Sep 3 2015

Registration For Photoshop Essentials Starts Sep 5!


It’s that time again – registration for Photoshop Essentials 1 and 2 starts on September 5. Photoshop Essentials 1 starts on October 5, while Essentials 2 starts on November 2. We have so much fun teaching these online classes because we get to meet people from all over the US, Canada, and the world. Our last class had students from Sweden, Germany, Australia, some Canadians, Floridians, and Alaskans! It’s a great community. So, what kinds of things will you learn? Lots! Besides the 10 tricks in Essentials 1 like straightening images (think quilts, buildings, and gravestones), designing quilting lines, and changing resolution, you’ll learn in Essentials 2 about the importance of layers and selections. Click here to read more about these upcoming classes. Here’s an idea of what we’ll do:

Okay, so the “original” image was created with the stuff of Essentials 3 (we’re working on that class for the spring!), but you will learn how to use layers to create quilting lines. (If you don’t quilt, think how you can create line drawings on top of original photos. That’s lots of fun, too.) That means you’ll learn: the Brush tool, change brush color, create layers, layer visibility, and lots more. It sounds a bit complicated, but that’s where we come in. We’re pretty good at translating “Photoshop” into language you understand. Hope to “see” you in class soon!

Aug 25 2015

Tech Tuesday: How to Make an Animated .gif in Photoshop


If you read last week’s Tech Tuesday post, you might remember my “Ode to Adobe Color CC” that I posted in the form of an animated .gif. If you missed it, here it is again:


I could stare at these animated .gifs for hours. They are just so much fun, and the possibilities are endless! In case you are wondering what in the world an animated .gif is, let me explain. An animated .gif is a graphic image that moves. It is made by combining several static images into one .gif file. If this sounds complicated to you, do not fret! The wonderful world of Photoshop has made it very simple for anyone to create an animated .gif.

You’ll notice that the .gif I posted this week does not “jiggle” as much as last week’s. This is because I went back and edited the static images so that they were all cropped to exactly the same size. In this post, I will show you how to make a perfectly framed animated .gif.

First, you will need a series of images you want to animate. The original Adobe Color CC .gif I created was made up of thirty-two screen shots. To save time, I reduced the number of images for the revised .gif in this post to sixteen. As you can see, the fewer images you combine, the choppier your .gif will be. Adding more images will give a smoother effect to your .gif.

Once you have all of your images, your next task is to put them into one file. Open your first two images. At the bottom taskbar, click on Layout > All Column, so you can view both images simultaneously. Select the move tool, and drag one image from one window to the other.


Click on that file, and make sure you have two layers. Once you’ve confirmed this, you can close the other file. With the Move tool selected, move the layer around until you think it fits perfectly over your original image. A true test is to click the little eyeball to the left of your original layer, turning its visibility off. Then, click the little eyeball on your newest layer, turning its visibility on and off a few times. If you can see any movement on the image, then you may need to continue adjusting with the Move tool. Slight to no movement? You are ready to add more layers! Repeat the above with each image, and add each image to that original file so that you will end up with several layers in one individual file. In my case, I had sixteen layers. This is truly the most consuming part of the entire process, so if it starts to feel monotonous, hang in there! A beautiful animated .gif is right around the corner. 🙂

Once you have all of your image layers aligned, named (but Deb never names her layers), and in the right order, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Great job! Now you have to resize your file so that you can animate it later. To do this, go to Image > Resize > Image Size. In the new window, find the Width box and change this number to 800 pixels or less.


Now for the fun part! Go to File > Save as and save your file as a .psd. You never know if you will need to go back and fix some layers. Now save the file again, but this time use File > Save for Web. In the dialog box, select GIF and check the Animate box. At the bottom of the dialog box you will find Looping Options and Frame Delay. Due to the radial nature of my .gif, I chose to loop it Forever, so the colors would continually move and change. Frame Delay refers to the amount of time between each image appearing in the .gif. I chose a very short amount of time (0.2 seconds) because it gives the .gif a smoother motion.


Name your file accordingly and then click Save. To view your .gif, find the file, open it in whichever application you prefer, and celebrate your accomplishment! I took the Pixeladies “PSE Essentials II” class, and that is where I learned how to work with layers, two images at the same time, resizing, and “Save for Web.” I would not have been able to create this animated .gif had I not learned how to do that first. By the way, the Pixeladies are teaching the series again this fall. Click here for more information.

Now I must embark on a brief tangent about the correct pronunciation of the term “.gif.” Since the acronym itself stands for “Graphics Interchange Format,” many people assume that .”gif” is pronounced with a hard G, as in “gift.” After researching the matter for myself, I understand that the correct pronunciation is actually a soft G, as in “jiff” (like the peanut butter). To quote Charlie Reading on The GIF Pronunciation Page, “Choosy programmers choose “GIF.” Ultimately, the creator of the .gif, Steve Wilhite, has the final say in its pronunciation, and he insists on the soft G. If you need definitive proof to put the matter to rest once and for all, watch this video of Steve Wilhite’s acceptance speech at The Webby Awards. That really says it all, doesn’t it? 🙂


Aug 18 2015

Tech Tuesday: Adobe Color CC


One of my absolute favorite things the Pixeladies have shown me is the Adobe Color CC website (they teach this in their Advanced Photoshop class, but they let me work ahead a little). This site allows you to create your own unique digital color swatches online, which you can then apply to your Photoshop workspace. If you have a paid Creative Cloud membership, you can download your swatches directly from the website into Photoshop. If you have a free Creative Cloud membership (like the Pixeladies and I), you can still load swatches into Photoshop, its just not as simple. In this post, I will show you the “work around” for getting your swatches to load in Photoshop, for my fellow “freebie” lovers out there. 😉

The website (link above) opens right up to a color wheel with a menu of options to its left. Here you can choose what kind of “Color Rules” you would like your swatch to follow. Before you go any further, be sure to sign in with your Adobe ID. Anyone who owns an Adobe product has one, and anyone who doesn’t can make one for free. Once you’re signed in, you are ready to create!



Look at all the fun you can have! (I made this .gif using another free website. Next Tech Tuesday, I will show you how to make your own.)

Okay, back to Adobe Color CC! The first step is, of course, to create your swatch. Simply drag your cursor around the wheel to select a base color, then make minor adjustments using the sliding bars below the color you selected. Warning: Time flies when you are playing with the color wheel. Sometimes I start a swatch, and by the next time I look up, an hour has gone by.


Once you are happy with your swatch, click the blue “Save” button. You will be prompted to name your theme.


Kris and I are listening to Cuban music today in honor of the U.S. Embassy re-opening in Havana, and it’s making us want to go drink and dance, so this theme was inspired by “tequila.” You can choose whether or not you’d like your theme published publicly on the “Explore” page. I keep the box checked because I love browsing through other people’s work.

Now that your theme is saved, it will show up when you click the “My Themes” link. Hover over the theme you want to load into your workspace, and a few options appear.


Click on “Edit Copy,” and you will be taken back into the creative space, where you can scroll down a little to find the HEX code, circled here in white:


This is the magical code that will allow you to find your exact colors in Photoshop. Now go into your Photoshop workspace and double click the Color Picker.


A new window should pop up with a hashtag box somewhere in it. I am using Photoshop Elements 13, and mine is the last row, circled above in red. This is where you will type in your magical HEX code. It may help to adjust your windows so that you can easily navigate back and forth and see the code as you type it. Once you have your exact color selected, click OK, and then go to the “More” icon in the bottom right-hand corner, and a box will pop up. Go to the “Color Swatches” tab, then click the teeny-tiny fly-out menu icon on the upper right of the box. Now select “New Swatch…”


When you click “New Swatch,” you will be prompted to name your colors. I recommend saving numerically (i.e. tequila1, tequila2, etc.) so that they are easier to find later. Repeat this process until all five of your swatches are visible in the Color Swatches tab, always using the “New Swatch” option.


You will notice that the last five color swatches in your Color Swatch tab are the theme you created in Adobe Color CC! You can now work with your swatch in Photoshop. You can also save and share the swatch. To do this, select the first one, then while holding down your Shift key, select the other four. Once you have the five selected, let go of the Shift key and click on the teeny-tiny fly-out menu icon again. This time, go to “Save Swatches…”


… and save your swatch as an ACO file. To load a swatch file into your workspace, go to the “More” icon, “Color Swatches,” fly-out menu, and select “Load Swatches…” A window will pop up where you can select the swatch file you just created.

Swatch responsibly, friends!







May 19 2015

Tech Tuesday: Our Students Are Better Than We Are!


We don’t think there is anything more gratifying as teachers than when our students not only “get it,” but they use what they’ve learned in such creative ways. Our latest example is Kathleen Loomis. Read her blog post about how she helped a friend break through a creative block and go from this:


to this without ever touching a pair of scissors. Kathleen, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thanks for the testimonial and keep up the great work!


Mar 10 2015

Tech Tuesday: What Our Students Learn


We just ended our Photoshop Elements Essentials I and II classes. Wow! What amazing students. Their creativity never ceases to amaze us. We’ve rescheduled the series again in June (please see our classes page for more information). We’d normally want to tell you ourselves how great the class is, but we’d rather you heard from one of our students. Kathy Loomis posted a lovely review on her blog, Art with a Needle. Here’s a sample of her work, but have a read for yourself. Many thanks, Kathy!


Jan 27 2015

Tech Tuesday: PSE Essentials II Starts Feb 9


We’ve been engrossed in teaching Photoshop Elements Essentials I, which started a couple of weeks ago. We are having so much fun. The students are great and are learning so much. It’s wonderful to witness the “aha” moments. We’re answering students questions at all hours of the day (okay, so we have yet to answer between the magic hours of 4am – 8am), but since we have students all over the world, some of them may have received their answers at that time, their time. Or was that yesterday? Time may be a jumble for us, but not the great work the students are posting.


As this class winds down, we’re already looking forward to teaching Essentials II February 9 – March 1, 2015 (3 weeks). We will go over all the essential tools and manipulations we know fiber artists and non-sewers alike will use the most. Won’t you join us? Beginners and those needing a refresher course are most welcome. Please go to our class page for more information and to register.

Jan 13 2015

Tech Tuesday: We Heart Online Teaching


We love teaching, and we love technology, but teaching and technology don’t always work together. So why do the Pixeladies bother teaching online? It’s convenient–for both the student and the teacher. We have students from all over the world, and we don’t have to be up 24 hours a day. We post our class materials, and students can view them whenever they like. In pajamas, even.

From Deb:
There is one thing I really miss, though. I miss seeing the students’ eyes. You can actually see light bulbs turn on, but you can also see blank stares when you just haven’t explained it right. And I can’t walk up and look at their monitors and see what they are doing. You know what I mean. “It’s not working!” she cries. So I go over to her and ask her to show me what she’s trying to do. And it works perfectly . . . as long as I’m standing there.
Teaching online is kind of like doing a puzzle. You have to try to figure out what the student did differently than instructed. Is it user error or some glitch in the program, computer, or internet? I have to ask lots of clarifying questions–many that have nothing to do with Photoshop. PC or Mac? If you restart Photoshop does the problem go away? Do you have your Caps Lock key on? Are you standing on your head while clicking the mouse?
But teaching is fun for me. Of course I’d rather teach in person. But I’m “meeting” lots of talented, fun people from all over the world. So are the students. And isn’t that part of learning?

From Kris:
My favorite part about teaching online is that we can have a lot more students in a class than we could if we taught in person. And as Deb said, it’s students from all around the world. The community we create online is truly unique. The way we get our students connected is through Moodle. Moodle is an open-source learning platform that you can modify to your own needs. For example, we have the grading system turned off. (Whew!) The class has a weekly schedule that we can set up ahead of time and release when the time comes. As a control freak, I love that part of the program. We can also check to make sure everyone is accessing the site and not falling behind. Click here if you teach online and would like to read more about Moodle. We highly recommend it. We hope you can join us for a class soon. Click here for more information.

Jan 6 2015

Tech Tuesday: Reminder for Photoshop Classes


This is a friendly reminder that our next Photoshop Elements class starts Monday, January 12. This first class is really suited for beginners and for those who want a refresher or need help finding their way around the Photoshop Elements 13 workspace. Both three-week classes come with videos, handbooks, and three live webinars. Students tell us they really appreciate the individualized feedback. We hope you can join us! Click here for more information and to register for classes.


Dec 30 2014

Tech Tuesday: Photography, Photoshop, and Classes – Oh My!


We’re getting ready for the new year and new classes, so we thought we’d show you a couple of photos that will illustrate 1) how great a tool Photoshop can be, and 2) that nothing helps a photograph better than a good photographer. When we were in Houston this past October, we had Bonnie McCaffery photograph the two of us together. We sometimes have to submit one photo of the two of us, so we grabbed this opportunity. Bonnie had photographed us at the SAQA conference in Alexenadria, VA, and we were so pleased with the results:

What we’ve noticed about Bonnie’s photography was that the photos of all of our friends (and of us, too) looked just like them only better! I don’t think you can make a better compliment to a portrait photographer. She really captures the inner spirit of her subjects. Here is an example of Bonnie’s magic:


This shot was taken during one of Bonnie’s “pauses” to relax. She takes some time to “arrange” you into that perfect shot, so you need to relax all those muscles when she’s not shooting. And can you believe we were lying on the hotel bed?!?!? Full disclosure, the second photo is not this first photo retouched, but you can still see how talented Bonnie is.


We had the giggles that day, so Bonnie just worked with that. As you can see, Bonnie captured the real us. Now, what does all this have to do with our upcoming Photoshop classes? Well, nothing really except that while you won’t learn to be great photographers like Bonnie, you will learn how to exploit Photoshop for your needs as a fiber artist or sewing enthusiast. And you don’t have to know how to sew to take our classes. Click here to read all about them. Happy New Year to you all!

Dec 2 2014

Tech Tuesday: Online Photoshop Classes Start January 12!


The new year will bring with it new Pixeladies classes. We’re starting out with two beginning classes on Photoshop Elements. These three-week classes come with videos, handbooks, and three live webinars. Students tell us they really appreciate the individualized feedback. We hope you can join us starting January 12! Click here for more information and to register for classes.

Reason #4

Reason #4