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Photoshop Friday! Designing with Rings

I love circular elements on my pages. I think they break up the square-ness that can sometimes overtake pages that are full of square photos and that are squares themselves, and it just adds a nice rounded flow. Today we’ll go over a technique for creating rings to help place focus on your photos and add some cool movement to a page. There is a LOT you can do with this technique!

Here’s my example:


Ready to get started designing with rings? Let’s go!

First, we’ll start with a circle

1. Create a new 12x12 layout, 300 pixels per inch.

2. Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer). 

3. Select the Elliptical Marquee tool.

4. In the Options Bar at the top of the screen, choose Fixed Size from the dropdown. Type equal width and height dimensions (I typed 10 and 10).

5. Click down to create your selection.

6. With your selection still active, select the Paint Bucket tool from the toolbar. Click inside the selection to fill it with whatever color your foreground color is (except maybe white, which would be hard to see)

7. Type Ctrl-d (Cmd-d on a Mac)  to deselect.

It should look like this:


Click for Larger

Now we’ll create the ring.  

1. Select the Elliptical Marquee tool.

2. In the Options Bar at the top of the screen, keep the mode at Fixed Size, and change the dimensions to something smaller than your original selection. I want a 1-inch wide ring, so I’ll type 8 for the width and 8 for the height.

3. Click down on your document to create your smaller circle selection. Click and drag inside the selection to position it in the center of your circle.

4. With your circle layer targeted in the Layers palette, hit Delete to create the ring.

5. Type Ctrl-d (Cmd-d) to deselect.

It should look like this:


Click for Larger

Now we can use our ring to create a clipping mask for patterned paper. Heck yeah.

1. Open a sheet of digital patterned paper.

2. Select your Move tool.

3. Click and drag your paper down onto the thumbnail of your layout in the Photo/Project Bin.

4. Hold down your Alt key while you hover over the line in between the paper layer and the ring layer in the Layers palette. Your cursor should turn into a little overlapping-circle. Click down to create the mask.

Now you have a patterned paper ring! Yay! :D

When you’re happy with the way the paper looks inside the mask, you can target the paper layer in the Layers palette, right-click, and choose Merge Down from the flyout menu.

It should end up looking like this:


Click for Larger

Okay, now want to do something really cool? Yeah, I know you do.

Let’s add a white border around the edges of our ring, to help set it off a bit. Then we’ll add a drop-shadow for some dimension.

1. Ctrl-click on the thumbnail of your paper ring in the Layers palette. This creates a selection around your ring.

2. Go to Select > Modify > Expand. In the Expand dialog box, type 15 (less if your selection is smaller). Click OK. This expands the selection out by 15 pixels in every direction (which in our case means both to the inside and the outside of the ring - just what we want).


Click for Larger

3. Create a new layer. Target the new layer in the Layers palette.

4. Select the Paint Bucket tool.

5. Type “d” to return your foreground and background colors to their defaults. Then type “x” to switch foreground and background. This gives you a white foreground.

6. With your expanded selection still active, click down inside of your selection to fill it with white.

7. Type ctrl-d to deselect. 

8. In the Layers palette, click and drag your white ring layer below your paper ring layer.

I turned off my white background and it should look like this:


Click for Larger

Let’s do a drop-shadow, just for grins

1.  Target your white ring layer in the Layers palette.

2. Open the Effects palette (in the full version of Photoshop, you’ll right-cilck on the layer and choose Blending Options, and click on the word Drop Shadow).

3. Choose the Layer Styles button (in PSE 6 it’s the 2nd from the left). Select Drop Shadows from the dropdown box.

4. Double-click on the Low dropshadow button.

Now we need to refine our drop-shadow, which is much too strong to look realistic.

5. Close the Effects palette by clicking on the little triangle next to its name.

6. Double-click on the little FX in the white ring layer (in previous versions it’ll be a little sun icon). This launches the Style Settings dialog box.

7.  I like setting these parameters:

Angle: 120

Distance: 5

Size: 5

Opactiy: 40%


Click for Larger

Now you’re ready to scrap with your ring! You’ll probably want to to merge the paper and the white ring layers together, especially for this next bit. Or if you want to use the white ring as a clipping mask for some distressed white or cream colored paper before you flatten, you can do that as well. That’d be a neat effect.

Okay, so finishing off this layout

I’ve added in a few other scrappy components, all from Katie Pertiet at DesignerDigitals (full supply list + links at the end of this post): 

Background paper: from the Botanist No. 4 Kit

Scallop Mask: from the Border Die Cuts set

Cream paper: from the Botanist No. 15 kit 

Storyboard frame: from the Storyboard Negatives


Click for Larger

And now I’m ready to let my ring bring focus to these cute photos. 

1. Pull the ring layer to the very top of the layer stack (or go to Layer > Arange > Bring to Front).

2. Target the ring layer in the Layers palette.

3. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool.

4. Zoom way in on your document. It’s important to get a nice clean cut here.

5. Carefully click and drag a selection that covers the parts of the ring you want to delete.

It should look like this:


Click for Larger

6. Now hit Delete to erase the part of the ring that overlaps the photo and frame.

7. Type Ctrl-d to deselect.

It should look like this: 


Click for Larger

And you’re done! Finish off your layout and get that bad boy printed! :D 

Notes: If you have an irregular item, such as a ribbon or a string on a tag, and you’d like to use this technique, use your Eraser tool and a small hard-edged brush rather than a selection.

Other Ring Ideas

Feel free to experiment with many sizes of rings. You can:

  • use rings that overlap an edge of the layout
  • use a ring to put a title in
  • use a tiny ring that peeks out behind one of your photos
  • use rings over the top of photo blocks (maybe some patterned paper or text inside of it)
  • use a very thin ring as the edge for a large circle of patterned paper that goes way off the edge of your layout
  • use a thin ring to highlight a focal area on a large photo
  • tie some digital ribbon (use the eraser technique to let it overlap) around a ring
  • type on the ring (you can get circle text paths here from Jen Caputo)
  • arrange alphabets along the edge of a large ring

And my completed layout, one more time:



And just so you can run over and get the goodies to make this page if you want, here’s a 10% off coupon from DesignerDigitals.com, good for a single order before April 30, 2008! YAY! Thank you, Katie!


Have a super Phabulous Photoshop Phriday and a great weekend! 


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