Five Photoshop Elements Tips

by Lain Ehmann on November 24, 2010

As a scrapbooker, I’ve learned a few quick tips about using Photoshop Elements (or PSE) for creating photo-based gifts. Here are five tips to help make your digital photo projects more creative and fast:

1. Save the original image! Don’t overwrite your original, even if you think you’ll never want to use that photo of your with your eyes closed, or with the clashing colors of your daughter’s dress and the flowers she’s carrying. Do a “save as” command and create a copy to work with. Then you can experiment at will without worrying about destroying an heirloom.

2. Learn the basics. Knowing just a few things — like how to create layers, convert to black and white, remove red eye, open a new file, etc. will help you get your sea legs. Then you can focus on one project at a time, learning more as you go. There are so many cool things you can do and effects you can apply that it can seem really overwhelming. But if you stick with a project approach, you’ll implement your new skills right away. (Note: a great resource for photo effects is Renee Pearson’s ebook from Ella Publishing, Special Effects for Digital Photos. It’s only $5.99 and it’s chockfull of great tips, project by project.)

3. Have fun! Set aside time to experiment and try new things. If you are under a strict deadline, you’ll be stressed out, things won’t go smoothly, and ¬†you’ll resent the whole process. It’s definitely a case of Murphy’s Law: When you need things to go smoothly, they won’t. But if you play around when you’re not under a deadline, you’ll have the time of your life!

4. Use more than photos. I like to incorporate my kids’ artwork into my scrapbook pages and other projects. I scan in their original pieces, size them using PSE, and add them to scrapbook layouts, cards, and more. It’s a fun way to make my creations a little more personal. I love how I can intensify the color, change to black and white, cut elements of the drawing, and more. It made my kids really proud when I used their drawings for our Christmas card a few years ago! You can also scan in memorabilia like tickets, notes, napkins, matchbooks… the sky’s the limit!

5. Use it to create on the go. I am a dedicated scrapbooker, but I can’t always tote my whole scraproom with me! In fact, I began digital scrapbooking with PSE when we were moving cross-country and all my boxes were packed. I was thrown into the fire — I had to learn to digi scrap, and fast, or face a few months without scrapbooking (unthinkable!). As a result, while I wouldn’t consider myself an “expert,” I now have enough mad digi skills to keep myself from withdrawal when I’m away from my scrapbook stash. Here’s one fo the pages I created using Photoshop Elements and a variety of digital scrapbooking supplies:

While I’m a paper-and-glue type of girl, I love the versatility and speed that Photoshop Elements provides me — not only does it make me a better photographer (by allowing me to adjust color, lighting, and focus), it also makes me a better scrapbooker!

P.S. I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Adobe blogging program, making me eligible to receive a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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