I'm always looking for digital scrapping products that are flexible enough to be used with a variety of page topics and styles. One of the things I do frequently is to recolor and texturize alphas -- this can make one alphabet work for lots of different pages.
It's an effect I put to use on my "Gone Fishing" layout a couple of weeks ago. Initially, I had just used the plain Pop A Cork Alphabet on my page, but it just didn't feel right, even though the texture and color were both natural, similar to what was going on with the rest of the layout.
So I decided to add a pop of color and a little something extra: a brush overlay for texture -- another way to use some of the elements in the Camp Currie kit. Here's how I did it:
Note: I am using Photoshop Elements 5.0. The steps and commands may be slightly different on various versions of the program, but the overall process should be similar.
There are lots of different ways to recolor an item. This is the method that I prefer, because I feel like it does the best job of keeping the details and textures of the original image intact; it also lets me achieve a more vibrant color in my image.
Step 1: Remove the color from your item. I do this by selecting Enhance> Adjust Color> Remove Color (or Shft+Ctrl+U for the keyboard shortcut). You can also do it by choosing Enhance> Convert to Black and White (Alt+Ctrl+B).
Step 2: Duplicate the item. You can do this by right-clicking on the layer in your layers palette (bottom right) and choosing Duplicate layer, or you can go to the menu bar at the top and select Layer> Duplicate layer. In either instance, you'll be asked to rename the layer, which you can do if you'd like, or you can just select OK to go with the default name provided.
Step 3: Apply a fill color to the bottom layer. I use the eyedropper tool to select a color from one of my patterned papers or elements. Make sure the original layer is selected (this is the lowest one in your layers palette). Select Layer> New Fill Layer> Solid Color. You'll be prompted to name the new layer (I just click OK to stick with the default name). The next dialogue box will prompt you to select a color. You've already done this with your eyedropper tool, so click OK.
PROGRESS CHECK: At this point you should have two layers open in your layers palette. The bottom one will be your alphabet letter filled with the color of your choice. The top layer should be the same alphabet layer with the color removed.
Step 5: Adjust the blend mode of the top layer. Begin by making your top layer (the colorless image) the active layer -- just click on it to do so. In the top left of your palette layer, there's a dropdown box that reads normal. If you scroll through it, you'll see a variety of blend modes. Select one. This is a step where you'll want to do some experimenting on your own. Personally, I always use either the Overlay or Soft Light blend mode. Sometimes if my top layer is too light, I'll duplicate that layer and choose multiply, then merge those two layers together. This darkens it a bit and helps the texture to become more pronounced.
For the next process, you can choose to add the brush images to your letters one at a time, or you can arrange your title on your layout, merge the letters, and then add the brush image. The steps are the same, regardless of the option you choose.
Step 1: Open a brush and drag it on top of your letter or title. Resize it until it looks the way you want.
Step 2: Select a blend mode and opacity for your brush. In this instance, I selected Hard Light for my blend mode, because I wanted the detailed leaves and branches of the brush to remain visible against the cork background. However, for some brushes, Hard Light may be too dark, so you'd want to go with Overlay or another mode. You can also use the slider bar under Opacity to adjust your brush image -- the lighter the opacity of the top layer, the more visible the bottom layer's texture becomes.
Step 3: Clip your brush layer to your alphabet layer by selecting Ctrl+G. Sometimes I'll do this part before adjusting my overlay because it helps me to see the final effect a little more clearly; the brush takes on the shape of the letter and I can see how it's going to look before merging the layers (Ctrl+E).
Here's what the layout looks like with the recolored alphabet and the brush image applied. It provides a great pop of color, and it helps to make the other elements -- not just the title -- stand out as well.
If you have additional ideas for tutorials you'd like to see, leave a comment and share them with me. I'd like to make this a weekly feature on the blog, so your feedback is greatly appreciated. If you give the tutorial a shot, I'd love to see your final results as well -- link up your layouts in the comments below.