This tutorial covers the basics for beginners working in Photoshop Elements and how to navigate within the software. Please look for future tutorials where I will cover slightly more advanced topics including using clipping masks, using layout templates, resizing your image (for online gallery upload), using dropshadows, adjusting color and hue, using the magic wand tool and marquee tool, and other topics that are handy when creating your digital scrapbook layouts.
Note: I am using Photoshop Elements (PSE) Version 6. These steps will be based off of this version. Processes may vary slightly in other versions. If you are using a different version, and note a difference, please leave a comment describing the difference to help other viewers as they may be using your same version.
How to Create a New File:
File -> New -> Blank File. Select the size that you would like your canvas (page). I print my books through Shutterfly so I set my page size to 11.95 x 11.95 per their template (you can find Shutterfly size templates http://www.shutterfly.com/digitalscrapbook/scrapbook-design-specs.jsp). Usually, I just open their base template with all page settings already selected, and then drag my layout template from a separate file or start designing using the template as my base.
How to Open a File:
There are several options. I usually find the picture or object that I wish to open using Windows Explorer/My Computer and then right click “Open With” – “Photoshop Elements”. You can also from within PSE, select File – Open and then browse your computer. If you use the second method from within PSE, you can open multiple items at once. However, I usually use the first option, because I have already navigated to the file that I want to open in a separate window, so I do not want to have to go find it again by going through the PSE Open File process. You can also “Place” (File -> Place) an object on a current layer. I rarely use this option.
How to Save a File:
To save a file go to File -> Save As. You will want to save a PSE file (to make future changes) as well as a JPEG copy.
How to Move an Object into your Main PSE Canvas (Working Canvas):
In my version of PSE (I believe this varies depending on the version), if I drag a picture from my “Bin” along the bottom of my screen into my working canvas, then it limits the functionality of this layer. Therefore, I always double click on the object from my Bin which I wish to move, it pops up into the main view area (minimize the layer so that you can see that object and your main working canvas). Now simply click on the object you wish to move and drag it into your main working canvas. Note: The new object will appear depending on which layer you were on in the working canvas before you added the new object. Therefore, if you wish for the new object to be on top, make sure you are clicked on the top layer before dragging the new object over.
How to Positioning an Object on Canvas:
If you wish to MOVE AN OBJECT on the canvas, simply click on that object and drag it to its desired location. If you cannot see an option, because there are other objects on top of it, you have a couple options. You can either, select it in the layer box and move the layer upwards until it is on top of the objects blocking it or you can click the “eyeball” in the Layers box for all of the items on top of it so you can “see” through them. This simply makes a layer invisible so you can see what is below it.
How to Work with Layers:
Each object you add to your working canvas will have its own layer. The order that they are in under the Layers Box (bottom right side of your PSE screen) determines the order that they are in on your canvas. This means that the top layer will show on top on your working canvas as if it is sitting on top of all other layers. You can rearrange this simply by clicking on a layer and dragging it up or down. To SELECT MULTIPLE LAYERS, hold down CTRL as you select each layer. To SELECT A BLOCK OF LAYERS, select the top layer in the block then hold SHIFT and select the bottom layer. This will select those two layers and all layers in between. You can also reverse this (select bottom layer and then Shift top layer). To LINK LAYERS, select the desired layers, and then click the icon at the top of the Layers Box that looks like two chains connected. By linking layers, when you move any object on the working canvas that is in the linked set, all of the linked layers will move together. For example, if you have a frame and a picture, you might want to link these so that if you move it from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, you can drag them together. To INSERT A NEW LAYER, click on the icon at the top of the Layers box that looks like a page is turning. To LOCK A LAYER so that it cannot be moved accidently, click on the lock icon.
How to Copy/Duplicate an Object:
To DUPLICATE AN OJBECT, you can either right click the layer in the Layers box and select “duplicate layer” or you can press ALT, click the object in the working canvas, and and drag the object. This is especially handy if you want to have the same object several times on your page.
How to Resize an Object:
To resize an object, click on it in the main working canvas. If you wish to select multiple items, simply hold down the SHIFT key before click on each object in the Working canvas (or if you have the layers already linked in the Layers box then you can skip that step). Now you will see the dotted line and positioning corners as you would normally see in any other program. To keep the object’s scale, always drag from the corners. There are some circumstances, where it is necessary to using the side and top positioners, but especially for pictures I would not use these. To rotate the object, hover in the corner till you see the two arrows pointing in a semi-circle, click and move your mouse to rotate the object.
I hope this tutorial is helpful. Please feel free to leave comments and do not forget to subscribe to my blog so that you do not miss any future tutorials and freebies.