“The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out” – Freebie and Tut

Greetings, All!  I’m back to share a little more gross-ness with ya for the spooky holidays coming up!  If you saw the QP’s for this month’s freebie, “Goth-n-Gore”, last week, one of them had a dirt background with grub worms crawling throughout.  I meant to include just the background in the kit, but, I forgot it.  So, I am going to go ya one better!  I will give it to you here, plus, I’ll show you how I made it, complete with resources!

Here is a preview of the QP’s from last week’s post:

Click on image to visit post.

Here is a preview of the ‘dirt’ texture I made:

The ‘grubs’ are from an ‘.ASL’ file from Sonarpos at DeviantArt.   Here is a preview of what it looks like:

Here is a zip of the texture and the pattern:


And, finally, the tutorial for the wormy-dirt background!

1 – In Photoshop, open the 3600X3600px ‘Dirt Texture’ from above.  Load the ‘.PAT’, Pattern, file.

2 – Create a ‘New File Document’ at 3600X3600px, 300DPI, RGB, Transparent Background.  Copy and paste the ‘Dirt Texture’ into this ‘new doc’.

3 – Create a ‘New Layer’ in the Layers Palette and fill it with the ‘Worm’ pattern.  I increased the ‘Size’ of the pattern to 200% for a better look.  This pattern is not seamless, but, since we are only showing several of the worms, it won’t matter.  Just avoid any ‘lines’ where the patterns don’t match.

4 – Slip the ‘Worm’ layer down underneath the ‘Dirt Texture’.

5 – Add a Layer Mask to the ‘Dirt Texture’ layer.

(A Layer Mask is white when you first apply it.  The image it is fully visible.  By painting over it with black, it ‘erases’ those parts of the Dirt Texture the mask is on.  This allows the image/pattern beneath to show through.  The beauty of masks is that, if you mess up, simply paint back over the area with white and start again!)

6 – Lower the Opacity of the ‘Dirt’ layer enough to see the Worms underneath.

7 – Click on the Mask to activate it.  With a soft brush, using black, ‘paint over’ several of the worms to expose them.  I lowered the ‘opacity’ of my brush to 15% to let the worms peek through gradually.  Brush over the lighter areas more than the darker areas, following the highlights and shading of the worm pattern.  You can vary the strokes to achieve a more random look.  It will appear as though the ‘worms’ are coming through the soil.

8 – Raise the Opacity of the Dirt Texture layer back to 100%.

9 – Add any enhancements or adjustments to the overall image, merge the layers and save!  That’s it!

Finally, here is one background I made if you don’t want to make this yourself.  Click on image to save it full size.  It is 3600x3600px @ 1.6mb.

I hope you understand my directions.  If not, post a comment and I will get back to you.  Have fun!





Burn and Dodge ‘Non-Destructively’ Tutorial

It has been some time since I posted any kind of tutorial.  I think it is time.  I’ve been using a technique. lately, that I learned recently.  It is a tutorial for using the ‘Dodge’ and ‘Burn’ tools easily and ‘non-destructively’.  The goal in Photoshop, ideally, is to effect ‘non-destructive’ editing.  That is when all of the filters and adjustments are on separate layers, thus, making the editing of those layers a snap.  This is so that one can save the .PSD file and come back to it at a later time and still be able to affect changes to it.  Clear as mud, right?  LOL 
When one uses the ‘Burn’ tool, it affects the actual layer.  It darkens, or ‘burns’, the image layer, so that, if you changed your mind later, you would have to re-upload that image and start over.  For this reason, I seldom used either of these tools.  Supposedly, if you add too much ‘Burn’, you can undo it by going over it with ‘Dodge’.  It never looks right, though!  It’s hard to ‘Dodge’ over the same exact spots as the ‘Burn’, as well.  
With this technique, all of your ‘Burn’ and ‘Dodge’ effects are on their own layer, not the image layer.  When you use either of these tools, you can’t get any results by applying them to the empty layer just above the desired layer.  Unless, that is, that layer is filled.  Fill it with ‘Edit’ > ‘Fill’ > ‘50% Grey’ and change the blending mode to ‘Overlay’.  It will be as good as invisible.  Yet, when you apply ‘Burn’ and/or ‘Dodge’ to it, they will show up just as if you applied them to the image layer itself.  Try it!
Here are a couple of screen shots to show what I mean.  I’m using some vintage frames from Star Sunflower Studios, “CU4CU Frames 5 Freebie”, available HERE.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to ‘age’ one a little more with the ‘Burn’ tool.
Here is what I start out with:(I am using CS5 for this tutorial)

While the layer I want to ‘Burn’ is highlighted/selected, click on the ‘New Layer’ tab at the bottom of the Layers Palette.

Go to ‘Edit’ > ‘Fill’ > ‘50% Grey’.

When the box pops-up, select ‘50% Grey’.

You will see this:

This is when you need to change the blending mode to ‘Overlay’.

And, voila!  Good as invisible!

But, as you see, because the frame is transparent, the ‘Grey’ is showing in the blank spaces surrounding it.  We need to clip the Gray layer onto the frame with a ‘Clipping Mask’.  Right-click over the Gray layer and select ‘Create Clipping Mask’.

This is what you end up with:

It looks just like it did when we started!  Yet, look at the Layers Palette.  Now, we have an invisible Grey layer in there and that is where we are going to add the ‘Burn’ and ‘Dodge’.  After selecting the ‘Burn’ tool, go up to the Menu Bar and set the ‘Range’ to Mid-tones and the ‘Exposure’ to 10% to start out.  
With a soft brush around 200px, burn around the edges, or where ever you wish to add the burn.  Here is just a wee example:

This isn’t a real good example, but, you can see that the ‘Burn’ tool worked great on the Gray layer.  Zoom in on the above image and see how the Gray layer is ‘Burnt’.  I simply ran it around the edge.  If you don’t like the results, delete that layer and create a new Gray layer.  Easy-peasy!  The ‘Dodge’ tool works, as well, though, I only added a little bit right in the middle of the frame.  Give it a whirl and see what you think!  If you use these two tools to add shading and highlighting to an image, this will give you a little more leeway.  Try different blending modes on the Gray layer, or leave it on ‘Overlay’.  You could even duplicate the Gray layer several times to get a heavier effect.  This image is with the Gray layer duplicated only once:

The original ‘Frame’ layer is completely intact, too!  We haven’t touched it.  If you save this file, as is, with the layers not merged, in .PSD format, you can return to it at any time and change any part of it to adapt to your needs.  Change the color, using the ‘Adjustment Layer’ feature, also at the bottom of the Layers Palette.  Those adjustments go to their own layer right above where you need it.  Here, I added a violet color adjustment layer with an ‘Hue’ blending mode applied to it.

I got this:

Font:  KingThings – ‘Willow’

Cool, huh?  LOL  And, if I ever need a green label, it’s simple a matter of turning off the violet color layer and adding a new ‘Color Adjustment Layer’ for my choice of green.  I can change any part of it!  This will certainly be useful for photo-manipulations, particularly, if you are having problems getting the light right.  You can try it out on a Gray layer until you get the results you like. 
I know that there are other ways to go about every thing I have shown you here.  There are keystrokes that could be used and other ways to ‘Fill’ a layer.  But, to try to keep this short enough so as to prevent ‘Novel-length’ status, I leave them out, this time.  See what I made?  I needed one for my blog, anyway.  I moved all of my ‘blinkies’ to their very own page and need a new button to click on to get there.

I hope this is understandable.  If you have any questions, please, do not hesitate to ask in the comments below.  Be sure to stop by Star Sunflower Studios and get your own set of these frames.  By the way, there is a PS Shape in the file with the frames, too.  Say “Hi” to Sü for me!  LOL
FYICommon ‘Umlaut’ letters:Type ‘Alt’, then, the number combination.Alt + 129 = ü
Alt + 137 = ë
Alt + 148 = ö
Now, when ya’ll go see Sü, you can impress her by typing her name in the comments as she does!  LOL
I have a freebie in the works.  It will be up in a day or so.  Also, don’t forget Monday, Miss Edna and I come out with our February freebie.  It’s purdy!  LOL
Until then…
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

A Freebie Gift & a Couple of Tips

Wow!  Two posts, back-to-back! LOL  I have several things I have been wanting to get posted, so, I thought I better do just that!  There are a couple of tips that I want to share with you and there is the matter of a little gift that I have been promising for over a month.  I wanted to make something that was truly Suruha.  I did.  LOL  I guarantee there is not another like it online!  The only thing I wish is that I could give you these things for real.  The folks that come here say the kindest things and I appreciate it.  I don’t expect it, so, it is so nice when someone leaves a kind word.  Those of you who left messages when I was out, I thank you.  It really means a lot to me.  Thank you!

I’m going to jump right in here.  Did you know that the “Color Range” feature in Photoshop can help you in extracting something from an image?  Well, it can!  LOL  I use CS3, but, other program versions surely have a similar feature.  In CS3, it is located under the “Select” menu.  Anyway, click on “Color Range” and a box pops-up.  Typical PS!

I whipped up a simple greeting to show you what I mean.  Feel free to copy it and follow along.

Say that I want to remove the orange background and keep just the text and flourishes.  There are several tools in Photoshop that will help remove a large background expanse such as this one.  The “Lasso” and “Quick Select” come to mind.  But, the hard part is selecting the spaces in and among the swirls and leaves of the ornaments.  By using the “Color Range” feature, you can eliminate all of the color you don’t want. 

 Open the “Color Range” box.

Your cursor will turn into an eye dropper for you to sample anywhere on the orange color.  The sample tells PS what color to select.

 If there were several shades of orange, you would hold down the “Shift” key as you sample all of the shades of that color.  

When you select a color, that part of the preview will turn white everywhere that is ‘selected’.  
You can adjust the “Fuzziness” if you like.  This feature will cause the selected area to go from sharper to a little blurry, it looks like to me.  Anyway, around 60 is usually good.  Play with it and see.
Click on “OK”.
Every place that is orange will now be high-lighted with marching ants.  This means it is selected.  Click on “Delete” and watch all the orange disappear.

Easy-Peasy!!  LOL  If you wanted to remove another color, simple repeat, but, click on that color.  This feature works really good for extracting a tree from it’s background, providing the background is a different color.  Or, if you want to actually change the color, still using my example, after all the orange is selected and I’ve clicked “OK” on the “Color Range” box, just open an adjustment layer to the color settings of your choice.  (The “Adjustment Layer” button is the half-black half-white circle at the bottom of the “Layers Palette”.)  When you click “OK”, all of the orange will be the new color.  There’s another little tip for you to store away.  You may even use it one day!  LOL
Next, did you ever want to link to a site in someone’s comments and didn’t know how?  All there is to it is one small bit of code.  The code is in red, the URL and the Text will be yours:
The ‘URL’ is, of course, the address of the site to go to.  For the text, you would type the name of the site or some other bit of text.  Here is how it should look if I wanted to link to my blog:

It ends up looking like this in the comment:

My Blog
(Click it, if you like.  It will just bring you back here.  LOL)

 And, that is all there is to it!  Be sure to include the apostrophe(‘) before and after the URL.  The words “My Blog” are all that will show when done, but, those words will be clickable to my blog.  You can use this in typing a comment on someone else’s blog or website, where you want to direct the folks to some place else.  This code will work in almost any place where HTML code is used.  (I had to post the code examples as images since they were code.  It wouldn’t show up if they were typed in text.  All you would see is “My Blog”, because the code would take effect.)

I have been promising a gift for you all for forever!  LOL  There really is a gift!  I finally got it finished up for you.  It started out to be my contribution to the monthly Gothic Inspirations blog train.   For the month of February, Jessica gave the theme and the colors for a CU freebie.  What ever we made had to be CU friendly.  I started out with her color scheme, but, after missing the deadline, I put it all on hold.  When I returned and went to wrap it up, I found myself leaning towards the colors in this month’s freebie collaboration with Miss Edna, “My Fair Lady”, that we began posting yesterday.  I used a lot of the same pinks and light greenish-blues, as well as some other colors. 

If you folks are anything like me, you love keeping a diary, saving little ephemera from special days.  (I have every card my children ever gave me!)  I’ve always used some kind of book for posting my ‘secret stash’.  My own personal diary is always a work in progress, with papers and other tid-bits stuck between it’s pages all haphazardly.  I love it that way, though.  When I open up my diary, all of those ‘stashed’ items fall out and I have to handle them, thus, looking at them.  LOL  They send me on a little sentimental journey.  It’s just one of my ‘cheap thrills’.  LOL
My diary is actually a bound “Journal” book.  I’ve used spiral calendar books, as well.  The bound books come in lots of colours and have pages that are lined so I can write neater.  There is a ribbon attached for a page marker, like I need one.  I can find almost anything in those pages, because I only post special stuff.  If I wanted to gripe about something or blow off steam, there are other ways.  My diary is a kind and gentle, happy place.  I try to keep it like that.  Who wants to pick up a book and find it full of misery?  Some day, my children may read it.  I want there to be happy memories.  It may not be the prettiest thing they have ever seen, but, it will be nice.
When making this gift, I put together some ‘diary’ pages for you.  They are all old-fashioned fancy-schmancy, gaudy as hell, and all that good stuff.  LOL  They’re done up as though I put together whatever was handy at the time – a scrap of pretty stationary, a pretty picture that I like, a fancy decoration or ornament I found, a bit of lace and pearls, etc.  I include some embellishments for you to decorate your pages with.  I also put in some pretty patterned ‘notes’ papers with fancy trims.  Feathers.  Yup!  Feathers!  LOL  Not all feathers, just on one.  You’ve got to check it out.  It isn’t full-size or tagger-size, but, everything was made based on full-sized.  None of it matches and there aren’t any specific pieces, except for the “diary” pages and the notes papers.  There are a few scrapbooking pages, some simple silk to show off your writing.  Throughout, there are a few scattering of hearts, since this month is Valentine’s Day.  Everything is done vintage, so, it will appeal to many.  Since I made it all, you can use it for anything you want!  There are a few clip-art pieces from the internet, but, these particular ones are so universal, attributing credit to someone is all but impossible.   Believe me, I looked!  That being said, if I am wrong about any of them and they do belong to you, please, let me know.

There are 4 separate links.  They range from 40 to 50 mbs each, so, they’re pretty hefty.  The files don’t have that much in them; it’s just because everything is huge!  I make everything BIG.  I figure you can always resize it down.  I resized nearly everything in the preview way down.  In the files, everything is larger.

Here ya go!  I hope you enjoy!



Novelty Papers


I still have more to share, but, I have to get up.  I’ve sat too still for too long and I’m stiff.  Have fun with this stuff!  Add to it, throw in some of your own favorite goodies.  I “collect” odds and ends online, even, and have some of them in a few of my Photo accounts.  This is sort of like that stuff, only I can use this in my art, on my blog, in a layout, and even print it out.  So, Thank You!




SU CheshireCat