When I first started using Photoshop, I really didn't have a clue about what I was doing. It took me ages to even work out how to open up a new file (Ctrl N or File>New if you are curious!). I gradually became used to layers, finding swatches, using the various tools in the tool palette but brushes always seemed to be to be somewhat of a waste of space as after all, you could just copy and paste a flower rather than use a brush, or use clipart, or whatever and achieve the same result. However, after looking around at various blogs and reading/viewing tutorials, it became clear to me that brushes were so much more versatile than I ever thought possible.

So, first things first, what exactly is a brush? Well, it does exactly what you would expect it to do and behaves in the same way as a paintbrush. However, a Photoshop brush does far more than that. Depending upon the shape of the brush, you can paint lines, circles, dots, ribbons, notepaper, tags, ornamental shapes, plants, flowers, animals, grungify a paper, and a million and one other things, most of which I have barely touched!

You will find the brushes in your tool palette, which is usually on the left hand side of your screen (see picture 1).

Picture 1

Photoshop comes with a number of brushes pre installed, but you can search on the internet for many others. Websites offering free brushes include:








Check the terms of use if you want to use them for commercial or scrap for hire purposes.

To use a brush, firstly open up a new document (Ctrl N or File>New). Then click on the brush tool in the tool palette. Now in order to choose a particular brush, look at the toolbar and you will see on the left, just to the right of “Brush” there is a number (the size of the current loaded brush) and a drop down button (see picture 2).

Picture 2

Click on the drop down button and you should then see thumbnails of the brushes that are currently loaded into Photoshop (Picture 3).

Picture 3

Then select the brush you want to use. If you have not used the brushes before, then the default brushes will be loaded automatically. However, if you know you have a particular brush that you want to use and it is not in the thumbnails, click on the drop down button to the right of the thumbnails. This then gives further menu options (see Picture 4). Note: If the thumbnail is too small to see clearly, just click on “Large Thumbnail" to make it larger.

Picture 4

Click on “Load brushes” and then browse through to where your brushes are loaded. The default brushes are usually in the Photoshop preset files (you can usually find these under Presets in the Adobe folder in your Program Files) but it is a good idea to have a completely separate folder for your brushes (as well as actions, styles, patterns, etc). You will find that once you start collecting brushes, patterns, styles, etc, your Photoshop preset folders become very full and can slow the program up considerably. I actually have a separate hard drive for all my scrapbooking stuff, including all presets (as well as a further external hard drive for back up!).

Pick the brush you want to use. I am going to use some Obsidian Dawn brushes as shown here in Picture 5 to make a butterfly overlay:

Picture 5

If the brush is too big or too small for the size of your canvas, then you can change the size by either going to the brush menu and changing the brush diameter (the master diameter in picture 5) or by using the square brackets on your keyboard (“[“ to reduce the size or “]” to increase the size).

Open a new layer in your document (either use Shift+Ctrl+N, go to Layer>New>Layer or create a new layer in the layers palette by clicking the second button from the right at the bottom of the layers palette). It is better to get into the habit of using a new layer for each brush as otherwise, you can find yourself painting over your background paper and not being able to undo it, whereas if the brush strokes are on new layers, you can edit them far more easily. If the worst comes to the worst and you have made one brush stroke too many, you can always delete the brush layer. If you only have the one layer and have used all the brushes on that, then you may end up having to start all over again as you may not be able to undo or edit out all the brush strokes.

Check the colours in the colour palette are the ones you want to use and then just start using your brush.

I started with a transparent document (since I am making an overlay) and then used one of the butterfly brushes and a trail to produce a set of butterflies in flight (picture 6a).

Picture 6a

I then desaturised this (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate or Shift+Ctrl+U) to take out all the color and ended up with a grayscale set of butterflies as shown below.

Picture 6b

Once you get that far, it is then a case of just using the overlay either in a layout as a separate layer or design your own a paper by adding new layers above and below and playing with textures, patterns, blending modes and so on until you get the desired effect.

In my case, I carried out the following steps:

1. Added a new bottom layer and filled that with a colour;

2. Created a middle layer using a photo I had previously taken of some marble (see picture 7).

Picture 7

It is not a particular good shot as I could not keep the camera still, but that really doesn’t matter too much when using the photo as a texture or background pattern, which is just as well seeing as it is a really blurry photo!

3. Desaturised the marble photo and increased the size to fill the canvas completely (use the transform tool);

I then had three layers and so I played around with the blend mode (see picture 8) of the photo layer and the butterfly layer to get the effect I wanted.

Picture 8

I ended up with a selection of four papers as follows:

Picture 9

As you can see, the marble photo, even though it was blurry, has added a cloud effect to the paper, and the use of the blend mode has changed the way the colors and butterflies look.

Why not have a go yourself and see what you can come up with? There is no such thing as a wrong way to do this – and the undo button is a great help!

The butterfly overlay, marble photo and four papers are available as a free download here.

Note: this tutorial was first published in Bellascraps

The next step from digital designing for me is to use digital images and so on to make my own cards, gift bags, etc. But I am still learning here, and one thing I discovered this week is how to make flowers to decorate cards and so on. Whilst most of you have probably been doing this since you were knee high to a cradle, it is all new to me and I thought I would share with you what I have made.

The first thing to do is to cut out circles for the petals of the flowers. I used my Woodware scalloped circle punch here, which makes a circle with a 2" (5 cm) diameter. You could use a plain circle punch, a circle cutter or just draw round an egg cup or similar to get the circle shape and then cut it out.

I've found that using cardstock for this is too heavy. You can't crumple the petals as well when the paper is heavy and it doesn't look anywhere near as effective. I ended up using tissue paper and punched through several layers at once - I used sheets of tissue paper, tore off a strip from the end of the sheet about 3" wide and then folded it in half. I folded it in half another two or three times making sure it would fit into the punch and I ended up with 8 or 10 scalloped circles depending on how many times I folded the tissue over).

As you can see, I ended up getting carried away with the punching! You need probably between 8 and 10 circles for each flower, although if the paper is heavier, you would need fewer layers. Clip the layers together. I used the ever ready household peg as you can see here, but you could use a paperclip, bulldog clip or whatever you have to hand to keep the petals together:

Then carefully use a pokey tool (or whatever they are called) to put a hole through the centre of the flower.

I apologise in advance for the next photo. I am still getting used to my new camera and holding the camera in one hand and the flower in the other meant I had problems keeping the camera still. As a result, my Fiskars finger tip craft knife (I don't have a pokey tool thingy so usually end up using a craft knife) is in focus but the flower is blurry! Still, at least you can see what I was doing.....

Insert a brad into the hole to keep all the petals together. You need to do this carefully to make sure you do not tear the tissue.

Then scrumple up each petal starting with the top one:

Carry on repeating this with each layer, working you way down to the bottom layer. Leave the bottom layer unscrumpled. You can see how this gradually builds up a realistic looking flower (well, about as realistic as tissue paper can get, anyway!):

And more scrumpling later:

As you can see from this side view, the scrumpling has given the flower some depth:

And in true Blue Peter fashion, here are some I made earlier:

You can then use these flowers for all sorts. One trick is to use left over scraps of paper to make stems, and then you can either use a leaf punch or skeleton leaves for the leaves. They can then be stuck onto patterned or plain paper on a card. You could also use those thin gardening sticks as stems and then stick the flowers on the top and place in a vase or other container.

One of my friends is going into hospital next week so I decided to use the flowers in a card for her. I used some Papermania paper (from the Earth Tones collection) mounted on contrasting paper and stuck the flowers onto some of the flowers on the paper:

I used a docraft stamp for the message, embossed this onto plain white cardstock and then coloured this with watercolour pencils, mounted it onto the plain paper and stuck it onto the card along with decorative ribbon.
Sorry about the colour in the photographs. My office is in the converted garage and there is no natural light in here at all, so taking photos is somewhat of a hit and miss affair colourwise.

Hopefully, she will like the card - provided I remember to post it of course!

I'm hoping to be back later today/tomorrow with some more overlays. I've been out and about using my camera again (well, only out and about into the back garden, but hey, that counts too, surely???!!!!).

In the meantime, happy scrapping!

Well, I don't know where the time went yesterday as I seemed to be busy all day but achieved nothing! I ended up just pottering around on the computer all afternoon, then had to take DD to Crewe railway station as she is in Manchester this weekend visiting a friend. It;s only the second time I have been to Crewe and the station there is apparently the third worst station in the UK! We got there in plenty of time for the train but managed to spot the station car park on thw way, and then spend at least five minutes getting around the roundabout to go back to the car park!

Of course, we went in the short stay car park where it is free parking for 20 minutes and then £10 for very hour (or part thereof) after that. I thought I would have plenty of time to walk with dd to the station and get back in time but she wanted me to wait whilst she bought her ticket (and of course the queue was horrendous and so slow moving!) as well as escort her down to the platform. It was only when we got to the platform I took out my parking ticket and realised I had 2 minutes to get back to the car park before incurring a £10 charge....I must have looked like a crazy woman running back to the car park, especially considering the road was busy and I had to wait for the lights on the pedestrian crossing to change so I was in a real panic by the time I got back to the car. Then, of course, I couldn't get the car close enough to the ticket machine on the way out, so had to get out of the car to out the ticket in. I managed to get the ticket in at exactly 18:07, 20 minutes after I arrived there, and so escaped the £10 charge, what a relief that was!

Anyhow, I then got back home and finished off the card I started making in the afternoon and here it is

I used Papermania paper and a butterfly punch along with some ribbon and cardstock I already had in and am quite pleased with the results. I'm slowly getting better at making cards but there are so many different techniques and I have so much to learn ;).

This morning, I have been messing around in Photoshop and have finally managed to zip up the overlays I made last week. Here they are along with some freebie papers I made with them:

The above papers are just made using the overlays, changing the blend modes and adding a default Photoshop texture. I've included them in the zipped file along with the png overlay files.

You can download the file here. I'd love to see what you make with these so feel free to post your links below.

I'm off to make lunch for my youngest son now, so happy scrapping.

I've been sorting out the office. Well, not sorting as such, more of a tidying up as I had about three feet of tax returns, accounts and other correspondence that I had just filed (ie dumped on one side in a huge pile) and I have now got around to putting them all in files....12 of them! I now need to set up a database and list them all in there so I can find everything without having to plough through 12 lever arch files every time. Oh. the joys of running an office, I can't wait!

I have spent some time photoshopping though, and currently have a few overlays and some extractions to share, but need to zip them up and upload them to 4shared. I am hoping to get this done later today but I have a very important appointment at the hairdressers for my bi-annual perm this morning (!!!!), so may not get chance to post anything before I go.

See you later!

Where does the time go? It seems eons since I was last here and I am now absolutely exhausted after the January tax return filing deadline. After several nights of not getting to bed until 4 am, and one or two nights of not getting to bed at all, I managed to get all the tax returns in but now need to take this week off to recover!

We've been shopping at Ikea, bought a great new shelving unit for my office, spend quite a bit more than I intended on craft stuff (and oh, boy, I bought a heat tool and it is awesome...I have been wanting to learn how to emboss for some time and it is brilliant!) and our eldest son is coming round shortly to finally finish off my Heavenly Crafts website!!! That means, of course, that I hope to be selling stuff shortly so will be moving my designs to the website. If you want to grab anything now whilst it is free, please do so :).

I'm also considering becoming a demonstrator for a stamp company and selling their stamps on my website. what do you think? Is this something anyone would be interested in (buying stamps I mean!)? It would have to be for UK customers only at present due to delivery costs though, should I go ahead with this?

Anyhow, I'm off to do some major sorting out in the office now, plus do some photoshopping as I have really missed that these past few weeks. In the meantime, I am leaving you with a quick look at the card I made last night:

I used the Martha Stewart pop up butterfly punch for the edging. This was one of the things I treated myself to after all the hard work in January! The teddy bear was from a stamp (also a treat!) which I stamped onto white card and then embossed, and coloured in using watercolour pencils. The background paper is from my stash and I can't remember where I got it,but it might be Dovecraft if anyone is interested.One of my boys said it was the best card I had ever made, although considering some of my efforts, that is not necessarily saying an awful lot!

Happy scrapping!