Getting The Most Out of Your Digital Scrapbooking Kits

August 4th, 2014

Hi everyone!  It’s Katherine (or Kat) here and today I wanted to talk to you about getting the most out of your digital scrapbooking kits. Let’s see a show of hands. How many of you browse digital stores and galleries and think, “Oh, there’s a cute kit,” or “Wow, I must have that!” only to realize that maybe there’s things in the kit that, well, just don’t work for you. You then wonder if the dollars you’ll investment in the kit are worth it if you’re only going to buy it for just a few items. You’ve been there, haven’t you? Come on, fess up. How many times have you purchased a kit because there’s one or two things that you totally love, but that’s all? Well, I’m here to tell you a little secret: Psst (you listening?), you can change digital elements, if you want to. *gasp!*

I have a great deal of respect for digital designers. I’ve been lucky to meet quite a few in person and have even had the opportunity to watch them work – amazing. I’ve seen Jen (yes, Jen Allyson!) work magic with a laptop touch pad and keyboard shortcuts. Now, that said, I’ve been known to change design elements or papers a bit when what I have doesn’t quite fit with what I need. We’ve all done that, right? Recolored an element, blended papers, added filters, or run actions. What I’m going to show you today is actually breaking down an element, or deconstructing it, and creating something new. Now, before I go too much further, there’s something really important that you need to remember: If you change any piece of a digital scrapbook kit, it is scrapbooking etiquette to indicate in your layout or project credits that you modified something from the original kit. For example, you could include the words modified, or some elements recolored in your credits when posting in online galleries, blogs, or on social media platforms.

One of the newer releases from Jen Allyson Digital is these watercolor days of the week and numbers:

Watercolor Days

By themselves, these are great; a bunch of hand-drawn (or painted) days and numbers. My immediate thought was, “Oooh, these would be perfect for Project Life pages!” … but I’m not doing Project Life this year. Okay, so I could still use them on all kinds of things. Then I had one of those ah-ha moments and thought, “Hey Kat, how about you change things around a bit?” — and so I did. Although there isn’t a full alphabet represented in the letters, there was just enough to create the perfect title on a layout I was working on. I needed “Then” and “Now”. Here’s how my page turned out. I’ve included a close-up of the word “Now”, so you can see the detail:



Credits: Watercolor Creations (modified) and Cork Elements – Jen Allyson Digital Designs;
Travel Adventures and Back to Basics – Digital Scrapbook Ingredients; My Tribe – Gennifer Bursett


So, the big question is – how the heck did I do that?!  It’s actually easier than you might think.

Open up Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, and the days that you’d like to break down. For me, it was Monday and Wednesday (for the word Now). Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (or the selection tool of your choice – I just find the Marquee Tool the fastest for this job), select the “W” from Wednesday and copy and paste (Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V) or duplicate the layer (Ctrl-J).  Although the Ctrl-J shortcut is typically used to duplicate entire layers or elements, if you have something selected, only that portion will be replicated.


Repeat this process for any other letters you need.  I needed the “O” and “N” from Monday. Don’t worry about trying to do a clean extraction. In fact, I’d recommend leaving a little bit of the tail or joining piece between the letters as this will be helpful to you, too, when you start to put everything back together. Once I had my letters, I duplicated the O/N combination so that I could play with both of them, individually, and then began the process of erasing the piecesI didn’t want, like overlapping pieces from other letters, and also went about creating the new tail or beginning of the letter “N”.  Here’s what the original selection (on top) and the cleaned up version (on the bottom) looked like.  I find that using a hard round brush to erase is best, and also zooming in to 300-400% so you can really create (or re-create) a clean edge on the letter was helpful.



See how the word is beginning to form? Now it’s matter of nudging the letter together to create the word using the Move Tool. If you have – like I did here – some variation in tones or shades between the letters, let them overlap just a little and then use a soft round brush with a lower opacity, say 20-25%, to soften the edge where the two letters meet. Since I had chosen to deconstruct watercolors, there was naturally some variation between the letters, so – in this instance – differences in shading worked to my advantage. Although it might seem a little cumbersome to have all the letters on separate layers, this gives you the most flexibility to rotate items if they need it to help things line up, or to resize items (you’ll see that the “W” is larger than the other letters since it was the capital letter at the beginning of the original word from which it came). Once you have your newly-created word, merge the letter layers together.

StepsI ended up making a few tweaks to the letter “N”, such as shortening the lead tail on the letter, but that was about it. I followed the same steps to create the word “Then” for my page title. With a little practice, this is actually a very easy process to complete.  Remember, however, if you make changes to a kit, please acknowledge this when you post layouts in any kind of public or private forum. The designer has put their time and effort into creating the kit for you, and they deserve the recognition that goes along with that.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoying my process for deconstructing the wordart. It really is a great way to think a little outside the box and get that extra mile out of scrapbooking kits.


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