Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tutorial: Making Plaid Paper

Today I have a fun, easy tutorial to show you a way to design your own plaid paper. It's quite amazing! We can make beautiful plaid paper out of a portion of a photograph. Here are some samples I made when I first learned this technique last year.
  1. Choose a photo and open it in Photoshop Elements. You can use another editing program too, of course, but I use Elements so that's what my directions will refer to. The photo will only give the colors of the plaid paper, so that's all you need to consider when choosing.
  1. Select a 3600 pixel by 1 pixel portion of your photo using the Rectangular Marquee tool. To do this, in the Options Bar at the top, make sure feathering is set to 0 and for the Mode, choose Fixed Size from the drop-down menu. For the dimensions, input 3600 px in one box and 1 px in the other box, depending on the orientation of your photo. Make sure you're using PIXELS not inches! Click somewhere in your photo to create the selection. Because you already set the dimensions, you don't need to click and drag. You can click and hold to drag the selection around. If you change your mind, the Deselect keyboard shortcut is Control (Command) – D. Here is what my photo looks like with a 3600px by 1px selection. It's barely visible in the straw near the bottom.
  1. Now that you have made your selection, copy it. Go to Edit and click on Copy, or use the keyboard shortcut, Control(Command) – C.
  2. Then, open a new document of 12 inches square, resolution 300, and white background, and paste your selection into it. That's Edit>Paste or Control(Command) – V. It might not seem like anything happened, but remember the selection is tiny. When you click on the Move Tool, you will see it selected though.
  3. After clicking on the Move Tool, grab one of the center handles of the selection and drag it all the way to one edge of the page. Then grab the opposite handle and stretch it to the other side of the page. Here's what mine looked like as I was doing this.
  1. When you've stretched the selection from one side of the page to the other, click the green check mark or double click to accept the transformation, and it will become darker. Here's mine.
  1. Hit Control(Command) – J to duplicate the stretched layer. Then go to the Image menu, click on Rotate, and choose Layer 90 degrees Left. Reduce the opacity of the top layer to 50% using the slider at the top of the Layers Panel.
  2. Press Control(Command) – E to merge the two layers together and save as a JPEG. You have created a paper of your very own! It always amazes me what comes from a small selection of a photograph!

Bonus! It's easy to change the colors of your plaid with the Hue/Saturation dialog box. Hit Control(Command) – U then adjust the sliders. Look at the first image above to see how I changed my first green plaid to purple and blue papers.

Here is a layout I made with my straw plaid, using elements from Jeanine's kit, A Little Sunset.

One more idea before I go! I was thinking about how I could use plaid paper to decorate my own tags, create alphas, and so on. Happy scrapping! ~Michele