Have you begun to explore brushes? There are some creative uses of brushes. In this tutorial I will show you how to use brushes to make masks for your photos. I use PSE9, but I believe this can be done in all versions of PSE and full Photoshop.
Here is my sample layout.
1. Start a new layout, placing a paper or two for the background.
2. Create a new layer on top of your papers by clicking on the Create New Layer button in the bottom left corner of the layers palette. It's the first one on the left, and it looks like a sheet of paper curled up at the corner.
3. Select your brush tool. Notice the menu bar. Beside the drop down menu where you will choose your brush, there is a window for you to change the size of the brush, either by typing it in or clicking the down arrow and dragging the slider. Moving to the next option on the right, you will find blend modes, which you know from my last tutorial can create some interesting effects. Next, you can change the opacity of the brush. The next two settings I don't know much about, but the last one, the icon that looks like a brush, is very useful and we are going to use it for this tutorial. When you click on it, you will see that you can change several features of the brush including rotation, hardness, and spacing.
4. Clicking on the drop down box in the menu bar, choose a brush like the chalk or oil pastel in the default brushes. Change the size to something around 900.
5. On your new layer, using any color (the color will not be visible in the final product), begin stamping with the brush repeatedly, aiming to create a circle or rectangle shape eventually. After several clicks, go up to the menu bar, click on the brush icon on the far right, and change the rotation of the brush by dragging the arrow around the circle. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you are satisfied with the look of the matte. Leave it jagged around the edges, but pretty solid in the middle. The screen shot shows how my brushwork looked.
6. Switching to your Move tool, add your photo to your layout above the brush layer, positioning it so that it just covers your brushwork.
7. Clip your photo layer and the brushwork layer together by typing Control-G. A arrow will appear in the layers palette pointing from your photo down to the brushwork layer, and your photo in your layout will take the shape of the brushwork mask.
8. If you wish to further rearrange your photo you may do so. Just be careful to keep the photo over the entire mask.
9. Merge the photo and mask layers together by Control-clicking on both layers and then clicking Control-E. Once the two layers are merged you can move them around on your layout too.
10. Add your embellishments and you have another beautiful layout!
Credits: Jeanine's Necessary Neutrals and Silver Lining paper packs, tab and button from Sunset kit, scallop and bow from William kit