I’ve been learning how to use Photoshop Elements the last few weeks. I know! Can you believe I haven’t bothered to learn it previously? Must admit that I was a bit intimidated by post-processing. I thought that Elements would be easier to dive into. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a steep learning curve!
One of the websites I’ve come across recently is MCP Actions, which specializes in Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. While browsing around Jodi’s site, I downloaded some of her freebies. I found them really easy to use. Today, I was playing around with the template for a Facebook cover photo. There are multiple styles, although the ones below were done with only one of them. I noticed this evening that she is also offering free holiday greeting card templates, although I have not looked at them yet.
Could I have done the same thing on my own? Sure — eventually! But I can see the advantage to buying actions and presets for effects that you want to use routinely for speed, and for those infrequent effects that are complicated. It sure beats trying to remember all of the steps you need to follow.
I recently did some editing on portraits that I took of my sister’s family. By the time I finished, I thought I had the process to whiten teeth memorized, but when I went back to do the same thing a few days later, I had to look it up again. It isn’t difficult, but you have to remember all of the steps. I think it is like a recipe: if you do it often enough, you don’t have to refer to your cookbook — maybe you won’t even measure your ingredients. But, if you don’t do a particular process often, you will either need to look it up or get it “pre-made”, a little, maybe, like store-bought cake mix. You don’t have to bake it from scratch every time!
Today, I started to make a holiday banner. I didn’t like my first one, mostly because I did a poor job changing the colors on the initial photograph (nothing to do with the template). So I did another. With a quick search I found several images that I could use. By the time that I did the last one, I understood the process, so was able to finish the banner very quickly. I didn’t like the transitions between the photograph and the background (see the third example below). While the template would work for some pictures, I wanted a continuous background. So I cropped out a section of the original image’s background and created a new file to place in the template as the background. After flattening the image, I created a masking layer and worked on the “seam” between the two uploaded images. Still not perfect, but I think I’m getting there!
I was thinking, as I finished these this evening, that I might make several of these for my Facebook page, displaying a different one daily between Dec 1 – 24, sort of a online FB advent calendar. Don’t know if I will, but now that I know how, I know that it wouldn’t take me that long to do it.
Now that I look at this one, I can see that the text is not quite right. In a moment of liturgical accuracy (and thinking that I would use this on Sunday, the first day of Advent), I deleted the flames on three of the candles. Had I planned this better, I would have left the flame on the candle that is the furthest to the right, so that it didn’t run into the text. I’ll probably just move the text to the left now.
At one point, while creating the background image, I tried to make a constellation of the stars. (The Big Dipper, because it’s the only one I know for sure!) But, I ended up flipping the image and overlapping the background and foreground layers. If the Big Dipper is still visible, I can’t find it! I do like, though, how the stars get dimmer towards the left side of the banner.
This is the one with the transition that I didn’t like. It’s okay, but I don’t like “just okay”. If I were revising this, I’d make a new background that was an extension of the one in the image and I would flip the image too so that the ornaments were along the edge of the banner. I think it would be more visually appealing that way.
This was the last one that I did. I don’t think it shows very well here, but I used the “EMBOSS” filter and “HIGH PASS” on the original image to give them a bit of dimensionality. I think this is my favorite because of the simplicity.
If these images don’t look like they would work for a Facebook Cover photo/banner, you’re observant! Because of the way that my WordPress template is, I decreased the size of these so that they would look better on my blog. Also, there is a placeholder on the template for where your Profile Picture goes. It doesn’t show in the banner as it is uploaded separately, but there is a space, right in the lower left corner for one’s smiling mug!
NOTICE: I was neither solicited nor compensated by MCP Actions for writing about their products.