How I Did That – Making Your Own Papers and Elements from Photos
Melinda here today bringing you the latest installment of the "How I Did That" blog series.
I’m mainly an event scrapper. Most of my layouts focus on something that happened, someplace we went, or something we did. I usually use a lot of photos to tell the story too, and I especially love 2 page layouts. Sometimes, the place or event calls for a very specialized set of papers and embellishments that I know are going to be very difficult to find pre-made for me. There might be something that suits the general theme out there, if I can find it, but often there is not. For times like this, I think it is easier just to make it myself if I had the foresight to snap a few extra pictures at the destination. Over the years, this has become almost second nature to me and I will take pictures of anything that captures my eye as potentially being something that would look good on my future layout.
Here’s a case in point: On our vacation in July 2008, one of the places we stopped at was Lincoln Home National Park in Springfield, Illinois. President Lincoln’s home and neighborhood are preserved as they were in the 1860s when he lived there as a state senator before being elected to the presidency. When scrapping period specific places like this, I prefer papers and elements that reflect the time. I’ve never seen a digital kit based in the 1860s and that would reflect the interests and tastes of the Lincoln family. So, as we toured the home, I snapped away with my camera taking pictures of the beautifully replicated wallpapers, rugs, and knick-knacks that made the home the Lincoln’s during this period. Yes, you will always be at the end of the tour as you have to wait until everyone else gets out of the way, and you will probably get a few strange looks as people wonder what in the world you need a picture of the wall for. But, hey, scrappers are thick-skinned and can deal with it to get that perfect picture they want!
Don’t forget to check out the gift shops for neat items that can be included as well- I found some replicated and aged documents and a copy of the original door key that had been turned into a keychain on the back wall with the souvenirs. I love postcards as they are professional photographs that many times are taken with specialized equipment that I do not own; I did not have a wide aperture lens for my camera that allowed me to get a whole room in one shot. Knowing that I could purchase postcards with those pictures (usually for 50 cents or less apiece) saved me the trouble of trying and I was able to use my time on the tour to get close-ups of the items in the house that caught my eye.
Once you get home and start scrapping, the fun begins. I turned all of those pictures I took on the tour into both papers and elements to use on my layout. For the documents and postcards I brought home with me, I photographed them on a sunny day in natural light. You could also scan those that fit on your scanner, if you prefer. Next I opened the photos I took in the house and postcards and made a color palette. Once I got past all of the bold patterns found in the linens and wallpaper throughout the house, I found that there was a unifying color palette used throughout the home. Then, I started turning my photos into papers and elements that I could use on a layout.
So, how did I do all of that? All it takes is a couple of simple tools, and lots of patience. To make the digital papers, I re-sized them so that the smallest dimension was 12 inches at 300 dpi and then I cropped them using the crop tool to 12×12 inches. Read the Crop Tool and Enlarging Photos tutorials in the forum for more specific details on these techniques. If your images have strong visual lines, make sure they are straight. Camera distortion and photographer error can skew the lines and edges of your photograph; these will need to be straightened and evened out to make a good paper. I had to adjust the lines of the hallway wallpaper to get vertical lines throughout the final digital paper. I also made a few pieces of cardstock with colors from the swatch and some textured overlays, such as the Sweet Soft Papers Vol 3 by Miss Vivi (though these aren’t the specific ones I used).
To make the elements, I extracted them from the photograph backgrounds. While simple in theory, this does take knowledge of how the various selection tools work and lots and lots of practice. There is a series of 4 tutorials (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) in the forum that will take you through how the different selection tools work. Just jump in and give extraction a try, as head-knowledge will only get you so far in this area. Use the different tools and figure out what works best for you. My preferred tools have changed over the years, and how I extract things may not be the best method for you.
Here is what my final ‘kit’ looked like when put all together.
I didn’t end up using everything I made, but that’s OK. Here is my completed LO. I used a few of Jen Caputo’s torn and curled paper edges and a journal card and alpha from Manu to round out the layout. I could have made my own, but I found something that worked for me so I went ahead and used it. I’m a firm believer in not re-inventing the wheel when you don’t have to. Don’t forget the fonts you use too- there are many companies that create specialty fonts that can lend an authentic air to your layout. I was able to find a font based on Abraham Lincoln’s handwriting to use on my layout.
So, next time you are out and about, look around you and notice the details- you just might see something you can include on your LO to make it “personally yours”.