View Full Version : Add your tips for making things look "natural".

03-20-2006, 11:10 AM
One of my ultimate goals for most (no, not all, lol) of my pages is to have them look "natural", i.e. not computer generated.

I thought maybe we could all help each other with tips and tricks to "keep it real".

My first is one for pins and paperclips. After erasing the part of the pin or eraser that wouldn't show, go to the layer beneath. You can then use your dodge or burn tool to draw on the "bump" that would occur naturally. Even better than that, TracyAnn (from 2peas) had the awesome suggestion to use your Filter>Distort>Pinch on that section of "paper". It works like a charm!

Anybody else care to add some ideas? We can all get ideas from each other! :D

03-20-2006, 11:50 AM
Great tip and thread!

For "real" looking layouts, I always spend the most time on my shadows. For some elements I use Photoshop's drop shadow function, but for the most part I add the shadows manually.

03-20-2006, 12:28 PM
I'm still definitely in the learning process for making things look "real," but a couple things I try to be really careful of are to make sure my text isn't given a shadow (unless it's supposed to look like cut-out letters)and that my layers make sense...thingd like the journaling not overlapping layers that are supposed to be raised from the page (like silk flowers)

03-20-2006, 02:23 PM
I try to avoid tacky, fake looking elements - unless I don't care if the page looks digital - sometimes looking digital is FUN :)

03-20-2006, 02:26 PM
LOL AmyJo feel the same way too but make an exception every now and then for the "undigital" feel like my layout re: my kid's room......which was the only real looking thing I wished was fake....hehehe.

I tend to use the reasoning "can I do this logically if it was a paper layout?" if not, then I don't do it.....some of the examples given above fit this theory. The best compliment I can get is "hey this doesn't look digital...." so strive hard to get that look.

03-20-2006, 04:14 PM
I totally agree with the notion of checking to see if it could be done IRL -- great example of not having lettering over a silk flower. One thing I do is run run run away from papers and elements that have too flat of a look to them -- the color too completely uniform. For me, it just has to have some texture, or distressing or noise or SOMETHING that doesn't scream "bucket fill".

As far as titles go, I sometimes like to add a bevel of 1 to letters so that they look like stickers rather than text printed on paper but I cannot think of a recent time where I put a shadow on text ....

03-20-2006, 04:18 PM
Christine, thanks! I just went back and changed my title on a page, using a bevel of 1 instead of a tiny drop shadow, and it looks so much better :D

This is a great thread...I'm thrilled to keep reading and learning!

03-20-2006, 04:39 PM
I too would say sublte textures...it just doesn't look real if it is a flat color.

03-20-2006, 05:05 PM
well, i use ps cs and i set my drop shadows at 50% and then 3, 0 & 2 for the pixels options..

i only use embellishments that look as real as possible and i try to design them that way, too... poorly done embellishments will ruin a page in every time in my opinion...

ihave never used a paper that didnt have a texture of some kind on it...

really 'real' looing stitches always look fabulous and really give your layout depth

but i have to agree...sometimes i like that 'graphic/digi' look :)

and i have to say that if in real life you don't use strictly one manufacturer to make a page..then don't do it in digi either...i mean, sometimes i do if the elements are diverse enough, but most of the time i mix stuff up just like i would with a paper layout. i think that lends a more eclectic feel and a more 'natural' way of scrapping.

ok, i have to stop or i'm gonna end up sounding obnoxious if i haven't already hit that point! LOL!

03-20-2006, 08:13 PM
LOL! You certainly do NOT sound obnoxious! I'm loving these.

Too funny, Jan, those are EXACTLY the drop shadow proportions I use, unless for some terrible reason I've gotten lazy, lol.

I have to agree, too. If you use an element that looks really digital, then the layout won't look real no matter what drop shadow or bevel you use, lol.

I like the idea of adding "noise" to avoid that "bucket fill" look. I've done it before, but not regularly. I need to start paying more attention to that!

Another one I tend to do is reduce opacity and use a distress brush eraser if I do print text on ribbon or, say on individual petals, of a silk flower. Since as a paper scrapper, I often printed on my ribbon or used stamps on silk flower petals... I continue to do it digitally. But I try to mimic what it would look like irl by having my stamp distressed in spots, or my ribbon "absorb" some of the ink (reduced opacity). KWIM?

Another tip for slightly imperfect (so a little more natural) titles is placing each letter individually if you're mimicking letter stickers or stamps. This doesn't count if you're trying to mimic exacto script, though, lol.

See, now I'M being obnoxious, lol. :p

03-20-2006, 08:54 PM
Some good tips here. I must admit I never thought of any of these. I think my head would explode if I tried to pay attn to the order of my layers (but of course now I will be paying more attn). I'll have to try the suggestion of the beveling for text b/c that is one thing I've struggled with--trying to make titles look realistic (drop shadow not having the right effect for me.)

And I totally agree with the texture for papers. Alas, I have no tips of my own.

03-20-2006, 11:28 PM
I ditto lowering the opacity of text over ribbons. I lower mine just enough so that the texture of the ribbon (or paper) shows through. It gives it that real, printed-on look.

Great ideas here!

03-21-2006, 07:28 PM
These are great - some I've never even thought of. My favorite is to make a title look stamped on over several paper layers. I rasterize the text layer, and then use a small brush to erase the text where it overlaps paper edges. It looks similar to a break in a rub on too. (For example, check out the words "that" and "me" in my Little Things (http://www.thedigichick.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/9963/cat/500/ppuser/1764) layout. Not my best, but the technique nonetheless.)

03-21-2006, 08:18 PM
Mimi, you don't have to DO the layers in order, just make sure they are layered in a realistic way in the end. Two other things I like to use for realism -- good stitches and good staples. If I staple, I also burn the paper a little under the ends so the staple doesn't look like it's floating

03-24-2006, 02:58 PM
This is a fabulous thread! I do a lot of the things listed, but probably not all of them! Thanks for sharing all of this great info!!

03-25-2006, 12:46 AM
wonderful thread...some of these I do...most I need to try!

03-25-2006, 02:38 AM
oh oh - blend modes!! you can change them to make realistic vellums - and to make your text absorb the GRAIN of ribbons and things - or bleach words into paper - and some sticker letters have that tacky drop shadow on them - so i think that's cool sometimes on text...

i think most of my layouts are fairly realistic...i like the puffy paint/embossed stamped look titles - and those have to be done with the little breaks at paper edges, etc... :)ZOOM IN check things out up close :)

03-25-2006, 12:54 PM

Please come to my house and sit down with me and show me all the you know about PhotoShop!! You're awesome, girl! I wish I had half the knowledge about this stuff as you do--you rock!

03-25-2006, 03:44 PM
oh no, i am not a guru...i am not even adobe certified lol (although that would be fun) :)

03-27-2006, 02:58 AM
I love the look of torn paper and I find the best ways to make this look natural are:

1. Don't have a continous white line around the whole of the torn edge, if you do want one, however, make it uneven by skewing it so that it's thicker in some places, and almost disappearing in others

2. Add a small amount of noise to the white edge to give it more texture

3. Don't make the torn edge of your paper and the white edge exactly the same - if you look at real torn paper, you will see that both these edges are uneven and don't match

I always make my torn paper and the white edge in two separate layers and this allows me to play with them.

I hope this helps

03-27-2006, 03:08 AM
Sorry for another post but it's a different tip - LOL

You know how when you use gossamer or sheer ribbon (or vellum or anything see through really) and you want to add a drop shadow and then you can see the whole of the shadow through the ribbon - which is really annoying, what I do, and this is in Photoshop, I use a normal ribbon, change the blending mode to either darken or multiply (feel free to try others) and then add the drop shadow - the ribbon becomes see through and you get a more realistic looking shadow

03-27-2006, 11:32 AM
Great thread! Thanks for the tips!

03-29-2006, 04:35 PM
Very cool! I'm loving getting new ideas!

03-29-2006, 05:28 PM
Lowering the FILL instead of the opacity on things allows your effects to show correctly also - rather than applying effects to the whole area (like transparent ribbon)...now if your ribbon started out transparent - that's another problem...on that - add your shadows then right click the layer effect and choose CREATE LAYERS - then from there, with your shadows selected, you can either lower the fill on those layers, or, with the shadow layer selected in the palette, hold ctrl and click the top ribbon layer, then click DELETE and it will erase out the shadow under the sheer part of the ribbon - if you had an outer glow, do the same for that layer...and try running a gaussian blur on the shadow/outer glow layers :)

03-29-2006, 06:21 PM
and I repeat...will you come to my house and teach me, AmyJo? It's a short jaunt from Oregon to Alabama, right? :wink_smil lol

03-29-2006, 07:33 PM
Dodge & Burn tool goes a long way! I like to burn my edges of papers from time to time, it helps add alot of depth and contrast!

05-16-2006, 02:52 AM
ok AmyJO mentioned something about blending and making a text absorb the texture of a ribbon..can anyone give me a start on this?

05-27-2006, 06:22 AM
I had to bookmark this link and put it in my links in my blog. It's a great thread. learning lot of useful tips here

05-27-2006, 10:42 AM
Such great tips here! I have a few - I use PSE 3.0 so I don't have as many adjustment options on my layers, but here are a few things I do. For sheer items like ribbons and vellum I add the shadow then adjust the opacity it seems to work really well for me. I like to layer papers and elements alot so to try and get a more realistic feel I adjust the shadow depths like the layer closest to the BG might be 2 deep and the next one up might be 3 etc... just a slight change to add more depth. I am learning so much from this thread!

05-28-2006, 02:49 AM
I totally agree with the notion of checking to see if it could be done IRL -- great example of not having lettering over a silk flower. One thing I do is run run run away from papers and elements that have too flat of a look to them -- the color too completely uniform. For me, it just has to have some texture, or distressing or noise or SOMETHING that doesn't scream "bucket fill".

I couldn't agree more.... it's got to have something to it...

I still laugh at myself though, that I work so hard to make my computer generated pages look so good that you could reach out and touch them, and will drive myself batty with layering and dodging etc to get just the right look lol..