Faded Fun - Blending Photos into the Background

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Jenny BinderThis week I saw a newsletter from another digital scrapbooking website that showcased several layouts from their gallery. Amazingly, almost all of the layouts chosen had at least one thing in common—one photo faded into a texture rich background paper.

I’ve seen this technique many times before, but decided it was finally time for me to give it a try. And once I got started, I couldn’t seem to quit!

For Adobe Photoshop Version click here.

Step 1: Create Your Document

Choose File > New > Blank File, choose your paper size and resolution, click OK.

Step 2: Add Paper and a Photo

Before you complete this step, look for the right paper and the right photo that will help you achieve this look.

  • Your paper should be very textured, although not too grungy. What’s the difference? In my mind, highly textured paper looks like it would feel rough if I rubbed my hand across it. If I could run my hand across grungy paper, I would probably want to go wash it.
  • I’ve found I like to use photos that are the “warm fuzzy” type. A concentrated subject and uncluttered background also help tremendously.

2009-03-02-image01

  • Bring your chosen photo and background paper into your new document, using whatever method you prefer. I use the “drag-and-drop” method, dragging from one window to another, but you use what you’re comfortable with.

Step 3: Play with the Blend Modes

Make sure your photo layer is the active layer in the Layers palette. Now we’re going to see what this photo looks like with different blend modes.

Click once on the word “Normal” at the top of the Layers palette, which will bring the Blend Mode drop-down menu into view. You can choose a blend mode from this menu, but what I usually do is click on “Normal” again, which will remove the drop-down menu, but keeps “Normal” highlighted. Now you can use your down arrow key to scroll through each blend mode in the list.

(If you are working on a Mac, you'll need to use Shift+ or Shift- instead of the arrow keys.) As you do this, note the names of the blend modes you like, and finally choose the one you like the best.

2009-03-02-image02

If you like the look of a certain blend mode, but it makes the photo too dark, you can adjust it by reducing the opacity at the top of the Layers palette. You can also adjust a “too light” blended photo, which was my case, but we will do that at the end. I chose the Color Burn mode.

Step 4: Resize and Erase

  • Resize your photo, if needed. With your photo layer active in the Layers palette, press Ctr T (Mac: Cmd T). Click and drag one of the corner handles to resize. Click on the green check mark under the outline to accept your transformation.
  • Move your photo into place with the Move tool.

2009-03-02-image03

  • Some photos may cover the entire page. If yours does not, like mine, choose the Eraser tool from the Tool bar to the left. Choose a very large, very soft brush from the Options bar above, then erase away as much or as little of your photo as you prefer. In my photo, I wanted to erase all of the green grass. In some of the other pages I did using this technique, I simply erased the hard edge of the photo to blend it into the background paper.

Step 5: Darken (if needed)

Once you have erased all of the photo that you want, you can darken it by duplicating it. Press Ctr J (Mac: Cmd J). If this is not enough of an adjustment, duplicate it again. If it is too much, adjust the top photo layer by reducing the opacity with the Opacity slider at the top of the Layers palette.

In my case, I duplicated the photo layer once, but reduced the new layer down to 25%. Each page will be different, depending on the color and shade of the background paper and photo, so just play with it until you think it looks good.

Step 6: Add Everything Else

I’ve seen pages utilizing this technique that add tons of additional embellishments, and some that only add a few. It all depends on the look you’re going for, and what you want to include on your page. In my case, I added quite a bit.

2009-03-02-image04

I would encourage you to give this technique a try! Like I said, once I got started, I wanted to try another photo…then another… To see some of my other pages, visit the Digital Scrapper Gallery. And don’t forget to add your own pages using this technique there!

2009-03-02-image05

Credits: Tutorial by Jenny Binder, www.HeirloomScrapbooks.com. “Character” layout: Background paper from Simple Naturals kit by Eclectic designs by Gabi; sewn hearts, circles, and arrow from All Sorts kit by Fee Jardine; bracket mat and ribbon from Indian Summer kit by Cori Gammon; staples from Fix It kit by Bohemian Art; Fonts are Artistamp Medium and LD Olympia Standard. To see credits for the other layouts, please visit the Digital Scrapper gallery.

Step 1: Create Your Document

Choose File > New > Blank File, choose your paper size and resolution, click OK.

Step 2: Add Paper and a Photo

Before you complete this step, look for the right paper and the right photo that will help you achieve this look.

  • Your paper should be very textured, although not too grungy. What’s the difference? In my mind, highly textured paper looks like it would feel rough if I rubbed my hand across it. If I could run my hand across grungy paper, I would probably want to go wash it.
  • I’ve found I like to use photos that are the “warm fuzzy” type. A concentrated subject and uncluttered background also help tremendously.

2009-03-02-image01

  • Bring your chosen photo and background paper into your new document, using whatever method you prefer. I use the “drag-and-drop” method, dragging from one window to another, but you use what you’re comfortable with.

Step 3: Play with the Blend Modes

Make sure your photo layer is the active layer in the Layers palette. Now we’re going to see what this photo looks like with different blend modes.

Click once on the word “Normal” at the top of the Layers palette, which will bring the Blend Mode drop-down menu into view. You can choose a blend mode from this menu, but what I usually do is click on “Normal” again, which will remove the drop-down menu, but keeps “Normal” highlighted.

Now you can use your down arrow key to scroll through each blend mode in the list. (If you are working on a Mac, you'll need to use Shift+ or Shift- instead of the arrow keys.) As you do this, note the names of the blend modes you like, and finally choose the one you like the best.

2009-03-02-image02

If you like the look of a certain blend mode, but it makes the photo too dark, you can adjust it by reducing the opacity at the top of the Layers palette. You can also adjust a “too light” blended photo, which was my case, but we will do that at the end. I chose the Color Burn mode.

Step 4: Resize and Erase

  • Resize your photo, if needed. With your photo layer active in the Layers palette, press Ctr T (Mac: Cmd T). Click and drag one of the corner handles to resize. Click on the green check mark under the outline to accept your transformation.
  • Move your photo into place with the Move tool.
  • Some photos may cover the entire page. If yours does not, like mine, choose the Eraser tool from the Tool bar to the left. Choose a very large, very soft brush from the Options bar above, then erase away as much or as little of your photo as you prefer. In my photo, I wanted to erase all of the green grass. In some of the other pages I did using this technique, I simply erased the hard edge of the photo to blend it into the background paper.

2009-03-02-image03

Step 5: Darken (if needed)

Once you have erased all of the photo that you want, you can darken it by duplicating it. Press Ctr J (Mac: Cmd J). If this is not enough of an adjustment, duplicate it again. If it is too much, adjust the top photo layer by reducing the opacity with the Opacity slider at the top of the Layers palette.

In my case, I duplicated the photo layer once, but reduced the new layer down to 25%. Each page will be different, depending on the color and shade of the background paper and photo, so just play with it until you think it looks good.

Step 6: Add Everything Else

I’ve seen pages utilizing this technique that add tons of additional embellishments, and some that only add a few. It all depends on the look you’re going for, and what you want to include on your page. In my case, I added quite a bit.

2009-03-02-image04

I would encourage you to give this technique a try! Like I said, once I got started, I wanted to try another photo… then another… To see some of my other pages, visit the Digital Scrapper Gallery. And don’t forget to add your own pages using this technique there!

2009-03-02-image05

Credits: Tutorial by Jenny Binder, www.HeirloomScrapbooks.com. “Character” layout: Background paper from Simple Naturals kit by Eclectic designs by Gabi; sewn hearts, circles, and arrow from All Sorts kit by Fee Jardine; bracket mat and ribbon from Indian Summer kit by Cori Gammon; staples from Fix It kit by Bohemian Art; Fonts are Artistamp Medium and LD Olympia Standard. To see credits for the other layouts, please visit the gallery.

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