


A: I totally agree. It is really overwhelming. I will get back to this awesome question later. I promise. Because even answering it is overwhelming. LOL.

Also from Dierdre:

Q: Is it okay to scan “real” patterned paper for a digi layout or does that abuse the rights of whomever designed it? Does that answer depend at all on  whether your layout is for your family’s enjoyment only or for submitting?


A:  This question gets into important copyright issues relating to ownership of designs and works, and is MUCH too hairy for me to cover more than what I’ll say right here. As far as I know and have been able to understand from the really complicated things I’ve read regarding copyright law , you can scan a patterned paper and use it ONE time, just as you would if you had purchased it, and destroy the original. By buying the paper, you did not buy the “rights” to free and unlimited use of the design, which is what you get in essence if you scan it in and use it for a bunch of different stuff. What you got when you bought the paper was the use of THAT paper, with THAT design printed on it. A one time shot. If you want more uses, you have to buy more paper.

I hope that makes sense, and you can come to a decision you’re comfortable with. For me, I don’t scan patterned paper. There is SO much great digital work out there, and it is SO inexpensive (or free), I keep my paper and digital worlds separate in this case.

Next up, also from Dierdre:

Q: I am interested in downloading ‘actions’—-can these work in Elements 2?


A: Some Photoshop actions CAN be run in various versions of Elements. But I’m not going to be very popular with what I’m about to say next (since there are plenty of digi scrappers who do this and advocate doing it). Please don’t take me as a snob for this. Elements wasn’t built to run installable actions. So in order to get them to work, you’ll have to hack your program (after placing items in the exact right folder, you have to change settings in your cache file - or delete it altogether - which is what I consider a hack).

Basically, yes, you CAN, (just do a Google search for various instructions), but there’s also a chance that you could damage your program irreparably. My basic thought on this is that if you are sophisticated enough at Photoshop to be looking at downloading and running actions, you should look at upgrading to the full version, which runs actions automatically and out of the box with a click of a button. I’m just sayin’…

Next up from Kristine: 

Q: I would love to know the technique to fade out just one side of a photo for journaling or to fade out to match the background color.


A: Stay tuned for this week’s Photoshop Friday! We’ll be doing a fade-to-the-background photo technique! :D 

From Jo: 

Q: What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop, that you use most  often?


A: My favorites are:

Ctrl-c = copy

Ctrl-v = paste

Ctrl-a = select all (on the targeted layer) 

Ctrl-j = copy selection onto a new layer 

[ and ] increases and decreases the size of brushes in the Brush, Eraser, Dodge, and Burn tools (and maybe other tools, but I use these most often)

Ctrl-Shift-n = New layer

Ctrl-Alt-g (Ctrl-g in PSE) = Create clipping mask 

Photoshop has hundreds of shortcuts. The full versions of Photoshop even allow you to create your own shortcuts based on your workflow. Here is a page with documents listing the standard keyboard shortcuts. (Note: The version 5 listed there is the SUPER OLD full version of PS5, rather than PSE5.

Next up is a question I’ve had come up a few times. 

Q: A question I had was about making your own kits- are there web sites that help you learn this?

A:  The short answer to this is, that I don’t know of any. The long answer is, that I think I know why, and I’ll try not to offend anyone in what I’m going to say here. But I might. So brace yourself, cause I’m going to be the heavy. ;) I have found that digital designers in general, consider the creation of their kits and papers to be proprietary information that is crucial to their business. Sort of like the 31 flavors of Baskin Robbins, or Colonel Sander’s Secret Recipe. I find the digi community to be extremely open with sharing info, except when it comes to things that designers would consider to be sharing competitive secrets. And I respect that. So I’m not planning to do any in-depth tutorials on how to make your own patterned paper. Each designer needs to take this path on his or her own, and come up with their own ‘recipe’ using their own techniques, to make papers they’re happy with.

What I will say is this, in reference to my own experience designing a few kits (a process that took me about 3 months of trial and error to get to a place where I was happy with the papers I was making). The source files for even solid papers are VERY large, and VERY layered, and make use of textures and distressing.

Please don’t be offended at this - I’m not trying to ‘close ranks’ on anyone. I have had this question asked of me a few times, and I’ve really thought a lot about how to explain this, and try to differentiate between digital scrapping information and kit design, when I’m normally more than happy to share any information I have. I hope I have explained it well enough. Bleh. But there it is.

Moving on. From Christine. (Ah! An easy one! Back into technology and not feelings! :P) :

Q: How much memory do you have on your computer?

A:  I have 2 GB of memory on my computer right now. In order to run the full version of Photoshop, you really need to have at LEAST 1 GB of memory. Here’s one way to check:

1. Right-click on the blue (or whatever color your program bar at the bottom of your screen is), and choose Task Manager from the flyout menu.

2.  In the Task Manager dialog, choose the Processes tab.


3.  In the top right section of this text here at the bottom, you see Physical Memory. That’s in kilobytes, so you can see my total is 2095172 KB, which is 2.09 GB.

If you are ever asked the question, would you like more memory? The answer is always yes

Next up from Amanda:

Q: Your mag that is coming out, is that mostly for beginners or does it cover some advanced tricks as well?

A: This special issue has 67 techniques in it, that range from very beginner to things I consider to be more advanced. The last chapter of the 5 in the issue is dedicated to “Patterns”, by which I mean lumping sets of techniques together to create cooler stuff. I assume that you know how to do all the component things we cover in earlier techniques (such as converting photos to black and white, making compound selections, semi-transparency, that kind of thing). Definitely more on the advanced side. So I think there’s some of both.

Next up from Kristy:

Q: Using PS7 how do you round a corner of photo?

A: I did a PSF about corner rounding and provided a brush set with just an ABR file. I’ve updated that file to include the .png file.

Go here to read about the corner rounder, and download the free brush set.

Go here to read about creating brushes from .png files. 


There are a few more questions, I’ll try to get to later. :D 



Honey, I am ALWAYS Googling.

Q+A Thursday - Post Q's here. :D