“Home for the Holidays” Freebie Pts 3 and 4

Good Monday, Everyone!  I am finally semi-caught-up!  LOL  I have been super busy with online things!  I am finally at a lull.  But, it has been fun.  Today, the fruits of my labour, and Edna’s, come to fruition in the kit part of “Home for the Holidays”.  Last week, we gave you the two QP’s.  This week and next we will be giving you the papers and elements for you to create your own layouts.  I’ve been so busy, after I post this, I am diving in to Photoshop for some fantasy manipulations.  Heh-heh!  So, shall we get started?  
Miss Edna and I have been creating our own freebies, which we give away for free, for a year now.  Starting on the second Monday of the month, we give them away on our blogs.  We do two(2) Quick Pages on the first Monday, then, the next two(2) Mondays are for us to give to you our elements and papers so you can create what you like.  All of my past freebies are still available for download, so, feel free to go back and see what you may like.  I believe Miss Edna’s links are still active, too.
Click on the preview, either one, to go to Minus.com to download your two(2) parts this week.  I have my previews separated by elements and papers, but, either preview will take you to Minus.  Be sure to click on the arrows at the bottom of the minus download page to download both parts.  THERE ARE TWO PARTS TO DOWNLOAD.  LOL  Then, beneath that, you will find Miss Edna’s preview.  Click on it to go to her blog to download her two(2) parts.
Pts 3 and 4

Now, click on Miss Edna’s preview to go to her blog:

Alrighty, then!  LOL  Have fun!  And, do come again!  Next Monday will wrap up this kit’s downloads for you.  Until then…


SU CheshireCat

Fall Festival Freebie and Links

Good Monday to you!  It’s a new month and, so, we have a new kit for you.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  It’s cool, here, this morning.  I think it around 45 degrees out.  I know!  For many, that’s a heat wave.  For Floridians, it’s the first time we can shut off our air conditioners.  Savings!  LOL  My last utility bill was over 400 dollars!  That is outrageous!  
Halloween is fast approaching, too!  It’s fun dressing up the children and seeing them trick-or-treating.  To me, the whole year is hinged on these few weeks.  Historically, this is the time of the harvest.  This is when we reap what we have sown.  People give thanks for a bountiful crop and healthy livestock.  Festivities abounded the world over.  This was the time when folks stocked up for the long, cold winter months.  Long ago, your goal was to have enough from the harvest to endure these months.  What you didn’t grow, you traded or bartered to get.  Obviously, you dealt only with other local folks, assuring the freshness and quality.  These occasions are what maintained a sense of community.  What a long way we have come, eh?  Now, it is almost a novel concept to ‘buy locally’.  Do you know where your head of lettuce came from?  Maybe humanity is coming full-circle.  Localized trade and resources are the goal, these days.  Our ancestors could teach us a few things. 
True to the season, I found a cute website that you will get a kick out of.  ‘Haunted Portraits’ is a trip!  I can’t give you an example here, but, you’ll see why if you go there.  Check out the menu panel for all of it!  It is fun!
Textures are addictive!  Anyone who has ever applied a texture with an ‘Overlay’ or ‘Multiply’ Blending Mode will attest to this.  They can change the entire theme of an image or piece.  I’ve shown quite a few folks’ websites who deal in textures, but, I guarantee they are only the tip of the iceberg.  I keep one eye out for them while perusing the web.  So, it came as no surprise to stumble upon another one.  This one is different.  Free Textures at ‘Hadania’s Blogspot’ is unique.  Across the top are choices in which to view the textures, such as ‘Classic’, ‘Flip-Card’, ‘Magazine’, ‘Mosaic’, etc.  The link I give is for the ‘Classic’ view, which sets up the textures in a blog-type format.  ‘Flip-Card’ shows collections.  Click on one and a page will open up with all the textures in that collection or artist.  As for the textures, they are some of the best I have seen!  Some have been ‘pre-made’, in that there is some design or pattern in them.  Others are just the textures.  Either way, they are NICE!  Here is one of the textures with a floral theme blended in.
And, one without any ‘theme’.
You really must check out these Free Textures!!
Want to take a little trip down Memory Lane?  Then ‘Museum of Childhood’ is what you want!  They have collections of antique toys, games to play and neat things for children to make.  The Museum is a place you can go to at the Victoria and Albert Museum, if you live nearby.  The online pages give but a glimpse into what they have at the museum, but, it is awesome!  Give it a glance!
The last link I leave you with is special to me.  If you like anything ‘Victoriana’, then, this is your Nirvana!  LOL  Victoriana is a magazine that exhibits and goes into anything from the Victorian age.  What I liked is that there are ‘e-books’ that you can download, for free, on a variety of topics.  I clicked on the ‘Blog’ menu item to see what they had.  That led me to an article on Fabric Swatchbooks.  They feature vintage fabrics that are gorgeous!  At the end of the article, they credit ‘PowerHouseMuseum’, with their ‘Electronic Swatchbook’ as their source.  Select a year and/or colors and they give you fabric swatches for it.  Their large, easy for downloading.  They list their swatches as ‘Public Domain’ in Australia. You really should check it out!
Okay, I lied!  LOL  I’m giving you one more.  This one has a bunch of Photoshop goodies!  Camxso’s DeviantArt site has a great assortment of patterns, brushes and shapes.  There are also ‘scrapbooking’ goodies.  You really must check it out!
So, we come to the monthly kit/freebie.  Miss Edna and I have been busy again, this time with ‘Fall Festival’.  Today, we are giving you a couple of Quick Pages(QP’s) to use.  They are Pts 1 and 2.  Then on following Mondays for the next couple of weeks, we’ll give you the elements and papers, the kit in 4 more parts, for you to create your own layouts.  Below are the previews.  Click on mine and you’ll be taken to the download page at Minus.com.  Then, Miss Edna’s preview will take you to her blog for her parts.  If you are interested in previous freebies, all of mine are still up. Be sure to come back for more!
Mine(Pts 1 and 2)
Both QP’s are in the zip.  
Miss Edna’s Place Preview
So, that will do it for now.  Do come back for the rest of the kit.  I think you’ll find it a little different than many of the Halloween-themed goodies out there, tho, there are some awesome goodies!
Until the next time…

SU CheshireCat

A Tip and A Spooky Freebie

Lesa Snyder’s 4-Day ‘Photoshop CS5 Intensive’ wrapped up today.  Lesa is so knowledgeable!  She explains things so thoroughly!  I missed the first day, but, with what I already know, hopefully, it would have been ‘old news’.  LOL  I doubt it.  One can always learn something new!  Some of the things she has taught that I did know, she has offered an understanding of why it works, or how, so, that is always nice.  Understanding the where-to’s and what-for’s has always done the trick for me in remembering stuff.  So, go Lesa!  LOL
One of the areas I haven’t really learned yet in PS is ‘Smart Objects’.  Somewhere, I got the notion that they were some special trick that everyone but myself knew.  I caught that they were editable, but, I thought images already were if you saved the layers.  It depends on what you do to an image, I guess.  I learned how to use the ‘Adjustments’ on a separate layer so these could be turned off if desired.  But, I did wonder about ‘Filters’ and some other things on a separate layer.  That is exactly where Smart Objects rule!
Even if you are scared, like me, to try something new and tense-sounding, here is a super easy way to show you how they work.  I Googled ‘wild flowers’ and got the poppy image from Kyle Veldhouse.com. 
So, ready?
Open your image.  Right-click over the layer and click ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the menu.  This is necessary in order to be able to apply a non-destructive adjustment.  Next, go up to ‘Filters’-‘Blur’-‘Gaussian Blur’ and set it to the amount of blur you wish.  This will depend on your image.  For mine, I chose a setting of 3 point 4.  When you click ‘Okay’, look at the ‘Layers palette’.  Now, there is a layer beneath our image, with a mask.
You can see, in my screen shot, that there is a small circular black spot on the mask.  That is the next step.  Just select a soft round brush and be sure the foreground color is black.  By using black on my mask, I am ‘erasing’ the blur over just the red flower(even tho the filter is ‘below’ my image).  Zoom in close and get the details on the edges for a more realistic look.  By using a mask, if you make a mistake, just hit ‘X’ and the black and white will reverse.  ‘White reveals – black conceals’ the image the mask is applied to.  I’m not really erasing it.  I’m covering it up.  This is what I get.
Ta-da!  I’ve added the blur all over, except over the one red flower!  This is kind of a simplified technique, but, look at the possibilities now with the image.  Say, I later tired of so much blur.  All I have to go is go back to my image file(be sure to save it as a .PSD document).  I can click on the ‘Gaussian Blur’ layer and still make adjustments!  There is no need to keep a copy of my poppy image since I already have one in this file.  No adjustments what-so-ever have been applied directly to the image.  Rather, all the adjustments, filters, etc, are on separate layers. 

If you’re wondering what the attraction to all this is, the ultimate goal of Photoshop learning is to do all of your adjustments and fixes, to all your lovely photos and/or creations, non-destructively!  Having your tweeks and filters and all that stuff on separate layers from your image is so nice!  A prime example of needing this set-up is those times when you are half way through, say, a beautifully textured paper and you don’t like one part of it.  If you’ve Blurred it or applied any other ‘destructive’ technique to any part of what you are doing, it can’t be ‘undone’.  Not unless, that is, you just did it!  I have applied Gaussian Blur to different layers of something I’m working on so many times, it’s insane!  I had to delete that layer and go find the texture, or whatever, that I had, so, I can try a different filter or adjustment on it.  By doing things with Smart Objects, I would merely have to delete the filter layer and do another.

I realize this is but one teeny-tiny way that you can use Smart Objects, but, getting a good basic concept of how they work really does help!  I found that, after I grasped this concept, the rest of Lesa’s class made so much more sense to me!  I had no idea what Smart Objects were all about!  LOL

Give it a try!  If Smart Objects are new to you, too, you’ll begin to see the importance of using them.

I can’t leave without a little something for you all.  This is a set of six papers, grunged out, each bearing a different spooky, Hallowe’en-y symbol.  I did them just for fun and just for ya’ll.  I don’t know what you might use them for, but, do with them as you like.  The texture came from LostandTaken.com.  The symbols are shapes from ActionFX.com

Speaking of ActionFX.com, if you head on over there, right now, you can get a year of his super Photoshop goodies for $16.95!  Can you believe that price!  But, hurry, ’cause Al is getting the site all loaded up and refurbished, then, his prices will go up.  It’s worth it either way.  You name a pre-set, ie brushes, patterns, styles, actions, etc., Al has it – lots of it!  He caters, too, to the scrapbookers, as well.  There are tutorials, plus, he has a custom photography service that yields some beautiful pictures!  Oh, and his terms are that you can use use his stuff commercially.

I got side-tracked!  Sorry!  It’s just that Al is one Hell of a great guy!  LOL

Anyway!  Click on the preview to go to Minus.com to download the papers, if you like them!

Until next time…
Dance on into Autumn!
  Winter is on her way!

SU CheshireCat

Collab Freebies – Parts 3 and 4, Plus Links

Good Morning!  I trust your weekend was relaxing and that you are ready for the week.  It’s here!  It’s a Monday morning, both g-kids are home with me and another one is on the way.  The little one, my son’s son, is coming so his mommy can go to an appointment.  I’m slugging back my first cuppa and trying to get ready for the day.  You know how it is.  You’re ready ’cause you gotta be!  In hind sight, one may wonder why we put ourselves through such difficult times – three little kids, first thing on a Monday morn.  Well, it is rather like the song,  “The Dance”.  I might have missed some pain, but, then, I would have missed the ‘dance’.  Life is a dance.  We dance our little hearts out all our lives.  Sometimes, we try to avoid ‘bad weather’ and we hide in our shells.  Other times, we’re right out there, dancing in the rain, making the most out of a rainy day.  That is me.  It took me quite a few years as this is a learned attribute.  When you get older, you relish any dancing and try to withstand any inclement weather the best we can.  You roll with it.  That is when life becomes the best, to me.  I can choose to react to every situation with the same panicky anticipation, or, I can choose to pick my battles.  Life sure gets a lot easier when you do.
Alrighty, then!   Onward, I have some links to share with you.  How do ya’ll like vintage clip-art?  I found a website that has a ton of clip-art and it’s free.  Let me tell you.  The website is from the University of South Florida.  It is a part of Florida’s Educational Technology for educators.  From their site they, “provide digital content, professional development, and technical services supporting the appropriate integration of technology into K-12 and preservice education.”
The terms are that you may use up to 50 images at a time for educational purposes.
The screen shot above shows the 4 main categories, Clip Pix, Clip Art, Presentations and Maps.  The first two are self-explanatory.  So is Maps.  Presentations is neat!  They are designed for PowerPoint, but, there is an awesome collection of paper figures.  Here is an example:
What’s even nicer is they come in several sizes.  They’re ‘.TIFF’ files, which are supported by many programs.  I know you will be interested in the variety, as I was. In addition to the people clip art, there are frames, some Alphas and some PowerPoint templates.  There is bound to be something you can use.  Go give them a visit.
For a quick run through of some old standards worth paying a visit, let’s start with Atomic Cupcake.  Their new freebie is a ‘barely stamped’ action.
The Coffee Shop, has posted some new frames and storyboards.  Rita shows you how to get the most out of the frames, which come complete with a vintage texture.
Next, if you are into digitally mastered images, like DAZ and Poser, I have a link for you for very nicely done ‘stock’.  DeviantArt is an entity in and of itself, but, one stock provider I found, Cheyenne75 has an awesome collection.  The menu is down the left-hand side.  Be prepared for ‘creatures’, in that she has all kinds of aliens and unusual ‘monster-ish’ goodies.  I like this site with Halloween coming.  After all, where else are you going to find a ‘magic beanstalk’ or a ‘zombie dog’?
Another site, Made to Be Unique, is similar.  There, you can find all kinds of images, digitally produced, to help with designs.

If you’ve never considered this kind of stock, these folks have done a good job and their goodies are worth checking out.

The last one is a designer who keeps a DeviantArt website and a blog.  JustieJ and Just Creations are there for designers.  ‘Justie’ creates templates and Photoshop resources to make designing easier.  Both websites of hers have about the same stuff, though, it looks like many of the actual downloads are on the blog, Just Creations.  On the DeviantArt pages there are a lot of ‘cut-outs’, .png files for you to use.  Like this:
In addition to her wonderful designs, she also has an blog devoted to tutorials, Just Creations Tutorials.  There is quite a selection.   She teaches the details of light and shadows, plus, a lot of coloring or recoloring of elements.  One tutorial shows how to make a paper preview for one’s designs.  There is also a free pre-made template for it if you just don’t have the time.  Like this:
And, that is it for the links today.  But, I’m not done with you, yet!  Today is the second set of parts from my collaboration with Miss Edna’s Place, “Tropical Sunset”.  Last week you received the QP’s. Pts 1 and 2.  This week and next week, we’ll be giving away the scrapbooking papers and elements.  We each give two(2) parts each week, so, you should have four(4) parts today.  Though my previews indicate the elements separately from the papers, each part is a combination of both.  The first preview will take you to Pt. 3, and the second one is to Pt. 4.  Then, after that, you’ll see Miss Edna’s preview.  Click on it and you’ll get to her blog for her downloads.
 Part 3
Part 4
Miss Edna’s Place Preview
(click on preview to navigate to her blog)
Isn’t that awesome?!
(Note:  All of my past links are still active.)
I want to share a little something else, real quick.  I found the neat ‘ant’imation, below, at Crafted by Gina blog.  Gina does beautiful scrapbooking designs and has taken part in several blog trains.  A lot of the links are still active for the older posts, so, check those out.  All this is is a .GIF image.  You treat it like you would any image.  If you want to use it down in the siggy on your own blog, here’s how:
On Blogger, go to ‘Dashboard’;’Settings’;’Formatting’.  Down the page you’ll find a text box labeled, ‘Post Template’.  There, you paste the ‘HTML’ link that Photobucket, or any other host site, provides you.  Then, after you save, the very next post will have the ant, or any other little goodie you like for the siggy part.  I have two, right now, the ant and the Cheshire Cat.  I thought you all might be interested, so, that is how it is done.

PhotobucketRemember to keep smiling!Hugs, Su SU CheshireCat

Faerie-Nuf Folks’ 1st Ever Challenge QP Freebie

I stopped by my friend Minky’s website today.  I was looking for some positivity.  Naturally, I found it.  I love reading all the beautiful sayings and poetry on her sites.  Today, I lit upon some lovely berries on her page at Minky Things.  From there I read sweet things and saw impish little pixies and loads of pixie dust!  There was plenty to tickle my soul.  Click on the image below and it will take you to a page listing all of Minky’s sites. 
While I waas basking in the peace and serenity of Minky Things, I read that there was a challenge going on.  Minky gives you a little “Pixie” kit to use.  The challenge is to make a card, a layout, a QP, whatever your little heart desires, and post it on your own blog, sending Minky the link, by July 17th..  So, that is what I did!  
The time that I spent, nudging this and that around in Photoshop, was so therapeutic for me.  Everything has been really ‘touchy’ lately.  There hasn’t been very much harmony in my life.  A series of events, which culminated this past weekend within a group I belong to, seriously threatened my creativity and my peace.  I create to please no one but myself.  It’s always nice when someone says something good about a piece I’ve made.   But, it isn’t that important.  Not as important as what I made, how I felt when I made it and what, if anything, I walked away with, as far as peace of mind and soul.  I meditate while tinkering around with something like this.  So, whenever I create, or even work on a layout, it exhausts me.  It’s a very emotional thing for me.  My scrapbooking stuff is no exception, but, I do it so frequently, I pace myself and it works good.
I’m not going to go into any details; I am trying to get past it.  Suffice it to say that things were somewhat changed and it wasn’t conducive to my creativity, much less a peaceful soul.  Turning to my art when I need ‘me time’ was impossible because of the negativity that had become attached to it.  Thus, my visit to Minky Things.  I have quite a few ‘remedies’ for my depression which don’t come in a any bottle.  I do a lot of herbal and surround myself with positivity and happiness as often as possible.  I choose not to be unhappy.  I meditate and I read affirmations such as the ones on Minky’s sites.  It’s a conscientious effort that pays off for my well-being. 
I’m on the mend.  I feel so much better today than the past few days.  Here is what I made for the first ever “Faerie-Nuf Challenge…Pixies”  It’s a quick page you can download and use if you like.  Just click on the preview to go to Min.us.  No registration needed.
This quick page is for personal use only, please.  But, do feel free to take it.  I used the elements from Minky’s starter kit and some elements and the background from Angel Barbie-Marie.
Thank you, Minky!  I am so pleased to have you in my life!
Blessings to All,

SU CheshireCat