Open the Vault: Tears & Curls

Howdy, welcome back to the blast of my 250 template past. Yesterday’s topic was the Lefty Righty 2 pagers. Today, I want to travel in a totally different direction.

My favorite templates aren’t actually pages at all. Nope, they’re tears and curls. Don’t worry, I didn’t count them towards my 250 total. I absolutely adore rips and slashes — you should see my selection of jeans. They aren’t hole-ly but they are missing a few threads. The same can be said about my favorite scrap pages. Tears and curls are the perfect accessory for layouts exhibiting texture, depth, and a bit of grunge thrown in.

The process for creating them is ridiculous. Seriously! Construction takes 30 minutes for one tear alone. First comes the selection of the paper. I evaluate the weight, tearing capacity, flexibility, and colors on either side. Then comes the tearing and curling; it has to be perfect! I’m a perfectionist so you can imagine the scraps I’ve created looking for that special tear. Rocket science, you know.

Once the tear meets NASA’s specifications, it travels to my scanner bed for scanning and tinkering in Photoshop. First I run an action, which duplicates the image and automatically adjusts Brightness, Curves, and Levels. And then I tinker with it a bit more. Here’s a peek at one of my tears pre-editing.

The next step involves the heavy laboring process: extracting the tear/curl from its background. I wish I could offer a solid procedure for the process but … there ain’t one. It’s really a matter of whatever works, whatever I can pull out of my arsenal of selection techniques while maintaining the integrity of the curl. Shadows are removed as well as individual fibers that just create pixel noise at the end of the day. On a good day, I can finish this step within 15 minutes. On a bad day, I’m Bill Murray on Groundhog’s Day: starting over & over again until I get it right.

The final step is to add a background and test the tear for digital shadowing. Here’s an image of the same tear above post-editing.

And my layer’s panel after all is said and done.

Occasionally, a truly wonderful digi scrapper will send an email with kudos: Tip, your tears are super special and uber real. Thanks! I hear you. I think they meet NASA specs too. And now you know why! Set three is my favorite.

I’ve got three sets of tears as of today, a really cool video tutorial sharing my secrets for using them effectively in Digital Scrapbook Using Layered Tears and Curls, and inspiring layouts using those rips. Click on the images for credits.

 Joyful by Barb

Sweet Summer Memories by Katherine

The Happiest Place by Bernie

Because I Love It by Tracy

The Upcoming Sale Giveaway

I’m having a sale this upcoming weekend and I want to celebrate! Sooo … have you used any of my tears? Add your torn layouts to the template Flickr pool by this coming Friday Sunday. One second lucky scrapper will win my upcoming template album being released this Thursday and $5 gift certificate to my store! Don’t forget to add your 2 page layouts using the Lefty Righty’s. And join me tomorrow for another blast from my template past.

Open the Vault: Lefty Righty 2-Page Templates

The past few days have been rainy and wet. Dreary would be the proper term if the change in season wasn’t welcome. Dude, I am so over summer. Anyhoo, we’ve been stuck in the house piddling around. During the emptiness of our schedule it  it hit me: how many templates have I created to date? Do you know? I sure didn’t! Honestly, I’ve never kept track.

I failed to keep an accurate count because Edna Mode insists she “never looks back, it distracts from the now”. Her sentiment works perfectly when you want to forget. But when you want to remember, when you really want to dig up the bones out of the cartouche, you’ve got to look back. And so I did.

How many templates have I created? 250, give or take a few, since I started offering them professionally back in May 2008. That’s a lot of potential pages. And this week, before my biggest sale of the quarter starts on September 23rd, I thought it be fun to look back and reconnect with a few from the vault with some of my favorites by the Page Artists, DHD Decorators and layouts in the Template Flickr group. Today let’s start with the cool two pagers.

Lefty Righty are combined design efforts by sketching genius, Allison Davis, and techno-geek, me. Allison’s page designs reflect the honest spirit of scrapbooking: that perfect balance of photos paired with the well-defined story. Somehow she manages to fit the average sized group of photos with plenty of room for whitespace, elements, a large title, patterns, color and text. I think no. 10 is my favorite.

Here are some of my favorite pages crafted from our joint effort. Click on the images for credits.

Lefty Righty no. 6

Lefty Righty no. 14

Lefty Righty no. 13

Lefty Righty no. 12

Lefty Righty no. 8

Have you used any Lefty Righty templates 1 – 16? Add your Lefty Righty layouts to the template Flickr pool by this coming Friday Sunday. One lucky scrapper will win my upcoming template album being released this Thursday! And join me tomorrow for another blast from my template past.

Basic Grey: Design Team 2011

Basic Grey has a new design team! 

I would trade-in all the shoes I own (and that’s saying a lot) to work with Basic Grey. And that should come as no surprise because I collect everything they make even STILL as a digital chick. So when the call came out, I was on it like soy sauce on white rice. These are just a few of my favorite packs.

Am I stoked to have gotten the nod? Yup! I can’t wait to show you what I have up my sleeve for digi and hybrid layouts using their products. I’ve pulled out all of my BG stuff and set up shop. Dude, it’s like a dream come true!

Congrats to all who made the team!

Winner | RadLab + Coupon Code

The lucky winner of a complimentary copy of RadLab, courtesy of the peeps at Totally Rad Actions, is Candice S! Send me an email here to get your hook up, lucky lady!


I don’t have any more RadLabs to giveaway right now but here’s a coupon code to snag a copy at 15% off. Use code TILLMAN at checkout to get your discount! Good until September 29th, 2011.

Click here for the latest Totally Rad Lab Coupon Code.

RadLab: Momma’s Got a New Favorite Toy for Photo-Editing

I am not a professional photographer. I am a photography enthusiast who snaps photos of my children living their day-to-day lives. Despite this fact, photo-editing is still a large part of my process. I don’t want my photos to reflect that they came straight out of the camera. I want to convey a mood or elicit a feeling on my scrapbook pages and photo edits help. Photo actions help even more.

I’ve been a long follower and user of the Totally Rad Photo Action sets by Boutwell Studios. So I was pretty geeked when the announcement for RadLab was made. Who doesn’t want a Photoshop plug-in that boasts photos first, more control, and butt-kicking* new tools for photo-editing? *They used another word. I became really curious.

With such a hefty price tag attached I asked:

  • Will it really improve my average snapshots?
  • Is it worth changing my existing process? And …
  • Does it work well with Photoshop Elements?

Well I took the plunge to find out. Here’s what I discovered:

How It Works

 78 Stylets … er um … Options

The process for installation was a breeze. After a few “do you really want to install this download – yes” queries and picking my first photo, I met the screen below.

See the index of photos towards the right? 78 choices – that’s like 78 actions built into one set! The Subway sandwich shop doesn’t offer that many options! And unlike waiting a few minutes for a Photoshop action to run, each option, also known as a stylet, took seconds to appear. Yep, roll over a stylet and the preview photo changes instantly.

Stack, Stack, Stack and Away!

So I click on a stylet and the index and preview images update immediately. On the far right of the interface is a column of the stylets currently applied to my photo arranged as a recipe. The best part is that the stylets are stackable, interchangeable and all can be fine-tuned. Take a peek at the screenshot below.

The order of the recipe stylets does influence the end result of the photo.

It Knows What I Did Last Summer

Once I’m done in the lab, I’m sent back to Photoshop with my newly processed image either as a new layer, as the original layer, or as a smart object. From there, I could add the image to a scrapbook page or print and close. But the best part is RadLab remembered my settings! I can’t even remember what I wore yesterday so this is a perfect solution.

Sadly, it also reminded me that I should not have edited photos at 1 am in the morning. I should have been sleeping. But I was having so much fun!

And that, minus a few more bells and whistles, is the cliff notes on how it works. I even tested the sucker in Photoshop Elements and it worked just as well.

The Three Top Reasons Why It Works For Me

RadLab offers a creative vision I might not have seen in a photo.

Totally Rad Recipe
Go Go Saturation 100%
EZ-Burn 100%
Pross-Crossessed #2 58%

I appreciate the robustness of this edited photo when compared to the SOOC (straight out of the camera) version. Thank GoGo for that! The edge burn adds a “gloom and doom” effect, which enhances the mood of the subject. And the cross-process strengthens the cyan overall keeping the photo light and playful. I would have never moved in this direction without accidentally discovering my options in the RadLab interface.

RadLab can “rescue” a photo.

Totally Rad Recipe
Sugar Rush 100%
Flare Up | Faded 57%
The 600 71%
Boutwell Magic Glasses II 100%

For the above photo, my only goal was to lighten the shadows as the original was very dark. But the additional options in the scrolling Stylet menu were too hard to resist! Using the recipe above, not only has my photo improved, the after photo looks as soft as a Downey dryer sheet. And it smells like one too.

RadLab is not Superman with a cape; it can’t save every bad photo. But it can make nearly-good snapshots look amazing! It still helps to begin with a properly exposed photo. At the very least, I make sure my white balance is correct.

RadLab releases the boundaries.

Totally Rad Recipe (top right)
Punch Out 54%

Totally Rad Recipe (bottom left)
Punch Out 100%
Flare Up | Golden 55%
Get Faded | Winter 100%

Totally Rad Recipe (bottom right)
Punch Out 100%
Flare Up | Golden 55%
Old Skool 100%

I’ve been stuck in a photo action rut using the same tried-and-true practices. But not any more. Picking a stylet and adjusting strength, intensity, and everything else takes mere seconds. That means I have more time to push the boundaries of my photo edits with amazing results.

The End Game

Is RadLab worthy of replacing my existing process? Yes! Before RadLab I would shoot in raw format and edit every photo using Camera Raw. Finishing included minor tinting or black & white photo conversions using Totally Rad 1 photo actions. I was happy with my system.

Now I’ll still shoot in raw and make the very basic of adjustments (like finding the white balance or straightening) in Camera Raw. Then it’s off to the lab to see what I can cook up with a recipe. Yep, RadLab has completely blown my photo-editing process off the map. I’m enjoying the ride! Here’s one of my favorite edits: from soft, fluffy kitten to raging puma lunatic.

Totally Rad Recipe
EZ-Burn 100%
Troy 94%
Grittyizer 15%

RadLab Giveaway

The peeps at Boutwell Studios and Totally Rad Actions have graciously offered to giveaway one copy of RadLab to a simply tiffany blog reader. Shibby! To enter for your chance to win, simply post a comment below in this thread by Monday, September 12th, 2011 by 11:59 PM EST. Increase your chances of winning by tweeting, facebook(ing), or blogging about the giveaway. Be sure to post a new comment for each tweet or post. Good luck!

Please Note: This giveaway period has expired. Thanks to everyone who entered! The winner will be announced here on my blog on Tuesday, September 13th, 2011.

Winner | Scraphic Design: Foundations

The lucky winner of a complimentary seat into Scraphic Design: Foundations is Tammy! Congratulations. Send me an email here to claim your prize!

Thanks to everyone for sharing your “design hangups”. Hope you’ll join me in class October 3, 2011 and learn techniques for solving those dilemmas.

The next 52 template will post shortly. Be back soon … and definitely join me tomorrow for THE BIGGEST GIVEAWAY EVER! I’ll give you a hint. It’s a totally Rad Lab.

Scraphic Design: Foundations | Seat Giveaway

What It’s About

The Scraphic Design workshop, consisting of Foundations & Core, is a two-part, monster series that dives into the process of graphic design and marries it to the sweet, home-grown hobby of scrapbooking. The twist I bring is the discussion of design as it applies to the needs and solutions of digital scrapbookers as it IS different from our paper peers. So, we’ll discuss design theory, relate it to digital scrapbooking, complete assignments, discover our strengths, improve upon our weaknesses, and have a jolly good time doing it!

When It Starts

Foundations is NOW open for registration! The workshop begins October 3, 2011 and concludes October 30. The Core class follows next at the beginning of November. Register now for Foundations and take advantage of the $10 early discount.

What You Get

Each student receives a one-on-one, written critique conducted by yours truly. Each evaluation is an important step in the process. And every student will walk away with a better understanding of who they are as a designer.

Also included is twenty video lessons, which define and illustrate the concepts introduced. Plus you’ll receive a full color PDF workbook with layout samples and additional case studies for easy reference.

Why Take It

I love this class because I get the opportunity to consult with you on a one-on-one basis. It’s one of the ONLY classes that presents such an intimate opportunity — well, not that intimate — but you know what I mean. Between the two classes (Foundations & Core), your work is reviewed for almost an hour not counting our “meetings” in the LIVE chat room and forum. So plenty of face time — well, not smack in the face — but you know what I mean. You get the chance to pick my design brain and hear my thoughts on your unique skill set.

Likewise, if you’re stuck on template scrapbooking and want to step-out away from using the “designs” of others then this class WILL help. We start at the beginning with inspiration and my tried-and-true practices for structural-design development. Then we tackle the most important graphic design principles that influence the foundation of your pages.

You’ll also see a lot of pages broken down into a skeletal form, like this:

My entire process of page generation is separated into bite-sized, understandable chunks. And the insights I offer throughout the course are tailored to fit your design style.

If you want more information or you’re ready to jump-in and get started on the prework, click here! Take advantage of the $10 discount early bird pricing and enroll before September 7, 2011.

You’ve Got Questions | I’ve Got Answers

Contact me if you’d like to jump-in the journey but have a question. Also check out this introduction video to the Scraphic series.

And Finally | A Complimentary Seat Giveaway

Throw your hat in the ring to win a complimentary seat into this class!* Post a comment here in this thread by Monday, September 5th, 2011 by 11:59 PM EST. In your comment, share your biggest design challenge. Increase your chances of winning by tweeting, facebook(ing), or blogging about the class/giveaway. Be sure to post a new comment for each tweet or post. Good luck!

*You’ll receive a full refund if you take advantage of the early bird price, purchase the class, and win. Alumni of the class are ineligible to receive a refund.

How to Digital Scrapbook Using a Layered Template | Video

A few posts back, one of my lovely blog readers asked for a few tips using the basic digital scrapbook template. Then it dawned on me: not everyone is familiar with the basics of template scrapbooking. You would think I would remember this fact especially since the first lesson in all my template related classes is a primer in the basics. I love those lightbulb moments.

Read More

52 Thursday | Pause: It’s Irene’s Fault

Hi y’all! I’m waving at you with one hand and quickly stowing our property in preparation of “the storm”. That’s right. Irene is coming … and she can’t eat off our fine china.

Living in a coastal city has its perks. At any time we can take a 5 minute drive to walk in the sand barefoot, smell the salt of the sea, listen to the waves crash on the surf at night, enjoy ocean fireworks … meet tourists. Actually, the tourists drive me crazy and is the number one reason we moved from “within walking distance” of the beach. The tourist season drives up the price for even the smallest of necessities. Other than that fact, the beach is my home.

Except during a hurricane.


I’ve experienced quite a few. Some flooded the streets of my childhood home by 5+ feet and it took days for the water to recede. I’ve watched fishing piers literally ripped from their foundations and pushed into the ocean by heavy winds. Trees on rooftops, chimneys torn from their homes, and plenty of damage to structures I’ve lived in as a girl and an adult. Don’t even mention the week long (sometimes longer) power outages!

And their predicting this will be worse than any storm “we local to the area I live in” can remember? A small part of me wants to stay no matter how bad it gets so I can “see” it. Isn’t that crazy! I want to experience a Category 3/4 storm – sure! For the scrapbook pictures, of course.

But that’s not realistic. My family’s safety IS my number one concern. My wig comes second. It’s NOT okay for my wig to blow off, y’all. It’s just not acceptable. So the family and I are getting our ducks in a row now to either swim off or ride it out.

So, you’ll forgive me for pressing the “pause button” on this week’s 52 Thursday Template series. We’ll make up for it next week, okay.

Protect your wigs, y’all!

Scrapbooktology and the Scrapbooktologist Who Made it Happen

Who invented scrapbooking? Seriously. Do you ever stop and wonder as you create your page layouts? I do on occasion when I’ve stolen a moment for myself or the wind walks by. Who was the first person to document a memory on paper and did it qualify as a scrapbook?

Perhaps it’s late and I’ll wake up hours from now and ask, “What was I talking about?!”

Or perhaps an interesting discussion is underfoot:

  • What is scrapbooking? The modern-day encyclopedia — and I write this with a bit ‘o sarcasm — Wikipedia offers a fair amount of information about the subject here. Ye ole’ Wiki credits the birth of the modern day scrapbook to a woman from Spanish Fork, Utah in the late 70’s to early 80’s. No wonder Utah is the center of scrapbook civilization! Do you agree with the Wiki definition?
  • What’s the difference between a scrapbook album and a photo album? Is it the truly the scraps? Is the separation from photo album to scrapbook confined to the addition of some newspaper clippings and memorabilia?
  • Should all forms of memory capture/recording qualify? For example, if words and photos are the qualifiers for scrapbooking, wouldn’t ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics count too? Or would we call it “wall-booking”? Are the two interrelated?
  • And finally, my favorite question: where does “scrapbooking” go from here? Video-booking seems the next logical trend as it’s already happening. But why not consider “Pensieve-booking” as originally seen in the Harry Potter movies. Certainly, that form of memory keeping is not as creative as others. It’s possible to color our pensieves and tie them up with pretty bows. Anything is possible in the future, right?

Considering all the above, would YOU still record your memories in the scrapbook format if all the pretty papers and embellis disappeared?

I uber-love having the option to add doo-hickies and fraum-fraums to my pages. It certainly satisfies a creative need. But even without the hicks and fraums, I’d still desire recording everyday moments, big and small, even if my creative obsession wasn’t satisfied. How about you?

New Layouts

supplies: papers and elements (Candy Shop by Sahlin Studio) • page template (52 Thursday no. 10 by Simply Tiffany) • font (Teletype)

supplies: papers and elements (Scarlet’s Letter by Basic Grey) • page template (Stuffy no. 2 by Simply Tiffany) • fonts (Dominique & Teletype)
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