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Fill Me Up, Buttercup!: A Photoshop Tutorial

Good Morning to all you scrappy folks! Hope you are having a fabulous Memorial Day! We are laying low today, remembering the men and women who have fought and died for our country and also celebrating the good news that my son will be joining those forces sometime soon! I honestly can tell you that I never thought I could be so proud of a child! I mean, as my first child, his birth was incredible; his graduation made me feel relieved…we made it with nothing bad happening and at the top of his class! But the day that he decided to join the Navy (and the day that I finally overcame my fear of him joining the Navy) was truly one of the proudest moments of my life. It takes  someone very special to willingly go into battle and to be willing to sacrifice his or her life for our freedom! I will be the first to tell you it was not a service that I ever wanted for my child, but now I see its purpose and I am truly humbled that I raised a young man with that ability to sacrifice. In honor of all those young men and women who have laid down their lives today, and in honor of the women who raised these young men and women to sign up for service to their country, I just want to say “Thank you”. Thank you for making this country what it is today and for helping to  maintain  the principles that our forefathers set out for us so long ago. Your service does not go unnoticed!

On to today’s Photoshop tutorial! I am often asked about the pictures that I scrap, in fact, it is one of THE top questions I am asked!  Many of you want to know if I pick the pictures first or do I scrap first.  The answer is I scrap first and pick my pictures last. It is just my thing, mostly because I want to determine the mood of the layout I end up creating BEFORE I add a photo. The layout dictates the photo for me,  or rather the photo processing; Sometimes, however,  I have a photo I simply must scrap because I love it…and I WILL work the other way around!

Another question that I am often asked is  “When do I decided to scrap with a black and white photo vs. a color photo?” If you have ever seen my pages, you know that I LOVE black and white photos. Black and white allows you to see the heart of the photo. You are not caught up in the colors, but you actually focus on the SUBJECT.  Black and white photos evoke emotion and I use them most when I want to draw the attention of the viewer to my photo. If the layout is colorful and I want them to SEE the picture first..I use Black and White or sepia toned photos. If, however, I want the viewer to take in the  photo and layout as a whole, I choose to scrap in color. I make up my mind about the color of the photo based on how I want my viewer to feel.

For example, on the photo below, I used all colored pictures because I want the photos to look part of the scene. I wanted to portray the outdoors in my layout, so if I used a black and white photo or a sepia tinted photo, it would take away from the natural, outdoorsy feel of the page!

On the picture below, I added a black and white photo because I wanted to evoke a feeling of toughness. The layout is about my youngest being a “Tough Girl”. It’s hard to look tough in a blue uniform and a pink bat. However, by converting the photo to black and white, you don’t see all that color, you see her expression and the way she is holding the bat and the way her hair is tussled and out of place; you get the feeling that she IS a tough girl. The layout becomes about that photo more than about the page. The layout is there to compliment the photo… not set a scene like the page above.

Sometimes, however, you find those kits or pictures that you love and no matter what you do, you can’t get the two to meld. Black and white or sepia do not work, and full on color doesn’t work either. Take for instance Mye’s beautiful Spring Chic kit. It is soft and pastel so using black and white would not look right…it would be too contrasty. Sepia would not look right either…I use sepia toned photos for predominately brown based layouts;  and full out color would be WAY too takes away from the softness of the page. This is a spring layout so I want it to look light and airy!

That being said, the question is HOW do I make my full color  picture look soft and spring like?? The answer is in your Photoshop program and comes in the form of a Fill Layer.

While adjustment layers apply colors and tonal adjustments to your image without permanently changing pixel values, Fill layers, let you fill a layer with a solid color, a gradient, or a pattern.  When you apply adjustment layers, it affects ALL the layers underneath, unless clipped to a certain layer. Unlike adjustment layers, fill layers only  affect the layers directly underneath them.

The most beautiful thing about adjustment and fill layers is their ability to be nondestructive. You can try different settings, reduce their opacity and edit them as many times as you like without ever harming your original photo. If you don’t like how it looks, you can trash the adjustment of fill layer and start all over again!  Another very handy attribute to these adjustment layers is their ability to be selectively edited! By painting on the layers mask, you can control which parts of your image that you apply the adjustment or fill layer to and when you are all finished, you can copy and paste your new adjustment to any layers you would like to have the same adjustments. It is THAT easy!

Begin by opening the photo you want to soften. This is my oldest daughter, Rachael. She just finished her freshman year and came home for a little break this past spring, so I decided to take some photos.

While I love this picture, I wanted to give the photo a little haze to soften it up.  The color in the photo is too strong for the layout that I want to add it to, so I begin my adjustments by adding a fill layer to the photo.

Go to the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer Icon (the black and white circle) and click to add a new fill layer. Select Solid Color from the drop down menu.

 Once you click the New Fill Layer Icon, a Solid Color dialogue box will appear. You can pick the color of the solid color you want to add. I usually stick to a cream color or a white base because they seem to give me the look I want most often. Depending on the base color of the layout I am using, I will choose between the white or the cream. Use the color picker box on the left to pick a color you want, or you can add the blue highlighted series of numbers and letters in the corresponding slot in your dialogue box.

 Once you select your color, click OK.  The color you chose will fill the entire layer right above your photo, so all you will see is the solid color.

Select the New Fill layer in your Layers Palette.  Reduce the opacity of the layer to around 30%.

Your finished photo will have a beautiful hazy look and the colors will be much softer for your layout!

ANYTHING is possible with Fill Layers and the sky is truly the limit! By changing the layer to Soft light and increasing the opacity to 75%, you can change the look of the photo once again! This is the same Cream Haze I added to the first picture, but now I have changed the fill layer and opacity for a completely different look!

 I suggest you play around with all the colors! find one that you LOVE and that gives you the look you want to achieve.  Add two or more fill colors and don’t forget to play around with the opacity of the layers! Below, I added a pretty pink color, set the layer to soft light and then added a soft cream haze.

I like how the pink makes her skin look pink and healthy and pulls out a little more color in the background!

Whatever you decide, adding a fill layer to your photo is a wonderful way to change it up and make it fit the layout you are scrapping!

I do hope you enjoyed the lesson this week and I can’t wait to see those soft photos in the galleries! Have a very safe and relaxing Memorial Day and a beautiful week ahead!! God Bless!


comments +

  1. Linda Hansen says:

    I applaud you with the tuts. They are so wonderful and so clear to follow. Whenever I need a tut I come here first to look. Thank you so much Tamara. By the way, your daughter is stunning!

    • Tamara says:

      Linda..thank you so much for that wonderful compliment! If there is ever anything you need but don’t see..don’t hesitate to ask!!

  2. Ruth says:

    Please thank your son for me.

  3. […] this link : HERE often-asked, photoshop, pick-the-pictures, pictures, pictures-first, scrap-first, […]

  4. Lorie says:

    From one military mom to another –congratulations to you AND your son on his enlistment. He is now less than 1% of the population that writes a check out to this country payable in the amount of his life if necessary. He is doing such an honorable thing and you have every right to be proud of him! I’m here if you ever need anything!

  5. […] Fill Me Up, Buttercup!: A Photoshop Tutorial – 1 freebie(s)? […]

  6. Dona says:

    Great tut!

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I'm Mye De Leon

I'm a mom with a desire to give the best for her family and turned a lettering hobby into a multi6-figure business. These days, I eat strategy for breakfast and turn other businesses into successful empires.

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I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.

I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.