Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day - Before & After

Today's post is in honor of my dad, William J. Hansen, who passed away this year at age 92. We miss you & love you!

Here is the before picture -

Here is the same picture after a couple of hours in Photoshop. I cloned out all the dust spots and white marks, cropped the picture, added a touch of Lucis Art to sharpen it and a final run through Portraiture to smooth everything.

Every soldier needs a jeep so here's another Before & After of a military jeep parked at the Florida Carriage Museum during the Civil War Re-enactment and Military Display. The Before picture is SOOC.

The After picture was cropped, put through Lucis Art and had a water color filter added to it to bring out the texture and the details of the winch as well as the rest of the vehicle.

Thanks to all of our soldiers and veterans!!!!
Send your Photoshop/photography questions to

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Decorative Photo Masks

Shirley, a Photoshop user from Arizona, sent an email about how to use photo masks with her pictures -  

"I have a picture with a black background and I can't figure out how to make those artistic edges with the white flowers & swirls."

Shirley, here's a picture of Nikki (a senior model) that I combined with a decorative photo mask from the Ambience Collection at PhotoDuds.

For today's example, create a new white background. File > New > Enter height, width & resolution

Make sure the picture and the decorative photo mask are aprox the same size & resolution as the new white background layer. Drag them onto the white background layer with the picture on the top layer.

Click on the picture layer and change the blending mode to Screen. Adjust the size of the photo mask and move it around by clicking on the second layer and using Ctrl T to make handles for the photo mask. Flatten the layers, add text, resize if needed and use unsharp mask 500/.2/0 to sharpen for the web.

Thanks go out to Shirley, for suggesting this week's Photoshop tutorial on decorative photo masks -

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wedding Albums

You know you're a photographer when you start asking for templates and camera gear on your birthday and at Christmas time. The Ambience design set from Beth Forester at PhotoDuds (aprox $125) has been on my wish list for a couple of months and I finally took advantage of her sale last week to give myself an early birthday gift. The Ambience tool kit consists of floral and watercolor backgrounds, brushes, overlays, textures, frames & templates.

Originally I thought to use this set for seniors or young girls but after experimenting with it realized it would be perfect for wedding albums as well. Today's blog is for all the wedding photographers who have asked for wedding album ideas. You can use these album ideas for engagement books, save the date cards, guest books, wedding albums, thank you cards and even boudoir books.

For marketing purposes, I've named each look. Feel free to use these names or make up your own.

1. Shabby Chic - A cottage style look that works well in the country or the city. This woman loves children, dog & cats. She can fix anything from bumps & scrapes to muddy pawprints.

2. Think Green - for the contemporary romantic woman who balances her quest for the perfect shoes with her desire to save the environment.

3. Handcrafted Vintage - for the woman who wears pearls and collects charm bracelets. She has a weakness for antique stores and vintage shops.


4. Bling - for the party diva who insists on a custom look for herself and her pictures. Don't expect her to be traditional in her color scheme or her music. 

Hope you enjoyed looking at these samples as much as I enjoyed putting them together and naming them. Our bride today came from stock photography - she was very patient and fit surprisingly well into all the looks. Please send your photo questions to:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wedding Brush Tutorial

Here's another tutorial on using Photoshop brushes. Please refer back to the "Photoshop Brushes" blog if you have any questions. Today's post is for Mary Ann from Miami, a wedding photographer. 

"Help! I need a simple elegant way to decorate a modern bridal album page."

Search online for wedding brushes, floral brushes, flourishes & swirlies so that you have a good selection to choose from. Stock images were used for this example.

Drag the images you want to use onto a white background. Resize them & move them around as needed.

This design is pretty just the way it is so you could stop now or you can emboss the design to add a custom touch to your album page.

Thanks, Mary Ann for inspiring this blog.
Please send your photo questions to:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Photoshop Brushes

I was talking to a Photoshop newbie who complained -

"I just don't understand the whole Photoshop Brush thing."

Here's a quick overview for anyone else with the same problem.

One of the reasons why Photoshop Brushes can be confusing is because they are multi-purpose. You can paint with them like a regular artist's brush. You can stamp with them like a scrapbooker would use a rubber stamp. You can also scatter images randomly or leave a trail across the page.

The brush we'll be using today was downloaded from Always check the license to make sure you're not violating the copyright. Link back to the site if you're using it for a display or example and thank the designer to let them know you appreciate their work.

Here's the finished sample. I use these as marketing giveaways - my contact info is on the back.

Save to your desktop. Right click on the zipped file to extract the brush file. I'm using CS4 & all I had to do was open the unzipped file and double click on Tickets & Labels to load the brushes into Photoshop.

Open your picture in Photoshop. Add the extra white space (Image > Increase Canvas > White). Crop to resize.

Add the remaining text layers using the regular Photoshop Text tool. If you need help with enlarging & rotating text, refer back to the blog on 3D Halloween Text.

The best way to learn a new skill is to keep on practicing.
Please send your photo questions to:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Photo Booth/Event Pictures

Sara, a young photographer from UGA, is setting up a photo booth/event photography business.

"My pictures look kind of plain. Any suggestions for making them look more like a special souvenir?"

Here are a couple of suggestions that might help.

1.  for Freedom Cloth backdrops.

2. You can buy small decorative frames from Michael's  - 2x3, 3x3 & 3x4 inches as well as the larger sizes.

3. Purchase commercial templates from Graphic Authority, Photo Duds, etc.

4. Custom design your own digital photo frames using Serif PagePlus Graphic Design software. It's licensed for commercial use and priced between $79-$99. Here are some samples that I made using their design elements.

Hallmark sells blank, precut 4x8 glossy white photo cards at the office supply stores or on their website. You could also buy heavyweight glossy photo paper & cut it to size. Hope that helps, Sara.

Please send your photo questions to -

Friday, September 3, 2010

Desktop Publishing

Dan, a professional photographer from Illinois, wants to know -

"Why can't I sell the photo products I create with Print Artist?"

Desktop publishing software is licensed for either personal use or commercial use.

The consumer level programs like Print Artist are licensed for personal use. They are relatively inexpensive and are used to create personalized greeting cards, invitations, flyers and newsletters.

Small business owners can use them to create their own business cards, stationary & business forms, marketing materials, ads, brochures & catalogs. You cannot use consumer level programs to create items to sell to other people. You need to purchase a commercial use program for that.

Commercial Graphic Design Programs are more specialized & usually more expensive...but not always. Here's a list of commercial graphic design programs you can use to create items to sell.

Page Layout Programs -
Adobe InDesign
Quark Express
Serif PagePlus
Scribus *free

Illustration -
Adobe Illustrator
Corel Draw
Inkscape *free

Photo Editors -
GIMP *free

Click on this link for more information:
Serif PagePlus won the Reader's Choice Award for commercial desktop publishing programs. Priced at a very reasonable $69.99, it sounds too good to be true. I immediately went to their website and downloaded a free trial version. I'll let you know how it works out.

Thanks, everyone! Send your photo questions to -

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Photoshop 3D Halloween Text

Several people from have asked how to create the 3D Halloween text I used in the last Photoshop challenge. Here's the picture & here are the steps I used.

P.S. Original challenge picture supplied by Michelle.

Download the free Creepsville Halloween font at   Save the file to your desktop. Right click on the zipped file to unzip the file. Open the file and right click on the font to load it so you can use it in Photoshop.

If your text or your pictures look soft or fuzzy after resizing for the web go to:
 Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask
500  .2  0

Thanks, everyone!  Send your photo questions to:

For those of you who are not members of 
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Countertop Marketing Display

This post is for Lisa, a friend of a friend in California. Lisa is putting together a marketing presentation for her pet photography business and needs help with a countertop display.

"Karen, I'm using your idea for the pet modeling agency but desperately need some help with display ideas. Could you please post some samples?"

Lisa, stop by your local office supply store & pick up several 8.5 by 11 clear plastic countertop sign holders with business card holders in the bottom right corner. You can have signs printed up by your local printer or make them yoursef using Print Artist & premium, heavy, double sided brochure-type ink jet paper.

Here are some cross marketing display samples for grooming shops, animal hospitals & boutique pet stores. Make sure your marketing style enhances your business & the business you want to cross market with. Because pets are like kids you can choose from a variety of styles...child-like to modern or even elegant.

Marketing samples can be vague as to details but when you print these up for the real event make sure you include the exact date & time as well as location, directions & contact info.

Here are some bookmark sized handouts that I stack in a clear plexiglass pen holder next to the display - make sure you include your website.

Hope these samples will get your creative juices flowing. Good luck, Lisa!

Remember - You can use Print Artist to create marketing materials & giveaways but you cannot sell the items you create using Print Artist. It violates their license.

Send your photo & marketing questions to

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sport Picture Ideas

Jan, a photographer in Michigan, is looking for inexpensive sport picture ideas. She works at a small Christian school as an office assistant and school photographer. The sports are mainly soccer, baseball & basketball. They have a small budget and do not want to charge the parents for the pictures.

Many large commercial labs have free sports templates and inexpensive processing. If you're looking for something different or you want to involve the students in the creative process, try using the same products we used in August for the photo thank you card. Remember, you can use Print Artist for marketing purposes or for school giveaways but you cannot sell the items you create using Print Artist. It violates their license. 

Add your pictures to the photo frame templates or use the packaged clip art for a custom look.

Best of all, you can take pictures in the morning and have sports cards & team pictures ready to give out that afternoon. Good luck, Jan!

Email me at with all your photo questions.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Photo Thank You Card

Don't let your pictures just sit in the camera or pile up on your hard drive. Choose the best & put those photos to work for you!

Sharleen, a photographer from Georgia, wants to know how to create photo thank you cards for her kids to send to their relatives. Here's a quick tutorial.

Pick up supplies at your local Office Max, Office Depot or Staples. You'll need Print Artist software (aprox $49), heavy double sided brochure type paper, 4x8 envelopes & a paper trimmer. Don't worry, we'll be using these same supplies to make most of our photo projects. Remember, you can use Print Artist for marketing purposes, personal use or giveaways but you cannot sell the items you make using Print Artist. It violates their license.

Here's a cute 4x8 photo card & matching envelope template called Best Friends.

Add your photo...

Change the text...

and you have a really cute keepsake that Grandma can put on a fridge or in a scrapbook. Best of all, you don't have to keep nagging at the kids to write their thank you notes.

Remember to send your photo questions to: