Posts tagged Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Friday Episode 1: Oversized Photos

Welcome (back) to Photoshop Friday! I am so excited to bring Photoshop Friday back, with my older episodes FREE, and we are starting off with a bang!

For those of you who are new to Photoshop Friday, you are in for a treat. Every week I will bring you 3 short video tutorials that will teach you a new technique in Photoshop that you can then use on digital scrapbooking layouts, hybrid layouts, cards, and so much more. Before you know it, you will have a whole arsenal full of cool Photoshop tricks. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday of every week, I will feature tutorial videos from my past Photoshop Fridays. 

In addition to the video tutorial, you will receive a layered PSD template to make your own digital layout and you will receive a PDF instruction sheet. Not only do these PDFs have all of the video instructions in written format, but they also are full of gorgeous layouts from our Creative Team. They will show you how to take the technique you learned and apply it to a different layout for a whole new look. How cool is that?!

Ready to get started? Today we are going to focus on oversized photos. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so why not let your photo take center stage? I will show you how adding an oversized photo to your layout will amp up the drama and create a cool effect that you will want to recreate again and again.

Photoshop Friday Episode 1 by jessica Sprague: Create an oversized photo

Photoshop Friday Episode 1 by jessica Sprague: Create an oversized photo

Step 1: Downloads

2. Download the printable PDF instruction sheet here. Make sure that you have the most current version of Adobe Reader found here.


Step 2: Video Tutorial

Here you can watch the video tutorial. It was filmed in Photoshop Elements, but it works the same in all versions of Photoshop.

Step 3: Complete & Share

Create your layout with the Photoshop Friday template and customize it with your own pictures and digi supplies. When you are done, tag us or share it on my Facebook page, Pinterest it and let the world see the beauty you've created! I would love to see your creations!

Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop CC: Which One Is Right For You?

It's getting close to Christmas, and if you're a geeky girl who has been dying to try Photoshop, you might have this on your wish list. I get asked a lot what the differences are between Photoshop Elements (Retail: $99) and the full version of Photoshop, which is now called Photoshop CC (Subscription starts at $9.99/mo).

For me, the answer has been simple: 

I've always thought of Elements as a consumer-level version (basics and quite a lot of advanced functionality) and Photoshop CC as a professional version (deep functionality necessary in a professional environment).

So my recommendation has always been: start with Photoshop Elements, and if you decide a couple years from now that you've outgrown it, spring for the expensive one. 

There's the summary. Now for the backstory?

However, that's not necessarily the case anymore, given the pricing structure Adobe has rolled out within the past year. 

Photoshop Elements: A Nice Car

For Beginners, Hobbyists, and Pro-sumers

I've never made it any big secret that I really like Photoshop Elements. I think Adobe has done a great job of making almost all of the really necessary features available in straightforward way.

There are fewer menus, fewer palettes, more automation for basic functions, less initial setup, and of course, less overwhelm in general because of the cleaner interface. Photoshop Elements is the program I recommend for every beginner, in fact.


Elements includes features designed for photographers who use cell phones, mini digital cameras, or even digital SLR cameras. It's also awesome for families, dabblers, bloggers, hobbyists, or pro-sumers in areas like: 

  • photo editing (open, edit, save, close, with some basic automation)
  • photo collage (combine photos into one document, i.e. for printing)
  • digital scrapbooking (install brushes, combine files, and type)
  • poster-making (add vector shapes or layerable graphics)
  • card or invitation making (create new files in just the size you need)
  • digital art or collage (lots of layers, brushwork, shapes, photos, type, etc)

With the exception of my most advanced class, I teach everything in Photoshop Elements as well as the full version of Photoshop, because almost all of what "regular people" want to do with graphics or type or design is available to you.

Think of Photoshop Elements as, say, a Nissan Murano. Any Nissan. Or whatever your favorite car is. A very decent car, even a really nice car. A new one, that smells good. If you're driving to and from work, or taking a road trip with the fam, this is so perfect for you. Just add snacks and drinks and your GPS and go.

Price & Ownership

Photoshop Elements is license-based, so you purchase it once and own forever. The retail cost is roughly $100, but you can usually find deals or coupons that bring it down into the $70-80 range, and if you ever want a new version, you'll have to spring for it. 

Photoshop CC: A Commercial Plane

Great for Serious Hobbyists, Pro-sumers, and Professionals

It goes without saying that anything you can do in Elements, you can do in CC. BUT. When you first install Photoshop CC, you're dropped into a stark, dark grey interface without much warning, and then pretty much expected to do whatever it is you're going to do because the software doesn't care. This is both a huge benefit (if you already know how to do what you're going to do, and you just want the program to get out of the way), or a huge limitation (if you have no idea how to do what you want to do, and you're completely at sea). 

I can't count the number of people who've told me they installed Photoshop, opened it, noodled for 15 minutes, and then closed it and walked away. That's partly because in general, Photoshop CC caters to the professional audience.

The functionality is deep, like so:

  • At least 20 extra functions for the Brush tool (PSE allows install, creation, and stamping)
  • Create vector paths (type on a curve or in a circle, too!) and shapes (PSE allows only opening)
  • Ability to automatically open photos into Camera Raw (PSE allows open, but only one photo at a time)
  • Support for 16-bit photos (PSE is only 8), as well as access to individual color channels
  • More advanced typography, including access to alternates, as well as letter spacing, sub/superscript, and type smoothing
  • Grouping of layers, with filtering and adjustments available on entire groups
  • Record your own actions, (one-key access to a pre-recorded series of steps, such as a filter or a save at a specific size) - (PSE allows only a few actions to even install)
  • Better sharpening through the Smart Sharpen tool
  • Support for fringe stuff like 3D and basic animation (i.e. blinkies and animated .gifs)
  • Automation for things like adding watermarks, batch file sizing, saving, and conversion
  • Ability to completely customize the quick-keys for various functions (i.e. keyboard mapping)
  • Smart Objects - layers that retain their original function (such as vectors), so they can be opened and edited in Illustrator, but can also be filtered and adjusted in Photoshop

And the list kind of keeps going. Remember the car analogy? Using Photoshop CC is like flying a commercial plane. There is the basic "I want to get from here to there" mentality, and the cockpit of a plane roughly resembles the driver's seat of a car. You can turn, and brake and so forth. But wow, the thing gets really complex. But after you figure out what all the dials do, not only can you get where you want to go a lot faster, but you can navigate in 3D space AND say the phrase, "this is your captain speaking".


Purchasing & (Non-)Ownership

Photoshop CC is now subscription-based, and requires you to sign a year-long contract, connect to the internet at least once a month to stay current, and pay for the program on either a monthly or a yearly basis. Oh, and it starts at $9.99/month. In previous versions, Photoshop was packaged with a license just like Elements, and was priced in the $500-$600 range. So the big pro here is that the entry-level fee is incredibly low, just $10 a month in a package with Lightroom, which is Adobe's professional photo editor.


Photoshop Elements is still the main contender in the casual, hobbyist, and pro-sumer market.

Pros: Photoshop Elements is a little easier to learn, because of the simpler interface and tools. Plus, you own the software forever. Adobe usually offers upgrade pricing when you're ready to move to the next version. Elements is still an inexpensive option, and includes all the options I teach except for the most advanced (see list above)

Cons: Obviously the big one here is that since Adobe has been releasing a new version of Photoshop Elements for 13 years (that's right, 2014 is lucky 13!), you'll have less than a year before a new version is released. Sometimes the version updates are small. And sometimes they are huge (i.e. Photoshop Elements 11).  

Photoshop CC is hands-down THE industry-standard graphics program. Adobe made it available to a whole bunch more people by creating a pay-as-you-go usage model, kind of like a gym membership.

Pros: The subscription to this awesome beast is so cheap (a plane in every driveway!). Ten bucks a month for the best graphics program in the world. Also, because you're using a subscription, Adobe can roll out updates much faster, AND you're guaranteed to always have the latest version and functionality. Super great, especially if you're someone who depends on the latest features and updates. 

Cons: You pay a monthly price, but you are locked in for an entire year at a time (unused plane sitting in your driveway? Not their problem). If you DO decide not to renew next year, though, you'll still have all your files (.psd format, which of course you can't open if you don't have Photoshop...). Photoshop CC is still really hard to learn - the learning curve is a lot higher because of the massive flexibility and the depth of the features. The subscription also bothers a lot of people: in a year, you'll have paid about the same as you would have to buy Photoshop Elements, but you won't own the software itself.

My Recommendation

If you're a beginner, I still recommend that you get Photoshop Elements. It's a lot simpler to learn, and because of the year-long contract with CC, you'll end up paying the same price anyway. 

Ask your Santa to put it under your digital tree this year, or go get the 30-day free trial of Photoshop Elements. And then register for my beginner level digital scrapbooking class, or photo editing class to get the most out of it. 

If you've already made your decision, did you choose (or will you choose) Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CC? Why?




Retiring Classes: Digital Scrapbooking Series

Well friend, I've been teaching digital scrapbooking for a long time: I started in the middle of 2007 with 240 students in my very first class, and have taught or remade almost a dozen month-long classes since then. Among all of the classes in all their iterations, tens of thousands of students have learned Photoshop and built their creative skills with me as their guide, and I have loved it. Right now (until December 31), you can take the entire four-class series, which includes intermediate, advanced, and expert techniques for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. January 1, the three more advanced courses will retire from sale.

Of course, the skills you learn in these classes go way, way beyond making pages to preserve the stories of your life. You'll learn all the important Photoshop tools, and techniques with type, brushwork, page composition, pattern, embellishment, and photo enhancement that will knock your socks off!

Digital Scrapbooking 1: Up & Running 

The series begins with Digital Scrapbooking 1: Up & Running with Photoshop, which is new from 2013 and is NOT retiring - you'll be able to register for this class after December 31 or give it as a gift - but right now it's on sale for 25% off.

Up & Running with Photoshop - Digital Scrapbooking class 1 of 4

Up & Running with Photoshop - Digital Scrapbooking class 1 of 4

Digital 1 is a really BIG class - containing TEN individual lessons and all the supplies you'll need to create these pages and dozens more. This class starts at the very basics with how to open and close files, how to add embellishments, paper, and type, and then progresses through creating various pages until you're making complete scrapbook pages on your own. 

Digital Scrapbooking 2: Now We're Rockin' (Retiring)

Was $59

Now $29.50

After you've finished the beginner class, you'll want to begin deepening your skills with the techniques I teach in Now We're Rockin' with Photoshop. This class is divided into four intense lessons, rather than ten smaller ones, and also includes midweek lessons and a huge exclusive bonus kit. If you're looking for an item for someone who is interested in furthering their digital education, this class is it!

Now We're Rockin' With Photoshop - Digital Scrapbooking class 2 of 4

Now We're Rockin' With Photoshop - Digital Scrapbooking class 2 of 4

This class is retiring from sale on December 31, so be SURE to grab it while you can! Any class you register for (or give as a gift) will be available to you forever at Instant and permanent, the best kind of love! 

Digital Scrapbooking 3: Digi In Deep (Retiring)

Was $69

Now $34.50

When you're looking to really dive deep and hone your skills, it's time for my advanced class, Digi: In Deep! 

This class also contains four really intense lessons, plus between-lesson activities and a huge kit you'll love! This class is the time to really begin speeding up your digital workflow, with hotkeys, presets and shortcuts for drawing, masking, color correction, cropping and more!

We'll use custom shapes, create simple and complex selections, and of course - lots and lots of masking! We use gradients, adjustment layers, selections and shapes to create masks of every kind. You will LOVE the amazing art you can create with these techniques!

Digital Scrapbooking 3: Digi In Deep class 3 of 4

Digital Scrapbooking 3: Digi In Deep class 3 of 4

This class is also retiring from sale on December 31, so be SURE to grab it while you can! Any class you register for (or give as a gift) will be available to you forever at Instant and permanent!

Digital Scrapbooking 4: Digi: In Deeper (Retiring)

Was $79

Now $39.50

The final class in my digital scrapbooking series is Digi: In Deeper, and if you are a Photoshop user with 1+ years of solid experience, this class is for you! In this challenging class we dive deep into Photoshop techniques of course, but we also explore design principles and different styles of making work. 

This class contains TWELVE awesome lessons divided into four different visual styles, including clean/graphic, freestyle, shabby, and whimsical. Each lesson begins with a sketch, which you'll be expected to complete before beginning the video lesson that demonstrates that layout's techniques. You'll love the independence you gain in this class format, speeding through the basics you already know and jumping right to the fun stuff! 


This class is also retiring from sale on December 31, so be SURE to grab it while you can! Any class you register for (or give as a gift) will be available to you forever at Instant and permanent!

The intermediate, advanced, and expert digital scrapbooking classes are all 50% off, and frankly, I am sad to see them retiring in their current formats. I'm so proud of these classes, and thousands of students have taken the entire series from beginning to end. I think learning how to get around in Photoshop is a life skill - one that has a learning curve, certainly, but this investment is one that you'll be grateful for and use for the rest of your life. Imagine being able to make that 50th anniversary album, or that special wall decor gift, or a poster for your kid's school, a flyer for your church meeting. These skills easily translate to anything you can imagine, and give you the creative tools to make those a reality. I believe that. 

As you can see, I love this too much to really be going anywhere. I'll be exploring and teaching and sharing digital scrapbooking, memory keeping, photo editing, storytelling, family history, and general geekdom forever, I think. But when it's time for renew and refresh, it's time. I hope you can take advantage of these classes while they're still available and 50% off - you can take them at your own pace forever after that!

Don't hesitate to leave comments or feedback or questions in the comments here, ok?



Class Retirement: Crazy and Great and 50% off

So, there have been a lot of changes for me this year, (all of which I'm sure will be for the best, right?), and above all, I've been reminded of my own humanity. I've been reminded that each choice has a cost and a consequence, and that change - even if it is scary or bewildering, is a good thing. Evolution is a necessary process if we are to become who we are meant to be. 

Recognizing the need for change is the first step, at least for most people. Me, I learn really slowly. I've known I needed to change the way I run my life and for awhile now, probably way too long. Rather than leaping off of the cliff and trusting that I'll be caught (or taught, as the saying goes, how to fly), I've been scrabbling for branches or grass and digging in as I've been pulled off the cliff in a very real way. I've already talked about that. So came the need for change. Reminds me of this metaphor by C.S. Lewis about painful change, and the bewilderment that comes when you don't understand what's happening:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Realizing - and Panic

The second step is - I think (does anyone actually do this?) - to make a plan for change. And to resist the very strong temptation to just keep doing the same thing and hope it has a different result. They say that's the definition of insanity. I think it's the definition of fear, and of hiding from the truth.

So a few weeks ago I was putting the finishing touches on my 2014 calendar - and I realized with a sickening heart that it was looking a lot like my 2013 calendar, except with pretty washi tape. Like so:


Insanity? Fear and hiding? You got it. 

I've gotten so used to creating new classes, planning and maxing out my schedule, that it wasn't until the washi went down that I realized, I can't do this anymore. Really can't. 

The only way to get better is to change. The only way to change is to do something different.

So you know what I did? I started pulling up the tape. Thinning out. Spontaneously deciding that I didn't want to do whatever that green one was in March, but really wanted to do the polka-dot one in April, and more like that. Pretty soon much of the plan I had planned (the comfortable old plan) was gone. And then I sat on the floor in my office and cried.

I think this is when it really hit me that things are going to be different. If I'm not this, what am I? If I am not doing this green thing in April, what can I possibly do that will be as good or as fulfilling or as whatever? I realize now, of course, that there is only one way to find out. Pull up the tape, clear out the space, and see what happens. It's only when there's room for change that change can come.

So Jared came in and sat on the floor in the office too. He told me he was proud of me. And I cried some more. 

And then we decided, why not make a BIG change, while we're at it? Why not do some MAJOR thinning and reformulating - a reinvention if you will? After all, I've been doing this for nearly SEVEN YEARS. For example:

  • I've felt for a long time a responsibility to remake classes as they aged - after they got 2 or 3 versions old, I felt a need to redo.
  • In the midst of the remakes - which have inevitably ended up being completely and totally different classes - I found it really hard to balance squeezing in new classes.
  • I've been working behind the scenes for at least 2 years trying to get our backend technology upgraded so that it's easier to maintain, simpler to support, and quicker to roll out new content. Without going into too much detail (maybe in another post?), this has proved to be really, really hard (read: impossible).
  • I've wanted to move to a kick-butt store platform for our digital shoppe that reflects the incredible quality of the merch, and makes it super easy to find what we want in our neverending quest for digital supplies (ha! I see you there, fellow collector!)

See how everything on the list there is in the past tense? Like so much of what I thought my life was at the beginning of this year. Heh.

So there on the floor in the office, we began to put down the plan for real change. It was scary, and I will admit that when I presented it to my team, their reactions were all the same: WHAT? THAT IS CRAZY.

And then we all saw, it is crazy, and won't that be great? And my wonderful team has been behind me 100% as we've begun laying the foundation for real change, toward the desires I mentioned above.

The Plan: Class Retirement

So we asked ourselves, if we were to start over, what would we WANT to do? What is it that we all love to do? What do I love to do? And several things came to mind, which I'll be talking more about in the next few weeks. But there's one pressing one, okay?

Remember bullets one and two from above? Pressure to remake, and squeezing in new content. Not to mention, ahem. Blogging...and cooking, and sleeping. All of which I must do more of these days. ;)

I've decided that rather than continue to feel the pressure of remaking past classes, I would like to hold a super huge, gigantor mega retirement sale for these classes. Put them on sale for something CRAZY like, oh, 50% off, and then shut them down. 


I am so, SO proud of these classes - each one was made with all my skill and knowledge of both Photoshop and instructional design, based on a curriculum that makes sense and is easy to follow, with printable materials to go with the class. And of course, you get all your classes FOREVER, to retake and review and brush up on any time forever.

Get a Class (or a FEW!) Now

There are sixteen retiring classes, which you can see all in a big curriculum list right here, with links to each of the descriptions to purchase them. It's a savings of more than $275 for all the classes. 

The plan is, that this first step will pave the way for the next few steps, which I am really, really excited about! So head over and check out the curriculum, choose a class or a few at 50% off, and learn Photoshop in 2014!



{Color} Scheme On: In The Present Edition

Here is a quote I love AND a color scheme I love, mashed up into one piece of goodness. What could be better than this? Here's what the scheme looks like, to download click on the .zip file below it: 

 {Color} Scheme On, by Jessica Sprague

 {Color} Scheme On, by Jessica Sprague

You can view all the color scheme editions in the Scheme On link to the right there in the category list. And for review, here's my video tutorial for how to load and use a color scheme in Photoshop:

Have a wonderful day, and Scheme On! 



BasicGrey + Jessica Sprague

I am so, so excited to announce that legendary scrapbook company BasicGrey has gone DIGITAL! They have joined as a digital designer, and their first  collections are available starting TODAY at! I swear I have been in a breathless tizzy for the last several weeks waiting for their launch today! 

Jessica Sprague BasicGrey Instant Album

In honor of our cause celebre'  I've designed a so-cute, so-quick Instant Album using the new BasicGrey Clippings collection available at

Jessica Sprague BasicGrey Instant Album FREE Printable

Jessica Sprague BasicGrey Instant Album FREE Printable

This FREE mini-album requires just a little bit of prep in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, and then a little assembly after you print it out, and then you have an amazing little book to toss in your bag or purse, hand off to someone as a gift. Or print several and stack them up on your coffee table to let guests flip through. 

The book itself contains ten photos and requires only three ingredients: 

  • Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, plus 10 pictures
  • A printer and one sheet of matte presentation paper (I recommend Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte) 
  • A bone folder

Ready to get started? Follow the instructions below! 

Step 1: Download the Album Template

Here's what the template looks like when you download and unzip it, and open it in Photoshop:

Album Template Preview

Album Template Preview

Step 2: Complete the Album in Photoshop

Here is a video tutorial to show you how to complete the album:

Step 3: Print and Fold

After you've completed your album by adding photos and making any customizations you need, print your album onto a single sheet of letter-sized matte presentation paper, borderless if your printer does that, and then follow these instructions: 

1. Fold your paper in half length-wise, with the album print facing up.

2. Unfold, and fold your paper in half width-wise, with the album print facing up.

3. With the fold facing away from you, flip the edge toward the fold and crease down.

4. Turn the print over and repeat step 3. Your print looks like one mountain with two flat edges on either end. 

5. Unfold until step 2 - a simple width-wise fold.  

6. Cut along the length-wise fold from the fold to the first "page" 

7. Pull the two cut pieces away from each other and press the album open. 

8. Fold and crease the pages.  

Your print. Hooray!

Your print. Hooray!

Fold in half length-wise (we used to call this the Hot Dog fold, because it's long and narrow. ;)

Fold in half length-wise (we used to call this the Hot Dog fold, because it's long and narrow. ;)

Unfold and fold again width-wise (this is the Hamburger fold ;)

Unfold and fold again width-wise (this is the Hamburger fold ;)

Turn the paper over and fold both ends in toward the middle in "Hamburger Mode"

Turn the paper over and fold both ends in toward the middle in "Hamburger Mode"

Now unfold back to the Hamburger (one width-wise fold), and CUT along the hot dog line (the horizontal fold) until you reach the first crease.

Now unfold back to the Hamburger (one width-wise fold), and CUT along the hot dog line (the horizontal fold) until you reach the first crease.

Pull the cut pieces away from each other and down, so the pages are now back-to back.

Pull the cut pieces away from each other and down, so the pages are now back-to back.

Crease all the pieces REALLY well.

Crease all the pieces REALLY well.

And Done! After you do this even once, it will make so much sense.

And Done! After you do this even once, it will make so much sense.

Customize your album with ribbon, stickles, pop dots, ink, or anything you like!

Customize your album with ribbon, stickles, pop dots, ink, or anything you like!

NOTES: The pattern for this album is from the book called How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith.  

Special thanks to my bestie Kristen Creech for the lovely step shots. :) 

Have a wonderful day, friend! Don't forget to check out classes at, and grab some of the gorgeousness that is BasicGrey today! 



{Color} Scheme On: Campbell Edition

I love the work of Joseph Campbell. He was an author, a university professor and a world-renowned expert in myths and mythology. He wrote about the universal "myths" - this is the real sense of that word, meaning foundational stories - that guide each of our lives. 

His insights link ancient and modern myth, religious and spiritual ideas, and the choices we make about our own lives every day.  

I recommend if you get the chance to listen to his series of interviews with Bill Moyers called The Power of Myth. This is my favorite way to learn his stuff, because while it's full of meat and insight, his conversations with Mr. Moyers are obviously extemporaneous and casual. The full Audible book is here, and there are excerpts and transcripts here. There is also a TV show called Mythos on Amazon where you can purchase individual interviews.

Ok, enough there - go find some Joseph Campbell! - and now on to our Color Scheme, the Campbell Edition. Here is the color scheme, and you can find the download with the Adobe Color Swatch file below:

Joseph Campbell, {Color} Scheme On by Jessica Sprague.

Joseph Campbell, {Color} Scheme On by Jessica Sprague.

And don't forget that you can visit the tutorial right here from Youtube to find out how to load this and all my other .aco color schemes in to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements!  

Have a wonderful day, and Scheme On! 



Scheme On, Stories Edition

Here is the next installment of Scheme On! Grab this color scheme and its accompanying .aco Adobe Swatch file and install it right into Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.  

The video for how to load a color scheme in to Photoshop is right here.  

I hope you enjoy this scheme and its quote!