Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

This week I put up two older brush sets of mine, Shmootzy Acrylic Frames and Get Creative with Paint. I have to say that the Get Creative set is a favorite of mine because I love the effect of watercolor and with 74 brush pieces the possibilities are endless. If you add Illustrator into the mix, it gets even better!

Lately, I have been enjoying creating my own illustrator brushes for doodling on my wacom tablet so I got to thinking about pulling in some of the brush strokes in my Get Creative set, into Illustrator to make watercolor brushes. I think they turned out pretty good, although dark in a few places.

Want to learn how to create your own watercolor brushes in Illustrator? Let's go! If you want to play along with this tutorial, you can grab the finished illustrator brushset here.

First, open up a Photoshop file (I did 12x12x300 dpi). Load the Get Creative Brushset by choosing Load Brushes from the brush palette.

Once you have the brushes loaded, choose some of the brush strokes from the set and on a New Layer, arrange them vertically, spacing them out from one another….


Then save this file off as a jpg…


Now open up Illustrator and place that jpg file into your document using File > Place

Now that the file is place into Illustrator, let's Trace & Expand our artwork. Because the watercolor strokes have such detail to them, we can't just use the default tracing options… Instead (making sure you have selected the jpg image), let's choose Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options


This will bring up our Tracing Options dialog box. Check the box that says Preview so we can see how our options will affect the finished trace. Choose Color 16 from the drop down menu for our Preset and click Trace. This is what it will look like. It doesn't look as smooth as in Photoshop but the watercolor detail will be there. If I did it again, I may play around and try and lighten up the dark spots because when we draw with these in Illustrator some of the spots are too dark.


These are traced but not expanded… click on the Expand button in the palette at the top of Illustrator.


Then UnGroup

Wait, we are not quite done… don't forget to select a white area on your brush (any white area), and choose >Select > Same Fill & Stroke and hit Delete. This will clear away any unwanted white areas.


Okay, now let's create our brushes!

Select the first stroke and then from the brushes palette in Illustrator click on that little down arrow and choose New Brush


Choose New Art Brush and click OK


In the Art Brush window, make sure to name your brushes and check the following…


Proportional, flip along the vertical and horizontal axis and make sure to choose Tints and Shades from the Colorization drop down menu. This is so that when you start doodling, your strokes will be in color.

Click OK. Do this for all the brush strokes that you want.

Once you have the finished brushes, hold down your Shift key and select them all, then from the Brush palette, choose >Save Brush Library. Give your brushes a name you'll remember and put them into the Brushes folder in Illustrator. Next time you want them, they will show up in your Brush Library for easy access.

It seems a bit tedious and alot of little steps, but the in end it is worth it because you can create your own brushes that don't look like anyone elses! Get out your favorite pens, markers and brushes and get scanning! It's so much fun.

Here is a few swirls and strokes that I made with my new watercolor brushes. These are also included in the download file that accompanies this tutorial..


ETA: Okay! So the dark parts were really bugging me! LOL! I went in and edited the brushes and instead of choosing Tints & Shades from the Colorization drop down menu, I chose just Tints and it really lightened up the overall affect. I like this softer look better, but you may like it the other way. Here is what it looks like lightened up…


Screen shot 2011-03-05 at 12.46.17 PM

Have a great weekend!



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Shmootzy (another word for messy!) frames are so much fun. You can use them as frames or tuck them behind photos, use as a space for journaling or even as masks. You can combine them with other frames, artwork or masks to make some really unique frames of your own!

I'll show you how I created the frame below, by combining all 8 of my new Shmootzy Romance Frames

Nrj-shmootzyframes-600 First, open up a small workspace in Photoshop and you can either open up all the .png files that came with the Shmootzies and then drag them over onto your workspace (remember to hold down the shift key to center), OR you can load the brushset (.abr) and individually stamp them, either on their own layers or one on top of the other, rotating and resizing, until you get the effect you want.

For my combo frame, I just dragged all the .png files and then centered them, or rotated them until I had this organic and interesting looking thing below!

Screen shot 2011-01-25 at 4.42.47 PM

Screen shot 2011-01-25 at 4.43.26 PM
Put all your layers into a group. We are going to make a cutout in the center of this graphic so you can actually use it as a frame (but if you want it as a mask you could always leave it alone or further embellish the center).

Next, make a Layer Mask for the Group. Load up some solid square brushes, grungy brushes, or paint strokes. For this example, I loaded my Polaroid Transfer Mask brushes. I picked a square brush and a solid black paint color and "stamped" in the center of my Layer Mask, where I wanted the cutout to appear.

Screen shot 2011-01-25 at 4.57.37 PM

Screen shot 2011-01-25 at 4.58.05 PM

Screen shot 2011-01-25 at 4.58.20 PM
And that's it! Save your frame as a brush, or .png file or make more! It's fun to play around and come up with unique creations of your own!

Don't forget you can download my finished frame here.

Have a great night!


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What is an Art Journal? This morning, I found this definition on Wicktionary….

art journal (plural art journals)

  1. A collection of words and images in a diary that chronicles the ideas, memories, and thoughts of an artist. Pages within an art journal include words, pictures and even embellishments.

Basically, it can be anything you want it to be… it is like a journal but is very expressive & theraputic because you are working in whatever medium you want. I just started taking Roben-Marie's wonderful Mixed Media Mayhem class and I love her style! She is so fun and free-flowing and experimental. She works in mixed-mediums like gesso, charcoal, pen, and mostly spray water washes by Adirondack. The results are gorgeous layers of color. If you have time, check it out!

For today's tutorial, we are going to be creating an art journal digitally using Christine (Fiddlette Designs) and I's new Journal Your Art Out kit! This is first in a series of kits dedicated to the art of Art Journals. It's so fun & truly something to do for yourself — to have fun experimenting and playing, digitally of course! Ready? Let's Go!

First, let's open up a background to play with… you can choose whatever you want, but I chose my background 2 from the kit.


Next, load up your brushes. We'll be loading up the charcoal drawings & jumbo stamped alpha set from Journal your Art out.

Artjournal2 Artjournal3

Find some flower stems and circles and begin to stamp out whatever design you want!

This is what I settled on….


I tend to make a new layer in Pshop each time I stamp so I can move stuff around and play until I like what I see. As you stamp, just hold down Shift+Command (Ctrl for PC) +N each time before you stamp to put each image on new layers.

Next, open up some of the painted bits circles from the kit…I dragged each of these circles individually to just behind the charcoal circles on my art journal.


Do the same with some of the painted bit hearts…I used the hearts as leaves on my flower stems…


Okay, at this stage, go ahead and save your art journal page before we proceed (just to be safe in case you have an unstable Mac computer like I have! LOL)

Next, we will be using some of the masks and mask outlines included in the kit. Go ahead and open up the .png sheets for both …

Artjournal9  Artjournal10

Then open up Christine's painted background CAH_houseRECTANGLE1.png.

Next, select the angel wing from the mask sheet and copy and paste it over to the painted background.

Drag your angel wing mask (Layer 1) underneath the background layer (Layer 0) and create a clipping mask by holding down Alt/Option and clicking between the layers in the Layers palette. You'll know you are on the right track because you will see two circles with a left arrow. Then you'll see a down left arrow on the painted background layer and your image of a wing will be clipped. Note: You can also create a clipping mask by going to Layers>Create Clipping Mask (or hold down Alt/Option & Command G).

Feel free to move your painted background layer around to play with what parts of it will peek through on your wing. This is the experimental part and it's really fun! Feel free here to also paint or stamp on your wing in your own style…


Once you get the look you want, Merge Down the layer so you are left with a perfectly decorated wing!



Drag your wing over to your art journal page. I placed mine next to my flower stem, making it look like a giant leaf. I also copied and pasted over the coordinating charcoal line outline and placed it over top of the wing. Additionally, I repeated these steps to add a flower to my second circle & stem as well as a star.


Next, I added a title, using the jumbo stamped alpha, varying the letter size and added some journaling.

To finish up, I played with the levels to saturate my background a bit and burned up the edges…

The key with any kind of art journaling is to make it your own. Fill it with your own style, thoughts & journaling. It is a fun way to journal but also I've found that for me, it's very theraputic — whether I'm using my paints or my computer.

If you'd like to download this finished art journal page of mine, you can download it here (6 MB).




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Hi there! I have got two new products up this week at CatScrap. I made some fun wordart called StoryStarts Vol.1 : The Real Story. In addition, I've put up my latest PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Overlays. These are Vol. 11 and they are based on some painted backgrounds I created. I have also put up two previous PDQ collections: Volume 9:Altered and Volume 10: Collage.

When I first created this series of overlays, I meant for them to be used by scrapbookers as a way to quickly come up with a solid color background for their pages. When I paper scrapped, I always had a stack of colored Bazzil papers that I used as a background for my layout. This was the thought behind making these — only instead I wanted to give the scrapper a solid color background with a bit of distressing and texture. As I began to create more, I had professional designers requesting them to use in creating their own papers, so I began to make them CU (Commercial Use) friendly.


I made this video tutorial for my scrapper friends to show them that my PDQ Overlays are not just for commercial use and how you can quickly and easily create a rich coordinating background paper for your layouts.

I hope you enjoy it!



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Halloween Decal Fun!


I recently found a website that sells paper that you run through your inkjet or laser printer to make clear decals to use on glassware, candles, soap, wood, etc. The possibilities for making cool crafts and home decor projects are endless! The website is called DecalPaper.Com. They even sell waterslide tatoo paper  — I think I see a handcrafted "tat" in my future… tee hee

I ordered their Inkjet Clear Waterslide Decal Paper and today created some fun Halloween candles and treat jars for the house using my Oct. 31 brushset. It's alot easier than it looks, come on I'll show you how I did it…


First print out your decals on the waterslide paper, making sure your print is on the glossy side of the paper. Then using Acrylic Crystal Clear High Gloss spray, spray your decals with about 2-3 coats. Allow to dry for about an hour before the next step.

Cut out your designs and for each project, soak your decal in a tub of water for about a minute, or until the decal begins to slide off the backing on the paper. Take the decal and put it on your glassware or candle. Use a clean, dry cloth to gently get all the air bubbles out. If it begins to dry and tear, wet the cloth slightly and go back over it.



Make sure you don't put the decal on anything that touches food. These dried completely pretty quickly – about an hour. I am not sure about putting the glassware in the dishwasher – I think I'll just wash them by hand. Also, I think to be safe, I may not burn the candles! LOL! I will have to check the DecalPaper site to see if this is okay.



Have fun!


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Hello! Happy Friday to you!

Today, I have a fun tutorial, and a freebie for you. It's about creating your own brushes in Illustrator. The reason it is great to do this in Illustrator is the next time you pick up your pen to draw on your Wacom, you'll have some nicely textured and realistic doodles!

First, grab your favorite medium, whether it is art marker, crayon, charcoal, etc and draw some strokes on a piece of paper. Using varying widths and lengths. Try and make them a bit straighter but otherwise feel free to make them your own.

For our tutorial today, I used a black art marker, charcoal pencil and some of my Micron pens. I scanned them into my computer as a greyscale jpg and then opened them in Illustrator…

Next, with my brush scan jpg selected, I chose Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options.


You'll get a dialog box telling you the file is large and it may take a while to trace, click OK.


Next, in the Tracing Options box, select Preview and then choose a tracing preset that best fits the style of your brush strokes. I always have the best luck with Black and White Logo or Detailed Drawing. The nice thing about selecting Preview is you can go through the drop down menu and see what each preset looks like.


Then at the very top menu, you'll see a button that says "Expand". Click on that to finish your tracing.


Once your scan has been outlined and expanded we need to clean it up a bit.

At this point even though everything has been traced and is vector, it is still grouped and has a white background behind the image. First, choose Object > Ungroup


Then select the white image background behind your image and hit Delete to remove it.

One more thing to clean up. When we scan and outline we sometimes have white areas that remain in our vector images. Select a white fill area anywhere in your drawing.


Then choose Select > Same > Fill Color.


You'll see all the white areas are active. Hit Delete to remove these.

That's it – we are all cleaned up and vectorized and ready to make some Art Brushes!

Before we do, please save your Illustrator file!


Okay, the process for making Art brushes is the same for each of our strokes.

First, select your first brush stroke

Then from the Brush Palette, we want to choose New Brush


Select New Art Brush and click OK


In the Art Brush Options box, name your brush, choose the direction going to the right, and select it to flip on both axes. Lastly, from the color method, choose Tint. This is in case you want to draw in color, it will color your brush strokes.

The Proportional setting varies your brush width depending on the size of your drawing. I like to leave this unchecked and then choose the stroke width manually. But it's a matter of preference.


Repeat these steps for each of your strokes.

Then when you are done, select all the strokes in your brush palette.


And choose > Save Brush Library


Name your file and save it into your Illustrator Brush Folder


The next time you are doodling your heart out, open up your saved brushes this way.

Go to your Brush Palette and from the right arrow choose, Open Brush Library


From the extended menu, choose User Defined and there you will find your brushset!


Once your brushes are loaded into your Illustrator workspace, just select the one you want to work with and begin to draw! Feel free to change the brush stroke width as you work to get the look you want.

For this tutorial, I've included some doodles I made from my brushes for you (in .abr and .png) as well as the original strokes in Photoshop and Illustrator so you can play along and discover how to make your own Art brushes in Illustrator.



I'd love to see how you are creating your own brushes in Illustrator and any tips if you have them. One thing that I hate when I do create my own brushes is that any place that my strokes overlap, especially if the stroke is wider, I get a white space. If anyone knows how to fix this, let me know!

Illustrator Tutorial 1 (2.0 MB)

Have fun!


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I love Fall! I know I say this every autumn, but September seems to always roll around in a heartbeat and there it is again! Glorious, gorgeous, sun-drenched, COOL fall. Is it a coincidence that September is also my birthday month? I'm not sure,  but I know I feel most alive when the fall temps hit and the leaves begin to turn. All the good things come with fall too… crisp, sweet apples, cider & donuts, back-to-school and did I mention the donuts? 🙂

Along with all that goodness come the colors of Fall and in Michigan we are really blessed with some of the most beautiful fall color around! This year, though, fall is late, darn-it! With the unseasonal warm temps, the leaves are having a hard time turning. And if they turn, the colors aren't rich enough for me — so I thought I'd "Photoshop Fall"! Wanna join me? (If you want to play along, you can download the original scanned leaf (leaf1.png) as well as two other leaves here. (10 MB)

I found this leaf in my front yard and even though the colors were pretty, I wanted to brighten it up a bit.


Besides being in love with this time of year, I also have fallen in love with a website called Lost and Taken. It is the creation of Caleb
Kimbrough. Caleb is a freelance photographer and cook who creates some really gorgeous (and high quality) textures. The best part he not only gives these beautiful textures away for free but he allows you to use them in your commercial work. As long as you don't try to package and resell them and that you not host them on your site, he is okay with that. Pretty cool, eh? While you are there, why not donate to the site? It's good karma especially since he is kind enough to give them away.

I ended up downloading two textures from Lost and Taken, a greenish-gold background and a bright orange with some great folds in it.


Next, I opened up the leaf1.png file and dragged the first green-gold background on top of my leaf. Using Option (Alt) G I created a clipping mask. Then I used a small circular eraser and erased the part over the stem. In the Layers palette I used an Overlay blend mode at 100% opacity.


and this is what it looked like….


Nice, huh?

But I really wanted it to look like it was on fire – like in October when the whole world is red and gold and green and burnt orange, you know? {btw, if you live in Southern California or somewhere in the Tropics, I apologize! 🙂 LOL! }

So I dragged over the orange texture on top of the green  and enlarged it. Again, I erased the parts over the stem) and used Opt-G to make a clipping mask.

Using an opacity of 65% and a linear burn made the leaf really pop!


Last, but not least, I used the burn tool and a round feathered brush and burned in to the leaf's veins to make them more pronounced.


The end result is a bright, beautiful red-ish leaf!


But I'm not done yet! I want some of the greenish-yellow of my original leaf to show in the red. To do this, I created a layer mask on my topmost layer (the orange texture layer) and, using a small grunge brush in black, I "erased" away some of the layer to let the other colors show through.. mostly around the edges of the leaf.




Again, if you want to download all three leaves, in .png format, plus the grunge brush, you can do so here.

Happy Fall!

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Picture 3

Today I created a digital collage piece called "Dream". I used several photos of textures and things I've taken over the past year as well as two of my ScrapArtStarts using Watermark Resist. I captured the process into a video that you can view on My YouTube Channel. If you would like to subscribe to my channel, I'm planning on making more how-to videos and fun things there.

And, if you'd like to download the finished collage piece, you can do so here (5 mb)


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I made this little "Dream Box" using my new paints and some of my FancyPants Roadshow rubons. I just started a mixed media class with Claudine Hellmuth at BPS and it is amazing! She has several video tutorials each week and some extra class projects which inspired me to create this box.

My creative juices started yesterday when I got this box from UPS with all my goodies for Claudine's class!

Next I went to Michael's and got this little wooden treasure box to work with. I got all my painting supplies out, including my Roadshow Rubons from Fancy Pants.

I covered the box with gesso, letting it dry for a few hours. This is not necessary but just like priming when you paint a wall, it gives you better coverage with the color.

Next, I watched Claudine's video on beginning paint mixing and downloaded her PDF paint mixing chart. I mixed up two colors… a bright green and a soft blue…

I painted the bottom part of the box with the green and the top with the blue, letting it dry overnight.

This morning, I got out my rubons and cut them out with scissors. Using a wooden stick, I transferred the rubons onto my box on the sides and top…

The trick with using rubons, especially on wood, is to go slowly and hold them in place. You can tell that the image has been transferred because it will appear lighter (as it does on the right side of this rub)….

When I was all done, I picked a goldish brown chalk ink and went around the edges of the box to give it a slightly aged look.

And that's, it! The possibilities are endless with paint…and that's why I love it!

If you would like to try your hand at this technique, post here over on the ScrapArtist Blog with a link to your project by next Friday (midnight). I'll send ONE lucky random winner my Roadshow rub-ons as well as a few other Fancy Pants Roadshow goodies.

Have a great weekend!

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Picture 1

I am so excited about this new website called Little Light Studios! The brainchild of Kayla Aimee Terrell and Wilna Furstenberg, the site offers online classes and inspiration for scrapping, paperarts and photography!

This month, I've created a companion brush set for Kayla's Photo Editing class as well as a tutorial on how to use my Polaroid Transfer Masks. You can check it all out here!

I have been on such a class-taking kick lately. I just finished up Kayla's  Bling Your Blog workshop and it was amazing. I learned so much and even did a little coding on my blog. I am not done "blinging" it yet but I like the overall result so far.

Right now, I am taking Kelly Rae Robert's Flying Lessons online seminar and I love it! She is covering all the ways artists can and should be promoting themselves. This weeks's lesson is about time management, which I really need!

Next month, I'm getting out my paint brushes and acrylics to take a mixed media class with Claudine Helmuth over at Big Picture Scrapbooking! I can't wait for it!! It starts July 1.

We just got back from vacation and my little Ellie is sick, so I'm not sure how much class taking I'll be doing today….


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