Photoshop Tips & Tricks #4: How to Make a Blog Button {Using Stock Images}

As most of you know, Picnik will soon be going away and a lot of bloggers are left in the dark when it comes to adjusting their photos and creating new blog buttons. I’ve always been an avid user of Photoshop and currently have recently been posting about my favorite Tips & Tricks.

Well today I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on how to make creative blog buttons using Photoshop and stock photos… perfect for beginners. So let’s get going!


First thing you want to do is find your design elements. Since I’m guessing most of you aren’t graphic designers or illustrators, you’ll need a little help with this part! One of my favorite sites to purchase stock photos, illustrations and vector artwork is BigStockPhoto.com.

You can purchase web-sized JPGs from as little as $2.99. Yes, you can sometimes find little illustrations online that you can grab off Google, but some of those images are copyrighted. Play it safe and purchase your clip art or illustrations. Plus anything you purchase for a blog button can also be used for your website header or Facebook timeline cover! Just note that any item you purchase from BigStockPhoto.com cannot be redistributed. It is for personal use only.

For the first blog button I found this little pink polka dot background (which you could easily create yourself) and a little blue birdie.

First thing you’re going to do is size your downloaded photo. I suggest starting with a 300 pixel square. Most websites and bloggers use 125×125 pixel buttons, but I find it better to create the file larger and scale down as needed.

You can either create a new document at 300×300 pixels and drag your downloaded background to the new document and transform it to fit (Image > Free Transform), or you can crop the downloaded image to size (I chose the latter for this exercise).

I set the width and height in the Options Bar to 300 pixels each (see above screenshot) and cropped the image.

Create a new layer on top of the background image. Use the circle marquee tool to draw a circle and fill it with white (Edit > Fill). Add a drop shadow if preferred.

If your icon (like my birdie) has a plain white background you can use the Magic Eraser to isolate the bird. Just click in the white area with the tool and it magically disappears! Now you can drag the bird onto the new button and create a layered effect.

Next let’s add some text! Use the type tool to create your text, change the font, and choose your colors. Position it into place.

Go ahead and save the layered file as a PSD to you can make any changes in the future.

To make the JPG version, go to Layer > Flatten Image.


NOW WE MUST CHANGE THE IMAGE SIZE TO 125X125 PIXELS.
Go to Image > Image Size.

Change the pixel with at the top to 125 (the height should automatically change with it).

Now you can SAVE AS a JPEG by going to File > Save As. Change the format to JPEG and click SAVE.

TADA! YOU HAVE A BLOG BUTTON!
{aint’ she cute?} 

If I didn’t overload you too much already,
wanna see one more quick thing? 

For this next blog button I decided to download this fancy background with several tags. It had everything I was looking for… clean space to type my information, a little birdie for “How to NEST for Less” and some little clothes buttons (for this blog BUTTON!). OK, it’s not always that easy to find something so perfect, but it does happen!

I downloaded the small version and saved it to my desktop.

Now I don’t need all of this. I only want the bottom right hand corner so I’m going to crop out the rest.

Use your crop tool and set the parameters in your Options Bar to 300×300 pixels. Again, I do this size first because it’s easier to see the details when I’m creating these elements and I can always make the image smaller… you can NEVER make an image bigger (it will get pixelated and blurry!).

Once you have the image cropped, you can add your text (I rotated mine a bit with the Transform tool or Control/Apple T).

And that’s it!
Looks like a professionally designed button in a matter of minutes!

BigStockPhoto.com has a bunch of elaborate, predesigned scrapbook-like elements available for download. This is make your design effort SUPER SIMPLE! Just plop on the text and you’re done! Here are some quick samples of some adorable backgrounds…

One last thing… If you want a grab box with the code for your new blog button, check out these tutorials:

The Cool Realm Code Generator
Between Naps on the Porch
Live. Laugh. Rowe.

 

Photoshop Tips & Tricks #3: CREATING LAYER MASKS

As promised, here are a couple more Photoshop Tips & Tricks to help adjust your photographs to perfection. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here!

Today’s lesson is LAYER MASKS!
I’ll teach you how to isolate an element within your photograph and how to merge two imperfect images into one flawless photograph!

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ISOLATING AN ELEMENT

A simple use of a Photoshop Mask is to extract an element from the rest of the photograph. Below is a photo of a lamp I made for my daughter’s bedroom last year. I want to use a mask to erase the entire background and just keep the lamp itself.

First thing I’m going to do is create an adjustable layer from the background layer. Just double click on the Background layer from the Layers Palette. When the pop up window appears, click OK (I left my layer name as Layer 0).

Now you’re ready to add a Layer Mask. You can choose the option from the lower part of the Layers Palette.

Now you can see that we have the layer mask on Layer 0. Set your color palette in the toolbox to black and white. Now we’re ready to begin isolating the lamp!

MAKE SURE WHENEVER YOU ARE ADJUSTING THE MASK, THE ACTUAL MASK IS HIGHLIGHTED IN THE LAYER PALETTE.

Grab the brush tool from your toolbox (on the left of my photo). In a mask setting, paint with a BLACK paintbrush and you will remove anything you paint. I started tracing around the edge of the lamp shade and flowers…

So as you can see below I erased a little too much of the lamp shade! No worries. You can simply switch to a white paintbrush and paint back in! Yep, that easy. This is perfect when you’re cutting out small details and the round brush is hard to maneuver in little crevices.

Make sure you adjust your brushes to best fit the task at hand. If you’re trying to get a sharp, smooth line, use a harder brush. If you want a feathered or soft edge, move your Hardness to 0%.

OK, now I have completely isolated the entire lamp. Now you can use it however you’d like!

You can layer with other images to create a desired look, or flatten the image so your newly isolated lamp has a flat white background!

So you might ask yourself, why is a layer mask better than an eraser? When you use the eraser,  you are getting rid of the background for good. There’s no room for errors! When you use a layer mask, you can always switch the paintbrush to white and fill it back in with the original image! Gotta LOVE that.

Ready to see something else extremely cool?

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CHANGING HEADS

Huh? Yeah, that’s right. It’s time to change some heads.

After taking family photos parents always seem to complain that they can never get a perfect family photo. Either someone is blinking, looking away, not smiling, etc. So what can you do? CHANGE SOME HEADS.

This is our family photo from last Fall. I like how my daughter and I look. My hubby on the other hand? A little goofy. So I decided to grab his head from a different photo and Mask it onto this one.

I selected just his head from the second photo and dragged it onto the original.

I used a soft brush to remove the new unwanted areas, mostly around my daughter’s face to keep the original intact. And it’s that simple!

Just make sure you play around with the brush size and hardness to get the best results. Play around and have fun!

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CHANGING BACKGROUNDS

You can also create cool backgrounds for family photographs using Layer Masks. Just find a background you like, drag it on top of the original photograph and click ADD LAYER MASK.

Use the black brush to “fill in” the children and flooring (leaving only the walls with the new background). Something like this will take a little longer since it’s a little tedious to trace around all of the shoes, arms, legs, heads, etc… but it can be totally worth it!

HINT: when doing a huge mask like this, it’s often helpful to turn that layer’s opacity down so you can really gauge what you’re doing. Also, when tracing around hair, use a softer brush. It looks MUCH more natural!

Well, that’s it for this week!

Please feel free to email me any questions!
And don’t forget to check out the past Photoshop Tips & Tricks for more quick tutorials :)

Next week’s lesson:
HOW TO MAKE A BLOG BUTTON 

So make sure you stop by Monday!

 

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