Saturday, January 31, 2015

How to Make a Product Collage in Photoshop Without Tedious Cropping

Part of what's great about being a lifestyle blogger is that you can curate and share your own inspiration boards. When you present these beautifully, you will be able to connect to your readers more by honing in on your unique aesthetic.

Many bloggers create product collages in order for an image to be shareable, especially on a visual social media platform like Pinterest. Want to learn how to create your own professional-looking product collages?

Here's how to create your own collages quickly and tie it together with graphics, all in Photoshop. This method doesn't use tedious lasso-tool methods or complicated cropping. Just drag and drop!

How to create your own product collage in Photoshop quickly and easily

Step 1: Gather Your List of Products


This is the fun part! It's like shopping online, though you probably aren't dishing out money for things (or maybe you get too tempted and make a few purchases. Oops!).

How to create your own product collage in Photoshop - Step 1: Gather products and links

You probably already have a theme in mind. These all make fun topics: an outfit that's perfect for Valentine's Day, black-and-white decor, or your favorite kitchen accessories.

For this example, I'm going to go with gold office accessories. I've been seeing pairs of gold scissors on Instagram and elsewhere, and I've become a bit obsessed.

First, gather a bunch of links of your favorite products. You'll want to actually copy and paste these into your own list so you don't lose the links later.

Here are some example links:

Nate Berkus Gold Shears product example for a collage tutorial in photoshophttp://www.target.com/p/nate-berkus-gold-shears/-/A-15023972

Gold Studio Paper Weight Wishbone product example for a collage tutorial in Photoshophttp://www.wayfair.com/Studio-A-Wish-Paper-Weight-7.8031-SQA1185.html

Kate Spade take note little gold book medium notebook product example for a collage tutorial in Photoshophttp://www.katespade.com/Take-Note-little-gold-book-medium-notebook/145731,en_US,pd.html

You get the point! Now it's time for some image gathering and Photoshop magic.

Step 2: Save Images and Take Screenshots


The images you include in the product collage should be clean and un-busy. This means no packaging and no backgrounds if possible.

How to create your own product collage in Photoshop - Step 2: Take screenshots or save images for your product collage

Because you're using these images in a collage, it's best for each piece to be an individual floating element on a light or white background.

The Nate Berkus Gold Shears are a great example. On the Target sales page, there are two product images included. I'm going to snag the one that doesn't have the packaging included.

To save images, try right-clicking on the image and save it. If this isn't possible, take a screenshot of your product. On a Mac, type CMD+SHIFT+4 and then click and drag to draw a box around your object. On a PC, use your alt+PRINTSCRN keys.

There are tons of other screen capture apps for both Mac and PC, but since you're dragging these into Photoshop you won't have to get too fancy with this.

Step 3: Arrange Your Items in One Photoshop Document


Create a new blank document with a white background. Because Pinterest is such an influential platform, I recommend using a tall document size. I usually create all of my "pinnable" images at 700px wide by 1000px high.

Drag and drop all of your items into the new document. Don't worry if they overlap right now; you'll rearrange them later.

The key for this working quickly is the Multiply blend mode. Click on your layer and change the blend mode in Photoshop to Multiply. It will knock out the white backgrounds (more info here).

How to create your own product collage in Photoshop - Step 3: Choose multiply blend mode to knock out the white backgrounds of your products

You'll notice that the Kate Spade notebook has a light grey background. You can get rid of this by using the Lasso Tool to delete the background, or you can adjust the levels to turn the grey background into white (like step 2 of this tutorial). I did the latter to save time.

Now, resize and arrange your products in your document as you choose. When you re-size layers, hold down SHIFT so the image doesn't stretch out of proportion.

Here's where I am now:

How to create your own product collage in Photoshop - Arrange your items

Step 4: Add a Title and Numbers


It's important to add text to your image. Since blog readers love to pin stuff, it's best if your image can speak for itself outside of your blog.

I recommend adding a captivating title, numbers, and your blog link.

How you choose to style your text and number bubbles is up to you - but they should match your blog's brand.

Here's my final product collage from this example, as well as how I would include the links for the products.

How to create your own product collage in Photoshop - Step 4: Add a title and numbers that fit with your brand1 | 2 | 3

That's it! I hope this tutorial helped you. Happy Collage-Making!


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grow Like a Tree - Free Desktop and Phone Wallpaper

January is almost over, and it's got me thinking a lot about my Word for 2015. I'm a month into my new job, and a little more than a month into the new apartment with Adams. It's been a lot of change and adjustment, and I'm growing in a positive way in my new environments (or at least I hope so!).

To help remind myself of my Word for 2015, I illustrated a desktop background for myself and wanted to share it with you. The download is also featuring my new Paperweight Font, which is available for purchase.

The Growth Tree: Free illustrated desktop and iPhone wallpaper with and without the February calendar

So you can enjoy it to its fullest extent, I'm offering a version with and without a February calendar.

Download Grow for Desktop w/ CalendarDownload Grow for Desktop w/o CalendarDownload Grow for Mobile

I am also celebrating the fact that I replaced my shattered iPhone screen, by myself, in 45 minutes! Talk about a DIY.

DIY iPhone screen repair

I'd love to hear how your Words for 2015 are going! If you don't have one yet, it's not too late to start. (Well, really, it's never too late to start if you don't believe in New Years Resolutions, like me.)

Love this freebie? Share it and pin it — and let me know how your year is going so far in the comments below.


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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Digital Drawing Made Easy With iPad and Paper by FiftyThree

Drawing digitally doesn't have to involve a lot of expensive tools like the Wacom tablet or a Cintiq. If you have an iPad, you're already well-equipped to create awesome drawings and doodles by downloading the Paper by FiftyThree app.

Learn how to draw digitally and create drawings with transparent backgrounds with Paper by FiftyThree app and iPad

Pause for a little backstory: I've ended up purchasing and selling iPads several times just because of this app. I'll buy an iPad, thinking I'll use it all the time. I'll draw a little using Paper. But then I'll subsequently sell the iPad because I'm not using it enough. Then I'll obsess over buying one again because I miss using Paper. It's a sad cycle that I'm very much aware of.

Anyway, back on track. The one really cool thing about Paper is that you can choose to export your drawings with a transparent background.

I shared this tip with Katrina of PuglyPixel a while ago and am still beaming at her mention of me on her blog. But it's high time that I share with you how to do this, step by step, since knowing how to create drawings with transparent backgrounds is a game-changer.

Have fun with it! This is a great way to quickly add handwriting and doodles on top of photos or other images.

Step 1: Download the Paper by FiftyThree App


Paper by FiftyThree appSource

If you have an iPad, the app is free. It's the add-on tools that cost more, but if you're serious about drawing, they're well worth it. I recommend making the plunge and buying the entire bundle. Right now, it's $4.99.

Step 2: Draw Your Stuff


Drawing with Paper takes a bit of practice, but it's very fun once you get the hang of it.

Some key gestures:

  • Undo: Use your pointer and middle finger and draw a circle counterclockwise to wind the clock back and clockwise to go forward.
  • Zoom: Use your thumb and pointer finger to zoom in on a specific area of your drawing, and then you can drag around the magnified area by dragging the black border.
  • Swipe Up: When you're drawing, you can access the tool tray by swiping up from the bottom. Try doing this away from the center so Control Panel doesn't come up instead.
  • Pinch: Pinch your drawing to go back to notebook view. This is where you can manage your drawings and share them (more on that later).

Depending on what I'm doing, sometimes I will start with light pencil marks for reference, much like I would on paper.

Drawing with Paper by FiftyThree

The watercolor brush is my absolute favorite. Just note that every time you pick up your finger, it will start a new watercolor blob. Sometimes it helps to plan ahead and have a large watercolor blob mass or else it gets too layer-y.

Drawing with Paper by FiftyThree

The fountain pen will create thin, saturated lines which will get thicker if you move your finger across the page quickly.

A note on the Pencil stylus: I've tried it and I'm not a fan; I can't recommend it. I typically just use my finger.

Step 3: Save Your Image To Your Camera Roll with a Transparent Background


Once you're done with your drawing, pinch the page to manage and share your files.

Pinch your drawing in Paper by FiftyThree to share your drawings

Tap on the Camera Roll row for more options.

How to save your drawings with a transparent background in Paper by FiftyThree

In here, turn Save Background off.

Turn save background off

Then go back to the Share menu, and tap the Share button. Your images will now be in your Camera Roll in Photos, sans-backgrounds.

Step 4: Send Your Images to Yourself


Go into Photos and find your images. They may look weird when you zoom in on them; this is because of the transparent background. Tap select and share, then email or Message the photos to yourself.

Step 5: Play With Your Images in Photoshop


Now, open your images in Photoshop. Because they don't have a background saved, they'll show up as a PNG file type, which has a transparent background.

Your images will have a transparent background in Photoshop

Move stuff around and play with your images as desired. If you draw several separate, non-overlapping items, you can move them around by selecting them first with the marquee (M) or lasso tool (L).

Here's your chance to add a fun background or place your doodles on top of photos, too. I love these Free Rice Paper Textures.

Use the lasso and marquee tool to select individual doodles and move them around

This also works for sketchy pencil drawings and any other style you can think of.

Egg buddies

Hi on chalkboard

Have fun with the app and transparent background tip. Please share your graphics you create - I'd love to see them!


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

What's Your Current Favorite Font?

Inspired by this Dribbble Favorite Color Playoff, I'd like to do something similar with fonts. To narrow it down, let's go with sans-serif fonts.

What's your favorite sans serif font?

While I used to be a Montserrat girl, I am all over Fjalla One now. I use Fjalla in all of my blog graphics now and love how it can transition from all-caps to lowercase nicely. In fact, I was using Oswald for my titles up until I wrote this post, then fixed it so it would match sitewide to be Fjalla.

I also love it because it's not an intrusive font and pairs well with calligraphic elements that I include in graphics.

Fjalla One font

So your turn: what's your current favorite sans serif font?


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Capture Your Audience with Emotional Titles

Excuse me while I go on a quick analytical rant about blogging.

What Makes a Successful Blog?


The funny thing about blogging is that it all boils down to marketing. Sure, on the personal level a blog is always a creative outlet first: a place to express yourself, share ideas, teach others, and be you.

Then, there's a successful blog. What constitutes success? Different people will have different answers. For me, on a softball level, it's helping others by inspiring them to draw or try hand lettering. It's also helping others succeed at blogging by providing tips I've learned over the past few years.

On a more measurable level? It's about engagement. (I'm skipping past the analytics and numbers game because high numbers don't automatically spell success. Data is tricky.)

So that is why measuring blog success on engagement is important. While engagement can be measured in certain ways (like number of Twitter mentions and retweets on an article or number of comments on one blog post), engagement is more about a feeling.

For example: the general feeling I have that creating a meaningful presence in the blogosphere and interacting with others is causing me to feel like my blog is becoming more "successful".

So what is the first step in generating engagement?

Marketing Generates Engagement


There's a point to my rant above, and I mentioned it before: it all boils down to marketing. And that makes me shiver a little.

Marketing — from a cynical perspective — appeals to people's emotions in order to cause action. So one such example is writing a good blog post title in order for people to click through on a RSS reader like Feedly or Bloglovin'.

How to write captivating blog post titles

I forget how I came across this link, but I find it fascinating: it's a free headline analyzer from Advanced Marketing Institute.

It measures the emotional appeal of your blog post title on three levels: Intellectual, Empathetic, and Spiritual.

Blog post titles can appeal to your audience on three levels - intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual

You Still Have to Follow Through


Your blog post content needs to match its title. You can't just create a compelling post title and then post garbage underneath. That will cause a high bounce rate and will also damage your blog's brand by causing your readers to consciously or subconsciously lose trust in you.

In this case, "Capture Your Audience with Emotional Titles" scored at 50% which is high, putting me in the computer's idea of a "gifted copywriter".

50% rating for this blog post title from AMinstitute

And it wasn't easy to get a score that high. Other thoughts I had for this post, which follow my normal stream of thinking: "How to Write Captivating Blog Post Titles" (14.29%) and "A Successful Blog Needs Good Copywriting" (16.67%), while weirdly enough "A Successful Blog Needs Good Marketing" got 33.33%.

But ultimately, if you decide to play this headline game and create blog post titles that will grip your readers into clicking and reading, you have to remember to follow through in order to avoid damaging your blog's brand.

Keeping your brand intact is important. So, to do this:

  • Write meaningful, helpful content, THEN
  • Create a kick-ass headline, which will cause people to read, which will in turn
  • Help lots of people who will then engage with your content and share it, which will eventually
  • Make your blog and your blog's brand trustworthy and awesome to people.

Whether or not I continue to use the Advanced Marketing Institute headline analyzer is up in the air. But, you can't deny the impact of a well-written, meaningful and topical blog post title.

As always, I hope this was helpful for you.

What are your tips for writing a good blog post title?

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

How to Create 3D Hand Lettered Text in Illustrator Using the Extrude Tool

In this post I'm going to show you how to take your block lettering styles and add a fun 3D effect to them using the Extrude Tool in Illustrator.

I love this effect because it's a quick way to add a realistic 3D look to your letters yet still keep the hand lettering feel to them. Also, 3D effects are fun but can quickly go awry if you do it on paper. (At least this is my experience.)

Because this is done with hand lettering instead of using a blocky font, you get a softer, squishy feel to the letters that feels fun and personalized.

How to create 3D hand lettered text in Adobe Illustrator - a fun and easy tutorial

This post uses a lot of similar techniques in previous hand lettering tutorials, so if I gloss over a technique or a step, I will try to point you in the right direction.

Step 1: Draw and Scan In Your Work


Go ahead and draw and ink your work using a black pen on plain white paper. The process is hardly pretty at this stage, and because this is going straight into the computer, you can afford to make several attempts at a letter and worry about arranging it in Photoshop or Illustrator later.

scan in your work

In Photoshop, adjust the levels of your work so it's clean black on white. You can learn more about this process in Step 2 of this tutorial here.

adjust the levels of your scan in Photoshop so it's white and black and strong contrast

Then, go ahead and drag individual letters into Illustrator and then arrange your composition.

Step 2: Convert your Drawings to Vector Using Image Trace in Illustrator


Use the Image Trace tool to convert your letterforms into vector shapes (more details in Step 4 of this tutorial).

arrange individual letters in illustrator or tweak your work so it's laid out properly

Expand appearance on the letters, ungroup them, and then delete the extra pieces. For this particular style I recommend saving the "fill" inside the letters because you're later going to unite the "stroke" to the "fill" so it's one piece.

live trace your letters and then ungroup and save the fill

Step 3: Colorize, Unite, and Smooth Your Letters


Next, choose a color palette. I love to go to Design Seeds for this.

choose your colors with a color palette or design seeds

Drop in your chosen color palette into Illustrator so you can easily grab the color with the eyedropper tool.

To apply the color, choose the letter and its fill with the select tool, then choose the Eyedropper tool (keyboard shortcut I) and click on the color you want to change the color to.

eye dropper your chosen color onto your letters and strokes

Keep going until you're finished.

eye dropper your chosen color onto your letters and strokes until finished

You may now see that the fill looks slightly separated from the "stroke". We can fix this by combining the two pieces by using the Unite tool in Pathfinder (go to Window → Pathfinder and choose the Unite option in the panel).

unite the strokes and fill using the unite tool in pathfinder

Now the shapes are united, so you have one letter.

shapes are now united using the unite tool under pathfinder

Next, you want to smooth out your letters so that there are cleaner lines and less anchor points. You can do this with your mouse or with a Wacom tablet (here are time-saving tips on how to set up your Wacom tablet and Illustrator for this type of work.)

smooth out your letters with a mouse or wacom tablet

You'll see why the smooth process is so important in the next step where we go to use the 3D tool.

letter is smoother after using smooth tool in illustrator

Step 4: Apply the 3D Text Effect in Illustrator


Now's the fun part: playing with the 3D text effect!

Open up the panel in Illustrator by going to Effect → 3D → Extrude & Bevel. Here are the settings I ended up using on this particular piece, but have fun here and make it your own. (Click the More Options button in the bottom of the panel to view all of the options shown below.) You can read more about this panel here.

As you're doing this, make sure to have your letters selected and also have the Preview checkbox checked so you can see the changes being made live.

3d text effect setting panel extrude and bevel

Close the panel to see your effect.

3d extrude and bevel text effects now applied

Then click away to see it applied!

click outside of artwork to see the final 3d text effect

Now you can do whatever you want with the text. Important note: if you're going to bring this artwork into Photoshop, I recommend sizing it to the correct size in Illustrator and then Exporting it to a PNG (or else you'll get some funky results if you copy and paste directly from Illustrator to Photoshop).

How to create 3D hand lettered text in Adobe Illustrator - a fun and easy tutorial

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If there are any things you'd like to learn how to do in Photoshop or Illustrator, comment below or email me.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Paperweight Font - My Hand Drawn Font Available for Download

Let this serve as the official announcement of fun new things. Firstly, I created my second font, Paperweight, and it's available for download.

The Paperweight Font


Paperweight Font by Jennifer Coyle at Hello Brio Studio

I've been inspired a lot by brush pen calligraphy and lettering lately. One weeknight I got out my graph paper and started drawing letterforms, determined to create a new font.

The process was very similar to my first font and I enjoyed it even more, since this was my second rodeo with this workflow. Oh, that rhymed, I apologize.

Paperweight font sketches and process

You can see the multiple iterations of some letterforms… and this is one of the cleaner sheets!

A Couple of Other Exciting Announcements


This branches out into a couple of other things: I've officially smooshed my brand all under the Hello Brio Studio name, which includes updating my portfolio and shop to be named aptly.

Hello Brio Studio

I've also opened a new shop on Creative Market!

If you're on Creative Market, please like my products and follow my shop. I appreciate your support!

Hello Brio Studio portfolio and shop screenshot

Download Paperweight


There are a couple of ways to download Paperweight. Because I'm so excited about my updated Studio site and opening a shop on Creative Market, I'm offering Paperweight for free!

Paperweight hand drawn font with character

Download the Free Font

If you want to support my blogging and design efforts, you can also purchase the font on Creative Market or on my site.

Purchase Paperweight Font

Thanks for reading my exciting announcements!

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