Feb 11, 2014


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Feb 10, 2014

Basic Editing for Your Card Photos Using Photoshop Elements


Hi, Sweet Things!  It's Melissa again and I'm back with another installment of Picture Perfect!   I hope you've had fun experimenting with photo backgrounds and props, finding a few things that work for you!  Let's head on into the next stage of this whole process!

So you've created a set up you're happy with and snapped a photo of your card.  Now it's time to tweak that photo and adjust just a few things to make it even better!  What could those things be?  Here's a list of my five most common tweaks:
  • Cropping
  • White balance
  • Shadows
  • Brightness
  • Clarity/Sharpness
 For these, I use one of the following:
Both are fairly simple to use for these adjustments & I will explain each one in two separate posts.  For today's post, I will demonstrate editing using Photoshop Elements.  (Note:  I am using Photoshop Elements 9.)

Here is the original photo:

Here is my typical workflow using PhotoShop Elements (PSE):

1.  Open your image in PSE and select the crop tool from the tool bar on the left.

2.  Crop your image using the crop tool by clicking and dragging across your photo.  I usually try to leave roughly the same amount of space on all sides of my card when cropping.

3.  Once you've cropped the photo how you like it, approve the crop by clicking on the green check mark by your image.

4.  Click on the zoom tool on the tool bar (the little magnifying glass icon) and then click on "Fit Screen" near the top of the screen to enlarge your cropped image to a size that's easier to view for further editing.

5.  To adjust white balance, right click on the Background panel you see in the right hand column and select Duplicate Layer.  Click OK in the little box that pops up next.

6.  Now go up to Enhance in the top menu bar and select Adjust Color & then Remove Color Cast.

7.  A little eyedropper will appear.  Use it to click anywhere on your photo that is white, black or gray.  I typically click on a white area.  This part is a bit of experimentation.  If you click on an area and don't like how it makes your photo look, just click Reset in the little box that popped up when the eyedropper appeared and then click on a different area.  Keep in mind, no brightening of the photo has been done yet.

8.  Click OK in the little box when you find the warm tones you are looking for.  Then, flatten the layers by clicking on Layer in the top menu bar and then Flatten Image.

9.  Let's adjust shadows & brightness!  Go up to Enhance in the top menu bar again and select Adjust Lighting.  Then, select Shadows/Highlights.  PSE will automatically adjust the shadows a little for you and if you are happy with the result, go ahead and click OK in the pop up box.  If not, adjust the sliders in the box until you achieve your desired look.  We will adjust brightness next.

For brightness, follow the exact same steps using the Enhance, Adjust Lighting options in the top menu bar, but select Brightness/Contrast this time.  In the pop up box, you can adjust the brightness as needed.  Click OK when you are done.

10.  Last, but not least, we're going to sharpen things a little!  (Just so you know, most digital photos need a little sharpening, so don't be afraid to do this!)  In the right column, make sure you are in the Full Edit mode. and then click on Effects.  Then, in the drop down menu, select Sharpen.

11.  Click on the green apple icon and then click Apply.  A pop up box will appear.

For this particular photo, I set the Amount to 150%.  The amount of sharpening you apply will depend on each individual photo, so just play with this a bit and take note of how the amount you enter in the box affects the overall sharpness of your image.  Note that sometimes it helps to enlarge your photo a bit using the little magnifying glass in the left tool bar and zooming in by clicking on your photo.

Whew!  That's it!  Now save that new and improved photo and prepare to post it to your blog!  Here is the final photo of my fox card:

Crazy what a little editing can do, isn't it?!  Of course, it does help to have such an adorable stamp set as Foxy...

Be sure and stay tuned this week for the fantabulous February new release here on the Sweet blog!  Mark your calendars for this Wednesday!  Also, don't forget to Like Sweet Stamp Shop on Facebook so you don't miss out on all the happenings (and maybe even some sweet discounts)!  Once you've done those things, be sure and stop by my blog and say hello!  I have more Sweets over there to share!  I'll be back in a couple weeks to walk you through the photo editing process using PicMonkey!

Have a great week!

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Feb 7, 2014

Simple Valentine and Envelope

Hi Sweet friends, Lindsay here with you today!

For my Inspiration 101 post, I thought I would bring you a cute little Valentine/Envelope combo, inspired by a lovely picture from Pinterest.

Here is a look at the inspiration:

So, to start, I took a card base, and stamped my hearts, using the Foxy set.  These little images are perfect for creating clean and simple designs.

I then stamped a Valentine sentiment from the Just the Basics stamp set, using one of the pink inks.  I finished it off by rounding the corners.

To complete the set, I created a little envelope using my punch board from WRMK.  Super quick and easy to do!  I hope you were inspired to take a clean and simple design and try it out on your next project.

Thank you for joining me today!

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Feb 6, 2014

getting the most out of your mists

Hello there!!
Samantha here, and I'm super pumped to be on the Sweet Stamp Shop blog today!! :) Today I'm going to focus all about mists and 'out of the box' ways to use them! :)

I know I LOOOOVE using mists! they give an awesome 'messy' look to a project! And I'm the first to admit that 98% of the time, I either splatter the mist onto my project or spray it (either over a stencil or not)! I love the way that looks, but I was trying to come up new ways to use my mists and really stretch their 'I NEED TO USE THIS PRODUCT RIGHT NOW' factor! Ha ha!

My first thought was to paint with them, like watercolors!

And, since I'm currently in a love affair with the color gold (swoon) i used a Heidi Swapp Color Shine mist to really give me a goldy-shimmery look! :) And, people - I LOVE how this looks!! All I did was dip my paint brush into the mist bottle and lightly 'swipe' along the cardstock!

Those cute as can be little pears from the amazing Yummy Love stamp set really POP, don't you think?

My next thought was to combine misting with embossing folders! Sounds messy, right? Hmm, maybe a little! But so worth it! This is how I did it:

All I did was spray one side of the embossing folder (Lightly! - No pooling of color for this one!) and emboss the cardstock like i normally would! How did I not try this before?

I think this 'distressed' wood grain background is just AWESOME!!

Lastly, I tried what i thought was the most obvious way to use my mists more often...using them to tint my white embossing paste! I LOOOOOOOOOVE embossing paste, and since I have white, it's the perfect jumping off point to add color!

What you need to keep in mind here, is that you really need to play around to get the exact color you want and how many drops to use, etc. On one card i tinted my embossing paste with grey mist and it needed like 10 drops of color to mix, and for my card for this example, i used pink and only did 3 drops! So it really just depends on the color, and the amount of saturation you're looking for! :)

If you're intrigued to see the card i made with the pink tinted embossing paste - head on over to my blog! :)

What is your favorite way to use mists? I'm totally dying to find new ways to use this product! :)
All of my cards use the Yummy Love stamp set for the images and the Monogram Alpha stamp set for the sentiments! LOVE this pairing! :)

Have you been following the Sweet Stamp Shop on Pinterest? There is a TON of inspiration there, if you're ever feeling like you need a creative jump start! And if that doesn't help - the Sweet Stamp Shop Flickr account is filled to the brim with amazingly SWEET creations!

Thanks for stopping by!
~Samantha Pin It

Feb 4, 2014

Two Looks In One

Hello Sweet Friends!  It's Charlene here with you with a super simple and fun technique! I have some embossing folders that unfortunately are collecting dust.  I dusted one of them off and gave it a make over, with some blush of course.  Ready?
  1. Supplies:  embossing folder, ink, and a brayer.  Not pictured are white card stock and Cuttlebug.  I chose a pigment ink for this project.  
  2. Use a brayer to apply ink onto the folder then run it through your embossing machine. The fun part is that you get two different looks by applying ink on either side of the folder. 
On the right:  I applied ink on the embossed side of the folder.  On the left: inked on the debossed side. Now the panels are all set for a project. Wasn't that super simple?

Here's my card using the panel on the right:

In keeping with the embossing theme, I heat embossed the sentiment in hot pink powder on vellum.

Here's my second card using the panel on the left (inking the debossed side).  The look is completely different.

Stamp Set:  Elegant Sentiments
Thanks so much for visiting!
Have a wonderful Tuesday!
Charlene Pin It

Feb 3, 2014

I've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'...

Do you ever struggle for inspiration even when you have a sketch or something to guide you?  That was my problem this week.  My crafty mojo was no where to be found even though I was working with an awesome CAS(E) this Sketch challenge.  What's a girl to do?  Well, I decided to take a page out of Dannielle's book and do a little Fusion.  ;)  Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me show you the sketch.

For my first card, I used the adorable Yummy Love set to make the perfect valentine for my honey.

I used a couple bits and pieces of patterned paper that I had leftover for the background and the heart shape.  To get that cute "Hello" banner, I cut up a journaling card from a pocket scrapbooking company.  I had some white letters laying around but I needed a little bit more color so, I colored them with my copics to match the heart.  Love how that turned out!  A little fun coloring on my honey pot and some Glossy Accents to make some honey on the dipper and you have a pretty cute card.  Love it and I hope you will too!

For my 2nd take, I got totally stumped.  I tried a TON of different card ideas and I just wasn't cranking out anything I liked.  Then my Facebook feed gave me an idea.  I'd use the Fusion challenge blog as my inspiration and pull in a picture that inspires me to use along with my sketch.  That's all it took.  I had a card done and I loved it in less than 10 mins...I swear!  So, here's the inspiration photo I used in conjunction with my sketch for my second card:

Pretty, isn't it.  I knew that this was just screaming for a little ELEGANT combo so I broke out Elegant Flowers and Elegant Sentiments.  You can't beat that 1, 2 punch!

I stamped my flower with a lovely turquoise ink and then stamped the outline with gold to emulate the inspiration photo.  The sentiment was stamped with the same gold and then I added some enamel dots and bling to represent the berries from the inspiration.  I thought it needed a little something more so I cut the card front down to layer on a striped card base for the perfect extra pop of color.

Nothing terribly techniquey this week but I wanted you to see how a sketch can just be a springboard to even more inspiration.  Thanks to the Fusion blog for all their great and inspiring combos.  I hope you will visit their challenge and CAS(E) this Sketch for some fun and energizing sketch action.  Don't forget to check out our Sweet Stamp Shop Facebook page.  We'd love to hear about your ways of getting your craft mojo back.  We all need a little help sometimes!  Also, don't forget to check out the SSS YouTube channel.  Nicole has totally revamped it and you won't want to miss out on the fun she has in store, so make sure you subscribe now!  I hope you enjoyed today's Sketches 2 Ways and I can't wait to see you back here soon.  Have a great Monday.

-Chrissy Pin It

Jan 31, 2014

Operation Write Home

The group I'm profiling today is one of the largest and most widely known charitable organizations among card makers. Perhaps you've heard of it. Operation Write Home supports U.S. armed forces by sending blank, homemade greeting cards to write home on, as well as sending them cards of gratitude.

About Operation Write Home 
Cardmakers from the United States– and citizens of other nations too – who care about our military, and want to support them through creativity and encouragement participate in Operation Write Home since 2007. 

Care packages filled with hundreds of handmade cards are sent to our contacts, restocking every 6-8 weeks, and are sent in time for the long journey back home to loved ones. Each box is packed with great care, alternating styles, colors, and cardmakers from all over the United States creating “eye candy” for heroes who see only khaki around them. In addition to blank cards for soldiers, a plastic bag filled with 20-30 letters from adults and children across the country, are handed out especially to those in need of a positive word from the homefront.

Boxes are shipped every week of the year. Operation Write Home recently sent out its 2.5 millionth card! There is the solder with the 2.5 millionth card in the photo below!

U.S. soldiers from every branch of service - deployed all over the world - receive cards from Operation Write Home. Cards are distributed through chapels, MWRs, USOs, battlefields and living quarters at deployed duty station around the globe.

Want to see some of those recipients? Click here to see a slide show of soldiers with their cards. Grab a tissue. You may choke up a little.

 How to Get Involved
Operation Write Home has some unique guidelines, which you can find here. One of the most important rules is absolutely NO GLITTER.  What? No glitter? That's right. Glitter makes soldiers visible to someone with night vision goggles and puts them at risk as an easy target.

Another guideline to note is that they accept A2 cards (4.25x5.5") only. Because Operation Write Home processes thousands and thousands of cards a year, they need to be as efficient as possible. The more cards they can process, the more opportunities for soldiers to send something special to their families. 

You can get all the guidelines from their web site, which is chock full of really good information.

It's also important to note their deadlines. While you and I are thinking about Valentine's Day cards, Operation Write Home is already working on Easter and Mother's Day themes. Many of their cards go to remote locations, so they need to work 6-8 weeks ahead of time. Click here for a calendar.

Now, what soldier wouldn't love to give this silly card to his or her child! It's an A2 card with no glitter. If you lift the flaps, you can read some of the silly sounds in the song. My daughter loves that song. Apparently, her kindergarten class dances to it sometimes during brain breaks!

The card uses the new set Foxy, which is sold out, but will be back in the store this coming week. Trust me, it's an awesome set. Why do you think it sold out so fast!

Have a great weekend and please consider sharing your talent by donating a card (or two, or three or four) to Operation Write Home or any of the organizations I've profiled.

Annette Pin It