Friday, July 8, 2011

DIGITAL PAPER~PIECING 101 / Using Pixlr in Windows...

I do a lot of what I call "digital" paper~piecing for different projects. I use digital patterned papers (mostly from digital scrap kits) to "color" my digital images, instead of traditional coloring. It's not very difficult, as long as you have the right tools.

I use Photoshop (pricey) and Photoshop Elements (little less than $100 - but VERY worth it!). You can also do it using Gimp, a free downloadable photo editor, much like Photoshop. Today I'm using Pixlr, a free online editor that is VERY much like Photoshop - as a matter of fact, you can pretty much use this same tutorial if you're working in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. You can find Pixlr at The only drawback to this program that I can see, is that you MUST SAVE YOUR WORK AFTER EACH STEP! The screen went blank a couple times while I was putting this tutorial together, and I had to start over.

When you pick an image to work with, pick one that has "enclosed" areas. By this I mean, the lines of the drawing touch, so that the areas you are trying to fill with the digi patterned paper are completely surrounded by the lines of that area. The image below, Mama's Pincushion from the Wax Fruit Company, has enclosed areas, so I'll be using it.

You can click on any of these thumbnails to enlarge them and get a better view!

Ready? Here we go!

1 - When you first go to Pixlr, you'll see this screen, click "Open Image from Computer" and then pick the image you want to use. Here I opened Mama's Pincushion.

See the box on the right hand of the screen labeled "Layers"? Every time you paste something into the document, it will place it on a new layer. You can click on the individual layers to "work" in that layer.

2. - Select the layer your image is on (there should only be one right now), and with your cursor over the layer, right click your mouse. Once you do this, your window will look like the one below. Click "Duplicate Layer". And now you'll have 2 layers of the same image. The top layer is the one I'll be working with & the bottom one is there in case I mess up! (that way you don't have to open it again!)

Now SAVE your image to your desktop, and then we'll continue.

3. - Now go to "File" and click "Open Image". Here I opened a digital paper from Material Girl by Cosmo Cricket, found at

4. - After your paper file opens, go to "Edit" and click "Select All". Then click "Edit" again and select "Copy".

5. - Now click on the window that has your digi on it, go to "Edit" and choose "Paste". Now your paper is in the document with your digi, on the top layer. Left click on that layer, and while holding the button down, drag the layer until it's under the one beneath it.

Now SAVE your image again.

7. - Now for the F-U-N!!! Click on the top layer, the one with the digi image on it. On the left of the screen is a vertical bar of "Tools". In the left column, third from the top is the "Wand". Yes, it IS magic! It selects areas that are all the same color. (This is why it's important that your image has enclosed areas... any openings and it will select more than you want!) After you click on the "Wand", you can click on the areas you want to "color" with your digi paper. Once selected, they will have a dotted line running around them. (If you hold down the "Shift" key while you select, it allows you to select multiple areas at once.)

8. - Once the area is selected, hit "Delete" or "Backspace" and the area will disappear to reveal your digi paper underneath. Now go over to your top Layer (the one you've been working with that has your image on it) and right click. Select "Merge Down". This merges the digi image layer with the patterned paper layer.

Now SAVE your image again.

REPEAT steps 3-8 with different papers, saving after each addition.

Once you've "colored" your image the way you like it, save it one last time.

WooHooooo!!! You just "digitally paper~pieced" an image!!! I hope it was easy to understand, but if not, please don't hesitate to email me for clarification!

The next tutorial will show you how to use this technique with images that don't have enclosed areas - so stay tuned!!!

Bye for now!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Printing Digital Images in Word...

For those of you who may have been a little wary of using digital images because you think you need some "special" computer program, this one's for you!

Most computers have Microsoft Word, and it's a perfect tool for working with digital images and this quick tutorial will show you how!

Once you have your image, open a blank Word document.

Click on "Insert" and then "Picture". A box will open up for you to choose the digital stamp you want to open. Once you choose it, click the "Insert" button. (You can click on the images below to see them larger.)

Once your digi opens, click "Format", then "Position" and then "More Layout Options".

Choose "Behind text". I always do this because it lets you move the image around the page so that you can either add other images or multiples of the same one. Sometimes it's good to make a few of the same image on the page in case you make a mistake working with the first one.

Next click "Crop". This will allow you to trim any white space around an image. (All images from the Wax Fruit Company are already trimmed, so if you're using one, you could skip this step!)

Once cropped, you can then re-size the image by choosing the little checkbox on the bar that says "Size". If you crop the image closely you will know exactly the size at which your image will print.

Following the same steps, I usually will go ahead and add some digital papers to the page to print. I plan on paper piecing with the red polka dot paper, so I crop it to just fit the image.

When you choose to set these images "behind text" you can overlap them, which helps if you're going to paper piece digitally. First I print the patterned paper covering the image, then I move it over & run my paper through the printer again. Now the image is "colored" in & I can cut it and piece it.

Or, if I'm going to color with Copics, but I have some other papers I want to use for my card, I'll set my page up like this. Once printed, I use these like I would any paper for my card. The cool thing is, I can save the file and print it again if I ever need to!

I hope this little tutorial has alleviated some of the fears people have of trying digital stamps. And if you have any questions, please feel from to email me!

I didn't use the green I printed - LOL! But here's the card!

Bye for now...