Creating a Dreamy Photo Look in Photoshop

A wonderful technique for softening the look of your photos and reducing the effect of blotchy skin is to use the diffuse glow filter in Photoshop. You can take advantage of this wonderful filter to make a dramatic change, or just a subtle adjustment.
Firstly open the photo you wish to apply the filter to. You may wish to save it as (File>Save As – remember to rename the file when you save) a new file to preserve the original. For the purpose of this article we will work with this photo.


To apply the filter, go to the Filter menu > Distort > Diffuse Glow (Note: that your background colour on your colour swatches must be set to white for this to work effectively.)


You may need to adjust the zoom settings on the bottom left of the window to enable you to view enough of your image in the window provided.

By adjusting the Graininess, Glow Amount and Clear Amount you can experiment with the settings to get the desired effect, depending on how dramatic a change you would like to achieve. I usually like to make the change a little more dramatic and fine tune the changes by using the Fade setting in the Edit menu. Once you are happy with the result, click on OK.


As mentioned above you can fine tune the changes by using the Fade Diffuse Glow option in the edit menu. This option is no longer available once you make any further adjustments to the image, so should be done immediately upon applying the Diffuse Glow filter.


You can fine tune the Diffuse Glow settings by using the Opacity slider. Doing it this way enables easier control of the effects and allows you to better see how the adjustments effect the image.


In this instance I reduced the opacity by 69%. You may prefer a different setting depending on your image and how you applied the filter originally.

It is also possible to adjust the Mode settings to get different effects. One of the effects is shown below.


However, in this instance, I want a much softer look, and have left the Mode setting set to normal, giving the end result below.


© Clikchic Designs 2006, 2009

Tinting Your Photos to Make Them POP in Photoshop

Tinting Your Photos to Make Them POP in Photoshop

One of the great advantages of digital scrapbooking is being able to edit your photos. If you have ever had trouble matching your photos to your layout, kit or if something just doesn’t look quite right, tinting your photo might be just what you need to do to make your layout pop. When opening an image, always use SAVE AS to save a to a new image file name so that you are not working on your original. This tutorial demonstrates some very simple Photoshop editing methods to tint your photos and make them POP!

In this tutorial we will start with this original photo.


To start with it isn’t a bad image but there is room for improvement. Making an image monochrome can really make a difference to it. Tinting it a color such as sepia can make it suit your layout perfectly. Sepia of course isn’t the only way to go, there are many different colors you can tone your images to help suit your layout.
Firstly to tint an image it must first be made black and white. The way I find the easiest is to desaturate the image. To do so select Image> Adjustments > Desaturate.


Usually when desaturating an image it is necessary to boost the contrast a little. An easy way to do this can be to use the Auto Contrast tool in Image> Adjustments > and then select Auto Contrast. (also shown in menu above)
As an example here is the desaturated image below.


The contrast on this image hasn’t turned out too badly but often there are no real blacks and the image can look a little too grey. Boosting the contrast will give it more punch. If you wish to have a bit more control over the contrast it is sometimes more effective to use the brightness/contrast.


As you can see below, the second image has a bit more punch.


As is the image already is greatly improved on the original but it is only the beginning of what you can do.
Sepia toning is an age old photography technique. Photographers who did sepia toning would all have their own techniques and preferences in regard to the color of their sepia work. The digital age makes it much easier for us to experiment with sepia tones along with a myriad of other monochrome color effects.
Probably the easiest method is to use variations. Image> Adjustments> Variations


This gives you a selection of thumbnails where you can assess the color changes and easily choose the color change by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail.


You can choose the extent of color variation by adjusting the Fine – Course slider. Simply adjust the image by selecting the appropriate thumbnail and clicking until you have achieved the desired colour tone and then click on Ok.
For sepia toning you are mainly working with the red tones. I like to adjust the slider to the fine level as it gives you more control and you can make the changes more gradually. Each click of a thumbnail adjusts the tonal change further.

To achieve a sepia look, you would mostly use the ‘More Red’ thumbnail to achieve the desired look. You may also like to add some yellow to make it a more yellow sepia, or more magenta to make it a bit more pink. On the sample above the tonal changes are quite dramatic as the slider is set at halfway. The changes will be a lot more gradual when set at the fine end of the slider. On the example below, I set the slider to fine, and clicked on ‘More Red’ several times to get the desired effect.


You can achieve a variety of colors by experimenting with the variations. Sometimes it might be useful to make the image blue, green, purple or whatever color you wish. It really is up to you. Some images really benefit having a funky tone added to them and it can really boost your layout to have an image tone in with it.

In the layout below I used blue as the main tone for the image, and then also made use of sepia to make my son really stand out.


My favorite method of adjusting colors in images is using Hue and Saturation.


I find that this method gives you a great deal of control over the tonal range, shade and saturation of the color tinting.


To colorize an image you need to ensure the ‘Colorize’ box is checked. You can then adjust the sliders to achieve the desired result. The Hue slider allows you to select the hue or color you would like to adjust to. You can use the rainbow strip at the bottom to give a guide as to the color range and its position on the slider.

The saturation allows you to adjust how much of that color is added to the image. The lightness slider allows you to adjust the brightness of the image overall. It is good to experiment with the effects of Hue and Saturation to see what you can do. It is a very versatile tool, not only for your photos, but your layouts, backgrounds and elements as well. Once you have achieved your desired result, simply click on OK and save your image.

© Clikchic Designs 2006,2009

Layouts Using Blend Modes in Photoshop

Layouts Using Blend Modes in Photoshop

For the purpose of this tutorial I am going to do a digital scrapbook layout where the photo blends into the background paper, and a second smaller, crisper copy of the same photo for a repeated effect.

For some using blend modes in Photoshop is second nature, and it is a relatively simple method but for those who have not yet discovered it, here is a quick tutorial.

To start my layout, I have selected a background paper and feature photo.


Next I am going to place a larger version of the image on the background paper, underneath the smaller version of the image.


Next while the larger flower layer is selected, we need to change the blend mode. In your layers palette you will find a little white rectangular box which currently has normal selected, if you click on the drop down arrow, you will see the blend mode options available.

There are several different modes to choose from, and each will have a different effect and are great to experiment with but for the purposes of this tutorial we are going to use Overlay mode.

3-BlendModesMenu 4-BlendModes-Overlay

Once your layer blend mode has been changed to Overlay, your photo will look something like this.


As you can see the look is quite effective and quite vibrant, you can make it look less vibrant by adjusting the layers opacity. This will in turn bring more of the colours of the background through, and soften the colours in the overlaid photo. This option is worth experimenting with to suit your taste.

At this point while I like the effect on the photo, I feel the edges need blending into the background a little more. I like to use layer masks for this purpose to make corrections easier.

While your larger photo layer is selected. Click on the Add Layer Mask button.



This will bring up a second thumbnail next to your image in the layers palette. To ensure the mask is selected, click on the mask to show the four corners surrounding it showing it has been selected.

Once you have done this, you can use your black soft brush to remove portions of the image, and the white soft brush to add them.


If you make a mistake, you can simple change the brush colour to white to add back the portion of the picture you wish to. On my layout, I softened the edges two sides of the photo to blend them into the background a bit more.

To finish off the layout, I changed the stroke blend mode around the smaller photo to overlay in the layer styles and reduced the drop shadow to bring it more in keeping with a graphic style layout.

I then added the titles in dark brown and changed their layer blend modes to Linear Light at 59% Opacity.

I also reduced the saturation of the colour in the background of the smaller photo, to help bring out the pink a little more.


© Clikchic Designs 2009
Credits: Cupids Bow by Clikchic Designs
Font: Vtks Sonho

Cross Processing in Photoshop

Cross Processing in Photoshop

What is Cross Processing you ask? Cross processing is a technique traditionally used in film processing to produce interesting and unpredictable colour effects.

Different chemicals are used to process Negative film from Slide film, and when using the chemicals for Slide Film on Negative film, wild and unusual colour variations occur.  You can also achieve similar results by processing Slide Film in Negative chemicals.

With Photoshop you can achieve similar results with much less mess and much less fuss.. as well as with more predictable results. It is much easier to experiment with your results in Photoshop than it is with chemicals and film!

Lets start with our original photo.


From the bottom of your layers palette choose, New Fill or Adjustment layer


Select Curves from the menu that appears.


This will bring up your Curves Adjustment Layer window.

Within CS3 and possibly earlier versions of Photoshop, there is a Cross Processing Preset. This may work perfectly for your photo depending on the effect you desire, subject and the colors in your photo, but in this case I find it a bit too green for my photo.



For the purpose of this tutorial I am going to adjust RGB colours individually.


Select the Red Channel and adjust the line to form a curve above the diagonal. This will require some experimentation, as each photo will provide different results, but in the photo below the output setting is 192 and input 203 for the top curve (below the diagonal) and Output 64 and Input  98 for the bottom curve showing above the diagonal line.


Next I will adjust the green settings. You will again need to experiment and see what looks good on your photo. My green curves are going in the opposite direction to the red.


The final curve is the blue one.


I have made this one a more exaggerated version of the red curve.


At this point I feel the image needs a little warmth so I am going to add a colour fill. I experimented a little with the colour to see what looked good.


Click on the symbol at the bottom of your layers palette that looks like a half black and white circle to create a new adjustment layer and click on Solid Color.


I used the colour picker to pick a light orange colour and clicked on OK, creating a new colour fill layer.


Again you will need to experiment, but for this photo, I adjusted the blend mode to multiply and Opacity to 53%.


At this point the photo needs a bit more POP as it is a bit dull. Cross Processed images tend to have high contrast often with blown out highlights and dark shadows.


So to achieve this effect I have added a new Levels Adjustment Layer.


At this point, I moved the right hand white adjustment icon, to the left, which gives a bit more punch and contrast to the image. If you wanted to experiment a little more you could adjust each colour channel separately, but doing the RGB channel  suited me for this photo.


Much closer now.. but not quite there…I still want the highlights to look a little more blown out.

So another adjustment layer, this time Brightness/Contrast.


I think we might have it now!


This to me, looks like a classic Cross Processed Image.


Don’t be afraid to experiment, and every photo will look different. The key is not to get too hung up on technique, and do what you think looks good. Experimenting with colour curves is a great way to become more familiar with editing your images and can provide some very striking effects!


© Clikchic Designs 2009

Using Smart Guides in Photoshop

Using Smart Guides in Photoshop

Smart Guides are a very handy tool for lining up objects on a page layout in Photoshop. They enable you to quickly and easily see if your objects are lined up without having to use rulers, grids or create ruler guides.

 First we need to make sure the Smart Guides are turned on.

Go to your View menu, hover over Show and ensure that Smart Guides are checked, if they are not checked, click on Smart Guides to turn them on.


 Once your smart guides are turned on, they will automatically show when you are lining up layers on your Photoshop document.

 As you can see below, the smart guides show in pink when the top, middle and bottom of objects align.


The smart guides will automatically appear whenever different layers are lined up horizontally or vertically and are a great way to ensure your layout photos and elements are perfectly in line with each other. If your objects are different sizes, you can still line them up with the middle guide.


Whichever way you move your layer objects, the guides will follow and show while you are dragging across your canvas.


Whether it is a row of flowers, a collection of thumbnail photos, or word art, smart guides are a quick and efficient way of laying out your photos and elements with precise accuracy and minimal fuss.

 Turn your smart guides on, and have a play, you will be amazed at how handy they are.


© Clikchic Designs 2008


Something Different

I hosted a speed scrap and the inspiration I used was an interesting one.

One of the participants suggested right up that it was graphic style and the inspiration certainly is, but I think you could easily do a paper style layout with this inspiration also. I loved the arty effects on the photos and decided to do a similar effect on my own.

Here is the inspiration image which I found on pinterest. I loved the creative colours on the images! It looks as if the artist has blended colorful textures over the top of each image.

Right off the bat I knew I wouldn’t be able to create the same effect but I did want to try and do something similar in style. I do all my layouts in square format so the shape was going to be different also.

I had some lovely colourful photos of my kids and husband on a merry go round and thought they would be perfect for this kind of project and decided to use them for the speed scrap. When I follow a speed scrap inspiration I often try and capture the general feel of the inspiration rather than copy it perfectly and this is what I have done in my layout. I arranged four different photos on a page with a creamy coloured background underneath from my Childhood Adventures Digital Scrapbook Kit, not necessarily exactly the same layout as in the inspiration.

Prior to placing my photos on the page I edited them in Adobe Camera Raw using a split tone effect to give the photos some slightly unusual or cross processed looking colours. I teach a class on Adobe Camera Raw at Digital Scrapbook Place and one of the things you learn in the class is how to do a split tone effect.

Below is an example of one of the photos with and without the split tone effect applied.

Click on the image to see a bigger view of the example. The split toning immediately gives the photo/s a more surreal and colourful look which is the start of what I wanted to achieve.

After the photos were placed on the page I created gradients over each photo using colours in the inspiration image. I did this to give uneven colour tones to the image. Each gradient was then given an overlay blend mode to allow the colours to overlay the image below but still allow the images to show through. I reduced the opacity of each gradient to suit each photo.

At this point I found that the effect was a bit strong and I wanted to tone it down a bit.

At this point I decided to tone the colours down and to add some texture I would reuse the creamy background (from Childhood Adventures Value Collection) I used in the background, over the top of the photos with a linear light blend mode and reduced opacity. This softened those harsh and bright colours and gave the entire layout varying and interesting texture.

I then used the red paper from the Childhood Adventures Value Collection to create a rectangular journal block near the center of the page, similar to that in the inspiration image. I placed the journalling over the top of this journal paper in white to enable it to stand out clearly against the background which was also blended using the pin light blend mode. Each photo and the journalling paper also had drop shadows added for a little extra depth. (not something usually done in graphic style layouts but I like to, to add definition)

I also added a fill layer over the top of all layers with opacity reduced to zero and an inner shadow with a colour burn blend mode to create some soft and subtle borders to help retain the eye within the layout.

Below is the final layout, which as you can see looks a bit funky and arty and a little bleached out, but is an effect I quite like for something a little different.