The DigiChick

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  1. #1
    Hanging with the Chicks! AngelinaS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    right here at my computer desk!

    Add your tips for making things look "natural".

    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!

    Once a chick, always a chick!


  2. #2
    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.

  3. #3
    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)

  4. #4
    I try to avoid tacky, fake looking elements - unless I don't care if the page looks digital - sometimes looking digital is FUN

    **that's my blog - and there's cool stuff there**
    i have 176 pages done so far this year AND I started my PAPER altered art journal for Easter this year - 6 pages so far!!

  5. #5
    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.
    ~ Darla ~

    ♥ Also Creating for ♥ SSD

  6. #6
    Unregistered / Not Logged In
    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 ....

  7. #7
    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

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

  8. #8
    I too would say sublte just doesn't look real if it is a flat color.
    Heather Roselli

  9. #9
    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!

    president, songbird avenue, inc.
    digital designs at

  10. #10
    Hanging with the Chicks! AngelinaS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    right here at my computer desk!
    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

    Once a chick, always a chick!


  11. #11
    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.

    **Creating for Lisa Whitney, Jacque Larsen, and Sweet Shoppe Designs**

  12. #12
    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!

    Check out my gallery: Click me!

  13. #13
    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 layout. Not my best, but the technique nonetheless.)

  14. #14
    Unregistered / Not Logged In
    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

  15. #15
    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!!

  16. #16
    wonderful thread...some of these I do...most I need to try!

  17. #17
    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

    **that's my blog - and there's cool stuff there**
    i have 176 pages done so far this year AND I started my PAPER altered art journal for Easter this year - 6 pages so far!!

  18. #18

    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!

    I didn't want to be left out, so here I am. Thanks, Pamie!

  19. #19
    oh no, i am not a guru...i am not even adobe certified lol (although that would be fun)

    **that's my blog - and there's cool stuff there**
    i have 176 pages done so far this year AND I started my PAPER altered art journal for Easter this year - 6 pages so far!!

  20. #20
    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

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